Thursday, December 28, 2006

Night at the Museum (2006) review

I went with my nephews to see Night at the Museum (2006) this week. They are 13, 15, and 17, and they loved it! It is a terrific family action-adventure movie in the tradition of Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy. It's about a night watchman at the Museum of Natural History who discovers that all the exhibits come to life at night. It is a very clean movie which manages to be funny and exciting also. I like it because it isn't trying to be cynical or sophisticated, but instead expresses old-fashioned values in the context of a good time.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Spiritually Significant Films™ on Netflix

The Arts and Faith Top 100 Spiritually Significant Films™ list links each title to Netflix with an "add to queue" button.

The list constitutes a wide range of movies, covering many different themes and subjects. As I look over it, I think, what do all these unique movies have in common? What are "spiritually significant" films? Without a doubt, every one of the movies will make you think.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Criticker vs Netflix

Criticker claims to be "the best Movie Recommendation Engine and Community on the Internet!" When asked if they would be trying for the NetflixPrize, their answer was "NO ! We won’t take part...if someone ever tries to submit our algorithm, it won’t do him and Netflix any good - because Netflix won’t be able to use it.

To get our algorithm they would need to buy Criticker, but it won’t be a 1 million [dollar] bargain."

Have you tried Criticker? If so, how does it compare to Netflix?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Netflix gift certificates

I have given a Netflix gift certificate this Christmas. Have you?

I see them on eBay sometimes, but I'm afraid to take a chance on it turning out to be a scam.

Finally got some Netflix Schwag

After years of being gratuitously accused of shilling by commenters here and elsewhere, all without any actual recompense from Netflix, an insider contact at Netflix finally sent me some Netflix schwag, to thank me for all I've done. Sweet. I received a red Netflix-logo t-shirt, a black Netflix-logo hat, and a couple feet of red Netflix-logo stickers.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Calvaire (2005)

Usually in a horror movie, there's a moral to the story. For example, don't dress like a hoochie and walk alone through dark tunnels at night, or don't have premarital sex in a cabin in the woods, or don't get off the Interstate through Texas. However, in Calvaire, the moral seems to be, "don't be a wedding singer" or "don't take a roadtrip in a van with a bad alternator." Of course, Marc Stevens does exactly that, and he gets into some trouble with the French version of rednecks. The suspense got to me at one point: I had to turn it off and come back to it later. However, compared to the fate of American horror victims, Mr. Stevens gets off easy.

I received a free screener copy of this movie as part of the Netflix VIP program at Palm Pictures.

Japanese movie news

Hoga Central is an English-language site written by Japanese people and devoted to contemporary Japanese cinema:

"We hope that our site will help the international fans discover about wide range of recent Japanese movies, in addition to the classics samurai films and art-oriented movies, We also hope that journalists and researchers can utilize this site to have a better understanding about what movies Japanese people enjoy on a real-time basis, not just limited to the ones that are released overseas."

Also contains helpful links to other Asian film news and shopping.

Netflix name decoder

Because of the X, Netflix makes for some interesting acronyms. Click on the image to decode your own name.

Networked Electronic Technician Fabricated for Logical Infiltration and Xenocide

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Counting Netflix: in which Google thinks I'm a hacker

Inspired by this item on Hacking NetFlix, about how Netflix Has 70,000 Titles, Blockbuster 60,000, I decided to see if I could count the number of titles displayed on Netflix's Web site using an advanced Google search.

This is the search I attempted: allinurl: MovieDisplay -rss 1..10000000

The words MovieDisplay appear in the url for every movie. I didn't want RSS feeds, because that results in duplication, and I restricted the site to because Netflix movies are linked on hundreds of thousands of sites. I restricted results to include numbers one through ten million, because I thought that would help find only those movies with a movie id. I changed my search preferences to include all languages, and removed filtering. Surprisingly, that doubled the results!

Google will let me see only one page of the more than 85 thousand results of this search. If I try to go further, I get an error message which says I'm acting like spyware. Click on the following photo to read the message:

I decided to eliminate the 1..10000000, and lost ten thousand results, but now Google no longer thinks I'm a virus. A quick scan of the results shows they are all specific movie titles on the Netflix site. There are 75,400 titles on See if you can duplicate my results and let me know if you get a different number.

Update: I've repeated the search, and now I can't get more than 75,200 results.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Netflix changes advertising policy

Anonymous Source says Netflix will be phasing out banner advertisements on its Web site over the next few months, because they aren't worth it.

Conspiracy Theorist Source says, maybe the reason Blockbuster is collecting Netflix mailer flaps is to see who is paying Netflix for advertising.

I'm not the only one who sees sneaky motives behind Blockbuster's actions.

Monday, December 11, 2006

24 Films Guaranteed to make you feel Christmassy - Advent DVD Guide

A very interesting list of films from designed to enhance the Christmas mood. Not all are Christmas films, but all have something special, or maybe just snow. The site links to the Amazon UK site, but these films are available on Netflix, too.

Top Ten, er, Eleven Ways to Spell Netflix

I have decided that these are the top ten most popular (mis)spellings of NETFLIX. The numbers in parentheses are the Google hits:

  1. Netflix (2,100,000)
  2. NFLX (303,000)
  3. Net Flix (43,600)
  4. Netflicks (22,900)
  5. Netfix (16,400)
  6. Nexflix (619)
  7. Net Flicks (610)
  8. Nextflix (216)
  9. Netflixx (72)
  10. Netfilx (23)
  11. Nets Flicks (22)

Update: I added Netflixx at #9, suggested by Davis Freeberg.

My Google preferences are set on strict filtering and English-only results.

Netflix is a "green company"

WorldChanging: Tools, Models and Ideas for Building a Bright Green Future: What Netflix Tells Us About a Bright Green Future
"Netflix is a product-service system for DVDs. By signing up for the service, you are able to rent movies you want to see, without having to own them. So far, so good, and much like a traditional video store. However, Netflix goes one better on sustainability terms, by letting users order movies online and delivering the DVDs via the regular postal mail. Now I'm sure they made the decision to do this based entirely on cost savings, but as it turns out, there are real sustainability savings involved as well: by not having a store to which I drive to get the videos, the planet is spared the impacts of a retail outlet, as well as all those trips back and forth, each of which uses (though I haven't run the numbers, I'm sure this is true) far more fuel and generates far more pollution than do the daily rounds of the local mail carrier (who is, after all, making the trip anyway)."

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Nicheflix going out of business sale

I am very sad to report that, as I suspected, both Nicheflix and Nicheflix a la carte are going out of business. Friday December 22nd will be the last day films will be shipped out. Their going-out-of-business sale is a fantastic opportunity to get rare, out-of-print, non-region one collectible titles on DVD. Check out their store on eBay:

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Mystery writer reviews movies on Netflix

Quite serendipitously, I discovered that William Mize shares his profile on Netflix, so you can see his reviews and favorites.


Netflix on 60 Minutes

Here are two links to Reed Hasting's appearance on 60 Minutes:

Netflix on

Netflix on

Because of Netflix, I do not watch TV any more, so I tend to forget about stories like this.

When I say I don't watch TV, I mean, erm, I don't watch TV. I do not have cable. I have zero channels. I might hook up the rabbit ears if humans were about to land on Mars, but otherwise, all I see on my TV is snow, unless I'm watching a DVD or VHS.

Thanks to Mike G.

Blockbuster Video collecting Netflix subscriber info

Blockbuster Online has a new gimmick to get you to switch from Netflix. You can bring the "tear-off address flaps of your Netflix rental envelopes" to Blockbuster Video and use them like coupons for "free" rentals. I say "free," because you pay for the time, the gas, and the video, if you don't return it on time. The promotion runs from now until December 21.

This is not going to work, because Netflix subscribers hate making the trip to the store twice for the same movie, the limited selection, and due dates.

This promotion is a way for Blockbuster to find out exactly which of you are Netflix subscribers, so they can spam you. Netflix isn't going to sell their membership mailing list to Blockbuster, so Blockbuster is going to get you to volunteer the information.

Via PRN news press release.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Nicheflix disappoints

I'm disappointed with Nicheflix. They are an online subscription rental service, modeled after Netflix, which specializes in multi-region DVDs. I rejoined three months ago in order to rent the British DVD release of the Farscape TV series, season five, but I quit them. Nicheflix lets you add movies to a queue, and the queue shows the status, whether long wait, short wait, or even "out of stock." Well, I added Panic in Needle Park, which was available, but then it became out of stock. Unrelated to that, they sent me an email telling me that they are selling some surplus DVDs on eBay. Much to my chagrin, they were selling Panic in Needle Park on eBay, even though it is in my queue as out of stock! Even though I contacted the eBay seller ID about it, they never replied. I contacted Nicheflix directly. They never replied. Therefore, I am posting this.

My feeling is that they are pulling out of the subscription rental business by selling off their stock. Well, if they are going to do that, they shouldn't be accepting any more subscriptions. They took my money under false pretenses.

Nicheflix has another store, called Nicheflix a la carte, where you can do short-term rentals of individual DVDs for a fee. That store seems to be growing. They are still adding more titles to their inventory, although much more slowly than at first. They don't have Panic in Needle Park.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Thank your mail carrier

The Postal Service will deliver 20 billion cards, letters and packages between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve.

On average, the Postal Service processes 670 million pieces of mail every day. On the peak holiday mailing day, Dec. 18, that volume will increase to 900 million pieces of mail. On that day alone.

On average, Netflix ships 1.4 million DVDs each day.

According to my calculations, Netflix makes up .2%, that's two-tenths of one percent, of the average daily volume of mail. (Please correct me if I'm wrong.)

We have an amazingly efficient, inexpensive postal system, and I want to thank you postal workers for bringing me my Netflix every day.