Friday, May 28, 2004

Inside San Jose Netflix Warehouse!

Mayor of San Jose Visits Netflix Operations Center in April 2002. Scroll down to see a couple of detailed photos here.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Netflix Blog


What's going on here?

I found an intriguing photo of the insides of a Netflix operations
center. It must be San Jose, because Marc Randolph is in it. He's the
former president of Netflix. It's from the Detroit News, August 14,
2002. You can see computer workstations in the background, and CDs
being operated on. Can you tell me what they are doing? It looks like
one of the pieces of equipment on the nearest desk is a disc
polisher/cleaner. A guy is handling what looks like a cylinder with
gloves on. I think this could be the place where they deal with
damaged disks.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Blockbuster Expands Netflix-Like Service (CNN)

I like this article, because it points out several differences between the Blockbuster Movie Pass and Netflix that other articles have overlooked. Netflix has become such a strong brand already, that anything that follows it is "Netflix-like". Movie Pass is available in-store only, which means you pick them up and drop them off yourself, same as before. Titles are not reserved for you--it's first come, first served. No online reservations, so you still have to make your selection in the store:
Blockbuster said it plans to add an online-reservation feature and mail-delivery to its plan by the end of 2004. Customers will be able to subscribe movies online and receive them in the mail, Jerianne Thomas, a spokeswoman for Blockbuster, told CNN/Money. But the customer will not be allowed to return those movies to a retail store until 2005 when an intergrated model will be introduced.

Notice that they don't compare apples to apples. They cite the number of "copies" for Blockbuster, versus Netflix's "titles" as in "the average Blockbuster store carries about 9,000 to 10,000 DVD and VHS copies. Netflix, on the other hand, claims it has over 20,000 titles on its Web site." Those copies at Blockbuster represent relatively few titles.
Movie Pass is more expensive, and you have to do the work yourself:
Dallas-based Blockbuster said it will charge $24.99 a month for customers who want to rent up to two movies, and $29.99 for those who wish to rent up to 3 movies. Netflix's service charges $22 a month for up to 3 movies at a time.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

What To Rent

What To Rent

Discovered by I have 498 titles in my queue! I need recommendations like I need a hole in my head!!

Inside Netflix

Thanks to Matt who posted this article on, which goes into detail regarding the Netflix disc-handling process. There's some answers to FAQ in here.

Computer Power User
Artificial Intelligence
January 2002 Vol.2 Issue 1
Page(s) 82-83 in print issue

Pull back the curtain on this ingenious rent-by-Web model and Netflix
looks even more intriguing. How can a rental company afford to let
members keep a DVD as long as they want?

Only about 10% of DVDs returned to Netflix make it back to a storage
shelf. Almost all returned discs are turned around immediately to
other customers.
"We get the movies virtually for free," says Sneed, "so it doesn't
matter how long you keep it." Netflix only pays to duplicate the disc.
It then gives a share of the revenues back to the appropriate
Hollywood studio when a member rents the movie.
"Since we don't own the disc, we don't have to make as much cost back
on it," says Sneed. In fact, it's better for Netflix financially if
users keep DVDs longer because the postage fees constitute the highest
cost in the process. When members keep movies longer, they can rent
fewer titles, requiring fewer mailings. "What is perceived as a big
benefit for the user-no late fees-is a big benefit for the company,
too," says Sneed.

The Netflix fulfillment process is as novel as the business model. It
starts at 5 a.m. when company trucks visit the San Jose, Calif., post
office to pick up the 85,000 to 120,000 DVDs returned daily. At the
55,000-square-foot Netflix operations center, 50 to 60 workers open
the mailers to check the DVDs for damage, rerouting problem discs to a
quality control group. As the returns are logged into the company
computers, several things happen. Members receive an e-mail
acknowledging the return and are asked to rate the movie for the
Netflix database. Like, Netflix's Web site is a
sophisticated affinity engine, using a member's previous ratings and
rental habits to recommend DVDs that follow previously declared

Inside the Netflix DVD machine, employees move thousands of DVD
mailers out of the door every afternoon and process 80,000 to 120,000
returns a day.
Meanwhile, back at Netflix operations, it's likely that a returned DVD
won't touch a warehouse shelf. "Over 90% of the movies that come in,
someone else wants, and so it goes right back out," says Sneed. Users
are encouraged to maintain large rental queues, so that at any time a
given DVD is on a member's want list. Because the company started its
revenue-sharing program with all the major movie studios, Netflix can
stock 25,000 to 40,000 copies of new, popular titles. A staggering 2.5
million discs are in the Netflix system, and 90% of users now get the
first rental choice, Sneed claims.

by Steve Smith

CPU: With DVD burners and broadband connections widely available, are
downloadable DVD rentals on your radar screen?

Hastings: Yes. It's the reason we named the company Netflix and not
DVD-Rentals-Something. We want to get to 3 or 4 million subscribers
and then start rolling out the broadband delivery to various kinds of
devices. We think we can afford to not be the first one to do that.
It's very expensive work to seed the market, to get the first 50,000
people used to downloading movies for their entertainment and paying
for them.


Too much tension at work? Watch this peaceful, relaxing video, with the sound up. Right-click on the above link and choose "save as".

Spotted on this blog.

Netflix "node" at E2

E2 is, at first glance, a type of online open source encyclopedia. I think the Netflix listing is pretty thorough. Useful for forwarding to your friends when you do a referral.

Monday, May 24, 2004

the Netflix fanlist

This is probably just a way for spammers to collect emailing lists, but I joined. I would not have been true to this blog's name if I hadn't, now would I? What do you think?

Shipping confirmation email for Marriage Circle

Mon, 24 May 2004 15:53:15 -0700 (PDT)

This is the date/time stamp which was on the shipping confirmation email I received from Netflix, which indicates that the Marriage Circle was sent at 5:53 PM on Monday. Is it really taking that long for the confirmations to be sent, or is the disk being shipped from another time zone?

Marriage Circle

I think the distribution center my next title Marriage Circle is coming from must be in another time zone. As of 6 PM Eastern, it was "shipping today", which is long after I would assume our local DC has closed. However, after 6 PM, the status changed to shipped.

Incendiary ra-ra radicalism scorches the landscape /Arts & Weekend/Film & television

Michael Moore conned Cannes.

Outrageous Discrimination--Sign of the Times

I love this movie, but after reading the member reviews on, I have to put in my two cents' worth. Buster Keaton plays a successful stock broker who stands to inherit $7 million if he can be married by 7 PM today. The humor arises from his attempts to find a suitable woman to marry him, after his fiancee turns him down, being suspicious of his sincerity. His well-meaning friends put an ad in the paper, which attracts thousands of pursuers.

As he wanders around town looking for someone, anyone to marry, he disqualifies several people for various reasons: being Jewish, black, a child, and a man. However, the vast majority of the rejects are ugly, fat, or old. Where are the old, fat and ugly women's civil rights?! How outrageous that he can turn down a potential mate merely for her age or appearance!! I think he shows prejudice and unfair discrimination, for not being willing to consider ALL WOMEN, regardless of HOW FEW TEETH THEY HAVE!

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Cancel and get $10 off to re-up?

This from a blogger named Jeremy Zawodny.

Call their bluff and get a discount?

Have you tried this? Did it work? Cestmoi, at, says if you try to cancel, Netflix will give you a much better deal.

Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889

The historical event which provides the setting for Tumbleweeds.


I returned Tumbleweeds yesterday. I loved it! Classic Western. William S. Hart, the prototypical cowboy, is one of the greatest. Taciturn, fights for justice, bends the rules, but only in the service of justice, shy around women, uneducated, but has great street-smarts, or would that be prairie-smarts? and the fastest horse, of course. This film, according to Netflix, has "one of the most spectacular Western action scenes ever caught on film"--the Land Rush of 1888. Cool.

(Obligatory footnote: The film is not politically correct--it makes hardly any mention of the injustice of the land rush nor the displaced native peoples)

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Les Vampires

I just finished this series of 10 short films which took me three days to view (399 minutes). I thought it was amazing, for 1915. It reminded me of modern day examples like James Bond and the Batman TV series, with high-tech gadgetry, implausible plots, villains who just won't die, etc. I like what Netflix user Patrick Flaherty says:

"...the Vampires should have been able to kill off our hero, intrepid reporter Philippe Guerande, ten times over. They're ruthless with their other opponents, but with Guerande they try to be clever. How is it that the Vampires have the ability to gas party guests & destroy ships at sea, but they can't manage the simple task of getting their own code book back from his apartment?".

In its favor, the camera moves from room to room, there's lots of parallel cutting, and two characters break the fourth wall. A prototype serial, which uses all the conventions except for cliffhangers, 15 years before anyone else.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Silent Films

I love so-called "silent films." They aren't really silent, of course, because they are always accompanied by a musical soundtrack.

I am never discouraged, disappointed, or frustrated by a silent film. Anything I can't hear is supplied by the visuals or my imagination or the musical accompaniment. When I remember a silent film, I remember the dialog as if I heard it spoken. I interact with the film because I concentrate and use my imagination. It's like I'm reading the movie. I get taken up into the world of the film.

Everyone today was born in the film era. We don't know what it's like to live in a world without moving pictures. Films are history lessons. They are a window on the world of my grandparents' childhood. That amazes me.

They used to say these things about books. That books allow you to travel through space and time in your imagination. Silent films are a hybrid of book and film.

If you're worried about TV damaging your kid's learning ability, make him watch silent films. My niece loves them.

Buster Keaton

I love Buster Keaton! I watched Go West (1925) on Sunday, and it was wonderful. He shoots a tiny little gun at the bad guy, who merely grabs his buttocks and says "Ouch" in response. At another time, he says something to another bad guy, who says "When you say that--smile." Of course, Buster doesn't smile, so he pushes up the corners of his mouth with two fingers.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

One great comedy moment that was never recorded

Art director Wilfred Buckland created some of the most magnificent sets in film history for Douglas Fairbanks'version of Robin Hood (1922). One set was the enormous castle of King Richard the Lion-hearted which was so large, it could be seen on the Hollywood skyline. It's huge drawbridge could accommodate the flower of English knighthood marching out to war. Kevin Brownlow tells what happened after filming was completed:

"Charlie Chaplin asked Douglas Fairbanks if he could borrow the castle for a sequence in his next picture.
'I don't get it, Charlie,' said Fairbanks. 'What do you want to do?'
Chaplin demonstrated: the huge drawbridge was lowered and Chaplin appeared from inside, clutching a kitten. He put out the cat, picked up a bottle of milk, a newspaper, and some letters, and sauntered back inside again. The drawbridge slowly closed."

The Parade's Gone By...p. 257

Friday, May 14, 2004

How Walmart is like Communism

I was reading on about the Walmart DVD service which is trying to compete with Netflix, with a smaller selection, slower turnaround times, and lower prices. The following list was inspired by some of the comments I read there. Just for the record, I'm a big fan of Walmart. I shop there every week. I'm even a member of Sam's club. And I'm a red-blooded American Patriot Capitalist. Still, these are the top ten ways Walmart reminds me of old-fashioned Soviet Communism:

10. Founded by one guy whose name is on everything.
9. Everyone who wants one, has a job.
8. All the power resides in the few at the top.
7. Everything is made in China.
6. There goes the neighborhood.
5. To compete, they start a war.
4. They imitate, instead of innovate.
3. We must surrender, or die.
2. Everyone must dress alike.
1. Long lines.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Period films--sad, but true

"However authentic the detail, however correct the costumes, however accurate the characterizations, one element of Hollywood period films was always wrong: the women. Whether it was ancient Babylon or pre-war Vienna, the women's cosmetics, hair styles, and apparel were a compromise between the era of the story and the year of production. The same still holds true today--and the reason for it has yet to change...

If a period picture suddenly appeared depicting women correctly attired for that period, the shock for the uninitiated would be great. Fans would be appalled at the appearance of their favorie star. And their favorite star would be equally outraged."

Brownlow, Kevin. The Parade's Gone By...New York: Alfred A. Knopf 1968, p245.

Louisville, KY distribution center

Hurray for the new DC in KY! That takes a load off old Greensboro, NC, which is whence my movies come. According to Amanda on Yahoo! Group netflix_operations_discuss, it actually opened three weeks before the announcement, which makes sense. I've noticed my turnaround times have gone back to 3 days, like when I was a new member.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Eastenders not on DVD yet

I have to say to the BBC that I'd like to see Eastenders on DVD so I can find out what happened in the early days of my favorite soap opera. It's a frequently-number-one hit on British TV, available only on certain public TV stations here in the USA. BBC America dropped it. Poop on them.

Greencine update 2

Confirmation from Greencine that they received my return of The Love Light and have shipped the next title from my queue, which is Sunrise (1927), a disc that is unavailable from Netflix. That's a ten-day turnaround, and you saw it here, live and uncensored! Netflix wins!

Gripe, Smear and Vengeance Web Sites

I have a problem with some of the postings in newsgroups or blogs where people report bad experiences with Netflix. In some cases, it's clearly a misunderstanding, arising out of customer ignorance or confusion regarding what services Netflix provides or how to deal with the customer service department. Some of these people look like they are on a crusade to scare other customers away, out of vengeance or a "pay me off to shut me up" motive. Why else would they continue to post disparaging information long after the issue was resolved? This is harassment, and it doesn't make you look like an innocent victim, especially if your complaint is that they cut you off after too many "lost" discs.

Title Turn

I just noticed that I've had The Eagle since last Tuesday. This is the first time since I've joined that I've kept a disc for a whole week.

Wait statuses

La Strada: Special Edition (Short Wait)
The Aristocats (Long Wait)
A Room with a View: Special Edition (Long Wait)
Forgotten Silver (Long Wait)
The Long Way Home (Very Long Wait & Out of Print)

Comments enabled

For the two of you who get this blog's RSS feed, I have enabled comments. This is one of's new features, hence the changes you see to my template. I hope you like it, but if you don't, now's your chance to let me know.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Does this get me in?

The Carousel Grand Cinemas of my beloved home town called me to tell me I won fourth place in their "predict the Oscars" contest. It took them this long to count the votes. Yeesh. However, I got free dinner for two at Brixx Pizza :). Does this give me any street cred as a movie fan?

The Last Laugh

I actually had a life last weekend, so I managed to see just one film: F.W. Murnau's The Last Laugh, which was a cynical commentary on social injustice tempered by a tacked-on "happy ending". What distinguished it was that it had only one subtitle, the one which announced that the ensuing happy ending was tacked on. One other piece of necessary information was provided by a close-up of text within the context of the action. I was amazed at how effective nonverbal communication could be, made possible by excellent acting by Emil Janning.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Returned first Greencine

Today, I put my first Greencine title in the return mail. I used the street box at work. We'll see how long it takes for them to check it back in and send me a new one.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Greencine update

Today, I received my first titles from Greencine. They were shipped on Saturday, May 1, 2004, according to the Web site. They came in a mailer similar to Netflix's, except with a green color scheme and a folded cardboard insert to protect the disc, which made the envelope thicker. The return portion of the envelope uses a postage stamp rather than a prepaid imprint.

One of the titles I received was The Love Light, which Netflix didn't have. It's a Mary Pickford melodrama in which she plays a poor ethnic girl at the mercy of powerful forces that fill her life with sorrow. What's new? Still, her acting was excellent, as usual.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

1001 Movies You Must See...

...Before You Die. Watch out, Netflix (& Greencine)! I intend to rent every film in this book, eventually, when they're on DVD. The titles I found on Greencine came from this book. recommended it.


"Online DVD Rental, For People Who Like To Watch"

I am NOT a TRAITOR!! I had to join Greencine for two reasons: rare titles not available on Netflix, and to avoid dead spots. I spend three days each week waiting for titles to arrive. Now, I will have two streams of deliveries each week. These are the titles my Greencine queue contains: Mary Pickford - A Life On Film (1999), The Gaucho (1928), The Love Light (1921), The Testament of Dr. Mabuse/The Crimes of Dr. Mabuse (1933/1962), Sunrise (1927).

By the way, I've sent in requests to Netflix to add two of the above titles: Sunrise and Mary Pickford-A Life on Film, but when I discovered them in the Greencine database, I decided "why wait"? Greencine might be being deceptive and might not be any more able to deliver them than Netflix. We'll see.