House of Cards

First of all, if you haven’t already, watch the original BBC version of House of Cards (along with the two sequels), which follows the behind-the-scenes political scheming of deliciously amoral MP Francis Urqhart. It is marvelous (and available on Netflix streaming).

Secondly, here’s the just-released trailer for the American version, streaming on Netflix Feb 1, in one of their first serious forays into original programming. One never knows, but this preview leads me to believe it is going to be excellent. And, given the substantial structural differences between English and American politics (not to mention journalism), this remake will likely deliver plenty of twists and turns even for those of us already well-familiar the lead character’s career trajectory. Oh, and Kevin Spacey. Sure, sometimes he chews the scenery – but I think that may be exactly what we’ll want from this flick.

Screw you, Roku

Sat down Friday evening to watch some of my stories on TV via Netflix streaming – something I’ve been happily and easily doing since I bought my little Roku box on May 20, 2008. This was the first day they went on sale, so I was on the cutting edge of this nascent technology.

Anyway, despite having just used Roku a week prior, the device wouldn’t power on. I tried plugging and unplugging the cord, using a different outlet, using the “reset” button – nothing. What’s so strange about this is that there are no moving parts – it’s just a box with a circuit board in it. Nor had there been any warning – the device had functioned perfectly until this evening.

When I contacted Roku the next day, they offered little in the way of troubleshooting advice (other than what I’d already tried). Their solution? They are sending me a new power cord; if that doesn’t fix things, then the device is “defective” (their word) and I’m S.O.L. (my paraphrasing).

Granted, the Roku is three-years-old – but I was less than pleased that there was no offer of a discounted replacement, an opportunity to send for repair or anything else. This was especially annoying given that I was one of their first customers and an evangelist for this thing. Though I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I recall getting an offer from Roku for a $5 credit for movies on demand via Amazon. Since I’d already signed up for this service from Amazon, I didn’t “qualify” for the offer. When I contacted Roku to see how to get this credit (as a long-standing customer and early adopter of their offerings), their response was (and I’m paraphrasing here) “you’re screwed.”

Happily, though, I have a media server that will stream via my PlayStation, so I can still watch Netflix. Even better, though, was that after updating said PlayStation, there is actually a Netflix app that runs on the PlayStation! I can access Netflix just as with my Roku – plus at a higher resolution and, best of all, with subtitles available (something Roku does not support, even when available via Netflix).

Goodbye and good riddance, Roku! I won’t miss you at all, thanks to my PlayStation.