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Saturday, February 25, 2006

My new notebook

I mentioned I'd gotten a new notebook in a previous post. I used to only buy IBM Thinkpads, then switched to a Sony Vaio in late 2002 due to their slim size and low weight (just under five pounds). With all the traveling I do, the lighter the better! I bought the Vaio at the Sony web site, which was offering an extra three year warranty for free + free shipping.

I decided it was time to upgrade, but the Sony site didn't have any good offers for the Vaio I wanted, which was a TX series that weighs just over 2.75 pounds.

So I decided to try eBay. Yes, eBay. I did some hunting and pecking, checking feedback, shipping rates, etc. I finally found one that fit the bill. The guy who was selling it had only had it a few weeks, then was issued a Dell notebook from his company, so he was looking to unload the Vaio.

A new Vaio TX610 on the Sony site started at $1899 for 512MB memory and 60GB hard drive. So the auction listing I found I made my max bid for $1899 and I won. And I got one helluva deal:

Compact and durable, every inch of the TX was designed with the mobile user in mind. The VGN-TX610P/B offers an integrated CDRW/DVD R0M, SmartWi technology, 512MB RAM (plus 1 GB upgrade included) and an XBRIT display. Unbelievably small and portable with 6 hour battery. Transferrable 1 year warranty Besides standard equipemt (listed below), this unit has been souped up with almost a $1000 dollars of xtras.

1) upgraded from 512 MB to 1.5 GB (Same as on TX690) - equivalent of 2 x PCGA @ 299.99 each ($599.98 option from sony)

2) TX Docking Station - Sony VGP-PRTX 199.99 (great for easy hookup to large external monitor and keyboard/mouse

3) Xtra TX610 AC power supply(sony equivalent VGG-AC16V8 - $89.99 from Sony)

4) 128 MB Memory Stick - 19.99

5) Unlocked copy of Micorsoft Office 2000

6) Printed copies of user manual (only comes on hard drive from Sony)

Plus: IntelĀ® Pentium M Processor, Microsoft Window XP Professional with Service Pack 2, Integrated Wireless Wide Area Network (WAN) accessing Cingular Wireless National EDGE Network with SmartW technology, IntelĀ® PRO/Wireless 2200BG Network Connection (802.11b/g), CD-RW/DVD-ROM, 60GB hard drive, AC Power Supply, Bluetooth, Charcoal exterior and SDRAM drive.

All weighing 2.76 pounds!

The best thing about it is the screen - it's something new called Xbrite, which has a glassy look to it. But man, watching videos on it is like watching TV. It is so darned crisp and clear it's not funny.

Everything came in their original boxes, so I technically got over $800 worth of extras for my $1899 (and the seller's shipping was less than Sony).

Woo-hoo! Chris is so jealous, even though I gave him my old Vaio. We sat and watched Madagascar on my TX and it was amazing - it almost made our big screen TV look like mush, ha ha.

To see what the VAIO TX610 I got looks like, go to their Web site and check it out.

I got to show it off on my last trip and I had a lot of people ask me what the heck it was. Talk about jealous, tee hee. I got so many compliments on my little bargain. And it's a tax write-off!

Sweet!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Olean, New York High School Lectures

Almost recovered from bronchitis and had to fly to Buffalo again on February 2nd. Got to fly JetBlue. I originally checked out flight rates on Expedia and noticed they don't have JetBlue there, so I went directly to their site and got a flight from Boston to Buffalo for $99 each way (plus tax). Can't beat that!

There was a stop at JFK both ways, but the staff was nice, from the ticket counter to the flight attendants. We had a long wait at JFK on the way out when a light indicator wouldn't go off. So we sat at the gate for an hour and a half. I was in the back, so all the flight attendants and co-pilot were back there talking about it. Since they didn't seem worried, I was fine. It was kind of fun being a "fly on the wall." Turns out one row of seats was having problems with their TV monitors, thus the light came on. The same would have happened if the coffee pot was on the blink.

Oh, the TV monitors! They are built in to the back of each seat, so you have your personal TV. There were 36 DirectTV channels to choose from - live, not prerecorded stuff. So I got to watch Ellen Degeneres and Montel on the way to Buffalo. Very cool! JetBlue also gives you free headphones, a snack on every flight (even though each one was less than an hour) and a beverage, plus they had pillows and blankets! I am going to fly them as often as I can.

Got to Buffalo and headed to Hertz. I was supposed to get a two-car upgrade for booking on the JetBlue web site, but when I told the Hertz guy where I was driving to, Olean (pronounced Oh-lee-an), he gave me a Toyota Highlander SUV instead at the same rate. Turns out there was a threat of a snowstorm and he didn't want me to get stuck. Very cool!

The drive was about an hour and a half. I was booked to stay at the The Old Library B&B. I got the Durkin Suite, which was in the basement. Sounds creepy, but it was really nice, like an apartment without a kitchen. I had a full living room with console TV, full dining room, bedroom, sitting room and bath. There were half windows, so it wasn't dark at all.

My first talk was on Thursday morning at Olean High School. I had dinner with my host, Mike Marvin, as well as Jeff Davis, from Jamestown Community College. Jeff had recommended me. We ate at the restaurant next door. I had duck. Yum!

Since I was still having trouble sleeping, I took some cough syrup (with codeine). Probably should have looked at my PowerPoint presentation before taking it. I always review my PPT the night before to see if I needed any last minute changes.

Slept pretty well, got up the next morning and Mike picked me up. Set up my brand new laptop (which I will talk about later - it is very cool!) and brought up the PPT.

There were over 800 high school students. I'm surprised I was as calm as I was, LOL. Started the presentation and whoops - it was the public lecture for that night. While Mike "tap-danced" for me, I discovered I had overwritten the kids lecture. So I did my Ashlee Simpson Saturday Night Live dance, the kids laughed and I winged it with the public lecture (which wasn't much different).

I got some great questions at the end. I surprised the kids by going to MySpace.com and checking to see how many Olean HS students had profiles there. 119 did and I took screenshots to show them, then focused on two (a boy and girl) who had too much info. This shocked them all. They thought their profiles were for friends and people in their area. They forgot that anyone, anywhere online could view their profiles.

Did lunch with some folks from the Department of Social Services about foster kids and online safety. Very casual, small, but good. I asked each person what their concerns were and they got personal answers. I'd like to do this more often.

Crashed in my room until dinner, when Mike and his family picked me up to go to a Lebanese restaurant. His kids are supersmart. Miles is 12 and Forrest is 16. Forrie (as he's called) told me how the kids at school were buzzing about my lecture all day and were shocked I could find out so much info about them. Which was my point!

Jan, Mike's wife, saw some people she knew and went to talk with them. She came back with a huge smile and told me they were teachers from the high school who told her that I scared the hell out of them. Which was my point! This meant I did my job (pat on the back, thank you veddy much).

My night lecture went really well. Good audience, good questions. Scared the heck out of them.

I totally crashed and slept like a baby.

Went upstairs the next morning for my breakfast and was scolded by Lois, the woman on duty, for not being there the day before. (gentle scolding). I sat in the kitchen with her and the girls working with her and had a ball. I highly recommend this B&B. They cook your breakfast to order and are super friendly.

Headed to my morning lecture, which was a panel discussion with me, Forrie (for the teenager POV of the Intenet) and Francis LaChappelle, a local therapist with Catholic Charities. It was a very good discussion, with each of us able to give our views on various things.

I had the afternoon to myself and there was a mall. Time to go shopping! I ended up getting a few new tops, some dress pants, a book about ghosts of western New York, a magazine, and the director's cut DVD of Underworld (the first movie). Don't ask me why, but I like vampire movies. I love Blade! I went back to my suite (I just love saying that, LOL), ordered room service and popped the movie into my laptop.

I was in heaven.

The next morning, it was a wonderful breakfast again. The snow hadn't started yet, so I went to my room, packed and by the time I left, the snow had started. It came in fits and starts as I drove to the Buffalo Airport.

By the time my flight left, the snow was really coming down. Luckily, there were no delays and I got home on time.

I spent the past week catching up on things. Have to calculate the stats for WHOA (I'm waiting for one advocate to get me her stats) and am working on some legislation for two different factions. Will get into that later.

It's snowing like hell now.

Oh - check out my photos link. I added new ones to it!