gaming, xbox comments edit

It happened again last night.

Jenn and I decided we’d sit down and watch some of Heroes Season 1 on HD DVD. (We were specifically interested in some of the cool special features, like revealing the hidden helix in each episode and so forth.)  I fired up the Xbox 360 and noticed there was a dashboard update.  You can’t really decline to take the updates, so I took it.

We got about halfway into the first episode when the screen froze. Picture still on the screen, but not moving and no sound coming out.

Well, sometimes crap happens, and I’ve accepted that.  It’s not too often, and usually a reboot will fix it.  I turned the power off, then turned it back on and it never got past the startup logo.  Halfway into the logo it froze again.

I’ve been through the troubleshooting steps before:

  1. Cycle the power.
  2. If that doesn’t fix it, make sure to remove all of the discs in the machine and cycle the power.
  3. If that doesn’t fix it, disconnect all the peripherals including the hard drive and any memory cards and cycle the power.
  4. If that doesn’t fix it, leave the peripherals disconnected, unplug the console from the wall, wait one minute, plug the console back in, and turn it on.
  5. If that doesn’t fix it, call support.

I did all that, ended up calling support, and long story short, I’m sending the console in again because the guy says it sounds like the system software is hosed.  This part of the support call was the most awesome:

Me: I can’t get past the initial startup logo. It freezes halfway in. Support Guy: [Runs me through all the steps I already did.]  Is it working now? Me: No. Support Guy: Is the console set to the correct time? Me: I’d tell you, but I can’t get past the initial startup logo. Support Guy: …oh.  Right.

This will be my third repair, yielding my fourth console (assuming they send me another refurb).  The first time, the console stopped registering discs in the drive.  That was when I first learned about the wacky DRM scheme and the problems you have after repair. The second time, I got the Red Ring of Death and got to go through the DRM hassle again. I don’t want to discourage anyone from an Xbox 360 because I truly love mine - I wouldn’t put up with this garbage otherwise.  But this does seem pretty ridiculous.

Here are some things Microsoft could do to make it up to me:

  • Send me a second console free.  I think there should be some sort of lemon law or something where if you get to the fourth console you get a second console free to use as a “backup” for the next time you have trouble.
  • Send me two repair boxes.  One to send my console in now, and one with a pre-authorized RMA number so I can skip the hassle of calling support and just send the next console in when it goes tits up.
  • Give me a medal.  Sort of like a Purple Heart, but for severe Xbox trauma.  Something that says, “We know you’ve put up with a lot, and we want to recognize you as one of the die-hards.”
  • Free Xbox Live Gold for life.  And maybe a couple of games, just for being a good sport.

I’m also thinking that there should be some sort of gamerscore achievement.

Three Console Repairs - Achievement

There’s a forum on the Xbox site about this update.  I guess I’m not the only one who got hosed by this update, but I’m sure that happens with every update.  I’ve heard about previous updates where people got hosed but I was just fine.  YMMV, I guess.

dotnet, vs comments edit

As new releases of .NET and Visual Studio come out, I find there’s something really missing from them.

Installer technology improvements.

Sure, there’s ClickOnce. Sure, there are new and interesting ways to deploy web projects.  But I’m talking about better, simpler ways to create good old “setup.exe.” Where are those improvements?  Does it bother anyone else that there’s never been a really good, supported way to build .vdproj files except through Visual Studio directly?

The community seems to have settled on one of three options:

  • Build .vdproj using devenv.exe from a command line.
  • Use WiX instead of .vdproj.
  • Skip MSI altogether and look at some other install technology like InstallShield or NSIS or something.

I sort of feel like the lack of attention to making this easy (like, officially supported by MSBuild) is one of those glaring holes in functionality the way, oh, almost everything glares at me from Sandcastle.

Here’s my proposal for the Visual Studio team:

  • Lose the .vdproj project format.
  • Use WiX in Visual Studio and have a converter from .vdproj to WiX.
  • Enable MSBuild to build WiX.

I’m positive there are glaring problems with my simple proposal, not the least of which is that WiX is a whole separate product (with its own VS add-in to enable IDE support), but the premise holds.  It doesn’t look like WiX has a lot of churn; maybe integrate it into VS/MSBuild the same way Apple uses WebKit for Safari and still releases “official updates.”  Something.  Just make it better.

media, windows, music comments edit

Continuing my quest for a decent media center approach, I noticed that Brad Wilson is using MCE Tunes to stream iTunes content using Windows Media Center.  (Also looks like he built his media center for the same reason I’m building mine - as a movie jukebox.)  Looks like MCE Tunes also works over media center extenders (Xbox 360), so that’d be a good solution to the music portion of the media center.

I’ll have to add this to my list of things to check out as I continue my quest.  Unfortunately it only really works in the XP edition of media center right now, so it’d mean I can’t use Vista as my media center. Not a showstopper, but definitely something to consider.

General Ramblings comments edit

This weekend was Jenn’s birthday so we had a big two-day extravaganza.

Saturday we got together with our friends Angela and Keaka and we headed to the coast.  We usually head to Seaside, but this time we took a longer trip and went down to Lincoln City. We cruised around there for quite some time, then headed down to Depoe Bay.

The weather at the coast was nice - mid 60’s, little wind, no rain, slightly overcast.  By the end of the day, it cleared up and we stopped at a pullout along the highway to watch the sunset, which was gorgeous. (If I get off my lazy butt, I can get some pictures posted.  We got some nice photos.)

At some point we got talking about weird foods that people eat (well, weird to us; probably not weird at all to some cultures) and how where Keaka used to live there were wild donkeys and when someone would hit one, they’d pick it up and take it home and eat it.  After that we kind of got off on a tangent naming all the things you could make out of donkeys, sort of like Bubba in Forrest Gump naming all of the things you could make out of shrimp.  Donkey kabobs, donkey sandwiches, donkey stew.  When we hit donkey noodle soup, we knew we’d gone way too far with it.  So the word of the day is “donkey.”

So we cruised the beach, and we cruised the outlet mall there, and had a really fun time.

Sunday I gave Jenn her gifts - a new purse (the silver/black Coach Chelsea Signature small hobo) and some shoes (Calvin Klein “Joeclyn” pumps in bordeaux) - and took her on a mini shopping spree to pick out a new outfit.  She liked the purse a lot, but isn’t sure about the shoes - they’re really gorgeous, but they hit her in the ankle a little wrong so she’s going to take them back and see what else they have (maybe a half size smaller).

We shopped all day Sunday, eventually finding half an outfit (including some more shoes), and spanned two malls, ending up in Bridgeport Village for dinner with her parents at Macaroni Grill.  Very tasty.

It was a heck of a long weekend, and a lot of fun.  According to Jenn, she had a great birthday, and that’s what matters.

General Ramblings comments edit

This weekend hasn’t been terribly eventful.  Yesterday most of the day was spent either doing chores around the house or watching Prison Break Season 2.

Today, Jenn has so far spent at least four hours playing Bioshock and during that time I’ve been watching Voyagers! and cataloguing comic books on  There’s something strangely relaxing about watching nostalgic TV on DVD and playing the obsessive-compulsive collector.  The tedium of entering the comics in the site, bagging and boarding them… it borders between a lame chore and the work of personal pride.

My cat is exceptionally loyal, following me from room to room as I gather supplies and taking up residence in the papasan chair in the corner while I dutifully enter comics on the site.

I think this is what Sundays are meant for.