Netflix Stock Dives

I have recently vetted some frustration with Netflix of late; you can catch up on here.

Today, according to the NYTimes, Netflix stock has taken quite the dive on news of a huge loss in customer subscriptions. You can read that article here.

The company on Thursday morning revised downward, incrementally, its subscriber estimates for the quarter of the year that ends in two weeks. It did not change its financial guidance for the quarter. Still, its stock dropped almost 15 percent in heavy trading when the market opened Thursday.

Seems to me that these issues need to be more publicly addressed or this could be the legitimate start of Netflix’ fall from the top.


Google+ vs Facebook

I received a pretty early invite to Google+ a while back and I’ve been really buying into the revolutionary(?) social networking service wholeheartedly. I would be inclined to suggest dropping the term social here as I feel it is a mature platform more apt for productivity; not to sound pretentious, but the grown-ups’ Facebook. There is an overload of commentary on Google+ and how it compares to Facebook so I won’t really try to jump into the fray here. However, I did have a few thoughts tonight while playing around on both sites and will simply throw out a quick list of some things that came to mind.

Here is the link to the Google+ post.

Or here is the post content:

Google+ vs Facebook

Things I really like about Google+ over Facebook (in no particular order and not fully inclusive – more of an off the cuff list):

– MUCH easier to find people
– Circles are how it should always be with social networks/applications
– Cleaner and faster interface
– No zombie pirate mining farms
– Productivity and efficiency in mind
– Huddles and hangouts are really well done so far
– Keyboard shortcuts such as bold and italicized
– No spamming overlords (yet?)
– Real names (although I don’t agree with the harsh lockouts I guess)
– Google product integration is pretty slick
– The mobile app is light years beyond the facebook app (at least on ios)
And last but not least, the open source community is present and accounted for!

– Oh and apparently on Facebook this has to be a note since it’s longer than 400 (or so) characters… come on…. I can rant away on Google+

We’ll have to see how things pan out as more people adopt Google+ and development rolls along. At this point, I will admit that I was an early advocate and fan. After some solid use of all the features and side-by-side comparison of day to day posting and usage, I remain and advocate and fan.

See you on Google+! [me]

Epic Space vs. Earth Chess Battle

In case you were not aware, there is an ongoing chess battle between astronauts aboard the International Space Station and earthbound individuals. Greg Chamitoff and Greg H. Johnson are battling against moves voted upon by earthlings following the tournament online.

Chess - SPACE VS. EARTH 2011

You can follow the match or jump in on the action at the following sites:

Security Issues with Python Pickle

Ever wonder about the warning found near the top of the Pickle documentation page?

Warning on Python Pickle documentation page

I used to work with Pickled objects quite a bit; almost all of my Python projects contained heavy Pickle use. However, looking back through the documentation, I noticed the warning at the top of the page and decided to do a little searching.

Turns out, the security implications of unpickling a nasty string could be quite disastrous. I won’t go into much detail here as this article by Nadia Alramli is an excellent overview. In short, arbitrary system calls can be executed during unpickling. The article concludes with an excellent workaround to create a safer unpickling class which I have reposted below for reference.

import sys
import pickle
import StringIO

class SafeUnpickler(pickle.Unpickler):
        'copy_reg': set(['_reconstructor']),
        '__builtin__': set(['object'])
    def find_class(self, module, name):
        if not module in self.PICKLE_SAFE:
            raise pickle.UnpicklingError(
                'Attempting to unpickle unsafe module %s' % module
        mod = sys.modules[module]
        if not name in self.PICKLE_SAFE[module]:
            raise pickle.UnpicklingError(
                'Attempting to unpickle unsafe class %s' % name
        klass = getattr(mod, name)
        return klass

    def loads(cls, pickle_string):
        return cls(StringIO.StringIO(pickle_string)).load()

Please check out Nadia’s article for more information. Her site also contains some other great python tips and tricks, many of which involve dealing with Python Image Library.

Amazon Prime Streaming – Another Netflix Alternative for Linux?

Amazon announced this week that Prime users would now have access to a pool of free content to stream instantly from the video-on-demand portion of their website.

While the content might not be the latest and greatest blockbuster movies and shows, it is a substantial amount of content and worthy to be considered a viable contender for the streaming market. Take a look at the Netflix instant content pool. It’s pretty substantial now, but it still does not contain the latest movies (which are home rental only for the most part). Also consider that when Netflix instant started it was a rather meager offering of mostly meh content. Given such, it might be a sign of possible things to come for Amazon streaming.

Prime being a $79 a year opt-in might seem steep. If you are already a prime member, then it’s a moot point or better, further validates your spending $79 a year so you can get that video game on release date for free or so you can get that $10 paperback second day without having to pay the sub-$25 shipping penalty. If you aren’t a prime member, this seems like a great time to jump in. Along with awesome shipping, you can now stream movies and television instantly as well.

Still not sold? Here’s the cool part for us linux (or *BSD, etc) guys and girls: streaming is system independent, and so far seems to also be browser independent. Can you view Flash? Then you should be ready to roll watching Amazon’s instant content.

Now with Hulu (and Hulu-desktop) and Amazon instant being friends of an operating system independent approach, will that push Netflix along to allow all of us paying customers with Linux to utilize the instant features? Or will Netflix keep it’s head buried in the sand and stay cozy with Microsoft? Remember when we thought Flash was so evil, well looks like Silverlight has trumped that by leaps and bounds.

Before ending, I’ll make a quick note on performance. As of now, streaming is around 480p (supposedly). I’ve tested it out on two media PCs both running linux; Fedora setup connected to a 50″ plasma via HDMI and an Xubuntu setup connected to a 32″ CRT via s-video. Both setups streamed very nicely, and while it obviously isn’t in HD, even on the 50″ television, the quality was just fine. The big positive performance point (sorry) was that there was not a single buffer wait, stutter, or hiccup in the stream. Granted, this isn’t a very scientific comparison, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the power of Amazon shining through in the technical side of the streaming business. I mean they already figured out a nice way to stream content without sleeping with Microsoft to keep the bad guys from ripping content. [Update: There are HD options available. The Best of NOVA #6 and Yellowstone are both offered in an HD version and looked and streamed great.]

Prime member? Check it out. Not a Prime member? Seems like  a great time to join in, especially if you are a frequent Amazon shopper.

Cave’s Akai Katana coming to 360 (JP only)

Looks like it is getting close to the time to scrape the couch for money to get a JP 360.

Cave shmup Akai Katana coming to 360 in region-locked Japan release

“Unlike some other Cave Xbox games, the company announced that Akai Katana Shin will be region-locked when it arrives in Japan. “Hopefully one of our publisher friends will be interested as it looks grand.” Aksys Games published Cave’s Deathsmiles last year, so Cave does have at least one “publisher friend.”

Cave's Akai Katana Shin