Is There Such a Thing As Too Many Netflix Movies? – The Ringer

Quick, which one of these is your favorite?

The Polka King; 6 Balloons; Amateur; Love Per Square Foot; Game Over, Man!; The Outsider; Come Sunday; Mute; Irreplaceable You; Happy Anniversary; Roxanne Roxanne; Dude; First Blush; Seeing Allred; The Open House; I Am Not an Easy Man; Benji; A Futile and Stupid Gesture; Step Sisters; Take Your Pills; Blockbuster; First Match; When We First Met; Mercury 13; The Cloverfield Paradox; Kodachrome.

Those are the 25 original films released by Netflix in 2018. How many have you seen? How many do you recognize? Can you spot the one I made up?

This article looks at the reasoning behind Netflix’s push to release new, original movies. In many cases, you won’t have seen, or even heard about these movies, unless you diligently pore over the latest releases.

By the end of this year, Netflix will be the single biggest original movie producer in America, far outpacing Disney, Warner Bros., and the rest in terms of sheer quantity. Maybe one will even compete for Best Picture next year. But does it matter if no one has ever heard of most of these movies?

It’s hard to fathom Netflix’s content strategy. Big-name series, like House of Cards, certainly draw viewers, but the days when I would look closely at their “original” movies has long passed into the distance. Many if not most are uninteresting, and I look at them now as I look at any other movie.

One of the examples in this article stands out:

Kodachrome is emblematic of the morass of Netflix movie offerings. Neither comedy nor drama, neither special nor terrible, neither quotable nor truly forgettable, it is the embodiment of so much we consume in 2018; it’s just sort of … there.

Interestingly, I watched Kodachrome the other night, after stumbling on it way down the “Recently Added” section. I quite liked it. It’s part road movie, part rom-com, and, while it’s predictable after a while, I enjoyed Ed Harris’s performance (his grumpy old man persona made me wonder how he would fare as King Lear).

The problem with this article, however, is one of ignorance; not that the author doesn’t know what he’s talking about, but that he’s in the United States, and doesn’t realize how international Netflix’s strategy is. I don’t know if US Netflix viewers can see all the Spanish, French, German, Finnish, and Turkish movies and TV series that I see here in the UK. Netflix’s strategy is global, and while this writer may pooh-pooh a list of movies he doesn’t pay attention to, it’s very possible that in certain markets these movies are popular. I have not noticed all of the 25 movies he lists at the beginning of his article, but I have certainly spotted a number of them (and, in most cases, decided that they are not for me).

While the problem with Netflix may be that there is too much content, but is that everyone’s problem? For many users, they may find just what they want to watch. Remember, Netflix’s algorithm knows what you like, what you’ve watched, and what you’ve finished. So while you may not see all 25 of those movies, Netflix will present to you the ones that it thinks you’ll watch. You’ll watch a couple, and you’ll keep your subscription active.

Source: Is There Such a Thing As Too Many Netflix Movies? – The Ringer

Side Splitter AppleScript Lets You Relive the Joy of Flipping Albums in iTunes

My podcast partner Doug Adams were chatting recently about the experience of listening to record albums – LPs – where you would flip a record after 20 or 25 minutes of music. So he made an AppleScript to reproduce this in iTunes.

Back in the day, LP record albums were experienced as pairs of “sides,” right?

A decent record side was about 22 to 27 minutes long. And so we got used to listening to chunks of music of this duration. These time constraints on a record would often affect how the album was programmed, such as the song order and perhaps other conceptual factors.

If you spent a lot of time listening to record albums this way, you may remember the convention of “flipping the record” after the first side was finished in order to hear the other side. It only took a few moments to do so, but this pause in the action is the sort of thing you don’t experience much with CDs and virtually never with hours-long playlists.

We discuss this in an episode of The Next Track podcast to be released this Friday.

Check out the Side Splitter AppleScript for iTunes.

Check Out My New Photo Site

This way 1600

I have set up a website to showcase my photography: Kirk McElhearn’s Photos. (I know, a very original name.) Hop on over to photos.kirkville.com, where you will see a selection of what I think is my best photos.

Organized in a number of galleries – Black & White, Cats, Flowers & Macro, Landscapes, Structures, and Etc. – you can view a few hundred of my photos. Click one to view it in a larger size, then click the arrows to browse a gallery. And if you reload a gallery, the photos will display in a different, random order. And as I add new photos, they, too, will go into the random rotation. (I may create a Recent Photos gallery in a while, however, so you might find a reason to visit the site more than once.)

In the Blog section of the site, you’ll find some articles about photography and reviews of photo books. You won’t find any technical articles about cameras or software, at least not yet; I plan to keep all the tech stuff on this site.

How merchants use Facebook to flood Amazon with fake reviews – The Washington Post

On Amazon, customer comments can help a product surge in popularity. The online retail giant says that more than 99 percent of its reviews are legitimate because they are written by real shoppers who aren’t paid for them.

But a Washington Post examination found that for some popular product categories, such as Bluetooth headphones and speakers, the vast majority of reviews appear to violate Amazon’s prohibition on paid reviews. Such reviews have certain characteristics, such as repetitive wording that people probably cut and paste in.

Many of these fraudulent reviews originate on Facebook, where sellers seek shoppers on dozens of networks, including Amazon Review Club and Amazon Reviewers Group, to give glowing feedback in exchange for money or other compensation. The practice artificially inflates the ranking of thousands of products, experts say, misleading consumers.

Amazon.com banned paying for reviews a year and a half ago because of research it conducted showing that consumers distrust paid reviews. Every once in a while, including this month, Amazon purges shoppers from its site whom it accuses of breaking its policies.

But the ban, sellers and experts say, merely pushed an activity that used to take place openly into dispersed and harder-to-track online communities.

It’s tough, with some items, to separate out the fake reviews from the real ones. Amazon does indicate which reviews are for purchases – you can post reviews even if you haven’t purchased an item from Amazon, at least for some product categories – but the way the review-for-sale system works is the sellers “sell” the item for free, or for a nominal fee (such as 1 cent).

I know about this, because I have long posted reviews on Amazon, and am a Vine Voice on Amazon.com, and a top-1000 reviewer on Amazon UK. For a while, I would allow companies to contact me to request reviews, and I did review a handful of products like this, but I stopped, because most of them were crap. I reviewed some electronic product once and gave it one star, and the vendor got really angry at me because they had sent me the item, and expected a five-star review.

I no longer accept unsolicited items, but still write review of things I buy; mostly books, music, and DVDs, but also some other items, if I have an urge to write something when Amazon emails me.

As the article points out, there are certain product categories where this is more of a problem. No-name Bluetooth headphones, diet supplements, even Apple Watch bands; these are the areas where cheap Chinese brands try to game the system. For more expensive products, you can generally trust reviewers, at least if the product is a verified purchase. I look at reviews for audio equipment, camera accessories, and even books, and find them to be, for the most part, honest.

But the system is flawed. You can generally trust those well-rated reviewers, but a former number one reviewer on Amazon.com, who reviewed thousands of books, turned out to have been a fraud, so you never know.

Source: How merchants use Facebook to flood Amazon with fake reviews – The Washington Post