To make it break: Use It


I'm afraid I have a bit of a vice: I quite enjoy electronic gaming.  I put it on my list of vices right after pistachios and bacon.  The difference between this third place vice and the two of higher rankings is that I don't try to curb my intake of video games.

I have always preferred interactive entertainment to the passive kind.  I do not believe I'm alone in this, since some video games have generated more revenues than a lot of movies.  The challenge of these games continue to entrance me.  Sometimes a piece of software woven by a dedicated producer will keep me entranced day after day.  If you do not believe me, you can always ask my Xbox.

Today, that all changed.  My Xbox has been on the edge lately; during a recent game, it decided to give me a bit of attitude and locked up.  A few power cycles and it appeared to be good to continue fulfilling its purpose.  I even spent some time testing it the next day, thinking I was ensuring the continuation of my video entertainment experience.  After work today I thought I would spend some time wacking people with a lightsaber when the console decided to stop processing instructions.

At first I thought I was only a power cycle away from getting back into the action, although when I fulfilled my part of the bargin, the xbox decided to kick it up a notch and show me the dreaded RROD.  This is not unfamiliar territory for me, as I've already burned out my first console.

I readied myself for Microsoft Support, and sent myself into their portal.   After some time dealing with the Terminator of support websites, I managed to get to a point where I could troubleshoot my console.  The instructions were easy to follow, and led to absolutely nowhere.  The end of my online experience was a page that told me that my warranty was expired; a simple form into which I could place my credit card was displayed to me.

Phone Wes transcended the cage into which I put him and dialed customer support.  The poor indian call center employee did not know what hit him.  The other end of the phone seemed to be equipped with every answer and a plethora of questions.  Phone Wes was curious how a console manufactured less than two years ago could already be outside the 3 year manufacturer's warranty.  The unfortunate part is that Phone Wes is a bit of a prick, and can be rather aggressive towards the wrong target.

About half way through the conversation, I started to feel bad for 'Neil' as he didn't seem to have any of the answers, although he was more than willing to help.  After a severe beating, it was agreed that the big corporation would pay for the repairs.  A tentative peace was formed, and relavent details exchanged.  Very soon, I can get back to my electronic distraction from Pistachios and Bacon


Update: Complete

Morning of Day 2

A common theme amongst my family members is that they can't easily get to my photos since the move to WordPress. Clicking on the images is not self evident, so I decided to put the flickr badge back in the sidebar. Logging into the administration area, WordPress' usual message that I was out of date was hung at the top of the page, and as soon as I saw it, I figured that I would also want to update that as well. I installed WordPress using Dreamhost's wizzy one-click install, so I figured that I would check them out to see if they had something to help in this area.

Since I've made the switch to Dreamhost a few years ago, I've been very impressed by them. Again, they did not disappoint. Under their one-click management page, there is a simple button that says upgrade. Clicking on it will tell you where all your backup files will be placed, and confirming that you've read it they tell you that it will be done by their happy robot in a 10-15 minutes. By the time I brought my e-mail up, the upgrade was done.

A trip through the widget gallery and I had my Flickr badge and Xbox gamer card added back to the sidebar. The upgrade and changes made in less than 15 minutes. The experience brought back memories of running the server myself, and having to do upgrades manually.



Sniper on the Roof

So after precisely fourteen days of absence, I received a newer Xbox 360 back from Microsoft. They didn't send me a brand new one, as the one I have is obviously a refurbished model. But it runs, so I'm more than happy.

I didn't even manage to get it set up and play it, on the night I got it back, but the next evening, I was sure to enjoy some electronic goodness. The first order of business was finishing up Lumines. I got down to business and obtained the last two achievements I was missing. Although my achievements tell me that there is no higher to go, I know that Jerry has a higher 60 second time attack score, so I know I'm not done yet.

The real blessing of the return was being able to enjoy the launch of Crackdown. After the demo I was pretty excited to get my hands on the game for periods longer than 30 minutes, and when I got the retail version, I definitely was not disappointed.

In a nutshell, you play a genetically modified human that 'evolves' at a heightened rate and you work for the Agency, attempting to stamp out crime.. Right from the onset of the game, you can jump higher, lift more and punch harder than the common scum on the street, but as you play, the actions you take boost your skills in certain areas. Already my crime fighting avatar can leap two storeys up, throws cars, and has a never ending arsenal of guns.

The game satisfies some long lost video game needs. The leaping is just great fun, and you don't have any problems getting around. There is something about leaping rooftop to rooftop while avoiding fire, that just! Thus far the only drawback I can see is that the game is quite short on story. I've only played it for two evenings and already I've destroyed over 15 of the 21 gang leaders that you need to 'complete' the game. I'm sure there is some re-playability in the time trials, but for $60 I was hoping for a bit more to be there.


if (Xbox 360 == Toast) :

Three Lights of Death

My electronics weren't very happy with me this weekend. First my computer decided that my processor wasn't what it claimed, and then my X-Box decided that it wasn't going to work any more either.

The PC was easy enough to get going, I simply underclocked it to a point that it started working again. It's limping along for the time being, but unfortunately the final repair is going to be far reaching, as I don't believe you can even buy processors for that motherboard anymore. If I want the speed again, I'm going to have to upgrade.

The X-box died shortly after finishing a movie and when I threw Burnout back into the unit, I was confronted with the Red LEDs of Death. I went through the online support, and once everything was finished it told me: Yes, there is something wrong with your X-Box. Actually, their wording was closer to: "possibly a dashboard update error, there is no solution at present the console must be sent back to MS for repair".

Without either PC or X-Box my electronic entertainment has been downgraded to PopCap on my mini.


Passing a Milestone

My X-Box

Aside from attending Glen and Nicole's house warming, and marveling at their castle like house with ramparts and 10 foot ceilings, I passed a gaming milestone on Saturday. After much thumb madness and a few nights cussing at the television, I managed to cross the 2k mark with my gamerscore (If you don't have a live account you check it out here).

Although I prefer to compare the actual achievements that an individual has obtained, than the actual gamerscore, it felt pretty good passing the 2k milestone. My X-Box can tell you all about it, on his blog. The two games that have contributed the most to my score are: Saint's Row and Dead Rising, with the two of them counting for over half of my points. I've pretty much finished with the single player for the Row, but I can see a bit more time with Dead Rising. Although I'm not sure how much I'll be playing either, now that I've got my hands on Gears of War.

Truth be told, I don't have a whole lot of time for either, with Christmas quickly approaching, and all sorts of professional and personal obligations to fulfill. Althought, I'm sure I'll still find an hour here or there to cut up a zombie or chuck a couple grenades.