“failed to retrieve account information”

If you’re getting “failed to retrieve account information” after getting a new android phone, or if you’re like me and getting it after you got your new Samsung Vibrant/Galaxy/Fascinate whatever back from the company after the update bricked it, then you’re not alone. I played with it quite a bit to try to figure out why the gallery could no longer post videos or photos. I did a bunch of factory resets and called TMobile. Finally I got down and dirty with the thing and figured it out.

Do a factory reset (only way to fix it, sorry), then if you have the update to at least Android 2.1.1, you’ll go back to your home screen and not the “sign in or sign up” screen. Let the media scanner run. Now the first thing you need to do before you do anything else
(including adding wifi configs or any other account) – click on market. You’ll be taken to the “sign up or sign in” screen. Choose sign in. You’ll add your google account per usual and market will close.

That’s it, this fixes your google account for posting videos and photos.

Game Review – Army of Two: 40th Day

I got this from Gamestop for $25.

Gamestop now has a new promo where if you get cold feet about a game within 7 days you can return it for a full refund. Suddenly I’m a lot more interested in those singleplayer titles I can breeze through or like Army of Two, it’s coop singleplayer. Return it for store credit and now for the price of Gamefly but without the monthly subscription, you too can rent games you don’t really care about!

That being said, if I had paid $60 for it new, I would have felt let down. $25 is pushing it, but it’s the right price given that Extraction Mode is included now.

The game is gross fun. You can be a sadistic jerk and it gives you weapons, or you can be a nice guy and… Oh there’s no incentive to be a nice guy. No seriously you get $30k cash for saving this kid and maybe one crate unlock but otherwise shooting everyone down gets you more guns and more money by far. Also sometimes the correct choice is still a messy choice. Saving the “trainer” guy in the first scene merely gets him killed anyway on a beach, and you lose $30k. Saving the kid later in the game gets you $30k, but he goes on to hate mercs and kill a bunch of people. If you let that kid live you also pass up on unlocking the most powerful sniper rifle in the game. You can play the game making the “nice” choice the entire time but it’s a lot harder since you’ll spend most of it starved for cash and ammo.

The bromance in the game isn’t as overt, but you can still express camaraderie and otherwise gay it up when you feel like it. Put in oftentimes weird camera angles and it’s not uncommon for Salem to look like he’s blowing Rios (air guitar). There’s apparently a points system here for expressing how awesome you are as buddies but otherwise it adds little to the game except for the downtimes between shooting. There’s also a paper-rock-scissors minigame which lets you win $100 from your buddies when you win. It’s fun to play during inappropriate cut scenes. Bored with that doctor reaming you out for warcrimes? Play some paper rock scissors for folding money! Bored with that guy talking about the majestic white tiger at the zoo you just had a firefight in? Hit camaraderie until Salem is blowing Rios over the video phone.

The aggro model works better in this game then it did in the previous game, but the AI doesn’t use it. More on the point when you’re customizing weapons, it’s not clear why the AI needs “money” at all. It would be nice if his money were given to you. Since you can get an achievement for making a “hate machine” (mine is a gold plated AK47 with a bayonet and an “enhancer” which is the opposite of a silencer) aggro plays a huge role just on accomplishments alone and it’s easy to rack up. With an AI which is ignorant of aggro, there’s no real reason to draw attention to yourself. I’ve never once seen the AI get killed. Also the game changes the AI’s attributes to cover up for occasionally shoddy AI work. In the hostage situations, the AI will always succeed in taking a hostage. The AI will always remain undetected. The AI will always pass a quickdraw. When you eat a rocket, the AI will simply take a knee for a second. And for parts where you split up suchas the first area with the fences or the area with the building cut in half, send the AI in on the hot side because the game won’t let the AI get cut down before accomplishing the “button push” sequence to let you regroup. (This may not be true on contractor difficulty but for the default difficulty, this is true – I’ve basically hidden behind the AI in the harder shootouts full well knowing he won’t go down).

The enemy AI is vastly improved over the first one. In the first one you couldn’t wound the AI. Now the AI has a DBNO status where wounding them (and leg shots will wound) cause them to go down and call to their buddies like you do. DBNO badguys can still hit you with the pistol, for the automatic pistol in the game this is particularly annoying. You can execute them, but there’s no option to force them to surrender. Grenades have a gears-of-war style arc preview which extends to the grenade launcher also. Bad guys will intelligently run from grenades or point their shields at them. Bad guys also try to fan out, which is also refreshing since the airport level of the first game was largely an excercise in reloading it until you ended up with a favorable spawn of bad guys and then hit the group with the RPG. This time around still suffers from a bit of luck, but it’s mostly lucky shots. More than a few times we’ve been hit by heavies and I’ll get lucky with a blindfire on a shotgun that saves us (or not).

Level design is worth a hat-tip here, it feels a lot like gears of war. GoW comparisons are inevitable in any game which also uses cover-and-concealment. Each level feels distinctive. Even in the hospital basement which could have looked like the skyscraper, it feels unique and you’re like “oh I’m in a different area”. The zoo feels like a zoo, each slum feels suitably slummy, the highrises feel like office spaces (although shot to pieces). More importantly each level clearly has an eye for “player space” where the players are likely to spend all their time, so these areas are highly polished. The hit model works well too – rebar sticking out of rubble will even block shots – and the game rarely suffers from rendering issues even with wide open spaces. Everything looks good. More importantly like GoW MP levels, everything flows nicely. There’s no one good spot to dig in, but it’s not like Modern Warfare where its absolute luck and each level is either “bowl” or “doughnut”.

The problem with multiplayer is twofold – strangers don’t wear headsets, which forces you to play in a game where people are required to communicate with people who don’t want to and it’s so late for this game that no-ones playing. Extraction might have been really cool with 12 players, but after checking the public servers for about an hour late my time, there were only three people playing on average. Multiplayer is a wash. It’s like Gears 2 now where the only people left are uberhardcore and they turned the bots up to 11. If you didn’t learn it before, you’re not going to learn it now. It’s actually still sort of fun since your buddies get a lot of cash for getting you up, but it’s not fun having to have someone babysit you because you’re not a headshot machine from playing the game since release. More on the point in straight up deathmatch, don’t even bother. There’s two kinds of players – headshot machines with the sniper rifles (unlike gears, the maps are big enough to make some decent use of the sniper rifles) and headshot machines with the shotguns. The maps are varied enough that you can get away with an assault rifle, but people who specialize in one of those two weapons classes will routinely score big.

Was it worth it? Probably not for $60, but at $25 and the ability to return it for a refund for 7 days, yeah. There’s enough content there to justify two sick days worth of time. For $60, I’d feel like it was short on content. There’s not enough going on with the assault rifles to make them distinctive, the same for the sniper rifles. Shotguns are interesting because they’re automatic or not, but basically there’s only four guns here. Levels are short and unfortunately divided up into bite sized chunks with “heavy troopers” in between. Once again the campaign just feels like training for multiplayer. The problem is, of course, that multiplayer is dead with a slew of new shooters out and it was never popular to begin with since the first Army of Two wasn’t really fun. So, for $25, it’s worth it to buy just for the experience, but trade it in quick.

Steve Jobs on Android

truly then has the android come into it’s own when Apple takes a note. Much in the same way Microsoft shot themselves in the foot with free press, Jobs really did the wrong thing by bringing attention to it.

Two points – The UI. I’m not worried about the UI. Microsoft phones have had a different UI for each release and it hasn’t stopped them. Blackberry too, for the most part, has had a new UI release for each phone, although they at least try to keep a standard look and feel for where things are even if the icons are different. Why then is the UI important? Its what people expect to see for making a phone stand out. You go into a cellphone store and they have running demo phones just so that you can mess with the UI. More on the point, the Google App Store doesn’t hurt anyone over the UI experience because the user will buy something they’re comfortable with UI wise while getting access to the app store. Apps which won’t run on your device (IE: 2.2 apps) don’t get presented. But this is an argument against Apple – who’s UI is absolutely the same for each device. It’s all their eggs in one basket – either you really like the UI and you’ll purchase a phone with that look and feel, or you hate the UI and you’ll shop elsewhere. My take on this argument is that it was a straw man from the beginning. Apple doesn’t let other companies do integration, so then when Jobs says “The user has to do the integration on android” – he’s being dishonest. The user can shop around for an android which fits their UI expectations – but if the user buys an apple phone and wants to change the UI, s/he really does have to do the UI integration. Incidentally the app “homeswitcher” in the market will let you do all that pesky UI integration with one click. This seems to be a popular talking point, enough that I felt a need to discuss it earlier.

The store(s) – I think the rant here was because Apple is afraid that developers will go for greener pastures, and while it was only Apple and Google competing, Apple only needed to sweeten the deal to keep developers in the apple store. There’s nothing to keep the existing developers on one platform or another. The Angry Birds guy is a good example of this – he’s well entrenched in the apple store and he’s probably made all the sales he’s ever going to make from that application. He’s got every reason to move despite less favorable terms elsewhere because he’s already hit market saturation unless there’s new users on the device. However with the apple ipad failing to offer up any new experience aside of being a “larger iphone” (and not that large at that), it’ll simply fail to entice people to purchase software again. There’s really no new users (unless people are somehow swayed by Jobs’s speech). What Apple is worried about is that new developers will see the competition from the other stores and the terms which are basically bidding wars and maybe they’ll get the next Killer App out on the android before it comes to the IOS platform. Not every indy developer is going to get titles like gameloft, who arguably don’t need the app store because they’re getting promotional tie-ins. However the new developers are going to look at the google store, the apple store, the samsung store, the verizon store and the at&t store and they’ll probably write off apple immediately. Why? Because they can code for one platform (android 2.1, android 2.2, etc) and pick which store is giving them the best terms at the moment. Is the verizon store likely to be open to t-mobile customers? Maybe. The Samsung store absolutely is open across carriers. If Verizon is serious about running a music/video/games store, they’ll make the verizon store app available in the marketplace.

Apple, at this point, is now going through the gentrification process. If I were Jobs, I would be looking for a new look and feel for IOS to inject some fresh life into the platform.

Woodstove Preview

Here’s what I’ve been working on. It’s almost done, I couldn’t wait to show it off. Basically the last task is to elevate the woodstove an inch and we’re done. I plan on using some nice, decorative bricks, centering it up, and we’re good to go.

What’s going on in this picture? We’ve got the hearth pad under the stove (tile + type X drywall), then behind the stove we’ve got wallshields, which are cement board with steel standoffs. The steel is 1 5/8ths thick, the wallboard is quarter inch, so we’ve got almost two inches of shielded area behind the stove. The bottom and top get an inch gap which prevents my walls from catching on fire, and we’re set.

All it needs is those one inch tiles to pretty it up and we’re in business.

Tomorrow is my foray into woodburning, wooo!

Oracle Sues Google – Software as a Tollbooth

I originally wrote this as a mail to my boss encouraging him to get off of java and start looking at HTML 5. The technical parts are glossed over but explained enough to make the point. I republished it here because I think it will generate discussion, especially among the SAP people, etc.

http://news.cnet.com/8301-30684_3-20013546-265.html <- this is tough to get your head around the “why” until you consider how the android (and thus the cutting edge of java) works.

Oracle has decided to become a patent troll as far as Java is concerned. Oracle’s moving towards an oracle box as a literal thing – and I think the trend here is for companies to get away from IP (intellectual property) because of how badly MP3s and whatnot have eroded case law. The music industry has problems prosecuting pirates, the movie industry has problems prosecuting pirates, and as we move into the brave new cloud world, I think software companies will go the same way. The mainframe is dead. Long live the mainframe.

So we’re back to the pressed CD, the pressed DVD (how terrible is it we’re advertising “includes digital copy” on the media, Disney), and now Oracle is making Oracle Boxes and suing google using phones as a fathom of piracy. I would say “oh but everything is going to be a VM now” makes sense for abandoning hardware and virtualizing the stack except that an OS is a complicated thing, and a company which makes databases isn’t into the business of making SCSI card drivers. Drivers aren’t Oracles game and I don’t think this is particularly about Java and I think it’s much more about virtual machine technology. Google is the cloud and frankly it’s a better cloud than the VMWare-ish cloud of pretending to be hardware. If you’re looking to make a literal box you install on your network and become a toll booth of sorts, it would behoove you to attack the cloud. Oracle is going to take a shot at google over how virtual machines work.

Where google ran afoul of Sun and Oracle is that each android runs a JVM for each process on the box, so any process has extremely strict controls of what it can and cannot do to the phone (Linux 2.6.26). Sun tried to patent “the network is the computer” and android is the realization of that – each phone can send a JVM-generated work-unit back to google to do Big Work and because it’s a JVM, it doesn’t really care where it runs or how many resources it has. Oracles game seems to be selling you an oracle box as a box, or selling you oracle-as-a-cloud, but either way you’re installing an oracle connector and talking to a big anonymous thing rather than installing oracle as a service somewhere. You can send your work to your oracle-box or you can send your work to oracle, but either way you’re paying the toll to use it. Google’s doing the same thing – but they hide their subscription charges in the carriers bill. Oracle looks at this and says “If we’re going to be the turnpike of the database world, lets try to become the turnpike of the cloud!”

The fallout from this is that Java is now going to have the albatross that Oracle can cry foul on how you use it. What makes me fairly sure of this whole thing is that Apple does a lot of the same with the iphone, except for sharing the work units. It’s pretty obvious that since the iphone runs IOS but keeps it’s work-units to itself, it’s not running afoul of any VM patents in any form. Now would be a good time to start pushing HTML 5 for what we do. Runs in IIS! Doesn’t need Apache/Tomcat on Windows! Won’t be sued into oblivion!

The linux community is pointing out that Google very obviously built their JVM from the ground up and it therefor doesn’t infringe.