Thursday, June 29, 2006

Five things I hate about Netflix

1. I can't have a million movies at one time
2. I'm not their only customer
3. They don't have every movie and TV show ever made
4. They haven't paid me to write this blog :)
5. It's not free

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Netflix Hearts HTML

Netflix Hearts HTML
Originally uploaded to Flickr by justinbaeder.
Justin says: "This Netflix sleeve from Alias Season 2, Disc 2 has -oops- <I>doesn't</I> instead of doesn't. I guess Netflix customers are geeky enough to understand."

Friday, June 23, 2006

What would you ask Reed Hastings?

Mike K, of the Hacking Netflix blog, is going to get a chance to talk in person to Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, next week, and he's soliciting questions from his readers. I reckon he'll select the best ones and publish the answers on his blog. Go on over there and put your question(s) in the comments.

Yogurt Flix

Stonyfield Farm - Future Flix
Originally uploaded to Flickr by AdamVandenberg.
Netflix font found on ice cream.

Hello, Trademark infringement!
Originally uploaded to Flickr by Vortech.
Two Flickr users have found a similarity between Stonyfield Farms yogurt lid and Netflix. What do you think? Is it trademark infringement to use the same font as Netflix and the word "flix"?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

TradeFlix in beta

TradeFlix is a new peer-to-peer DVD trading service which is in beta. They go live in 100 days, but they are inviting beta testers to join now and invite their friends.

Update re: SilverScreenArchive, formerly ClassicFlix

11/14/2007 UPDATE: I have replaced all references to Classicflix in this post to SilverScreenArchive, which is their new name since October 2006.

I am really enjoying using SilverScreenArchive, which I joined back in March to use as a supplement to my Netflix subscription. If you would like to see the greatest classics of foreign and American film, this is your source. They have thousands of titles which are missing from the Netflix collection, because Netflix carries only DVD releases. SilverScreenArchive does something very helpful for the customer. They take movies which are only on VHS and convert them to DVD for ease of mailing, which makes movies available for rent which you can't get any other way. Since I am trying to complete the list of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, this is a big help.

They ship series discs in order, I haven't received any unplayable or damaged discs, and they've never made a mistake.

I have two challenges with using SilverScreenArchive, but these don't bother me enough to give up the service, because they still have movies I must see. Turnaround is slow. It can take about 4-5 days for them to receive my returns. They are in California, and I am in North Carolina. The fastest was 3 days once, and the slowest was 8 days once. As a result, even though I'm limited to 8 per month, I've reached my limit only once. Still, I get my money's worth.

The other challenge is that they do not ship in queue order, so there is no predicting what you'll get next. Blockbuster Online does the same thing. However, I never put anything in my queue that I do not always want to see, so that's not a big deal. It's just that there was a title at the top of my queue for three months that just now shipped.

Considering that they are a little mom & pop organization, they do a great job.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Update to Netflix and the set-top box

Hacking Netflix got up early this morning and found that Netflix has filed a SEC form 8-K in order to put a spin on the statement Eric Besner made about Netflix working on a set-top box to bring video downloads from the Internet to your TV.

When Netflix spokesperson Steve Swasey told Hacking Netflix that Eric Besner's comments were "Quoted out of context" he really meant that Eric was the one who gave away information without providing the proper context for his remarks. Netflix wants you to think that they aren't committed to providing the set-top box as the final solution for video downloads, because they want you to think they might have something else up their sleeve.

Animal lovers win dogfight with Netflix

Netflix has removed a controversial video from its library, on the grounds that it portrays actual dogfighting, which is illegal. According to the AP story,
"Los Gatos, Calif.-based Netflix removed Hood Fights from its library during the past week after customer complaints prompted a review of the objectionable content, said company spokesman Steve Swasey.

"We treated it like we would pornography," Swasey said. Netflix doesn't rent pornography to its nearly 5 million subscribers."

Well, Steve, since you say it's like pornography, I can't complain, because I am glad Netflix doesn't carry pornography.

This is a follow-up to my post about censorship. I do not think this is a case of censorship, because Netflix, as a corporation, has the same rights as any individual in America, to act according to their beliefs.

Via Hacking Netflix

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

My Favorite things about Netflix

Easy to use Website,
Easy to use service, and
DVDs are an easy to use medium
No commercials (unless you think banner ads are commercials)
No storage limitations
Easy to change your address, so your movies can follow you anywhere
No equipment to buy or lease (yet)
No contract
No installation (yet)
No cancellation penalty
Cancel anytime
Constant stream of movies coming and going
I get nothing but what I want
Less risk of getting a crap film
No schedules
No due dates
No wasted trips to video store for out-of-stock titles
No travelling to and from the video store
No forgetting what to rent
Biggest selection possible
No late fees
Learning about new films I didn't know existed
Keeps me within my budget
Free shipping and handling
Rapid turnaround
Clever envelope design
Clever distribution system
Widely loved by a great online community of fellow members
No porn
RSS feeds
Member reviews
Great recommendations system
It's not Blockbuster, Walmart, or Amazon
Easy to buy cheap DVDs
Easy to share movies, ratings, and recommendations with Netflix Friends
Gift subscriptions
Zillions of previews

Do you have a favorite thing about Netflix which I failed to mention?

Netflix Friends temporarily unavailable

The usually reliable Netflix site has been a bit wonky lately, what with ratings and Friends features going on the fritz. It's all temporary, and there's no reason to panic, as they've saved all your stuff and it will be back up "soon."

As Mike says, I hope this means they are making good changes.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Does Springfield, IL have a Netflix DC?

I have a reader who would like to have confirmation that there is a Netflix distribution center in Springfield, Illinois. If you can confirm this, post a comment, and Netflix will have a new subscriber, thanks to you.

Powerful Netflix addict in Baltimore

Hannah Byron, the director of the Baltimore City (MD) Film Office, is a powerful woman, responsible for getting movies, TV shows, documentaries, and commercials filmed in her fair city, and she's also a self-confessed Netflix addict. Read more about Hannah Byron and her job here.

Netflix and the Set-top Box

Hacking Netflix reports that VP of original programming Eric Besner was quoted out of context when he said that "Netflix is planning to introduce a proprietary set-top box with an Internet connection that can download movies overnight."

I'd like to know what the context of that comment was, and how it could possibly be interpreted any other way.

Whatever they do, I hope I can still get the same wide wide selection of movies on my TV for the same low price.

Read more about Netflix and the set-top box at VideoBusiness online.
Via Hacking Netflix

Blockbuster countersues Netflix

In response to Netflix's suit against them for patent infringement, Blockbuster filed a retaliatory lawsuit against Netflix, and hired some expensive lawyers to give a scary-sounding statement full of bold claims in order to prejudice any potential jury pool that Netflix is the bad guy, by using words like "monopoly" and "fraud." Only those lucky jurors will know who is doing right by the customers, and that will be based only on the information the lawyers and courts allow them to have, if it goes that far.

Read more at Reuters

Via Hacking Netflix.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Another viewing milestone: 801 out of 1001

The greatest thing about Netflix is their enormously wide selection. They have something like 60,000 titles in their catalog. This big selection of movies gives me the opportunity to do something I could never otherwise have attempted: I am trying to watch ALL of the movies in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die at least once. As of today, I have seen 801 of them! In February 2006, I posted that I had seen 704 of them, so I've seen 97 in the last four months. A year ago, in May 2005, I posted that I had seen 501 of them, so I've seen 300 in the last 13 months.

Here are some of my other viewing statistics:

What are your statistics? How many movies have you rented from Netflix this year? How many have you rated? How many recommendations does Netflix have for you?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Soused Cinema: Netflix Queue fodder for Drunks

If you are looking for movies which will inspire you in your drinking, filled with glamorous and humorous drunks, Modern Drunkard Magazine has a list of the "10 Best Drinking Movies Ever Made." Some of my favorites are on the list, including Charlie Chaplin's One A.M. and The Thin Man.

Iowa gets a new Netflix distribution center

I've just added Cedar Rapids, Iowa to the list of Netflix distribution centers, thanks to commenter Jerry.

If you live within 50 miles of that location, you'll receive one-day delivery from Netflix.

I do not know if this means the Des Moines center is closed.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Movie Fans Suspect Foul Play at the Post Office

A Branson, Missouri, man thinks that someone in his local post office shares his taste in films.

Robert Halamicek is one of two USPS customers in Branson who have reported that DVDs they rented from online video rental suppliers have arrived one or two days later than expected, with indications the package had already been opened.

Read more

Why DVDs will be around for few more years

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has been saying for years that "DVDs will dominate for another decade," because the selection of movies available for Internet downloading and Video-on-Demand will remain small, as long as the studios license the content the way they're doing now. The studios have no financial incentive to allow more titles to be downloaded, because they make way more money from selling DVDs:

Studios make money when Netflix and other companies license their movies. But that amount pales compared to how much the studios make when consumers buy discs. Studios earn $17.26 for each DVD sold, but only $2.37 for a movie on demand and $2.25 per DVD rented, according to Tom Adams of Adams Media Research.
Read more via the International Herald Tribune.

"Pearls Before Swine" features Netflix

This Friday's Pearls Before Swine features a take-off on Apocalypse Now, courtesy of someone's overuse of Netflix.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Remind me not to do this again

I went to the movies twice this past weekend, because there were two movies out which I thought I HAD to see on the big screen: Cars and X-Men 3: The Last Stand.


Cars was good, but not great, but it was nearly ruined for me by SCREAMING BABIES. The audience was full of very short non-voters who were BORED, and parents were continuously dragging them out to the lobby and back again.

X-Men 3: The Last Stand wasn't ruined for me. I thought it was pretty good, but there was a woman behind me who had apparently NEVER SEEN AN X-MEN MOVIE BEFORE, because she was so SHOCKED that Magneto could CONTROL METAL. She LOUDLY expressed her surprise, amusement, and disappointment, ALL THROUGH THE MOVIE. She really belongs in a test screening or on some kind of prescreening panel, because the movie producers would LOVE her. There would never be any doubt whatsoever how she feels about the movie.

During a couple of the exciting fight scenes, folks were moving about, standing in between me and the screen, either going to or from the lobby, arriving late, or changing seats.

I should have waited for these movies to come from Netflix.

Friday, June 09, 2006

"Netflix Freak" is O'Grady's PowerPick

NetFlix Freak is a Mac OS X application for managing your rental queue that is a must have for fellow freaks. In addition to viewing and managing your rental queue, NetFlix Freak offers some features that aren't available on
Read the review here

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Time travel and Netflix

In addition to finding Netflix "surpassingly cool," Glenn McDonald wishes he could use time travel to get the most out of his Netflix subscription. Read it

TiVo Announces Revolutionary New Service, TiVoCast; Bringing Broadband Video Content to the TV

ALVISO, Calif., June 7 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO - News), the creator of and a leader in television services for digital video recorders (DVR), today announced the launch of TiVoCast(TM), a revolutionary new service which will deliver broadband video directly to the television sets of TiVo subscribers. The TiVoCast service turns Web video into television by bringing top broadband content now only available on the PC to the TV set.

"The range and quality of broadband video is exploding on the Web, but it's not TV until it is on the TV," said Tom Rogers, CEO of TiVo. "With the TiVoCast service, we are once again transforming the television experience by bringing the rapidly expanding array of video content on the Internet into the living room."

"Television is still the preferred platform for watching video. The TiVoCast service captures mainstream and specialty-based content on the Web, delivering programming that is not otherwise available through the TV today and providing a wide variety of choice that will be of interest to all segments of the TV audience," said Tara Maitra, TiVo's Vice President and General Manager, Programming. "The TiVoCast service provides niche networks and broadband content suppliers, for which the economics of television distribution might not make sense, a way to connect with audiences in the living room via their favorite medium for watching video, TV and TiVo."

As part of the launch, TiVo announced that it has reached new agreements with leading video content providers including the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA), The New York Times, Heavy, iVillage and CNET among others.

Read more

Netflix-related domain names for sale on eBay

Seller Big Troll is offering several Netflix-related domain names for sale on eBay, such as,,, and

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Should we censor Netflix?

I found a discussion on a Vegan Web site about a movie Netflix is carrying which portrays a dogfight. Dogfighting is illegal in the United States, and terribly inhumane to animals. We have a God-given obligation to be good custodians of creation, and you can tell what's in a person's heart by how they treat their animals. I understand and appreciate using animals as servants or soldiers, to feed and protect us, but cruelty for entertainment is the product of a depraved society.

Animal rights activists on the Veg Pub site suggest persuading Netflix to delete the dogfighting title from their database. I say "go for it." Under capitalism, you can ask anyone to delete a title from their store because of your personal beliefs, and you can boycott anyone you like. That's how capitalism works. You are meant to vote with your dollars. It is not fascism or dictatorship for consumers decide where to spend their money, based on their own personal reasons.

But I see a lot of stuff on Netflix which offends me, like Michael Moore "documentaries," and Gaspar Noe movies, but I have never asked Netflix to stop offering them, because I am a believer in free speech. I don't want to tell you what you can and can't watch, because I don't want you telling me what I can and can't watch.

Even though we have the freedom and the right to protest any movie Netflix carries, we must exercise that right prudently. A world cleansed of all disagreeable content would exclude us all.

Update: the movie has been removed from the Netflix library, so the above link is broken.

How DVDs get to Netflix

From the New York Times
In the San Francisco area, Netflix trucks pick up returned DVD's from post offices by 4 a.m. each weekday morning and bring them to a warehouse in a leafy Sunnyvale office park. There, workers — mainly Asian and Latino immigrants — arrive on the brightly lighted warehouse floor at 5 a.m. to begin tearing open the red envelopes and putting the discs in mechanized sorters. By 10 a.m., the workers are stuffing new envelopes to be sent out again and the discs are back at the post office the same afternoon.

Netflix has 39 of these warehouses around the country, one in each major metropolitan area. Because first-class mail service takes only a day within a 50-mile radius, most customers get a new movie two days after dropping one in a mailbox.
Via Hacking Netflix

Blockbuster Online has lousy search

Which is what I've been saying, and so says this review of various movie options on ArsTechnica:
Trying to find my list of titles on the Blockbuster site proved a frustrating experience. Where Netflix helps out with spelling corrections along the lines of Google's suggestions, Blockbuster would simply not find anything if I fat-fingered something. I had to search for some Swedish movies under their English titles because "Search does not support accented or non English characters." And good luck finding It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World if you forgot exactly how mad the world is. Three or five repetitions put the title I wanted on page four of the search results, but Netflix nailed it as number one. Blockbuster's search function is simply nowhere near as sophisticated.
Read the whole thing.
Via Hacking Netflix

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Where I get my movies, besides Netflix

I love Netflix so much, to the extent that I can take them completely for granted, like water in the pipes and electrons in the wires. Netflix continues to be amazing and reliable.

Because I've been hunting for the rare and out-of-print titles on the list of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, which Netflix doesn'thave, I tend to take for granted how many ARE available from Netflix. At the moment, they have around 800. The list changes continuously, because some drop off while others are added.

However, for the remaining titles, I have had to use other sources.

I have bought at least one title from each of the following, and received good service: (French language only)

And of course,

I have rented titles from these online video stores:
Video Library
Nicheflix a la carte

And of course,

I can't guarantee you will have equally good service from any of these stores, so if you use one of them, and they abuse you, please post a comment here, so my readers will know to avoid them.

Please, if you know of a good place to find rare movies which isn't listed here, post a link in the comments!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Netflix makes me buy more movies

Having Netflix has increased my overall spending on movies. I didn't buy movies at all before Netflix, and I used to see movies on the big screen maybe once per month. Since I joined Netflix in January, 2004, I have increased my attendance at the cinemas to once a week, and I have bought 48 movies, on DVD and VHS. I have been spending so much time, energy, and money on my hunt for the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, the ones I can't get through Netflix, that I've spent less time watching the movies in my Netflix queue! That's wrong.

Has Netflix increased your spending on movies or TV?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Netflix buys Sherrybaby

Netflix is dropping another movie in an envelope and shipping it ... to theaters.

The online rentailer has made one of its biggest distribution deals to date, picking up rights to Maggie Gyllenhaal starrer Sherrybaby. The company will handle video distribution and has tapped partner IFC to manage theatrical.

Read more on Video Business Online (subscription required)

Kiosk burns DVDs on demand

Hewlett Packard was at a trade show in May, showing off their new Media on Demand kiosk, which allows DVD download or burning in 8-12 minutes in a variety of formats from iPod to HDTV. HP currently has licenses from Warner Bros. and Sony Pictures to burn movies.