the candler blog

A Service to Quickly Get More Info About a Film

Movies, Technology

I’ve never been very organized about watching movies. There’s a heap of films I know I should have seen by now but haven’t yet. I want to see these films, but it never occurs to me to seek them out. Rather, when it does occur to me that I have a gaping hole in my viewing history, I have nothing to do with that information but let it fall out of my mind. I’m trying to change that, though.

One of the use-cases I cooked up for PlainTasksOF was keeping track of films to watch. A static, plain text list could serve as a sort of dumping ground for films I need to check out someday. I’ve been experimenting how I’ll use this on a daily basis, and while I was messing around with it today, it occurred to me that it would be cool if I could quickly get to more information about the films on my list.

Enter Brett Terpstra’s recently updated Lucky Link service for the Mac. Brett’s service hooks into Google’s search API, allowing you to quickly create an inline Markdown link with whatever Google’s top hit is. Since it’s a Mac Service, you can link a keyboard shortcut to it, say ^⌥⌘L, and invoke it over highlighted text. That way, the candler blog can be turned into [the candler blog](http://candlerblog.com) in one tap. Neat.

Initially I thought I would want to create inline IMDb links on my list of movies when I realized that I had no use for keeping an IMDb URL in my document. PlainTasksOF only works in Sublime Text 2 which doesn’t currently support clickable hyperlinks, so if I added the URL it would just be dead plain text. Lame.

I modified Brett’s Automator workflow to open up the film page of the selected text at Goodfil.ms. All I did was add site:goodfil.ms to the search string, removed the Markdown formatting (so that the shell script only returns a URL) and added an action to open the page in the system default browser. Now, anywhere in OS X I can invoke the service to get more info about whatever film is currently highlighted as text, be it in a text document I’m working on, a web page, a tweet, a chat window, a PDF, etc.

Goodfil.ms seemed like a good fit for this service for a few reasons. IMDb, by far, returned the best results of any service I tested and has the added bonus of returning results for names. However, there wasn’t much one could actually do from an IMDb page. While the Amazon subsidiary is diligent about linking to Amazon Instant Video pages, it doesn’t really give you too many other options. The most complete service for seeking out ways to watch a film is Canistream.it. Unfortunately their search results are the most inconsistent of any of the sites I tried.

Goodfil.ms returned generally accurate results.1 The real secret sauce is that if you sign into Goodfil.ms you can not only manage a film queue on the site, but you can sync it to your Netflix account. Even better, Goodfil.ms does a great job of prominently displaying when a film is available on Netflix Watch Instant or for rent on iTunes. And if that’s not enough, each film’s synopsis features links to IMDb and Wikipedia.

I enjoyed using it enough today that I thought I’d share it. Of course, this was all time that I should have used to watch a few movies. There’s always tomorrow…

Installation

  1. Download and unzip “Open at Goodfilms.zip”
  2. Move “Open at Goodfilms.workflow” to ~/Library/Services/
  3. Open System Preferences.app
  4. Navigate to “Keyboard” and select the “Keyboard Shortcuts” tab.
  5. Select “Services” in the left panel. In the right panel scroll to Text > Open at Goodfilms. Make sure the check box is checked. You can also set a Keyboard Shortcut from this window.
  6. Once complete, the service should be available when right-clicking on text or from the Services menu in each app.
  1. Back to the Future, for example, returns the page for Back to the Future Part II.

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