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Netflix Splits DVD & Streaming Businesses

Something pretty remarkable happened this morning: I, and zillions of other Netflix subscribers, received an email from Netflix CEO Reed Hastings. Now, I'm not exactly pals with the guy, but I'm a fan of his company, as I watch movies that come in little red envelopes and stream on my TV and stuff. The email (also posted as a blog entry, linked above) was a mea culpa from Hastings, apologizing for "arrogance" and a failure to "communicate" about the recent Netflix pricing changes, in which the company began charging separately for DVDs and online streaming (which, in case you're living under an internet rock, didn't go over well). The message from Hastings is actually pretty remarkable for the first bits -- the CEO of a big public company starts his message with the words: "I messed up. I owe everyone an explanation," and actually uses the term "arrogance" in describing his behavior. That's big of him, and I'm impressed by his classiness.

But where it gets weird is when Hastings proceeds to say that Netflix is splitting into two businesses: Netflix for streaming and "Qwikster" for DVDs/Blu-ray/video games through the mail. Say what? Here's a portion of the message:

So we realized that streaming and DVD by mail are becoming two quite different businesses, with very different cost structures, different benefits that need to be marketed differently, and we need to let each grow and operate independently. It's hard for me to write this after over 10 years of mailing DVDs with pride, but we think it is necessary and best: In a few weeks, we will rename our DVD by mail service to "Qwikster".

We chose the name Qwikster because it refers to quick delivery. We will keep the name "Netflix" for streaming.

Um. "Qwikster?" Really? Was "Mailflix" not available? Pricing will remain unchanged, but now apparently the two services will operate separately, will charge you separately, and so on. I wonder if the stock will split into two? (At the moment, the stock is up around 2% on the news.)

Here's Hastings himself, in a poorly edited, poorly recorded, and strangely out-of-focus video, explaining the change:

Wow. Am I the only one who found that awkward and painful? (Almost as painful as the quasi-word "Qwikster.") For more subscriber reactions, check out the over 9,000 comments on Hastings's blog post.

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Animals
Watch a Rogue Pet Dog Interrupt a Russian News Anchor on Air
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iStock

Last week, a Russian news broadcast briefly went to the dogs after its host was startled by a surprise co-anchor: a friendly black canine that wandered on set, announced its presence with a loud bark, and climbed onto her desk.

 

As TODAY reports, Mir24 TV anchor Ilona Linarte went off script for a few minutes, telling viewers "I've got a dog here. What is this dog doing in the studio?" After the initial shock wore off, she gave her furry guest a tepid welcome, patting its head as she gently pushed it off the desk. ("I actually prefer cats,'' Linarte remarked. "I'm a cat lady.")

Linarte’s query was answered when the TV station announced that the dog had accompanied another show’s guest on set, and somehow got loose. That said, rogue animals have a proud tradition of crashing live news broadcasts around the world, so we’re assuming this won’t be the last time a news anchor is upstaged by an adorable guest star (some of which have better hair than them).

[h/t TODAY]

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Falcon Heavy and Dragon. Image credit: SpaceX via Wikimedia Commons // CC0 1.0
SpaceX Is Sending Two Private Citizens Around the Moon
Falcon Heavy and Dragon. Image credit: SpaceX via Wikimedia Commons // CC0 1.0
Falcon Heavy and Dragon. Image credit: SpaceX via Wikimedia Commons // CC0 1.0

Two members of the public are set to take an historic trip around the Moon, according to an announcement from SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. As The Verge reports, the anonymous private citizens have already placed substantial deposits on the commercial space flight.

The private spacecraft company SpaceX revealed on Monday that the Falcon Heavy rocket will be launching with its Crew Dragon spacecraft in late 2018. The mission will consist of a circumnavigation of the Moon, passing over the body’s surface before traveling farther into space and returning to Earth. In total, the trip will cover 300,000 to 400,000 miles and take a week to complete.

A noteworthy part of the plan is the human cargo that will be on board. Instead of professional astronauts, the craft will carry two paying customers into space. The passengers, who’ve yet to be named, will both need to pass several fitness tests before they're permitted to make the journey. According to The Verge, Musk said the customers are “very serious” and that the cost of the trip is “comparable” to that of a crewed mission to the International Space Station. The goal for SpaceX is to eventually send one or two commercial flights into space each year, which could account for 10 to 20 percent of the company’s earnings.

[h/t The Verge]

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