Netflix should be in airports

I'm a Netflix subscriber. I have been for years and I enjoy their service greatly. I'd really like to see them to continue to do well. The territory is getting crowded though. Wal-Mart is in there. Blockbuster has an online service. There is a lot of competition.
To survive, I think Netflix needs to get out there more. I don't mean advertising like crazy, like their deal with Best Buy. I mean they need to provide some points of presence that not only work to improve the experience for existing customers, but also pull in new customers. It seems that lots of people carry laptops and portable DVD players when they travel. Netflix needs to jump on this. I think Netflix should put up mini-stores (probably just carts) in airports. These mini-stores would keep a supply of discs and allow customers to instantly swap discs. The discs are kept in those paper sleeves. You could keep a thousand titles in a very small space.

* This would be perfect for those on the go that may not get back to their mailboxes often enough to fully utilize the service.
* The process would be mostly automated. In the process of checking in the previous disc, the customer would be known and the mini-stores stock could be checked against the customer's rental queue. The first highest match could be checked out right then and there. If there were no matches, Netflix's suggestions would come in to play, or the customer could simply select one from a list.
* Have a long layover? Watch a movie and swap it right then and there. You are happy because you get a new movie. The supply of discs doesn't go down because a disc was checked in as well. The selection changes, but the number of discs remains the same.
* The signing up of new customers would also be a main goal for Netflix. There are stores in airports now that sell new DVDs. Usually these discs cost over $20. Wouldn't it be nice to get 3 discs for $17.99, rather than 1 for over $20? Boy if I weren't already a customer and ended up having my flight cancelled, I think watching some movies for the next few hours would be a great way to pass the time. I'd sign up in a second.

Are you listening Netflix? You need to do this before your competitors do :)


Violence Around Sports

A lot has been said about recent fighting surrounding sporting events. While I'm glad that Ron Artest got suspended for the rest of the season, I'm more concerned about the Clemson-South Carolina brawl.
I'm not that concerned that the fight happened, hell the goal of the game is to "hit" people. I'm more concerned with the way it escalated and the way the police handled it. The police were trying to break up the fight, but did you see how they breaking up the fight? They were saying "NO" and trying to hold some people back. Is that really all that could have been done? I've been to college football games and have watched overzealous students rush the field and get thrown to the ground and handcuffed. Their crime was being on a football field. How about the guys kicking others in the head? How about the guys pushing police officers away so they can run and punch another guy. I watch COPS :) I've seen police officers "assaulted" by people merely touching them. Why weren't the football players thrown to the ground and handcuffed? I'm not saying you have to arrest them all, but cuffing a few for the safety of all seems like a good idea to me. Are we afraid of pissing off the money factory that is college football?

I can't seem to find a lot of details on the aftermath of this fight. Was anyone arrested? Were any players charged? I gurantee if the exact same fight happened in the parking lot between fans, there would have been more arrests than you could shake a field goal post at.


iPod photo - not perfect but not terrible

I'd like to express my displeasure for those who think the iPod photo sucks because it has no camera capabilities. Folks, why the hell would you want a camera in your iPod? Have you used a camera in a cell phone? Did you see how bad those sucked? Exactly.
I think Apple screwed up by calling it the iPod photo. They should have just let it ride as the next gen and highlighted the photo viewing and album art as the evolution in features. Instead, they got a bunch of people complaining because it doesn't have a camera and it doesn't have CF/SD/MMC/Memory Stick/8 track/VHS slots in it.
I'd like to upgrade if for nothing else but the color screen and ability to display album art. The photo viewing would just be gravy.
Oh, and relax, it doesn't need video *yet* either. There are plenty of half-ass video players out there. Go spend your money on those and let the handheld video market mature. If you remember, the iPod wasn't anywhere close to the first portable mp3 player. Why would Apple rush a video player?


Glowing Lines in the NFL

So everyone is used to the "glowing" first down line now. I get mad when it isn't there. I really think it adds to the experience of watching the game. So as I'm watching football the other day, I started wondering how else tech could be applied to make watching the game more fun.
One of the ideas I came up with is a kick estimator. I think it would be fun to see how far a kick would go if it weren't for the stands or net. I want to see computers watch the kick and then crank out a glowing are that extends into the seats with a number of yards the kick was estimated at. I also want to see the estimate if there weren't any wind, or perhaps if the kick had occured in the players home stadium which is warmer/colder. I realize that kickers don't kick it as hard as they can each time, but it would still be neat to get some properties of the kick.
Now for a little bit of pure fun, with no real use. Stick a tracker on a guy, maybe in his helmet. You'll probably have to use something other than GPS to get some pinpoint accuracy. Track the guy the whole game and then superimpose his "track" over the top of a shot of the stadium. They could use higher intensity of color for overlap areas to show which areas were occupied the most.


My Dream Remote Control

Your computer is faster and more powerful than ever. Your car gets satellite radio and guides you via touchscreen GPS. Your phone takes pictures and lets you play incredible video games. Your TV is bigger and thinner. All that, and your remote controls still suck.

Sometimes it seems as though everything is evolving, except for remotes. Sure, there are lots more universal and programmable models these days, but aside from the Sony Navitus and the Pronto series of remotes, things seem pretty stagnant.

What I want in a remote:
* Rechargable - I don't mind sticking the remote in a dock every third night or whatever it takes. Just make it so I never have to buy batteries or deal with degraded performance when the batteries are low. If it's as easy as tossing it in a dock over night, I'll never have a dead remote, and I'll know where it is :)

* Ditch IrDA! Use something that isn't line of sight. Ideally, I'd like it to be Bluetooth. If all of the electronics manufacturers put Bluetooth in, there would be a whole boat load of new ways to use our gear. If we are ever going to switch, it has to start at the high end gear. Denon, Marantz, Pioneer, Sony - release combo remotes that do IrDA for the old stuff and Bluetooth for the new stuff. Yes, I know these aren't really "high end" brands. I don't care. They sell more than most and will have a bigger impact on the market.

* Color screens - These are cheap now. They are easy to read. They are fun to look at. Gimme gimme.

* Learning - I don't want a remote for each product. I want one. You can still give me the POS remote in the box, but don't expect me to use it.

* Durable - Put anti-scratch coatings on the screen at least. Trust me, this is possible.

* Downloadable commands and UIs - I want to let some guy that knows more than me do the hard work and then I'll download his remote sets. If you put Bluetooth in, you can do this wirelessly. Otherwise, use the Firewire or USB port that you put in the bottom for charging.

What I don't want

* WiFi - If I want to browse the web, I'll do that elsewhere, thanks.

* Lots of buttons - Give me the main functions. Leave the rest to soft buttons or put a nice jog wheel (think iPod) on it to allow selection of the rest.

Yes, I realize these will be expensive at first. However, look at what $150 buys you today. $150 is the target for first release. Let's see it happen.


A Pulse and a Pencil

So the election is over. Don't worry, I'll leave the discussion of who won and whether that is good or bad to other folks. The thing that stands out most to me about this election was how amazingly easy it was to vote.

Now, when I say easy, I'm not talking about how close I got to park or how long I had to stand in line. I'm talking about the void of all things formal in the voting process. Maybe I'm just getting use to the rectal exams at the airport, or maybe I have no trust in my fellow man, but I couldn't believe what it took, or rather didn't, to vote. All I needed was a pulse and a pencil.

For me, the voting process was 4 steps.
1. Write my name on a pad of paper on the way in to the polling place.
2. Sign my name -in pencil- next to a name in the voter log (is that what it's called?).
3. Fill out my vote
4. Leave

Step 2 was the one that really got to me. I went with my wife and all she had to do to get a blank vote was mention the first 2 letters of our last name and point to her name. They then kindly handed over the log for her signature, in pencil :) All I had to do was sign my name on the line below hers. I didn't say a word.
At first, this all sounds pretty normal, but how in the world do they know that's us? We didn't show ID. We didn't give our address for them to verify. We didn't even have to have a real last name. All it took was 2 letters and a grunting point of the finger.

In elections as close as the last two presential elections, surely there would be tighter controls on voter verification, right? Altering the outcome of the presidential election might be tougher to do, but couldn't you get just about anyone elected locally by gathering a few friends and show up at various polling places to "help" fill out the vote of the person on page 4 of the "Smith" listings?

Maybe my polling place was abnormally lax. Maybe there are no evil people in my city and there is nothing to worry about. Maybe the penalty for getting caught voting as someone else is stiff enough to prevent widescale action. Maybe. But maybe they could just ask to see a government approved ID. I don't mind, really. I have to prove my identity to buy a cold beer. Why shouldn't I have to do the same to be able to choose the direction of my country?


Music To Try

Every now and then I get struck by a new musical artist and I find myself seeking out all I can find by them. My latest adventure is Ulrich Schnauss.

Looking back, I guess my first introduction to Mr. Schnauss was Nick Warren's Global Underground 024. I'm a big fan of the Global Underground series. The problem with GUs is that I get so in to the album as a whole, that sometimes I forget to explore the tracks individually. This very thing happened with Ulrich Schnauss.

It wasn't until I fell in love with Track 2 on Disc 2 of Tom Middleton's "The Trip" that I started to take notice. The very next day I was listening to Sasha's "Involver" and found myself really getting in to one track. I checked the iPod display and find, wait for it.... Ulrich Schnauss - On My Own. The perfect storm had formed and I promptly ordered the recently released (in the US anyway) Strangely Isolated Place. I wasn't immediately blown away, but that's usually good. The albums that grow on me are the ones that get played the most.

If you are in to uplifting, sweeping, yet down right groovy electronic music, I recommend you give Ulrich a try.

BTW, I linked to discogs.com in this post. It's a tremendous site and I hope it continues to be successful.


First Post

Welcome to Thoughts Abound.
I bet you are wondering what this place is, huh? Well, I'm not so sure myself.

I have some ideas for some Blogs that I might like to start, but I really don't have any experience blogging. So, I thought I'd give it a try, and start with a personal blog. That's not to say that this blog will be about me, but it will be more about what ever thoughts are occupying my time at the moment.

I hope you enjoy.