Thursday, November 16, 2006

My $400 brick

Starting about two weeks ago, our XBox 360 became pretty unstable. It would freeze up sometimes during games or movies, no errors or anything, just wouldn't respond. Then I get three flashing red lights -- you don't need to know anything about computers to know that isn't good.

They call it the "Ring of Death," and it means "general hardware failure" -- typical Microsoft helpfulness, like the Blue Screen of Death. I looked it up, and I went through the possibilities. They were heat problems with the launch systems, and I have one. But I never had this problem in Togo, and I made sure the system and power supply got enough air. The second option was bad power (fluctuating voltage) -- and I figure if the power was fine in Togo, with our backup generator, it's fine anywhere. The last option was the worst: Microsoft did it.
On Nov. 1, Microsoft released a fall update, and pushed it through the Internet to all systems. In a "very small number of systems" -- tech speak for nobody-knows-how-many -- this can brick a system. This means that it gives this hyperpowered PC and DVD player all the functionality of a brick. Check for more stories like this here, and here.
I called Microsoft tech support, and finally got to a human. After getting through the moron fixes (rebooting, unplugging, replugging -- it's not like I can boot to DOS), they said it's still days within warranty, so they'll take it back and fix it for free. But I still need to send it back from India, and wait for it to come back.

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