Monthly Archives: January 2009

Anecdote: DVD Subscriptions

Netflix 4Q Profit Up 45 Percent –
It doesn’t hurt that Blockbuster has pretty much dropped the ball with their online service.

I’m a Netflix re-convert. I joined them back in December of 2005, dropped them in February of the next year when the throttling got to be too much and joined Blockbuster Online.

When I started, Blockbuster offered a free in-store rental each month, which was a nice perk. Then for a while in 2007 they had a ridiculous deal going on. As an online subscriber, you could return any mailed DVD in-store for another. With the 3-at-a-time plan, I was getting 6-slightly-staggered. They started losing money on that because, while a once a month coupon might entice a customer into the store to rent or buy something else while they were there, turning in three movies for three more doesn’t do that. When they raised the price of their subscriptions, I dropped them for a while. Not really because of the price increase (which was minor at that time), but because I had run out of things I wanted to rent.

When I was interested in their service again (April of last year), Blockbuster had changed their subscription structure entirely. In-store trade-ins were now a premium. Since I favor that $15 price point (and I have a feeling many other people do as well), I went for the plain old 3-at-a-time subscription. They were still better than Netflix, I figured. Things were good for a while. Blockbuster doesn’t throttle; they ship on weekends. But gradually, I ran out of movies that were available. Everything in a queue that included old and new, cult and mainstream, was at least on a short wait. Screw that, I thought. And I certainly wasn’t going to go to a Blockbuster store to rent movies while I was paying $15 a month to have a queue of on-hold movies.  So I went back to Netflix.

It’s only been two months, but so far Netflix has impressed me. The instant downloads are handy, especially since I like to have a movie going in the background while I work. I watch them on my laptop and generally the quality is good. They’ve changed their policy about damaged discs; they now immediately send a replacement or next disc instead of waiting for the other one to be returned. And surprisingly, when one of my discs needed longer for shipping, the sent the next quickly-available disc as well. Maybe Netflix is trying too hard now, but it’s working for them.  For the moment, it’s working for me too.

Silly, but I like doing these.

Starting the day off at a MEME pace.

January is getting away from me.

Spent some time dinking around with Zoho Notebook.  Meh, but thus far better than Evernote or UberNote.  Watched the BBC’s Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking while eating lunch. The acting was good and the story was serviceable, nothing extraordinary. Eric and I split a flautas meal and a gorditas meal from Guerrero’s.  Went for a walk, threw a frisbee a bit.  The latest issue of The Rifter arrived by mail, worse for wear.  Skimmed through it.  Finished skimming through an issue of Time.  Gamed.  Watched Wanted.

Bought the last part of my “NaNo prize.”  (A little treat at the completion of a draft is a nice thing.)  The first part was a new office chair.  I chose this model from Ikea.  It doesn’t look like much, but its back is in exactly the right place for me.  After trekking around Tempe last Wednesday, I decided I wanted a good backpack as the rest of my reward.  One that will hold a laptop as well as a disc and cleats.  Picked up what I hope will be a decent one from Target.  Gamed.  Ate one too many cookies.  Watched Tropic Thunder.

Both Wanted and Tropic Thunder are movies I was dubious of, but rented anyway.  I knew Wanted wouldn’t be good.  From the trailer, I knew the whole “curve the bullet” thing was going to annoy me.  Yet, it looked so pretty.  It was indeed pretty and it did have a few bits here and there that were interesting, but I probably feel this way because my expectations were low.  Tropic Thunder I figured could go either way.  Good comedy is hard, and much of it lately is crap.  In the end, I found it to be the best spoof I’ve seen in a long time.  Sort of the Airplane! of this era.

Weekend reading, which mostly occurred on Saturday:
A List Apart: Articles: Elevate Web Design at the University Level
A List Apart: Articles: Brighter Horizons for Web Education(skimmed)
Sculpting the Impossible: Solid Renditions of Visual Illusions: Scientific American Slideshow
Neuromarketing » Branding, Brains, and Google
Neuromarketing » Google and Your Brain, Part 2
How to read 462 books in one year | Jacket Copy | Los Angeles Times
Black Gate » Blog Archive » How to Read 462 Books a Year / Science fiction and fantasy / Blog posts / The Wheel of Time Re-read: The Eye of the World, Part 2 (full of spoilers)
24 ways: Making Modular Layout Systems
Too Many Words | Storytellersunplugged
FORENSICS 114: DEM BONES, DEM BONES, DEM DRY BONES | Storytellersunplugged

I’m working on a bugger of chapter in Fuel Eaters. I’m debating heading off to somewhere else to work, but I need to do laundry and other home related tasks.

Having a decent Wednesday.

Disc was okay.  My head wasn’t quite in it.  I skipped practice last night too because I felt a little off and snowed-under.  Marnie came out and played. It was good to see her and nice to have a girl to play against.  The teams were maybe a tad uneven.  But it’s Wednesday disc; uneven teams mean little in the grand scheme.  Eric has a class that interferes with disc, so I’m back riding the bus to get there and back.  I decided to get the goodie out of my all-day fare and stopped for lunch at Boston Market (had an okay sandwich) and then headed over to the library (because I need more books).  The last leg of my trip home, from Rural/Terrace to Smith/Martin, was on the light rail.  I’ve been meaning to take a substantial trip on it, but haven’t set aside the time.  It’s nice.  It’s roomy and quiet and, over that distance, faster than the Red Line used to be.

Ended up checking out three mysteries from the library.  Unusual for me.  I might even finish reading a book this year instead of just starting new ones.

League registration is going as it usually does.  I’m going to attempt to not let it dominate my attention this time around.  Frisbee burn out just isn’t pretty.

Rewrites of Fuel Eaters are going surprisingly well. I have a pretty big chapter to tackle this evening.  Probably shouldn’t have gallivanted around Tempe, but I haven’t been getting anything done in the afternoons anyway.

Eric won’t get home until 5:30-ish.  Wonder if he’ll end up dropping that class.

On Politics

Politics is a subject I generally stay away from, but I’ve read so much about other people’s views on politics in the last two months or so that I feel an inordinate need to chime in.

I believe that every politician has an agenda. I believe that all politicians will lie to woo voters in an effort to further their agenda. But I also believe that politicians honestly want what is best for this country. None of them are evil. None of them are out to destroy America. Nor could they. Even the President is but one man. The rub is that one might not personally agree with a specific politician’s, or even an entire political party’s, agenda. One might find the agenda noble or reprehensible, in total or in part. One might find politicians to be specialists that might know something about their agenda and little about anything else. The great thing is that we live in a democracy and we get to change out our politicians after less than a decade’s time.

On a personal level, there isn’t a specific politician, or even an entire political party, that encompasses my views. It’s all a matter of lesser evils to me. To me, today was Tuesday. It wouldn’t have been any more or less Tuesday if it had been some other candidate being sworn in today.

I also believe in the Electoral College and the Bowl Championship Series, so feel free to take my notions with a grain of salt.

Happy 200, Edgar!

Edgar Allan Poe has been a very influential writer for me. In the small library of the Lutheran grade school I attended, there were several slim volumes of Poe. I remember specifically “The Pit and the Pendulum” and “Masque of the Red Death” though there might have been a “The Fall of the House of Usher” as well. Abridged, surely, but lavishly illustrated in color. Gorgeous little books. I must have checked them out a dozen times each. There is rarely a happy ending in Poe, just consequences. That appealed to me as kid and still does as a grown-up.

Here are few Poe tributes from across the web:
Beautiful Century: Edmund Dulac, The Raven
chopping block by lee adam herold
Edgar Allan Poe Should be Writing or Sleeping, Not Doing a Crossword Puzzle

And I can’t not include Vincent Price and “The Tell-Tale Heart” (part 1):