Friday, April 27, 2007

Netflix - Watch Now!

Since Netflix had started offering some subscribers the "Watch Now" online streaming movie option instead of getting DVDs in the mail, i've been hoping to become one of those lucky few that have had this option. I know everyone will be able to do it starting in June, but I hope not to wait until then.

For everyone that doesn't now about the program, basically for every dollar you spend per month, you can watch one hour of movie. The movies appear to be using DRM from Windows Media. The quality is honestly pretty darn good for streaming video. So far I've only watched Clue and SherryBaby. Using our standard, non High Definition television on my HTPC, I couldn't tell the difference between this and a DVD.

Here's the positives about the service:
1. Good video quality. Might not look as good on a HDTV, but we aren't at that level in terms of internet bandwidth.
2. With approximately 20 hours per month IN ADDITION to the normal DVDs in the mail, this is truly a value added service that the competitors don't offer.

And the negatives:
1. Small video selection. Most of the movies are older movies, but there as a few more current selections.
2. The DRM is a pain. I had to first upgrade to WMP 11 (which I don't think was absolutely necessary), but then I had to change a number of different settings and rename a couple of DRM license folders. Truthfully, it just a 5 minute pain for me, but I could see the average Netflix using getting frustrated and giving up.
3. Normally DVD features like subtitles are nonexistant of course.
4. Since this is a streaming service, any inconsistencies in your internet connection will cause skipping or hanging in the movie. I only saw the movie have to catch up once or twice during Clue, but generally not a big deal. There were no skips in SherryBaby. It might have been an encoding problem in the original rip of the movie.

I recommend using the service once it is available to you if you have Netflix. I just hope there are more movies available soon.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Motolora Q Vs. Blackberry 8703e

A couple months back, I had the thought of trying out the Motorola Q. I had used the Blackberry 7250 for about a year and then last November upgraded to the Blackberry 8703e, which was a vast improvement.

Here are the big advantages of the Motrolora Q:

1. Small, thin and lightweight.
2. Runs Windows Mobile Smartphone Edition, so it doesn't require a separate server. It can use Exchange Activesync directly.
3. Has a mini-SD slot for expansion.
4. Can stream video. I even had it set up to stream all my programs I had recorded from my DVR anywhere I can had decent cell phone reception. That was pretty sweet!
5. Has a working full speed Nintendo Emulator. I used this feature like crazy. Having all of these classic Nintendo games available anywhere was amazing.

The bad:
1. Battery life was amazingly bad. We are talking 8 hours tops not even making calls. With an extended life battery I could get thought an entire day with really light use. I found myself charging it all the time.
2. Generally it could not make or receive phone calls. The phone almost never rang in the same places my Blackberry had no issues - for example my desk at work.
3. The interface, while I could figure it out in a few days is not very intuitive and would be a hindrance to the average user.
4. The standard holster is very flimsy.

In the end the inability to make and receive phone calls made me switch back to the Blackberry 8703e. I thoroughly do not recommend the Motorola Q unless you are a glutton for punishment and don't care about using it as a phone. Truthfully if you aren't getting email on it, or are just using some personal email account it would be only poor, not terrible. It is too bad though since it has so many cool features.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Work/Life Balance

I fully endorse the idea, it doesn't matter who you are reading this, that having a good work/life balance is necessary in order to really have happiness. You really can't work 80 hours per week and still be happy. It just isn't possible. It doesn't matter who you are, if you are working too much, do not do it for an extended amount of time. I know this seems obvious, but that is what I've been up to. I'm not saying I've been working 80 hours a week since my last blog post, but it has been 60 hours a week minimum. I've just had it, and for the time being I'm not working outside of my normal hours at work for a little while.

Much has happened since the "guy love" post. I've been promoted at my job, we've been trapped by snow in the mountains, and we're buying a house. We won't close until mid-May, so as soon as the place is ours, we're put lots of information on here. Until that point in time, here's a teaser of a view from the backyard. :)

Oh, and the song on the left hand side is updated. Tilly and the Wall - Bad Education.