In Which Sony Comes So Close To Pure Win, Yet Manages To Fail

My PS3 recently died, so I may as well share my anecdotal experience with their customer service process.
  • The website prompted me through all the sensible troubleshooting steps that I had already gone through, and correctly delivered the conclusion I had already drawn: "You are screwed."
  • When I tried to start the repair process through their website, I was informed that my PS3's serial number was invalid. I'm sure that the PS3 would have been shocked and hurt at this false allegation if it weren't already dead.
  • So I called, and talked to the nicest person in the world, who took the service order over the phone.
  • The repair costs $149. This is significantly more than the Xbox 360, yet somehow wound up not feeling as painful, probably because the PS3 itself is so much more expensive that the $149 didn't leave me feeling like "Well, I may as well have just got a new one."
  • They said that their standard turnaround time was twelve business days. This left me very pleasantly surprised -- and a bit nervous -- when the UPS "We've delivered your package to Sony" and "We've received a new package for you from Sony" messages arrived on the same day. They received the console at 8AM and sent out a replacement that afternoon.
  • The replacement PS3 works fine. They even shipped me back the Secret Agent Clank disk that had been in the system when it died.
All of this sounds like an epic win. So where does the FAIL come in?

The replacement PS3 had a clean hard drive.
All of my game saves are gone.
This hurts.
This hurts like friggin' heck.

Of course, the PS3 is unique among the current consoles in that it actually lets you back up your hard drive, if you think to do it. So if they had sent a note saying "Sorry, but your hard drive died and we couldn't save it," then I would have accepted it as a personal failing. But they sent no explanation whatsoever of what was wrong, And since I hadn't seen any hard drive problems before the whole system died, this leads me to suspect that the drive was fine and they just didn't bother to swap it. And that sucks.
  • Current Mood
    distressed distressed

A Paraphrase Of An Email Thread Today

Person Whose Identity Shall Be Carefully Concealed: So, why was Xbox Live down yesterday? What happened?

Me: Well, first, I don't know. Second, if I knew I couldn't tell you. Third, even if I could tell you, it's already been announced that it's nothing visible on the console, so apparently it's something that none of us can use yet anyway. Sorry about that.

PWISBCC: Oh, come on. You can tell me. What is it?

Me: Okay, here's what I know. Read this carefully and don't pass it around. *attaches a copy of my own previous message* *clicks Send*

  • Current Mood
    amused amused

In Which Phaedrus Muses Randomly On E3 And Gaming

Some thoughts on E3 and games I'm playing lately:
  • Microsoft's briefing: I'm naturally biased here, but I think Microsoft won the show. The Natal motion-sensing system looked like it could have great potential -- certainly there will be a lot of games that would be inappropriate for a controllerless interface, but the ones that are appropriate could be awesome. (And of course there's nothing stopping a game from combining Natal with a controller or other prop.) Naturally, a lot of the stuff in the concept video will never happen, though I think the monster-city-smashing game would be a great XBLA title. Peter Molyneux's Milo demo looked like it could be incredible, though I've seen so many artificial-intelligence demos that turned out to fall flat in reality that I can't bring myself to really believe it yet. Not everything was great -- Joyride seemed a little weak -- but it was a solid game lineup.
  • Nintendo's briefing: I didn't see all of it, but what I saw didn't look that inspiring -- the presenters seemed a lot more awkward. The game lineup did look cool. Super Mario Galaxy 2: Great. New Metroid: Very interesting. New Super Mario Bros: Cool, but what's up with no online play? Wii Sports Resort? Still looked kind of awkward -- the person running the demo was having a terrible time with the archery game, and the banter between Reggie and the other presenter during the basketball game was cringeworthy. The Vitality Sensor:  This will lock up the nursing-home market for sure. And where's the Virtual Console for the DSi?
  • Sony's briefing: The demo of Sony's new motion-sensing technology looked really awkward after Microsoft's. I wanted to like the PSP GO, but at $249 and with no compatibility with UMD games, I doubt they're going to sell many as upgrades to existing PSP owners -- I won't be buying one. ModNation Racing looked cool, but I just don't see it as the next LIttleBigPlanet, and it seems like it's going to be awkward if every game like this on the PS3 has to invent its own avatar system. I loved the reaction people seemed to have to the Final Fantasy announcements: "Okay, here's FFXIII again. Still looks cool. And... what? They're already teasing another FF game? Looks cool, but why? Oh, wait, it's an MMO -- never mind."
Other random gaming thoughts:
  • Plants vs. Zombies: Has surprisingly strong replay value, in addition to being a lot of fun.
  • Free Realms: A surprisingly good MMO targeted at tweens, but with a fairly strong contingent of adult players. It has pretty much every kind of gameplay that you could ask for, from (heavily simplified) WoW-style hack-and-slash to kart racing to Cooking Mana to match-3 minigames to a really good collectible card game. It will drive you crazy if you play the free version -- every time you turn around there's something that you can't use. It's $5 a month for the real thing. If you're interested in having a look at the game, go to Best Buy and look in the videogame section; where they have the prepaid time cards and money cards for the other online games, they also have a "starter card" that gives you a free month of the "real" version of Free Realms.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog on iPhone: Unfortunately, as I probably should have expected, the controls just aren't good enough to make it work.


In Which The Hammer Slowly Drops

Microsoft announced this morning that there will be "up to 5,000" job cuts over the next 18 months. 1,400 people are being laid off today.

Some of those cuts are happening within my division. I don't yet know how many. I don't yet know who.

People will be notified by the end of the day.

Yes, I'm scared.

Update: The day is over. Some good people lost their jobs, and that makes me sad. I was not one of those people, and neither was anyone on my team. That makes me happy, in a somewhat depressed way.

The esteemed nykkel and I will be dining together this evening to celebrate my continuing employment.

Thank you very much for all the kind words, public and private.
  • Current Mood
    pensive pensive

In Which The Minor Things In The Universe Continue To Spin Gently Off The Rails

Yesterday, my favorite teacher in the whole wide world received an award. I really, really wanted to be there for the ceremony, especially since I was going to read my nomination speech. This was going to involve driving from Seattle south to Vancouver yesterday afternoon, then a late-night drive back north to be here for work today. No problem.

Well, yesterday morning I found out that twenty miles of the freeway were closed due to flooding, and that due to the flooding and the snow in the passes, there were basically no alternate routes.

So I faced the question: To book a last-minute plane ticket, or not? I logged onto the travel sites, and could see that many others were facing this little conundrum, because the direct flights from Seattle to Portland were already full, and that even the connecting flights were filling up fast. So if I didn't make a decision, the decision would rapidly be made for me. And since she is my favorite teacher in the whole wide world, I went ahead and booked on Horizon to fly from Seattle to Portland by way of Spokane, then straight back from Portland to Seattle in the wee hours of this morning. This involved leaving work two hours earlier than planned yesterday, and mildly pissing off one of my coworkers, but these are the sacrifices that have to be made.

So I make it to the airport close to two hours early, to make absolutely sure that I have a seat on both flights (since I had booked the last seat available on the Seattle-to-Spokane flight).

And, of course, the Seattle-to-Spokane flight had a mechanical problem, and was delayed for half an hour. Before I boarded, I asked the gate agent, is there going to be any problem making the connection to Portland? No problem, he said.

So we arrive at Spokane, and I look around the tarmac for any sign of the hypothetical plane to Portland, and there is none.

A quick trip inside confirms that nobody at the Seattle airport had bothered to inform Spokane about the five of us who were connecting, so they didn't hold the Spokane-to-Portland plane, even though it had taken off less than ten minutes before we landed. And there were now no more flights from Spokane to Portland until two hours after the award ceremony would already be over.

So I got right back on the same plane I had just gotten off, and returned to Seattle. I missed the award ceremony, I missed just about a full day of work, and it remains to be seen how much of my $400+ airfare I'll manage to get back.

Again, I apologize to those of you who are experiencing Actual Problems.
  • Current Mood
    gloomy gloomy

Well. This sucks.

The whole 1up videogaming network appears to have imploded. Well, it's been sold to UGO, but in the process they seem to have canned everyone that made it a worthwhile read, and especially the podcasts that made it a worthwhile listen. Ryan O'Donnell... Nick Suttner... Mike Donahoe... Shane friggin' Bettenhausen... done. 1Up Yours... the 1Up Show... 1Up FM... all down the tubes. I hate it when bad things happen to good people, and those were good people.

And, of course, if the rumors about what might be ahead at Microsoft are true, one of those good people might be me before too long. I hope not. I'm on a good team in a division that's doing well. But of course, that's not always enough.

Edit: When I read this after posting it, it made me feel like a giant douche for writing it. The economy's lost trillions, there are people dying in Gaza (and everywhere else), and I'm whining over some podcasts. If anybody else reading this is having Actual Problems at the moment, I sincerely apologize. In my rather meager defense, I think that the fact that all those horrible other things are happening is the reason why this is bothering me. I've had times when really big things were going wrong in my life, and I felt like I was doing okay, but then some trivial little thing -- a car that wouldn't start, an oven that stopped working right -- made me start crying. When you're already trying to cope with the big things, you'd really like the little things to just look after themselves for a while... and when the little things start going wrong too, you start to feel like the world is coming off the rails a little.
  • Current Mood
    morose morose

*burp* *ding*

Just so no one tries to organize some sort of dogsled-based relief effort after my previous post, I did make it to Safeway. It was much more civil than on Saturday; there was only a twenty-minute checkout line, and people were actually smiling and joking with each other. I should now be able to survive until New Year's with no need to hike to the convenience store or try to arrange food-for-firewood trades with the neighbors.

Oh, and I made level 80.
  • Current Mood
    content content

Random post!

I've been snowed in since Saturday night (after a rather hectic gaming session with nykkel  and mightyflorist ). I actually made it to Safeway on Saturday afternoon, but gave up when I saw the hour-long checkout line. I am now regretting this decision. I am now down to canned fruit cocktail, instant oatmeal, and Hot Pockets. (But as nykkel pointed out, at least the fiber from the oatmeal should help with excreting the Hot Pockets. He always sees the bright side of things.)
  • Current Mood
    bored bored

In Which Phaedrus Is A Dumbass

I was expecting a package from FunAgain Games to arrive tomorrow, so I got the tracking number, went to the FedEx website, went to the package status screen, and signed up for email notification when the package was delivered.

I immediately got an email which basically boiled down to "Thank you for requesting email notification of delivery. If you had actually read the package status screen, you would have noticed that the package was in fact delivered three hours ago. We hope this helps."
  • Current Mood