Netflix Offline Player

Netflix is now allowing certain movies to be downloaded and watched offline. It’s perfect if you’re on a plane or on the road when you don’t always have access to a fast internet connection. Netflix allows you to choose between standard or high quality. Standard quality is lower resolution, smaller size, and faster to download. The high quality is much more sharper, a larger file size, and you need a longer time to download. Here’s the official announcement from Netflix.

Avatar Sequels

James Cameroon announced today it will be releasing a fifth element of Avatar in 2023. Avatar sequels are scheduled to be released in 2018, 2020, 2022 and 2023. Avatar remains the most successful film of all time taking in 2.7 billion dollars. It was released in 2009. It seems like a long wait to see all of them.

Playing DVDs on Ubuntu

I recently tried to run a Netflix DVD on my Ubuntu desktop only to see this annoying little message, “Could not read DVD. This may be because the DVD is encrypted and a DVD decryption library is not installed.” What’s going on? I already installed “ubuntu restricted extras, libdvdread2 and libdvdread4.” Why is it still not working?

Here are 3 little steps to get the Netflix DVD’s to play on my Ubuntu desktop. I included the installs for “ubuntu restricted extras” and “libdvdread4” just to be absolutely sure the steps work in all versions of Ubuntu.

sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras
sudo apt-get install libdvdread4
sudo /usr/share/doc/libdvdread4/install-css.sh

The last step of running the install is the most crucial. Well, enjoy the movies.

Movies at Walmart.com

You can now watch movies at Walmart.com on the very same day when the DVD comes out. Wal-Mart bought Vudu.com eighteen months ago and is now poised to serve over 20,000 movie titles online. ABC.com breaks down the price structure like this:

Movies are available at Walmart.com to rent for $1 to $5.99 or to purchase for $4.99 and up. Wal-Mart is not offering subscriptions, making its service more similar to Apple Inc.’s iTunes, which charges $3.99 to rent newly released movies and $14.99 to buy a movie.

In addition to Netflix, another competitor streaming movies and TV shows by subscription is Hulu.com, which now offers a premium service for $7.99 a month with more back-season shows and more movies. Without a subscription, Hulu viewers can watch shows and movies free in exchange for watching advertising.

The online streaming companies, Apple, Netflix and Hulu, now have legitimate competition from Wal-Mart. And it’s cheaper.

Netflix To Increase Price

Netflix customers are up in arms about the recent price increase. I currently pay $10 a month for DVDs, as well as access to the online streaming service. I like to have both, but Netflix wants to increase it to $16 to cover the cost of its DVD business. Remember, Netflix started out as a DVD mail-in business.

I would consider dropping the DVD service, and subscribe to the online streaming service only. But, there’s a problem. Not all titles are available for streaming. I think many customers would choose streaming if the titles were available. Since they are not, customers feel like they are being screwed by Netflix.

If there was ever a lesson in keeping your customers happy, this was it. Netflix should have listened to its customers. I suspect many loyal Netflix customers will cancel their subscription including myself. I don’t know how Netflix could justify a 60% increase in price, especially in this economy.

And, what’s the point of having Netflix with only half a service.

Courting Blockbuster

Several companies are interested in buying Blockbuster, who filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy a few months ago. Dish Network, Cobalt Video, Carl Icahn and SK Telecom Co, who by the way, already dropped out of the running. Looking at this short list, it sounds like Blockbuster is worth the gamble, but it really isn’t, in my humble opinion. What would you do with Blockbuster anyways? Compete with Netflix? Might be better to just liquidate it. A few liquidating companies were considering. More power to whoever ends up with Blockbuster. As much as I love Netflix, it can use a little competition. Maybe, Hulu or even a third option will emerge sometime in the future. This is an excellent example of a old business model that became instinct in a hurry. Blockbuster just failed to cope up with new technology. So, the question is, would you buy Blockbuster? Or are you just courting for disaster.

Netflix Takes Half Of My Bandwidth

I was watching videos on Youtube last night, and I noticed that my connection was slow. Really slow. My download speed just couldn’t keep up with the Youtube videos at 360p. We are not even talking HD quality here. I was scratching my head as to why my connection was slow. As it turned out, Netflix was taking half of my bandwidth.

I don’t have the fastest connection to begin with. I have an AT&T’s DSL Elite Pro touted at 6 mb per second. When I perform DSL speed tests from SpeakEasy, my top speed is almost always 5 mbps. I’ve never seen it go past 5. Unfortunately, my neighborhood does not support U-verse. So, I’m stuck with DSL. Cable is not an option for me, but that’s another story.

So, when I had some trouble today, I noticed that my bandwidth dropped to 2.5 mbps. I realized someone watching Netflix on the XBox 360 downstairs. This the sole reason why the Youtube videos would crawl at certain times of the day. Based on what I read online, it basically confirms this:

the average encoding rate for video streamed to the Xbox 360 is about 2000Kbps. That means one person watching a two hour movie would transfer roughly 1.8GB of data. For high definition movies, the average encoding bitrate is around 3200Kbps and one user would transfer about 3GB of data.

This makes a whole lot of sense. They are saying that Netflix will take up about 2 mbps. In my case, Netflix was using 2.5 mbps of my bandwidth to stream movies. That leaves me with the other 2.5 mbps for browsing, email, etc. It doesn’t give me a lot of room to run Netflix and Youtube at the same time.

Netflix: Unlimited Movies and DVDs for $10

The other day, I received an important note from Netflix, stating that my monthly subscription has increased by $1. The monthly will jump from $8.99 to $9.99. For an additional $1 dollar, Netflix will now show unlimited movies and TV episodes on my computer, as well as unlimited DVDs by mail. I bolded the words unlimited in case you haven’t noticed. It’s actually a great deal.

Here’s the actual note from Netflix:

Why the changes? Our selection of TV episodes and movies available to stream has grown dramatically, and as a result most members want us to deliver unlimited movies and TV episodes two ways: streaming instantly over the internet plus DVDs by mail. The price change will allow us to continue to offer the popular plan choice of unlimited TV episodes and movies streaming instantly along with unlimited DVDs. The new plan, which does not include DVDs, is a great option for the increasing number of members who only want to watch instantly.

In addition, Netflix is also offering unlimited TV episodes and movies online for just $7.99. This plan does not include unlimited DVDs by mail.

I saw a little disclaimer saying:

All the titles you can watch instantly on your current plan are also available on this new plan, and as a reminder, not all titles on DVD are available to watch instantly.

In any case, for $9.99, this plan is a great. Just to be sure, I logged in to Netflix’s website, and saw that all movies seem to be available for online play, and that includes the most recent films. There’s one more thing on my wish list. I just wished Netflix will play on my Linux desktop. I can watch Netflix on the Xbox 360, a Windows XP desktop, my Windows XP netbook, but not on my Linux desktop. Bummer.

Hulu Plus vs Netflix

Which is better? For the same amount of $9.99, you can watch Hulu Plus and Netflix online. Hulu offers the current TV shows from ABC, NBC and Fox sans CBS. Meanwhile, Netflix offers an extensive list of movies and TV shows. Over 20,000 movies available for streaming. Hulu offers 2,000 TV shows available for streaming.

One advantage Neflix has over Hulu is, Netflix will run on Playstation 3, XBox and the Wii. However, Hulu will stream on the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch. Netflix has no commercials. Hulu does. In terms of high definition, Hulu seems to have a higher resolution.

If you are movie hoard, you can subscribe to both. You’ll get the best of both worlds.

Ten Blockbusters Made With the Help of Linux

What would movies be without the aid of Linux? Debatable. Here are at least ten blockbuster movies that were produced with the help of Linux systems. The list starts out with the latest, Avatar, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Shrek the Third, X-Men the Last Stand, King Kong, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars Episode 2, Gladiator, Matrix and Titanic.

I woke up this morning to see an article entitled, “Open Office is a piece of crap, Or is it?” Just the fact that it’s not Microsoft Office doesn’t mean it’s junk. Many governments, schools, universities, non-profit organizations use Open Office Suite of as an alternative. There were other worthy word processors before Word became the defacto.

If you are a Gimp fan, check out these brushes you can add to Gimp.

For OpenSolaris fans. A distro worth trying?

Finally, all you need to know about ICMP in “ICMP Explained.”