Friday, 28 October 2011

08:48 – One thing that’s always struck me as strange about Netflix practices is that they don’t allow non-members to browse or search their catalog. One would think they’d want non-members to be able to see what they’re missing.

I just downgraded our plan from streaming + two discs to streaming-only, which took effect Wednesday. With the exception of the final disc of series four of Sons of Anarchy, there was nothing left in our disc queue that we cared that much about seeing, so I planned to go streaming-only for a few months to give Netflix a chance to add more discs that we wanted to watch and then bump up our membership to include discs. But, as of yesterday, I can no longer see anything that has to do with discs. Our disc queue is now invisible, although I understand that Netflix keeps it archived for two years. Not that that matters, since I did a screen capture of it before I changed to streaming-only.

But I can no longer search for discs, nor do search results even include series or seasons that are available only on disc. For example, series one and two of Sons of Anarchy are available on disc or streaming, but series three is disc-only. When I search for Sons of Anarchy now, all I see are the two seasons that are available streaming. Not even an indication that series three is available on-disc.

Given that Netflix is trying very hard to force people toward streaming, I wonder if the converse is true. If I had a disc-only plan, would they let me see what’s available streaming even though I couldn’t watch it? It seems to make sense for them to do that.

Actually, Netflix has made things easier for me. Rather than keeping an eye on new disc-only material, I’ll just wait six months or so and then upgrade our plan to include discs. There certainly ought to be at least a month’s worth of new discs we want to watch by then. Not that we’ll have to wait six months to see the last two episodes of Sons of Anarchy S3. Our friends Paul and Mary subscribe to both discs and streaming, and they tend to let discs sit around for extended periods. I asked Mary the other day if she’d mind getting SoA S3D4 for me, and she readily agreed.

Work on the biology book continues. Right now, I’m working on a lab session on culturing drug-resistant bacteria. Once I finish that session, I think I’ll jump over to a different group for a change of pace, maybe the genetics group or the life processes group. Or maybe even one of the survey groups. I’m also down perilously low in chemistry kit inventory, so soon I’ll have to set aside a day or so to build more chemistry kits.

14:55 – Well, that didn’t take long. In the first real test of the “solutions” reached at the EU crisis conclave Thursday morning, Italy has failed miserably on today’s bond sale. The yield was catastrophic, 6.06%, and Italy was unable to sell all of the bonds it offered. To knowledgeable observers, that’s sufficient evidence to declare the latest crisis summit a complete and utter failure. Not only did the non-actions taken at the summit not reverse the collapse of EU finances, they appear not to have even slowed things down. Contagion continues, unabated.

Of course, none of this crisis kabuki really had anything to do with Greece and not much more to do with the euro or the EU. What it’s really about is an attempt to shore things up until Merkozy can get past the next elections–not that either of them has much chance of being re-elected–and, even more importantly, the continuing push by the EU elite for “more Europe”. They’re actually loving this financial/debt/liquidity crisis, because it supports their long-term anti-democratic plans to consolidate Europe as a single political entity, ruled by them. Fortunately, I believe the FANG nations will refuse to go along with their cunning plan, leaving eurocrats holding the empty bag of the southern-tier nations only. Let them see what they can do with that motley collection.

13 Comments and discussion on "Friday, 28 October 2011"

  1. Roy Harvey says:

    As a non-subscriber I went to the Netflix site, chose the Browse option, and put in Sons of Anarchy. The top entry says:

    Sons of Anarchy(2008-2010) TV-MA Seasons 1-3
    Seasons 1-3 DVD and Blu-ray; Seasons 1-2 Streaming

  2. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    That’s interesting. As a streaming-only subscriber, when I search for SoA I get a landing page with a SoA icon as the first entry. It says nothing about how many seasons are available, and shows only the “Play” streaming icon. When I click on the SoA image or link, I get a detail page that shows some summary material at the top and two tabs below it for the first and second seasons. No mention of discs.

    Ah, my mistake. It doesn’t mention discs, but in small letters next to the title it says “Seasons 1-3”, so I guess that implies that S3 is available disc-only. Still, there’s no way I can see to view any details about S3, let alone add it to my on-hold disc queue.

  3. CowboySlim says:

    No wonder the USPS is going broke, no more revenue from Netflix DVDs:

  4. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    I’m sure the USPS has taken this into account. They have to realize that the Netflix bonanza isn’t going to last forever. I’d bet that USPS revenues from Netflix have already plateaued or even started to decrease. Obviously, that trend will continue unless the cable TV companies get their way and start choking off streaming to preserve their TV revenues.

  5. Chuck Waggoner says:

    I have maintained for some time that bandwidth in the US is becoming a problem, but have been repeatedly pooh-poo’ed here. It is happening. The radio project uses RTP over IP to get audio from the main studio to the transmitter. No problems until a few months ago, when things progressively went from fine with no problems, to frequent problems, and finally hit intolerable; it even affected the ratings dramatically. Although we had standard, but high-speed Internet on both ends, there was not enough bandwidth for error correction to work within the maximum latency time.

    And the problem periods were all tied to times of increasingly high Internet usage–primarily mid-afternoon through to midnight. We finally ended up originating from the transmitter site from about 8pm to 6am, because audio quality was just not listenable.

    End solution was to upgrade to a service that provided locked, guaranteed minimum bandwidth to us, regardless of the demands of others on the provider’s system. That service has just become available to us — it did not exist one month ago, and we were the ISP’s first customer to use it.

    Internet is not going to be like telephone service — as much activity as you want for a reasonable fixed fee. In fact, without this protected service, I am not sure what we would do. The cost of alternatives to get audio from studio to transmitter are pretty much prohibitive to a non-profit operation. A radio link would have to be at least 2 hops due to distance, and — at the moment — T1 lines do not exist out in farm country at the transmitter location, — but we could not afford that anyway.

    The backbone and distribution networks just do not currently exist to put TV and radio on the Internet, and Netflix streaming is only exacerbating that problem. As we found out first-hand.

  6. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    The bandwidth constraints are entirely artificial, intentional roadblocks put up by cable-TV companies trying to protect their TV revenue.

    We don’t have any backbone problems, particularly with Akamai and other companies providing caching servers nearer the packet destinations. In fact, the last time I looked there was still a ton of backbone dark fiber left from the bust after the Dot-Com boom. Nor do we have any widespread last-mile bandwidth problems that aren’t intentionally put there by the cable companies. It’s been more than five years since the DOCSIS 3.0 spec was finalized, and it supports full-duplex speeds of 100Mb/s or higher on the current coax networks to the home.

    It’s not surprising that Netflix streaming occupies such a large percentage of available bandwidth. Netflix adapts the speed to network conditions, which cable companies keep artificially constrained. If cable companies ran wide-open, the percentage of available bandwidth used by Netflix would drop quickly. Of course, those cable companies would also start losing cable-TV subscribers in droves, which is why they constrain bandwidth in the first place.

  7. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Incidentally, what did you expect when you used cheap consumer-grade bandwidth with no QoS guarantees? You can buy whatever you need, up to and including a nailed-up connection with guaranteed QoS.

  8. Lynn McGuire says:

    I caught my office administrator (my wife !) watching General Hospital via streaming the other day while she was stuffing CDs for shipment to customers. I think that cable TV is dead and that TV is quickly moving to websites. Quickly.

  9. bobruub says:

    I find the netflix search and whats new menus very poor at least on my Apple TV. I use this site ( to find out whats new. It should then automatically add to my netflix queue but an issue with the netflix API only allows that if you have streaming and DVD!

  10. Chuck Waggoner says:

    The station has always had commercial-grade business Internet, but it cannot afford the highest levels. Don’t know if you have checked prices, but nobody will even begin to guarantee QoS until the price is in the thousands per month on each end — and even then, the guarantee has lots of holes in it, meaning that we could never collect anything when performance was not up-to-par. The station can only afford hundreds per month — definitely not thousands. No one around here will guarantee VoIP service, and so far, all the carriers who can serve the rural location (all 2 of them), consider RTP audio over IP to be the same as VoIP.

    I have a hard time accepting that there are no backbone problems. The Chief Engineer of the station works in the telephone/cable industry, and the QoS tests he is able to do, show significant problems on the route between the two ends, primarily unreasonable packet loss and time delays, through routing that goes all over the Midwest (again, a factor that is not controllable) — to the point where he is amazed we can get quality audio delivered at all. Believe me, they have investigated every alternative, and there is nothing better than what they currently have. The utility company local to the rural transmitter is willing to provide T1 service, if we pay to lay the fiber from the local CO, and then pay the $1,200/mo fee. Laying fiber would cost somewhere between $25,000 and 30,000. A two-hop radio STL would cost about 1/3 of that and would add more rental fees where the equipment and antennas are located along the route. Otherwise, we have the best possible service available to that location — and the protected bandwidth only became available last month.

    IMO, this is going to affect everybody–not just home Netflix watchers. If the backbone is truly okay, then it is time to nationalize it into a government-owned utility and stop the games with bandwidth. Once again, business has made the customer into the enemy.

  11. CowboySlim says:

    “…. If the backbone is truly okay, then it is time to nationalize it into a government-owned utility and stop the games with bandwidth.”

    I agree, but we need to pick a government entity to run it.
    USPS or Amtrak?

  12. OFD says:

    Maybe Government Motors could do the gig; we have on-site inspections by our lovely and brilliant Secretary of State at one of their plants in…….


    Hmmmm….let me check…..yep….still living in Mirror World.

  13. SteveF says:

    Put the Department of Education in charge. They certainly aren’t doing anything to encourage education, and they can use their SWAT team to enforce compliance.

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