Saturday, November 13, 2010

Roku Lives!

Thanks to my commenters for their good advice! I replaced the power adapter, and now it works!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Dead Roku

I am forlorn. My Roku player is dead. It lasted two and a half years. I think a power surge killed it. The little light doesn't come on. What should I do? Should I buy another Netflix-ready device? Or should I replace my Roku?

My AT&T DSL connection is only 768Kbps at $19.95/month, and the Roku made it possible for me to get streaming content at 2-dot quality, which was tolerable with most of the stuff that I watch.

Because of my slow Internet connection, streaming on my Mac Mini is not an option. I have tried watching Netflix Instant in my Firefox browser, but it took forever to buffer, and there is no remote control. I can't watch instantly on my laptop, because it's not compatible with Ubuntu.

I don't want a game console, or a Blu-ray player, or a new TV, or a DVR, or a new home theater system.

I would consider an Apple TV.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Netflix Surprises

I have seen Searching for Bobby Fisher, King of Kong, and Serenity, but I'm going to have to check out the rest of these: "Suggestions and Hidden Gems!" from a new Netflix fan blog whose focus is on Netflix Streaming.

Sunday, October 24, 2010 looks like it's meant to be a social-networking forum for Netflix Fans. From their What is a Netflixer? page, it "was created by a group of students at Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business as part of a project for our Information Systems for Business and Management class." I hope they haven't received a grade yet, because it's incomplete. The log in goes to Wordpress. I think it's not a serious thing. I'd give it a B for passing the quick-look test, but a D for being shallow. Maybe it's a test to see how much traffic they can get by using the Netflix brand name and posting links to other Netflix-related sites?

Still prefer DVDs

I may be a luddite, but I still prefer DVDs to Instant Netflix. I don't have a very fast internet connection, (I have the cheapest DSL you can get from AT&T) so I get only two star quality when streaming. I don't mind if what I'm watching is not really affected, but sometimes the movie really suffers. However, I love having an alternative to TV, and I love having something to watch when the DVD is in the mail, so Instant Netflix is a great feature that adds value to my membership.

I like using my Instant queue as kind of a overflow for the DVD queue. I have already maxed out my queue, so I frequently add things to Instant that I don't want to forget about.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Saturday shipping

Today is the first Saturday I have ever seen Netflix acknowledge receipt of a movie I returned on a Friday, and it's the first Saturday Netflix told me they are shipping a title which is due to arrive Monday.

Fun with IMDb

The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) should be a familiar destination for all movie fans, because they are the only place online where you can find out about nearly every movie ever made. Even Netflix doesn't do that.

You can go year-by-year to find the top movies by boxoffice or MOVIEMeter(tm) rating, which is how I look for movies to put in my Netlfix queue, sometimes.

IMDb maintains a constantly-updated list of the top 250 movies by MOVIEMeter(tm). I would like to brag about how many I've seen of them. How do I keep track? I use is a well-made site where you can actually check off the films you've seen. Click on this button to see which ones I've seen:

Here is another cool site for looking at the IMDb Top 250, where you can see monthly snapshots of the list going back to 1997, as well as do month-to-month comparisons to see which titles have been added or moved up or down.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Can you join Netflix without a computer?

Do you know anyone who uses Netflix, but doesn't have a personal computer? You have to be able to go online at least once to join Netflix, but you don't really need a personal computer or to access the Internet more than a few times a year. Because of how the queue* works, you can get online once when you join, and go a very long time without seeing your queue again. If you can get online at a friend's house, or the public library, or at work, all you need to do is fill your queue with 26 movies, and you can go six months without seeing your queue again, if you watch just one a week. This works only if you're OK with watching whatever is in your queue in random order. If you're the type who has to be in the mood for a specific movie, this won't work. If you have a phone that connects to the Internet, you should be able to change your queue that way.

If you're OK with watching streaming movies only, and not DVDs, you can get a "Netflix-ready device." I have an iPod Touch, with the Netflix app, so I can see my Instant queue any time I have WiFi. There are Blu-Ray players, game consoles, TVs, and streaming players that allow you to see your instant Netflix without needing a computer.

What is the Queue? How do I use it?
Your Queue is the list of the movies you want to see, in the order you want to receive them. You may add, delete or change the order of movies in your Queue at any time.
To add a movie to your Queue, just click the Add button next to any movie. We'll send you as many available movies from your Queue as your plan allows.
Once you've finished viewing a DVD, simply return it in the prepaid return envelope and we'll send the next available selection from your Queue as soon as possible.
To change the order in which movies are delivered from your Queue, you can change the number in the Priority column, use the 'move to top' button, or simply drag and drop the movie to where you want it in the list.
To remove movies from your Queue, click on the 'X' under the column labeled 'Remove'.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Friends without Netflix

Do you have any friends who still haven't tried Netflix? I was astonished to learn that my nurse at the doctor's office still hasn't signed up. I will not rest until she does.

I think it might be ignorance. I have to explain to them how it works. It helps if I show them the envelope, because it's hard for folks to imagine how easy it is. They think they have to get a stamp and address the envelope and buy envelopes, and all that old-school stuff. Even when I tell them it's postage-paid both ways, they are skeptical. They think there's a catch.

I also think it's hard work for some people to find stuff to watch. With TV, it's passive. You watch whatever is on, or you hit one button on the remote. Netflix requires a bit of thought and more effort than switching on the TV. You have to go online, look at pictures, and click a button. If you're really ambitious, you read the description and reviews.

Even with Roku, you have to decide what to watch. The TV doesn't decide for you. People can be paralyzed by choice. Well, Netflix solves that problem by suggesting movies. All you have to do is rate movies. Is that so hard?

I look at some of my Netflix Friends, and I'm frustrated at how few movies they've rated. Or maybe they really haven't seen that many. They must be the people with the social lives and beautiful lawns.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Netflix app for iPhone and iPod touch

This is ideal: the Netflix app for the iPad is now available for the iPhone and iPod touch. You use it to login to your account and see movies instantly. Since I have only an iPod touch, I have to use WiFi. It let's me browse my instant queue, search for and add new movies.

The first thing that comes up when you open it is a few suggestions, according to your taste. The movie art is nice and big, so it's easy to identify them. Everything has been simplified and enlarged to make it touch-friendly on the small screen.

I watched a little bit of a Dexter episode and it loaded very quickly, faster than on my TV. The picture was nice and watchable. Watching anything on the small screen is not my first choice, but I can think of times it will come in very handy.

Now all we need to worry about is how AT&T will cope with all the extra bandwidth.

Download the Netflix app in iTunes:

Monday, August 23, 2010

Re-releases on Netflix

I have to check the Netflix New Releases on, because I love rating the ones I've seen. Occasionally, one will show up that I have previously rated! It went out of print, and then came back. Or maybe I saw it in the theatre and rated it before it was available. Or maybe I rented it from Facets or Greencine. It's how I keep track of what I've seen, to improve recommendations.


I've used Redbox exactly once. Folks say Redbox is more convenient than video stores, but you still have to return the DVD the next day, or pay a late fee. I hate that. And I've seen people standing in line at Redboxes, especially on weekends. I use Netflix so I don't have to remember to return something, and I don't have to drive, park, and stand in line.

Netflix recommends...

One of the features I like about Netflix is that it recommends movies you'll love. The more movies you rate, the more accurate these suggestions are. You should browse Netflix and rate every movie you've ever seen, not just the ones you've rented from Netflix. This really makes a difference.

The red star ratings you see on the Netflix site are actually predictions of what you would like, based on other users' opinions. If you rate more movies you have seen, those stars will start to reflect your opinion more than anyone else's.

I have rated 3,246 titles on It's possible that I've seen more than that, I just can't remember them all. As a result, there are 347 movies that Netflix expects me to love. Does that number seem low to you? Or is it about right?

Back before the Netflix Prize was awarded, I had very few recommendations from Netflix. Less than a hundred. I think my taste in movies is so personal and eccentric, that it's hard to predict what I will love. Even the Netflix algorithm predicts only four stars for "movies you'll love." Shouldn't it predict you'll give FIVE stars to movies you will love? I guess it's because my taste is so idiosyncratic.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Using Netflix to tidy up

Unclutterer is the blog about getting and staying organized. The Unclutterer blog noticed back in 2007 that Netflix is a great way to cut down on household clutter. Instead of buying movies, you can keep a virtual collection by subscribing to Netflix, and having access to thousands. I love that I can use Netflix to keep track of what I've seen and whether I liked it. In case folks ever ask. After I joined Netflix, I dumped all my VHS tapes. The only DVDs I own are the ones I bought before they became available from Netflix.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

fflick - movie reviews via Twitter

This new site, fflick, looks like a good idea. If you're on Twitter, you can use fflick to see what people think of certain movies. It will crawl all your friends' tweets to find any movies mentioned and group them for you. It also aggregates all movie mentions and gives them a score, even ones that aren't out yet.

For example, there have been over sixty-one thousand tweets about Salt, as of this post, giving it a score of 64% positive. You can sort the mentions by Friends, Positive, Negative, etc.

Oh, and there's a button to add the title to your Netflix queue. :)

Here's Roger Ebert's page on fflick.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Criterion on Netflix

Criterion Cast, "The Podcast Dedicated To Important Classic And Contemporary Films," has posted a list of Criterion films available on Netflix, with links.

P.S. I've seen about half of the films.

Bye, Bye Blockbuster.

I was really sad to learn that Blockbuster has been delisted from the New York Stock Exchange. It's kind of hard to believe. But, as a Netflix fan, I am happy to see Netflix survive.

I am first and foremost a movie fan. I don't really care whose name is on the package my movies arrive in. I am not wedded to the Netflix brand. I love Netflix because it brings me my movies. If Blockbuster could have brought me my movies the way Netflix does, this might be called the Blockbuster Fan blog. But it aint.

Many folks predicted that Blockbuster would prevail. I could gloat, but I do not enjoy seeing any company fail. Still, I believe the market knows best. This is a perfect example of market forces creating efficiencies. We customers made this happen. We voted with our dollars.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Watch Netflix instantly on the iPad!

Netflix iPad App Available From App Store - Apr 02, 2010
LOS GATOS, Calif., April 2 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Netflix, Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) today announced that a free Netflix App for iPad is available on the App Store, allowing Netflix members to instantly watch an unlimited number of TV episodes and movies streamed from Netflix to iPad. Streaming to iPad is at no additional cost to Netflix members on plans starting at just $8.99 a month.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Limited-time offer: $20 off Roku

Roku and TrialPay are having a limited-time offer of $20 off the Roku player, whether you're already a member of Netflix or not only for new members (updated 7/22/10).

I've had my Roku ever since the first day, and I love it. I recommend it for everyone who likes movies, and it's a great TV-cable-sat substitute, too. The Roku hooks up to your TV and Internet and let's you watch movies from Netflix instantly on your TV, unlimited, no waiting.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

One a week

If you knew me when, you'd know I used to watch many more movies than I do now. When I started with Netflix in 2004, I saw about 300 movies each year. Lately, I've managed one DVD from Netflix each week, and one theatrical title each week. I saw only 171 movies in 2009! Pitiful.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Allow half-star user ratings in Netflix

The Netflix Rating Granulizer for Greasemonkey does exactly that. Install this extension in your browser, and you'll be able to assign ratings with half a star. I used it to give The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus 3.5 stars. It's better than OK, but I didn't really like it.