Friday, October 07, 2005

Slashdot is kind of a stinker.

So, I saw a cool looking new style of keyboard and submitted the story to Slashdot. It was almost immediately rejected.

<ericCartman> Well, screw you guys, I'm going home.</ericCartman>

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Old News

So, I was up late tonight working on a presentation, and I happened across this headline on Yahoo:

Blockbuster to miss online DVD rental target

Very exciting to read. Gave me a little lift. We up our short term guidance and tell people we'll be at 20 MILLION members not far past the end of the decade, and BBI is having trouble getting to 10% of that figure in the next year or two.

I have to admit to a guilty... well... not pleasure, and not even an indulgence. It's best described as a bad habit. I occasionally read the NFLX board on Yahoo Finance. Look through to see what's being said. I see a lot of nonsense on both the long and the short sides, but what really doesn't make sense to me is the rabidity of some of the short-siders.

They harp on the same things over and over again. They say there are no barriers to entry. Well, Walmart and Blockbuster might beg to differ on that point, because they've certainly both had their share of problems getting traction in this market. They talk about how video on demand will eat our lunch. Well, VOD has been around for a while, and our lunch is still sitting on the plate in front of us. We deliver, on demand, millions of individually selected movies to millions of individuals, week in and week out. For the next several years, you would be hard pressed to build a network that can move millions of movies worth of bits a day; until then, the USPS carrying DVDs is the king-kong of bandwidth (admittedly a very fat pipe with hellishly long latency between packets -- I wouldn't want to browse the web that way).

They talk about how we can't sustain growth, that we churn off a bazillion customers a month. I can't fathom why they don't understand that even when we lose 5% of the customer base, we still have convinced 95% of our customers to keep giving us money. We've also convinced a bunch of new people to start giving us money, and 95% of them will give us money the next month, and the next and the next. Are we expected to keep every customer around forever? We can't. It's kind of a 'frictional churn,' much like there's a 'frictional unemployment.' You can't ever get to full employment. Economists say it would cause the economy to explode.

People take breaks from Netflix. People come back. A great many of the people who leave tell us that they wish they didn't have to leave, and they tell us that even though they're leaving, they still recommend us, because they loved their experience so much. I'm insanely proud of the fact that I work for a company where people love us. It's gratifying to know that I'm on a team that's making a difference in people's lives. Admittedly, it's not curing cancer or eliminating poverty or global warming, but it's making people's lives richer, or at the very least, bringing some entertainment to them.

As gratified as I am by the warm wishes and happy customers, I'm equally puzzled by those people out there who for some reason wish us to fail. So, I guess in the end, maybe I shouldn't have been so cheerful about Blockbuster floundering. They're just folks with jobs, trying to do them the best they can. However, in any confict, there are winners and losers. If it takes a little viciousness to help insure my team comes out the winners, I suppose I'll pay that price. I just have to keep remembering that it's only business -- nothing personal BBI.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Highlander Hybrid

So, I sent in this question to the folks at Toyota regarding my disappointment with the Highlander Hybrid's fuel economy figures:

I waited with great anticipation the release of the hybrid Highlander. My family could really use a vehicle with a third row of seating since the birth of my second daughter just over two years ago. The obstacle preventing us from getting an SUV or wagon in all that time has been gas consumption. In the light of recent increases in gas prices, that obstacle has gotten even higher. Based on the mileage performance of the Prius compared to conventional cars in its class, I expected that I'd be able to get a vehicle with more room and still get better mileage than with my current small sedan when the Highlander Hybrid came out. I was exceptionally disappointed when initial reports from the real world indicated that the actual gas consumption when driven by real people on real streets was on a par with other vehicles in the same class as the Highlander. The reports of the Highlander's excellent performance didn't do much for me. Not wanting to give up, I talked with a sales representative at a local dealership, and I asked him if there was an option to turn down the performance in exchange for better fuel economy. With the high degree of computer control in the vehicle, this seemed like a natural and relatively inexpensive feature to include. He told me that there was no such option. I'm writing you to ask whether such an option is actually available that maybe the sales rep didn't know about. I'd also like to request that an option such as this be made available. If it were possible to degrade the 0-60 time by 50% in exchange for 30% better gas mileage, I'd buy one in a heartbeat. I'd even pay extra for that feature. Thanks for your time.
I'll let y'all know what they say, if they say anything.

The No Tilt Poker Zone

So, look what I found while avoiding work and wandering aimlessly thorugh the halls of in the wee hours... The No Tilt Poker Zone. Quite possibly someone I know/knew, but they're being anonymous.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Adsense Is Very Strange

So I write a post earlier about Statler & Waldorf, two Muppets. Then, I go look at my blog today and see four ads for "Hotel Waldorf" and "Waldorf Hotel Rome".

Pretty useless, I think. Maybe I'll take all the whoring off the page.

Supreme Court Nominee -- Harriet Miers

I was a little taken aback and discouraged when I did a little sniffing for info on Ms. Miers this morning. I saw this page on

note the ads on the right:

Doesn't give me a warm fuzzy that Google's AdSense thinks that Intelligent Design is a good matchup for people interested in this particular person.

Uncle Frank Broke My Heart

I read an article in the Metro about Uncle Frank's BBQ last week, and planned a trip for Friday to go get a slice of smoked heaven. Unfortunately, I planned this trip to include my family. One critical point not mentioned in the article was that Francesca's, the dive bar in which Frank's is housed, is 21-and-over. The only way into Frank's is through Francesca's.

When I walked in with my wife and my two daughters (4 and 2 years old), we were greeted by a woman screeching, "You're not allowed in here with them. Get on out." This was as she made a shoo-ing gesture with her arm. I peered in to look behind the bar for someone tending, and said, "But we're here for the restaurant, not for the bar."

I had hopes that the rules might be like in Nevada, where children are allowed to pass through the casino on the way to somewhere else in the hotel. I was encouraged by a man also sitting at the bar who told the woman to be quiet, and beckoned us towards the back. Encouraged, the four of us walked through to the back, and I asked the man at the register if we could eat here with the kids.

He was really apologetic and kind about it as he told me "No." I told him that there was no mention of the age restriction in the article. He said that they had strongly emphasized with the reporter that they're 21-and-over for now, but they're working on the patio and a permit to allow underage eaters. I wish that fact had made it into the article. As it was, I could see the food. I could smell the food. I just had to resign myself that I wouldn't be eating any of the food.

As we retreated, we endured the looks from the restaurant and bar patrons. They were looking at us like we were from another planet. We weren't. We're from Los Altos. Maybe that was the reason the woman was rude. Maybe Francesca's is her place. Her and her drinking buddies have been getting together for years, and now the sweet scent of barbeque will be bringing people (families, for heaven's sake!) from across the tracks to her dive. Perhaps she resents that invasion the same way you resent an invasion of yellowjackets at a backyard barbeque.

Maybe someday I'll get to taste that brisket, but not today.