Monday, June 30, 2008

Netflix Doesn't Hate Families After All?

I just got a note from Netflix saying that they are keeping the Profiles (multiple queues on one account) feature:
Dear Paul,

You spoke, and we listened. We are keeping Profiles. Thank you for all the calls and emails telling us how important Profiles are.

We are sorry for any inconvenience we may have caused. We hope the next time you hear from us we will delight, and not disappoint, you.

-Your friends at Netflix
I'm happy about this, but left with the sneaking suspicion that this was actually some kind of publicity stunt to promote the feature, like New Coke. Hmmm. Anyway, that reminds me, it is time to add some movies to our family queues!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Modest Proposal to Amend the Constitution

Since we can't convince anyone with the necessary to begin impeachments proceedings against Bush and/or Cheney, for the sake of retroactive fairness let's amend the constitution thusly:
Any elected or appointed public official may be immediately removed from office upon evidence of inappropriate sexual activity while in office, including but not limited to adultery. In addition, lying about any matter in a public statement shall be grounds for impeachement.
I'm sure this will help make things nice and consistent. After all, it's not like a Senator or Representative would ever do anything so inappropriate, right?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Boston Market No More

We don't eat much fast food -- aside from the occasional pizza delivery. But when it's late and we've failed to adequately plan a meal, we've been known to stop at Boston Market on Washtenaw. The quality of the food and the prices were reasonably good. But when I drove by it yesterday I noticed that the building is empty, with the sign removed (just the "sign shadow" remains).

I'm not sure why. It always seemed to be pretty busy. Was it too down-scale for the Whole Foods customers, or too up-scale for the Burger King customers?

It's too bad. There is no longer a Boston Market in the Ann Arbor area. There's one in Plymouth, but that's almost 20 miles away according to Google Maps. Grrr!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Netflix Hates Families

Apparently Netflix is cancelling its multiple queue feature. They sent me a message saying:
"We wanted to let you know we will be eliminating Profiles, the feature that allowed you to set up separate DVD Queues under one account, effective September 1, 2008.

"Each additional Profile Queue will be unavailable after September 1, 2008. Before then, we recommend you consolidate any of your Profile Queues to your main account Queue or print them out.

While it may be disappointing to see Profiles go away, this change will help us continue to improve the Netflix website for all our customers."
What are they thinking?

Hey, Netflix -- how about you let your customers tell you which features would improve or degrade the Netflix website? Don't tell me what's good for me. You're starting to sound like a big company. Microsoft tells me what is best for me when it tries to impose new features I don't want. (And, occasionally, Apple does too, when it removes compatibility with older software).

I wrote them a note:
Dear Netflix,

I am writing to protest the removal of your profiles feature. This feature has been extremely helpful and enjoyable for our family of five, soon to be a family of six. We currently have four profiles with separate queues for the children that are old enough to understand the idea of a queue. It has been a great deal of fun for them to see the movies that are in their own queues and help pick them out. Getting Netflix envelopes addressed to their own names at our address is something they have come to greatly look forward to. Its even been educational, since they get to think about how the mail works, how they have to finish one movie and return it before getting the next one, take care of the movies and keep them from getting damaged, plan ahead, and anticipate when each movies will arrive.

It also appears that your have chosen to plan to discontinue this feature in the most inconvenient way possible for customers, by simply dropping all the additional queues. Services like this exist entirely because customers find the convenience they offer to be worth the money. Your suggestion that users should print out their queues in order to keep a record of the movies they were planning to rent, and then re-enter them, is ridiculous -- you couldnt have chosen a better way to inconvenience and alienate your best customers if you had tried.

Multiple queues is your single most family-friendly feature. I sincerly hope you will reconsider this decision. If you remove this feature I have to consider whether Netflix still offers any significant value to our family.

Yours sincerely,

Paul R. Potts
We won't be buying a Ford because apparently they think their family-friendly minivans are no longer important enough to keep in their car lineup. If Netflix removes the features that make it family-friendly, we'll have to get our movies elsewhere. But that would be a shame, because I have really enjoyed the selection Netflix has, and their basic business model has been great for us. In particular, the ability to try out movies we are curious but uncertain about, movies we wouldn't normally buy or pay a regular rental fee for, has been a godsend. What could I replace it with? I don't really want to buy (and maintain) a huge video collection. The traditional video stores apparently make all their money on late fees, and the one truism about growing a family is that life becomes chaotic, which means we _would_ be getting movies back late, all the time. I'm not really into piracy, either. Does Blockbuster's version of movies-by-mail have this feature? If so, Netflix may have just handed them their entire family demographic. On a platter.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Scalzi Summarizes

The whole Obama's Baby Mama thing. This is the best explanation I've seen. Post-racial world, my ass -- not until so-called journalists stop doing what used to be known as "race-baiting." I suspect Mr. Scalzi and I are not quite on the same page, politically, on lots of issues -- but on this one I could not agree more, he's got it exactly right, and said it far better than I could.