Archives / 2008 / November
  • Xbox support is completely useless, my console is dead

    Like so many other lucky folks, I have the red ring of death. And just in time, I suppose, since the warranty extension ends for me in January.

    But I have to add my story about interacting with support the way everyone else does, because Microsoft really needs to be held accountable. The trouble began when I tried to open up a repair request online. It simply wouldn't let me, and told me to call. So I did, and that's where the failure continued.

    I speak with what I call the "American broadcaster" English accent, in part because I started my professional life as a broadcaster, and in part because that tends to be the way people in my area speak. We all sound like news anchors! So why is it that these voice recognition phone systems suck at understanding me? They never get it right. I had the same problem last week with the dining reservation system at Disney World. Admittedly, it was comical that phone voice guy is made to try and sound vaguely hip, answering with a "hey" instead of hello.

    What's even more amusing, at first, is that the guy at the call center in India is apparently instructed by his scripts to use the same casual hipster tone. It's hilariously bad. Anyway, at first he did the necessary check to see that it was the console and not the power supply, and then tried to put in a repair order. That's when things made another turn for the worse.

    For whatever reason, they could not "validate" my address, and couldn't create the order. I've been getting mail and UPS packages here for seven years, so I'm pretty sure my house exists. So he asks me for an alternate address. What does that even mean? I'm out of work, so it's not like I could send it to a workplace. I tell him, no, I don't have another address, so figure it out. He comes back and says he can't do anything about it, I tell him to find someone who can. He tries to get rid of me again, so I tell him to make something happen. At this point, 30 minutes have passed, and I'm getting pretty pissed off. He comes back again and tells me to call back in a few seconds because "my system is updating and I can't generate a repair order."

    This is the point at which I go ballistic. This jerk has been trying to get rid of me and I start dropping some four letter words. I've been patient as hell and he's not doing anything to help me. I tell him someone there can call me back when it's convenient for them, because I'm sure as hell not going to sit around on hold again like this. He very nearly hangs up (and I guess I would too, what with my sudden aggressive streak), when I ask him to put me through to someone who can actually help me.

    Supervisor guy is just as useless, and wants nothing more than to get me off of the phone. I'm too pissed to be constructive at this point, so I hang up and accept that I just wasted 40 minutes.

    I go back to the online request mechanism, and what do you know, now it works, which makes me wonder if they did something after all. I have a UPS tag and I'm sending it away.

    I've been relatively apologetic about the high failure rate of the consoles, because aside from this I think the 360 is a pretty great system, especially with the NXE interface. The online service, Arcade and the developer farm system with XNA is brilliant. But support is still shit. I still can't use my real name on Xbox Live because it's a dirty word in their eyes.

    In a lot of ways, the Xbox kingdom at Microsoft is representative of the company at large. Even within a specific division, there are these great wins just oozing with awesomeness, while some other area fails completely. It's like Xbox 360 vs. Vista, or Visual Studio vs. Hotmail. Sometimes it's amazing to think these products come from the same company.

  • LINQ to SQL: Me too on the "Huh?"

    OK, so admittedly I've questioned the usefulness LINQ to SQL, but I'd never stand up and say that it's gotta go. What was really said at PDC? Sure, the entity framework sounds super (I say "sounds" because the write ups for it on MSDN are terrible, and the very few books on it haven't been released yet), but why would you stop supporting something that is so obviously gaining momentum and fandom?

  • C# dynamic: A bad idea?

    It seems like the most talked about thing on the street for code monkeys coming out of PDC is the introduction of dynamic typing. I'm trying very hard to understand why this is a good idea. Nikhil Kothari makes a good case for it interacting with Javascript from Silverlight, but that strikes me as a fringe case. I guess there's a part of me that is curious to know if this came out of a science project or actual customer need.