Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Netflix, You've Won Me Back

As I posted earlier in the year, I used to be a Netflix subscriber. I was on-board from day one and enjoyed the early days of getting DVD's through the mail. After my kids were born I had to scale back and became a Redbox devotee. Well after receiving a Bluray player from my Mom for Christmas complete with Netflix streaming built-in, I decided to give my old friend one more chance.

So far, so great as I am very happy with my decision to return. I wanted to sign up again to take advantage of Bluray rentals, but in all honesty, the online streaming is what is winning me over. My Samsung player comes integrated with a Netflix button that allows me to view all of the titles I have in my online queue. Netflix now offers both a DVD (Bluray) queue for mail delivery and a Watch Instantly queue. Netflix has an online streaming catalog of thousands of titles from new releases to TV shows. I spent some time up in Jersey over the break downloading a few documentaries I had wanted to see and watched them instantly on my laptop. The buffering time is minimal (a minute for a movie to start-up depending on your connection) and it's easy to fast forward and rewind.

Even better than watching instant movies on my laptop is launching them through the Netflix player on my Samsung Bluray machine. The quality is VERY good and the interface is pretty slick. You can even rate your movie with the player's remote when you're done. A very cool feature is watching TV series on DVD. Rather than waiting for disc 2 of 4 of a television season to arrive in the mail, you can select one of all the episodes of the season instantly. I was able to catch up on some episodes of Man Vs Food that I hadn't watched before.

Unfortunately, not every TV series is available to stream (you CAN get most series through the DVD queue though). I seriously need to start watching The Wire sometime and online streaming would be the best way to do so. Netflix is really pushing their online capabilities and is facing a battle with some of the major studios to keep bringing new content to subscribers. I was considering going with Blockbuster as a rental option (the Samsung player also has Blockbuster Online built-in) but while Blockbuster offers a cheaper monthly rate ($8.99 for Bluray rentals instaed of $10.99 for Netflix), the Blockbuster online On Demand service is a pay-per-view model with movies costing $1.99 each to stream online. Netflix gives me their ENTIRE catalog for FREE (bundled with my base monthly charge of $10.99). Blockbuster really can't compete with this service.

Add the amazing streaming capabilities of Netflix to the lightning quick next-day Bluray disc processing through the mail and you have a perfect situation for someone who is just getting into the realm of Bluray. It's good to see my old friend Netflix again and it's great to see that the company seems to be better than ever.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Winter Break is Over for the Rose Boys

We survived the 4 hour plus jaunt home from Jersey to Springfield yesterday (the highlight being the 20 straight minutes that Alex and Rebecca spent screaming and crying at the end of the trip). We all had a great Christmas up North and it was good to get away for a while. Now that we're trying to get used to normal life (IE. not lounging around the Gecik house all day), the kids need to go back to school (daycare for Alex). Despite Josh's random fever and slight sickness (which Motrin helped quell), the two got in my car this morning for the return to normalcy.

I fully expected Alex to have a major meltdown in returning to school for the first time in 12 days. He normally puts up a minor fight in being dropped off at school (it's been getting better and better though). When I was about to leave him today I could see him getting ready to start bawling as usual, but to the rescue came his classmate Sam W. (Alex has three Sams in his class so he's known as Sam W.) Sam ran up to Alex screaming "ALLLLEEEXX!!!" and gave him a big bear hug. Alex immediately started to smile and went off with Sam to do the arts and crafts activity that the other kids were doing. Alex's teacher Ms. Minnie said to me "well that's one way to keep from from crying in the morning." I agreed and hurriedly left the classroom, as we passed the room from the other side, Josh and I peeked in and saw Alex having fun without any morning tears.

It's good to see that Alex is making friends at his new school and hopefully he can eventually get into a cry-free routine in the morning. Josh was excited to go to school but a little disappointed to see that only two other kids (both girls) would be in school this week as the Kindergarten roster is severely cut for the holidays. Needless to say, both girls adore Josh and he'll be the big man at Kindergarten this abbreviated week.