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Netflix Misses the Easy Marks

Netflix! Bro! You can be SO much better than this.

One of the reasons that Google because THE Internet search engine (though DuckDuckGo - New Search Engine Choice or Dud? is better because it protects privacy) is because they have clean, no frills interface and they WORK. They get the job done. Those two key features made it the juggernaut that it is. Netflix is basically on the same path except for a few obvious design flaws.

Autoplay

The first is auto play. I really don't need to say much else: it's a feature almost no one wants or needs and they shouldn't have shoved it down our throats. If you want to "opt-in" fine, but making it the default and forcing us to turn it off (which doesn't even work fully) is obnoxious to say the least. Don't play, don't preview, don't do anything at all until and unless I tell you. No one wants an interface that goes rogue and has a mind of it's own.

Originals

This one is probably petty, but it ticks me off when I see something labeled as "Netflix Original" that is neither. They slap that label on Anime that they didn't create, produce, or otherwise do anything with other than make it available. Giving it a "Netflix Original" label is much like seeing Apple juice in the store labeled "100% juice!" when in reality, it only has 10% apples in it.

I'm 100% aware there are some linguistic and legal shenanigans at foot that make this not technically fraud, but I don't care. It's dishonest and manipulative.

Watch forever

Recently I've been enjoying something that is actually Netflix original: Netflix comedy specials. It's fun to have on when I'm working on other stuff, but I'm not interested in watching the same show multiple times in a short period. Much as I might like Dave Chappelle or Gabriel Igelsias, it's going to be several months or years before I can really enjoy seeing it again. Meanwhile Netflix keeps showing me the same stuff over and over with no way to filter it or even indicate which ones I've seen.

I contacted Netflix about this and they said I could either check the watch history in my profile and manually keep track or thumbs down my favorite things instead. So my current choices are to build a crime-scene wall of watched photos to keep track myself or gut-punch my recommendations (and favorite shows) with undeserved thumbs-downs. I think they can do better than that.
No indication of what's been seen before. No option to filter. Really?

Pandora has a neat feature where you can say "I'm tired of this, shelve it for a while" which would be great. Or if I could just say "seen it" and filter it to only things I haven't watched before, that would help me find new stuff instead of accidentally starting the same John Mulaney special 5 times in the course of a week. The thing that kills me is that it would be so easy to do. It's not difficult to have a little icon marking "watched this". Maybe even a counter, but WAY better would be a way to push them aside if I don't want to see it again for a while.

To prove this is as trivial as I claim, I wrote a greasemonkey script to give basic ''watched that'' functionality. It's pretty basic, but it's better than what Netflix is giving you.

Installing

Click here to learn more about Greasemonkey and how to use it. If you already have GreaseMonkey (or similar), you can get install my script by clicking the install button on this page. Otherwise, here's the raw script if you prefer:

// ==UserScript==
// @name	Netflix saw it button
// @author	TheGeekProfessor
// @description	Fix netflix thumbnails so you can mark them as watched
// @include	https://www.netflix.com/*
// @require https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/3.4.1/jquery.min.js 
// ==/UserScript==

// license	Creative Commons Attribution License


$(document).ready(function() {  
  $('[data-ui-tracking-context]').each(function(){
    // It's  query string that's actually JSON that's actually an array
    id= JSON.parse(decodeURI($(this).data('ui-tracking-context')));
    id = id.video_id;
  	if(localStorage.getItem(id))
      $(this).closest('.title-card-container').addClass('g_watched');
  });
  $('[data-tracking-uuid]').closest('.title-card-container').append('<div class="watched_eye">&#128065;</div>');
  $('.watched_eye').click(function(){
  	$(this).closest('.title-card-container').toggleClass('g_watched');
    id = $(this).closest('.title-card-container').find('[data-ui-tracking-context').data('ui-tracking-context');
 	  id= JSON.parse(decodeURI(id));
    id = id.video_id;
    localStorage.setItem(id,$(this).closest('.title-card-container').hasClass('g_watched'));
    console.log(id);
    console.log(localStorage.getItem(id));
  });
 
  $('head').append( `
    <style>
    .watched_eye {
      font-size: 57px;
      padding: 10px;
      position: absolute;
      bottom: -40px;
      left: 0;
      background: gray;
      border-radius: 6px;
      height: 30px;
      line-height: 30px;
    }
		.watched_eye:hover {
			opacity: .3;
			cursor:pointer;
		}
		.title-card-container.g_watched {
			opacity: .3;
		}
    </style>
  ` );
 
});
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How to Watch TV Shows For Free Legally

(Image used under: Creative Commons 2.0 [SRC])

Here's an article listing (and rating) the various ways to watch download/watch TV legally.

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DuckDuckGo - New Search Engine Choice or Dud?

DuckDuckGo.com
(Image is in the Public Domain)

Every now and then, there's a new search engine released that tries to play with the big boys, but they often fail. Usually its because of speed, maybe financial backing, sometimes user interface, but most often because they don't do the job well.

So here's one that may be worth some attention. Like Google, they focus on keeping very minimal and having a nice interface. But unlike Google, they make an effort to help you find what you are actually looking for:

They also include some summary information right in the search making it possible to skip visiting the site at all if you don't need to or at least getting a better feel for what the site is about before going. And according to their About page, they store NO personal information (which has long been a complaint of mine about Google).

So far, they're doing a lot right, but with Google having just released HTTPS for searches, the competition is even stiffer. I wish them luck.

Check them out yourself here.