Multi Xbox situations and Solid State BABY!

untitledOK- so being an IT Pro or Geek can’t be all work and no fun. I know how exciting it can be planning out your Active Directory migration from x86  DCs to Windows Server 2008 R2 x64 DCs, but eventually you need some form of Down Time. It’s different for everyone – me? I try to focus on being 100% present with my family, friends and occasionally playing some Xbox 360 (See my xBox console blog here). I decided to dedicate these new “Friday FunPosts” to something interesting, geeky and tech related. This one comes from questions I got while working the TechDays Rogers Collaboration Lounge demoing the new Kinect devices and just chatting with other Xbox fans and fellow geeks at heart.

imageThere I was in Halifax and I get a question from a guy who was interested in the new Family Pack (4 Xbox Live Gold memberships for just under the price of 2). It’s new and something that works for households where you don’t share profiles. You can find out more about it from here.  This got us into a discussion on how he runs his Xbox environment and some of the challenges he faces with 2 teenage boys and 3 Xboxes in the house – each claiming their own and moving them around all the time – CRAZY basically – he was pulling his hair out remembering where the saved games were and risking the possibility of damaging Xboxes while in transit within his house or out to friends houses. He asked me to explain my environment, which I did. 

        • I have 5 profiles in my house, one for each member. Keep’em separate and if you are Kinect enabled, login and start the auto identification process.
        • I have three Xboxes in my house. One in the Living Room. One in the Rec Room. One in my office (it’s for work – really it is).
        • Each family member has a their own preference for where they play. My wife and the twin girls (age 6) almost exclusively use the living room.  My son likes to roam between living room and rec room.  I play on any of the three PLUS I play when I am on the road.

I used to have one of the old school memory units to store my Xbox gamer profile and saved game data so I could move from box to box. I shared it with my son. That worked for the most part, so long as I didn’t take the MU on the road with me when I traveled or we didn’t want to play two different games on different consoles. With the Spring 2010 update on Xbox Live, a new option was available for storage. It allowed you to take a regular USB 2 speed stick up to 16 GB and format it for use as an MU storage device on your consoles. At first I didn’t think much of it other then simplifying the situation with sharing one with my son, but my opinion soon changed.

Rally2_main_angleI took out one of my higher speed / good quality 8 GB USB 2 sticks I normally reserve for Windows 7 deployment demos and projects. I popped it into the console and followed the simple procedures. They can be found here for your reference. Once I was done, I proceeded to copy all my saved game data from all three consoles and my single profile on to the USB stick. I did the same for a second stick for my son. What does that buy me? Portability of all my data, avatar and saved games from box to box – no matter what Xbox I decide to use.

But wait – there is more.

I was messing around with Modern Warfare II – wanting to play through some more Special Ops multi-player scenarios. I was getting tired of the load time on one of the consoles, because it has limited space left on the hard drive on the console (it’s a first gen with 20 GB drive). To my surprise – it gave me the option to copy the title to the 8 GB USB stick! why is this important? IT’S A SOLID STATE DRIVE! I was used to copying game disks to my local HD on the systems, but never thought about using the Solid State speed of my flash drive (it has 30 MB/sec speeds). OMG – I was in heaven! Portability of Gamer Profile, Saved Games AND of Games loaded to the USB stick! Sure I had to keep the original disk handy to start the game, but once it was loaded – man did it fly!

It was actually quite fun seeing the light bulb come on with the gentleman in Halifax. It looked like I just helped him solve some major deployment blocker on a project from work. We continued to chat a while longer during the break between sessions / talking about home networking architecture, wireless options and media center extenders / centralized storage.  TechDays isn’t just about the content and sessions – it’s also the networking time amongst the attendees and speakers/staff members. Any topic is fair game!

As for the rest of our discussion – don’t worry – there will be more articles on things like this over the next couple of weeks. I mean hey – we’re all Geeks at heart and I know I always welcome commentary and feedback on how to better use technology – even HOME technology.

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