Amazon Prime Instant Video

So last week we started watching Downton Abbey on Netflix Instant Video, but Netflix currently only has Season One available. We finished the first season on Friday evening, and I decided to check Amazon Instant Video to see whether or not Season Two was available or not. I was pleased to discover that not only was it available, but that it fell into the select subset of Amazon Instant Videos that are free for those who have Amazon Prime memberships.

I’ve been a member of Amazon Prime ever since late 2006, and I have always found it a great value given how Melinda and I both do most of our book, music, and gadget shopping on Amazon. And that was just when the only thing a membership got you was the free two-day shipping and reduced price next day shipping. Once they started adding additional benefits to our membership, I was eager to try them out, but up until now I had never run across anything that I wanted to watch or read that was available for free with an Amazon Prime membership.

We decided to use our Wii U for streaming the Amazon Instant Video and found that it’s interface was very nice – much better than the version on the TiVo which is where we had used it before briefly. The TiVo version made the “instant video” part sound like a joke because you first have to download the video before watching it – unlike the web interface version or the version for the Wii U where it truly is instant streaming video. A really nice part of the user interface for the Wii U version is that you can search and interact with the UI on the Wii U Tablet which is by far the nicest interaction for these sorts of applications that I’ve seen on a TV.

When we began watching the video, it came through instantly and crystal clear unlike with Netflix Instant streaming which almost always begin streaming with pixelated video before the quality improves to HD or near HD after a few seconds. I’d guess that it has to do with the fact that Amazon is obviously benefiting from their own network while Netflix is actually hosted on Amazon themselves which means that Amazon can tweak their network to squeeze the best performance for their own services. But that’s just guessing.

I’m pondering whether we should cancel Netflix Instant streaming or even possibly all of our Netflix subscription. I am sad to say that we hardly watched a single disc video last year and yet will still pay the monthly fee with nothing to show for it. We’ve mostly watched Netflix streaming, but I keep clinging to the mailed disc service because there are many videos that I’m interested in watching in our queue that are not available for streaming – although sometimes they are available (but not for free) on Amazon Instant Video. The question is whether or not I’d miss too much the missing content… You know all that stuff that’s been sitting in my queue for years that in all likelihood I will never get around to watching.

Bible Loving Christians Who Like Joseph Stalin On Facebook???

Recently, Facebook started rolling out a new look for user profiles and along with this change is an update to the various links that get automatically created in the areas for things like favorite books, favorite movies, favorite activities, etc. Instead of links to a page showing results for searching on the linked term, they now point to Facebook Pages matching the linked term.

When Facebook rolls this change out to a given profile, they offer the user a dialog that shows the Page links that Facebook has automatically generated so that the user has a chance to make any corrections.

I’m guessing that the algorithm for matching terms to pages is a little off when it comes to some unidentified book that is popular with lots of Christians.

If you visit the Facebook page for Joseph Stalin, you’ll see that he has over a thousand people on Facebook that like him and if you click on any of these people at random, most likely you’ll find that they like The Bible and have other Christian interests. In addition, you’ll find that they apparently like a book called “Joseph Stalin” which sticks out like a sore thumb.

This amusing example of string matching gone wrong makes me mildly curious what the real title is.

New Look

My last attempt at a theme for this blog resulted in something that was too hard to read. At the time, I figured I would return to my theme at some point and solve its readability issues, but alas I have been simply too busy with work at my new job to take a stab at it. So over the last few days of vacation, I tried my hand at quickly producing a new theme. I think the result is something that is easy to read and sufficiently bleak for my aesthetic tastes.