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Netflix should offer an ad-supported free subscription

I was catching up on some episodes of Parks & Recreation last night on my Netflix connected XBox (awesome). All of the TV shows on Netflix have zero commercials. I find this interesting because the actual reason I pay $9/month for Netflix is not because of it’s commercial free content, but because I get to watch TV on my schedule. It’s convenient. Regular TV doesn’t allow this. In fact I’d still pay $9/month if every TV show and movie had commercial breaks in it.

So why doesn’t Netflix offer a free version of it’s service with commercials in the TV shows and movies? It can’t be too difficult to monetize this enough to earn at least $9/user/month. Or let’s say someone has to watch at least 4 hours of programming a month for them to break even with advertising – well, just bill them $9 if they watch less than 4 hours in programming per month.

Consumers like free. We like to enjoy entertainment on OUR schedule. We have accepted that ads are part of life.

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Funny possibility for where the Chrome logo came from

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Facebook Dis-Connect

It’s getting to the point where Facebook’s developers should just include a “Give My Life Away” button for Facebook Connect. What percentage of people actually click through and allow an untrusted app ALL of this information? The conversion rates must be awful.

From my experience with CampusLIVE – asking for this many permissions from the user typically puts the Allow button below the fold so it’s not even click-able. This happened to us with 8 requests. RockMelt has an amazing 11 requests for information.

Rockmelt Facebook Dis-Connect

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HTML5 shows some balls

Damn, can you believe that HTML5 is already showing such promise? If Googlers can put this together on their 20%, there is an incredible potential here.

http://tcrn.ch/9n2hHP

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The oftentimes prohibitive cost of data

When costs for a particular product or server get prohibitively high, typically in a monopoly situation, it’s a great time for a startup to come in and level the playing field. Competition is the golden key to creating a price point that matches supply and demand.

Yesterday i reached out to a company i found online that offered movie time data and a cool affiliate program that could let my site visitors buy tickets, creating a nice affiliate revenue stream. In the ideal world, the data stream would be free, which would then increase the amount of tickets sold through a now increasing amount of affiliates. In this theoretical world, the movie producers would think logically and offer this data to anyone, knowing that more access to tickets = more sales = greater profit.

The pricing i received back from the company was somewhere between mind-blowing and ludicrous. $3,500 PER MONTH to access the data. That’s $42,000 a year. Absolutely ridiculous. Of course they also have a similarly crazy pricing plan where you pay $0.25 per screen per week. So for a typical 12 screen theatre, you pay $12/month just to see what times movies are playing. Now of course if you try to build any sort of national app that integrates a users geo-location, you’re looking at much more than $3,500 a month if paying on a per screen basement.

I’m sure somewhere in this company a sales guy is doing the math for us entrepreneurs – Why spend $15,000 a month by paying per screen when I can get you EVERY screen for just 12 easy payments per year of $3,500.

If anyone hears of a better alternative, somewhere in between scraping the data and paying through the roof for it, i’d love to hear from you.

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Mass Mailing and the need to reduce waste

Today my mailbox was full of mass mailings, all from Dell, all the same offer. Each envelope had the same address, business name and suite. The only difference: The person it was addressed to. If Dell could simply find a way for their database to know we are all from the same company, they could save 75% on their costs to market to me. Multiply that by the millions they send to and you begin to see the savings that are possible. There must be a smart young company out there ready to pitch Dell on their magical savings solution.

For now,  I’ll just keep on shredding.

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What to do when eSata doesn’t work on a Dell Latitude E6500 – Win7 or Vista

I ran into an interested problem with my month-old Dell Latitude E6500. It comes with an eSata connection which i was eager to take advantage of for high speed backups and disk cloning. I discovered that there is a lot more to getting this port working with an external drive (in my case a 1.5TB Western Digital MyBook).

There are a few things you’ll need to conquer to get eSata functionality out of the E6500. Although quite annoying, the 50+megabytes per seconds you’ll be able to transfer at are worth the wait.

1) Intel Matrix driver and software must be updated.
The SiL5744 chipset requires updated software from the dell support site. Download the software here.

2) You must make a registry change (YIKES)
Microsoft has directions to make a registry change necessary to run eSata.

3) You must enable the correct SATA support in the BIOS
The E6500′s BIOS is initially set to use IRRT. The likely reason for this is that IRRT supports RAID1 setups, which in my opinion aren’t going to be widely used even in corporate environments. Tt must be changed to AHCI for an external drive to successfully connect. Some registry changes are needed to keep the system able to boot. (if you make a mistake you can switch back to IRRT to boot again.

4) CHECK TO MAKE SURE YOUR CABLE FITS THE CONNECTIONS – MODIFICATIONS MAY BE NEEDED.
I bought a standard Belkin eSata cable at Staples for around 20 bucks. Turns out the plastic molded around each of the male ends goes too far down the plug, causing it to not actually make a connection. I cut about 5mm off with a razor blade and it made all the difference. This problem is well known (toms hardware article)
and not too obvious to the average consumer.

Belkin eSata Cable

I put a lot of the blame on Western Digital for making the case on their MyBook so damn thick over the ports. They’re no way most cables will fit into this drives without some modification. I would also recommend looking into other eSata drives, as I was less impressed that a $175 external drive came with demo/trial software. Disappointing considering how much great open source software they could have bundled with it.

Some Additional Resources

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A fix for Eaccelerator filling up /tmp folder – WHM & CPanel

UPDATE: If you simply want to clean out the /tmp/eaccerlator folder, the following command does the trick on CentOS and RedHat systems.

tmpwatch --mtime --all 336 /tmp/eaccelerator

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I just found a fix for the /tmp folder filling up with session files from Eaccelerator.

The trick is to move the cache folder to a larger partition. In our case our /tmp folder is 1GB and it was hitting 90% full regularly.

Login as root :

# pico /usr/lib/php.ini

Find :

eaccelerator.cache_dir=”/tmp/eaccelerator

and change it from /tmp/eaccelerator to /var/cache/eaccelerator and save the file.

# mkdir /var/cache/eaccelerator

#service httpd stop

#rm -rf /tmp/eaccelerator

#service httpd start

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Testing Google Voice – Voicemail Embed

So far I love Google Voice. It’s freed me from my annoying verizon voicemail that I never put the effort in to check. It also let’s you embed voicemails to share with friends. This makes being funny a whole lot easier.

Take for example this voicemail from my girlfriend (who i love very much!). It came in at 3am. Sounds like she’s having a good time with her girl friends. So much fun in fact that she thought the Google Voice robot was me!

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Quantcast, we are not Quantified

I was browsing some competitor traffic stats today from the main players – Alexa, Quantcast etc. Although they are horribly inaccurate due to their guesswork. Just ask Matt Cutts of Google, Jason Calacanis or Grizzly.

A few months ago I tried out Quantcast’s tracking which gives you a Google Analytics like chuck of Javascript which is supposed to directly report your traffic to them. This appealed to me because I really hate when uneducated people comment about us “not having any traffic” when its really just a case of Alexa or Quantcast completely guessing our traffic. Niche sites targeting a demographic unlikely to install an Alexa Toolbar typically receive bad rankings on these sites.

I wasn’t overly impressed with the results of Quantcast (or loading another JS library) so I removed it. The funny part is that Quantcast still shows that our traffic is “Directly Measured” or “Quantified”, even though we haven’t had that code in there for months.

Subsequently we’re back to flat line on Quantcast. Alexa on the other hand keeps moving us up.

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