iFlix 2.0 Released

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about how the iPhone app, iFlix, was Netflix Heaven on the iPhone. I’m happy to announce that heaven looks that much brighter for us iPhone touting Netflix subscribers! The iFlix team has been pretty busy as they have just released iFlix 2. And I have to say that every criticism that I had with iFlix version 1 has been addressed in the version 2 release. 

First of all, the iFlix interface has seen an uplift in version 2 courtesy of Alex Marchuk (iFlix interface and website developer). The upgrade to the interface is not only pleasant to the eye but also made managing my Netflix queue that much easier.

One of the major gripes I had with the original release was the inability to select movies by format (DVD or Blu-ray). Now, when you search for a movie title, the search results bring back detailed information about each movie, including whether or not the movie is available in Blu-ray format. Being able to see Netflix ratings and MPAA ratings alongside the search results are added (and welcome) bonuses. Oh yeah, you can also browse by Blu-ray now as well. 

 

I’m a bit envious of the people who can use the Watch Instantly feature on Netflix (I run a Mac and Netflix currently does not support Watch Instantly on the Macintosh). With Watch Instantly, you have access to movies and TV shows that you can watch directly on your PC or 3rd party media player like an XBox 360 or Roku Player. iFlix 2 now not only supports the regular Netlfix snail mail queue but also supports instant queue management, which means adding movies to view on your PC, Xbox 360, or Roku Player is that much easier. 

iFlix has also improved on the rating system. Not only can you easily rate a movie from within iFlix but iFlix is intuitive enough to tell you which movies you’ve already rated by marking those ratings in yellow rather than the standard red. 

I was fortunate enough to have a word with iFlix developer, Brent Jensen. Here’s what we talked about.


Coty: I noticed that Brent Jensen is not listed with the rest of the team of the iFlix 2 website, is Brent no longer affiliated with the project? If not, why?

Brent: That’s just me being modest. My name’s on it for the App Store, so I wasn’t too worried about the site. It looks like Alex took note after your question and has added my name to the site.

(Update: Alex has added Brent’s name to the footer of the iFlix homepage. We can all sleep better now, LOL.)

Coty: The iFlix homepage also has changed, from the specific iFlixMobile.com to the more general and encompassing iPhonevine.com. Does this mean that there will be more iPhone based apps coming from your team?

Brent: For now, Alex Marchuk is hosting the site because of his amazing skills with design (and my lack of love for website development). You may see more apps hosted here, either made by me, or something that Alex has collaborated on. I’d love to have time to work on a lot more great apps, but for now my day job and iFlix keep me too busy to take on much else. I am working with my brother on a word search game for the iPhone, but it’s got a ways to go.

Coty: iFlix has definitely helped to fill in the gap for Netflix users wanting a mobile solution. Why do you think Netflix has not released a native application on their own?

Brent: Larger companies are always going to be more hesitant to jump right into a new platform. Since releasing an app represents a commitment to the platform, especially for a big company, they’ve got to pick and choose where they’ll invest. I would love to work with Netflix on improving the application, or even releasing it oficially, if they were ever to express interest.

Coty: iFlix 2.0 has added some killer functionality, such as the ability to view and add Blu-ray titles to your queue, a new interface and the ability to have detailed info like ratings literally at our fingertips. Where does iFlix 2.0 go from here? What are some things that you still would like to improve on?

Brent: The major focus right now is on performance and stability. As far as new features (e.g. iFlix 3.0), those are all still in the brainstorming phase. I’m certainly open to suggestions. A big fix is on it’s way that drastically improves scrolling and drag reordering, along with a nasty bug that’s been keeping some users from enjoying the “Detailed Queue” feature of iFlix 2.0.

Coty: There have been some controversy over the way that Apple has handled the App Store, specifically with developers. For instance, Apple has received some flack for not allowing developers to openly discuss program development with other developers. What are your thoughts on this?

Brent: There certainly are some frustrations, for me mostly with the inability to have more control over updates and responding to reviewers. A lot of times a reviewer will express frustration, or say they wish there was this or that feature, and the feature is in iFlix, or there is a work around for their issue, but I’ve got no way of contacting them. It would also be really nice to be able to build a customer base with a contact list, but the App Store doesn’t allow for that. For the most part though, I think Apple has created a fantastic platform, and given me a way to get my software out there to be enjoyed by more users than might have ever been possible with the App Store.

*I’d like to thank Brent Jensen for taking the time to talk to me (much appreciated!) and Alex Marchuk for letting me know of the iFlix 2 updates (much appreciated as well!). Keep up the great work, iFlix team!

Obama Taps Into the MySpaec, errr, MySpace Generation

Kudo’s to Obama’s publicity/marketing team for reaching out to generation Web 2.0. In an ingenious move, whenever an intrepid Myspace user types in the url to their favorite site, MySpace.com and inadvertently misspells the url as MySpaec.com (go ahead try the link) they get forwarded to Obama’s campaign site. 

This just goes to show how ingrained social networks like MySpace has become in society. In the 90’s candidates tapped into MTV. In 2008, they utilize Web 2.0. Both Obama and McCain have official MySpace and Facebook pages. Obama has more Twitter followers than Kevin Rose. More Followers than Digg king, Kevin Rose? Say what?!

How long before we see interactive political debates via Web 2.0 upstarts like Ustream and Seesmic? How long before viral videos, like the popular Barack Roll video, are initiated by the candidates themselves. The technology and networking tools that we have available to us today makes it possible to reach millions of people at the click of a button. These are powerful times. I’m glad to see our presidential candidates embracing the technology. 

By the way, if you’re typing in a url to a site you probably visit multiple times a day then shame on you. It’s all about the bookmark bar. 

*Cheers to Emptees user JacobPlague for pointing this out!

FTW! What Does it Mean?

Young people talk in strange code, it’s always been like that and it always will be like that. Like doctors and lawyers and most other professionals, young people have their own brand of lingo. The lingo may change from generation to generation, but nonetheless, the lingo is ever present. 

Having said that, I’ve noticed a lot of people using a seemingly innoculous piece of strung together letters to go along with their online statements. If you’re a gamer, belong to an online community such as a forum, or are a member of one of the various social networks like Facebook or Twitter, then you may have noticed an influx in usage of a particular three letter acronym. FTW. Heard of it? I’ve been seeing and hearing (on podcasts) the use of FTW a lot as of late. The problem is, unlike other popular net acronyms like LOL (laughing out loud) or ROTFL (rolling on the floor laughing), FTW is very cryptic. Nonetheless, it seems to be the hip term to be using nowadays in the ever vast InternetLAND. Here are some recent (as of this posting) examples that I found by doing a quick search on Twitter for the term FTW:

“Shakey’s Pizza FTW… even though my stomach doesn’t agree, ugh *gurgle*!”

“Joe Dirt FTW”

“”Dorkmeyer” = 1990’s slang. Yeah. THAT didn’t age at all. And Steve Sanders blackout drunk FTW!”

“First beer in about 6 months – Sapporo FTW.”

“I can’t say enough about Hamlet 2. I feel so inspired in the strangest way!@brandonpierce & I were LOL through 90% of it. Sexy Jesus FTW!

“Ugh, my roomate just ate all my food I had planned to eat for work and home for the next two days. Backup ramen FTW! :-(“

But what does it mean? When I was growing up, FTW meant “Fuck The World.” I’d see it written on walls, would hear it used as slang in school and occasionally would here it in popular culture. There have also been a few songs, titled FTW, in reference to “Fuck The World”, like the one found on The Vines album Winning Days. 

Turns out, that the above Tweets are not cries to “Fuck The World.” Instead, FTW, or the FTW used by this generation of Internet users means “For The Win!” A lot more pleasant sounding than the ill-fated sounding “Fuck The World,” but still, very cryptic. 

So that leads to me to usage. “For The Win”, ok, that’s all dandy, but how do you use it? None of the above tweets make any sense. Sapporo FTW! Sexy Jesus FTW! WHAT? HUH? 

It turns out that to understand its usage, one must historically understand the FTW term. FTW was initially heavily used by online multi-player game enthusiasts (i.e. World of Warcraft). It was often used during game chats or in forums. Here’s a few examples of how one would use FTW if they were a gamer:

“Oh yeah, baby, double mega hydro shock spitgun, FTW!

“polymorph, FTW!

“druid hurricane, FTW!

As you can see, the FTW presented in the above gaming examples are excitatory proclamations that a particular weapon (i.e. double mega hydro shock spitgun) or tool was useful in executing a winning maneuver. 

However, as we saw from the previous Twitter examples, FTW usage has moved beyond just exclaiming the virtues of a particular weapon. Instead, it is now used to exclaim the virtues of a particular idea, food, process or device that leads to a satisfying or excellent outcome.

Recently, a user on the Washington Capitals forum board (I’m not a member, I stumbled upon it while researching FTW!) went off on the term. He called for an all out ban of the term on the Capitals forum board:

“For the win”? What does that even mean? It seems to be used to imply that something is good, if I am interpreting the context correctly. But can’t one simply say that something is good? Why obfuscate with an acronym or a nonsensical phrase?

Back in my day, we would use the term “awesome” in a similar manner to this “FTW” nonsense– but at least “awesome” made a littlesense, even if it was rather hyperbolic to suggest, for instance, that Pac-Man actually inspired awe.Prior to all this, the only times I have heard the words “for the win” used came when watching sporting events. But, see, when a sports announcer says “for the win”– as in “Jordan, for the win…!”– the outcome has not been decided yet. The phrase does not reflect whether the outcome was good or bad. So how can one use this phrase to imply that something is good when the phrase itself does not imply anything?

So there you have it folks. You have now been educated on the virtues of FTW. Use it wisely and if you do use it beware of Washington Capitals fans. Definitions, FTW!

 

Image From Commierobots-ftw.com

Image From Commierobots-ftw.com

iFlix is Netflix Heaven on the iPhone

I’ve mentioned in the past how much I adore Netflix (despite the recent Dexter debacle I experienced last week). But now I think I’ve found a reason to love Netflix even more. And that reason is called iFlix. 

iFlix is a native iPhone app, created by Brent Jensen, that is marketed as “easy queue management on the go.” Having had a chance to test out iFlix for a few days, I must admit that this is a killer app, especially if you are power Netflix user. 

Of course, you can do everything you can do on iFlix using Safari on the iPhone. However, accessing the Netflix website on the iPhone can be quite cumbersome and difficult to navigate, especially with the small text and having to zoom in and out of the browsers screen. With iFlix, everything is ten times easier. You can easily rearrange your queue the same way that you can drag and drop contacts in the iPhone address book. You can view recent activity and see what movies you currently have at home and the last movies you returned. 

Something that I like to do whenever I’m at Wal-Mart or Best Buy is peruse the DVD section. Before I had iFlix, I would use the Notes app on the iPhone to list what movies I wanted and then when I got home I would add those movies to my Netflix queue. Well, no more of that multi-step mumbo-jumbo. Now, I simply use the search function on iFlix to find the movie I’m interested in and I can add it to my queue, instantly, on the fly. Awesome. Even better, you can browse discs on the go by genre, top 100, or new releases directly from iFlix, so, theoretically, you don’t even need Wal-Mart or Best Buy to peruse!

iFlix does have a few faults. First of all, the “For You” recommendations function did not work me. It did not return any movie recommendations for me. Secondly, you can’t choose between formats (DVD or Blu-ray). The movies you add will be added in DVD format. 

At $1.99, the iFlix app is a steal for what it does. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love a freebie version direct from Netflix, but until Netflix gets their Apple act together (no native Instant Watch on Macs, WTF!) I am more than happy using iFlix.

 

 

 

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