two X-boxes – two copies of Battlefield 3? NO WAY!

Do people actually buy multiple copies of games?  Even if they own more than one of the same console?

We have two X-box 360s.   We almost always play on the big screen with surround sound.  It just blows away playing on the small living room tv.

To me, a big part of online gaming is just that – being online; playing with and against other players on Microsoft Live.  I enjoy sitting with my son playing Call of Duty on split-screen.  He often has a friend or two over doing the same.

Battlefield 3 just came out.  Wicked cool awesome game.  Alas, it only supports one player at a time, if on Microsoft Live.

So we’ve been playing by swapping the controller every other game.  It’s ok – at least we’re hanging out together – but nowhere near as satisfying as playing at the same time.

I suspect Dice and EA would suggest buying a second copy for the second X-box.  Then we could play together (albeit in separate rooms) and both be on Microsoft Live.

Not. Going. To. Happen.

How many gamers with multiple systems actually buy more than one copy?   I suspect not many.

So I have an Idea:   Allow both machines to play off the same game disk.

Both machines can only play if one has the game disk in it; we can’t give the disk to someone else and continue playing at home.  It’s trivial to detect we’re on the same LAN, rather than over the Internet.    It spreads the graphic work over each machine; the first machine is only reading the disk a bit more.   This really shouldn’t be difficult to implement.  Trivial in comparison to the games themselves.

As I see it, the only downside is the loss of those single-household second-copy sales.

But  I wonder… How many of my son’s friends will play here – and then buy their own copy for their own X-box?   I suspect the additional sales would more than make up for the lost copies.  And the good will?   Instead of “those greedy bastards want me to buy two copies” it would be “damn!  We can all play together!  That’s great!”

It could even be extended to allow all local consoles to play off one disk.  Imagine a LAN party playing off one disk.  How many times will people go and buy their own copy afterwards?  I doubt there are many people that only play when they’re physically together.  Although I’ll bet anyone that goes to LAN parties probably does buy their own copy anyway…

Maybe I’m wrong, but I’ll bet there are enough that would buy a game after “tasting” it at a friend’s to make this worthwhile.  People that hadn’t planned to buy that game.


EmptyStackException in Android Layout Editor

Under very specific (and obscure) circumstances, the Android Layout Editor throws an EmptyStackException when the ‘graphical layout’ tab is selected.

The conditions are unlikely to occur, but I did run into this problem yesterday:

subclass TextView to create a custom widget
– create a style for that widget
– specify the text item in the style; not in the widget definition

This may be specific to Android SDK 15; I updated to that release shortly before the problem occurred.

I posted a complete explanation on Stack Overflow at – some of it is repeated below.

I also submitted a bug report to Google’s bug database at  I attached a test program to that report; it may be downloaded from the bottom of that page.

The gist of the bug is:


<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>




<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>

         <item name="android:layout_height">wrap_content</item>
         <item name="android:layout_width">fill_parent</item>
         <item name="android:text">some message</item>


With these, open main.xml and select the graphical layout tab.  The exception appears at the bottom of the graphical layout.


don’t erase what I’ve entered just ’cause there’s a mistake

When I signed up for WordPress (where this site is hosted) I neglected to enter the security numbers for my credit card.

As expected, the site returned an error.  But it erased the credit-card number I’d entered – I had to type it all over again.

Don’t do that!

Worse, the second time, I didn’t notice it had reset the card’s expiration date – so I got another error – and it erased the credit-card and security numbers again – I had to type it all a third time.  How incredibly aggravating!

Don’t do that!

why not zip/postal code first?

I’ve been griping about this for a long time.

Whenever you have to enter your address in a web site, why don’t they ask for the postal code (Zip code in the US) first, and then fill in the city and state information automatically?

Computers are supposed to make our lives easier – let them do the work.

getting AdMob ads in the Android emulator

The emulator uses the first NIC it finds, whether that one actually has access to the Internet or not.
(NIC = Network Interface Controller – aka network adapter)

If it doesn’t, the emulator won’t be able to access the Internet.  This made testing AdMob adverting in my app rather difficult.

My develoment machine (actually, virtual machine, but that’s beside the point) has two NICs; the emulator locks onto the wrong one.

My workaround is to disable all the NICs except for the one the emulator should use, then start the emulator.  The emulator will use the only enabled NIC, and will be able to access the Internet, and be able to show AdMob advertising.

It’s safe to re-enable any other NICs until the emulator is closed.  When you restart the emulator you’ll have to disable the other NICs again.

If anyone knows of settings to force the emulator to use a specific NIC, please let me know.  (I don’t use a proxy, btw.)

All the best,

excursions into Android development

I’ve started doing some Android development on my own apps.  It’s been interesting – some genuinely and some in the “oh, God! oh, God! We’re all gonna die!” interesting.

I’ll post more about it soon – especially some of the tips I’ve discovered  (or, more accurately, stumbled across…   :)

reason for being here…

here will be posted:

bits of (useful) information

occastional useless (but otherwise interesting) information  (at least I find it interesting)

rants and raves

and whatever else about which I feel like writing

etc, etc, etc…

%d bloggers like this: