Booze, Baseball, and another "B"

Saturday, February 16, 2008

If these walls could talk....

If my apartment's walls could talk, other than talking about the ninja training school upstairs, they'd have a new story to tell today. A story of a stroke.

Thankfully, I wasn't the one who had the stroke. It wasn't even a person who had the stroke. Today my Xbox 360 had a stroke.

I'll admit that there's been a lot of gaming so far this weekend, and this weekend is still young. After giving the system a break for lunch, I turned it on and found what I had thought was the Red Ring of Death. After unplugging the system, in anticipation of it being shipped to Microsoft ASAP, I called Xbox Customer Service.

As an aside, the people who work for Xbox customer service are pretty good. The recording which greets you when you first call, "Max," I really hate and I think Microsoft would be well served by changing the way incoming calls are handled. By the time I finally made it to a real person, who did a good job helping me out, I was pretty pissed off. On top of having to call because my system shit the bed, I then have to get blocked by Max Headroom to try to get it serviced? I would imagine many of the incensed people the Xbox CSRs have to deal with probably aren't quite that mad when they first make their call, and old "Max" pisses them off so much, by the time they get to a person they're in a much worse mood than when they originally called.

Anyway, so I plugged the system back in while on the phone, and it worked. If the system lives past tonight, I might start a running count of the days until I get the full-fledged RRoD. I plan on putting it through its paces this weekend, if nothing else to speed up what seems to be inevitable.

I wonder if this is what the 360's legacy will be, the Red Ring of Death? How many consoles have been released that you were absolutely sure were going to crap out? Had the full extent of the original configuration's poor construction been known, I would have waited for the Elite version to come out before picking up my system. There have been some reports recently of a 16% failure rate on the 360. While I'm not sure that the rate is actually 16%, what I am sure about is that the systems made before the newer smaller and more efficient chipset, the majority of those systems will crap out. Microsoft knows it too, and that's why they've extended the warranty on the systems to 3 years.

You remember in Fight Club, the conversation about car recalls? That's basically what happened over in Redmond. From Fight Club:
Take the number of vehicles in the field, A, multiply by the probable rate of failure, B, multiply by the average out-of-court settlement, C. A times B times C equals X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don't do one.

Here's the Xbox version of that statement:
Take the number of systems in homes, X, multiply by the probable rate of failure, P, multiply by the average out of court settlement or class action lawsuit, S. "X" times "P" times "S" equals "F."


If "F" is less than the cost of extending the warranty of systems to 12 times the normal period of our warranty (normally 90 days, extended to 3 years), they wouldn't do it.

It's funny to own a system, or really any piece of expensive electronics, that you KNOW is going to crap out. Of all the people I know who own an original Xbox, most of them have had the unfortunate experience of the system crapping out on them, and those who haven't know that they will most likely have it happen to them sooner or later. I can't think of any electronics gear that I've owned which is similar to that. Most game systems have improved versions which come out after the original system configuration, and that's fine; in fact it's a good thing. The same happens with many electronics. DVD players, for example, have come a long way since the first generation players. In an example completely opposite of my 360, my first DVD player, a second generation Toshiba, is still running like a champ in heavy usage. But the 360 you know is going to die, and MS knows it too. It's frustrating.

I wonder what my system is going to have to say about all this. It'd be great if the blog said something to the effect of, "I don't remember what happened to me today...but I saw a bright light...I was floating...I could see my chassis and Mechachrome was there, talking on the phone with the Xbox Customer Support People..."

Image from Wikipedia

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