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.