NetFlicks Prize Contest – One Million Dollars Just Waiting

Posted in Just A Thought, Uncategorized at 11:48 am

My husband gets in moods where he would like to see me engaged in more gainful employment. Chauffeuring kids, answering client’s questions, chauffeuring kids, managing the house, chauffeuring kids, writing a blog do not count when he thinks about how fast we could pay off the mortgage if I would just take a consulting gig. This morning he came up with a plan.

I should win the one million dollar Netflix contest to develop a better way for Netflix to recommend movies. No problem. I look at the leader board & see that Netflix grossly underestimated the time it will take to get a solution 10% better than theirs. (Don’t they know that watching movies rots their brain?) Most of the leading contestants with websites are grad students looking for jobs, companies that already had a solution for their problem and decided for $1,000,000 they’d adapt it to Netflick’s problem, academics, and one altruist pushing Amnesty International. Double no problem. (I love my husband’s opinion of my abilities.)

I register, start downloading the large database and whip up an algorithm. (How hard is it to model talking with your friends over coffee, finding out who likes the same movies you do & what they think of movies you haven’t seen?) So my husband reviews my algorithm and immediately starts telling me I need to include a weighting factor for those viewers who don’t have the same ratings I do. Does he think I listen to my friends who liked Borat?

First issue. The database doesn’t have data to pick out who my friends are. OK. I’ll take a broader view of who my friends are. (Actually my friends are pretty diverse so I’d already done that, but seems awfully presumptuous of Netflicks to assume that I’d think the same as everyone else.)

Moving on, it’s not even in the form I want to check out if I like my friend’s taste. OK, I can fix that. Since I’m just a girl, my husband elbows me aside and starts loading the data I need into a database with the format I need. A quick speed check indicates it will take just under 2 weeks. I wonder if I still have the numbers of those nice boys with access to Crays that I dated after college?

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