It's dead, Jim. (part 4)

I decided to work from home today. I do this about once a week, because I can, and because I get two hours of my life back on days that I do. A short time after my wife leaves to pick up one of our boys from kindergarten, my dog growls. He does this at almost anything that happens outside -- fortunately it's rarely more than just a little growl. "Moroni," I said, for that is his name, "if it's not the UPS man, I don't want to hear it." Seconds later, there is a knock at the door, and Moroni barks. "Oh. It is the UPS man."

I open the door, and there stands a man in brown with two packages. "The Xbox needs a signature," he says.
"You've seen a few of these?"
"Oh, yeah, it's almost a daily occurrence."

I sign for it and bring the two boxes inside (the other is a Christmas gift for my oldest son -- saw a pretty good deal and decided to get it now). I opened up the 360 and checked its "born-on date" -- September 2006. So I didn't get a new one as a replacement. In fact, I think it might be slightly older. Slight disappointment, but as long as it works, I suppose. I spend a few moments disconnecting the old Xbox and hooking up its younger brother. It powers on fine (except for having to re-sync the controllers, which was expected -- in fact, a piece of paper in the box described the procedure for my benefit), and I go through the "initial setup" screens. It then downloads a couple updates (one on the first reboot, one again when I go through the network setup -- I considered giving it the old 360's IP address, but that confused my switches for a while when I did that with the X1's replacement). I powered it off, slapped my hard drive on it, and powered it back on.

First, I found the settings I could remember -- auto-off, background downloading, XBLA auto-download (apparently that one's also saved with the console), and then I went to Marketplace to download a couple demos. And finally, I fired up the Eternal Sonata demo, the one I had downloaded that fateful night three weeks ago.

As I was playing, my wife comes home. "It's not what it looks like," I said. Honestly, I had no way of knowing it would be here today. I guessed that it was on its way based on the serial number change and the recording at 1-800-4MY-XBOX, but I never received any tracking number or shipment date. It's a very good thing I was home, though, because without someone to sign for it, I'd still be Xbox-less until the delivery coincided with someone being home.


It's dead, Jim. (part 3)

Apparently there's a little problem with the wireless racing wheel as well. Something about them smoking when plugged in. Microsoft is taking information from people with the wheel so they can send out a "retrofit kit" to correct the problem. Although they have a form for mailing or faxing, I called instead, so I could be sure they got my information. Besides, without a 360, it's not like I don't have anything better to do than sit on hold with 1-800-4MY-XBOX. I called on Friday, and a very nice young man got my information in the system and got a manager to approve it's addition to the retrofit kit queue (the devices aren't ready to ship yet, so they're building a list to send to when available). This apparently took some effort, as he spent a long time trying to get a hold of a manager, but he repeatedly took me off hold to tell me he was still trying, apologizing up and down for the delay. (In retrospect, I suppose he could have just been going out for a smoke instead, but I saw no reason to suspect anything. He certainly had a very helpful attitude.)

Anyway, on Saturday, my wife got a call from the Xbox Service Center, and they left a message requesting I call 1-800-4MY-XBOX. I did so that night. The recorded answering voice recognized my phone number and told me my pending Xbox repair order was open and had been received at the service center, the same status it has been in for a week or so. (Handy feature, since their website is flakier than a pie crust.) I got connected to a live person, who told me the reason for the call was to tell me that they had received my information for the racing wheel, and they don't have anything to send out yet, but rest assured, when they do, I'll get one. Oh...kay... nothing I didn't already know, but... uh, yeah.

Fast-forward to today. On a lark, I hit the service.xbox.com site. I don't know my serial number off-hand, but I was pretty sure it started with a sequence of three zeroes and a nine. But, the serial number registered to me started with one zero and a nine. Sure, I could've been mistaken, but I wondered. Was this an indication that a replacement console was on its way? Others had noted a change in serial number on the web site before they received a replacement. Nothing in my email about a status change or a return tracking number...

I got home, and there's a message on the machine asking me to call 1-800-4MY-XBOX with a reference number. Could it be...? The reference number is different than the one for the original console repair. Don't tell me they're calling me about the wheel again...

The recorded voice tells me that it recognizes my phone number, and that my console has been repaired and should be back to me in up to 5 business days. Well cool. If it takes the same three days it took the coffin to get from there to here, and three days it took to get my 360 from here to there, then I'm thinking it will probably take three days again to go from there to here. The lack of an email with a tracking number is a little unsettling, though. Have they sent it yet? Is it coming? Or is it just "in process", waiting to be put in a UPS box with a tracking number assigned? If I had a tracking number, would I just see "Billing Information Received" for the next few days while they get their act together?

Oh, yeah, the call was about the wheel. "We have your information, we don't have anything yet, we're working on it, please be patient." Be patient? Come on, you called me.

And, I was right. The serial number is different. I remembered the "0009" correctly; the new serial number is very different.


It's dead, Jim. (part 2)

At about lunchtime today, the coffin arrived. I was telecommuting today, so I was able to grab the 360 (which had been long since disassembled and ready for immediate transport), wrap it up, put it in the box, slap the new label on it, and run it over to the UPS store for shipping. It is now on its way back to McAllen, TX (or should be soon; there's no change yet on the UPS web site for that tracking number) with a scheduled delivery date of 8/17 (this Friday).

8/16 Update: UPS site shows it "OUT FOR DELIVERY" and has updated the delivery date to today (Thursday). Although, the location reads "AUSTIN, TX", which (according to Google) is 313 miles away, so if that's accurate, it might still take until tomorrow to go the "last mile".

8/16 Update 2: I would guess, instead of "OUT FOR DELIVERY", it should've read whatever would indicate that it was being resorted and rerouted. It got rescanned at 8:15pm today with a "DEPARTURE SCAN" from Austin and "IN TRANSIT TO" "CORPUS CHRISTI, TX". That cuts the distance to McAllen by about half (to 158 mi), when it gets there (presumably late tonight). Will it get resorted in Corpus Christi with another DEPARTURE SCAN to a facility in McAllen, or will it go "OUT FOR DELIVERY" from there? A 3-hour delivery route (6 hours round-trip) would be possible. UPS says the delivery will be on 8/17 (again); now I'm curious to see how it gets there.

8/16 Update 3: Apparently it stopped for dinner in San Marcos (30 miles south of Austin), as there's an ARRIVAL SCAN at 9:11pm and a DEPARTURE SCAN at 10:06pm.

8/17 Update 4: Well, the good news is, after spending the night at a bed & breakfast in Corpus Christi, it arrived in McAllen and is now "OUT FOR DELIVERY".
The bad news is, Hurricane Dean is tracking straight for it.

8/17 Update 5: Delivered! 3:25pm, signed by JONES, location: DOCK.


It's dead, Jim.

Back in November(ish), my Xbox 360 died from the dreaded "Red Ring of Death" -- three red lights and no display. It was very sudden; I had been playing the previous night with no incident, and that night, I hit the power button, and it flashed red. No warning.

At the time, the standard Xbox warranty was 3 months, and mine was a little older than that. The Xbox support person told me it'd be $130 to repair. Instead, I decided to take advantage of the Best Buy replacement plan. $50 for the original plan, plus $60 for a new plan on the new box, and I'm still ahead -- plus I get a new box the same night.

Within the next month or so, Microsoft increased the warranty period to one year, promising refunds for those who paid for out-of-warranty repairs. This, naturally, didn't apply to store-bought plans or other third-party deals, so instead of being $20 ahead, I was $110 behind.

Fast-forward to Monday of this week. I'm playing the space dogfighting game Project Sylpheed. At one point, as one of the other pilots announced we were entering enemy territory, the screen was obscured by red vertical bands. I silently hoped that it was part of the game, but the slightly reduced framerate had me fearing the worst. The mission ended, and I got an invitation to play Shadowrun with some Geezers. On my way out of one game and into the other, I noticed the menus and videos looked fine. More hope, only to be dashed when the games started, and I appeared to be looking at the game through a screen door. I had a feeling that it would be the last time I turned the box on.

I was right. Turning the 360 on, I got one flashing red light, a screen full of text in various languages telling me to call Customer Service, and an error code, E74. I tried unplugging everything -- the hard drive, power cable, network cable, Vision camera -- and turning it on with just the A/V cable and power cable, but there was no change.

It was too late to call 1-800-4MY-XBOX that night, so I called in the morning and set up the repair. That was Tuesday. I got an email update yesterday with a UPS tracking code on the "coffin", and according to UPS, that will be delivered this coming Tuesday.

A couple of silver linings to this cloud. For one thing, it decided to break now, so it's likely I'll get it all fixed up (or replaced) in time for Halo 3, about 7 weeks away. Also, because I swapped my last one for a new one less than a year ago, it's under warranty.