Fear of Being Alone: Social Media in Entertainment

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Fear of Being Alone: Social Media in EntertainmentI remember this special, magical time in my youth spent with my Sega Master System, where I would need nothing but a controller and my little composition book. My mother had started this trend of writing down notes about the various games I was playing to help me if I ever got lost or found out a good tactic to use in the future. There were various tomes of these little clues and tips that we all wrote and set up in the small cabinet of our entertainment system. Our games were all lined up neatly and then you’d see five or six little books with our names on them or even the names of the games we were documenting. Games like King’s Quest had their own book with clues and hints, passwords, and even graph paper taped on the inside to show us what paths to take in order to get through without problems. Essentially, we were writing our own strategy guides before they were being printed in the mass market.

The Way We Were

I remember being so fascinated by this concept because we rarely all sat together to play games unless we were super excited about the title or unless they were two-player. My mother used gaming to unwind at the end of the day and she was who got me into roleplaying games like Phantasy Star, because they were her way of using escapism back then. We didn’t often run in the same times when it came to gaming, but I used to be fascinated with sitting there, on the floor, thumbing through the notes she took for the games she played. So detailed, you know? Sometimes I’d meet up with her in the kitchen in the morning and we’d discuss Phantasy Star or Golvellius, perhaps even some other new game we had that was complicated to me but that she was breezing through. She’d toss her frosted blonde hair over her shoulder, push her stylish bangles up her wrist, and then walk me through how to get to my next checkpoint in the game. My mother was this tall, beautiful, blonde gaming idol to me and nobody else I knew was playing all of these games because my peers didn’t have this many. I was quite lucky, I realize.

Honestly, things didn’t change on that front for a long, long, damned time. If I wanted to discuss games with people, I usually had to actually talk to them about said game. Through the console systems that we were gifted with through the years, they were all still very solitary experiences. Like watching movies and listening to music, gaming was something you did and then would later talk about by documenting it online. “I enjoyed this because…” or “This movie was good because…” littered the Internet due to the fact it was the only way we could relate to people and get the word out that we were enjoying or hating something and have other people engage us in the conversation. To be honest, I really preferred it back then.

The Consoles Have Eyes

Fast-forward to today and there is absolutely nothing I’m doing online that people don’t know about. I wish I was kidding, really. If I log on to my PS3, I usually get about two or three texts where people now realize that, not only am I online, but that might mean I’m not working and I’m free. If I am just going on there to watch The Daily Show on Hulu, I generally have to field messages and, by scrolling over to my Friends List, I can see what they are doing as well. Without meaning to, the PS3 turned me into a mini cyber-stalker. When I log onto Steam, an online gaming platform, I’m met with the same amount of enthusiasm, but generally there’s no socializing downtime. I usually have to mark myself as “Offline” in order to game without interruption, but the PS3 doesn’t really offer that if your game title is an online one. No, you just have to sit there quietly while everyone knows what you’re doing; you’re possibly ignoring them or acting very anti-social. Everyone needs a quiet escapism break though, don’t they?

The New Normal

It made me think about the fact that this is the new normal for us. We need people to know we’re doing everything because activity is such a huge deal to us now. “Look, everybody! We’re enjoying ourselves! See?” seems to be brandished on electronic billboards for everyone to see and we need that to keep going. We check in to shows, games, and even comic books on GetGlue and show off that we’re presently involved in something that thousands, maybe millions of others are doing. We just have to connect somehow. (Personally, I’m addicted to those stickers.) It is to the point now where nobody is safe from it and if you use Spotify, you have to actually check off something in your settings to not broadcast that you’ve been listening to R. Kelly’s “Remix to Ignition” on repeat for the last two hours.

Every website, every Netflix movie in Instant Watch, every show on Hulu, each game you play, and the music you’re listening to will give you an option to share it on Facebook or on Twitter. Applications are set up to actually document and update your friends and family with every single damned thing you’re doing because, well, they need to know, right? You hope they’ll see what you’re watching and think something about you or possibly relate. “Well, Bob is watching from the Criterion Collection. How fancy!” will flitter through your mind whether you realize it or not and instead of finding out that Bob’s a huge fan of “The Red Balloon” on your own, you’re force-fed these little mysteries. Instead of maintaining my own memory, I feel like all of this useless information about people is forcing out the stuff in my brain that I actually put there with purpose. I’m retaining too much dumb shite, to be honest.

Going off the Gaming Social Media Grid

It made me wonder if it was something I had become so used to that I needed it in order to feel normal in my peer group. I set up my Nintendo Wii on my new television because, though you have the option to add friends, I have not. I never play online multiplayer on my Wii, so if I’m using that system, I’m virtually invisible to my friends. There’s an odd silence that fell upon my room as I was playing Super Mario Bros. 3 and that was the Internet peace that hummed all about me. Nobody knew unless I told them, you know? Nobody could see I was logged on and text message me, there was no “Share to Facebook” button whenever Mario sprang up and freed a blinking star at the end of the level. Absolutely no leaderboard glittered with updated scores of my friends and family there, as I played, not connected to the Internet and social media whatsoever.

It was quiet and unsettling.

I loved it.

It started making me wish that I had thought of it sooner. I immediately started dusting off my other consoles, digging out cords and cables and seeking time in the day to enjoy that black wall of quiet some more. When trophies aren’t being given away because nobody is watching what you’re doing but you, when Raptr isn’t checking off the game you’re playing and spreading it all over the Internet, and when your automatically updated scores aren’t taunting your friends, it frees up a lot of your own internal resources. The peace and quiet of gaming because you want to game and not to do something everyone else is doing, so they can see, is a beautiful thing. You’re actually alone in those moments, enjoying something all for yourself. Just for you.

Sharing is Caring, But…

Now some of you might say “But I don’t do ______________ for anyone but myself.” And sure, maybe some of you are truthful about it. Even though you’re connected through dozens of methods of social media in your entertainment life, you’ll still hold steadfast to it. Let’s be honest, though: we found it novel. We did. Gaming companies are starting to pay attention, just as music and movie business is, too; we can’t do anything without showing it off or using it as a badge to prove our self-worth. This exists for a reason: we did it. We wanted that connection to be built, didn’t we?

I, personally, wish that we could have an option to remain online but maybe go invisible once in a while. To enjoy our games without needing to have our escapism virtually broadcasted to whatever audience is paying attention would be a novel concept and I really, truly, want to go to there. (Yes, it was a 30 Rock reference. My grammar didn’t have a stroke.)

What do you guys think? Do you prefer it this way because this means a new way to connect with others, or do you feel okay with your quiet time and wish it actually belonged only to you? Honestly, I wouldn’t mind if I could go back to the day where I could play Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Vollyeball without everyone thinking I’m a creepy boob-hound. I prefer to be that in the privacy of my own home without the judgmental eye of a captive audience to damn me, you know?

Image: The Lost Toy, Public Domain

Five Things You Need on Netflix: Stand-up Specials

Five Things You Need on Netflix: Stand-up SpecialsI have to be honest, here. I’ve been watching stand-up since I was about three or four; I got my first taste when my grandfather would perch me on his knee and we’d check out Johnny Carson late at night when I couldn’t sleep. I was right there when one of the first female comedians I recall, Roseanne Barr, made her appearance on the late-night talk show and killed it, being invited to sit on the couch beside everyone’s most beloved host. Since that moment, I adored the idea of modern-day jesters making people laugh at either their own misery or perhaps their observations of the world.

Now, as an adult, I have a pretty clear take on comedy and I’ve left out a lot of that old school judgment because, after all, it’s just about being funny, you know? A lot of purists will bring up Lenny Bruce, Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor, and George Carlin as the greats and say there is no room left for any comedy other than theirs, but I disagree! Who are we to say what another person will find funny? I enjoy pretty much 90 percent of the comedy out there unless it is purely meant to shock and has no actual reflection of the comic whatsoever. (Note: Comedians like Daniel Tosh, Jeff Ross, Lisa Lampaneilli, and Jim Norton just don’t amuse me.)

So, there are the ones I enjoy and I could go on for days with the George Carlin stand-up sets, Louis C.K., Lewis Black, Eddie Murphy, and Richard Pryor — but you guys know about those. Do you know of these fellas, though?

Five Things You Need on Netflix: Stand-up Specials1. Ralphie May: Austin-tatious — Admittedly, I knew nothing about this guy until accidentally clicking the image on Netflix and being sent to watch the show. Ralphie expresses a refreshing amount of soft, open-minded playfulness about being married, drug regulations, and gay rights and yet never comes off as preachy. He’s one of the last feel good comics to come out that you can tell could change the world if he wanted to. If you’re ever feeling kind of down, queue this up and there’s no way you can’t possibly agree with even a fraction of the good times that come out of this man’s mouth.

Five Things You Need on Netflix: Stand-up Specials2. Bill Burr: Why Do I Do This? — Fans of comedy already know about Burr, but you’d be surprised how often I hear of people who haven’t and that’s a damned shame. Sure, his fuse is about 15 miles too short and you can see his veins crackle when he gets intense; his trademark voice and frustrated laugh are absolutely amazing to witness. Talking about everything from the love he has for his dog to his inability to relate to his girlfriend, it’s standard fare, but done in a way that only Burr can muster. I point everyone to this one after a particularly rough day. After all, let the comedians say what you can’t, right? That’s the point of ’em. Relate!

Five Things You Need on Netflix: Stand-up Specials3. Arj Barker: LYAO — Most of you may recognize Arj Barker from Flight of the Conchords, the amazing New Zealand musical comedy duo that had their own HBO series. Arj is a complete 180 from his character and proves it with his innocent and endearing brand of observational comedy. Explaining a meeting among the planets and Pluto’s banishment to the outside of the galaxy strikes true and hilarious. While I know a lot of folks who can’t share stand-up with their kids, I easily sat my teenage siblings down for this one and had no worries.

Five Things You Need on Netflix: Stand-up Specials4. Patrice O’Neal: Elephant in the Room — It’s too bad that Patrice O’Neal didn’t find the following he deserved during his short lifetime. He sadly passed away last November due to a stroke, however, it pushed people to share their favorite specials, clips, and bits of Patrice’s performances and it opened up an entire audience to his genius. Fun, lovable, and extremely vocal with his audience, he engaged everyone he could. I won’t even tell you what Patrice gets on about; just watch it for yourself and share it with everyone.

Five Things You Need on Netflix: Stand-up Specials5. Kevin Hart: I’m A Grown Little Man — While he’s definitely new to the scene in comparison to the comedians we know and love already, he’s putting a voice out there that relates to the hip-hop culture and even those who can’t necessarily follow. He seemingly puts a face to the kind of comedy that reflects on stereotypes but then crushes them with his raceless exploits. You can’t help but cheer him on and want to pat him on the head. This, like Arj Barker, is another feel good special you can feel safe enough to share with the grown kids.

So what stand-up on Netflix do you enjoy? What do you think Netflix should add more of and what kind of comedy do you think needs to make an appearance on the popular instant-viewing site?

Five Things I Think You Should See on Netflix Today

I have to admit it: I don’t really ever watch things as they come on television. Save for things that I know I can’t go without when they come on like Dexter and Sons of Anarchy, I tend to let my shows run over into Hulu Plus and Netflix territory. Why? Because not only do I have a DVR and can record what I want to watch if it’s important to me, but Hulu and Netflix have given me an opportunity to either watch it the next day if I didn’t record it or explore it again via past seasons uploaded.

Be that as it may, since finding out what Netflix is, it has been bolstered up to a massive Instant Watch collection that generally showcases new things that I haven’t seen or old favorites. My favorite older cartoons are all there, ready to be perused again and introduced to my child, and some new favorites are ready if I want to kick back and relive the moments I loved.

Candice’s Current List of Netflix Offerings:

Five Things I Think You Should See on Netflix Today

1. Sons of Anarchy — Look, I can’t say enough about this show. I’ve touted its praises on podcasts, I’ve ranted about it on Twitter and Facebook — it’s just a damned good show. You’d never know it unless you’ve actually seen it, because the commercials and trailers make it easy for the uninitiated to come to the conclusion that it’s just about a bunch of hillbilly bikers, but let me tell you: it’s way more. These are reasonable, intelligent, and cunning people, and it’s got some of the best acting I’ve seen on television in a while. Some great performances by Ron Perlman, Katey Sagal, and Charlie Hunnam really can’t be missed. Watch the first three seasons on Netflix!

Five Things I Think You Should See on Netflix Today
As you can see from my images, I watch this stuff a lot.

2. Mythbusters — While not the whole collection of everything that Adam Savage and Jamie Hynneman have ever done, it’s a pretty good offering! These two take myths from television, movies, urban legends, and lore and actually put them to the test (they even say it in the show!) to prove or disprove. Awesome, right? Who doesn’t want to see a couple of nerds blow stuff up and high-five afterwards, right? I absolutely love this show to pieces and have even visited the actual M5 Industries studio where it’s filmed.

Five Things I Think You Should See on Netflix Today

3. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe — Look, I’m not saying that this is your absolute end-all, be-all to animation, because it’s not. In fact, it’s some of the laziest animation you’ll ever see, but it’s damned entertaining. With a crudely laced morality tale woven into colorful animation about a guy who rides a purple “Battlecat” in his fuzzy undies, how can you not be amused? Skeletor sounds like Paul Lynde’s slightly more heterosexual cousin and everyone is having a good ol’ time acting like they don’t know Prince Adam moonlights as a vigilante do-gooder.

Five Things I Think You Should See on Netflix Today

4. Battle Royale — There’s something about this movie that I can’t let go of. When The Hunger Games came out, the Internet went insane when it realized it was just a teen sensation-laced, stylized version of a story akin to something we’ve heard about before. In Battle Royale, a group of students are picked when their school district “wins” a lottery to take part in “Battle Royale,” a government act (The BR Act) that is meant to whittle down the population as well as be creepily entertaining to the masses. Since the filmmakers essentially did their take on Lord of the Flies, it’s interesting to see just where Battle Royale takes the idea. We learn about schoolborne cliques and romantic interests that sway decisions where it seems parts of the student body cannot handle the idea of hurting anyone — or being murdered themselves. Watching the gritty dynamic is absolutely thrilling from beginning to end — and it’s visually superb. There’s a reason that Quentin Tarantino wanted to do a remake so badly and it’s why this should be on everyone’s Instant Queue.

Five Things I Think You Should See on Netflix Today

5. Doctor Who — I don’t know how many sci-fi fans have viewed Red Dwarf, an entertaining comedy about being marooned in space that spanned over the years in the UK. While it’s one of my favorite shows and used to be on Netflix (All eight seasons!), it has since been removed as the new season is airing this October. With that said, my second choice for sci-fi has to go to Doctor Who, and you can catch so many of the newer — and older (the program premiered in 1963) — episodes on Instant Watch right now. Following the exploits of the Doctor, a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey who chooses companions in every iteration of himself (he changes bodies often) to go through time and space to solve the universe’s (and sometimes other universes’) major problems. Admittedly, I didn’t get into it until this current Doctor and his sexy bowties, but it’s a definite addiction that you can’t put down. Check them out and find a new source of nerd there on Netflix.

So, there you go! Maybe you’ve seen some of these and maybe you haven’t, but it seems like every week that I find new things to check out on Netflix and sometimes they throw things onto the “Recently Added” that makes me absolutely giddy. As someone who loves checking back on retro animation and television I grew up with, Netflix has become my source for all of those guilty pleasures of mine.

What are you watching on Netflix? Would you suggest it? What movies are you checking out that you only heard about when you saw them on Instant Watch? Share them with me as I love to try new things on Netflix and always want to pass around ideas!

5 Must Have Free Apps For Your Apple iPad

We got our Apple iPad about 6 weeks ago, so the newness hasn’t worn off as of yet. The more my wife and I explore the applications available for this device, the more we are impressed. Here are five free apps we have found that are fun and enjoyable to use.

The Amazon Kindle free app for the Apple iPad is one of the best apps on the market for those of us who are avid readers. Amazon offers a huge selection of free and paid e-books on the Internet. Though the Amazon Kindle is a great e-book reader, I believe that the Apple iPad does an equally good job, except for the glare factor. The iPad does have a glare from the screen when viewing an e-book, but a slight tilt of the iPad usually cures this quickly.

Even though we have a book case full of cookbooks and printed recipes stacked up under one kitchen counter, my wife still struggles with finding the perfect recipe for the perfect meal. Epicurious has solved this problem by providing thousands of tested recipes right at her fingertips. Using the free Epicurious app for her iPad she is able to save and even email recipes to other family members. This app is a must have for those who enjoy cooking or who, like myself, enjoy trying and eating new cuisine.

Netflix offers a free app for your iPad for those of us who are Netflix members. You can stream your favorite flicks right to your device and use it as a mini-TV. When the iPad is not being used for viewing recipes, it now doubles as an entertainment device.

I use Dragon Naturally Speaking on my work computer and it works fairly well. It does make mistakes and I need to correct some misspelled words on occasion. But the free edition of Dragon Dictation actually works very well on the iPad. When sending email messages and for short notes, Dragon Dictation is definitely worth trying for yourself. Just remember that all voice recognition programs still have issues so do not expect perfection.

Flipboard is a free app that allows any Apple iPad user to obtain all of their favorite news and information in a fun and easy to read format. Flipboard provides access to your Twitter, Facebook and RS feeds in one simple and convenient location in what looks like a magazine. I used the app last evening and this afternoon and I can only give this app a one word description and that is fantastic.

The more I use the Apple iPad with apps such as these, the more I can see an Apple iPad in my future.

Netflix On Apple iPad And iPhone Reviewed

Yesterday I spent part of the day installing the Netflix app on my wife’s Apple iPad. I already have about 200 movies and TV programs in my Netflix queue, ready to be streamed to my home televisions. Some of  what I enjoy are the older movies and also TV programs from the past. I also like the benefit of being able to watch these programs when I wish to, and the ability to stop, fast forward, and rewind when I want.

I downloaded the Netflix app on the Apple iPad I bought for my wife and gave it a try. To my surprise and pleasure the movies played perfectly. There was no stutter, pausing, nor stops when watching movies nor televisions programs I played. I tried about a dozen programs and all played perfectly.

We are on vacation this week visiting our daughter and her husband. Both have Apple iPhones as well as a Netflix account. I mentioned my impressions to my son-in-law so he decided  to try the app on his iPhone. He was equally impressed with the quality of the movies he played as well as the television programs he tried.

The following evening we experimented with downloading different movies and TV programs and all played perfectly.

But there are a few features that you miss when using the Netflix app on the Apple iPad or iPhone. You cannot rate movies or television programs when using the Netflix app. Also missing is the ability to mute what you are playing. But these are minor when considering the complete Netflix experience.

Overall I believe that anyone who has a Netflix account and owns an Apple iPad or iPhone will enjoy the Netflix experience.

If you are currently streaming movies or TV programs to your Apple device, let us know what you think and share your experience with us.

Comments welcome.

 

Broadband Usage Increase – Is It Because We Have More Devices Connecting To The Internet?

I was thinking this morning how things have changed in my own household in just ten years. Ten years ago I had two computers, one for me and one for my wife, connected to the Internet. Just five years ago we had only increased our broadband usage in our home by adding one additional laptop computer with a connection to the Internet. In the past year we have added more devices, so this morning I did a head count of just how many devices we had in our home with Internet access.

Computers: I have one desktop for gaming, and three laptop computers for a total of four.

Tablet – one Apple iPad

Chrome – one Cr-48 test computer.

Roku – two Rokus for streaming video to two HDTVs.

DirecTV – one device for streaming video from DirecTV.

Total number of devices: nine

So is it the number of devices we use in our home the cause of increased broadband usage or is it what we are doing with the devices that is increasing our usage? I would venture a guess that is it a combination of both. Netflix has become to new culprit that ISPs like to blame for our uncontrolled usage of broadband. The ISPs state that one could exceed a 250GB limit easily by streaming video into our homes, which some ISP companies claim can be done in as little as 10.5 days.

AT&T recently announced that the company would impose a 250GB cap starting soon. This may sound like a reasonable amount since AT&T provided its own figures that the average user only uses 18GB a month. But what about in a few years as more of us buy more tablet computers or signs up to stream video and/or TV programs? Those GB may go quickly and the ISPs will be the ones that benefit by adding higher charges to what they call broadband hogs.

Also adding to our GB woes are those who also use Skype or other video chatting services. So between all of these online services that we may use, broadband limits may come back someday to bite us in the rear end. For the causal Internet surfer this may not be a problem. But for those who want to take advantage of everything the Internet will offer, it could be.

So will the tiered pricing scheme have an affect on your surfing needs?

Comments welcome.

Source – gigaom

If Amazon Builds An Android Kindle Tablet, Would You Buy One?

According to Amazon it has sold millions of its popular eBook reader, Kindle. The Kindle is advertised on Amazon as a device that not only allows the reader to download eBooks, but also newspapers and magazines. Its 3G model is also unique since it provides free access to the Amazon site from anywhere that 3G service is available. With a battery that Amazon claims will last for over a month, the Kindle is in fact a very popular and reliable device.

So could an Android Kindle Tablet actually be in the Amazon arsenal coming our way soon? Amazon has been on a recent hiring adventure looking for Android developers. At first some thought it was for the upcoming Android application store soon to hit Amazon shelves. But now it seems that some are thinking that Amazon could be in the process of building an Android Kindle Tablet of its own.

So what would Amazon accomplish by having its own tablet computer? Amazon is and has been in direct competition with Apple for music downloads, Barnes and Noble [at one time], for eBook downloads, and also against Netflix for the movie streaming plus rental business. Amazon also has what I would describe as a trustworthy reputation. For the most part all of my deals with Amazon have been great and I am even a Prime member. I now have access to its free movie rental service, which like Netflix and DirecTV provides old movies of little or no value (just my personal opinion).

What Amazon may be looking at is how the company can position itself — kind of like an online Walmart of sorts. Amazon having its own tablet computer would allow the company to not only offer Android applications, but also movies, music, and TV shows it controls to a device that it also would make. This is not to say that the device wouldn’t also offer other third party applications or downloads. Amazon, because of its reputation, could become the next great tablet company.

I see this situation like standing at a craps table in any gambling casino. Standing around the table are representatives from all of the major tablet producers, soon to be tablet producers, the music, movie, and TV entertainment industries. No one is exactly sure who is going to throw a 7 or 11, make the point, or crap out. With billions of dollars at stake it should be interesting to see what happens.

Would you buy an Android Kindle Tablet?

Comments welcome.

Source – Betanews

Source – slashgear

Netflix Is Building Its Own House Of Cards For A Rumored $100M

Look out, Hollywood, because there is a new kid in town who wants a piece of the action and the new kid is Netflix. The king of streaming video is now looking to produce its very own 26 episode series called House of Cards. The miniseries will feature Kevin Spacey, who has won an Academy Award and David Fincher, who starred in Social Network. It’s based on a popular British miniseries that was very successful.

Rumored to have cost the company a cool $100M, Netflix bidding was against the likes of AMC and HBO, and the company seems to want to make a statement to Hollywood and the television industry. If the miniseries is successful, Netflix could have leverage when dealing with movie studios and television networks who have been reluctant to see the Internet as a viable medium.

Netflix is challenging the way content will be distributed and is thinking outside the box. By financially backing the creation of its own miniseries it can control both content and distribution at what will be at a lower cost. This is not going to make some folks in the entertainment industry happy, and there may be an attempt to block Netflix from future endeavors on its turf.

Traditionally, Netflix distributes older content on its streaming model, refusing to pay the high premiums demanded by other companies. By doing this, Netflix has been able to attract some 20 million subscribers. Though companies like HBO have some 28 million subscribers, Netflix has something that few others have. It poses a phenomenal growth rate of 63% from the 4th quarter of 2009 until the 4th quarter of 2010, while the others have remained relatively stagnant during the same period.

But Netflix is not the only one on the Internet trying to get into the streaming content business. Recently Amazon announced that it would open a library of some 5,000 movies for its Prime Members. Prime Members pay $79.00 a year to have free second day shipping on items purchased from Amazon. The addition of free movies is a great bonus.

But will this be enough for Netflix to grab more subscribers? Would this be enough to make you join Netflix?

Comments welcome.

Source – CrunchGear

Source – WSJ

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Will Facebook Destroy Itself By Trying To Become Another Netflix?

Every technology company in America believes they are impervious to self destruction no matter what arena of technology they pursue. We saw how companies like AOL and Yahoo! were destroyed from the inside out when these once mighty companies tried to become something they were not. Even Microsoft has struggled trying to be a cell phone company and appears to be trying to buy itself success by throwing some rumored $1B at Nokia. On the flip side Google has found success in the cell phone market with its Android OS, which is now the dominant player in this area of technology.

Microsoft also has tried, without success, to be your encyclopedia expert. Remember Encarta? How about their MS Money and accounting programs? All are gone. IE has lost market share over the years and Bing is having limited success when compared to Google and its search engine. So why would a successful company like Facebook, that has a super successful social networking site, want to splinter itself and venture into uncharted waters?

One of the things that Facebook has been doing is ‘tweaking’ its site, which most users think has been a PITA [Pain In The Ass]. I have seen many of my friends complain about these tweaks and how to fix what they see has not being broken in the first place. It seems to me that companies like Facebook, that are overflowing with success, don’t have any more tweaking to do and become bored.

Instead of coming up with something new, similar to what Google did with Android, they seek to ride on the coat tails of others who are successful in their business ventures. This is what I see Facebook about to try — riding the coat tails, or should I say attempting to ride the coat tails, of Netflix. What makes Facebook believe that it can do a better job than Netflix? I don’t believe it really thinks it can. It is just arrogance and greed that makes the company want to try.

So is it just Facebook that is going to try a new venture that could potentially fail? I believe that it is also going to be Waterloo for Google and its Chrome netbook computer. I also think that the Windows 7 tablets may fail along with Microsoft’s attempt at another cell phone. But that is just my opinion. Others may have a different opinion.

So how will Facebook fare in the DVD/Blu-ray rental market?

Comments welcome.

Amazon Gives Something Away For Free And People Still Complain

By now I am sure that all of you have heard the news, that Amazon is going to provide free movie streaming to members who are using their Prime membership. The price, which I pay, is $79 a year for free 2 day shipping through Amazon. Like millions of others, I believe the $79 a year fee is a bargain when you see how much UPS or the USP people charge for mailing a small package. So yesterday when Amazon announced they would also include free streaming to Prime members at no additional charge, I was pleased that they didn’t raise the price for Prime membership.

But not everyone was pleased. When I was reading an article over at InformationWeek, I noticed this comment which I will dissect:

In order for this to work, you need to buy a Roku box ($199), then pay $79 per year just to watch online content?

This statement is erroneous. Roku pricing starts at $69.99 for their least expensive model the model HD, $79.99 for their XD model for 1080p streaming and $99.99 for the XDS top of the line model.

The $79 fee includes free 2nd day shipping for a year. Streaming is a free extra.

This is too much, especially when you can get the same thing from websites like TVDevo that offer a very similar thing without requiring a Roku box. All you need is an internet connection and your computer to watch with it.

If I am going to watch a movie in HD it will be on my HDTV and not on a computer. I stream from Netflix via a Roku to my HDTV and HD is high quality. My computer provides a mediocre picture nowhere near HD quality.

Good luck Amazon, but no thanks.

I seriously doubt that Amazon will go broke without this persons support. I for one like free streaming for us Prime users. Thanks Amazon!.

Comments welcome.

Source – InformationWeek

Amazon Releases Free Video Streaming For Prime Members

We all love streaming video from Netflix and Hulu, getting all of our favorite shows where we want them. Today there is a new competitor entering the game, starting today for all Amazon Prime members they can watch free streaming movies from Amazon.

Amazon Prime members can instantly stream around 5,000 or the nearly 90,000 movies and TV shows Amazon already has to offer for a fee on Amazon Instant Video. Currently the more than 5,000 titles available is limited and the newest releases available from the service are “Feed the Fish” and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest,” which normally cost $3.99 to rent on Amazon Instant Video. Lucky for Amazon Prime subscribers the shows that they have to pay for are reduced in price. That means you can watch “Gossip Girl” and “Glee” for less than a non-subscriber.

Amazon Student members will not be as lucky as Amazon Prime members, to get access to the free streaming movies and TV shows they will have to fork over $79 to gain access to the free instant streaming benefits.

For all you just about to cancel your Netflix account, don’t. Starting at just $96/year, Netflix has more than 28,000 titles, and unlike Amazon it can be streamed to multiple platforms. Amazon Prime videos can only be streamed to your PC and offer a very sparse collection of movies.

As some may recall, in January Amazon acquired Europe’s equal to Netflix, LoveFilm.

Adding unlimited instant access to thousands of movies and TV shows at no additional cost is a great way to give members even more value for their $79 annual Amazon Prime membership,” Robbie Schwietzer, VP of Amazon Prime, said in the statement. Their millions of members can certainly get more out of their Amazon Prime membership, but are the movies they have to offer good?

Why Amazon Subscription Web Service Will Be Good For Consumers

As many of you are aware, I am a huge supporter and user of Netflix subscriptions services. I not only get my one DVD at a time fix, but also streaming video to my HDTV. Amazon is also another business that I use and I am also a Prime member and have been using the free shipping service for about two years. So when I read about Amazon also getting into the streaming business as part of its Prime service, I immediately starting thinking which service I would want to use.

Netflix charges $7.99 a month for its streaming service, or $95.88 a year. If Amazon does include streaming video along with its Prime service, that is $79 a year, so consumers would save a few bucks. One article also states:

The Web’s biggest retailer has held talks with the Hollywood studios and several independent companies about acquiring library content for a subscription movie streaming service similar to Netflix, according to people familiar with the matter.

So why is this going to be good for consumers? Simple. It’s competition at its finest. Though I think that Netflix is doing a fine job at streaming movies into our living rooms, I believe that Amazon will also be able to provide a similar service at a competitive price. Amazon is currently offering VOD, video on demand,  so it just needs to fine tune streaming as a free service with a Prime membership.

I think that many of us who use Netflix for streaming movies may wish to consider what Amazon will offer. It is obvious that no company can offer new releases at these prices. I am anxious to see exactly what Amazon has up their sleeves.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Source – L.A. Times

ISPs Lash Out At YouTube And Netflix

The poor internet service providers. Their networks are always clogged with high internet traffic from YouTube and Netflix, ISPs are struggling and they cannot afford the high traffic anymore. The way ISPs look at it, they have two options, charge customers 21% more for access or bill the companies 3.7¢ per GB of use. The problems have gotten so bad that the ISPs have become unusable at peak times due to the overwhelming amount of traffic.

ISPs claim that they cannot afford the investment they have made to support the high traffic demands of YouTube and Netflix. The ISPs are pulling the, “you’re not pulling your own weight,” pointing the finger at the two highest bandwidth suckers on the internet.

Most Online Service Providers pay a fee to their Connectivity Provider(s) to be connected to the Internet, which is generally based on the bandwidth they require, while the largest ones act as if they were Connectivity Providers in their own right and connect to others via peering agreements. In both cases these charges are generally flat fees, not linked with usage and they form a very small part of their total expenditure/cost structure. In effect, Online Service Providers are paying to connect their services to the network but are not paying for downstream service delivery. [PDF]

The same study that came up with the results of the internet troubles also pointed out 4 ways we can fix this problem:

  • Charge people more for Internet access.
  • Charge every Internet company per gigabyte to deliver traffic.
  • Allow paid prioritization, so sites like Netflix could go faster than everyone else if they cough up the cash.
  • Deploy more “managed services” that operate over the same last-mile IP pipe.

The report lays out these clear options for users, and the costs per gigabyte aren’t that much compared to all the troubles ISPs are making about it. While usage-based billing has already come to places like Canada, it’s clear that ISPs would like to extend it to Internet companies as well as to customers.

Netflix Decision To Limit DVD Queue Draws Complaints

On Monday, Netflix informed their customers that adding streaming content to their queue from a connected device, would no longer be supported. The thinking from Netflix was that users could add content via their computer. On their blog site Netflix stated that:

We’re removing the “Add to DVD Queue” option from streaming devices. We’re doing this so we can concentrate on offering you the titles that are available to watch instantly. Further, providing the option to add a DVD to your Queue from a streaming device complicates the instant watching experience and ties up resources that are better used to improve the overall streaming.

But the proposed changes was meant with outrage by some customers. The feeling is that needing a computer to connect to Netflix is behind the times and actually defeats the purpose of streaming. Especially when it comes for those who stream video to their devices. Some of the comments were:

“With all sorts of streaming devices out there the computer is becoming more and more obsolete, this seems like a step backwards,” noted one concerned sub named Luke.

Raged another sub named Hal, “Sorry Netflix, I love you but this is idiotic. Hire some developers that know who has the premium accounts and who just has streaming access. It should all go by log in. This is a dumb move.”

For a company that has based their company on ease of use and satisfying their customers, it seems that Netflix may have stumbled when making this decision. It would seem that there is a large segment of Netflix clients that do their streaming to a device in which connecting directly to Netflix to add DVD to the queue is just a pain and not needed.

It seems that Netflix is going to experience some resistance from those of us who want to continue having their DVDs delivered to their home. Many people are skeptical that a streaming only model will succeed here in the US. We have become spoiled in being able to have our DVDs hand delivered to our mail box and return the disc for free. Streaming currently has a limited library and does not include the newest releases.

Until that happens, I need my DVD.

Comments welcome.

Source – paidContent

Roku Is Becoming The Little Engine That Could

One would have thought that when Google and Apple entered into the streaming video market place, that the little Roku would be swallowed up by the big guys. Instead the Roku has doubled in sales and are approaching 1 million units. So what makes the little box so attractive?

The units are inexpensive. I have purchased two of the Roku XD 1080p units from Amazon for $80. The little box is simple to set up using your home wireless network and a HDMI cable to your TV. Once it is set up you can start to select channels from the channel store and begin streaming.

So how are sales?

Today, as last-minute Christmas shoppers flock to Amazon, Roku is placed high on its list of the best-selling electronic devices. (Amazon represents about 25% of Roku’s sales, according to Wood.)

The $80 Roku XD streaming player is #9 on Amazon’s best-selling gadgets list, while its $100 XDS player (more features) is #11. Roku’s low-end “HD” player is #42.

Meanwhile, the $100 Apple TV, which is backordered at Amazon, is #23. Logitech’s Google TV box is #110. And the other buzzy competitor, the $200 Boxee Box by D-Link, is #171.

For die-hard Apple fans, Apple TV might be the best product, Wood concedes. But for everyone else, you can get similar features from Roku for $60, and more features than Apple TV — including 1080p output — for $99.

If you have a Netflix account you can set up streaming movies via your computer and they will appear in your Netflix queue on your Roku. I found this the easiest way to set up movies for viewing later.

Comments as always are welcome.

You can order a Roku directly from Amazon here.

Source – Business Insider