January 7, 2005

Netflix Profiles

Netflix has a new feature that I know at least one person will be interested in.

JimC once posted a comment (it may have been on the old Aces Full of Links) that he’d like to have the ability to divide his DVD queue so that of the 3 movies he was allowed to have out, 1 was from a “kids queue” and the other 2 were for adults. In other words, he wanted to manage his daughter’s DVDs separately.

Netflix has added just such a feature. Each account can now divide itself up into profiles, allocating a certain number of “out” disks to each profile. Each profile has an entirely separate queue, recommendations, and everything. Nifty!

Read more about the feature here on the Hacking Netflix blog.

Posted by James at January 7, 2005 5:46 PM
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Thanks for the pointer.

That's cool. I wrote a long message to customer service a couple of years ago. I got the usual stock response, and figured it was filed in the bit bucket. It probably was :-). But now the feature exists.

I'll have to start using it. I just don't want to spread the DVDs too thin, because I don't want to upgrade to the 5 at a time level.

Posted by: Jim at January 7, 2005 8:09 PM

I've been doing a sort-of hack-workaround for that where I periodically reorder my queue so I will have one comedy, one action/drama, and one classic/foreign/art movie out at a time.

Posted by: David Grenier at January 7, 2005 9:02 PM

I engage heavily in queue management (though it might be more accurately called "thrashing" or "churn") almost as if it is a video game. I think I have a lot of movies on my queue that I don't actually want to see. I just don't know which ones they are.

In any case, my queue management cannot be replaced by this feature, but I think it is an excellent enhancement to the service because I know that if Maggie cared at all about which disks we were renting, it would help a lot if I could just allocate one disk to her and make sure our queues didn't overlap.

If I decide to rent for the kids, I'll give them their own queue. But the kids usually only see movies that we rent at a local place.

Posted by: James at January 7, 2005 11:45 PM

oh, how very cool! and the internal name of 'marriage saver' is not so tongue in cheek - it will certainly alleviate some grousing in this household. ;)

Posted by: beth at January 9, 2005 4:22 PM

How does Netflix decide which queue to use when sending the next movie? I haven't seen anything written about that yet. Do they cycle through the queues in order of creation before looping back around to the first one?

Posted by: Mike at January 9, 2005 6:35 PM

The NetFlix help doesn't specifically say. If I were writing the code :-), I'd probably send a movie from the queue which the most recently returned movie originated. This simplistic approach falls down if you have more profiles * allocations than your out-at-a-time. If the UI allows you to do that (I haven't played with it yet) then it probably makes sense to traverse the profiles in LRU order.

Posted by: Jim at January 9, 2005 7:57 PM

Maybe I'm being dim, but why doesn't it just treat them like wholly separate queues, which is basically the same as "last returned?"

In other words, I don't get another movie from the kids queue until I return the one kids queue movie I have.

If you only are on the "3 out" program, you can only have 3 queues. Maybe you missed that aspect. I see what you're saying now. If you were allowed 4 queues, then it would be an issue.

You have to allocate all your disks to a queue, and no queue can have zero disks. SO the problem solves itself - it resolves to the previously solved problem of entirely separate queues.

Posted by: James at January 10, 2005 7:55 AM


I hadn't tried setting it up yet. If you can't have more queues than discs out, and no queue can have 0 disks allocated, then yes, it appears that the problem solves itself.

Posted by: Jim at January 10, 2005 8:31 AM

Ah! But what if you have two queues and are allowed three movies out? Does the older queue automatically get the extra movie?

Posted by: briwei at January 10, 2005 4:31 PM

NO NO NO NO. It's just not that complicated.

YOU allocate how many movies each queue gets. So if you have 2 queues, one would be set to 1 movie and the other would be set to 2. You decide.

I thought I said that in my post. Clearly, my writing sucks. I have somehow confused everyone.

Posted by: James at January 10, 2005 5:09 PM

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