Weekend At Bernie’s

Remember that ’80s comedy about two losers trying to pretend
their dead boss was alive so they could enjoy the good life? They don’t make them
like that any more. I was able to tolerate maybe 20 minutes of “Knocked
Up” before being utterly disgusted.

Anyway, I had a weekend at Bernie’s of my own, except it was
my technology that was dead. Almost all of it. Events like this past weekend convinces
me SkyNet could never happen because this stuff breaks too easily. First up,
XBox 360 #2.


I had been making good progress in Rock Band, finally
getting some decent songs instead of the slow, boring dirges that make up the
early parts of the tour when I started
seeing a red checkerboard pattern flash across the TV and the console would
freeze up.

Restarting was no good, it froze on the boot up. I left it
off for a day, placed my Antec notebook cooler under it, and it worked for a
while, then it died for good. Wouldn’t even boot. “Call Microsoft, get
another return coffin,” was how one person put it on the IGN XBox boards.
So I did. A return box with prepaid postage will be arriving this week, which
means about two to three months of down time.

This is the second XBox 360 to die on me in a year.
Meanwhile, my PlayStation 3 does nothing but run [email protected] and play Blu-ray
movies. It may be time to reconsider my choice of console.

Second item to go to the morgue was my work laptop.


Like pretty much every tech reporter in the Silicon Valley,
I work on a laptop that has traveled many miles with me between San Francisco
and San Jose and points in between for industry events. It was inevitable that
something would go, but the screen wasn’t the first thing on my mind. However,
it would become unreadable. The computer still worked, it’s just that output
was completely hazy.

I’m able to type this because the problem is isolated to the
laptop screen. With the notebook in the docking station, video output works
just fine. So our MIS department is working on getting me a new notebook. I
suppose two years is a pretty good lifespan, considering how much I schlep this
thing around.

Number three isn’t dead but should be. Windows Vista.

I made the switch because a) Vista was on sale very cheap at
a closing CompUSA and b) XP is so old and my PC so new I could not reinstall it
any more. Now I wish I’d taken my chances on XP lasting. While I have gotten
some things working and Aero is kinda cool, the file and disk access is

I get timeout and Not Responding errors for the least disk
I/O effort. Writing a Word document to disk can take 30 seconds. Also, I’ve yet
to get my computers interoperating like they did under XP. All those computers
were networked, saw each other, and could exchange files easily. I have yet to
dig into Vista fully, and expect that option to be there, but so far it is not

There is one real positive to Vista: sound. After installing
the Vista drivers for my Soundblaster, the improvement in music quality was
stunning. My current favorite, Nightwish, made for an excellent test band due
to their heavy use of strings and brass to accompany the base rock band, and
the clarity and separation and brightness was just remarkable.

I’m tempted to say at least my car still runs, but don’t
want to jinx it.

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