commentary, philosophy, and outright rants

Archive for June, 2008

Netflix can’t maintain queues; can they be trusted with credit cards?

I received the following notice in my email today, from Netflix, a web-only movie rental company:

Important News Regarding Netflix Profiles

We wanted to let you know we will be eliminating Profiles, the feature that allowed you to set up separate DVD Queues under one account, effective September 1, 2008.

Each additional Profile Queue will be unavailable after September 1, 2008. Before then, we recommend you consolidate any of your Profile Queues to your main account Queue or print them out.

While it may be disappointing to see Profiles go away, this change will help us continue to improve the Netflix website for all our customers.

If you have any questions, please go to or call us anytime at 1 (888) 638-3549. We apologize for any inconvenience.

– The Netflix Team

This is my response:

(Also published as an open letter on my blog.)

Dear Netflix,

I wanted to let you know that if you go through with eliminating Profiles, the feature that allows me to set up separate DVD queues under one account, I will likely cancel my membership with you.

It is disappointing to see Profiles go away, and I don’t see how this will improve your website – or your business. I do know that if you can’t manage to hire web programmers to maintain a feature that’s worked successfully for so long, I really don’t see how I can trust your remaining web programmers to keep credit card and other information confidential.

If you have any real explanation other than shoddy programmers or being unable to pay enough to programmers to run a web-only business, please feel free to contact me.

Effective online activism

Last week, CNN profiled Leanna Elizalde, a cancer survivor who was basically not being allowed to participate in graduation because she failed to complete a course where the school forgot its responsibility to make reasonable accommodations.

This enraged me… so I went to a social networking site I’m on, wrote an explanation of the problem, and provided links and phone numbers for the school, the school district, the town, the state, and Federal authorities. I also got 3 other people with combined regular readers of about 40,000 to repost what I wrote. I suspect similar things happened across the US, because the school alone was receiving hundreds of calls per day (per news coverage), and by the end of the week, not only did they change the rules and allow her to write an English composition in lieu of the class, but allowed her full participation in the ceremony and gave her a real diploma. Plus, as a bonus, she caught the attention of a cancer survivor’s group that gave her $2500!

Feedback on the site indicated many people called or wrote. Chances are they would not have done so if I hadn’t provided the phone numbers and email links; there’s an 8-second attention span on the ‘net. So if you’re doing activism online, make sure you make it as easy as possible for other people to communicate your message to the appropriate authorities – the easier you make it, the more people who are likely to participate!

People are turning it outward because inward is “bad”

When people have felt “tired” of life, they’ve been turning it inward and committing suicide. And we all know suicide is a bad thing. So now they’re turning it outward instead:

“A 25-year old man, Tomohiro Kato, was arrested… ‘I came to Akihabara to kill people because I am sick and tired of life,’ he reportedly told police. ‘Anyone was fair game. I came here alone.'”

A hearty congratulation is in order for the Japanese fight against suicide! Seven people (and we don’t know if they were sick and tired of life) killed, and ten people wounded by a person who is sick and tired of life, but whaddaya know, he’s still alive. If he had just killed himself… but we all know suicide is a bad thing, right?