gaming, xbox comments edit

Xbox 360 General Hardware

There I was, playing a little Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, when the Xbox locked up on me while loading the next level. It’s happened before, so I turned the Xbox off (the control was unresponsive after several minutes) and turned it back on again.

And I saw the Red Ring of Death.

Apparently this is common enough to have a knowledge base article all to itself.

This is actually the second Xbox 360 I’ll have had - my last one failed on my birthday last July. Different failure, but both times I’ve had to send it back to be fixed. Hopefully I won’t have to go through the DRM hoops I had to go through last time to get my Xbox Live Arcade games to work on whatever console comes back to me.

xbox comments edit

A couple of Xbox 360 topics this morning.

Xbox 360 QWERTY Keyboard
AttachmentFirst, from the Gamerscore Blog, we find that this summer they’ll be releasing a miniature QWERTY keyboard attachment for your Xbox 360 controller. It was just last night I was complaining about the stupid virtual keyboard and having to run the thumbstick around to send a message. I’ll definitely be picking one of these up.

You can see Flickr photos of the keyboard attachment as well as a press release about it and an upcoming dashboard update. (The feature I’m looking forward to in the dashboard update: “A richer Achievement notification pop-up will showcase the name of the unlocked Achievement and the gamerscore value without needing to leave the game to check the Achievements list.”)

Second, something I’ve noticed lately is that in certain games and during certani music tracks, I’ll hear a static/crackling sound when I have the sound running through my receiver. I don’t hear the static when I listen to a CD or watch a DVD through the Xbox, I don’t hear it in most games, and I don’t hear it from any other component in my home theater - it’s just certain bits of sound from games and digital media. I also don’t really hear it when I listen through just the TV speakers via analog stereo connections.

I called Xbox Support about it to ask what the deal is. I explained the situation in detail (it took a while to get the details straight; I don’t think they have very many people calling with complex issues) and after maybe half an hour on the phone, we arrived at two conclusions:

1) Certain games and sounds are not well optimized for digital output. Particularly in Xbox Live Arcade games (which is where I’m hearing the most static), QA doesn’t always take the time to ensure that the sound is good on a high-resolution audio system. Since I’m not hearing it in all games and/or all media, it has to be a media/game specific problem that can be chalked up to bad sound engineering and QA.

2) I am a nitpicky perfectionist when it comes to audio/visual quality. Jenn doesn’t hear the static until I point it out, but it’s blaringly obvious to me. It makes me wonder if there is a lower population of Xbox 360 owners also having that Xbox 360 connected to a reasonably high quality home theater system where the problem will evidence itself. Regardless, once I hear the issue, I can’t not hear it, so I just put up with it when it rears its ugly head. Again, it’s not in all games, just a few. (Bejeweled 2 is a particular offender.)

Consider this a request to game companies and QA everywhere - test out your games not only on a standard user’s low-end A/V system but also on a higher-end system to make sure your game holds up.

web comments edit

I may be the last to the party on this one, but I just noticed it through the automatic feed discovery mechanism in IE7 - Gmail has an ATOM feed of your inbox. Using this URL:

All you need to do is subscribe to it and log in using your Gmail credentials. That’s pretty cool!

music comments edit

I think Jenn’s been hit by the iTunes 7 problem that a lot of other folks have seen. She has a 3G iPod and we recently updated to iTunes 7.x (I don’t remember the exact version, but we had been putting off the upgrade for a while and finally bit the bullet fairly recently).

Anyway, I’ve had to replace the battery in that iPod once already, and it was, oh, within the last year or so, so the battery is good. What we’re seeing is that she can play the iPod all day long - like six to eight hours - without issue on battery power alone, but the second she plugs it into iTunes to sync up, the screen flashes that the battery is dead and the iPod refuses to sync.

This happened after we saw the dreaded “1418 error” and I had to do some fancy footwork to restore the iPod. It’s working now, but it won’t sync.

I’m thinking we might be screwed, which sort of sucks. That iPod has given us years of good service and it’s not broken, it just won’t sync. I can’t say I’m terribly pleased, but since I can’t definitively pin the cause on the software, I can’t really say there’s no issue. Or can I?

Is this going to force me into an upgrade?