back to article In the week Uber blew up, Netflix restates 'No brilliant jerks' policy

In 2009, Netflix published what became an influential slide deck explaining its culture, including a policy of not hiring “brilliant jerks” because the benefit of their moments of excellence are outweighed by the cost of their other behaviours. Now Netflix has updated the document with a new explanation of how it aims to make …

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Well they already cut themselves off from a big portion of the "market"

For many developers, particularly in the higher class, Netflixs insistence on DRM is a no-go. It's just no a very ethical company.

They could at least drop the DRM for their own productions.

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Re: Well they already cut themselves off from a big portion of the "market"

Really? Not an ethical company because they use DRM? Really?

Is the Netflix DRM that bad? Does it make it difficult to watch the shows you donwload from them? Millions of subscribers would tend to say No.

You might have a personal dislike of DRM, and you are free not to give them your money, but they have obviously down the calculations and they think they need the DRM to avoid losing Money to pirating. So long as they keep the DRM unobtrusive, I dont get the hate. This isnt the days of SecurROM anymore, after all.

But claiming this makes them unethical is ridiculous.

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Re: Well they already cut themselves off from a big portion of the "market"

Dear Mr Berger,

DRM, by definition, protects copyrighted works (amongst others) using a large quantity of different methods.

Your insistence that Netflix does away with its version of DRM basically implies that Netflix could remove the paywall they have in place. I understand that you want to view Netflix movies in your player-of-choice. However, Mr Berger, ultimately we (is it 8 billion these days?) only need 1 person to pay Netflix, upload everything to putlocker.is or piratebay.cr, and all the others (8 billion - 1) can now freely watch Netflix' stuff.

Even Netflix-produced material needs to be paid. Kevin Spacy (President Underwood) isn't going to survive without Netflix paying him. Orange won't happen (which is *massively* upsetting since I'm Dutch).

An alternative would be to levy Netflix membership payments onto everybody's individual internet connection subscription. Where I currently pay Netflix once, I will end up paying them twice albeit possibly at a lower rate. If you never watch Netflix you still have to pay. That's the same scheme as a tax, so would be rather disturbing...

Would you work full-time without pay? Forever? Then why should others?

Regards,

Guus

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Well they already cut themselves off from a big portion of the "market"

Would you work once for full pay forever?

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Re: Well they already cut themselves off from a big portion of the "market"

For downloads, I'd agree. But actually, they're a streaming service, not a download service. Essentially it's like cable companies encrypting their content before it hits the set top box - they're trying to stop freeloaders piggybacking a free ride off people like myself who are paying for it.

And yes, I know, there is DRM on DVDs and BluRays. It's not very good and easy bypass tools are available, and some of the commercial DVDs I buy are unencrypted. Heck, ALL the vinyl I buy is unencrypted, but that doesn't mean I want to go back to vinyl for all my music needs (Id have trouble fitting a turntable and a dozen LPs into the iPod pocket in my coat, for example).

I think DRM for streaming is fine. For media I've purchased, not cool.

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Re: Well they already cut themselves off from a big portion of the "market"

They could at least drop the DRM for their own productions.

DRM is not, of itself, inherently evil (like quite a lot of other things). However, like a lot of other things, it can be used in an evil manner (Hollywood and games manufacturers, I'm looking at you.

It's also worthwhile keeping in mind that NF are required to use DRM on stuff they buy from other people and (I suspect) trying to exclude their stuff from the DRM of the stream would be a technical challenge..

EDIT: And anyway - I suspect that in using DRM they are protecting themselves from the MAFIAA and all its little goblins and, were they to remove it, even only from their own stuff, they would get sued for the total world GDP by said eveil organisations.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Well they already cut themselves off from a big portion of the "market"

"They could at least drop the DRM for their own productions."

Netflix is not about owning what you view.

Given that you can stop with a month's notice if you're no longer able to access their content on a device of your choice, without being denied any 'property' as no ownership was ever offered, the issue of DRM is absolutely irrelevant.

And I speak as someone who will only buy DRM-free ebooks, so am usually biased in your favour.

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Re: Well they already cut themselves off from a big portion of the "market"

DRM has always been unethical. Have we learned nothing from the 2000's?

"Hey Netflix, the year 2001 called and wants its Restrictions Management mentality back" comes to mind.

If DRM is to be used, we need to reform copyright. Thanks to some greedy people in the US who had no idea how to survive without Mickey Mouse we now have the common people having to wait almost 100 years before the public domain can see new works. It gets really mind bending when you realise that copyright created to prevent this, by protecting the right for someone to COPY a work for personal uses AGAINST any backlash from the creator of said work or publisher.

Imagine if this was applied to the use of forks. It being illegal to buy a fork, eat with it then wash it for further use the next day. Oh the humanity, how much money lost to the makers of forks because the everyday people "hijack" the cutlery instead of buying a new one for the next day.

Yes, a fork is physical so must be "Hijacked" like a plane. Fork hijackers are the fork equivalents to digital pirates.

Clever really as pirates typically attack ships. What nice mind control these corporations invented by calling someone who does the future generations a service in protecting a work, a pirate. Kids know pirates attack ships and kill people while wearing eye patches so its bad to be someone who share a film that should be shared with friends after 10 years (and not 70+). Its bad to share a fork, or anything really. Sharing is bad. How dare little Sarah bring in ONE BAG of sweets to school for everyone to share on her birthday. Thats illegal. Thats hijacking a sweet. The kids should be ashamed.

This is crazy talk dont you think? The artistic treasures of our generation and generations before, locked up in perpetual limbo for ever thanks to increasing terms of copyright and DRM designed to prevent the freeing of such works in protest.

Even I use netflix and that does not make me a hypocrite. Why is this? Well think about it. I either not watch these new works in protest, or I enjoy them while I can. Yet I am maddened knowing that the generations that follow me wont.

We are really, seriously, right now entering the beginnings of what future societies will know as the second dark ages. Only thanks to the continued existence of printed books and newspapers plus some digital works that are freed thanks for the efforts of the Creative Commons these ages will not be completely dark.

I will watch Netflix and enjoy what I can while I exist in this world. I will also find ways to try and further the cause of freeing our generations treasures from dark deep vaults. I will rip my DVD's to open formats when I want. If I have a blu-ray I will re-record it in realtime (I grew up in the 90's so real time recording does not scare me one bit) via analogue means if I can not rip it. I will keep the DVD and blu-ray too as better ripping methods may be possible in the future and players will work for many years and dont tend to "phone home".

To anyone who managed to read all this: Well done lol I do go on.

To anyone who disagrees with DRM being unethical and copyright being a "copyblight" on our generation then I say, go and take action like me. Find a library and lock it up nice and tight. Destroy the key and when people complain tell them about the evils of information sharing and freedom. Tell them that our descendants centuries to come have no right to know anything of our works or knowledge without perpetual payments. Ask them to join you in the fight against the public domain!

But you wont will you? ;-)

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Re: Well they already cut themselves off from a big portion of the "market"

But when you buy a CD/DVD/BluRay/Vinyl/Book etc - you are buying a physical item which becomes your property to do with as you wish (copyright case law long ago established that you can take a "backup" of physical media as long as you still own the original and are not distributing or reselling that copy).

But when you download a film from Netfilx - they still retain ownership of that material.

You pay for a streaming subscription - the option to download and view offline is simply an added bonus. If they had a pay-per-download model like Amazon, then that might be a different matter.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Well they already cut themselves off from a big portion of the "market"

"For many developers, particularly in the higher class, Netflixs insistence on DRM is a no-go. It's just no a very ethical company."

Dude. It's a streaming service. If you cancel your service, or the company collapses you have nothing left that could be inaccessible.

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Re: Well they already cut themselves off from a big portion of the "market"

Really?

They run a subscription service, how long would that last if you could fire off a bot to download and entire genre of movies over the course of a few days?

I know what younger me would have done.. 30 day trial, download the lot and watch at leisure.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Well they already cut themselves off from a big portion of the "market"

The Netflix managers do seem like jerks. They were the people who came up with the idea of 'unlimited vacation' as a ploy to not have to pay people for unused vacation balances when they left the company... obviously there is no such thing as unlimited vacation. You can't tell them on your first day that you will be on vacation until further notice.

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JLV
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Re: Well they already cut themselves off from a big portion of the "market"

Alright, Christian, I'll bite.

What's your point, exactly? They are not selling you products and limiting your use of them. They are renting digital products and making sure you can't use them outside of the rental context. Why would they risk having rentals be duplicated? For what purpose? Which of your rights, exactly, are being infringed, outside of you not agreeing to rent their products on their terms?

This is very different from buying a digital product outright and then finding out that you, as the owner, cannot use it on your terms. Yes, we are all familiar with that crap, including the music industry exec some decades back who was trying to argue you'd have to rebuy your music on tapes/mp3s to listen in your car, even though you had bought the CDs. Or Sony's rootkit DRM. Or sundry others. Yes, that's crap. Doesn't make your complaint any more relevant, in the specific case of a rental. Which you can terminate at any time and does not afford you any rights past that termination.

I'd somewhat get it if you specifically stated you were concerned about the problems their approach causes when customers want to use Linux as a viewing platform and the clash between that chosen platform and DRM. But you give no indication that you are anywhere as nuanced as that in your reasoning.

Oh, and, btw, this article had nothing to do with DRM, so you're just being tiresome, as per usual ;-) Me, I rather like Netflix and I also think their IT approach has been quite innovative and they don't mind sharing (ex: https://github.com/Netflix/SimianArmy/wiki/Chaos-Monkey, https://github.com/Netflix).

p.s. >particularly in the higher class

Not full of yourself in any way, are you?

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worked its way into many-an-HR-person's strategies.

You mean "pretend worked", surely. Such things are not set in an HR strategy - they are set from the CEO and board down and the CEO and the board have to live by them. When an HR droid tries to imitate them within the scope of what is allowed to an HR droid the results are laughable.

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Holmes

Jerks need not apply

I applaud no brilliant jerks, but they also are wanting everyone to be a star. I don't know if you can have it both ways. But perhaps with a culture of maturity you could.

Personally I would settle for no jerks brilliant or otherwise, but I'm the type who hopes to just do a decent job with out eff'ing up.

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Coat

Re: Jerks need not apply

It says No Brilliant JerkS, we're allowed to have one

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Re: Jerks need not apply

" I don't know if you can have it both ways. But perhaps with a culture of maturity you could."

You can, yes. Being an absolute arse to people you work with isn't necessary, and making excuses for it due to talent is daft - especially when it turns out that the Brilliant Jerk usually isn't that brilliant, but just enough of a jerk to shamelessly steal credit wherever possible. Actually, that sounds like an exact description of Steve Jobs, thinking about it.

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Re: Jerks need not apply

brilliant jerks or the other name - "playboy millionaire project managers with nothing to lose"

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Re: Jerks need not apply

The problem is they tend to breed or infect when you let one in.

Shame there is no blood test for being an arsehole.

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Re: Jerks need not apply

Shame there is no blood test for being an arsehole.

I take a different approach. "I'm glad there's no blood test for being an arsehole". There's way too many places would actively seek them out.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Jerks need not apply

Indeed.

In one of his TED Talks (https://www.ted.com/talks/adam_grant_are_you_a_giver_or_a_taker?language=en) Adam Grant (an organizational psychologist) talks about people as Givers, Takers and the mass of people in between His view is that it's way more important to keep out the Takers than it is to hire lots of Givers. The really dangerous ones are the pleasant Takers. People can avoid the loud jerks, but the backstabbers just make people suspicious and uncooperative.

"No brilliant jerks" is just another way of saying "No takers".

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Anonymous Coward

"time-servers, ladder-climbers, or those who figure if they do a decent job without f*cking up they'll have a safe job".

So, don't expect job security, career advancement and do more than you're paid for.

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It does seem they don't tolerate discrimination, they end up firing everyone. The only question is if they fire you sooner or later.

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Anonymous Coward

"The only question is if they fire you sooner or later."

This applies to pretty much every IT company, particularly the larger ones.

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In theory it all sounds like a lovely Utopia. However, reading between the lines, it basically means free overtime for the company as everybody is too scared to do the hours they are paid to do, lest they not be seen as a team player with a good attitude. Plus lots of people like Sushi and big parties, there's nothing wrong with that, and Netflix certainly makes enough money to afford both.

Not everybody is nice all the time, it's not how humans work and I can't imagine anything worse than working amongst a sea of fake smiles and fake niceness especially if it's being enforced by HR. Besides which, for example, though it might be a stereotype, the sort of person who makes a brilliant developer is the sort of person who spends all their time coding, to the detriment of social connections in the real world, and they aren't going to be that well adjusted 99% of the time, in my experience.

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re: it basically means free overtime for the company

I once had an interview for a company (Eversheds) where the manager made a *big* point of "we're a pie and pint sort of culture."

He seemed taken aback when I asked him what that actually meant, and translated it into

"we all work over our hours 'when the project needs it'".

He then asked if that was a problem. I replied that as a one-off it was never a problem. If it happened every day then I wan't prepared to be a backstop to bad project management.

The rejection was on my voicemail before I left the building.

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Re: re: it basically means free overtime for the company

Excellent! That's just the type of thing I would have said.

I once in an interview used the phrase "Well a cock-up on your part doesn't constitute a crisis for me!"

The face in front of me went through a kaleidoscope. I'd already decided to back out of that job application so was just enjoying the ride at that point.

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LDS
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"make 'sushi lunches, great gyms, big offices, or frequent parties' unnecessary."

Those are not for the plebs and the serfs. Those are just for the noble executives. You have to learn to work more and longer for less, to allow the noble executives to spend the billions you allow them to make in lavish expenditures in beautiful places around the world.

If you ask too much, they won't be able to spend those money and sew their golden parachutes. If you want a promotion, you could take the comfy chair of one of them.

"We make a good-faith estimate of the highest compensation each employee could make at peer firms, and pay them that max"

So you don't pay them on performance and added value - just calculate what they could expect from a competitor?

And then you say you act as a sport team (which are usually among the worst example of "bro culture" and overpaid jerks, BTW)?

What an ugly company to work for....

PS: I hate sushi...

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In theory it all sounds like a lovely Utopia. However, reading between the lines, it basically means free overtime for the company as everybody is too scared to do the hours they are paid to do, lest they not be seen as a team player with a good attitude.

In Silicon Valley everyone salaried does free overtime, for one reason or another, and most of these companies pay in the middle range of the market, not the top. So paying top dollar for working overtime is pretty good.

The place I just retired from, which is (quite rightly) despised by most Reg readers, got very pissy when people stopped working free overtime after not getting raises for a couple of years. So Netflix sounds pretty good.

Parties are fine, but some people would rather go home to their families.

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Re: re: it basically means free overtime for the company

The one I had at interview was "We run a lean organisation". In other words we're too stingy to employ enough people so you'll have to do the work of more than person.

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Unhappy

"Parties are fine, but some people would rather go home to their families."

I experienced this free overtime lark in the eighties, plus they'd created a culture where you were "being antisocial" if you didn't go to the pub and maybe on to a restaurant with them after work. All out of your own pocket of course.

I would have much preferred to be spending that money on doing up my house, holidays, or heavens, actually saving up for a rainy day.

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Re: re: it basically means free overtime for the company

I said the same thing in an interview. I already knew that the company had all of the salaried engineers working 60ish hours/week and told them that I am willing to put in the extra time to hit goals I thought were reasonably set or to finish something that only need a bit more to complete rather than leaving 20 minutes of work for the next day but, I would not wish to consistently work more than 8/40 although I might work up to 50 for the right compensation. I never heard back from them. During the interview I found that I wasn't all that interested in working for the company so handing out the ultimatum didn't bother me.

Companies that need their workforce for more than 40/week all of the time don't have viable business plan or are selling their product far too cheap. Working 60 hours a week is a 50% pay cut if your annual salary isn't 50% more than somebody else in a comparable job where they are only working 40/week.

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Anonymous Coward

"Dream teams therefore make “sushi lunches, great gyms, big offices, or frequent parties” unnecessary."

What if I like Sushi?

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Anonymous Coward

Buy your own and don't expect the company to fund your sushi cravings to make up for the fact your colleagues are arseholes?

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Anonymous Coward

The sentiment was more that if I like Sushi does that make me an arsehole?

I also enjoy great gyms and frequent parties, not that fussed about big offices.

So 3/4, I guess I'm an arsehole then.

Back to the article and a thought has occurred to me, maybe it's down to management not to breed a culture where jerks can survive rather than trying to label someone a jerk before you have even employed them. It's just lazy to say rather than work on man management were just not going to employ anyone who could be a jerk.

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> I like Sushi does that make me an arsehole?

Probably so.

> I also enjoy great gyms and frequent parties

Very probably so.

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Most folks over the age of 28 want the money, not the silly perks.

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"> I like Sushi does that make me an arsehole?"

Two key words in that sentence trigger an awful memory...

The last time I had Sushi it gave me a sore arsehole.

A very sore arsehole.

Well, it could have been the beer in that dive of a pub afterwards, but it was a very sore arsehole nevertheless.

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WTF?

Parsing error

"Brilliant jerks are still not welcome, because Netflix believes “that brilliant people are also capable of decent human interactions, and we insist upon that.”"

Does anyone understand what this means? Typo? Misspeak? nothing?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Parsing error

that brilliant people are also capable of decent human interactions

Translation: "Being brilliant does not entitle you to be an arse(hole)".

Definitely a good principle, but it has to be augmented by: "Being a mediocre pointed hair greasy pole climber does not entitle you to be an arse(hole) either. Neither does an MBA".

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Re: Parsing error

Got you: thanks!

Puts a lot on negative inference on "are also" to essentially mean "could but don't" (with the appropriate grammatical corrections to fit the sentence).

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Re: Parsing error

> "Being a mediocre pointy-hair greasy-pole climber does not entitle you to be an arse(hole) either. Neither does an MBA".

Entitle, no. Pretty much guarantee, yes.

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Paris Hilton

What do Netflix staff do that requires all these not-brilliant stars?

Just wondering.

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Re: What do Netflix staff do that requires all these not-brilliant stars?

Scaling while staying with a well defined metrics envelope for jitter, latency, etc.

It is quite tough actually. In fact, extremely tough. If it was not that tough everyone and their dog would be able to run a video service.

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Re: What do Netflix staff do that requires all these not-brilliant stars?

Cheers! I have heard it said in my office that Netflix does a very good job of not intermittently pausing on a bad connection when iPlayer (for example) would pause almost every other minute. That's the only reason I've considered them at all (mainly, to watch iPlayer via Netflix - does that work?)

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Re: What do Netflix staff do that requires all these not-brilliant stars?

Netflix degrades the quality of the stream to fit the connection if that has problems. iPlayer doesn't, hence it can pause.

No, it doesn't.

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Re: What do Netflix staff do that requires all these not-brilliant stars?

Netflix is not a platform, like Amazon Fire, it is a service, like iPlayer.

So, no, there is no iPlayer available on Netflix.

Having tried, via my gf's Prime membership to occasionally find and watch something on Amazon Video, I can safely say it is garbage.

Hardly anything available for the 'Prime included' service, always offers up a price to view.

A rubbish interface, the same web page as Amazon shopping, just tripe.

No elegant Apps for lots of platforms like Netflix.

Almost no home-grown series.

I have a Netflix App in Win10 and WinPhone 10 (the same app).

It runs happily in Edge and (I think Firefox). Almost certainly Chrome (never checked).

It has an app on my kids' WinPhone 8.1 which still works just fine.

The Surface RT App (Win8.1) still works, and very nice it is too.

It even ran on the WP7.5, no longer used though.

It didn't run on my older Samsung smart TV but runs on Chromecast, fire sticks etc.

Basically Netflix wipes the floor with the other services so, as long as you are not requiring the latest movie releases (they went away from that to spend the money on making their own shows, they have a huge number of them these days) then you will be well satisfied..

I also share, quite acceptably, my login with my kids and gf, even on the cheapest service option, so it is damn good value for money too.

(Not being paid to plug Netflix...).

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Re: What do Netflix staff do that requires all these not-brilliant stars?

Dude, you used edge for something other than downloading Chrome/FireFox?

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Re: What do Netflix staff do that requires all these not-brilliant stars?

Dude, you download Chrome?

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