Perpetual Outrage

This article isn’t really about Black Sabbath.  Don’t tune out right away.

I’ve been a heavy metal fan almost as long as I’ve lived music.  I like almost all kinds of music, but I tend to gravitate to the heavier stuff.  I was drawn at an early age to the guitar sound of Tony Iommi.  He’s more known for being the guitarist of Black Sabbath. [Read more…]

Cutting PBS Support

I agree with this…

Humanity is a Cesspool – Most of the Time

The Colorado Batman feelings have set me off today, as you will shortly see.

This has some actual opinions, and the odd strong language. If that bothers you, then tough. I need to say this. There’s just so much in this world that pisses me off. It’s amazing that I can even contain my rage at times. I get sick at times of repressing my feelings in the name of comfort or harmony. Whether or not I have an opinion on gay marriage, abortion, athiests, “Democrats & Republicans”, Christian Hippocracy, murder in God’s name, or more “current media things” like Chick-Fil-A taking a stand on gay marriage/homosexuality and Oreo’s support of gay pride. We’re not supposed to say things like this because it makes people mad, we’re not tolerant, etc, etc, etc. So we hide our feelings to keep our friends – and “be comfortable”. Or the worst of them all – that simply because we disagree with something, we’re “judging” it, and everyone gets out their pitchforks and storms your castle. Get it through your heads. Just because someone disagrees with something, doesn’t mean they’re JUDGING IT.

The news from Colorado this morning is one of those things that tend to make me speechless at times. College shootings, the Fort Hood massacre, the video from Philly from the other day of a guy getting out of a car and trying to abduct a 10 year old girl off the street in broad daylight, race hatred, flying planes into the side of buildings, f blowing up Federal buildings in Oklahoma City, bombing city subways, Mexican drug cartels, the list just goes on and on. The amount of sin and atrocities in this world is outstanding. That people will go into movie theaters and kill other people speaks to what, exactly? It happens so much, that you can’t pass it off anymore as an individual nutjob. I don’t think it’s an “organized terror wave” like I’ve seen theorized. It’s just the degeneration of the human spirit due to the caustic attempts at self gratification that we’re just oh so good at. We forget about others, centralize on ourselves, and then worse – things like the Batman Movie Theatre shootings happen.

And that’s just stuff in the United States. Things are a lot worse in other parts of the world. Let’s start with things like the forced mutilation of young girls in places like Afghanistan by forcibly having their clitorises removed. Look up what sometimes happens to pregnant Christian women in places like Nigeria sometimes; it’ll chill your bones, not to mention a ton of other atrocities comitted against Christians by Muslims in the name of “God/Allah”. Just google for Muslim attacks on Christians. Whether you believe in either religion, or neither/none, it certainly is awful behaviour. Slitting a two year old’s throat while offering praises to one’s God. Show me the good in that. You can’t. There’s so much good that be done in this world yet we spend so much of our time trying to piss each other off or kill each other. Another example of that is a recent Muslim bombing again in Nigeria of a church, and then the next day when they were having a funeral for those who were dead someone bombed the funeral! It’s this kind of stuff that made me SO against having children. I never wanted them when I was younger. I looked around at the world, and thought, “What right do I have to bring another child into a cesspool such as this? The sex that would generate that kid is a momentary bit of fun yes, but from that comes a whole life and a world of hell, because that’s what this world is. Hell. It’s all down to the pointless fucking quest for personal glory and power, and be damned anything else. I want to be it – the king of the heap – I WANT TO BE GOD.

I have someone who is a personal friend in Nigeria, and I know a few more besides him. Anyway, this man has done a lot for us, and I pray that he’s kept from harm over there, because attacks on Christians in Nigeria are frequent and horrid. That he continues to try and spread the word of Jesus is a great glory in the face of such overwhelming hatred and oppression.

AND THEN THERE IS UNITED STATES POLITICS and its perfection of the art of wastefulness and desire (and subsequent gluttony) for power. So much money and so much wasted effort trying to kill each other politically. It’s gotten exponentially worse in the last few years with this bloody tea party bullshit. It’s not like they hold exclusive title to that. Both sides are just equally as guilty of wasting money and not honoring God’s command to build each other up and not tear each other down. Look at how much money is being wasted in the name of personal glory to tear down the other politician on the other side of the aisle. That’s the kind of self-centered nonsense that keeps our eyes off of what’s actually important. If all that money gets wasted on politics and elections could be used for something constructive like solving aids or beating cancer or heaven knows autism that would help my son or my brother-in-law. It just pisses me off all these politicians that waste so much money. That they do so much bad for the world with so much money and yet a lot of people I know who do good for people in the world have virtually nothing (like a woman I know named Rhonda – if anyone deserves a bailout, it’s her, not the pigs on Wall Street). I cannot see the “Occupy Wall Street” stuff making a bit of difference. These are people who still believe that their actions can make a difference. They’re fooling themselves, they cannot. When I was younger, my first Presidential election was Ronald Reagan’s second election. I was caught up in the politics of it. I used to have delusions back then that politics could make a difference. Politics are the fucking problem. What a dumbass I was. You can’t fix things with politics. You can help things with politics a little, but more often than not, they just get in the way and cause the problem. I know this kind of anger and language isn’t exactly the best way to go about things, but I just get so mad and you feel so useless that you can’t do shit about it, that it comes out in ways like this.

Not to mention people like Rush Limbaugh who just irritate the hell out of me. What a sanctimonious blowhard this guy is. From calling women sluts on his radio show or more recently claiming that the new Batman movie is an attack on Mitt Romney solely because of the name of the main villain is Bane (Romney; Bain Capital -Get it?). I am at a total loss to understand how he could conceivably think that is a legitimate and valid point of view. This guy to me is a prime example of what’s wrong with politics. He just exists to tear things down. nothing at all constructive that comes out of seat of power he unfortunately wields to a rather enormous number of sheep.

Some other Rush Limbaugh fun:

  • “Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society.”
  • “If we’re going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”
  • “It has not been proven that nicotine is addictive, the same with cigarettes causing emphysema [and other diseases].”

Anyway, I know when we live on this earth in the domain of Satan and we’re bound to deal with things like that. I understand it insofar as that’s the reason why these things happen. But I don’t have to like it.

As Roger Waters said 30+ years ago all in all you’re all just bricks in the wall.

Still occasionally something happens that makes me think that the world is not a complete cesspool of self interest and bullshit. I’m speaking of my daughter yesterday. She has a friend at church, her name is Grace and Grace is been a very good friend to Samantha. Both of them will wait in the lobby looking for the other on Sunday morning if they’re not there on time. They even write “BFF notes” back and forth to each other. Yesterday, Samantha on her own accord decided that she was going to give Grace a present. What Samantha is going to give her is one of her personal American girl dolls. Samantha has several of them – I’ve honestly lost count of how many she has. It’s probably about six or something like that. Grace doesn’t have any (not just American girl, but she has no dolls at all) and Samantha out of the goodness of her own heart decided she wanted to give her one. After making sure this was okay with Grace’s family that we give that kind of gift, Lynn and I were all behind it. That’s because her heart is in the right place – the words that came out of her mouth when she talked about it were so loving and giving and there is no way I could attempt to squelch Samantha’s goodness. Even in our situation when when we’re hurting for money and whatnot that Samantha wants to give readily from her own stuff of her own free will to somebody who doesn’t have something is just stunning to me.

If the world had more people like Samantha who wanted to give from their heart for the right reasons as opposed to people like the super PAC assholes who fund millions and millions of dollars just for the purpose of tearing somebody down, this world will be all whole lot better off.

To bring up Roger Waters again, perhaps “the tide is turning” when I think of my daughter. You really love to think that. I really DESPERATELY would, but somehow I don’t truly believe it.   It will take being covered in the blood of the son of our creator for that.  Everything else here is just pissing about.

God bless the families of those who lost their loved ones in a Colorado movie theater late last night.

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”. –Dwight D. Eisenhower and Printers

UPDATE Apr 10: I got a reponse from Amazon in reply to this blog post.  See the bottom of the post for that update.

If you buy a lot from you get to learn their system and how certain things work.   My first order of any kind with was on June 24, 1997.  It as for this book.  I’ve ordered a lot since then.  All kinds of things.  Clothes, food, electronics, media, both physical and digital, both of my HDTV’s…  You name it, I probably bought it from there.  To that, I’ve learned a lot about their system and how they ship, warehouses, location tracking, etc.  Now I don’t claim to know everything, but I know fairly well.

Which is why today I ran into a scenario that was quite puzzling, and one I didn’t know the answer for, couldn’t find an answer for in their help area, and as far as I know has no answer.  That’s why I’m writing here, to see first if anyone knows anything about it, and second (if not), to try and draw some attention to it. [Read more…]

My Xbox 360 Died Part III

If you’ve followed my blog at all, you may remember that my second Xbox 360 died in March of 2008. I talked about it here. This after my original 360 died back in Feb of 2007. Well, my third unit has now died, too. I posted about it on a private forum I belong to when it first happened on July 25th, and I’m posting it here on Aug 5th, and then I have a new update for this blog.

Fri Jul 25th:

My second 360 was the same as the original footprint (the bad one). Turns out they were still manufacturing the original footprint from 2005 in 2008, which was NUTS to me, considering how many of them died. There was some attempts to alleviate the heat problems, but apparently, they were still suspectible. Why on earth MS was still making the original bad hardware footprint in 2008 as a REPLACEMENT for the same footprint is insane to me. I just don’t understand that.

So anyway, I started playing 1 vs 100 last night, and right as it started I heard a rather obnoxious sound – kind of like a loud click coming from the 360, and then it locked hard. My initial thought was “Uh-oh”. While it didn’t sound like a sound I heard from my previous two dead 360’s, it didn’t sound good at all. So I hit the power button for off, then back on again, and there it was. The stupid red rings of death. AGAIN. Xbox 360 #3 has died. MS talked about the failure rate being “acceptable”, but for me, my failure rate is 100% so far. I don’t believe that’s acceptable.

The annoying thing now is that I’m out of warranty. My original 360 had a three year warranty. It was bought on Jan 1, 2006, so I’ve expired that now. My third 360 (this one) was a warranty replacement for the second one, and the warranty for “in warranty replacements” is not another three years, it’s one year (according to the website), and that too has expired. So I’m out of warranty for all three of my 360’s. I suppose I could fight it on the grounds that my current 360 is still the original footprint, and should be warranted for three years, but then I’d get another one.

So I’m stuck now with paying $99 for a warranty repair. To add insult to that, the warranty repair place is about 10 miles from my house (was 8.2 from 3D Realms HQ), and because the facility is in Texas, I’d have to pay sales tax on that. So my replacement cost would be about $110. From what I know of the repair procedure from going through it, they’d likely send me another one of that kind. Since my original purchase was technically a core unit, that’s what they’d send me back. Great. I don’t really want to pay them that much money to get a FOURTH box with the original mostly problematic hardware footprint.

My original 360 was a gift from 3D Realms for Christmas back in 2005 (well, Jan 2006, but you get the point). My second one was technically a core purchase. I got so mad at repair that I went and bought a new core unit – my total out of pocket expense for that was about $80 after I sold my original unit broken on ebay (Got about $125 for that, surprisingly). The second one went back to MS and I got the third one for free under the warranty repair program, so my total expenditure for the three 360’s was about $80, which isn’t too bad all things considered.


The night my third 360 broke a couple of weeks ago, I was getting mad about it, and after I had researched the hardware footprint situation, I was reasonably confident I could walk into a store, and buy the newest hardware footprint (codenamed Jasper) that would solve all the heat problems. There’s a really REALLY good article here about how to tell the difference between all the various hardware footprints there have been. My wife listened to me go on about it, and suggested that since my birthday was coming up in a few weeks (Aug 20th) that I use birthday money to go get the new hardware footprint and solve the problem. She also suggested this because my initial research showed that my third 360 was out of warranty. Which it was, but I initially missed the fact that I could have it repaired for free (more on that later).

So on Sat July 26th, I went to Worst Buy to buy a 360 Arcade. At $199, it’s much cheaper than what it was when originally available, and with information gleaned from the article above, I was confident I was going to get a Jasper machine. Surprisingly Worst Buy was sold out of them. That surprised me a bit. I did notice while I was there, that their 360 Pro units were Jaspers. I wasn’t buying that, but I checked ’em out. So I headed over to Toys R Us, which had one 360 Arcade, and the guy I asked to look at it had some knowledge of the situation, as he said “Oh, you’re looking for the new chipset”. He didn’t think it would be that one, since he said “that has been sitting there for awhile now”. But I confirmed it was a Jasper with the info from the article. Bought it, brought it home.

Good news on the unit. Once I got it out of the box, there was no doubt about it. Jasper unit. It was manufactured on March 30, 2009. The Arcade machines are a bit better now than this thing was when it was called a Core at the start of the console’s lifecycle. The new one I got came with a wireless controller vs a wired controller. It also has 512Mb of memory ON BOARD, and not via an external memory card (it ends up being about 400Mb of usable space, which is nice for a throwin). The overall sound of the unit is way quieter, the power adapter is much smaller, and also has much less output. It’s 12.1w now vs the 16.5 of the old units. So all of those should hopefully. FINALLY. Figure out the RROD problem, which was heat related. I plugged in my old cables, and the 120Gb hard drive I had, and I was up and running pretty quickly once I got home. There’s a lot to like about this new model vs the older ones I had.

So a few days after I bought the new model, I discovered that I could get my dead unit repaired for free. While technically out of warranty, that “three year” extension talked about for awhile applies to RROD, and this unit qualified for that repair. So I sent it over to them, and let them repair my third 360. I wasn’t sure what they’d do. I mean, they couldn’t send me the original 2005 hardware footprint AGAIN in August of 2009, could they?

On Sunday the 2nd, I noticed that my info had changed in the repair area of the Xbox website. I had a new Xbox 360 in my list of “owned consoles”, the new one they were sending me back. I could see what the serial number was, so I looked online, and found this link telling me how to decipher the serial number of an Xbox 360 to find out information about it. So from what I found, this unit was made between June 7th and 13th, 2009. (Not that it matters, but it was the 2,791st 360 they made that week in lot 9). So for a unit made in June of 2009, SURELY it would be the Jasper footprint, right? They would send out the corrected hardware – they wouldn’t mess with any of the old stuff, right?


The UPS guy showed up at my door today, and gave me back the coffin. He commented “Oh, an Xbox, eh?” I said yeah, and we got into talking about it. Anyway, he told me that the repair facility in Mesquite TX is actually ON the giant UPS distribution grounds. He said that Microsoft has leased space on the actual UPS grounds so that they can ship these things out and save on shipping costs. Wow. I knew both the UPS plant and the Xbox repair place were close to each other, but I didn’t realize they were in the same actual place! Anyway, as I was walking in, I looked at the stickers on the outside of the box, and my heart sank, as I saw the word “Zephyr”, which is one of the code names for the original 2005 hardware footprint. Great. Just great.

It’s just mind bogglingly amazing that in August of 2009, they’re shipping the same hardware footprint from 2005 that had all the heat problems, and is the one most likely to RROD. I plugged the thing in, and it works OK, but then they all work for awhile.

Something else I found really bizarre about this unit was on the back where the manufacture date normally appears on a 360 was the phrase “Service Date”. The date on the back of this unit is Aug 2, 2009, which was when they packaged it up to ship out to me. So this tells me that they just make a bunch of the original hardware footprint, have them sit there waiting for someone to send in a RROD’ed Arcade or Core unit, and send back one of these. That’s just bloody amazing. I don’t intend on regularly using this unit. I’ve had enough of the 2005 footprint. I’m quite happy with the Jasper I bought, and will be using that. This will go in the closet as a backup. Had I had to actually send them $99 to repair this, I’d be hopping mad about it.


So to summarize, here’s the life of me and Xbox 360 units dying and needing replacement.

  • Unit 1 (Core): Bought new on Jan 1, 2006. Died Feb 3, 2007. Sold dead on Ebay for about $120 or so, helped fund purchase of unit 2.
  • Unit 2 (Core): Bought new on Feb 5, 2007. Died Mar 8, 2008. Sent in for warranty repair.
  • Unit 3 (Core): Received from repair Mar 28, 2008. Died Jul 24, 2009. Sent in for warranty repair.
  • Unit 4 (Arcade): Bought new on Jul 25, 2009. Current active machine. Finally have HDMI jack. Best of the bunch.
  • Unit 5 (Arcade): Received from repair Aug 5, 2009. Is bad original hardware again, put in closet as backup.

What a fiasco. If the Xbox 720 or whatever it’s called has this same kind of nightmare, wow, will they have shot themselves in both feet, but probably through several other appendages, too.

If this wasn’t the best console out there this generation, I would have walked awhile ago.

UPDATE APR 2011: I moved this content to new blog software on April 2011, and as of then, the Unit 4 machine is still going fine.   That’s the longest shelf life of any of my pieces of hardware.  Unit 5 I ended up putting in the bedroom, and I use it very VERY lightly, usually when I’m sick and confined to the bedroom.  Here’s the current shelf life of my units as of Apr 19, 2011:

  • Unit 1: 13 months, two days.
  • Unit 2: 13 months, three days.
  • Unit 3: 15 months, three weeks, three days
  • Unit 4: Current primary machine: Going for one year, eight months, three weeks, one day
  • Unit 5: Current backup machine: Going for one year, seven months, three weeks.  Spends 95% of it’s time turned off. Rarely used.  Was a warranty replacement for unit 3.

UPDATE APR 2012: Another year later, and I’m still running fine with Unit 4.  No more hardware problems.  I’d say they solved that issue, as I use it regularly.  The only problem I’ve had is my controllers – as the batteries ceased to hold a charge anymore, I had to get new batteries.   But the unit itself – great.

Since the last update, they came out with a totally new hardware footprint, a smaller, black unit that’s much quieter (and I believe two more revisions after that).  You can’t buy any of the old hardware footprints anymore, but it does make me wonder what they do with warranty repairs now – do they STILL send out the original 2005 hardware footprint?  I would hope not, but something tells me they do.

UPDATE MAR 2016: Well, that “Unit 4” kept working, so they obviously fixed the problem.  In February of 2016, I removed the Xbox 360 from my entertainment center.  That’s because I have an Xbox One, which has had no problems, and with backwards compatibility, almost all of the handful of 360 games I still played I could play on my Xbox One.  So I retired the 360.  I still have both Unit 4 & 5, but I don’t know what I’m going to do with them at this point.  But Unit 4 (The Jasper unit) kept working, so that really did fix the problem.

Oh no! I saw a breast. FREAK OUT! [UPDATE]

Once again, the fact that the United States has its collective head up its ass over the issue of sexuality comes up again, and has made me want to rant about it. This time it raises it’s ugly head in the form of the August 2006 issue of the free magazine Baby Talk.

Baby Talk Magazine - OH NO! A BREAST!The cover story is about breastfeeding. They chose what I felt to be a totally appropriate subject, that of a baby breastfeeding. Check out some of these quotes from an AP news story I read on the subject.

“I was SHOCKED to see a giant breast on the cover of your magazine,”

“I was offended and it made my husband very uncomfortable when I left the magazine on the coffee table.”

Several readers said they were “embarrassed” or “offended” by the Babytalk photo

“Gross, I am sick of seeing a baby attached to a boob,” the mother of a four-month-old said.

Another reader said she was “horrified” when she received the magazine and hoped that her husband hadn’t laid eyes on it.

Excuse me? To these women who are complaining about this.. Uh, what the hell do you think your breasts were designed for? This is their designated function. What the hell are you complaing about? Breastfeeding is about the most natural thing a woman can do with her body (other than actual childbirth). This is a thing to be celebrated, not shunned. Come on people, get a grip. I don’t see you people complaining about things like this in the public. These pics are meant for titillation’s sake. Not actual breastfeeding. At least the Britney Spears pic is a “motherhood” thing – which means.. Uh, oh. She could be breastfeeding later on – HIDE THE KIDS!

Christina Aguilera shopping in public Pam Anderson in a PETA protest window display


OH NO! A naked pregnant Britney Spears! Lindsay Lohan dressing slutty in public


Oh, and to the woman who was saying her husband was uncomfortable.. the only reason was because YOU were in the room. Trust me – men are never uncomfortable at looking at breasts. What a collective bunch of twonks these complainers are. I suspect these people who are complaining about half of the side of a breast on the front of a magazine are the same kind of people who complained about this:

So, if you’re like me, in honor of all these people complaining, support your local women’s health clinics and support breastfeeding. It’s about the best thing a woman can do for her child. Women should get MORE support for wanting to breastfeed, not less – and certainly not puritanical middle aged women from Kansas giving people who try and push the issue any crap. These complainers should just go back to the hole they came from and just shut the hell up. Nobody with half a brain cell wants to hear this kind of nonsese. Immerse them in some of the European cultures – their heads would probably explode.

If you’d like to read more about breastfeeding, here’s a few links for you:

You should also support Baby Talk Magazine. It’s free, but you should make sure any new parents you know of get this. At least the bruhaha hasn’t scared off the magazine from saying they’d do it again.

UPDATE Oct 2008: W Magazine has fanned this controversy again by having Angelina Jolie on the cover of their magazine, breastfeeding. It’s actually a fairly tasteful picture – it’s not overly sexy, yet still shows how beautiful a woman be doing this. Yes I’m a guy, and yes, I like looking at breasts, but Jolie has a really great smile here, which is the focal point of the picture to me. Of course, the same zealots who freaked out about the Baby Talk picture will probably freak out over this one. These people were probably not breast fed themselves. Yeesh.

Below is the the full AP News Story that went with this original post in August of 2006:

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Readers of a US parenting magazine are crying foul over the publication’s latest cover depicting a woman breastfeeding, with some calling the photo offensive and disgusting.

Baby Talk Magazine - OH NO! A BREAST!“I was SHOCKED to see a giant breast on the cover of your magazine,” one woman from Kansas wrote in reaction to the picture in Babytalk, a free magazine that caters to young mothers. “I was offended and it made my husband very uncomfortable when I left the magazine on the coffee table.”
Her reaction was part of some 5,000 letters the magazine has received in response to a poll to gage reader sentiment about Babytalk’s August cover photo, which shows a baby nursing.

Several readers said they were “embarrassed” or “offended” by the Babytalk photo and one woman from Nevada said she “immediately turned the magazine face down” when she saw the photo.
“Gross, I am sick of seeing a baby attached to a boob,” the mother of a four-month-old said.

Another reader said she was “horrified” when she received the magazine and hoped that her husband hadn’t laid eyes on it.

“I had to rip off the cover since I didn’t want it laying around the house,” she said.

A national television program also ran a segment on the controversy, interviewing several people in New York who expressed disgust over the cover photo.

The picture in Babytalk was aimed at illustrating the controversy surrounding breastfeeding in the United States, where a national survey by the American Dietetic Association found that 57 percent of those polled are opposed to women breastfeeding in public and 72 percent think it is inappropriate to show a woman breastfeeding on television programs.

Babytalk executive editor Lisa Moran said though most of those who responded to the poll about the cover photo gave the magazine a thumbs up, she was surprised that some 25 percent expressed outrage.

“There is a real puritanical streak in America,” Moran told AFP. “You see celebrities practically baring their breasts all the time and no one seems to mind in this sort of sexual context.

“But in this very natural context of feeding your child, a lot of Americans are very uncomfortable with it.”

She said the controversy is all the more surprising in light of concerted efforts by the US government and health professionals to encourage women to breastfeed.

“Everyone is saying that breastfeeding is best for baby but there is so little support for it in public,” Moran said.

She said the Babytalk cover photo marks the first time a major parenting magazine in the United States dares to break the taboo about showing a woman’s breast and the outrage it has prompted is not about to discourage editors from doing it again.

“This hasn’t scared us off at all,” Moran said. “We’re thrilled and hopefully this will help women get more support for nursing.”

Politics, Gender, & Race

I don’t often talk about politics, mostly because I know the kind of conversations that usually come after it. They’re generally not good. However, I feel compelled to say something.


I know way too many people who were voting for Hillary Clinton just because that person happened to have a pair of breasts. I know too many people who are voting for Barack Obama merely because his skin color is not the normal color for a US politician. That just irritates the crap out of me, and makes me feel that they don’t take their politics seriously. Now I’m no political expert, but I do take my vote a little more seriously. You won’t see me jumping up and down in the aisles, saying “Look – there’s an overweight white guy – I’M VOTING FOR HIM BECAUSE HE’S JUST LIKE ME!” If you base your vote solely on a person’s gender, or their skin color, than I think your vote should not count. Take it seriously, people.

Now if someone likes Obama, or McCain, or Sarah Palin, or Joe Biden, or any of the other fringe candidates who will get like 500 votes tops nationwide, I don’t have a problem with that. Provided you like them for some reason like “I like their policies”, or even “I don’t want to vote Republican”. I’m OK with that. *NOT* becuse of gender or race. Come on, we’re supposed to be better than that.

Having sad all that…

The Following Preview has been approved…

If you spend any time watching movies, then you’ve seen the graphic below. It’s the Film Ratings Board’s image that shows up in front of all trailers. That’s why I’m writing. See the text there? “The following preview has been approved for all audiences by the Motion Pictures Association of America”. I have a few points to raise about that.

1) The implication of this rating is that there are trailers they would NOT approve for all audiences. When was the last time you saw one of those? Do they have a “red” screen they put up there for those? Is there an actual ratings system for movie trailers on their own? And if you did get a trailer that was not approved for audiences, would we ever actually see one in the theaters? Oh no, Little Jimmy can’t see this, let’s run out of the theatre in 3 seconds so he won’t see anything. I’m sure my “Little Jimmy” remark is why we don’t see anything else in theatres, but are there really trailers that are not approved for everyone?

2) I submit that a lot of the stuff in trailers is NOT valid material for “all audiences”. Now granted, I know trailers tend to be skewed towards the movie they’re in front of. You’re not about to see a Blue’s Clues movie trailer in front of say “American Zombie”. Likewise you won’t see a trailer for Rambo in front of “Horton Hears a Who”. Still, there are a lot of things in these trailers that are not valid material for all ages, thank you very much. There’s a current trailer for a movie called “Boarding Gate” that oepned last week. The trailer is marked with the “approved for everyone” green thing. It does say the movie is “R”, but the TRAILER itself is approved for “all audiences”. Now it’s fairly tame as these things go, but there is still a decent amount of things in there I don’t want my kid seeing. Something that really bugs me are trailers like “Diary of the Dead“, whose trailers are marked for “all audiences”, but are totally NOT for “all audiences”. I’m not against the movie itself, just the marking of the trailers.

I wonder which Soccer Mom will eventually raise a stink about “Little Johnny” seeing a trailer for Diary of Dead and making a big enough stink to get the concept of “for all audiences” addressed on trailers. It bugs me, but I’m not the crusader. I just like to complain about things sometimes. :)
It does seem odd/wrong/whatever though. Anyone ever seen a trailer without that “for all audiences”, or some other wording saying the trailer IS NOT for all?

My Xbox 360 Died Part II

As the two or three of you who regularly read this blog might remember, back in February of 2007, I had a problem where my original Xbox 360 died. My original Xbox 360 was bought on January 1, 2006, and lasted until February 3, 2007. At that time, I had been just out of warranty, so when it died, I was going to have to pay $129 (plus tax and shipping) to repair the thing. I’ve been through this story already, if you read the link above, you can check out my original nightmare.

So, OK – fast forward to today. It’s March 8, 2008. My second Xbox 360 has been going fine, although I’ve noticed as of the last week or so that when I turn it off, it was making an odd grinding sound. Nothing that really caused panic, but it was a sound that wasn’t there before. So today I’m playing some MLB 2k8. Having fun, and then the wife and daughter went out for awhile. I got on the net for a bit, and came back to play some more. And guess what I saw? Well, given the blog entry’s title, it can’t be too hard to guess. In fact, I took a picture of it. It’s shown to the right. This isn’t a red ring picture glommed off the net, I just took this myself.

I have all the major consoles from “this generation”. I have an Xbox 360, a Nintendo Wii, and a Sony Playstation 3. Of the three, I’ve had the 360 the longest (although not obviously the same actual unit). It’s got the most polished interface, the biggest library, and a host of other things Microsoft will tell you about their console. It also has a horrendously godawful hardware failure rate due to what a lot of folks are suspecting is an overall design failure. For the longest time we didn’t hear much about it, but not too long ago, there was a story saying that the overall failure rate for the console is 16.5%! Good Lord, that’s insane. Most hardware failure rates are a couple of percent. You kind of expect that. It’s inevitable. Things break. I get it. But 16/17 percent of all units? No wonder Microsoft had to extend the warranty.

That’s the rub with me and my original Xbox 360 unit. That one was manufactured at some point pre-launch of the console in the fall of 2005. I forget the manufacture date of my original unit. This second unit was manufactured in August of 2006. That was right around the time that Microsoft started coming up with some ways to properly combat the problems the units were having, but I didn’t get an upgraded unit for the second one. It was one from the original hardware design, before they started upgrading things to deal with the original design problems. In July of 2007, they extended the warranty for all units to three years with the red rings problem, and refunded repair money to those who had paid it. My first one died in the window between the original one year warranty, and when they extended it to three years. So I could have gotten away with it, but I was so mad at the time.. oh well.

Anyway, this new unit has died now too. At first I tried all the junk they have you try when they die (which I’ve read about enough, and went through once before with my first unit). Unplug the box AND the power supply from the wall. Let them power cycle (the light on the power brick goes out). Plug back in. It actually worked again. However, I knew it was likely temporary, so I turned off the box, and tried again. Three red rings. It’s a gonner.

So I first tried the repair stuff on – and got an error about my box being not registered, and then when I tried, I got another error on their website. Great. I was really hoping to avoid talking to someone on the line again, as it’s generally guys who sound like English is their third language. So it was with some trepidation that I called 1-800-MYXBOX. I got another guy who sounded like I was talking with someone in India again. But this guy wasn’t uber hyper, and was talking in a register I could understand. Without going through all of our phone call, I got a repair order put in.

Technically my box is out of warranty, but the three year repair thing covers this, so I don’t have to pay anything. As has been documented elsewhere what happens now is that you get an empty box from Microsoft with UPS postage paid on it. You put your 360 console in there, and ship it off. A few weeks after that, you get it back repaired. I’ve read online that in a lot of cases it’s not the same unit. I am hoping that due to the manufacture age of this unit, they don’t just repair it, they replace it with one of the newer ones. The newer ones have quieter DVD drives, additional heat sinks, chips that use less power, and generate less heat. That kind of stuff. Hopefully that’s what I get.

So now I wait – the empty box should arrive around Wed or Thursday this week or so they said. I now have to wait about three weeks or so to get an Xbox 360 back. I guess this means more time with my Nintendo Wii and my Playstation 3. Despite all the tech problems the 360 has (one of which is the extremely LOUD DVD drive the thing has – the Wii & PS3 are whisper quiet), I enjoy it more than the Wii & the PS3. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy games on the others – or I wouldn’t have them. But the overall experience I think is the best on the 360. When it works.

When my wife suggested that I just buy a new one after my first failure, she did say that if the second one died, that she’d probably put her foot down and say I wasn’t going to buy another one. This all has happened while she’s out of the house with our daughter at one of my daughter’s friends’ birthday parties. I can’t wait to see the rolling of the eyes (rightfully so) when she returns. :) At least this repair is free. What they tell you is that the repair work is not covered by the rest of the three year warranty, although if this happens a third time, I might be too mad to want another one.

The real tease of all this is that I have a development kit Xbox 360 on my desk at work. Those are nice, but the development kit boxes don’t play retail games. Only development stuff. Darnit, otherwise I’d use that to play my games on. Sigh.

So in closing, I have this to say about my second Red ring of Death Xbox 360…

UPDATE Mar 19: My coffin arrived late Wed afternoon at work for me to send my dead 360 back in. What’s amusing is the address on the label they sent me is about a 10, maybe 15 minute drive from work. I wonder if they’ll let me just drop it off. Probably not, but it sucks it’s so close and I have to send it through UPS.

UPDATE Mar 28: Well, my replacement 360 just showed up at 3DR via UPS. It still bugs me that the repair facility was 8.2 miles from 3DR HQ, and I couldn’t take it there myself. Still, from the time out the door to back in my hands was 7 days, that’s really not that bad, all things considering.

Anyway, the first thing I did was open it up to see if I got my same unit back. I DID NOT want my old unit back, as it’s manufacture date was 2006-08-23. This was the original hardware footprint of the Xbox 360, and I certainly didn’t want that back, as both my first and second units were from that “batch”, and both crapped out. My original 360 had a pre-launch manufacture date from some time in the fall of 2005.

So I open the box, and there’s a letter on the top that starts with the text “So that you can get back to playing and enjoying your Xbox quicker, we have replaced your Xbox console with a replacement unit”.

It’s not my same box! Huzzah! So I then check the serial number on the back, and it’s not the same. The manufacture date is 2008-03-08.

It’s less than three weeks old as I get it in my hands. This probably means it’s one of the newer 65ns units (hopefully). These are supposed to have quieter DVD drives, too.

The problem is, I don’t know how to tell. I found a post online a few weeks back telling you how to tell if you’re in a retail store, and can see the box labels. But this is a repair job, so I don’t have the nice fancy retail box.

One other thing is that I thought all 360’s now came with HDMI ports. This one does not. That’s not a huge deal to me, as I don’t have an HDTV, but I thought all the models now came with an HDMI port. Guess I’m wrong.

Whatever, I’m glad to have my 360 back. Hopefully I don’t have any future problems going forward.

Edit: Future me scoffs at this optimism of younger me.

Rest in Peace, Common Sense

My parents told me about Mr. Common Sense early in my life and told me I would do well to call on him when making decisions. It seems he was always around in my early years but less and less as time passed by.
Today I read his obituary. Please join me in a moment of silence in remembrance, for Common Sense has served us all so well for so many generations.
An Obituary for Common Sense
Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was Since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.
He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as knowing when to come in out of the rain, why the early bird gets the worm, life isn’t always fair, and maybe it was my fault.
Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don’t spend more than you earn) and reliable parenting strategies (adults, not children are in charge).
His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a six-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.
Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job they themselves failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer Aspirin, sun lotion or a sticky plaster to a student, but could not inform the parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.
Common Sense lost the will to live as the Ten Commandments became contraband; churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims. Common Sense took a beating when you couldn’t defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.
Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.
Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust; his wife, Discretion; his daughter, Responsibility; and his son, Reason. He is survived by three stepbrothers; I Know my Rights, Someone Else is to Blame, and I’m a Victim.
Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.
If you still remember him, pass this on.
Thanks Spazzy.