How to Improve Netflix

Yes­ter­day I down­grad­ed our Net­flix account from three DVDs at a time to two. Have I got­ten so much as an email ask­ing me why? Nope! Net­flix may be the most suc­cess­ful com­pa­ny I use that does­n’t seem to care about cater­ing to their sub­scriber base. What makes me say that? Since I signed up, I can’t think of a sin­gle fea­ture they’ve man­aged to improve. You might say, “But they rolled out stream­ing for your pre­cious Xbox,” but even that came with its own set of prob­lems. Net­flix is absolute­ly nowhere when it comes to solv­ing the issues that would make their ser­vice bet­ter with­out the cost­ly expense of new content.

Here’s what I’d like them to fix:

  • Shared queues. This is a great fea­ture that was spared the chop­ping block in the past year. It’s the thing that ensures that Helen and I share our account and that every­one gets their picks. His­tor­i­cal­ly, Helen’s got­ten two discs and I got one; she’d burn through sea­sons of TV while I slogged through art house flicks. It’s pret­ty great, right? It’d be even bet­ter if Net­flix could tell us which titles were on stream­ing for both queues, instead of just select­ing my queue and leav­ing it at that.
  • New releas­es. I get it. This is an embar­rass­ment that Net­flix wants you to for­get by bring­ing you more stream­ing con­tent. I’m not con­vinced. Even if we can’t have new releas­es for 28 days plus how­ev­er long it takes to get them to us, could we at least see what new stuff is out there, even if it’s just to point­less­ly update our queue. Is that so much to ask?
  • Social fea­tures. These were hor­ri­ble when they had them, but they might’ve improved them rather than wip­ing them out out­right. I know social fea­tures aren’t easy to do. It’s hard to know what peo­ple want. But I can’t think of any oth­er online movie ser­vice that peo­ple love more than Net­flix. I’m guess­ing the com­mu­ni­ty could’ve made help­ful sug­ges­tions. It would­n’t have had to involve much work prob­a­bly. At this point they could prob­a­bly get away with some degree of Face­book inte­gra­tion and let that plat­form do the heavy lifting.

Now, I’m thrilled that they’re lever­ag­ing their stream­ing con­tent to the max. Putting that stuff on any screen is great. I’ve heard plen­ty of peo­ple say there’s noth­ing good in the stream­ing library, but that’s just because they’re not real­ly into the art house con­tent. I love it! I can’t wait until I can watch an episode of 30 Rock on my iPhone as I ride the train. I just think that these tweaks will go a long way to improv­ing the ser­vice for the long haul.

So, go ahead and sur­prise me, Netflix!

My iPhone Home Screen

Lat­est iPhone Home­screen, orig­i­nal­ly uploaded by J T. Ram­say.

What a mess!

I start­ed fol­low­ing First & 20 dur­ing our trip to Out­er Banks this year. Their iPhone home screen series has been very inter­est­ing. As I’ve men­tioned before, my iPhone became some­thing of a life­line while I was in the hos­pi­tal with Helen when Char­lie was born. I scoured the app store in a sleep-deprived haze for any­thing to keep me alert and occu­pied dur­ing those 3 a.m. feed­ings. Let me put it to you straight: there are a ton of apps and most of them are garbage. First & 20’s series then seemed like the answer to my prayers. I will final­ly com­plete­ly opti­mize my iPhone home screen! How pos­i­tive­ly geeky!Con­tin­ue read­ing “My iPhone Home Screen”

Why I Love My iPhone

Want to know a secret? The iPhone is the future of com­put­ing. I know there’s a lot of talk about tablets, but I think it’s sil­ly. Why? Because the iPhone can meet most peo­ple’s com­put­ing needs already.

How did I reach this con­clu­sion? I found myself in a hos­pi­tal for four days after Char­lie was born. My iPhone became indis­pens­able imme­di­ate­ly. I tweet­ed Char­lie’s birth, took pho­tos, texted friends and fam­i­ly the good news and kept folks in the loop on Face­book. I can almost guar­an­tee that most peo­ple don’t do much more with their com­put­er.Con­tin­ue read­ing “Why I Love My iPhone”

Remember CDs?

A few weeks ago I wrote about falling in love with my turntable again. It lan­guished in the base­ment after a long ban­ish­ment to the guest bed­room, where it sat unused for months. It was pret­ty crazy for a guy whose job is all about music.

I res­ur­rect­ed it and all was right in the world, or so I thought. But it was­n’t. I want­ed to be sat­is­fied with the warm sounds ema­nat­ing from my Tech­nics 1200, but what becomes of the hun­dreds of CDs I’ve col­lect­ed over the years?

I broke down and dust­ed off my CD play­er, too, and you know what? It sounds great! I’d for­got­ten just how clear and loud CDs are! MP3s may be con­ve­nient, cheap, and plen­ti­ful, but they sound so slop­py on any­thing oth­er than tin­ny earbuds.

You know what I did right after that? Some­thing I don’t think I’ve done since ’99 — I bought a used CD on eBay! 

Crazy, right? Look at it this way: it was cheap­er than iTunes!