Video Games

Oh great, the computer’s stacking the deck

The computer is telling me I’ve played enough solitaire for today.


What’s wrong with the picture? Here’s the problem, there’s a two of clubs out next to the seven… and another in the stack under the four of clubs.

Cars Video Games

Makes me want a PS3… and a budget for track days

Gran Tourismo, Playstation’s ultimate driving simulation game (some argue it’s the best on any platform), has announced a feature that bridges the gap between video games and track days.

Back in the good old days, when Mike and I used to have “racing budget”, we practiced driving Laguna Seca on the PS2 with Gran Tourismo, then went and drove the track for real. If we did it now, however, we could take it one step farther by bringing the results of our track day back home and reviewing them on the new version of Gran Tourismo.

Here’s how it works: while at your track day you record your lap times and lines using GPS and “CAN”. When you return home you put the data on a USB stick and plug it into your PS3. You can replay the data by watching your run around the track or use the data as a ghost and race against yourself to improve your lines or see how you would fare against, say, an F1 car (spoiler alert: not very well).

What type of data logger hardware you need isn’t terribly clear in the press release, it just says you need log CAN data. As for tracks, I think it’s a safe assumption that the feature will be limited to the tracks already part of the software.

Video Games

Won’t be long now

After setting it aside to prepare for Christmas, I finally shipped off my Xbox for [free] repair of the three rings of death. It’s now in the hands of the hardware pixies and I hope to have it back soon!

Fortunately I haven’t been completely without fraggy goodness, I do have a second Xbox. It is, however, a European Xbox so won’t play some titles. I don’t think I’ll get to see Trina online again until I can play Rock Band.

Video Games


Video Games

Warranty goodness from Microsoft

After seeing the same hardware failure bite meseveral friends an cause heaps of discontent on the net I’m super-pleased to see us (Microsoft) step up and fix the problem by extending the hardware warranty “for certain general hardware failures which are indicated by three flashing red lights on the console.”  Did you already shell out the 130 clams to fix your box?  No worries, Uncle Bill is also going to be issuing refunds for the covered cases (the estimated cost to MS is one billion dollars.  URK!).

I’d agree this should have not taken this long to correct… but I’m glad it’s getting sorted in the end.  It makes me happy not just for my own sake (my box broke and I can be a bit of a skin-flint at times) but also for the sake of our company image.

For more details, check out the Expanded Xbox 360 Warranty Coverage FAQ.

Video Games

Xbox from UK, games from US – OK!

When our 360 went south Paula and I decided that the best course of action was to buy a replacement box instead of waiting for a really long, expensive repair (since it’s an American box it has to be shipped to the US for resurrection).  Since we use our Xbox to watch TV we also didn’t want to wait the couple months it would likely take.

The idea of a new box was all good and well… but I also have a library of games I like to play (including a copy of Lego Star Wars II we just bought but never got a chance to play).  Gears of War I can buy in the company store for €20… but Lego Star Wars and Ghost Recon were going to run me €60 each.  Crap.

After setting up the replace box I wondered: what happens if I stick the US (NTSC) game disc into my European (PAL) Xbox?

As luck would have it, I was pleasantly surprised.  Like DVDs, video games often have region encoding which prevents a game disc purchased in, for example,  Paris from working on a console purchased in Poughkeepsie.  In the case of the Xbox 360, however, the region lock-out isn’t a certainty.  Fortunately for me (and many other gamers) Microsoft adopted the policy of letting publishers decide if their game discs would be region-free.

Not all Xbox 360 titles will work in all regions… but luckily for me my two current faves, GOW and GRAW2, do.  No need to run out and buy replacement copies.  In my quest for an answer as to why my discs worked in my new console I came across a fairly detailed list of region compatibility on  It takes the guesswork out of any future purchases (especially cool since buying games in the US is much cheaper with the strength of the Euro).

Video Games

My badge holder broke and my Xbox died

Sounds kinda like a country song…


Well, it happened… my decision to not buy an extended warranty on a first revision of a gaming console bit me in the tookus.  You’d think I’d have learned from my experience with my first Xbox (I bought the 2 year warranty… and the box was replaced twice for free).  But, alas, no, I didn’t and I’m now left with a $300 doorstop.

After Dick and Trina lost a couple units I could smell the storm coming… but at over a year past purchase date I knew it was way too late.  It crashed a few times in the past month (video froze while using it as a Media Center Extender) and yesterday we got the red ring of death.  Since we’re in Ireland now it would cost a chunk of change for the round trip to the US and back for repairs… it’s only about $50 cheaper to buy a new box here (with warranty) and we can get it right away.  Oh well… off to buy a European Xbox 360… I wonder if it will have a sexy accent like Gérard Depardieu.

In case you were wondering… my badge holder isn’t under warranty either.

Video Games Weird

Human Space Invaders

Still trying to wrap my head around being back to work (jet lag sucks).  Since I am unable to formulate an intelligent thought, I’ll just share this nifty video with you (thanks Jason!):

TV Video Games

Woo woo!

My current gaming addiction is Gears of War (GOW)… spent almost 4 hours playing it with friends last night (yes, Paula is out of town… aren’t you clever to figure that out).

Every time I play I can’t help thinking: “Hey, that Cole character sounds totally like Terry Tate.”  Well, last night my curiosity finally got the better of me and I looked it up. I was not mistaken.  Agustus Cole in GOW is played by Lester “The Mighty Rasta” Speight, recognized by most as “Terry Tate, Office Linebacker”. 

I can’t resist the Terry Tate commercials… once I watch one I have to watch them all… over and over and over.  Have a little taste of what Terry’s dishin’ out.

Movies Video Games

HD TV and Movies on demand? Thank you Xbox 360… almost

Mike aggregated some wonderful news about a new feature coming to Xbox 360 on November 22nd: video on demand. HD content will be available for free and for pay to download direct to your hard drive-equipped Xbox 360.

My first thought? SWEET! Living in Ireland has a lot of upside but the downside is no NetFlix and no TiVo. This service is the answer to a huge need.

Xbox 360 Projector

Your 360 is now a great way to watch movies!

Well… it would be the answer to my need if it weren’t for the fact that the service will be for US Xboxes only. I suppose it comes as no surprise given that international copyright law is a deep murky pool… filled with hungry sharks… and with little floaty things edged with razor blades… and all the ladders out are greased… and electrified.

At any rate, Xbox owners back in America: congratulations… [scowl grumble grumble]