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XBOX 360 - Troubleshooting Guide

The definitive, complete, guide to XBOX 360 troubleshooting. If you want to see something else included on the guide, email me, and odds are, I will be able to help better than tech support.

Problem: 1 Flashing Red Light on the Ring of Light
This problem is caused by a general hardware failure. Try unplugging all the wires from the console, TV, and power source, then plugging them back in. Next, turn off the console and remove the harddrive. If this does not solve your problem, you will need to call XBOX technical support and try to troubleshoot the console. However, you will most likely end up sending your console in for repairs. If you purchased your console within the last year, or had it repaired within the last year, all costs, including shipping, will be covered by warranty. If not, see the section below on strategies to reduce your out of pocket repair cost.

Problem: 2 Flashing Red Lights on the Ring of Light
This means the console is overheating. Unplug the console from the wall, and make sure it is well ventilated on all sides. Wait at least 2 to 3 hours for the console to cool down, and then try turning it on again. This problem usually does not result in a service center call, if approached correctly.

Problem: 3 Flashing Red Lights on the Ring of Light
This problem is often referred to as the Ring of Death. According to Microsoft, this means the console is experiencing a hardware failure. After some additional research, I can confirm that this problem is usually caused by a loose piece inside the console. If you take the console apart, you will see the piece, and it can easily be soldered back on. However, I do not recommend this, because it will void your warranty. A temporary solution is to wrap your console in towels. This will cause overheating, and the effect will be a temporary soldering inside the console. However, the problem generally shows up soon after this quick fix, and this problem usually requires sending in your console to the service center. Before that, however, try unplugging all the wires from the console, TV, and power source, then plugging them back in. Next, turn off the console and remove the harddrive. If this does not solve your problem, you will need to call XBOX technical support and request that a box be shipped to you so that you can send your console to the service center for repairs. If you purchased your console within the last year, or had it repaired within the last year, all costs, including shipping, will be covered by warranty. If not, see the section below on strategies to reduce your out of pocket repair cost.

Problem: 4 Flashing Red Lights on the Ring of Light
This problem is caused by an improperly connected A/V cable. Try unplugging both ends of the A/V cable from the console and the TV, and then plug them back in. If this does not solve the problem, you may need to purchase a new A/V cable, but a call to technical support is the first step.

Problem: You cannot login to XBOX Live on a video game, because you need to apply an update. The update never works, and you are put into a loop.
This is a complex problem that is very easy to fix. You simply need to clear your console's cache. This can be done by going to the Dashboard, selecting System, Memory, and then pushing Y as shown on the screen. Then, use the button code X, X, Left Bumper, Right Bumper, X, X. Select "yes" to perform the maintenance, and then try the update again. It should install cleanly.

Problem: You cannot connect to XBOX Live, although you normally can.
This can be caused by many things. First, go through the console's built-in troubleshooting. If you need to call tech support, this will tell them exactly what went wrong. Next, make sure your internet connection is working somewhere else in the house. If it is, then perhaps the XBOX Live service is down worldwide. If not, then you have a different problem altogether. In either case, try unplugging your router and modem from each other and all power sources, leaving them unplugged for 30 seconds, then plugging everything back in. This often solves the problem.

Repair Cost Reduction Strategies:
If you purchased or repaired your console within the last year, all repairs will be free. However, if not, you will be asked by the tech support agent to pay a large sum of money to have your console fixed and shipped back to you. Before you agree to this, there are several steps you need to take:
  1. Check to see if, when you purchased your console, you also purchased an extended warranty from a store such as Best Buy. If you did, read the information carefully, and contact the store that sold you the warranty.
  2. If you did not purchase a warranty, then your console is not covered. However, some credit card companies will actually pay for repairs, if approached properly! First, find your receipt for the purchase of the console, as it may be useful. Next, call your credit card company, and see if they offer any insurance on items purchased. This is more common than you realize, and 99% of people are not aware that they have this service. Tell the agent that your console is malfunctioning, and Microsoft refuses to fix it for free. The company will often cover the cost of repairs for you. This policy is still not totally clear to me, so make inquiries with your credit card company. However, I have seen this work before.
  3. If you still have not accomplished anything, call the Microsoft tech support agent again. This time, go along with him as if you plan to purchase the repair. However, ask to speak to the agent's supervisor. This is critical, as the supervisor is the only one who can change the amount you have to pay. It usually isn't easy to speak to a supervisor, but I got one on my first request when I tried this. Explain to the supervisor the situation, and try to suck up to him, but sound rather angry at the same time. Remain polite (he doesn't have to reduce the cost for you) but frustrated. With the right persuasion skills, the supervisor will reduce the repair cost. On my first repair, this tactic got me free shipping, plus 50% off of a $160 repair.
Repair Schedule
This is an estimated schedule for the length of your repair, based on the averages of ten trials from different locations in the United States. This is just an estimate, not an exact schedule.
Day 1 - Call Microsoft, request mailing box and place repair order.
Day 5 - Receive empty prepaid box and place console in it as per instructions.
Day 6 - Mail off console.
Day 11 - Service center receives broken console.
Day 12 - A new/refurbished/repaired console is shipped out.
Day 17 - You receive the console.
Overall this process takes about 2 and a half weeks. Usually they just send you a refurbished or new console, but if they actually repair your console (never seen that in my personal experience) then you need to add a day to this tentative schedule. However, you won't know what they sent you until you actually receive the console, so it doesn't really matter.
Posted by PU on Thursday, June 28, 2007 at 8:29 PM Comments (116)

Wubi - Linux for Beginners

So you want to install Linux on your computer, but you're reluctant to partition your hard drive, or do anything that might mess up Windows in any way? Enter Wubi, a new Ubuntu installer that allows you to install Linux on Windows just like any other application. Give it a try!
Posted by PU on Sunday, June 24, 2007 at 1:22 PM Comments (0)

Who Is Ron Paul?

There has been a lot of buzz recently about Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul. But because the media has declared him "unelectable" not many people know exactly where he stands on the issues. This is a nonpartisan guide to Ron Paul.

Ron Paul claims to "never vote for legislation unless the proposed measure is expressly authorized by the Constitution." He served in the US House of Representatives in 1976, 1979-1985, and has held his current position representing Texas' 14th Congressional district since 1997. He has never voted to raise taxes, and maintains one of the most consistent voting records in Congress. He was even given permission by a top-ranking member of the Republican party to go against them on a bill which would undermine his Libertarian position. Paul has voted with the Republican part 77% of the time, not including bills on which he did not vote. A record of key votes by Ron Paul can be found here.

On Libertarianism:
Ron Paul is a self-described Libertarian. He was the Libertarian Party's candidate for president in 1988, and has demonstrated a Libertarian voting record in Congress. But what exactly is a Libertarian? Libertarians believe in the rights of an individual, and maintain that all people should have the right to complete personal freedom, as long as they do not deny others that right. As a consequence, most Libertarians favor an extremely limited federal government, and a policy of non-aggression. But what exactly does Ron Paul believe?

On Immigration:
Most Libertarians support open borders. However, Ron Paul does not, citing the federal government's constitutional obligation to secure the borders. He is against illegal immigration and amnesty for illegal aliens. He has repeatedly described benefits such as welfare as supporting illegal immigration.
On Abortion:
As a former obstetrician, Ron Paul is pro-life. However, he does not believe the Constitution gives the federal government the right to legalize or ban abortion. Rather, he believes these decisions should be left up to individual states.

On Capital Punishment:
As a Right-to-Life Libertarian, Paul opposes capital punishment.

On Education:
Paul believes that the federal government should not control the educational systems, but rather the school system be handled at the state and local levels. Thus, he opposes the No Child Left Behind Act. He also opposes the proposed federal voucher system that would give families money to pay for private schools. Instead, he supports tax credits for families with children in private schools.

On Gay Marriage:
Ron Paul has not come out firmly on either side of this issue. Although he is personally against gay marriage, he believes it is not the federal government's place to define a marriage. He has stated that he believes any individuals have the right to get married, because marriage existed before government, and is an individual right. However, he also has said that the decision should be made at the state level to decide whether or not to allow gay marriage.

On Healthcare:
Ron Paul supports tax credits to reduce health care costs. He has voted in favor of several bills that would establish such credits. He has also consistently voted against government regulated or socialized healthcare, claiming that government interference in healthcare will cause higher prices and worsened quality.

On Social Security:
Paul believes that the Social Security system is in jeopardy, due to a lack of funds. Paul cites the repeated borrowing of Social Security funds by Congress to fund the budget as a primary concern. He has encouraged reassessing the system, and allowing citizens to not pay Social Security taxes, and drop out of the Social Security system if they wish.
On Gun Control:
Paul is a firm believer in the rights of gun owners, repeatedly citing the Second Amendment. He was the only presidential candidate to earn an A+ rating from the Gun Owner's Association of America.

On Drugs:
Paul supports industrial and medical use of marijuana, and believes that the prohibition of any drugs is an affront to an individual's rights, and would be ineffective regardless.

On the Economy:
Paul has proposed several radical measures. As a Libertarian, Paul is an advocate of small businesses, and a strong proponent of lowering taxes. He has fought against direct taxes, including the income tax. Paul also opposes the Federal Reserve, because he believes it causes inflation. Paul also believes that a return to the gold standard would prevent inflation, and he strongly supports this. He is also a proponent of free trade.

On the War in Iraq:
As a non-interventionist Paul opposes the war in Iraq, and voted against the Iraq War Resolution, which authorized the war. He has also said that the war in Iraq is being used as an attempt to rob citizens of their rights and liberties.

Posted by PU on Wednesday, June 20, 2007 at 6:43 PM Comments (5)

Top 10 Ice Cream Flavors

When I am in the ice cream aisle at the grocery store, I can never decide which flavor to get, and I usually end up getting more than one. Notes from many hours of late-night ice cream sampling bring you this: The top 10 ice cream flavors that you will find at your local grocery store.

10) One of my cousin's all-time favorites scraped its way on to the list at number ten: Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Ice Cream is a must-taste for any true chocoholic.

9) As soon as I tasted it, I liked the novelty of Haagen-Dazs' Mango Ice Cream. Normally I'm not a big fan of Haagen-Dazs, but this ice cream was too good to leave off.

8) A big shocker here: the best chocolate ice cream was a close competition, but it ended in a huge upset, the winner being Publix Brand Chocolate Ice Cream. In absence of a Publix store near you, Breyer's Original Chocolate Ice Cream was almost as good.

7) A unique ice cream named for guitarist Jerry Garcia, Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia is a cherry ice cream with cherries and fudge flakes.

6) Although I'm a chocolate fan myself, I had to include good old vanilla. The best vanilla ice cream I ever tasted was Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla, which reminded me of the world-renowned Creamery ice cream at Penn State University.

5) Surprisingly, a diet version of an ice cream made the list. Breyer's Double Churn Light Caramel Tracks made a name for itself after it lasted half a day in the family freezer.

4) Chocolate chip cookie dough would have to make any list of the best ice creams. But there were so many different varieties at Publix, it took weeks to sample them all. But the best by far was Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. Incidentally, this was the very first chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream flavor ever created.

3) The best cake batter ice cream I ever had was high in the mountains of North Carolina, so when I saw a similar Blue Bell Cake Batter ice cream, I had to try it. Sure enough, it was an instant favorite.

2) Vanilla ice cream with fudge and peanut butter mixed in. Something is missing...how about fudge-covered, peanut butter-filled pretzels? Originally conceived as a prank, Ben & Jerry's Chubby Hubby weighs in at a delectable number 2.

1) A delicious banana-flavored ice cream with walnuts and chunks of fudge mixed in, the number one ice cream flavor available at your local grocery store is Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey. On any given day you'll find an empty carton at my house.
Posted by PU on Monday, June 18, 2007 at 4:59 AM Comments (34)

Free TV Episodes & Movies

Stage6 is a cool new site from which you can view online episodes of all your favorite TV shows, as well as a few movies. When copyrighted movies appear on the site, they seem to eventually get taken down, although it takes a while. Many American movies are currently listed on the site, as well as a large selection of Bollywood movies. When you search for movies, be sure to list the search results by length, so all the movies come to the top. Happy viewing!

All the movies and videos are in DivX format, and can be downloaded with this nice Greasemonkey script.

Also, someone decided to compile a list of movies off of the site, and it is available at Videostored. You can also watch the movies straight off of that site.
Posted by PU on Friday, June 15, 2007 at 3:08 PM Comments (1)