Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Posts Tagged ‘netflix

Birdbrained Bird Boxers

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Back in the early-to-mid aughts, before we called everything “social media” (back when I had to walk five miles through the snow to get to the office), we often referred to something that came to be known as the “wisdom of the crowd.”

The New Yorker writer James Surowiecki wrote a book on the phenomenon, “The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations.”

The central thesis of the book was the idea that the aggregation of information in groups resulted in decisions are often better than could have been made by any single member of the group. 

As an example, in his opening anecdote for the book, he relayed the surprise that a crowd had when their individual guesses of an ox’s weight were accurate when they were all averaged together.

It was a really cool idea, and it seemed to stick around for awhile.

And then, as if out of nowhere, the wisdom of the crowd seems to have gone the way of the do do bird.

Or, should I say, the way of the “Bird Box.”

Some background: Bird Box is a movie (spoiler alert!) recently released by Netflix starring Sandra Bullock in which the basic premise is that everybody must run around blindfolded lest they see the post-apocalyptic zombies running around which, if seen by the human eye, will turn them into zombies as well.

As Netflix movies go, it was pretty bad, but like an inverse of Surowiecki’s theorem, everybody had to see it because it got so much exposure via social media.  

Call it the “constipation” of the crowd.

Unfortunately, the viral meme of seeing the movie didn’t stop there.

No, lacking the wisdom of crowds from even 13 or 14 years ago, instead the “Bird Box Challenge” was born.

The challenge is simple: People inspired by the film are recreating the basic premise of the movie by going about their daily lives blindfolded.

It’s as silly as that, or even as silly as the Tide Pod challenge (another key piece of evidence of the constipation of the crowd) from last year, where people filmed themselves on YouTube eating Tide Pod laundry detergent pellets. Hey, whatever spins your cycle!

Only the Bird box Challenge has taken the constipation of the crowd to new heights, because, well, you’re blindfolded, which, you know, isn’t exactly conducive to things like driving a car or floating through rapids on a river.

It got so bad that Netflix had to issue a Tweet telling us how dangerous the Bird Box Challenge could be: “Can’t believe I have to say this, but: PLEASE DO NOT HURT YOURSELVES WITH THIS BIRD BOX CHALLENGE.”

I don’t know about you, but when I was growing up, we encouraged this kind of outlier behavior…It helps thin out the herd.

But we didn’t have a bunch of bird brains doing the Bird Box Challenge. 

We just called such phenomena “Darwin Awards.”

Go ahead, Google it.  

Just make sure you step away from the ledge.

Or not.

Written by turbotodd

January 17, 2019 at 1:00 pm

Posted in 2018, social media

Tagged with , ,

Two Cool Cats

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Apple replaced a lot of batteries in iPhones last year. Some 11M of them, according to Daring Fireball and Jean-Louis Gassee.  That’s up from 1-2M.

Yet even if you some basic math, at $29 per replacement, that doesn’t add up to a $500M revenue miss, which is what Apple cited in its earnings announcement. Never mind the fact that the Apple XR and XS models weren’t even available for most of that time.

Simple financial deconstruction, and more to come, I’m sure.

Speaking of more to come, Netflix is raising their rates.

The AP is reporting that Netflix is raising its U.S. prices by 13 to 18 percent, its “biggest increase since the company launched its video streaming service 12 years ago.”

The company’s most popular plan will jump from $11 to $13 per month, an option that offers high-definition streaming on up to two different internet-connected devices simultaneously. 

The AP points out that, though, that even at the higher price, the $13/month plan is cheaper than HBO (whose streaming services charge $15).

That is true, although I must say say, I’m so deep into the Netflix library that much of what I’ve watched of late has subtitles.

I guess those $2 more per month can help produce more original content that don’t require subtitles?

But enough about Netflix.  You want to talk inflation? How about those two cats that live alone in a $1,500 studio apartment out in San Jose???

Does Uber Eats deliver cat food??!

Written by turbotodd

January 15, 2019 at 1:50 pm

Posted in 2019, apple, netflix, silicon valley

Tagged with , ,

Holiday Shopping And Streaming

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Santa brought Turbo a new (used) set of vintage 1988 Ben Hogan "Redline" blade golf clubs...whether or not they'll do anything to help lower his handicap remains to be seen!

Santa brought Turbo a new (used) set of vintage 1988 Ben Hogan “Redline” blade golf clubs…whether or not they’ll do anything to help lower his handicap remains to be seen!

Well, I hope you and yours are having a happy holiday season, wherever in the world you may be.

I just returned from a wonderful visit to see my parents and some extended family up in my hometown of Denton, Texas, where we were treated to our first white Christmas in three years, the snow billowing down starting around mid-day Christmas Day, and plunging the Dallas/Ft. Worth roads into a virtual ice skating rink.

As for the Christmas holiday shopping season, Sarah Perez with TechCrunch just reported that Amazon.com once again came out on top, in terms of online satisfaction.

No big surprise there.  I conducted a large portion of my own holiday shopping via Amazon, and received everything I ordered within a few days. I also treated myself to a set of Ben Hogan 1988 “redline” blade golf clubs, which I discovered on eBay for a very agreeable price. Unfortunately, the weather in Texas has kept me off the golf course (now back in Austin, I hope for that to change in the next few days!).

Of course, if you were trying to watch movies on Netflix on Monday, you might have found yourself watching a blank screen. Due to an Amazon Web Services outage, Netflix viewers were treated to bags full of coal starting around 3:30 PM on Monday, AWS’s third major outage this year.

Myself, I went on a “Redbox” binge over the holiday, discovering some recent titles for $1.20 a pop (including the latest Spiderman!), only to discover they’ll be bringing some competition to the streaming realm with the introduction of “Redbox Instant,” expected to go into private beta sometime soon. Redbox Instant is expected to match Netflix’s monthly streaming subscription price of $8 U.S.

Whatever your preference, it certainly looks like more and more Americans will be viewing filmed entertainment on devices other than their TVs. Another TechCrunch story reports that one in four Americans now owns a tablet computing device, with such devices now even having overtaken the number of e-reading devices like the Kindle (again, I did my fair share here over the holidays, giving out two Kindle Fire HDs as family gifts. Now I can only cross my fingers my family will use them!)

Regardless of your preference, the story goes on to say that one in three people in the U.S. now owns some kind of tablet or e-reading device, and this data before the full gamut of holiday shopping data has hit analysts’ spreadsheets.

One such analyst, Strategy Analytics, has Apple’s iPad still leading the pack, with Amazon and Samsung quickly narrowing that lead.

So what did Santa bring YOU for Christmas, and better yet, what did Santa YOU give others???

Written by turbotodd

December 27, 2012 at 10:56 pm

TurboTech: Netflix/Qwikster, HP rumors, Facebook follies, Twitter ads

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So Scott and I recorded our latest “TurboTech” episode yesterday, and no sooner did we record the bit about Meg Whitman maybe taking over as CEO of HP than it seems like it’s actually gonna be a done deal.

That’s okay, things move fast in this industry, and it’s kind of like that old joke about how you don’t have to outrun the leopard — you just have to outrun the slowest gazelle.

In this case, I’m not sure if Scott’s the gazelle and I’m the leopard, or if Meg Whitman’s the leopard and Leo Apotheker’s the gazelle, but whatever the case, things change, watch us move your cheese.

We talked about that, the Netflix marketing debacle, and the latest changes on Facebook (which pretty much everyone seems to hate).

Me, I’m off to India tomorrow, and will be hanging in the IT hub of Bangalore for a week.  I hope to take lots of pics and NOT lose my camera there this go around, and am very much looking forward to some of that lovely South and North India Cuisine and to seeing all my IBM India friends.  Put some Kingfishers on ice, gang, I’ll be there momentarily.

Enjoy this episode, and the next dispatch may just be a video one from the streets of Bangalore, where crossing through traffic’s like riding in a sub-contintental rodeo with motor rickshaws and motorbikes!

Yeeee-hawwww, Sahib!

Written by turbotodd

September 22, 2011 at 7:29 pm

The Netflix Identity Crisis

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I got the most extraordinary email earlier today, from Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix.

The email is also posted on The Netflix Blog, if you want to go and read it in its entirety.

Upon the heels of Netflix’s announced price increases, which went over with many Netflix customers like a ton of bricks, Hastings is now announcing that Netflix is going to become the “Sybil” of video delivery services, online and off.

That is to say, Netflix as we know it shall be no more.  The Netflix you used to know — you know, the one that delivered DVDs for years and helped close a few thousand Blockbuster stores — well, they’re now going to be called “Qwikster.”

I know, they clearly don’t have a corporate naming department over there at Netflix…err, Qwikster.

From here on out, Hastings explained, Qwikster will do the DVD deliveries.

Netflix, which used to do DVD deliveries, is no longer going to do deliveries, because they’re going to be the streaming part of the former Netflix.

The new Netflix is the same as the old Netflix, minus that key part of DVD deliveries, which apparently is no longer key.

Ya got all that?

Now, let me just say this: I’m a HUGE fan of Netflix and/or Qwikster.  I’m more a fan of the new Netflix than I am the old, meaning I prefer the online streaming delivery model to the USPS model.

However, there’s one big issue with this move: The better content library seems to be in the Qwikster part of the business, which is exactly the opposite of the way it should be.

The streaming delivery model should be the core of the Netflix model, but everytime I go to Netflix online, I struggle to find new and/or interesting titles that have at least a three star rating (I’ve found that’s the minimal threshold for watching movies on Netflix).

In fact, I’ve been watching mostly foreign films (which I have no problem watching whatsoever) lately, because the Netflix library is much deeper with foreign distributors than American ones (read: Hollywood ones).

And therein lies the real problem. Hollywood is still scared to death of being “Napsterized.”  They want control of their content, come hell or highwater.  And the early deals they stuck with Netflix were made when streaming was still a novelty.

Well, those days are over.  Streaming has grown up: It’s convenient, it’s immediate, and it’s a huge business opportunity, for the Hollywood studios as well as filmmakers around the globe.

There’s no stopping it, not even with Netflix’s latest branding identity crisis.  The big question that remains is, who of the big movie industry players is going to step up and make a deal.  A BIG deal, one that offers a deep and wide movie library that benefits consumers, but identifies a business model that can work for the studios and the Netflix/Qwiksters.

Because if THEY don’t, someone is going to.  Or not.  And then the so-called “Napsterization” of Hollywood will make what happened to the music industry seem like “The Bad News Bears” meets “Moneyball.”

Ultimately, avid movie fans like myself want just a handful of small things, none of which seem too much to ask: a robust library of movie choices at reasonable prices delivered the way we prefer.  Again, let me mention that we’re willing to pay for it!

Increasingly, that channel is going to be via streaming, and no amount of putting-head-under-the-sand by Hollywood studios is going to alter that direction.

Despite all the consumer hysteria about this change that’s already bubbling up across the Blogosphere, I have to say, that probably is the best and most valuable lesson from this whole endeavor: The fact that Hastings made his announcement in a letter he sent out to customers via email and posted on the Netflix blog.

His customers, according to the comments section, are mostly not in favor of this move.  But what’s different is: Hastings and his team are given his customers a direct vehicle response to the message he delivered to them.

Only time will tell whether or not Hastings and team heard them.

Written by turbotodd

September 19, 2011 at 3:37 pm

57 Channels And Nothin’ On

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According to a New York Times article published over the weekend, entitled “The Sofa Wars: In the Living Room, Hooked on Pay TV,” the writers Matt Richtel and Brian Stelter paint a pretty grim picture of cord cutting.

That is, the practice of abandoning your pay TV subscription (DirectTV, Time Warner, etc.), and going direct to the Interwebs to consume your filmed and musical entertainment content.

I’ve never been so bold as to cut the cord myself, and I’m probably what many would consider to be a prime early adopter.  But once burned, twice shy.

I tried the Apple TV and bought the thing before I hardly knew if I needed it.  And as it turns out, I didn’t.  At least, not much.

I also tried out Boxee, the swift open source-ish portal into all things online entertainment, even letting it ride atop the Apple TV (oops, I guess my warranty is voided now that I’ve publicly admitted that!).

And most recently, I bought a Nintendo Wii (allegedly to let me use the Wii Fit and exercise inside during this Texas heatwave where the temps are running around 106F).

Of all three, I’m most impressed so far with the Nintendo Wii and it’s access to Netflix.  It brings the big screen and the interactive on demand experience in true HD quality and and is very easy to use.

Here’s the use case…and I know, this is going to be a shocker to Hollywood and all those trying to figure out what to do in this realm, because it absolutely borders on Mars rocket science…I want to watch a…gasp….TV program or movie!

I know, it’s shocking.  I’m sure you figured I wanted to interact with all the characters, and have chats with all the stars, and enter the contest so I can spend a weekend locked up with the cast of “Jersey Shore” at their beach house.

But sorry, it’s none of the above.  I just want to watch stuff.  On demand. When I want to watch.

Lots of stuff.  With lots of stuff to choose from.  That’s probably the most important characteristic.  That and being easy to use.

Well, Netflix, in my case via the Wii and a Netflix Wii DVD, allows me to do just that.

This weekend, I got seriously caught up on the first season of “The Tudors,” and also watched this really sexy movie from Chile.  My “Instant Queue” for Netflix is about to see some major long tail action.

Sure, I coulda watched my movies on any number of computers (or my iPad).  But I didn’t buy that 55-inch Sony five years ago just to have it collect dust.

As for the steep cable bill, so long as the content continues to be above par in value on HBO, I’ll probably continue to pay the premium, AND the $10/month to Netflix.

But I just stare at my Time Warner programming guide in amazement sometimes wondering why the depth of their own on-demand library is so pathetically shallow.  At some point, I suspect I’ll be giving more of my money to Netflix and less of it to Time Warner.

I don’t care who I give it to — I just want whomever it is to respect my time, make content that’s convenient and easy to watch (including stop, replay, pause, etc.) — and not force me into a second mortgage to be able to do so.

Written by turbotodd

August 23, 2010 at 4:22 pm

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