New to Netflix in September

New to Netflix in September


Fall is coming upon us fast! And once that chilly weather hits, who wants to go outside, anyway? Instead, why not stay cozy and warm at home watching the latest Netflix Originals? From Colombia to “Hollywoo,” here’s what’s coming in September to our favorite streaming service!


Narcos (Season 3)

With the demise of Pablo Escobar last season, Narcos is shifting its focus to the Cali Cartel, Escobar’s former rivals and the most powerful Cartel in Columbia. Pedro Pascal (Game of Thrones) will be returning as DEA agent Javier Pena. Start streaming it on September 1st!


Bojack Horseman (Season 4)

The critically-acclaimed animated series, Bojack Horseman, returns on September 8th with Will Arnett (Arrested Development), Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad), and Amy Sedaris (Strangers With Candy) returning to voice the lead roles. The series follows the life of a beloved 90’s sitcom star, Bojack Horseman (Arnett), 20 years after his sitcoms ends – struggling to to make a name for himself (again) in “Hollywoo.”

Strong Island (Documentary)

From Netflix: “Strong Island chronicles the arc of a family across history, geography and tragedy – from the racial segregation of the Jim Crow South to the promise of New York City; from the presumed safety of middle class suburbs, to the maelstrom of an unexpected, violent death. It is the story of the Ford family: Barbara Dunmore, William Ford and their three children and how their lives were shaped by the enduring shadow of race in America.

In April 1992, on Long Island NY, William Jr., the Ford’s eldest child, a black 24 year-old teacher, was killed by Mark Reilly, a white 19 year-old mechanic. Although Ford was unarmed, he became the prime suspect in his own murder. A deeply intimate and meditative film, Strong Island asks what one can do when the grief of loss is entwined with historical injustice, and how one grapples with the complicity of silence, which can bind a family in an imitation of life, and a nation with a false sense of justice.” Strong Island debuts on September 15th.


Fuller House (Season 3 – Part 1)

Fuller House, the reboot/sequel of the popular show, Full House, is returning for Part 1 of it’s third season on September 22. Fuller House is the story of D.J. Tanner-Fuller (Candace Cameron-Bure), a recently widowed mom of three. After realizing she is unable to handle the demands of a full time job as a vet and raising three kids herself, her sister Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin) and childhood best friend Kimmy (Andrea Barber), who is also a mother, offer to move in and help her bring up her children.


What Netflix Originals are you excited for in September? Tell us in the comments section, below!

New to Netflix in August

New to Netflix in August


A new month brings new original shows and movies to Netflix! What are we excited about watching in August? Here’s a list of some of the top, new Netflix releases – because what better way to spend the dog days of summer than at home blasting the AC and watching Netflix?


Icarus (Documentary)

On August 4th, Netflix will be releasing the documentary, “Icarus”, an examination of the Russian doping scandal of the past Olympic Games. Premiering at Sundance this past January, Netflix engaged in an all-out bidding war, with many well-known studios vying for the film. Ultimately, Netflix paid $5 million for the production, and will most likely push the documentary come awards season.


Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later (Limited Series)

Also on August 4th, The Camp Firewood Ten Year Reunion begins! The 2001 cult-classic film by David Wain and Michael Showalter, which got a Netflix Original reboot-series in 2015, returns for an eight-part limited sequel taking place ten years after the events of the original film. This time, the group must save Camp Firewood after the owner announces she’s sellit it. Like the first reboot, this one will also star most of the original cast, including Amy Poehler, Chris Meloni, Elizabeth Banks, Jason Schwartzman, Michael Ian Black, Molly Shannon, and Paul Rudd.


Naked (Film)

August 11th is the new Groundhog Day! Netflix is releasing their own version of the classic 1993 film that starred Bill Murray, with a twisted, romantic-comedy premise: “Rob Anderson (Marlon Wayans) is all set to marry the girl of his dreams, but can’t quite get to the altar. Every time he comes close, he finds himself waking up naked in his hotel elevator, forced to relive the beginning of his wedding day over and over again” (Netflix).


Disjointed (Season 1)

On August 25th, Chuck Lorre (“Two and a Half Men”, “The Big Bang Theory”) and David Javerbaum (“The Daily Show”) release their latest project on Netflix: a new stoner sitcom starring Kathy Bates as a medicinal marijuana clinic owner.


What Netflix Originals are you excited for in August? Share yours in the comments section below!

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Why your WiFi sucks and what you can do about it

Why your WiFi sucks and what you can do about it


Imagine your perfect Smart Home. Would it have facial recognition locks so you wouldn’t have to worry about ever losing your keys? Or how about tinted windows that adjust to the amount of sunlight coming in, maintaining a perfect temperature inside at all times? If you’re anything like me, your perfect Smart Home would have a completely wireless, multi-room entertainment system, capable of streaming 4K video and 5.1 channels of discrete audio to speakers and screens placed throughout the home. That idea isn’t impossible today, however, it’s not being done. At the moment, the vast majority of home entertainment systems are wired, and their placement is dictated by cable lengths. And TVs are limited to soundbars that may reduce movies and music into a garbled monophonic fizz. This means that multi-room entertainment systems, a staple for Smart Home Entertainment, aren’t all that common or attractive, unless you’re into the whole tangled-wired-mess vibe.

The most cutting-edge technology for TV today is 4K, or Ultra High Definition (UHD). 4K TVs give flicker-free pictures at 60 frames per second, and up to 10 bit color. To send a 4K TV signal and 5.1 audio signal wirelessly, you’d need to transmit data at just over 80 Megabits per second (MB/s) to avoid any obvious visible artifacts. The newest WiFi routers you can buy use the 802.11ac standard to send data at a 5GHz frequency, which is a theoretical max data rate of 1.3 Gigabits per second (Mb/s).

So, if wireless, multi-room entertainment systems capable of streaming 4K video and 5.1 channels are possible, why isn’t it being done? The problem is in your WiFi. Conventional WiFi runs on TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) which was designed in the 1960’s for transferring files down wired Ethernet lines, not streaming real-time video and wireless audio for the Smart Home.


TCP is outdated.

Let’s take a closer look at TCP. TCP was originally designed to break a file into smaller packets of data, and send it piece by piece down a twisted-pair wired network connection to a router. The goal was for all the packets to eventually get to the router, no matter how long it took the file to get there. This is called “asynchronous.” Remember back in the day when you’d download music from Napster or LimeWire and it took an entire afternoon to get just a few songs? Yeah, that’s basically it.

Routers in those days could only handle so many packets at a time before choking.The lost packets were retransmitted, and so each file could only be sent to one destination on the network at a time. And if packets were getting lost, TCP would not only retransmit the lost packets, but also send the packets at a slower rate allowing the router to digest all the packets it was being sent to prevent further data loss.


TCP is wasting your precious bandwidth.

Today, in a 5GHz wireless network, it is much more likely that packets are lost through interference (transmission loss) than the router getting choked (continuous data congestion at the router). So, TCP’s approach of throttling back the data rate makes bandwidth congestion worse, not better. Tom’s Hardware site did a benchmark test of TCP vs the raw data transmission without all it’s throttling back. With TCP, they measured between 114 and 180 MB/s across five top router brands. Without TCP re-transmission they could reach 606 to 637MB/s with those same five routers.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that using wireless streaming services like Spotify or Netflix is not like sending an email. Music and video streaming have much higher demands than file transfer: packets of a streamed audio or video file have to arrive and be processed at a speed that allows a constant stream of packets to arrive reliably so there are no dropouts in the music or movie. And, if you just so happen to have multiple wireless TVs and speakers, they each have to receive the same data simultaneously.

Network interference can come from intentional transmitters, like other routers and WiFi devices on the same or adjacent channel, a cell phone or a nearby mesh-network music system, or unintentional transmitters, like a microwave oven. Noise changes by the microsecond, and with each millimeter of position- so perhaps think twice before opening that package of microwavable popcorn if you’re streaming a movie to multiple wireless speakers using a network built on TCP.


Enter Blackfire RED.

When it comes to creating your perfect Smart Home of the future, why not start today? Remember earlier when I mentioned that wireless, multi-room entertainment systems capable of streaming 4K video and 5.1 channels aren’t being done? Well, with Blackfire Realtime Entertainment Distribution (RED) protocol, it can be done, and easily. Blackfire RED can interpret all that network interference and identify where it is coming from. Blackfire RED is synchronous, multipoint, and has an intelligent adaptive algorithm for managing packet retransmission, resulting in improved signal reliability, tighter synchronization, and reduced latency. And the best part? Blackfire RED works completely wirelessly throughout your home.

The idea of your perfect Smart Home doesn’t have to remain a distant fantasy. Truly connected, wireless Smart Home Entertainment is possible today, but your current WiFi is built on an outdated protocol that can’t support the latest technology (or technology of the future). You don’t still walk around with a pager, do you? Why do we upgrade some technologies and not others? I know you’ve ditched the pager. Now go ahead, ditch TCP and say hello to twenty-first century Smart Home Entertainment.

In the Shadow of Giants by Rohit Verma

In the Shadow of Giants by Rohit Verma


Something you hear a lot in Silicon Valley is how hard it is for the little guy to compete against the Googles, the Facebooks, and the Amazons of the world. They have a platform. And, it’s hard to compete against a platform.

A lot of the value of platforms is driven by data and how that data can be used to optimize business decisions. The Economist magazine claims that “The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data”. No surprise, then, that substantial investment focus by Amazon and Google is in artificial intelligence (see CBInsights’s very detailed analyses on these two companies). For a good understanding of the incumbent value of platforms, however, Facebook’s relatively clean business model is the easiest to examine.

Facebook revenue increased almost 6 times from $5B in 2012 to $28B in 2016. Certainly, a secular increase in internet advertising spend explains part of the trend. More fundamental in this growth, though, is the increase in the number of daily users from 0.6B to 1.2B, and the time each user spends on Facebook properties. More time, individually and as a group, means more opportunity to serve up advertising. And, very importantly, optimizing what ads to serve up and how (hello AI). In that same period, average revenue per user grew from $5 to $16.


In essence, the platform and the value that it provides is a simple function: # users x time per user. A startup has to do a great job maximizing the amount of time users spend on its properties. But, to achieve a compelling financial model, it will inevitably need a large number of users. Snap ended 2015 with 107M daily users, and averaged $0.6 per user. By 2016, number of users had risen to 158M, and average revenue per user to $2.7.


Facebook’s strategy is focused on pushing these two numbers up, and the bulk of the $25B it has spent since 2012 to acquire companies was directed at Instagram and Whatsapp. It also made an unsuccessful run at Snap. That failure led to Facebook mimicking Snap by offering camera-related features on its platforms. Instagram Stories alone has reached 200 million active users. Which exceeds Snap’s total active users, showcasing the power of platforms. Facebook now has 1.2B daily users that spend an hour a day on its combined properties. A digital river of information that Facebook gleefully monetizes.

Not every startup can be Snap, and achieving meaningful volume may require leveraging existing platforms. For which the platforms will get a meaningful cut. The other lever that startups have, is to maximize the amount of time users spend on them. Some of the most popular categories of applications are:

  • Social media and browsing: Facebook – an hour a day for each user
  • Video: Netflix – 2 hours; YouTube – 1 hour
  • Gaming: as a category, 2 hours a day
  • Music: Pandora – 1 hour

The killer app would be one that combines all, or a significant subset of these applications into one unified platform.

Sources: “The new face of Facebook” The Economist; “Google Strategy Teardown” CBInsights; “Amazon Strategy Teardown” CBInsights; Blackfire Research

New on Netflix in May

New on Netflix in May


Enjoying nice weather is so overrated. Who needs a picnic in the park, fresh air, or sunshine when you’ve got hours upon hours of binge-worthy shows to watch? With the return of several Netflix Original fan favorites and a slew of brand new, promising shows and movies, in the month of May, Netflix is certainly testing the limits on how long it’s viewers can go without putting pants on and leaving the house (or at least, putting us all at risk for a severe Vitamin D deficiency). Here are the reasons why we’re canceling all of our plans next month:

On May 5, make sure to check out the Netflix original film, “Handsome: A Netflix Mystery Movie” starring Jeff Garlin (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”) as Los Angeles homicide detective, Gene Handsome. This offbeat comedy follows Detective Handsome as he attempts to solve a murder and make sense of his own life’s problems. The film also stars Natasha Lyonne, Amy Sedaris, and Steven Weber.

Also on May 5, Netflix will begin streaming the documentary, “The Mars Generation,” which takes an in-depth look at the future of space exploration, in both the public and private sectors, and the teens who are training at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center to be the first to, one day, set foot on Mars. Sounds stellar.

The 1908 novel, “Anne of Green Gables” comes to life in the new series, “Anne,” out May 12. This classic coming-of-age story follows a young, orphaned girl who accidentally gets sent to live with an elderly brother and sister on Prince Edward Island. An outsider and free spirit with a stunning imagination, Anne learns to fight for who she is and what she believes in, transforming the lives of her adopted family, and their community.

On May 19, Kimmy, Titus Andromedon, Lillian, and Jacqueline White are all back “in formation” for season three of the hugely popular, overly optimistic, and immensely hilarious “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” co-created by Tina Fey (“30 Rock”). After being kidnapped and forced to live in an underground cult for 15 years, Kimmy decides to move to New York City and take control of her life once again, which turns out, is easier said than done. Kimmy’s contagious positivity catches on, and those close to her begin to feel the mighty effects of self-worth and a sunny disposition.


And finally, after an excruciating delay, Netflix’s, first Original show, and most critically acclaimed, “House of Cards,” returns on May 30. Season Five will pick up right where the show left off, with the aftermath of Tom Hammerschmidt’s article exposing the Underwood’s in the Washington Herald and the terrorist execution of an American hostage. Throughout season four, Frank and Claire Underwood’s relationship showed signs of severe fracturing. Will they continue to re-strengthen their relationship as running mates, or will this be the year Frank’s delicate house of cards finally comes crumbling down? We’ll have to wait and find out.