Saturday, July 18, 2009


Tracking my healthy Xbox

I've now got a new UPS tracking number for the return trip. The repaired console was passed back to UPS on Thursday and was back in the UK (via Cologne and Brussels) the next day. After a weekend resting in Barking, the package should reach me on Monday.



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Tuesday, July 14, 2009


We have your Xbox...

Dear John Breakwell,

Xbox Customer Support Service Request ID#: xxxxxxxxxx

Good news, we have received your Xbox console at our Service Center.

You can track the status of your order online by accessing You will also receive an e-mail notification when your repair has been completed.

Register your console Repair your console or check your repair status

Thank you for your patience.



Tracking my sick Xbox

Following the UPS tracking number, I see the console was collected on Friday from Reading as planned, stayed overnight in Barking, then took the weekend to travel to Dusseldorf. Last night, it reached Frankfurt and was signed for at 3:35am this morning! The Xbox repair centre must be a 24x7 operation.

Time to switch over to Xbox support to track it further...


Tuesday, July 07, 2009


Today came so close to being a "Positive Xbox Experience Day"

Today was an "almost" day for Xbox in so many ways.

  1. I was shopping in Comet for an extra Xbox 360 for the bedroom. They had only one Arcade in stock and that was a bundle with Sega Superstars Tennis (+£10 on the unbundled price). I knew from checking online that no shops seemed to have Arcades on their own in stock at a reasonable price so paid the extra for a game I didn't want. Slightly grey cloud appears.

  2. When I got home, I went to to register the new purchase. Strangely, the newly added console showed no "Warranty start" date but did have a "Warranty expiration" of May 17th, 2010 - well short of the expected 12 months. I assume this date is based on when the console is delivered to Comet. Grey cloud darkening.

  3. After pinging one of my colleagues in the US, I called Xbox support and they asked me to email them a scan of the till receipt. Was impressed that I didn't need to post anything. The telephone line was almost clear too so I didn't have to concentrate on what the person was saying too much either. Sunshine filtering through breaks in the cloud.

  4. To test the new console, I plugged it into the TV and had a play with the blades. Having no storage (hard disk or memory card), the console comes with the old interface. I couldn't put the hard disk from my other Xbox onto this one for secret squirrel reasons. Against my better judgement, I dug out the Xbox wireless network adapter and tried to get the console to talk to Xbox Live. I typed in the WEP code but failed to get an IP address from my router; even giving the console a fixed IP address wouldn't get me anywhere. I really hate that adapter. Cloud blocks the sun again.

  5. After putting the new purchase away (no monitor in the bedroom yet), I decided to try out the Tennis game to see if I'd been ripped off. Before I could, the console advised me to install a secret squirrel update which I agreed to. Console locks. Reboot and try to download the update again. Console locks. Maybe there is something wrong with the update? Reboot. Console DIES with lovely flashing red lights. Reconnect all cables and try without hard disk - still dead. Maybe I shouldn't have let the old console see the new addition to the family. Thunderheads appear.

  6. Knowing the drill, I go to the Xbox support website (the telephone lines closed an hour ago) and try to request a repair. I sign in and click on the serial number of the dead console - get prompted to sign in. I try this loop for a few minutes before closing all browse windows and trying again - no joy. Even rebooting made no difference. Ominous purple glow around clouds.

  7. In the end I went to another machine and made the request frem there. The website correctly showed that I was out of normal warranty so I mentioned in the "anything to declare" text box that this was for a three-red-lights warranty repair. Then the form asked for credit card details - hopefully I won't get billed £78.20 for this and have to fight to get a refund afterwards. Nowhere on the receipt does it repeat the text I typed in or state that three-red-lights warranty will be free. The process doesn't fill me with confidence. Heavy rain starts to fall.

  8. The email with the returns instructions only took an hour to arrive - this is good. I've heard form colleagues where the emails never arrived, resulting in delays due to contacting Xbox support on the phone and resubmitting the repair requests. Downpour ends.

  9. Just realised that I had donated the cardboard coffin the last repaired console came back in to some poor soul at work. So now I need to find a sturdy box to send the dead console back in. Distant rumble of thunder.

Fingers crossed that the repair process includes - for the first time - a successful migration of the game licenses. One can only hope.

Strangely, I'm not too angry about all this. Maybe that's partly because I'm not mid-way through a game. The console dying during my recent Fable 2 period would have irked me somewhat.
Sue - now she is going to be SO PISSED OFF when she comes back from her training course in Birmingham to find the Xbox is dead AGAIN. And she'll blame Microsoft - handily, there's a representitive just a few feet away...

Scores on the Doors

Console #1 (purchased) - 12 months (Jan 06 - Jan 07)
Console #2 (replacement) - 10 months (Feb 07 - Nov 07)
Console #3 (replacement) - 20 months (Dec 07 - today)
Console #4 (purchased) - ?? months (today - ??)

It has been pointed out to me that my Xbox is effectively 42 months old so I no longer qualify for a free three-red-lights repair. Joy.


Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Beta testing - so you don't have to


Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I've given my Xbox a blog.

Well, more accurately, my GamerTag. So whenever I defeat some game and reap the achievements, the world will know!


Monday, October 13, 2008


It's me, honest


What a cool dude, eh? Maybe the hair doesn't go back THAT far just yet. The lines under the eyes are accurate though...


Monday, July 21, 2008


Rock Band Rocks

I really love playing Rock Band but I wish my little finger could handle the strain. Half an hour of blue-note mashing definitely leaves it sore. Maybe I'll have to learn to play left-handed just to give the poor digit a rest.


Sunday, July 20, 2008


Xbox support - solving problems through deterrent

A couple of weeks ago I wanted to redeem a 4200 point card on Xbox Live. Simple enough - scratch the card and type the code in - but XBL kept saying "no, check the code, dummy". Being faced with calling Xbox support for help, I did what any sane person would do - put the card back in its case and went off to do something else.

Today I finally plucked up the courage to contact Xbox support. First, though, I decided to test the card one more time so I could get the error message up on the screen to save time. When the card went through without error, tears of relief rolled down my face - saved!


Saturday, June 14, 2008


Power LAN to the rescue

The Xbox 360 has for a while been pretty flakey keeping a connection going with Xbox Live. I'm pretty sure this has been down to the Xbox wireless network adapter I'm using (and been having trouble with).
I can't run a cable through to the part of the room where the TV is. Well, I can but it would involve lifting up carpets and drilling through walls which just is NOT going to happen. So I have decided to use the network that ALL houses come with - all houses that use electricity, anyway.
It must be twenty years ago now (when I was working at Morgan Crucible) that we in the IT department received a flyer extolling the virtues of networks that sent data over the copper wires used by the electricity that powered the computers. This seemed too weird and wonderful at the time so we didn't use it in the building.
Fast forward two decades and every home seems to have PCs with home LANs. The network of choice has been wireless to avoid dragging CAT5 Ethernet cablin round the house but there are a lot of places where wireless just doesn't do the trick. This is either because of thick walls or long distances between the wireless transmitter (usually downstairs where Broadband comes into the building) and the computer (in a bedroom upstairs somewhere).
So I've invested in a Devolo starter kit to join the Xbox to the Broadband router. What you need to do is plug a network cable in between your computer and one adapter to tell it to be friends with the other adapter. Seemed easy enough except my new Vista-running Dell laptop refused to see the adapter at the end of the cable. Had to borrow Samantha's old XP computer to be able to set up the network at all.
Once that was done I had to find some spare power sockets near the Broadband router and then by the TV - not easy even in a modern house where multiple power blocks are the order of the day. I also had to rearrange the plugs so that the fat adapter had small enough plugs next to it to get plugged in at all.
But it seems to be working fine now - the Xbox sure seems to be downloading content faster. Just need to see if it still randomly signs out of XBL.


Thursday, January 03, 2008


Back to Xbox support...

So I've finally got round to trying to fix the Xbox Live problems on my recently repaired 360. Just like on my first repaired 360, the licenses for the downloaded games were not transferred to the new console. This means that I can only play them if I am signed in with the XBL account that purchased them and connected to the XBL network.
I now have an incident number and a promise that someone will call me back in the next two days to resolve this. From what I've heard at work, this process - moving the license on the back-end server from one console serial number to another can take a few weeks. I just wish they had got it right before sending the replacement console back to me in the first place.


Monday, December 10, 2007


Xbox hardware... why?

So I sat down to do some testing to try and work out what was wrong with the wireless networking.

[[The Wireless network adapter (WNA) has 4 states:
no light - not plugged in
red light - working but not connected to wireless network
green light - working, connected to wireless network
red flashing light - broken

1 Plug WNA into all three USB ports in turn on the Xbox. Indicator light defiantly stays off.
2 Plug WNA into Sue's PC - light goes red (which is good) and Windows tries to find the drivers to install for it
3 Plug WNA into all three USB ports in turn on the Xbox. Indicator light defiantly stays off.
4 Plug WNA into my laptop - light goes red, etc.
5 Plug into Xbox again and blasted thing starts working. Can I have the time I wasted back please?

Sue and I can now get down to some serious Carcassone and we are into our third game (which I am obviously going to win) when the Xbox Live network has an outage and we are kicked out of the game! Which means the licenses for the games have not been migrated from the old console to the new. Thanks, guys...



When UPS say "tomorrow" they mean "next working day"...

Anyway, I waiting in all day today and eventually:

Status: Delivered
Delivered On: 10/12/2007 16:50

So a quick test reveals ... {fanfare} ... the external wireless network adapter doesn't power up...

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Friday, December 07, 2007


So close...

After a week of waiting, I see my new Xbox360 has finally been given to UPS to deliver to me.
In a complete reverse of the original delay between UPS delivering the broken Xbox to them and the repair website admitting it had arrived, Xbox support declared last Friday that the repaired console was "shipped to customer" but waited until today before handing it over.

At 3:17am this morning, the parcel left Tamworth for the Abingdon depot (which isn't far from here). Why it was in Tamworth I have no idea as I sent to Havant for repair.
Three hours later at 6:19am the status at changed to "out for delivery" so I was excited that we would have the console back for the weekend. I warned the family at home not to go out and to be prepared for a parcel.
Lo and behold, a parcel arrived! Wrong parcel - luckily I had warned Samantha to stop Sue opening anything to avoid ruining any Christmas surprises.
Checking the UPS site again I see at 5:10pm some terrible news:
I called home and this was news to them too so I contacted UPS who promised to look into it and call back within the hour, which they did. Apparantly the delivery man had tried to announce his arrival and even walked round the back of the house to try and see someone in. Sam was upstairs and Sue was in the study and neither knew he was there. UPS have committed to deliver it Saturday so fingers crossed.


Tuesday, December 04, 2007


Still no Xbox

So the Xbox support site says "Device Shipped to Customer".
The UPS site says "Billing Information Received".
Does that just mean a pickup has been logged with UPS and my console is still awaiting collection?


Friday, November 30, 2007


Mister postman look and see if there's an Xbox 360 in your bag for me


Tracking Number: #########
Type: Package
Status: Billing Information Received
Shipped To: READING, GB
Shipped/Billed On: 03/12/2007
Weight: 3.80 Kg

Monday? Pah!


Tuesday, November 27, 2007


A watched Xbox never repairs

Slowly the security guard walked through the warehouse, shining his torch to left and right, briefly illuminating rows and rows of dust-covered broken Xboxes each time.


Thursday, November 22, 2007


Are we there yet? Are we there yet?

Full of anticipation, I visit the Xbox support site to see if my broken Xbox has moved from the arrivals lounge of the Service Centre. Sadly, no, they are still waiting for it to arrive. Maybe they have so many coming in to be repaired that it takes at least 2 days just to register its arrival?


Wednesday, November 21, 2007


"A console barely alive. We can rebuild it. We have the technology. We can make it better than it was. Better... stronger... faster."

Our poorly Xbox 360 has been whisked away by UPS and - through the wonders of modern science and the Internet - I can see it reached its destination in Havant yesterday morning at 11:56am.
Now we just have to wait for the Repair Status to change from "Waiting for Device at Service Center" to something a bit more positive.


Thursday, November 15, 2007


It's worse than that, it's dead, Jim

Yet again my Xbox360 has died. Luckily, it is again within warranty, this time the extended three years for the red ring of doooom.

Initially the Xbox just intermittently failed with corrupt screen graphics but, after much gnashing of teeth and praying to the gods of gaming, the console detiorated from an expensive out-of-warranty failure to a free in-warranty failure.

Funnily enough (for those with a sick sense of humour anyway), today is the 5th anniversary of Xbox Live and members can download a game for free as a present. Of all the days to fail, today would be the best so it did. My luck was in, though, as the free game is NOT one of your own choice but the magnificent Carcassone which I've already bought.

Time to contact Xbox support to get the repair process rolling...


Friday, March 23, 2007


You know you've been playing Crackdown too long when...

Walked out of the underground carpark at work today, looked up at the campus buildings, and thought "eeek, I'm still in Crackdown!" Luckily I resisted the temptation to pull-leap myself up to the roof in search of agility orbs...

((photo taken ages ago when we used to get snow...))


Friday, January 05, 2007


Xbox 360 may have to be repaired

Despite Backward Compatibility, we tend to run Xbox games in the Xbox and Xbox 360 games in the Xbox 360. Until now we haven't really had an Xbox 360 game that we play for hours on end so haven't really noticed how often it crashed. It used to crash before but not often and not too annoyingly. Now, with Viva Piñata it is becoming a nuisance - luckily the game has a regular auto-save as it crashes after an hour or so, and then once or twice an hour after that. Xbox support says that their records show a warranty for my machine up until January 11th so maybe it's time for it to go in for repair. I'm not too happy about that as I'm not sure I'll get a decent machine back - it could be someone else's refurbished machine which hasn't been as well looked after as mine. The crashing is not going to go away, though, so something needs to be done.


Monday, December 04, 2006


Still trucking along

As I don't believe in fate, I don't worry about tempting it. Anyway, my Xbox360 is still working fine, as is my original Xbox (although obviously the latter does not see quite as much usage - when a game isn't backward-compatible on the Xbox360 normally). So all is not doom and gloom in Xboxworld - delivered January 5th, 2006 and still going. As I bought it in the UK, it has a proper 12 months warranty - hmmm.... one month left on that so should I get an extended warranty as a Christmas present for it?

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Friday, October 28, 2005

The Xbox360 is coming and we're getting ready.


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