O Canada

canadaLast week I traveled to Vancouver on business and as usual there is an interesting story from the trip.

We initially flew into Vancouver to meet with Electronic Arts and various clients but we had also scheduled a meeting in Seattle (Roughly 2 hours away) so we jumped into the rental and drove towards the border.

We arrive at the border crossing and did not realize that we were in the “Nexis” lane which is equivalent to a FastPass into the US. So the line was roughly 40 minutes long and we did not realize we were in the wrong lane. We found out soon enough.

Once we realized our mistake it was too late. We tried to move over to the middle lane and it took a good 5-10 minutes to pull over. Once we made it into the proper lane we heard obscenities directed at us that would make a sailor blush. This coming from the most unassuming people you could imagine. Think of grandmothers and grandfathers in their late 70’s early 80’s.

So we have our meeting with Sony and head back to the border that same day. It is about 10:30 PM at night and there were no lines going back into Canada.

The guard at the initial post reviews our documents… smiles and asks us to pull over into one of the stalls and exit the vehicle, enter the building and get in line “a”.

We pull in just to see the contents of the car next to us completely removed from the vehicle. So this already looks like it is going to be a lot of fun.

Once inside we are interviewed separately… What are you doing here, where are you going, what states have you lived in since you were 18.

Once they interviewed both of us we were asked to remain seated while they ran full background checks on us.

In the meantime an individual was in our same waiting area and he was called up. Once he was at the counter he was told that he can never enter Canada and he was not welcome based on information that came up during his background check.

Needless to say I was not worried as I have no record to speak of but still being in that position and the demeanor of the border patrol it made me uneasy for a moment.

After a few more minutes we were handed our passports and sent on our way.

The morale of the story is to just fly to Canada and stay in the same country for the duration of the trip.

Episodes of a Dad – Part 3 – Pikachu

pikachu-imageI knew it was a matter of time until this day would come. I just did not think it would come this soon.

I consider myself a decent gamer, 45,000+ gamerscore, but on this day my 6 year old son absolutely obliterated me on Super Smash Bros. Brawl on the Wii.

It is not just today either. The domination started a few days ago and the competition has been building.

He has mastered the little yellow powerhouse known as Pikachu. Who would have known that a 1’4″, 13 pound furry fantasy animal would cause me such grief.

You may or may not know about Pikachu. It is a character from the insanely popular Pokemon series. Yes they are still around and we buy the cards regularly. They are for my son, really.

His record is now 12-2 against me with the little yellow fuzz ball. I am frustrated but very proud at the same time.

I will hear pika-pika-pikachu in my sleep. The baton has officially been passed.

Apple Customer Service

I have been very satisfied with both generations of iPhones to date. But when there is a problem I have been even more impressed with Apples customer service.

A few days ago I dropped my new 3G on the hard floor at work. I have dropped my iPhones (Previous and current) numerous times and the worst that has happened is a dent or a scratch. But this time the phone landed face down on the floor and shattered the glass like a windshield hit by a Mack truck.

So that somewhat impeded my ability to use the phone as glass shards in my face is not the most conducive way to conduct business.

I originally purchased my phone through an AT&T store but I called the local Apple store to talk to support about my options since I had not purchased Apple Care and had heard they were freshly stocked. So an appointment was made with their Genius Bar for the next day.

I arrive, bypass the still long line for the iPhone and get into my appointment earlier than anticipated. The associate was very helpful and he initially stated that there is normally a cost of $200 to replace the phone with this type of out of warranty damage. But as we wrapped up the exchange it turned out to be at zero cost result as he just performed a straight swap. His only advice was “just don’t let it happen again”.

So needless to say that was a $200 swing in my favor. Apple did not have to do that, I would have paid the $200 to swap my phone, but the fact that they were so accommodating and stood behind their product gives me a new sense of appreciation for Apple.

RROD Update

I posted earlier about the Red Ring of Death. Less than 24 hours after the issues started I have a brand new Xbox Elite back up and running.

I had purchased the additional 2 year warranty from Best Buy when I originally bought the console. This has turned out to be a very good investment.

I went to Best Buy today and took just the power brick and the console sans hard drive. I was very happy with the results as I wanted to keep my current hard drive and not bother with the possible data transfer. Also my HDMI cable was installed behind the wall due to my wall-mounted TV so I did not want to bother with the rest.

Best Buy was very accommodating with the exchange thanks to the extended warranty. The rep said a few times that the people that did not purchase the warranty are out of luck if they want to exchange for a new system. I basically picked up a new console and power brick and was on my way again (3 kiddos in tow).

So I am happy to say I will not suffer any prolonged downtime. If you are in the market for a 360 I would highly recommend purchasing from Best Buy or any store that offers an extended warranty. Yes Microsoft will repair the unit as well but you will more than likely get a refurbished unit and have to wait 2-4 weeks. Whereas with the extended warranty I was in and out of the store in under 30 minutes and the home setup was less than 5 minutes.

The assault for 50,000 gamerpoints continues…

RROD

Well once again I am a victim of the dreaded Red Ring of Death. For those of you unfamiliar with the term it basically means that my Xbox 360 has fried…. again.

This time my beloved Elite system froze in the middle of a Soul Calibur 4 session. Yoda was dominating for what it’s worth… Then I restarted with the same result. After a few more cycles I cleared the cache and by the 4th title it would freeze upon initial boot. Then I started to hear the familiar pre-RROD grinding sound start to occur. Then a few minutes later… The Red Ring of Death.

This may sound odd, but I am very in tune with the console when it comes to understanding optimal performance vs. potential issues. Similar to how you know when your car may not be handling quite right. I have felt for a week or so that this could be a possibility as some of the inner sounds began to slowly raise a red flag.

So when this happened I immediately go into troubleshooting mode, unplug everything wait 5 minutes, that allowed for the reboot to occur properly but this is just masking a larger issue.

So now it is off to Best Buy for my 3rd Xbox in the past 2 years. I did get the extended 2 year warranty and that has basically paid for itself a few times over. Granted I do put a lot of “miles” on my consoles. If it were a car it would probably be equivalent to 250,000 miles a year. So this is not a total surprise.

This in no way hinders my loyalty to the Xbox 360 console. It is a minor setback. With the amount I have invested in the 360 in terms of time and money it would not make sense to transition to the PS3 for my full time gaming.

I do have to give Microsoft alot of credit. They are standing behind their systems as the repair process is very streamlined as I sent one of my previous systems through the standard process.

While imperfect the Xbox 360 is still the ideal overall gaming experience on the market today if you consider online experience, library and adoption.

RROD