Remember the Xbox 360 Scratched Disks

For those of you who own a Xbox 360, you probably have at least one scratched disk rendering it unplayable. It’s a well-know issue within the Xbox 360 community. Thousands of users have lost money due to the damaged disks. In 2007, a class action suit was filed against Microsoft. Microsoft continues to fight, and even had the case dismissed a few years back, stating that there were not enough complaints to warrant such a case. From Kotaku.com:

According to an AP report released on Friday (via Polygon), a federal judge dismissed the class action suit in 2012, stating there were not enough complaints to justify a class action suit. Shortly after the dismissal was reversed by a federal appeals court.

And so this past Friday the Supreme Court of the United States of America agreed that they would hear Microsoft’s last attempt to shake the class action lawsuit. The company wants to argue that since individual claims from defendants in the class action had been thrown out previously, the group claim should as well.

The Supreme Court will rule over whether or not Microsoft has to face the class action suit. Should their decision come back in the plaintiffs’ favor, we’ll check back in another five years or so to see how it’s going.

Microsoft Silverlight Snubs Linux Users

Microsoft Silverlight is a powerful development platform for creating engaging, interactive user experiences for the web, desktop and mobile applications, either while connected online or offline. At least, that’s what Microsoft’s says on its website. Silverlight is a browser plugin people use to view streaming movies, videos, and sporting events, as well as running business applications online. Microsoft touts that Silverlight works on all browsers, from Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and of course, Internet Explorer.

However, Silverlight only works in Windows and in Safari on the Mac OS. It doesn’t work in Linux. There are however, several open-source alternatives, like Moonlight, which mimics Silverlight. But it has come up short. There are still a number of Silverlight-powered websites that are inaccessible from the Linux desktop. Netflix comes to mind. There are also several major sports leagues that use Silverlight exclusively for live streaming. The NFL, MLB, NBA, and the MLS are just a few.

Netflix uses Silverlight because of the DRM or digital rights management issue. Netflix has to some way protect movies from being pirated online, hence the use of Silverlight. Here’s the Netflix message you’ll get if you try to run Netflix on Linux. It doesn’t really say it doesn’t support Linux, but Linux is not on the list.

Microsoft or Netflix has no plans whatsoever to include Linux users into the fold. Micorosoft doesn’t seem bothered that Linux users are being isolated from viewing popular video streaming websites. I don’t see Microsoft or Netflix changing their stance anytime soon. They are certainly not going to throw resources to develop Silverlight for the Linux desktop. It’s really a shame, because I still have to keep an old copy of Windows XP running either in a dual-boot configuration or in a Virtualbox, just for the purpose of accessing Silverlight-powered websites and other programs that work in Windows only.

I won’t hold my breath for this to change anytime soon. Maybe, one of these days Linux developers can come up with a better alternative to Moonlight. Waiting for Microsoft to open up the source code for Silverlight, is a waste of time. In the meantime, you can get a Roku box or a Xbox 360, albeit a Microsoft product, to view Netflix and other websites online.

But, there’s a catch. You also have to fork out an additional $60 a year for Xbox Live, and whatever additional subscription price others have with their services. Microsoft technology is just the opposite of what open-source and Linux stands for. It’s all about money and doesn’t care about standards.  It just doesn’t act in the best interest of all.

FIFA 12

Last night, I finally received in the mail, FIFA 12 for the Xbox 360. I ordered it through Amazon since it was $10 cheaper. Shipping was free, but I have to wait 5-7 days for it.  It was worth it. I think.

One the reasons I bought this game was, because EA turned off the online servers for FIFA 10. I can no longer play online games, which takes the fun out of it. So, on to the next release, or two.

I went with FIFA 12. I never considered buying FIFA 11, because I think it nuts to buy the same game every year. Plus the older games are usually supported for a minimum of 2 years.

I probably missed out on all the fun with FIFA 11, but I’m all caught up now. I think. FIFA 12 needs some serious relearning on my part. Playing defense is an entirely different game. You can no longer call for help on defense as much with FIFA 10.

The animation is great. The players moves are more realistic than previous versions. The wild celebrations after a goal is a little overdone. Rooney keeps on getting caught up inside the goal netting, like a shark caught in a fisherman’s net.

Overall, I like the game. It will take a little use to get better with this game. Playing online will come later, when I get better.

FIFA 2010 Online Service Down

EA Sports has finally turned off the online servers for FIFA 2010 on December 6. I have been trying to play online the last couple of days, but it kept saying the servers are down. And I thought the hiccup was due to the recent Xbox 360 update. Unfortunately it wasn’t. It was just EA turning off the online service for several games, in which FIFA 2010 is chief among them.

Here’s the service update notes from EA Sports.

The decisions to retire older EA games are never easy.  The development teams and operational staff pour their hearts into these games almost as much as the customers playing them and it is hard to see one retired.  But as games get replaced with newer titles, the number of players still enjoying the older games dwindles to a level — fewer than 1% of all peak online players across all EA titles — where it’s no longer feasible to continue the behind-the-scenes work involved with keeping these games up and running. We would rather our hard-working engineering and IT staff focus on keeping a positive experience for the other 99% of customers playing our more popular games.  We hope you have gotten many hours of enjoyment out of the games and we appreciate your ongoing patronage.

If you have further questions about your account or the shut down of these services, please visit http://support.ea.com.

Thank you,
Electronic Arts

Oh well, it was good while it lasted. In reality, I just about milked every cent out of that game. It was great fun. In the meantime, it’s time to look for a possible replacement. I heard FIFA 2012 has got rave reviews.

The Latest Xbox 360 Update

I was dismantling the Xbox 360 last night since the DVD tray would not open. I tried every trick in the book, but no cigar. I ended up breaking the seal (gulp, don’t tell anyone) and removing the plastic covers. I vacuumed the unit. and poked the hole near the DVD tray with a metal wire to free up the DVD tray. It worked.

I’m not sure if I needed to remove the plastic covers to poke the hole, but since it was already open, I took the opportunity to vacuum the unit. I can’t believe the amount of dust collected over the years. I left the covers off momentarily. It seems to have better ventilation without it. Who would have thought? Maybe, this will fix the red ring of death which I still get ocassionally.

Upon bootup, I was prompted with a message to run an Xbox update. So, I ran the update. After 20 minutes, the update completed. The Xbox rebooted. Lo and behold, the new Xbox 360 interface was right before my eyes. In case you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the new XBox 360 interface, courtesy of theRadBrad.

I’m not sure what to think of it yet. What’s with the Bing Search? You can now search the entire Xbox for movies, games, etc, but it’s not for searching the internet. I seem to like the easy access to videos and apps, like Netflix, Hulu Plus, etc. I also noticed viewing Youtube is now possible? I haven’t tried it yet. I’m going to have to play around with it some more before making anymore silly comments.

Netflix Takes Half Of My Bandwidth

I was watching videos on Youtube last night, and I noticed that my connection was slow. Really slow. My download speed just couldn’t keep up with the Youtube videos at 360p. We are not even talking HD quality here. I was scratching my head as to why my connection was slow. As it turned out, Netflix was taking half of my bandwidth.

I don’t have the fastest connection to begin with. I have an AT&T’s DSL Elite Pro touted at 6 mb per second. When I perform DSL speed tests from SpeakEasy, my top speed is almost always 5 mbps. I’ve never seen it go past 5. Unfortunately, my neighborhood does not support U-verse. So, I’m stuck with DSL. Cable is not an option for me, but that’s another story.

So, when I had some trouble today, I noticed that my bandwidth dropped to 2.5 mbps. I realized someone watching Netflix on the XBox 360 downstairs. This the sole reason why the Youtube videos would crawl at certain times of the day. Based on what I read online, it basically confirms this:

the average encoding rate for video streamed to the Xbox 360 is about 2000Kbps. That means one person watching a two hour movie would transfer roughly 1.8GB of data. For high definition movies, the average encoding bitrate is around 3200Kbps and one user would transfer about 3GB of data.

This makes a whole lot of sense. They are saying that Netflix will take up about 2 mbps. In my case, Netflix was using 2.5 mbps of my bandwidth to stream movies. That leaves me with the other 2.5 mbps for browsing, email, etc. It doesn’t give me a lot of room to run Netflix and Youtube at the same time.

New Xbox 360 at $199

Microsoft revealed the price of the new Xbox 360 today at just $200. It’s sleek new design with glossy black finish is quite impressive. The biggest difference in my opinion is how quiet this new console compared to its predecessor. The whisper quiet console won’t drown out the sound when you’re watching Netflix late at night. The device also comes with a 250GB hard drive and a built-in Wi-Fi N adapter.

Microsoft also revealed the price of Kinect today at $150. If you don’t have a Xbox 360 and are looking to get one, you might want to take advantage of the bundle that includes the Xbox 360 that comes with a 4GB internal flash memory,  the Kinect and a game called Kinect adventures. The bundle is priced at $300.

If you are not familiar what Kinect can do, check out the Xbox 360 website. It’s similar to Wii, but without the paddle.

Xbox 360 True Failure Rate

As much as I love the Xbox 360, the graphics, the games, and the online play, I still think it’s a piece of crap. You’ll be surprise if I tell you the failure rate of the Xbox 360. It’s a whopping 54%. The Xbox 360 has some serious hardware issues particularly with overheating. How long will Microsoft support this product because it currently bleeds red?

In my own experience, I had to return the Xbox 360 twice for repair. On both occasion, I had the red ring of death. If you’ve experience this problem, you only have one option for repair. You need to send it back to Microsoft. This is preferred way without breaking the warranty. Speaking of warranty, Microsoft has extended the warranty for 3 years because of many complaints. Because of the long wait, some have tried the towel trick, the heatsink fix as well as adding an extra fan.

No one can hide the fact, he Xbox 360 and its hardware particularly, has had a grade of F. Surprisingly, the Xbox operating system has been stable enough considering it’s based on Windows 2000. The main issue is really with overheating. Microsoft would have been better off contracting out the hardware to Dell, HP or to any hardware vendor.

Microsoft should have stuck to what they do best, that is, writing software and operating systems instead of producing hardware, although venturing out with a Microsoft OS can sometimes be a hairy experience. Finally, here is a damning story about the Xbox mess.

XBox 360 and Netflix

I just saw this announcement today regarding a deal between Microsoft and Netflix. In the very near future, Netflix subscribers will be able to view Netflix Watch Now streaming movies from their Xbox 360 systems. This service is not available with the current Xbox 360 now, but will be included in the upcoming XBox system upgrade. Netflix membership is of course required, as well as an XBox Live 360 Gold membership for $5 a month.

Another feature with the upcoming Xbox 360 upgrade is the ability to view and share streaming movies with up to seven friends, a feature not possible with any browser based system. Users can also fast-forward, rewind, and pause videos using the controller or a compatible media remote. Microsoft says the streaming movies should be able to start in 30 seconds or less.

I am curious as to how well this service will be welcomed by Xbox users. Aside from playing countless hours playing FIFA 08 online, I ocassionally watch DVD movies from the Xbox 360 console. I do have Netflix membership and Xbox Live Gold membership, so I am all set for this new home theater experience. I’ll certainly will give it a try. Now, I’m just waiting for the Xbox 360 system upgrade.

Nintendo’s Profit Up 77%

Who would have thought. With everyone raving about the Xbox 360 and the Playstation, Nintendo slingshots past its competitors. To note Nintendo was barely a mention a year ago. Over 10.21 millions units have been sold worldwide. Demand is very strong. As a result of brisk sales, Nintendo reported a net profit of 174.29 billion yen ($1.47 billion) in the year through March, up dramatically from 98.38 billion yen a year earlier. Nintendo is predicting 18% rise in profit sales next year. That is probably a very conservative number.