Monday, October 17, 2011

Guess Who Won the AARP "Discover Your Roots" ePrize?

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Does anyone recall the AARP Discover Your Roots contest back in the summer time?  I entered it and thought "fat chance - I never win anything."



I was really surprised when I received an email on 30 August 2011 saying (in part):

"We're happy to let you know you’re a winner in the AARP The Magazine's Discover Your Roots Sweepstakes! You've won a five (5) hour private consultation via phone with nationally-renowned professional genealogist, Megan Smolenyak; signed copies of Megan Smolenyak's books (Who Do You Think You Are? and Trace Your Roots with DNA); one time DNA Ancestry Testing through FamilyTreeDNA.com; a one-year subscription to Ancestry.com; and a $1,000 gift card. This prize has an approximate retail value of $2,500. Congratulations! "

In order to receive this prize, I had to submit a notarized Affidavit of Eligibility within ten days, which I did just before we took our Midwest Seaver Family History Mystery Tour.  I was notified of the acceptability of the affidavit while we were on vacation, and was finally contacted about discussing the details and receiving the different prizes on 5 October, and discussed them with the contact person on 6 October.  The five different prizes have started coming in - I have the DNA test kit and the gift card, and we're working on the others (the Ancestry.com subscription is a US subscription). 

I've been contacted by Megan Smolenyak about the consultation, and we're trying to figure out what we can do - they apparently did not figure that the ePrize winner would already have done even some family history and genealogy work! 

My wife was real excited about this award - I think she's planning on an iPad coming out of this deal.  Me, I'm thinking a Smart Phone for me as a minimum, and maybe a Netbook, and I'm concerned about the income tax implications... (there's a 1099 form on its way) - all from the Gift card.

Apparently there is no real publicity about the award of this prize - no great introduction of the winner at AARP headquarters, no visit to Megan's office, etc.  This blog post may be it! 

I want to thank the Prize Fulfillment Services of AARP, The Magazine for sponsoring the Discover Your Roots Sweepstakes, and for selecting me, at random, as the prize winner.  I finally won something!

So - what should I spend my luck-gotten gains on?  Do my readers have suggestions for a Smart Phone (I only have a cell phone at present) or a Netbook or tablet (my laptop is so old!)?  The goals are to be able to talk on the phone; take pictures, print them, and upload them to social media; access my computer photo and genealogy files; be able to create and display text and presentation documents; be able to access my online trees and edit them; and be able to do research on genealogy websites.  So what say you?  iPhone or Android? iPad or tablet or Netbook?  Help me here!

21 comments:

my Heritage Happens said...

Awesome! Congratulations to you Randy, that is awesome!

Barbara Poole said...

Another congratulations coming your way. It must be fun trying to decide what to buy...you will make the right decision. Good luck on breaking some brick walls too.

Heather Rojo said...

I vote for the smart phone. I had a new one when I went to Jamboree, and I loved the app with the schedule and documents. I could check my blog, email, FB and Twitter anywhere. And it fit in my pocket. Since then I've used the BillionGraves app, the camera, the Ancestry app and dozens of others almost every day. If you have prize money to spend put it towards the plan with the built in internet connection so you have both phone and internet service (this was invaluable at Jamboree, where WiFi was spotty, and also invaluable for graveyard spotting in areas that definitely DON'T have WiFi, but probably have a cell phone connection.

Genealogy Blogger said...

Congrats Randy! Super news! I love my iPhone and iPad but have never had an Android so have no way to compare.

But on my iPad/iPhone I can do genealogy, write blog posts, take photos and upload instantly to DropBox or email to myself, etc.

Good luck making your decision!

Lorine

Banai Lynn Feldstein said...

Congratulations!

If you're looking at smartphones, I recommend Android. Even though iPhone is supposed to be simple to use and with less uncertainty in app compatibility, just check out Twitter for all the problems people are having upgrading to iOS5. Also keep in mind that you can get many Android smartphones for free with a new contract (or a renewed?). Adding a data plan to your current phone plan shouldn't be much more per month.

Another alternative is to get a mobile hotspot. I think all the major providers offer these now. Instead of having just a cell phone, you can set up a wifi network anywhere you can get the 3G/4G signal (depending on device and carrier). Mine is even on a pay as you go plan, so I can activate it for 10 days or 30 days whenever I want to use it. I can also connect my laptop or my Android, and up to five devices at once.

I think some of the things you want to do would be better on a netbook or a tablet. (The Asus Transformer is a lovely Android tablet, BTW.) If you add on the hotspot, then you can connect almost anywhere but with the more serious computer instead of the small-screen smartphone.

Jasia said...

Congratulations, Randy! The prize couldn't have gone to a nicer and more deserving guy!

I highly recommend my HTC EVO (I have the Sprint network with unlimited data, text, and cell-to-cell calls). It has a nice big screen, runs the Android platform, and as far as I can tell, it does all the things you mentioned. I think you would be very happy with it.

I have an Acer netbook which I was very happy with when I first got it but then I found the small screen to be a real detriment. Especially reading email... scrolling, and scrolling, and scrolling. I found it to be a nuisance.

Then I got an iPad. I really like it but it's inability to render Flash is a CONSTANT irritation. There are sooo many sites (like Ancestry.com) that utilize Flash that it is a real pain in the dupa.

David has a HP Touch tablet and loves it. It handles Flash well and he has no real complaints with it. Unfortunately, I'm not sure if you can still get your hands on one because HP announced they were stopping production on them. I think there may still be some available online though.

Congrats again and enjoy your new tech toys! HI to Linda from us!

Michelle Robillard said...

Wow, that's super. Enjoy your prizes!

Julie said...

Congrats Randy! I have none of them and and want all of them and you want me to tell you which to get? Hee heeee I say all of them, but there is only so much money :D Hey how about a Flip Pal, or do you have one?

Zena said...

Congratulations!

Christine said...

Congratulations!! I vote for the smart phone. You will wonder how you ever survived without it, and definitely android. The google inclusion makes it a must have for anyone in genealogy. Jeez, I have done family history too, but after Megan's find with Obama's Irish roots, I could adopt you and you could get her to work my irish line!!!
I'm sure it will be amazing however it plays out.

Nancy said...

Congratulations! But don't you think you're too famous for it to have been random?! Luck or otherwise, it's a great prize to win.

Michelle Goodrum said...

Wahoo!! Congratulations! I'm very happy with the Bionic Android. Whatever you choose it will change your genealogy life.

Ruth Blair said...

Congratulations Randy!

Ginger Smith said...

Congrats Randy! Regarding the smart phone. I love my Android, but mine did break a month before the 1 yr warranty expired and because they don't make it anymore, there was a slight lag in getting it replaced. At least with an iPhone, you don't have to worry about getting it replaced because they haven't stopped making them! Just my two cents. Oh and my droid can be pretty slow some times!

Sue said...

It could not go to a better person. I blogged about the this as I found the contest after it ended. What a fantastic opportunity. Nice to hear the follow through. Maybe you could do some Tidd family research.

a3Genealogy, Kathleen Brandt said...

Congrats. I love my 4G Android and FlipPal Scanner. If you go with the Android, you may wish to get the extended battery, but what a blast you'll have with whatever you choose.

reh ncw said...

Congraulations teacher!!! You are the best! A great example of doing what you teach. Just research and record, it can be fun-----seriously!

kinfolknews said...

Congratulations Randy!

J. Paul Hawthorne said...

Get a Smart Phone! Excpecially with GPS tracking you can mark graves now and take pictures at the same time!. I use Android, but Iphone works too.

Linda Robbins said...

I'm very happy for you, Randy! You are very deserving, and it doesn't hurt that your wife has some designs on some of the rewards! Thanks for already sharing that you will let us readers know how your benefits will all work out!

Linda Robbins said...

You are very deserving of winning this contest. It also doesn't hurt that your wife may have a choice of a product that will benefit both of you. Thanks for thinking to share your findings with the rest of your genealogy friends.