Netflix Having Shipping Issues -Update

Netflix is having some more issues with their shipping system meaning some people are experiencing delays. Like the great company Netflix is though they are figuring out exactly who was effected by this problem and are going to be issuing credits to those people.

Yet again Netflix is showing their commitment to good customer service. I personally haven’t seen any slow downs in the service but just know that the people who did are going to be getting credit for it makes me feel really good subscribing to Netflix.


Update: I actually might have been affected by the shipping problem, here is a copy of the note sent to me about it:

Dear Michael,

Our shipping system is unexpectedly down. We received a DVD back from you and should have shipped you a DVD, but we likely have not. Our goal is to ship DVDs as soon as possible, and we will keep you posted on the status of your DVD shipments.

We are sorry for any inconvenience this has caused. If your DVD shipment is delayed, we will be issuing a credit to your account in the next few days. You don’t need to do anything. The credit will be automatically applied to your next billing statement.

Again, we apologize for the delay and thank you for your understanding. If you need further assistance, please call us at 1-888-638-3549.

-The Netflix Team

Michael Arrington Starts Open Source “Firefox Tablet” Project

Michael Arrington has asked for help building a web tablet the idea is to have an open source tablet that runs Linux with Firefox or Skype on top of it as it’s main apps.

The tablet would be “as thin as possible, run low end hardware and has a single button for powering it on and off, headphone jacks, a built in camera for video, low end speakers, and a microphone. It will have Wifi, maybe on USB port, a built in battery, half a Gigabyte of RAM, a 4-Gigabyte solid state hard drive.”

The tablet would be turned on with it’s single button and would open Firefox automatically in a modified kiosk mode basically bypassing the operating system. Firefox could have Google Gears for offline syncing and Skype for communication.

Arrington has asked to have volunteers help build the Linux distro that would go on the tablet and a small team of people would help spec out the hardware of the device.

As much as I would love to have a nice tablet like this (especially at their purposed $200 price point) but honestly I think the iPhone works pretty well already. A larger touch screen would obviously be nicer but the fact that I can put the iPhone in my pocket and carry it anywhere I want is a pretty great feature and I don’t know if the extra screen real estate is worth the lack of pocket-ability.

I do think this is an interesting project and am interested to know where this goes but am worried that since the largest person backing this project (at this time at least) is Michael Arrington himself, if this product was built by someone like Nokia or Asus I think it would have a little bit more push behind it but hopefully their $200 tablet will actually see the light of day.


Twitter Pushes XMPP to Gnip

Gnip announced yesterday that they now have access to the Twitter XMPP feed and will be making it available to everybody through them.

The idea behind Gnip is to basically become a middle man between a service and another service, grabbing data from multiple services and then making it available to many other services.

Essentially what this means is that anyone will be able to grab the XMPP feed (which means, all of the content on Twitter gets pushed to you) from Gnip and will dramatically reduce the load on Twitter. If Twitter only has to push to one service (Gnip) then they don’t have to worry about pushing to others.

This is an incredibly important move by Twitter meaning that it will be even easier for users to get access to Twitter the way they want to and where they want to.

Now what needs to happen is someone needs to build an IM-like client for Twitter that uses XMPP to access data in real time, no more API limits with Twhirl and no more getting 6 new messages every 5 minutes from it, now the updates will be pushed to you in real time.

I love Twitter and know that many of you out there also love Twitter, this is the next big step towards bettering the service and allowing Twitter to spend more time on what really matters, improving the service in terms of features, reliability, and ubiquity.


Netflix Profiles Not Ending

On June 20 I talked about Netflix getting rid of multiple profiles on a single account and yesterday Netflix announced that they would NOT be getting rid of this feature after all saying:

“We were persuaded by the well-reasoned, sincere responses of loyal members who very much value this feature.”

So I guess those who got angry and freaked out about it didn’t help at all but those who had level heads about the situation and simply told Netflix how much value they see in these profiles.

The profiles feature isn’t going to be available to everyone yet, those who have been using it will still be able to access it and will see no changes but non-users of the feature will not be able to access this feature for another 2-3 weeks (I guess it is going to take them a while to turn all the knobs back on).

I realized a few months ago that I have started to surround myself with products and services from companies who actually care what their customers think. My best examples of good companies have been Netflix and Apple, I was worried that Netflix was going to go through with it and ignore the complaints, but, like all good companies, they heard the complaints and responded to them.

Profiles feature NOT going away

Netflix Removing Secondary Queues From Accounts

Netflix is eliminating Profiles. That means if you have multiple queues on one account you should probably think about moving the DVDs from your secondary queues to your main one.

The reason for doing this?

“By discontinuing the feature, we will be able to put more focus and resources site and service improvements that benefit everyone, consistent to how we have grown the service over the years.” -Steve Swasey

Are you kidding with me? How is removing one of the best features of the site going to improve the service in any way? It seems a little ridiculous to me, I don’t use Netflix Profiles but I know plenty of people that do, I talked to one of them and they said this:

“I’m not going to be leaving Netflix because they are removing profiles but it seems a little stupid to me, I don’t understand why they can’t keep the profiles going and still improve the service.” -friend of the blog

The real problem is that the only actual competition to Netflix is Blockbuster, and let’s face it, they’re kind of a joke.

Well, the profiles will be removed on September 1, 2008 and if you want to keep the DVDs in those queues you’re going to have to (what seems to be) manually add each one to your main queue (it’d be nice if they made a simple tool that would help you do that).

Hacking Netflix

No-Key Keyboard Design

It doesn’t seem to be the most practical keyboard in the world but it sure does have some pretty amazing design sense. Instead of using mechanical keys this keyboard would make use of a camera to watch your fingers movement and capture the keystrokes based on that movement.

The keyboard consists of only a piece of glass, lighting and a camera to make this whole thing work and because of that it seems that it would be water proof as well.

Yanko Design

Best Buy Trialing Electronics Recycling Program

Best Buy is testing out a free electronics recycling program in 117 stores. Best Buy is testing this program in the Baltimore, San Francisco, and Minnesota markets and customers can bring in no more than 2 units per day, per household, for completely free.

They can bring in items such as monitors up to 32″, computers, phones, cameras, and other electronics.

Electronics not accepted by the program:

  • Televisions or monitors greater than 32″
  • Console televisions
  • Air conditioners
  • Microwaves

Best Buy does offer other recycling programs but they will be evaluating this program later on and see if it would make sense for them to scale it across the rest of the US.


Happauge HD-PVR Now Shipping

The Hauppauge HD-PVR is now shipping. According to some of those who pre-oredered the device they are finally shipping. The device goes for $249 and is a way for HTPC owners to view true HDTV content without needing a cablecard tuner.

All you need to make it work is a cable or satellite box with component video outputs. With the included IR blaster or firewire tuning will allow you to control tuning without needing to use too many remotes.

Because the device gets its video from component outputs of your set top box it is capable of recording and time-shifting the video without having to deal with any copy protection.

BrentEvans Geek Tonic

Amazon Kindle Now Costs $359

What seems to be everyones favorite eBook reader the Kindle which was originally priced at $399 is now priced at $359.

I was pretty happy once they finally got it back in stock after being out of stock for nearly 6 months.

I don’t know if they were finally able to get the quantities to the point where they could sell it cheaper but they are selling it for less. This will surely help them fight against the Sony Reader which sells for $299, keep in mind that the Sony Reader doesn’t have a lifetime of EVDO access.

World’s Smallest Projector from Earth Trek

Earth Trek recently released the world’s smallest projector, the 90-805R mini projector. The projector features a card slot (SD/T-flash card), built in lithium battery for 1-2 hours of use, built in speaker, MP4 player, and is capable of a 22″ diagonal projection.

The actual device itself measures 105x58x25mm and only weighs 160g.

This is a great little deice that would be really handy for presentations or watching a movie in a small room. There doesn’t seem to be any word on pricing yet but I’m sure it can’t cost too much.

Akihabara News

Oppo Releases S11 Portable Media Player

To most people Oppo isn’t a familiar name but for geeks, we know they make some of the best up-converting DVD players on the market. But now they are making a portable media player. The player has a 3-inch 400×240 touchscreen, 4GB of internal memory, microSD slot, and a video out port.

There are a few apps that come with it including a photo viewer, calender app, stopwatch, calculator, along with a couple of games. The player supports MP3, WMA, OGG, FLAC, AAC, and APE audio files and AVI, DivX, XviD, RM, RMVB, and FLV video formats.

The players design is pretty slick and at $163.99 it sure gives the iPod Touch a run for its money. Check out the video below for a nice demo.


My Idea Of The Perfect Network DVR

I have been thinking a lot about DVRs lately, mostly because I saw the Nueros OSD and thought it was pretty cool, but I started thinking about what would be the perfect networked DVR and here’s what I came up with.

The DVR would have an ATSC tuner and a H.264 encoder, this way the programs recorded onto the DVR would be in H.264 and would be able to record that way on the fly (not saved in MPEG-2 and then exported as H.264 later).

I want the device to have easily removable hard drives so that I can either replace a bad hard drive with a new one or upgrade the hard drive later on. Now the coolest idea I had was the idea of the DVR being completely headless, so the way that you would schedule recordings and change settings would be with an application installed on other computers on the same network as the DVR, or maybe even a browser based configuration tool. The application would list to you all of the TV Shows that are available to you that will be airing in the next week and then present them to you as a list with check boxes next to them, you could then choose which shows you want to record all episodes of, only new episodes of, or don’t record at all.

The DVR would automatically tag the video files with the correct information, episode name, show name, season number, episode number, etc. using information taken from somewhere like TV Guide or even Schedules Direct (a organization that came about to give open source software program guide information). Because of this guide information whoever builds this DVR could charge users a monthly fee of $5 or so (similar to how Tivo works), and with that they may also be able to charge less for the DVR itself.

All recordings would be saved in an iPod friendly format 640×480 H.264, unless the program is in HD in which case it could also have the option of saving it in Apple TV friendly 720p H.264.

Once the programs are recorded they are shared over the network through iTunes (like) sharing so that Apple TV’s could watch the programming or anyone on the network with iTunes could watch the programming (you would also have the option of password protecting the content. With the DVRs configuration program though it would also present to you a list of all of the programs recorded and you could transfer those files to the computer you are at and also manually delete them or change settings on when they are automatically deleted, which could be things like, one week after recording, one week after play count changes, or manually deleted.

As you can see I have thought a lot about this and I really think that someone could make a lot of money selling one of these boxes. To be honest though someone could probably build the software right now and using a Mac Mini, a TV Tuner, and the Turbo.264 (a USB H.264 encoder) make it work right now. And, I guess I probably could get most of this working right now too, but I think I would need to know some programming to get the remote management working and the auto deletion working exactly how I would like it to.

If anyone wants to actually build one of these things be my guest, but I hope that since I gave you the idea for it, if you’re going to be selling them maybe you could send one my way free of charge.