Museum Trip 12-9-2012

Getting the most out of the red box
David Pogue's New York Times article

A nice article about preventing ID theft

Wikipedia's article about secure web sites

The best place to go for Redbox release date information

Some help topics from

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Used to be if you wanted to rent a movie on videotape or DVD, you'd find a brick-and-mortar in your neighborhood, hop in the Civic, and go get it.  Blockbuster, for example, would let you keep it for a few nights and for just a few bucks or more depending on how new the movie, and then you'd drop it off or drop it into the slot in their door the next day or whenever, and be done.  The coming of Netflix eventually ended such franchises as Blockbuster, which filed for bankruptcy in 2010 and was acquired by Dish Network in 2011.  After all, what could be easier than browsing to and adding titles to your queue, and then sitting back and waiting for them to be delivered or picked up again by the mail person?  Further, Netflix is able to stream movies and TV shows directly to your computer, internet-ready blu-ray player, internet-ready TV or what-have-you, although their streamable list is limited compared to what's available on disc.  Then in July 2011, Netflix, Inc., the most popular and economical entertainment deal on the web at the time, decided they could squeeze more profit out of the deal by raising their rates by about 60%.  Maybe this was unwise.  There's a link at the left to a New York Times article by David Pogue that goes on about this move.

Enter Redbox, which offers DVDs and blu-ray titles for which you pay about $1.25 a day through vending machine kiosks located in more than 17,000 stores nationwide.  They can't offer the same selection as Blockbuster or Netflix because the red boxes themselves are only about the size of soda vending machines, but they do get the hottest new movies about as soon as they appear in Netflix.  The way to maximize your experience with Redbox is with your computer, of course.  Through the company web site you can create an account and reserve a movie at a kiosk near you, all before you step out into the cold.  To set you up, Redbox will need you to enter your name, email address and credit card number into their secure registration web page.  Some people worry about this part and making purchases online in general, but it is reasonably safe.

Find a movie on
While at, you can scroll through their featured New Releases and Most Popular sections, or click in the Search for Movies field at the top-right.  Enter  the name of the movie there.  If Redbox has it, its name will appear below the search field, and you can click it there and then be given a choice of renting the DVD or blu-ray of the movie.  In case the movie hasn't come to Redbox yet, it may be on their Coming Soon list, in which case you can have Redbox remind you about it by sending you an email to that effect when it becomes available.  If you select and rent a movie online this way, you will have until 9 P.M. the next day to pick it up.  If you fail to pick it up, Redbox will charge your account one night's rental fee, which seems fair because you have reserved the copy of the movie for your self.  Make sure you bring your credit card that you used to set up your Redbox account when you go out to pick up your movie.  After you pick it up, Redbox sends you a notification email.

When will a movie come to Redbox?
Assuming you already know which movie you want to rent, in case Redbox doesn't offer the title yet, you can find out when it will at, a neat web site that features at least two good ways to find a Redbox release date.  First, there's a find movie release dates search field at the top right of every page on the web site.  Just click in the field, type the name of the movie, and hit Enter on your keyboard.  Since movies sometimes come out with the same names as previously released movies, you will next see a disambiguation page for the title that lists the various versions along with the date each version was released.  Click on the one you're looking for, and their page for that title will appear.  At the top you'll see general info about the movie including the DVD release date, a list of the principal actors, the director and a brief description of the plot.  If you scroll down a bit, you'll see a list of vendors that will offer the title, along with dates and number of days you'll have to wait.  The Redbox information for this title appears at the bottom of the list.

The other good way to get to a particular movie's page is to click's Redbox tab that also appears near the top of every page in the web site.'s Redbox page is divided into sections.  The first is New Redbox Releases This Week, and gives thumbnail reviews of the three or four most popular titles for the current week.  At the top of the next column, is a little section of the Latest Redbox Dates.  These are the newest and furthest-out titles and dates currently announced by Redbox.  Under that, you'll see the following three or four Tuesdays and the three or four most popular movies to be released on those dates along with links to the pages for those titles and some popularity-ratings numbers.  Finally, at the bottom of the second column, there's a link to the Redbox Release Calendar, a page that shows the same info as the Redbox page along with the film's content (Motion Picture Association of America) ratings and its box office totals.

When it's time to return the movie
Redbox gives you until 9 P.M. of the day after you picked it up to watch your selection and return it.  The kiosk has a touch screen and one of its choices is to return a movie.  You press the Return button, wait a few seconds until the machine tells you it's ready.  Make sure the disc is oriented with its bar code showing through the hole in the box, and then push it back in the same slot they come out of.  You can return the film to any kiosk in the US, which is kind of convenient if you're traveling.  Returning a movie causes your credit card to be charged for it, as well as another email thanking you for the rental.

There are some links at the left in case you'd like to read more about any of this.
December 10, 2012

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