I’ve been meaning to put up a brief testimonial on this guy for a week or so now.   Its pretty rare these days that my standards (not expectations) are met, and even rarer that they are exceeded.

Yeah, I set my expectations lower than my actual standards.

When it comes to services being provided, I have high standards for quality and customer service.  Experience has taught me that realistically, my standards are too high for many people to actually meet.   So I expect I’ll get less than I want, but at least I go into it knowing that… which keeps me from getting to irrate.


So as you may or may not know, the Xbox 360’s (well the orignial ones anyway, I hear the newly redesigned consoles fix this) have a critical design flaw in that they tend to run too hot.    Basically, the Xbox 360 splits the power its drawing into two different voltages:   5  and 12.    

The problem is, the fans run on 5 volts.    This makes them underpowred to handle the heat that the Xbox is generating.   So over time, the heat gets to sensitive areas, and your Xbox stops working.

Mine started overheating about six months in…   mind you, it was a replacement for the one stolen, and as a 360 Elite, I would have expected they’d have fixed that.   They were mucking around adding an HDMI port as it was.

Obviously they didn’t.   For a good while the Xbox would sense it was overheating and try to shut down before damaging itself.     Gabe and I even went so far as to mod our entertainment center, equipping it with its own fans to keep the cabinets cooler, by improving the heat dispersal from the appliances in there.   (That Charter box is super hot.)

We took a serious attack on the overheating problem.


Unfortunately, its still poorly designed.  Just can’t get cool air to all its parts.  its fans are simply under powered.    So recently it went from shutting down, to locking up.  The frequency that occurred increased quite rapidly until finally, i couldn’t even get the dashboard to not crash on me.

It melted some of the soldering, and ultimately damaged the video card.


This right after Dragon Age 2 comes out…


So I turn to craigslist hoping to find someone who wants to get rid of their used one on the cheap.   The first ad caught my eye though… XboxGuy775 who offers in-city repairs.   Prices looked reasonable.   $40 for most repairs.  I knew this was a common issue and figured the fix was likely in that $40 dollar range.

So I called him up, told him what was going on, and he confirmed that yes, he could fix that for $40.  

So off I go to his office.   (Kinda neat he’s not working out of a garage.)

Drop the Xbox off, and he suggests I let him upgrade the fans while he’s in there to 12 volt ones that will do a better job of keeping it from over-heating.   Only $20 more.

Why not?   I know its an issue that will happen again… so eventually I’ll have the same failure and need it repaired again.   Why not try and be proactive?

So all in all, $60 total to get a working Xbox 360 again.   Plus I get to keep mine, where I know its history, instead of some foreign one that may or may not be more of a headache in the long run.

What completely pushed this beyond pleasant experience to me being wowed is that he got it fixed the same day.  I was only out my Xbox for something in the tune of 3 hours.

Beat that Xbox Support.

He’s pretty cute too, which certainly made my experience all the more pleasant.

Since the Xbox has been upgraded, its really like getting a new one for only $60.


The only unnerving thing.. I twit while its in the shop that I miss it.   @XboxSupport replies.. and now apparently follows me on Twitter.    Gotta say, Microsoft, that doesn’t exactly inspire confidence that you are not spying on your customers.   Kind of a big brother moment.   Not entirely cool.


But XboxGuy775 is pretty awesome.   If you live in the Reno area, and have a broken 360, you should definitely hit him up.   Low cost and extremely quick turn-around  (he had like six other consoles sitting there when I walked in… at least three of which he worked on before mine).

I know @SkyliaEmber also knows someone… not the same guy… which is to say… you’ll probably be better off getting it fixed by them than you will Microsoft.. simply because with MS… its a lot of shipping time.   Plus they charge you more.    (I’ve had mixed experiences with them fixing my original Xbox console… it was a launch console and thus had the faulty DVD-drive in it that would keep breaking…   so I got to deal with them on that a few times.   Again, mixed results… they did wow me the first time getting it back within the same week… but that seems a fluke since my post experiences were significantly longer… hell the last time the 360 launched before they got the old one back to me…. pretty crappy when your customer happens to be an employee of Xbox.  Just saying.)


At the end of the day though, XboxGuy775 provided a level of service I just don’t enjoy much these days.   When that happens, I feel compelled to tell people about it.

My Housing Crisis


The saga continues…   but let us first recap.


Back in May we received word that the owner of our home was foreclosed upon and that we were now tenants of Freddie Mae and Fannie Mac   (not sure which, as both were referenced).

We were made an offer.   Surrender the keys for cash, or agree to stay on under a month-to-month rental agreement until such time as the house is sold and new ownership takes over.

This was May-ish of 2010.   (We actually had known since November 2009 the foreclosure was coming.)   We opted to remain on under a month-to-month.   So begins the evaluation of the property.   They can’t legally rent to us unless the house is in a rentable condition.    What that really translates too in our circumstances is whether or not the house is up to applicable building codes to be occupiable in the first place.

So the real estate guy shows up and does his inspection.    Two separate electricians come by to do their bids (the electrical does need to be brought up to date to legally allow the house to be rented… is our understanding of the situation though albeit an unconfirmed one).

Time passes and we’re left in this waiting pattern.    Its indicated to us once the evaluation is all said and done we will likely result in a lower per-month rent due to market conditions.

Well in September another letter is supposed to be sent to us, though we don’t get it until about Mid-October…    this one gives us the same offer as the one we had in May, just with the dates updated.     Cash for keys, or stay on under a month-to-month.

We figured it was a mistake, given how they had totally dropped the ball the first time (prompting the second electrician to come by for his bid) and it was just a paper-work mixup.   Nevertheless we call to find out… only to be told the person we need to talk to isn’t available but they’ll take a message and have them call us.

A month later, we’ve still not been able to get in touch with the person we need to talk too.

Last Friday, I hear some noise on my porch and swing open the door to find… an eviction notice taped to it.    If we’re bona fide tenants we now have until mid-February to vacate.

What about the cash for keys?   What about our month-to-month renting?   What’s going on?!

So we call them to find out.   Actually get put through to someone this time.   She claims ignorance about the previous calling and need to return phone calls to us.

She claims to not understand why our second letter in this still listed the month-to-month option.   

Apparently the house is not eligible to be rented… We were told there was a cap they had on the amount they were willing to spend to keep the place in a ready-to-rent state.    Our guess is that the electrical situation comes out over that cap.    They’re not very forthcoming with the details…

We find this out only last Friday… a week before the new set of deadlines on this cash-for-keys offer.

“Wouldn’t you have called to find out what was going on?” she asks…    “Um, yeah, as I just explained we called the day we received the letter.   We reached out to you at the earliest possible moment and have been waiting for one of you to call us back ever since.”

“Well what do you want me to do?”

“Treat me with fairness.”     (Duh!)

Well apparently the cash-for-keys offer has now been extended out until 12/19, at a reduced rate.

Not quite fair-treatment, but better than nothing I guess.       In this country, experience shows, its considered fair treatment if you totally fail to do your job.

The level of incompetence this law firm has demonstrated is astonishing.    I sure wouldn’t want them representing my interests.  They can’t even document something as simple as phone calls and who needs a return call placed.

They’re all to aware of when they send you correspondence, but apparently have no clue what is actually in that correspondence   (the second cash-for-keys/month-to-month offer which apparently should not have included the month-to-month offer)

Yeah.  I’d name names, but we know how people handle being called out on their crap… and I don’t need to be harassed by a law-firm who would prefer I not share my honest experience with their firm, lest it encourage you to seek representation elsewhere.


The thing that really upsets me about it is not that I’ve had to have this experience.   Having to move isn’t all that big a deal… we knew it was a possibility and have prepared ourselves mentally for it for a year now…

No, what upsets me… what makes me downright sad… is the house itself.     There are only two people on this earth who seem to care about it… the people living there now and being forced to abandon it.

Abandon it!   The very thought.    Gabe has lived there some nine years now, through at least three owners.    He’s put so much work into the place, its astonishing.    Everyone always comments on what a nice pad we have.    He turned a badly neglected house into a warm and inviting home.

But it needs some work that is beyond our fiscal means… and has no real owner.    Now the caretakers are being told to vacate.    The house will sit, empty, as does half the houses in my neighborhood.    It needs weatherizing to prevent a mold/mildew incursion.   It won’t be done and we won’t be able to live there to defend it against such incursion.     By the end of this winter the house will be in some serious decay.    This will just reduce its value further, and make it more expensive to actually do anything with once it does find a buyer.

The damning thing about it… the ‘owners,’  Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, want Uncle Sam to bail them out some more.    Yet they have assets (I’m living in one) that they could be collecting some money on… but are declining to do so  (because my rent now has to go to someone else).      They’d rather let the asset sit vacant, be vandalized, and literally rot instead.      The value of that asset has decreased under their watch.

Why should we give them any more of our tax dollars?    

I tell ya, the whole situation gives me a first-hand accounting of just how piss-poor a job they are doing managing their assets.   Its no wonder their business is failing and needs taxpayer support to prop it up.

Shame the law firms they employ do a piss-poor job themselves.

Go Daddy! Go!

Today’s headline is inspired by my (still) favorite children’s book… Go Dog!  Go!    It was the book that I learned how to read with, and got me started on my literary hobby.

While reading is fundamental, it is not the point of this blog entry.

Today’s entry is all about the extreme pleasure I have from the fine folks at GoDaddy.   They are my new domain registrar…as I have finally gotten tired of AIT Domains and their less-than-spectacular technical support.

I’ve been with AIT for probably a decade now.   Their pricing is really hard to beat… except that you do get what you pay for… which is to say, they’re kind of like Wal-Mart.   Good price, crappy product.

Virtually everything I’ve ever needed to do with any of my domains (I have about a dozen) has required multiple help desk tickets.   Most things I should be able to do on my own via the website… and I do… only to wait the obligatory 72 hours for it to propagate around the internet and then find out, 72 hours later, that the change didn’t take.    Open helpdesk ticket.   They respond and close the ticket.  The issue usually isn’t fixed.   It has become evident in the passing years that they are more concerned about closing out tickets than they are at helping their customers.

I stopped hosting websites with them about five years ago.   They’re good for hosting, until you want to update your site.   At least in my case.   I tend to use the FrontPage extensions on my site as they do things I don’t feel bothered to code myself.   Except that with AIT, the extensions have a mysterious way of breaking every time I need to go in and update something on one of my sites.

I switched to for hosting awhile back.  They pretty much just do SharePoint hosting now, but I love SharePoint and it makes a great platform to build on.   The folks at FPWEB do an amazing job with their service.   Sure I sometimes need their tech support, but they are always very responsive, and more importantly make sure my issue is resolved before considering it a closed issue.  

(Incidentally, I am also a reseller for them, so if you need quality SharePoint hosting… let me know.   Although i will charge you the same hosting fee you’d pay yourself, you do get the benefit of a free consultation in getting your site initially up and running.   I’ll even build it for you entirely for a modest fee.    I was the resident expert of all things SharePoint while I worked for Microsoft Licensing, here in Reno.   I continue to be a go-to-guy on SharePoint at my current job.   I’m a freelance SharePoint consultant these days, as a side to my day-job.    But enough of my shameless promotion of the product.)

One of the neat things about GoDaddy’s service offering is that not only can I park unused domains… I can actually setup forwarding of a domain to another site.   The best part is that it’s free with my domain registration.

Take, for instance, the Super Profile of Stryse.    It is hosted off the SharePoint site I set up for the Church.   Unfortunately, you have to remember the long URL to get there.    No longer.   Although for some people it may still take a couple more days to fully propagate to their neck of the interweb…   from my computer anyway, you can now get to my site via the domain I just got transferred over to GoDaddy as a test-case.

Just browse to     (as soon as I get them transferred over… and will take you to the same place)     Best of all, since that domain is now “hosted” on the Radcliffe site… if you have a RadcliffeULC user account,  you can use it to sign into my site as well.   (well, assuming I’ve given you permissions).

It’s that simple.   Finally those stryse domains are getting some use.    I’m going to set up sub domain forwarding next… if that works, than this blog will be accessible from   (without having to go through WordPress to do it… and thus incurring an additional fee).

I must say, I’m pretty darn pleased thus far with GoDaddy.    Hopefully I’ll never need their tech support, but the people I’ve talked to said they do a good job if I do end up needing them.

Plus, you know, they are sponsoring one of the Charmed sisters.  

The Power of Irrate Customers

Okay, so I had to stoop to levels I really don’t like to stoop too.. but these buggers left me no choice.

I had to become the un-understanding (would that be derstanding?), rude, and irrate guy who sends flame mail to get what he wants.

But this is only cause I was forced.

Okay, so my story.

The Sims 2 Nighlife was released on 9/15/2005. To take advantage of a special offer (an exclusive download that actually did turn out to be very cool and worthwhile…) I preordered the game from an online store we’ll call Gamestop. I could have chosen EA’s online store, or, but I have a special relationship with Gamestop and so wanted to give them my business.

So a week goes by after the launch date and it finally arrives in the mail. So I had to wait a whole week longer to get a game I could have picked up on the day it launched… All so I could get a stupid download. But guess what. No instructions for getting my bonus download. Those were supposed to be emailed to me in the first place, but when that didn’t happened, I just assumed I’d get it with the package. Well I didn’t.

So I emailed their customer support. This was on 9/22. I was my usual polite and cordial self and gently reminded them that they owed me this.

No response when I get home from work the next day. Normally you always get like an automated response saying ‘we got your mail, now wait for us to answer it’

So I send it again on 9/23 indicating I hadn’t gotten any response.

Well, on 9/26 I was really pissed off. No reply at all from them after two emails.

I’m too lazy to call, so I drafted a very strongly worded letter lecturing the folks at gamestop on what good customer service is and how they have grossly failed to provide it. (Be warned when giving bad service to a customer service professional. We know better and won’t buy your lame excuses.)

Today, two days after my third and flame mail, I finally get a reply out of them. Not one, but two. No appology for the trouble they caused though. No acknowledging they screwed up originally or that they didn’t bother to reply to my emails….

But I did get download instructions, and the code to get the download. Two of them in fact. lol. Too bad its the same object.

So while I’ll still visit my gamestop friends in their brick and mortor stores, I don’t think I’ll be ordering from these guys online again.

And the sad thing is, they did nothting to try and salvage the relationship after I specifically instructed them that they should. Afterall, I spend enormous sums of money on gaming each year and a fair share of that goes to Gamestop. (I mentioned that too but I guess they just don’t care.)