Battlestone Toddler Swipe Destruction of Spires

One of the games launched this year is Battlestone. A critically well received game where the player navigates through levels swiping and destroying monsters and these purple spires.

Below you can see a hero destroying three spires.

So here’s my son doing the same thing…

Battery life low on Android – EAR SPLITTING SOUND – Battery life low on Android – EAR SPLITTING SOUND

I love my Samsung Galaxy S4 except for the ear-splitting, marriage destroying notification that the battery is low.

The sound is loud enough to raise the dead. Thankfully I know how to use an axe.

So what’s the problem, you ask – just disable the notification.

Well it turns out that the notification is a system sound. Unfortunately there is no option to disable system sounds.

Enter google.

So I spent some time looking for the answer, and found many many other folks who were just as tormented as I was.

There were folks who proposed I recompile the entire Android kernel, then there was the folks who recommended I root my phone and remove the offending sound, and then there was the folks who recommended I discard my phone and buy an iPhone.

Fortunately, just as I was imagining what kind of ritualistic violence I could practice on my phone, someone recommended Sound Manager on the Android app store. Apparently this app, can disable system sounds.

The ear-splitting sound is a thing of the past.

And the folks at Samsung need to learn a lesson on usability… Or maybe they are deaf from the tone…

Book Review – Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time by Ira Katznelson

This is possibly the most fascinating review of the New Deal Era I have ever read. Mr. Katznelson explores how the evil system of segregation and racism distorted the revolutionary impulse of the New Deal.

Mr. Katznelson explores the origins of the New Deal and the series of compromises that created the new America.

What he does, very well, is transport us to the time place and the specific challenges that liberal democracy was facing. In particular, confronted with gargantuan problems other societies were rejecting democracy in favor of totalitarianism. Among the over intellectualized élite the idea that liberal democracy could deal with the problems of the state was viewed as silliness.

And yet, somehow, the United States was able to use the power of the state and to keep democracy at the same time.

And for those of us who are watching the Republican Right tear the power of the state to protect the poor, this is a fascinating book because it shows how revolutionary that impulse to change the nature of government was.

What I found most fascinating though, was the impact of Racism on the New Deal. Throughout the period of the New Deal, the southern Democrats were key to getting legislation passed. And they were willing to support legislation as long as it never touched the evil system of segregation.

The Southern Democrats support of the New Deal was that they had poor white men they wanted to help. And their solution was to tax the rich Northern industrialist and transfer wealth south. However, nothing could be done to touch the evil system they had in place.

So for example, they were in favor of a minimum wage as long as it did not touch house maids and farmers. They were in favor of unions until the unions started championing equal wages for all. They were in favor of programs that gave block grants to states instead of national programs because block grants could be used to help the whites and keep everyone else out.

In fact, the entire project known as states rights was not about preserving the liberty of individual states, but rather the white man prerogative to keep their boot on the back of the neck of the non-white and women.

What is fascinating is how the South want to protect the white man’s right to be free, did not align with Naziism because Nazi’s restricted the white man’s freedom … An amazing tribute to the South’s ability to keep two conflicting thoughts in their head.

And lastly what is fascinating to me is why the South is so passionately in favor of military spending. The Southern states benefited immensely from the growth in the military industrial complex in the WWII and Cold War era, and supplemental military spending disproportionately favors them. In effect, the South hates jobs programs that benefit anyone but themselves. Unlike everyone else they wrap their job program in the American Flag.

Twice in the last 150 years has America attempted to reform the south, once in the post Civil War during reconstruction and once more in the 1960′s during the civil rights era. The sad reality is that during the most important revolutionary era, the failures of Reconstruction cost America bitterly.

Reading this book reminds me of how compromise with evil is necessary, but fighting evil is essential.

Can I have my money back Steve?

Apparently a federal judge ruled that Apple violated anti-trust law and conspired to raise prices for e-books.,0,3253817.story

For those of us who bought e-books, that is not a surprise. I remember when e-books cost 9.99 not 14.99.

All this proves is that large companies with infinite budgets will use their market power to screw over the consumer. And that things like the anti-trust act still add value.

Take that libertarians.

And I want my money back.

NetApp Did It – follow up to post on Facebook recovery codes

One of my favorite South Park episodes of all time is “The Simpson’s did it”. In that episode the creators of South Park enumerate every stupid asinine plot device the Simpsons ever used.

In the tech industry in the 1990′s we had a saying “IBM did it”. In other words, no matter how great an idea you think you might have had, IBM had already done it.

So I was tremendously gratified when a buddy of mine pointed out that NetApp did it in response to the Xorbas paper.

Here’s the patent and the key elements of the paper:

 “Specifically, a single diagonal parity block is calculated across a series of row parity groups. Upon the failure of any data blocks, each in an independent row parity group, the invention enables recovery of the data blocks using local row parity. Upon the failure of any two blocks within a single parity group, the invention facilitates recovery using a combination of local row parity and global diagonal parity calculations. Advantageously, the present invention allows more efficient (and easier) recovery of single failures in an array configured to enable recovery from the concurrent failure of two storage devices (disks) within a sub-array of the array. “

The good news is that the all of the the patent claims are written in terms of row and diagonal parity, protecting against exactly two failures.

Intriguingly when NetApp was looking at this technology we were focused on how do you make disks more reliable. What makes the Xorbas work fascinating is that they focused on how to make bricks (disk+compute) more reliable.

One of the objections to bricks, at the time, was that it was a very expensive product given the cost and performance of disk, CPU and memory. That kind of architecture would make sense if the compute was significantly more intensive than just file system operations. Otherwise you were spending a lot of money to add a small amount of disks compared to adding a shelf.

And the reality is that Isilon wasn’t quite as big a success as NetApp feared.

As a modest reflection on the past, at the time, I remember folks wondering how we could bring compute closer to the disks. And we had these ideas about vmware and virtualization and missed this whole big data thing entirely.

What we really missed was that the database layer was going to change radically to a scaleout architecture where a clustered file system that made disk more cost-effective and reliability more cost-effective would be tremendously valuable.

But we didn’t. And I was there, involved in those discussions and I was as blind to the opportunity as anybody else.

We were too focused on disk drives, not on the changing nature of compute. And missed how our technology could apply to that changing nature of compute.

So like IBM, NetApp did it and someone else will capitalize on it.