– A giant “don’t bother”

Over the Thanksmericangiving weekend Microsoft was running a “Free XBox 360 Gold” promotion, and along with that, NetFlix was offering 30 days of free streaming service. I figured why not try it out, maybe we’d find some interesting movies or TV series that we’d enjoy?

Signing up was reasonably easy, although I would suggest creating your account on your computer first rather than trying to type out a decent password on an XBox 360. Twice.

The first thing that jumped out at me was the selection. More specifically, the lack of selection. It took me a good 15 minutes of flipping through TV shows and movies to find something I would watch to test out the streaming video quality and functionality. No, not a show to actually sit down and watch, just something to try out to gauge the video quality.

I ended up watching about 5-10 minutes of Mythbusters episodes. You won’t have to worry about spoilers of new TV shows if you’re a bit behind on your PVR watching since the available TV episodes were years old.

Recalling how much money and resources Netflix puts into algorithmically determining user preferences I thought I’d give it a chance, so that evening I spent about 45 minutes on Netflix’s website telling Netflix all about my movie preferences, genres I enjoy (and not), rating movies it offered to help Netflix learn about me. I also installed the iPhone and iPad clients, thinking I might go watch a movie on the iPad. Unfortunately I still couldn’t find anything that interested me. The suggestions weren’t bad, but I’d seen the movies I wanted to see and literally couldn’t find anything that I hadn’t already seen that interested me.

I picked one and sat through about 15 minutes on the iPad. Video and audio quality was good, but the movie didn’t grab me enough to care so I went to bed.

I got Lori set up with Netflix on her iPhone too to check out the selection, she watched a few more shows than I did, but the month trial isn’t even over and neither of us can find anything to watch.

The video quality was good, the interface isn’t horrible, selection of clients was nice. Heck, it even streamed video over 3G, something Apple can’t manage on the iPhone 4 (although other video-calling capable phones have been doing it for years), but what’s the point when there isn’t anything you want to watch?

More annoyingly though, when canceling service is careful to spell out that they terminate your service immediately and you forfeit the remainder of the time you prepaid. Let me type that one again more slowly: Customer pays for service. Customer decides to not renew at the end of the agreed upon prepaid term. Netflix says “great, but don’t tell us until the last possible minute or we won’t bother to give you the service for which you paid.”

Sorry guys, but that’s a dickhead move and it pretty much guarantees I won’t bother trying Netflix again even if they ever get a decent selection of movies / TV shows.

(And yes, I’m aware that it was a trial and I’m not actually out any money. I plan on keeping it that way)

When I think “security consultant”, I think “manager of Staples”

Anyone else watching what a media shitstorm Conflicker has turned into?

As if we don’t have enough FUD already, we have some genius at ABC news advising how to make your computer less secure.

If you don’t purchase the software you could also save your files to an external hard drive and be sure turn off any automatic updates until this super worm is killed.

Wow, that’s special. I’m wondering if whoever the technical adviser was for that article isn’t on Conflicker’s payroll? See, Conflicker spreads in three ways:

      External drives (USB flash drives, external hard drives)
      By exploiting bugs that were already fixed before Conflicker was released and deployed by Microsoft through Automatic Updates..
      Weak passwords across your LAN.

So the correct course of action is to do the exact opposite of what ABC suggests: Turn on automatic updates, make sure you’re up to date right now, then scan your external hard drives before trusting them.

And then of course there is this little gem:

“Well the best thing a customer can do is purchase a Norton 360, what it will do is give you complete virus protection it also spyware and addition it gives you two gigabytes of online backup so you could put your files on a backup server”, said Luke Rider, Manager of Staples.

Because when I think “security consultant”, the first thing I do is go to my nearest Staples store and ask for the manager.

Seagate Warranty Service – Two Thumbs Up

This post is just a quick thank-you to Seagate for making the warranty return process simple and easy.

I have a ton of drives spread across my various servers and computers and have more or less standarized on Seagate drives, mainly due to the fact that they’re reasonably priced, perform better then the competition (at least when I’ve tested) and have the best warranty in their class.

Warranties are always up in the air though, they’re only as worthwhile as the company backing the warranty request. I finally had a drive reporting errors, my first in many moons, so I contacted Seagate for warranty.

Starting the process was simple, I used Google to look for Seagate Warranty, supplied the model and serial number, my contact information, put the drive in a box and shipped it off.

Here we are about two weeks later and I have a refurbished drive. According to S.M.A.R.T. the drive is brand new, although it’s not impossible for Seagate to reset the hours-of-operation counter before shipping the drive out.

So thanks Seagate for standing by your products! I’m ordering two more drives and you can get that they too will be Seagate.