Interactive Fiction & Netflix

This article won’t contain spoilers. I haven’t experienced Bandersnatch yet.

As 2018 came to a close, Netflix released Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, an interactive film exclusive to the platform. Black Mirror is our current time’s Twilight Zone where the genre allows for a deep dive into a single idea of fiction and allowing us to reexamine choices in our present time. And it’s time that the Interactive Fiction world to get their butts together and make pitches to Netflix.

In 2015, The Atlantic wrote about the process Netflix undergoes to improve the dataset for their recommendation engine. The company spent the resources to define every piece of media it could define, including media it hasn’t (or ever) released on the platform. Using this dataset, Netflix is able to obtain the value of the property by how many users the company believes will enjoy that content.

With that dataset and recommendation engine dialed in, Netflix knows the value of a piece of content. This dataset is absolutely instrumental to the development of self-published content. The pitch process for motion pictures is along the lines of tastemakers dictating if a project was financially viable. This was based more on subjective opinions of executives, mostly of white men.

What happens when you take a pitch, do the tagging work as if the piece existed, and see what potential viewership numbers come out? Now you have a more calculated guess to the financial viability of a project. This is how we got Orange is the New Black after their endless search and turndown across other media buyers.

I turn to the Interactive Fiction (IF) community and ask: Which of your works can be adapted to film and Netflix’s interactivity capabilities?

And if you have any recommendations for any IF I should read, reply to me on Twitter @TheSeg!

The Speakeasy and Audience Consent

On Friday September 30th 2016, I attended a preview performance of The Boxcar Theatre’s The Speakeasy, an immersive theatre performance at the production scale rivaling that of Sleep No More in New York City.

Marketing photo from Boxcar Productions.

There are a number of aspects of this show that were going right. The cast are all extremely talented delights who really show the depth of their abilities as performers. The content itself has very challenging questions posed both in content and to the art form. Sadly, the piece obfuscates all of that with significant consent issues.

I have serious issues with the safety and comfort of the audience of this show. As a professional house manager and immersive experience artist, there are conditions and policies that concern me. Conditions which, at best, prevent audiences from enjoying the piece. At worst, can cause emotional, if not physical harm. It comes down to providing constant and continuous consent throughout the performance. An audience that is well informed of what’s expected and how to opt-out of the space temporarily, if needed.

My concerns can be solved by the following:

  • Clearly identified, accessible non-performing ushers in every room;
  • Clearly identified, accessible non-performance audience lobby;
  • An organized front-of-house experience.

I’m deeply concerned this production will leave a horrible experience to people who haven’t experienced immersive theatre. After my experience, I wouldn’t blame someone to cast off the art form completely. I’d rather not make a habit of saying other productions could improve respecting an audience. I want Boxcar Theatre to respect their audiences now.

Continue reading The Speakeasy and Audience Consent

Two Houses [Alike in Dignity]

On March 24th and 25th 2016, we did an abridged version of Romeo & Juliet we called: “Two Houses: Alike in Dignity.” An immersive theatre production where the audience is moving and interacting around in spaces, and not a traditional stage & theatre seats, told between two physical houses on a street in Oakland. The production is framed as all the scenes with Romeo up till and including the balcony scene.

Like most good art, this started as a Twitter joke between Bunny (the director), Aaron Muszalski, and Jonathan Pirro (Mercutio) of doing the balcony scene in the middle of Oakland, ambient noise and all. One and a half months later, we did the show.

Note: All of the photos are by Joe Carrow, our official photographer of the production.

Continue reading Two Houses [Alike in Dignity]

Rich Media Content on Social Media

This is a comprehensive guide for making links from your website look good when shared on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

All of these features are free to implement. You’ll need to either register for an account on each platform and in some cases create a “Page” for the entity (organization, brand, etc) for the website you’re developing. Most of the platforms share the same if not similar settings. We’ll walk through all of the options in a combined view and how you can optionally customize to a particular platform.

Continue reading Rich Media Content on Social Media

My story of The Latitude Society

I was on board very early in the appointment. Crawling down a pitch dark tunnel, feeling my way through a winding path, a light source finally revealed a library. One very similar to the Myst library, albeit smaller. I knew I was in for something special. What I soon gained was a community of wonderful people and a part of myself I had lost: My desire to create.

This is my story of Nonchalance’s The Latitude Society.

Latitude Society: Invite Hand off
Continue reading My story of The Latitude Society

The Quick Indie Guide to Protecting Your Accounts

Hello! If a friend linked you here, it’s because they care about your online accounts from getting seriously steamrolled. While there’s always a degree of risk, these steps will cut that risk significantly. Where at worse, if one account becomes compromised, it doesn’t give the keys to everything else you have.

Update: Crash Override Network’s tool C.O.A.C.H. is a great step-by-step guide you can also use.

There are two parts to how I protect my online accounts. One is free but available for a few services. The other is buying a piece of software. Together they do change the philosophy of how you create and manage online accounts, but you’ll be much more secure by doing it.

Part 1: Two Factor Authentication (TFA)

The idea is having not only a fixed password to log in (one factor), but a code which is either given to you or using a secret algorithm to generate a one-time code (second factor).

When enabled, your login process will be something like this:

  1. Log in with your username & password.
  2. Site asks for your TFA code.
    • Most will allow you to use an authenticator program on your phone.
    • Some websites may text or e-mail you this code.
    • A few gaming services (Steam and Battle.net) require using their own app.
  3. Enter in this code.
  4. Access!

As it’s nature, this is a per-service feature. The main services (Google, Facebook, Twitter) have TFA, but more and more services are incorporating this type of security. To make it all easy on you, TwoFacgtorAuth.org tracks what services implimented TFA and how to enable the feature:

https://twofactorauth.org/

Authenticator Apps

Some services require texting you, e-mailing you, or use a custom application to download to your phone. Most others use a set of standards that allow you to pick your own application. For that, you have two apps you can use on your phone:

I use Authy as it’s more robust and a better interface. Most sites will only mention Google Authenticator, but Authy will support all that support Google’s app. Either way, you’ll be asked to scan a QR code to enable TFA. It’s a standard protocol between them, so you have a choice on which app works for you!

Part 2: Get a good Password Manager

I use 1Password. It’s great, well supported, and you’re buying an off-line software. You can use Dropbox, iCloud, or whatever for cross-device file system to move the data between. The PC/Mac license is $50 and free for iOS & Android. The mobile apps have paid Pro features, but the free offering will fit your standard needs.

While that is ~$50 between your phone and computers, it’s one-time fee. This is the best solution in protecting all accounts that don’t do two-factor authentication.

I also recommend buying from them directly (not though the Mac App Store) for desktop. It’s the only way to get the cross-platform license now or to upgrade to the cross-platform license later. They’re also super good at free upgrades.

There’s also LastPass if you want a completely cloud based turn-key solution, but I’m going to explain 1Password as that’s what I use. AgileBites didn’t pay me, I just recommend what I’m using to great success.

Step 0: What am I doing?

You will be changing every password in every service to complex passwords. Each account will be unique and no one service will have the same password as the other.

You won’t need to remember them but rely on 1Password to store and use them. You will have one password to unlock 1Password’s vault. A PASSWORD YOU SHOULD ONLY USE FOR 1PASSWORD.

Step 1: Install 1Password

Install the software, then install all the browser extensions on every browser you have installed on your computer. 1Password supports Chrome, IE, Firefox, Opera, and Safari.

Do this for every computer you intend to use.

Step 2: Change them passwords!

This is a step you’ll constantly do. At first it will be a bit time-consuming to update all of your commonly used accounts. Once you go over the hump, then it will be apart of your regular use.

When you go to a site, this will be the workflow:

  1. Login to the site and 1Password will ask to save that login. Do so.
  2. Go directly to the change your password function for the service.
  3. Instead of making up a new password, use 1Password’s browser extension to randomly generate a password! It will even copy the new password into the form twice.
  4. Submit the change password form.
  5. 1Password will ask to confirm the update to the account.

That’s it! You’ll keep doing that a lot, but you’ll eventually have a unique password for every account you have.

Final Notes

There will always be the looming threat of an account’s password getting leaked or discovered. Ultimately a leak of passwords will happen from some company stupid to store them in cleartext. But using these tips will prevent access to your other accounts just because one compromised account.

Changelog

When I make an update, I’ll note them here.

  • Aug 21, 2014: Initial Post
  • Oct 17, 2013
    • Changed pricing info for 1Password on mobile.

Breaking DNS and Putting it Together Again (ish)

Last Sunday I read an article in Wired Magazine about Dan Kaminsky who had discovered a flaw with one of the basic fundamentals of the Internet, the Domain Name System.

The experts watched as Kaminsky opened his laptop and connected the overhead projector. He had created a “weaponized” version of his attack on this vulnerability to demonstrate its power. A mass of data flashed onscreen and told the story. In less than 10 seconds, Kaminsky had compromised a server running BIND 9, Vixie’s DNS routing software, which controls 80 percent of Internet traffic. It was undeniable proof that Kaminsky had the power to take down large swaths of the Internet. 

To be honest, the Internet dodged a bullet with this one. Had this been discovered with someone with less moral character, there would have been a very very bad day for the world. Then again, we currently only patched the hole; Bought some time.

Secret Geek A-Team Hacks Back, Defends Worldwide Web

A Fat Pipe

Following up from the last post about AT&T, I want to talk about what I want from my cell phone, internet, cable, and the rest of the communication sector: A fat, dumb pipe.

I don’t care about Comcast’s video content. I don’t care about AT&T’s Blue Room or any other crap. I am paying you as a bridge to obtain other people’s content. That’s all I require from you. Why only the fat pipe? Because you suck at content generation. You’re spreading your resources to do something extra and it’s just not working very well.

Thing is, I never asked for you to make your own content. It’s really a non-issue with me. There are millions of other people that can do it so much better and that’s who I want to have access to. I’m paying you to give me unfettered access to other content providers. Is making your own content really helping you out? I would figure focusing on the speed and availability of the content of the Internet would be a bigger drive than your special little video program. I know that on the feature list, saying you have this unique content gives the impression of better value on a flyer.

You know what gets me to stick with your service without disdain? Giving me access to all available content without bullshit. For example, if Comcast spent more dedication and time to improving their horrific customer support, the product would have more value than ‘Channel 1’. Or perhaps finding a better long-term plan to keep the bandwidth infrastructure on par or surpassing the rest of the modern world. Why spend time finding ways to inhibit use of BitTorrent when you can spend that time more productively by improving the network infrastructure.

Please, I don’t care about your content as it is unmatched to what the rest of the world at large can provide. Give me unfettered and uninhibited access to the world, then you have won me over!