How to keep your Xbox 360 from crashing

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

I swear to god this is my last 360 post for awhile but, it seems the source of new platforms crashing issues are due to overheating in its gigantic power supply. A couple of people have emailed me stating that once they elevated their power supply off the carpet the crashing stopped. As a side note, for gods sake never put any video game systems on the carpet, thats just asking for trouble.

Update: Looks like other websites are reporting the same thing. Over at Nforcerhq, they have some testimonials and some creative workarounds.

Like this one:
"Goldeneyemaster - My 360 was crashing a lot (like once every 20 minutes). So I took the power supply off the ground and suspended it in the air with some string. I have been playing for about 3 hours straight and no crashes so far!"

Another Update: You know it's not every day someone drops an internet gem in your comments like this one
"my operating system isnt microsoft, it is windows"

Whoever wrote that one, thanks man you make blogging worthwhile...idiot.

Possible root cause of Xbox 360’s echoing issues

Saturday, November 26, 2005

If you are one of the few, the proud and the patient (or well connected) lucky souls to have already got your hands on a Xbox 360, you have probably already run into the nasty little echo problem that has been occurring during voice chat on Xbox live. If you have not seen (or heard rather) let me tell you it can be very distracting. It can be so bad actually, that you will find your self removing the hear piece and checking your ear for bleeding. Okay that last sentence was a bit overblown. But it can get really bad. I decided to do some basic trouble shooting and see if could nail down the root cause of the issue. With the help of some buddies online I think I have it figured out. Turns out it is most likely caused by Microsoft’s own wireless adapter. This conclusion was reached pretty quickly; one of the people helping me test this was using the add-on. Every time he joined the game the echo started and whenever he popped out the echo went with him. Then we had him connect his Xbox with a LAN cable and when he joined a game there was no echo. He stated that his wireless router was well with in range and his laptop (also on the wireless network) was showing no issues at all. Of course this is by no means a scientific test, but the evidence is pretty compelling. If this is the cause of the issue what is MS going to do to fix it? I can only guess that the issue stems from the way the wireless adapter handles VOIP packets. If so, well it require a software patch or will a firmware update be necessary. Either way, the echo is unacceptable and sort of surprising that it even exists. Up until now I have only had good things to say about Xbox live, let’s hope this gets fixed quickly.

Xbox 360 core systems still available!!

Sunday, November 20, 2005
It might not be too late to get your hands on a 360 tonight, if you’re willing to downgrade. It seems some vendors may have a few of the core systems still available. If you already had a Premium package on reserve, you might be able to talk them into letting you have a core instead. The question is whether you are willing to wait possibly months to get the deluxe model or be able to play Perfect Dark tonight. I have decided to take the core and buy the add-on hard drive (which they may also have an extra of). In my opinion the HD is the most important add on, since without it you will not be able to play any older Xbox games (like Halo 2). To everybody who is going to enter the fray of consumer driven madness tonight, good luck. Also, no matter what happens please do not take your frustration out on the poor bastards behind the counter; it is not their fault for the shortages. It is Microsoft’s fault.

Of course, if the guy behind the counter asks you if you want to reserve something after he tells you that you can’t have your Xbox 360 until next June. Then perhaps a verbal beat down is warranted.

Update: Far be it from me to add gas to the fire, but think about this. Gamestop profits from every pre-order that we make there. Even if you go and cancel it now, for the 6 months that Gamestop had your money they had it invested somewhere. Which might not seem like a lot, but if you think of on a nationwide scale it would be a staggering amount of cash. I imagine taking a pre-orders in even for something they know the can not provide is just part of their business model.

Gamestop Xbox 360 Shortages Confirmed

Thursday, November 10, 2005

If you pre-ordered your Xbox 360 at your local GameStop, you might be in for a night of misery and disappointment, come November 22. I have been able to confirm with an inside source that GameStop will not be able to meet the demand of their pre-orders. My local store for instance has over 300 pre-orders and will only be able to supply 30 units. WTF!!!! Another store in the area will only be able to supply 6 of its 100 preorders. Customers who do not get their Xboxes on time will get them in the next shipment. Also, they will be going in order of when you preordered. Since I waited till September I am pretty much F-ed in the A on this one. I still plan to go and get in line on the 22nd anyways, because Plueballs is doing a podcast live from the line. Which should be even better now, since it is likely a riot will break out (I hope, nothing is funnier the rioting geeks).

My comments section is being spammed like mad right now and I have to approve each comment. So there might be a delay, but I would never censor anybody.

How to get to HOWARDSTERN.COM if your company has blocked it.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005
For years Stern fans had to live with the fact that there was no official webpage for Howard Stern. Now that there is one (and it rocks) more and more companies and schools are unfairly adding it to their blocked site lists. I mean it contains no actual ; hardly any swearing and no hate oriented material. Honestly the thing should have a PG-13 rating at best. Well if have been trying to get to the site and can't your in luck. Below are several ways you get one over on the man and connect to anyways.

Now first, I have to tell you although these methods will get you to, some of them may be traceable. If you have already gotten in trouble for going to or other sites, then don't even try it. It your ass, not mine. Lets not forget what the job market looks like out there. Also, if your successful in this endeavor, keep you mouth shut about it. Some of these methods depend on your IT staff being lazy, if the word gets out, then management will kick them in the pants and before you know it your trick won’t work anymore.

Because there are several web monitoring solutions on the market there is no magic bullet solution that will work for everybody. Part of this will be figuring out what product your up against. An easy way to do that is to go to a site that you know is blocked (I suggest something that is not too bad like a video game site) and write down what it says in the “this site is blocked message” the product name is always somewhere on this page.

I am going to categorize my tricks into three groups, the 1st involve not using your corporate network at all. Some of them are just common sense things you may have not thought of yet. The 2nd group involves exploiting shortcomings in the Webcontrol software itself. And the 3rd group involves using a computer external from your corporate network (like your home PC) to bypass the blocks.

Part 1: The No S@#$ List

Trick 1:
Using a wireless card to connect to an open access point
This trick depends on two things, 1st you must be in range of an open access point and 2nd you must have the correct privileges to install hardware. If you work in urban setting the 1st item is much more likely. If for instance, you know the coffee shop on the corner offers free Wireless then its possible that you can jump on this signal with a good wireless card from your desk. I suggest using a USB card like this one Since opening your PC case and installing an internal one would defiantly not go unnoticed. You may have to disable your internal network card in order for your PC to use the wireless card and not existing network card. You can do this be either unplugging it or going into your network properties, right clicking on it and selecting disable. Of course while your network card is disabled you won’t be able to get any email or access network resources and for gods sake unplug the wireless card and take it with you when you’re done for the day.

Trick 2:
Remember dial-up?
Yes I know it is slow, but if you can do it, it’s almost completely untraceable (but the phone logs could still be a concern). In order for this to work the following things will have to be true.

1) Does your PC have a modem (or can you install a USB modem like this one)
2) Is your desk phone line capable of handling data? Not all work phones are these days, the only way to find out is to try it

A lot of people don’t realize that they get a dial-up account with their broadband package. I know for a fact Earthlink includes dial-up for their broadband users. Give their customer service line a call and find out. If you’re going to try this don’t forget to mute your PC speakers because sometimes modems will simulate dial up sounds through them. Like in the previous trick you may have to disable your internal network card to pull this off.

Trick 3:
Get your self a Internet enabled phone or handheld device
This trick is pretty obvious but if you have not looked at new cell phones or PDAs in awhile you might be surprised in how far they have come. Check out the LG VX9800 EV-DO Phone for instance

Sure your going to have to sink some money into this and it will be on a tiny little screen, but is the most foolproof way to go. There is just no way for your boss to know what you’re doing unless he has a camera on you. And if you work at that type of place I think you better off just keeping your head down and working.

Part 2
: Exploiting the system

The top 2 in the web monitoring market are Surf Control and Websense. So in this section I am going to give you a couple of ways to blow right past them.

Trick 4:
Getting past surf control is very easy, due to a serious bug in its code. It blocks a website based on its name or its IP address, but websites address can also be written in hex. Simply Hex is another way to write a number like binary. Anyways Surfcontrol does not know what do with a hex address so it just lets it go through. Long story short if your company uses Surfcontrol click here http://0x40.0xeb.0xfa.0x32/ and you can probably get to Howard’s website. Newer versions of the software might be able to block it, but that depends on your company spending money to upgrade and your IT staff getting off their asses and patching the servers.

Trick 5
A very easy way to bypass Websense is to disable the proxy setting it needs to work. If you’re using Internet Explorer you can do this by going to tools, then internet options, then go the connections tab, on the bottom that page click on LAN settings. On this page look for the Proxy server box and Uncheck it. Then click OK and then OK again. Finally open and close your browser again. Some IT departments are aware that you can do this and deny permissions to the Internet Explorer control panel. The most common way of doing this is to change the name of the file that runs launches the control panel in the system folder. But you might be able to find it with a litte bit of searching.

Part 3: Going External

In this section I am going to cover the basics of using a computer outside your corporate network to bypass censorware. These tricks are a little more complex then I can cover in one post. So at the bottom you will find some links to other websites that will cover them in even more detail.

Trick 6:
Remote Desktop, is an awesome feature of Windows XP that is not widely known out side of the techie world. But if you have XP at home all you need to do is enable it and find out your IP address. The upside of this trick is that it leaves no trace of the sites you have been to. Everything but the keystrokes is done on your computer at home. If your PC at work is running XP then you will already have the client piece installed. It should be under asscerories/communcation. If your work PC is Windows 2000 or older you can install it from Microsoft’s website. But, again you will need admin rights for that.

Trick 7:
Web proxies or a proxy service are sites that allow you to connect to another website through their site. Basically you just point your browser at the proxy, which has its own address bar on the page you put the address in, hit enter and it shows you the page. The web monitoring system can only see that you connected to the proxy and it has no idea what you are really looking at. The downside is that eventually web proxy pages end up on the band list too. But, new ones spring up all the time.

Trick 8:
SSH is a tunneling protocol developed for linux. There is a handy windows based client called Putty.exe. With it and a linux box set up at home you can pull off something called port forwarding. This is way out side the scope of this post. But I will tell you this is what us IT pros do to bypass stuff. If you want to know more use google to research it.

Below you will find a list of some of the best Proxies for remaining anonymous and addtional resources to explain some of these topics in more depth. One last thing do not forget to clear your history and temp files when you are done surfing. I don't know about you guys out there but I can not wait for Howard Stern's big jumpt to Sirius satellite radio I think the show is going to be twice as good with out censors. Oh yeah, and get back to work you slackers!!!