Friday, January 20, 2012

Finding well-reviewed netflix streams

Was on the Roku looking for something to watch on netflix and found a 5-star show under Gory titled "Kill-Theory".  Anyone who has seen the star ratings on netflix knows that can't be trusted very much.  Even my rule-of-thumb of trusting 5-stars has been shaken of late (Elfen Lied was visually spectacular but with long lulls).  I tend to feel bad giving low ratings so things come up with 5 stars for me a lot.  What can I say, the Roku didn't do anything wrong, it was doing the best it could, so.... 5 stars!  (Heh)

I decided to check Kill-Theory on Rotten Tomatoes, which my hipper and cooler younger brother-in-law Daniel points me to frequently.  Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 28%, which got me thinking that if less than half the people liked the movie, I probably won't like it.

So I decided to browse Rotten Tomatoes a bit a clicked on their "Top Movies" link, then sub-category "Horror" (where's my Gory) - I love these kinds of movies because I find them easy to ignore while working and feel that I've accomplished something when I get to the end.  I wanted some way to filter the list of movies so that only movies that are instantly streamable on netflix would show.  If there is a way to do that directly, I couldn't figure it out.  The search features seem a little basic.

Just then I realized that some of the shows had quite a bit more reviews than others (most having 50 reviews, but some having over 150) - I quickly tested a theory and verified that it seems that shows that are netflix-streamable have a predictably higher number of reviews than other movies.  Thus, on a list of the top-100 horror movies it is quite easy to see the 5-10 that are streamable on netflix by quickly scanning the "Reviews" column.  This is somewhat similar to how I use newegg, where I sort not by the highest rating, but by what has the most reviews, since that shows you what people are buying, and where the best deals are as well (my next step is to look for the worst reviews and see whether their complaint is likely to how I plan to use the product).

This got me thinking - before I figured out this trick I was thinking that somebody should really invent a web site that allows searching of rotten tomatoes with filters like netflix streaming.  Clever people who could make a website like that are probably also unforunately clever enough to find workarounds like the one I listed above.  I wonder how many inventions have been cut short because the inventor was clever enough to figure out why they didn't need the invention - the workaround doesn't have to be all that easy to do either, sometimes it just has to be easier than building the invention.

Anyway, here's a shout out to Hacker Dojo in Mountain View!  Ima hack me up something good... after I meet these deadlines I gots me!  :-D

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