A blog by Andrew M. Laird

2011 Christmas Songs of the Day

December 1 – Sleigh Ride by The Ronettes

December 2 – Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays by N*Sync

December 3 – Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow by Jessica Simpson

December 4 – Joy to the World by Aretha Franklin

December 5 – Winter Wonderland by Jason Mraz

December 6 – O Holy Night by Martina McBride

December 7 – I Saw Three Ships by Sting

December 8 – Mele Kalikimaka by Jimmy Buffett

December 9 – Santa Claus is Coming to Town by the Pointer Sisters

December 10 – Ave Maria by Josh Groban

December 11 – Merry Christmas Baby by Bruce Springsteen

December 12 – Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee

December 13 – Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Jack Johnson

December 14 – Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree by Amy Grant

December 15 – I’ll Be Home for Christmas – Michael Buble

December 16 – Silent Night by Stevie Nicks

December 17 – It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas by Johnny Mathis

December 18 – Frosty the Snowman by the Beach Boys

December 19 – White Christmas by the Drifters

December 20 – Do You Hear What I Hear by Carrie Underwood

December 21 – Carol of the Bells/Jingle Bells by Barry Manilow

December 22 – Little Drummer Boy by Jackson 5

December 23 – God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by Rascal Flatts

December 24 – O Come, All Ye Faithful by Faith Hill

December 25 – Christmas Song by Nat King Cole

Five I Follow on Twitter, Political Edition

@ryanlizza (7,227 followers) – Lizza is the washington correspondent for The New Yorker, one of the best magazines still published.  His profiles are always strong and he has an incredible depth to his writing.  A must read.

@thefix (89,201 followers) – Chris Cillizza runs The Fix blog for The Washington Post and is the smartest person I can find regarding elections.  His running blogs and tweets of the latest presidential debates have been hilarious and fantastic.

@ezraklein (100,503 followers) – Klein is a blogger and columnist for The Washington Post, who focuses on the economy and fed policy.  He loves charts and writes a wonderful daily blog called Wonkblog.  He often uses those charts to call politicians liars, which they all are.

@chrislhayes (51,550 followers) – Chris Hayes is the Editor at Large at The Nation and now hosts his own show on MSNCB called “Up with Chris Hayes.”  His progressive political views occasionally fall in line with my own and he is very straightforward with his opinions.

@fivethirtyeight (100,725 followers) – The FiveThirtyEight Blog on the website of The New York Times is run by Nate Silver, who is an absolute master of statistics.  His predictions of elections is absurdly strong and uses strong matrices to prove his findings.

Five I Follow on Twitter, Tech Edition (Part One)

I’ve previously written about how unhelpful I find most Follow Friday posts on Twitter because no one ever says why you should follow the people they are “recommending.”  With so many people on Twitter and a finite number of people a human can keep track of, wouldn’t it help to find out why you should follow someone?

I think so and I will be writing posts each Friday with my suggestions and a brief description of that person or why I think you should also follow them.  If you think there is someone else I should follow based on who I am recommending, I would love suggestions.  The follower numbers below are as of the writing of this post.

@TechCrunch (1,825,598 followers) – the #1 blog on the internet that specializes in technology.  They cover everything from startups to new devices to changes on Facebook that everyone hates until they realize it’s better.  If you’re at all interested in technology, you should follow TechCrunch.

@Verge (21,939 followers) – The Verge is a developing technology blog that is currently housed at ThisIsMyNext.com, but will launch on TheVerge.com this fall.  If the mess at AOL ultimately kills off TechCrunch, The Verge will be there to happily replace them.  The site was created in conjunction with the geniuses over at SBNation, a sports blog network.

@Mashable (2,497,814 followers) – Another technology blog that covers a lot of the same news that TechCrunch and The Verge do.  If you’re going to follow the other two, you should follow Mashable as well, just in case something slips through the cracks (like the new iPhone).

@Pogue (1,389,987 followers) – David Pogue is a technology columnist at the New York Times and is a humungous Apple-homer.  I fall into the latter category.  His reviews of products are always very thorough and he adds in a splice of humor which makes reading his work even more enjoyable.

@cdixon (34,809 followers) – Chris Dixon is currently the CEO of Hunch.com, an extraordinary recommendation website.  He is also an investor in a number of different startups and has extensive knowledge of Silicon Valley, venture capital, angel investing and startups.  As someone who would love to work at a startup, I think he’s an excellent resource for information.

Let’s Settle Down on the Netflix Hysteria

As I type this, Netflix’s stock is down over 18% today in reaction to the company’s lowered expectations for subscriber growth this quarter.  The lower subscriber figures are a direct result of the company’s price increase for it’s only product: providing access to watch television shows and movies.

Netflix does this through mail-order DVDs and streaming video.  Everyone knows this.  The price Netflix used to charge was $7.99 for unlimited streaming and unlimited DVDs one-at-a-time per month, which is a ridiculously low price for that offering.  Netflix quickly realized this and increased the price by splitting the offerings: $7.99 for unlimited streaming, $7.99 for one-DVD-at-a-time.  The initial claim why they did this was because they didn’t realize how many people would still want DVDs while also being able to stream as much as they wanted.

Customers still wanted DVDs because Netflix didn’t have enough content to stream online, which bring us to a weird conundrum: people complain that there isn’t enough to stream online, so they still need DVDs, while still wanting to stream as much as possible.  If there isn’t enough to stream, why not give that part up?

I have a subscription to Netflix right now thanks to a gift from my mother last Christmas.  I get unlimited streaming and one-DVD-at-a-time for no extra cost until the end of December.  At that time, I’ll have a decision to make, much like millions of customers had to make a few weeks back.

At this point, the only time I use the streaming service is to watch Mad Men.  When I am done watching Mad Men, I have no reason for the streaming option on Netflix.  Many of the shows I am trying to catch up on (or start watching because they are over) are not available to stream anyway.

I realize this is not the case for everyone, but I do have a suggestion: if you are someone who uses the Netflix streaming to catch up on television shows, why not just pay for the streaming for one month and then cancel it?  No one said you have to pay $7.99 for unlimited streaming every month for the rest of your life.  Pick and choose which months you want to stream and pay for those months.  It’s that simple.

If you don’t have a streaming account, you can still see what is available to stream.  So, pick a month where you watch your streamed queue and then go with the DVDs during the other months.

Even if you decide that you need unlimited streaming plus at least one-DVD-at-a-time, is there a cheaper alternative?  The great thing about Netflix is that the selection is huge.  I’ve heard that Redbox is a legitimate competitor thanks to their $1 per day price, but it’s ridiculous to think that’s really going to bite into Netflix.  Redbox machines have no more than 100 available titles and the number is probably closer to 40.  What happens if you don’t like any of the 40 or you already saw the ones they have?

Blockbuster and Walmart apparently have options too, but they offer no where near as much as Netflix and for the same price or more.

People may be bailing now, or not starting with Netflix, but I would bet a lot of them come back.

Splitting My Twitter Feed

Let me start off by saying that I love Twitter.  I think it’s a wonderful tool that provides hours of non-stop entertainment and knowledge.  As of today, I follow 294 twitter accounts (I was going to say people, but some of them are corporate accounts and corporations are not people, no matter what Mitt Romney says).  The accounts I follow cover a number of different industries, such as sports, politics, entertainment, food and space exploration.  I am a very curious person and always want to learn about new things.

But sports has always been my biggest interest and it’s gotten so big that I’ve decided to separate it from the rest of my life.  This blog was the first step (my old blog kingmorland.com was mostly about sports) and a new twitter account is the next.  I have some friends who follow me that care nothing about sports and I feel that I simply clog their timelines with my sports rants; now they can go to my new account for my non-sports blathering.

I love to write and will try to do a lot of it here.  It’s easier for me to write about sports and I’ve challenged myself to expand what I am comfortable putting on paper (which is really on a screen via a keyboard).  That’s where this blog comes in.

Part of my writing here will be about how I use the Internet, Twitter included.  I have always been interested in Twitter’s “Follow Friday,” but never found it particularly useful because it’s just a bunch of people using 140 characters on Twitter account names with no explanation as to why I would follow them.  I decided that I will take the time to explain why I follow the people I do and if you think they sound interesting, go ahead and follow them.  It’s that simple.

I currently follow ten people, all of them are friends or family.  I will recommend a few in another post.