January 28, 2008: Trying Netflix

I miss a lot of news from back home these days. I had no idea until today that a student from SUNY Geneseo was killed by three drivers on Interstate 390 in three apparently separate hit and run incidents in one night! I mean really, three people do not drive over a person and then run. That isn’t an accident. That is something more. This is ridiculous. I found the RNews feed from the original report. And some updated WHEC news.

I was talking to a friend in Toronto, Ontario, Canada today and we were discussing our blogs and blogging in general. So I decided that I would post a link to his here: Distinguished Geek.

I was not ready to be back at work today.  Just not up for it.  Today was a long and crappy day.  Just one thing going wrong after another.  One of those “don’t touch anything” days.  Best to just hide under the desk and unplug the phone.  Except somehow I would get electrocuted unplugging the phone.  So I left it plugged in and plugged my ears instead and hummed quietly to myself while rocking back and forth slowly.  (My readers from the United Kingdom will recognize humourous sardonicism here but for my more “American” readers I will add “j/k”.)

If you are impressed by my use of big words I can tell you that I learned to use the word “sardonic” by reading Timothy Zahn novels.  I never knew the word before that but he uses it almost exclusively instead of sarcastic which isn’t totally correct but they are very similar.  I have used it myself ever since.  It is one of the very few words that I can distinctly remember reading several times, wanting to know more about and researching.

I thought that I would escape the office early today – mostly in an attempt to avoid any further disaster – but actually got stuck doing a twelve hour day when we had a server that needed to be addressed during an evening green zone.  Nothing ever goes as planned.

I got home around seven thirty.  We ordered in Nino’s and spent our short evening watching The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.  It is amazing now looking back on what I feel is a “not all that old of a show” and realizing just how old and bizarre it seems now.  And to realize that my cousin Jeremy was just a babe in swaddling when that show first aired and that the cultural references in it are so rooted in the 1980s that much of it just wouldn’t make any sense.  I realize now that most people who enjoy Will Smith in movies think that he was always an actor and don’t realize that FBoBA was a kitschy sit com based on his rapping career in the duo DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince.

Dominica decided today that she is going to try Netflix.  She signed us up for the $8.99 per month plan which includes unlimited DVD rentals (and we believe unlimited BluRay and HD-DVD rentals once we get a player for those but we need to check on the details) plus unlimited play instantly online movies.  Our deal only lets us have one DVD rented at a time but really we only watch so many movies so it should work out pretty well.  And our plan is to have a computer hooked up to a television in the living room which means that we can easily use the unlimited download service to watch movies that when we don’t have a DVD rented.  At $8.99 per month it seems like we can’t go wrong.  It will be so easy for us to save money that it seems like a pretty safe investment.  The only problem is that it will fuel Dominica’s addiction to just watching “whatever is on” since there will always be something on.  Much more so than if we had television.

The really big upside to the Netflix plan, for us, is that it means that Dominica can easily rent tons of movies that she wants to watch once that we don’t think are things that we will want to own and she can watch them on her own and we won’t feel like we have to watch them together all of the time.  That is a problem for us since she always wants to watch for more material than I do.  It should save us a bit of money in the “mediocre movies that we will only watch once” category which we had been buying a bit for a while because it was about the same cost as renting.  But this is so much cheaper and easier that it should work out.  And not having to go out to a video store is a big deal – especially living in Newark.  I wouldn’t even know how to rent a movie here if I had to.

One thing that is unfortunate about the Netflix service is that they require Windows in order to use it.  I did some research and the videos are delivered using Microsoft’s new Silverlight technology.  Although I wonder what creates the Windows requirement then since Silverlight is supposed to be cross platform supporting Mac and Linux quite well.  Perhaps the requirement isn’t as firm as it seems.  I will attempt to find out.  Our plan is to have a Vista workstation in the living room by March and a new Mac Mini in the bedroom around the same time period.

Dominica ordered our first DVD, 28 Weeks Later, which we should have in two days or so.  She is building up a massive queue of movies that she wants to see.  It will take her years to get through what she has already.  We are very excited about the massive collection of classic movies of which we can take advantage quite easily.

Two more Dungeons and Dragons books arrived from eBay purchases today.  We received “The Complete Mage” and “Monsters of Faerun”.  I also won six additional books on eBay today but it will be a week or two until those have a chance to arrive.  We are building quite the D&D and Forgotten Realms library for our game.  I hope that we get lots of opportunity to use all of this stuff.

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