Sick Time Equals Play Time

There are advantages to being sick sometimes.  I started coming down with something early Friday evening and a few hours later, just before bed time, it had turned into a full-blown sore throat along with jam-packed, stuffed up sinuses.  I knew I wouldn’t be getting any sleep any time soon, so while the rest of the family slept to visions of sugar plums in their heads, I fired up the ol’ Xbox 360 and did some gaming until the wee hours of the morning.

After a bunch of games of NHL 10 I finally lumbered up to bed and closed my eyes for a while.  Just a few short hours later though, I was wide awake again.  The clock told me it was just before 6:00am.  I checked on my two kids; the first born was out like a light and typically doesn’t wake until 7:30.  The new born was sleeping so soundly in his crib that I had to stare at his chest to make sure he was still breathing.  Glorious.  Two and a half months old and already sleeping nine hours a night.  So again, I fired up the 360 and dug out a game I haven’t played in ages, Burnout Paradise.  It didn’t take long to be reminded of just how fun Burnout is, and how good looking it is too.

I managed a solid two hours with the game before my daughter awoke and took over the TV.  Later in the afternoon, with my wife out with our daughter and my little guy sleeping in the crook of my left arm, I fired up my PC and killed some time in EverQuest II: Extended.  I haven’t been actively playing it, because I’ve definitely moved on from Norrath, but from time to time I do get the urge to pop in and check out the game I spent so many hours playing just a few years ago.  I gained a couple levels with the Inquisitor, now level 12, and yeah… that game does nothing for me.

Finally, I loaded up Batman: Arkham Asylum, which I had purchased off Steam for pretty cheap.  I only got a few minutes to play it, but what I saw was awesome.  I’ll be coming back to it for sure.  Hopefully my cold doesn’t go away too quickly.

Failure Rate

I brought my Xbox to the UPS store for shipping back to Microsoft Support.  To my surprise, the store had a special on the packaging used to ship Xbox 360s.  I knew the red ring of death was a common problem with 360s, but common enough that UPS would have specific 360 shipping boxes?  I asked the clerk, “just how many of these things do you get?”.  He figured about four per week.  And that was just his store; there are eight or nine UPS stores in this city.  Four per week… multiplied by those other stores… that seems like a lot of Xbox 360s getting shipped back to support every week, and that’s just in Winnipeg.

I found that somewhat alarming.

My Xbox Died

My Xbox 360, going strong for almost three years now, died the other day while my wife was playing Catan.  It displayed the dreaded three flashing red lights and quit on us.  Trying to turn it on now just leads to a crash when the dashboard starts loading.

This is one of those things that always seemed to happen to “everyone else”, not us.  I also thought the Xbox Elites were immune to the red ring of death, but I guess not.  Oh well.  I filled out the service request online and it told me my box is still covered under warranty until January 2011, so I’m shipping it off to get repaired.  I’m guessing we’ll be getting a refurbished box back… and that’ll just feel dirty.

Red Ring of Rage

We had just put our daughter to bed when my wife enthusiastically said she was going to go downstairs to play Burnout Paradise for a bit.  I took a few minutes to finish making my lunch for the next day and headed to the basement to watch my wife play.  Halfway down the stairs I could see she was just watching TV, not ripping through the streets of Paradise City.  I looked at her and was just about to ask her why she wasn’t playing when she asked, “What’s that all about?” and pointed at the Xbox 360.

I turned my head and saw three little red bars.  Flashing.  The Red Ring of Death.

My first reaction was to swear.  For the year and a bit that I’ve had my 360 I’ve never experienced any problems whatsoever.  The day I got it, I literally unpacked it, put it on its open and well-ventilated pedestal, and haven’t touched it since except to load and unload games, and even then it’s not like we play it all that much.  The very reason I got the Elite version was because I had heard it was less susceptible (if not immune) to the Red Ring of Death.

I powered the console off and back on again.  The red lights reappeared and I swore again.  I powered it off once more and started digging around for my receipt, cursing under my breath the entire time that I was now going to have to send this “stupid piece of garbage” to Microsoft to have repaired.  The one bright side to the situation, I thought, was at least I’ll have something to blog about.  To that end, I decided to grab my camera to take a picture of the red ring to feature with my post.

I turned the console back on, camera at the ready, only to have it boot up successfully.  Weird.  I played for a few minutes, expecting it to crash any second, but it didn’t.  I did some searching on the web and discovered the  Microsoft support article that I’ve linked above.  I read with interest the part about looking at the light on the power supply after turning the console on.  Apparently, the Red Ring of Death can appear if there were any recent power surges, and as luck would have it, the lights did flicker while I was upstairs making my lunch.

I checked the power supply and saw a yellow light.  I turned the console off, unplugged the power supply and plugged it back in after a few seconds.  I powered up the 360 again, the power supply light turned green (yay!), and the console booted up fine.

I was relieved, concluding that the RRoD was caused by the power surge and not a hardware failure.  To be honest though, I’ll forever be a little more on pins and needles every time I power up that stupid piece of garbage that I love so much.