Archive for March 20th, 2013

Too clever by half

Posted in Movies and TV, Technology and software on March 20th, 2013

Sometimes companies seem to use technological improvements in a way that may be snazzy…but is also counterintuitive and even baffling.

We encountered one of those a couple of days ago. This isn’t a Serious Story, but it is a little bit of too clever by half.

Background

Most evenings, we either watch a current TV show (if there’s one we’re watching–currently that means two nights out of seven) or an episode of a series we’re watching via Netflix (discs, not streaming). (Saturdays are movies.)

Currently, one of the two series we’re watching via disc, which we’d never seen when it was on, is Smallville.

We pay the Blu-ray premium for Netflix, ‘cuz we do see the difference, which means that anything that Netflix has in Blu-ray will be sent to us in Blu-ray. (If, for some bizarre reason, we wanted the DVD version of a movie, easy-peasy: there’s a pull-down menu on the disc line in the queue. That doesn’t work for series, because Blu-ray versions sometimes/frequently come on fewer discs than DVD versions.)

We finished Season 5 (with some gratitude for being done with it) and started Season 6 last Sunday. Season 6 is available in Blu-ray. So that’s what we got.

Foreground

Put the disc in. No previews: Nice. Also no opening theme and episode menu…it just started in with the first episode.

Well, OK, that’s fine for the first episode. But we’re not marathon viewers: we watch episodes individually, the way they were intended. (Pounds cane on floor; yells at kids to get off our lawn…)

So, I figured, surely Top Menu will get us to an episode menu, as it does in Chuck (which we own in Blu-ray but won’t rewatch for a couple years yet, probably, and which does the same right-into-episode-one trick).

Nope. Top Menu brings up the extras menu.

Maybe Pop-up Menu. Nope: That doesn’t do anything at all.

Yes, sure, I can turn on the chapter display and skip chapters until we get to Title 2 (the second episode); fine for the first four-episode disc, not so great for five-episode or six-episode discs. And stupid.

I look at online fora. This question has arisen. The snarky response was “Use the pop-up menu.” Which did nothing.

The Big Finish

Last night, after skipping chapters to get to and watch the second episode, I thought I’d try something else.

I was aware that one of the Big Vaunted Advantages of Blu-ray is that you can make menu selections while the disc is playing. I guess that’s a big deal; normally, personally, I’d rather pause the picture, make the changes, and then go on. But hey, it’s a nice feature.

So what if I hit Pop-Up Menu while the episode was playing and not paused?

Oh look: There’s what I would think of as a Top Menu along the bottom of the screen. Episode list and special features. Click on the third episode, and shazam: the third episode.

But surely I must have screwed up on Sunday: Surely Pop-Up Menu would do this if you, sensibly, paused to make a selection.

Not so! In Pause, Pop-Up does nothing at all on this disc.

Gee, thanks, Warner: In your infinite wisdom, you’ve hidden what should logically be the top-level menu where a submenu should be–and made it available only while episodes are actually playing and not paused.  Meanwhile, the submenu of special features is available as the top menu. That’s really clever.

Too clever by half.

Utah public libraries

Posted in $4 on March 20th, 2013

Another post commenting on Chapter 20 of Give Us a Dollar and We’ll Give You Back Four (2012-13)–now available as a $9.99 Kindle ebook or $21.95 paperback with ISBN 978-1481279161 on Amazon, along with the usual Lulu options. Note that Lulu prices for the paperback and hardback versions are now lower.

The 69 profiled Utah libraries (three were omitted) are distributed throughout spending levels, with clusters in the $26 to $35.99 range (20 libraries) and the $12 to $16.99 range (14 libraries). Circulation is above average, with 71% of the libraries circulating eight or more items per capita (compared to 50% overall) and just over half circulating at least ten items (compared to 38% overall). Because 29% of the libraries reported 7 to 8.99 patron visits per capita, that’s also generally strong—48% were at or above 7 visits, compared to 33% overall. Program attendance is just slightly above average; PC use is very nearly typical.

Libraries by legal service area

LSA Count % Outliers
<700 1 1.4%
700-1,149 2 2.9%
1,150-1,649 1 1.4% 1
1,650-2,249 5 7.2% 1
2,250-2,999 6 8.7%
3,000-3,999 4 5.8%
4,000-5,299 3 4.3%
5,300-6,799 4 5.8%
6,800-8,699 6 8.7%
8,700-11,099 5 7.2%
11,100-14,099 3 4.3%
14,100-18,499 5 7.2%
18,500-24,999 5 7.2%
25,000-34,499 8 11.6%
34,500-53,999 4 5.8%
54,000-104,999 1 1.4% 1
105,000-4.1 mill. 6 8.7%

Circulation per capita and spending per capita

Circulation per capita correlates moderately well (0.43) with spending per capita.

Circulation per capita plotted against spending per capita

Circulation per capita (rounded) occurrence by spending category


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