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6 Things We Learned From the Unofficial Netflix “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit

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NetflixYesterday, the Ask Me Anything community on Reddit was surprised to see a Netflix employee on the site offering to answer any questions the community had. A customer service representative opened an AMA to answer questions, providing a picture of their lanyard as proof.

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While the proof provided was not a major identifier, the amount of knowledge the person had about the company helped back up their case. After a few hours, the account was deleted along with the picture of proof. The comments they made addressing questions remain however, and they contain some pretty juicy information about the movie providing service.

Also Read: Netflix Kills Notion of Offline Playback; Says it Will “Never Happen”

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1) Netflix doesn’t actively monitor VPN usage

Question: How do you feel about people outside the supported countries accessing Netflix using VPN [virtual private network]. And what’s happening with the Netflix expansion in India? Or at least Asia?

While the question doesn’t relate specifically to the usage of VPN, the customer service representative shared information that should put all VPN users at ease. According to them, Netflix isn’t actively monitoring VPN usage.

Answer: No word on Asia as of now from me, and we don’t actively monitor VPN usage. If you ever need to call tech support they can see right away, and will just advise you to turn off the VPN before they troubleshoot because most issues are slow connection from VPN.

Recently, there’s been a myth that Netflix wanted to crack down on VPN usage when accessing their platform. However, when speaking to The Next Web about the rumor, a Netflix employee said they aren’t actively cracking down at all.

“Netflix simply uses industry standard methods to prevent illegal VPN use,” seems to be the official word, backing up the anonymous customer service representative’s remarks.

2) Netflix buys DVDs in bulk

Question: Why are all the good movies only available on DVD?

Ever wonder why all the best movies are always on DVD, or why that service still exists in the age of streaming? The answer isn’t amazing, but it provides one of those “Oh!” moments.

Answer: DVD is different than streaming because we can pretty much buy all the DVDs in bulk and mail them. Don’t have the same licensing limitations

There’s the “Oh!” moment. It makes perfect sense that Netflix would simply buy the DVDs in bulk and mail them out to users. They don’t have to worry about acquiring rights or cutting deals with productions companies. The answer is so simple it makes you feel dumb.

3) Netflix is working on HTML5 videos

Question: Netflix Player to HTML5, when? If you know…

If you’ve never experienced the amazing feats of an HTML5 video, you’ve been missing out. All those low-quality Tumblr GIFs that you’ve been experiencing for the past few years are about to get blown out of the window once HTML5 video takes off.

Here’s an example of a great HTML5 video:

Sick of watching slow-loading videos on YouTube? Well, the format also supports sound!

According to the Netflix employee, Netflix is testing this out now.

Answer: [It’s] happening right now through chrome 37+.

4) Netflix is expanding to more cable boxes

Question: Is it true that Netflix may soon be working with Cable providers, so Netflix will be accessible with Video On Demand, and [through] a cable box?

The answer? A quite enthusiastic yes.

Answer: Yes! If you’re in the U.S. and have a dish hopper, you’re able to grab the app from your dish receiver now. The U.K. has TiVo through Virgin and some BT boxes as well. More are being added very soon.

5) Netflix is testing skipping opening credits of TV shows

Question: How come there isn’t an option to skip the opening credits of any TV show you may be binge watching?

Ever binge watch a show for hours on end, just to hear that same opening jingle over and over each time? I get it; I’ve seen all of Futurama at least 12 times. I don’t need to hear that same song again and watch Leela crash the Planet Express ship through the billboard for the hundredth time.

Well, it looks like Netflix is currently testing a tool that would skip the opening credits for binge watchers.

Answer: That’s on some accounts right now being tested. Have it happening on my personal account actually.

6) Netflix is currently rolling out a new user interface

Question: I feel like the Netflix UI is really clunky across almost all of the different devices. I’ve only used the Roku, PS3, AppleTV, and a normal web browser so far and none are really that good. I don’t have any suggestions, but I feel like there could be a better way of displaying the UI.

So my question is, are there any plans on unifying the UI across all devices (this might be difficult) or just a more user-friendly UI to use in general instead of endless scrolling?

This one has been a gripe of many Netflix users over the past few years. As the services rolled out on nearly all devices, some interfaces are clearly superior to others. Once you get used to a certain layout, it’s hard to switch back and forth – especially to one that doesn’t perform as well.

Answer: Yes actually! It’s rolling out now actually!

It looks like Netflix is bringing a lot of things to the table, and it’s unfortunate to see the AMA end. Netflix representatives and public relations people were certainly watching, so the hope is that they saw the community response and can use that to address certain features in the future.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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New York-Based TokenBnk Launches Crypto Savings Account

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The blockchain ecosystem is budding with innovation. TokenBnk has added its name to the list of most interesting blockchain startups when it launched a decentralized application that functions very much like a traditional savings account.

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Traditional Finance Meets Cryptocurrency

New York-based TokenBnk is the world’s first Ethereum-based savings account. The general idea behind TokenBnk is that you can deposit tokens into your Savings Contract (instead of a savings account) and earn rewards in the same token you hold. It operates very much like a traditional bank account, only for cryptocurrency. That’s kinda what we’re all about here at Hacked.

To illustrate how the platform works, suppose you receive 1,000 TBK as a reward and hold 500 of them in ether and 500 in OmiseGo. You will receive the same proportion of tokens back into your Savings Contract, thereby boosting your position size.

To withdraw ether from your savings account, you must pay a predetermined fee using the platform’s native TBK token. The fee is distributed as an award throughout the network via smart contract. The amount network participants receive is proportional to the percentage of the Total Network Value they represent.

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The Launch

TokenBnk emerged-by-stealth on or about Thursday, much to the surprise of the author, who has been anticipating this project for quite some time. The release was accompanied by an 11-page whitepaper and plans for a Nov. 30 token launch.

The protocol is being audited as we speak before beta testing goes live. TokenBnk will launch via mobile app some time in Q1 2018, followed by a full platform launch later in the year.

The development team behind TBK is impressive, with the main website listing 14 young men who can’t be more than 35 years old. The team hails from some of America’s most prestigious universities, such as Stanford, Princeton, Columbia, Carnegie Mellon and NYU. Private sector experience is also exemplified with stints at Amazon, AngelList and J.P. Morgan. (We’re glad the former JPM employees at TokenBnk didn’t drink from the same Kool-Aid as Jamie Dimon.)

TokenBnk CEO Shayne Coplan makes a strong case for his platform, especially for those of us keen on investing in cryptos over the long term.

“Currently, most long term holders leave their tokens in their Ethereum wallet, but why do that if you can yield automated regular returns by storing them on the blockchain as part of the TokenBnk network?” Coplan told Hacked. “The idea of holding fiat currency long term and earning no ROI is considered foolish, and it will be no different for cryptocurrencies.”

Coplan was part of the ETH presale back in 2014. With ether prices recently surging past $300, most market participants probably regret trading it right off the bat.

“In hindsight, the buy and hold strategy massively outperformed even the most successful of traders,” Coplan adds. “With the new wave of tokens arriving in the market over the next few years, hopefully TokenBnk can help token holders avoid making that same mistake.”

Ether trails only bitcoin in the race for market cap and is widely considered one of the most promising cryptos from a development point of view.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

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Blockchain, Insurance and the Crisis of Trust

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Blockchain has been described as the modern-day cure for many ailments facing industry. For insurers, the ledger technology can change the way businesses process claims, share data and prevent fraud.

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Blockchain for Insurance

Fin-tech disruption has played an important role in reshaping the insurance industry. The internet, mobile devices and even data analytics have become indispensable to modern-day insurance providers.  What’s more, the industry full expects this disruption to intensify in coming years.

A survey of financial service providers conducted by PwC found that nearly three-quarters (74%) of insurers identified their own industry as the most likely to undergo significant change as a result of technology. That survey was conducted long before blockchain was even a thing for the average observer.

Fast forward to today, and blockchain is all the rage. Beyond the hype, the ledger technology has radically transformed our perception of record-keeping and trust. As a self-managed system, it can help insurers coordinate claims and boost efficiency without the need for an intermediary.

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Improving Trust

Most people have or at some point will interface with the insurance sector. It is here that they will likely experience the crisis of trust that have caused many to go uninsured. Recent earthquakes in California revealed that only 17% of the state’s homeowners have insurance to cover the natural disaster.

Of course, everyone in the state knows about the San Andreas fault. The choice to go uninsured is a rational one aimed at circumnavigating an industry plagued by a lack of trust. Blockchain isn’t some magic bullet that will fix this problem. But what it can and will provide is transparency.

More transparency can create a more efficient insurance sector by reducing or eliminating all together the need for manual processes. As anyone who has tried to switch healthcare providers knows, manual data entry is prone to huge risks, not to mention fear of losing personal data.  Through blockchain, personal data may be controlled by an individual, but verification is registered on the immutable ledger book.

Blockchain also provides smart contract capability, which can greatly enhance claims processing. By recording and verifying contracts on the ledger, insurers can guarantee that only valid claims are made. For consumers, it also means not having to fill out cumbersome paperwork.

Insurers are also leaning on the blockchain to detect fraud, which drains businesses out of tens of billions of dollars annually. The blockchain’s permanent record provides a decentralized repository insurers can use to verify every customer, policy and transaction. Before the blockchain, this would have required extensive cooperation between various actors.

There’s already a budding community of blockchain companies involved in the insurance industry. Together with other finance companies, they are among the biggest draws of the ICO market. According to CoinSchedule, more than 9% of the total funds raised via ICOs this year have come to finance companies.

When it comes to blockchain, insurance is another sector investors should carefully monitor. It is highly lucrative, but suffers from huge flaws that these new technologies can help fix.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Gizer and Gaze Coin Join Forces to Shape eSports Future

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Global gaming network Gizer has joined forces with VR platform Gaze Coin in a bid to transform the eSports economy.  The companies are expected to boost monetization channels while providing new opportunities for virtual reality-based gaming.

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Partnership Announced

The strategic partnership, which was just announced via Gizer’s Medium channel, appears to be centered on delivering gaming events in virtual and augmented reality. That’s a powerful concept for the rapidly growing eSports segment.

Gizer launched its crowdsale last month amid much fanfare, and has been ranked one of Hacked.com’s best ICOs of the year. The gaming network made headlines last month after it brought on blockchain heavyweight David Drake to its  advisory board. Drake is the Chairman of LDJ Capital and is regarded as an influential blockchain leader.

Gaze Coin’s ICO is coming down the pipeline for Nov. 28. It will be hosted on the Ethereum platform, with a total supply of 100 million tokens.

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Both companies appear to be synchronizing their development roadmaps to deliver games in virtual and augmented reality. Gizer plans to unveil its marketplace in early 2018. That’s around the same time Gaze Coin intends its launch the mixed-reality game Dream Channel, which debuted at the Cannes Film Festival this past May.

eSports Industry Is Booming

The eSports ecosystem is growing at a rapid rate, according to various research reports that peg it as a billion-dollar industry over the next two years. Earlier this year, Newzoo said it expects eSports revenues to reach $1.5 billion by 2020, with brand investment doubling over that period.

Clearly, the idea of creating professional leagues out of multiplayer games is gaining in popularity. Given the number of users already playing online, the need for an integrated network that connects all the dots and provides incentives has never been greater. The blockchain can greatly enhance the end user experience by creating a stable infrastructure to handle all transactions. This not only improves the platform, but ensures toxic members are kept at bay. (How many times have you played your favorite EA Sports game only to have to deal with members abusing one another and cheating? The blockchain is a potential remedy.)

Greater community involvement and more opportunity to grow the ecosystem are the other major benefits offered exclusively by the blockchain. And because this environment can be monetized, there’s huge incentive to grow and improve it over time.

In reality, eSports is just one of a myriad of industries currently being developed by the blockchain community. A total of 27 industries have been represented by the ICO universe this year alone, according to CoinSchedule. Gaming and VR token raises have been among the most lucrative, drawing in more than $120 million through the first ten months. That’s roughly 4% of the $3.25 billion in ICO funding raised this  year alone.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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