Sunday, June 19, 2016

Active Photos

I don't know how I did this but I am looking through some photos I took a few weeks ago and I have a video that is a string of photos with a few seconds of video on each side. I believe some version of Apple iPhones have added this active photo mode with a second of video or something. I managed to do it with my Canon PowerShot SX60 HS Digital Camera.

I have occasionally managed to turn on the video without noticing so I get a bit of video instead of a photo. But this is weird it is a video that jumps from place to place. It is really weird. I have no idea how I would make it do this if I tried. If it was one long video I could understand but it isn't it is like it started and stopped when I tried to focus for a photo and then a bit after the photo was taken.

In addition to that video I have the individual photos that I took while the video was recording.

See Curious Cat photos.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Netflix Throws Users Under the Bus

First Netflix was an awesome streaming service that just worked and was focused on providing users a great experience.

Even at the beginning (or at least my beginning) they through Ubuntu users under the bus and just said we won't serve you. So I didn't use it. Later I got a Mac and then I decided to give it a try and it was wonderful, it just worked (well after requiring you install Microsoft Silverlight).

But most large companies just expect users to fit themselves into whatever constraints the big companies wish to impose (see Comcast, United Airlines, Verizon etc.). So compared to these really bad companies using Netflix was wonderful.

There are many issues with bad connections etc. and Netflix while not perfect (they would often only buffer a short amount and fail when the bad connection failed or got to slow) but they were much better than others at just working.

The last 6 months though it is more and more like the typical experience of some huge company that just expects you to cope with whatever they force you to do.

They continually won't work when I forget I have to sign off my vpn to use them. They blame others for this bad service (blaming others for treating customer badly is of course what all the companies people originally sought to escape the Time Warners, AT&T, etc. of the world by using Netflix. Oh well so one more time Netflix is selling us out.

Then then continually degraded the usability of the website. They seem intent on reducing the usability so that they can only bother to design as if we all were limited to smart phones. So if you have a computer and want to have more information available on your screen too bad, we are going to force you to pretend you are limited to a smart phone interface.

I found it frustrating. Netflix had gone from one of the few companies I really enjoyed dealing with (Trader Joes's is one on that short list) to the typical company that I could tolerate. Instead of the joy of it just working it became a relief when it just worked and if I was surprised it wasn't because of something good but yet another annoyance as they moved from a company that was a joy to yet another Comcast of the world.

And the latest disgrace from Netflix they won't play the show at all. They break the playback with one of their typical "we are treating you now just like Microsoft treated people in 1995" you are doing something we decided to not allow you to do. We now have the market power where we can just have you jump through whatever hoops we want and you can't do anything about it.

The latest message "Please ensure your monitor is HDCP compliant and is not mirrored using Airplay."

Why am I being bothered with this junk. Just like dealing with Microsoft decades ago when they would just have you jump through hoops try and figure out what they would let you do in order to use what you paid for. Netflix now justing just not "just work" it is constantly a struggle for how they are going to break things now.

I have never had a company I found to be really good fall so fast and completely lose any concern for their customers experience.

The shows they pay others for (including most of those they brand as Netflix but many of which they don't even own - they just are licensing certain rights to them) are decent. A few are really good. And Netflix is cheap for what you get. But I am very disappointed I now have to feel like I do using the typical disaster customer service companies (Comcast, any USA airline, Verizon, etc.). Every time it isn't a disaster I feel relieved (but having anxiety every time I use a service that the company is going to annoy me is not what I want). My expectations are just please don't torture me or completely block my ability to use what I pay for since you do that so often all I can hope for is the absence of lousy treatment. Actually getting good treatment is a distant illusion.

It is so sad. As I say the content isn't bad if you can fight through the lousy roadblocks they have put in the way of getting to it in the last few years. And the price is cheap. I would gladly pay double the price to just go back to the "it just works" Netflix instead of the current we are going to make it hard for you to do what you want Netflix we have now. And while I wouldn't be as happy I would pay 3 or even 4 times to get that back.

But this lousy treatment is moving me closer and closer to just dropping them. Something I never thought would be possible 2 or 3 years ago.

I actually tried to get a preview of Amazon Video (or whatever they call their thing) but couldn't find how to do it. I tried to use their help system but it failed (I know from experience they have a poorly coded website that has fragile code and breaks in the help area and that happened again so I gave up. I might try HBO. I really am amazed Netflix has managed to make using their service so annoying I don't want to put up with it.

I hardly see any commercials anymore (only when watching sports) but there is one where one company makes fun of the takeover by some horrible cable company making all sorts of idiotic steps. I know that didn't happen to Netflix but as a customer that is exactly what it feels like. Some bozos took over and just decided to drop any care about the customer experience.

It is annoying that so many companies have this attitude but often I can just avoid dealing with them. Though sometimes you have no real choice - you need to fly someone there is a good chance Southwest Airlines [the only non-horrible USA airline in my experience) might not fly there or you have to choose Verizon or Comcast or even have no choice for an ISP... But Netflix was something I had really grown to enjoy. I fear Amazon's isn't likely to be very good for Ux. But I think I will try it. And even if that doesn't work I may still drop Netflix just to avoid the pitiful Ux practices they have adopted in the last few years.

Related: Utopia (Dreamland in the USA) is an Amazing TV Program (2015) - Netflix is Well Managed - People are Overreacting to Short Term Issues (2011) - Curious Cat List of Super Useful Websites (2012), Netflix wouldn't make the list now, but it did then