Thursday, March 24, 2011

Extending Xbox LIVE Family Membership

A while ago, I transitioned to an Xbox Live Family Gold Pack. This allows us to manage our son's Xbox Live account from a single dashboard, and add Microsoft Points to the Xbox live account that we use on the Xbox in the bedroom.

Amazon had some pretty good deals on Xbox LIVE 12 month membership cards, so I purchased one of these.  But,I was not able to redeem the code.  I expected that I would be able to apply the 12 month Xbox Live membership to extend my family membership, in my case by 3 months, since I have 4 people in the family membership. But I kept getting errors trying to redeem the code.

When I created the family subscription, I was able to add several Xbox Live Gold accounts, and for each Gold account, the subscription length of the family membership was extended by each.  So I figured that I would do the following:

  1. Remove one of the Xbox Live accounts from the family subscription

  2. Redeem the code on that Xbox Live account

  3. Re-add the Xbox Live account to the family account

Unfortunately, this didn't work.  I was able to complete the first two steps, but when I try to re-add the account, I get an error.  It looks like the account is added to the family, but not that account is not part of the subscription.  So I won't be able to share Microsoft Points with that that account.

I am hoping that Microsoft starts to sell Xbox Live Gold Family cards (and Amazon sells them for a discount).

Update 5/14/2011: It looks like Microsoft fixed a bug that was preventing this from working. Today I was able to add the account to the Family Subscription, and that extended the subscription by 6 months.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Is Marty McFly really better than Biff

I shouldn't have spent as much time on this as I did, but since I did I am posting it.

This weekend we watched Back to the Future I & II with our son.  While watching the second movie something started to bother me.  The main plot of the movie is that Marty had to go back in time to "fix" things, as when Marty returned to 1985, Biff had become a powerful man in the town because his future self, gave him a sports almanac, to allow him to make money by betting on sports.

Why does Marty feel that he needs to "fix" things, when he is arguably his is just as "guilty" as Biff.  At the end of the first movie, his actions changed the time line in 1985.  Biff was not George McFly's supervisor, and George McFly was an author in the changed 1985


Monday, March 7, 2011

Parental Controls in Windows 7 Media Center

Our kids are getting old enough to be able to use our Media Center, so I have enabled parental controls to prevent them from seeing content that is inappropriate for them.  When we had used a TiVo DVR, we had used the parental control and were pretty pleased.  The Windows Media Center implementation of parental controls has several peculiarities:

  • With parental controls enabled, every time you start playing content, that has a rating higher than the specified threshold, you will get prompted for the PIN.  This happens even if you press stop, and then play on the same show.  (I like TiVo's implementation, where once you enter the PIN, parental controls will be disabled for a time, or until the DVR is turned off.)

  • While in the PIN entry screen, content is playing in the background.  So if you take a while to enter the PIN, you will have to rewind to not miss any of the content.

  • The parental controls setting is not applied to playing Netflix streaming content, even though Windows Media Center has had support for Netflix content for a while.  So it is possible that inappropriate content could be view through Windows Media Center's Netflix interface.  (One interesting thing is that the Xbox 360's Netflix streaming implementation respects the Xbox's parental controls setting.)