Netflix, iOS4, iPhone 3G… and Nerd Rage

Life, Rants

So yesterday the Netflix app came out for the iPhone and iPod touch. What a red letter day in the history of science this was. As if my life with an iPhone 3G and iOS4 isn’t a fucking pit of despair already, now I have this taunting me on my phone. You’re supposed to be able to use Netflix Watch Instantly ( the greatest thing in the history of entertainment) on the phone over 3G or WiFi.

Oh please can I Mr. Jobs, can I haz entertainments?

So I download the app, start it up. It responds in the same sluggish way that everything does not on my iCrapped 4 device. I get to the gleaming red Netflix log-in screen, enter my email address, enter my password. then watch the spinning wheel of sloth for a few seconds. Then a dialog pops up…

Sorry Login Timed out, Try Again!

What a happy cheerful message that was, I’d really like to try again… But then the screen refreshes and I have to enter my email and password again. Which is annoying when I have to type it on a regular keyboard, when it’s on a tiny touchscreen it’s more that maddening. So after 4 or 5 tries I give up.

I understand that this may be a first day problem with everyone trying to reach the servers all at once. But I tried it again later on my WiFi and it still didn’t work.  This morning too and NOTHING.  This should be the number one rule of web form design…


Actually that should be just about the only rule of web form design. I would like to use the Netflix App… I REALLY REALLY would.


So it turns out that I wasn’t entering the right password into Netflix… So my frustration was partially self inflicted. The message that came back says “Login Timeout, please check your user name and password and try again.”  Last time I checked that wasn’t called a login timeout, that was called “Password incorrect” or “Username/Password combination not recognized” I think Netflix has a serious problem with UI design. I can’t figure out why they never seem to address the problems that are on various platforms. Maybe they are designed by different teams that do not communicate with each other.

So my impressions of the actual service are pretty good.  I was able to stream a movie over WiFi without it stopping, buffered for about 30 seconds in the beginning and then smooth sailing after that. On 3G it was a little slower, but after pausing it for about 2 minutes to let it buffer I was able to stream Monsters Inc almost completely through in the car.  But for no apparent reason you can’t add movies to the physical media que… why? I have another application on the Iphone (phoneflix) that will manage my queues on the  device. It looks like they just forgot it. For a company that is trying to have its service on as many devices as possible I’d think that they’d have someone to make sure that all the features are included on all devices.

and while we’re at it can I have a search for all streaming movies? Not just show me the top 50 in each category.

Bejeweled Blitz Boosts : Welcome to the grind

Life, Rants

I want to start off by saying that I love playing Bejeweled 2 on my Iphone. I had the game on my Treo before that and it’s really the only game that I keep coming back to on a regular basis on the Iphone.  Some would say that I’m addicted. When I saw that there was a version on Facebook that you could play against your friends I was excited. But it turns out that I NEED a stylus or a finger to play the game, I’m no good with a mouse. It’s the opposite of what Microsoft just found out with console vs pc gamers.

So I waited patently and eventually the Iphone version got the coveted Blitz mode that was only available on Facebook and you could compare scores against your Facebook friends. There was much rejoicing. So I’ve been playing it almost everyday on the Metro annoying people that I knew in high school with my high scores. These were the salad days. I didn’t even mind that there was one guy that kept pushing me back to number two on my list. But then I found out that he was playing on Facebook and that version had added bonus multipliers called boosts. I really didn’t know much about them other than they seemed to make higher scoring easier. It’s like I was in a wood bat league and he came in with a composite bat filled with argon gas. I tried to play on Facebook again, but I still stink with a mouse. So I decided to wait until the Iphone version got the boosts. A little message taunted me on the top of the screen “We’re working on bring boosts to the Iphone”. So the other day it happened…

At first I was excited about the boosts, you get free multipliers, random gems, an extra 5 seconds. Since you only get 3 uses out of each boost it made the games that you were using the boosts extra intense. But then I realized something. Because the boosts make high scores so much easier, you HAVE to use them if you’re interested in the high score list. I think maybe what they were trying to do is give the weaker players a chance at beating the people above them in their lists. That’s exactly what they’ve done, increased chance. Blitz is a game much like poker, you need to have skill, but it’s mostly determined by how the cards (jewels) fall. The fun of playing Blitz for me is that in any game you could get the right gems and you could set the high score for the week. You have to buy the boosts at a cost of about 6000 coins, you earn about 650 coins in a average game. What that does is effectively neuter 90% of the games you play. You’ll have fun, you’ll earn coins, but you’ll never beat someone having a pretty good game while using 3 boosts at once. So the addicting quality that the next game could be the one that you break that big score. My previous high score in about a year of playing is 545,000 in about an hour with boosts I hit 615,000. They’ve essentially introduced grinding into the puzzle genre. You need to do boring repetitive tasks to achieve higher scores.

You could say that I’m just jealous that I won’t be #1 or maybe #2 when everyone learns to use the boosts and starts getting higher scores. But I really wish other people would challenge my scores, the only reason I became friends with the guy who keeps beating me is to compare bejeweled scores. 2 things I like best in video games are short repeatable game play and challenging high scores. Maybe I’m making too big of a deal about the scores, but the only reason boosts exist is to make your high score bigger. They are saying that getting a higher score and beating your friends is the only way to have fun in the game. What they’ve done is make everyone’s high scores 20% higher, but make them play 90% more games to get those higher scores. What they could do to fix this is either make a separate high score list for non-boost games or make the boosts cheaper to ‘buy’ so you didn’t have to spend so much time playing ‘meaningless’ games.