Everybody's doing it, so why not do it too…

Everybody’s doing it, so why not do it too…

Getting an Xbox 360 that is.

I have been on a “vacation” for the last 2 weeks from my day job. This “vacation” hasn’t equated into much game programming time (although I have started work on a Mac game using TntBasic). While I have been spending much of that time running errands for Christmas and my son’s birthday, etc, one other thing that has taken most of my time: TRAFFIC SCHOOL! I got a speeding ticket in November and to keep from having to pay too much extra on my insurance I am able to clear the “point” off my driving record by taking an online traffic school.

The school I chose took me through 16 long boring chapters filled with technical details on driving rules, regulations, and jargon – did you know the a green light that has been green for quite some time and might turn yellow soon is called a “stale” green light?  I haven’t taken a written test in years, and the culmination of the 16 eye gouging chapters was a 25 question test based off the reading material.   I’m not going to tell you the name of the school (unless you email me to ask), but it was advertised as “Comedy, fun, easy, cartoons” – it was ANYTHING BUT. I learned that AFTER paying my tuition.

It not being comedy, etc wouldn’t have been so bad if the material had not been written by some insane mad man, hell bent on making sure each and every one of his 10,000 horribly dry words on California safe driving were emplanted in my brain for future regurgatation. Sprinkled throughout each chapter were 3-4 random non-sequetors that had to be memorized because they would show up on end of the chapter test. For example, while reading the 500 deeply technical words on  the subject of street sign and curb colors,  a sentence like this would show up:

“Some colors are not colors at all. The author likes grey and silver best. His shoes are leather, but the soft kind”.

Needless to say, late at night, when I was skimming the legal wording, looking for the point of each paragraph I would have to write down each of these inane scribblings to ensure that I would be able to pass the chapter test to move on.  Maddeningly, the test questions at the end of each chapter seemed to have been written at random. For example after a chapter on safety equipment there was a question on seat belt usage laws. The law is pretty clear that the driver is responsible for everyone under the age of 16 to wear a belt of some kind, and everyone over that age is responsible for themselves. Only, when I got to the question on the law it was not about this at all. It looked something like this”

“Which one of the following is NOT true about seat belt restraints and minors”?
1. It is your moral responsibility to ensure that everyone over the age of 16 is belted in.
2. It is your moral responsibility to ensure that everone under of the of 16 is belted in.
3. Legally you cannot smoke in the car with a minor (WTF?)
4. Infants can ride in the front seat as long as they don’t play with the radio
5. All of the above

Nothing in the LAW says anything about morality and seat belts! But #1 was the correct answer. After re-reading the text a few times I figured out why, but still, the questions should have been about the actual material, not based on the opinions on the author. For the final, there some provided sample tests and most of the questions were again worded based on the feelings of the author, not on the laws. I guess they do this to make sure I read all of the chapters and didn’t just go read the DMV manual, but boy was it difficult to figure out what answer they wanted for at least 1/2 of the questions.

Luckily I was able to do 5 or 6  practice tests and in doing so I encountered about 75% of the questions that showed up on the final. So, I needed 80% to pass, 75% were in the bag because I did so much preparation.  The final 25%, while not easy, were still easier once I figured out the assinine conventions that author used to word his questions. I figure that I probably got 22 out of 25. Anyway, I don’t recommend anyone use the company I did, so if you are in need of a California Traffic school (online version), send an email and I’ll tell you one NOT to use.

I mentioned to my wife that I want a 360 for my birthday (late January) but today when we were hitting the Costco for some jumbo-sized bargains  we came across a pallet of Xbox 360 Holiday Packs (Xbox + extra controller, 2 games, charger, and 3 downloadable arcade titles). She (unbelievably) said,

“Why don’t we get one right now, you finished your traffic school today!”

“SCORE!!!!!”, was how I replied. 

Earlier in the day I had explained to her that I need to keep up my gamer street cred and that I was falling behind the times without a 360. I don’t think that impressed her as much as Steve showing her the 10,000 Netfix DVDs on demand that he has, the way he has set up his 360 as a media hub (all the kids photos and videos are her finger tips..), or the way all of his iMac media files are available right on the network through the TV. Actually, she saw how much time I wasted on that awful traffic school test and decided that I would be less angry if I got a new toy.  Nice move!  She knows me too well.

Anyway, I haven’t had time to even break open the box yet, but I will tomorrow. I don’t have any ethernet cable near my TV, so I either need to buy one of those adapters that turn my electrical outlets into a network jack, or I need to break down and get the official Xbox360 wireless adapter (score I point for the Wii having one built in).

I will be gamer tag Jeff8bitrocket when I finally get the whole deal going. I can’t wait to play the latest Jeff Minter zarjaz…

So now, Zyglot, Cutler, 8bitsteve, Squize, nGfx, and Weird Dreams … there is one more l8mr newbie out there whose ass is ready to be kicked..

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