Lifestyle

Black Mirror’s Bandersnatch: A Discussion

Read this article or not, it’s your decision 😉

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If you’re into watching movies and TV shows about science fiction, chances are you’ve already heard of or seen the show Black Mirror and its latest episode/movie/game called Bandersnatch. It’s available to stream on Netflix and watching it gives the audience a unique experience in a way that doesn’t follow a linear way of storytelling.

Instead, it gives you the power to choose (using your TV’s remote control, laptop, or smartphone) and decide what happens next in the story. In short, there are many directions the narrative can branch out to and every choice affects what will happen later on.


It’s not the first time a story has been told in this approach, but the implementation in an online streaming service and how the events unfold throughout the episode goes beyond the norm in so many levels. If you’ve seen Bandersnatch, we’re sure there’s a lot you want to talk about. And so do we! This article is a discussion on what we liked and didn’t like.

Of course, there will be spoilers throughout. If you haven’t seen the episode, you may stop reading and watch it first. Or you can just continue on and join in on the fun. All up to you. It’s not like someone from the future is controlling your decisions, right?

Were there any expectations before watching Black Mirror‘s Bandersnatch?

Dan: I have to admit that I was hyped for Bandersnatch. It became sort of a tradition for me to binge watch a new season Black Mirror during the holidays. So, when the news broke about an interactive Black Mirror film, I had high expectations. I expected it to be more complex, but I think it was just enough.

Rodneil: When I played the first three hours of the PlayStation 4 exclusive Detroit: Become Human,my initial thought was that it felt like binging a Netflix series with more involvement from you as the audience. In that regard, I expected Bandersnatch to feel like a game, and it did.

Kevin: I expected it to be a dark, heavy episode since it’s what Black Mirror excels at. As for the interactive experience, I’ve recently tried out Netflix’s Minecraft Story Mode and had a taste of how the system works so I already had an idea of how things will go.

What was your first ending?

Dan: I took the initial offer immediately… It wasn’t done in good judgment. 👀

Rodneil: Same with Dan, haha. My gut said to not take the offer but logically, it felt like a reasonable option. After choosing this “wrong path,” I followed my gut the rest of the way.

Kevin: I took the prescription pills prescribed by my shrink (I’d like to think I’m obedient that way) instead of flushing them down the toilet which resulted in getting a 2/5 stars rating of my game. I went for a different timeline, of course, and corrected that.

Did you make good decisions throughout the story?

Dan: Not really. Instead of thoroughly thinking about which option I choose, I always had the thought that I can repeat and amend a mistake. Also, I thought of it as a video game wherein I have to make sure I explore everything before jumping to the next level.

Kevin: I didn’t want to “shout at dad” let alone “kill dad.” So those decisions led me to a dead end. Then I remembered this is Black Mirror and it probably wanted me to go for a darker path. It did, haha!

Rodneil: I’m not sure about good but I did go with what I thought was the smarter or weirder option.

Do you think your decisions reflect your personality?

Dan: It should. Although, I think I wasn’t properly watching it the first time, so my first choices should not be counted.

Rodneil: For the second ending I got, I would say it did. My usual approach in choose-your-adventure games is to not think too much about my choices and just go with my gut.

Kevin: It did. And as I said earlier, some of those choices led me to a dead end. Others made things more interesting like taking on the therapist Street Fighter style. That was fun to watch.

What was your favorite part from the episode?

Dan: I’d say my favorite part was one of the proper endings where the young Stefan went with her Mommy and they got into the train accident. It was just a flashback, but it affected the current timeline of adult Stefan and he died while sitting on a chair inside his doctor’s office. Being part of the Black Mirror franchise, I find this ending to be the best as it embraces the series’ suspenseful and dark atmosphere.

Kevin: There were actually a lot for me. The conspiracy theories Colin delivered while they were tripping on LSD was so convincing thanks to his acting.

The path where you choose to explain Netflix to Stefan, for me, was just so surreal since I could imagine myself telling someone from the 80s that I’m controlling a fictional character on a TV show. I bet hearing that from someone from the future would totally sound insane — and for us living in the present, it is the reality.

Also, that part when Stefan says something about making the audience think they have free will to choose but in reality, it’s still Stefan giving the scenarios and where they’re heading. It pretty much applies to us, too, thinking we have control over the entire episode when there’s actually a flowchart of things that dictate what we can and cannot do.

Lastly, I’d say I was blown away by how meta the episode can become. One ending goes to follow Colin’s daughter who is now adapting Bandersnatch for Netflix. We see her planning the choices for the actual episode and we’re given one last time to dictate what she does next. Eventually, she destroys her computer which then makes the show nonexistent. Brilliant.

Rodneil: Man, I agree with everything Kevin listed. I enjoyed Colin’s entire “free will” monologue and how meta it was when you’re asked to explain Netflix to Stefan.

Is there anything that you didn’t like about the story or experience?

Dan: As I have mentioned earlier, I was expecting a more in-depth viewer involvement. There were decisions made by the protagonist that I wished I was given the chance to choose. Also, it was not the strongest Black Mirror story. But, overall, Bandersnatch is a showcase of online entertainment. It may not be the most original, but the concept was put to good use.

Rodneil: Nothing in particular. I wasn’t expecting much coming into it. In fact, I didn’t expect the story to be good at all, but after watching, I thought it was a perfect first offering for this kind of format.

Kevin: Dan and I share the same sentiments on the episode not having the strongest story. I mentioned that I expected something heavy before watching it and though some of the endings were indeed dark, it’s not Black-Mirror-Season-One-Episode-One dark that will leave you dumbfounded by the end. I understand that they concentrated more on the interactive part and they did a fantastic job in its entirety.

Will this interactive technology change or affect how we watch movies and TV series in the future?

Dan: A big yes. Like with interactive books, however, it’s not for everyone and it’s not applicable to all titles. I’d love to see a couple of interactive films on Netflix every now and then, especially on the big screen. The genre of Black Mirror is perfect for interactive content, and maybe some other horror or suspense stories. Stretching this out to a series will take a lot of resources, but it’ll be grand.

Rodneil: It will change in that I think other streaming channels and even platforms like YouTube and Facebook will try to integrate this feature. It might be one way to curb piracy. I imagine it will be extremely hard to duplicate this experience. If more good titles make use of this interactive kind of viewing then more people might be enticed to actually pay for streaming services. We’re a long way away from that but this is definitely a step in the right direction.

Kevin: Of course. It has that element that you’re responsible for what happens to the character — whether something good happens to them or you get them killed. It has a different, more personal impact. Also, what Dan and Rodneil said.

Her GadgetMatch

Sound on with Mikme: An easy way to record good audio

Even better if you’re on an iPhone

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I’ve always been a writer and my journey into content creation has been a curious one. These days, I’ve ventured into creating video — a new exacting but fun medium. One thing I’ve learned though: You may think you’re mostly dealing with visuals, but sound quality adds a whole lot to each video.

That being said, and me being the furthest from being an audiophile, I set out to find the easiest and simplest way I could record great audio without all the wires and gadgets and gizmos that I’ve seen other people work with.


Enter this godsend mic in a box which fits the palm of my hands and solves all my audio woes: The Mikme.

It’s simple enough to use, press the leftmost button that serves as a power button…

L-R: Power button, Bluetooth pairing button, Micro-USB port, audio port, volume buttons

… and hit record which is that big button up top. Literally, nothing could be easier.

And despite it being pretty straightforward, there are a lot of other things it can do, too. Tapping the record button twice in a row will play your last recording and pressing and holding will allow you to soundcheck — provided you plug in some earphones. Each Mikme has storage built in and you can choose between 16GB, 8GB, or 4GB options. All that means is you need not worry about SD cards or micro-SD cards ever again.

It’s not just the ease of use, though. The sound quality on this thing is very good, as it should be. Inside that black case, the Mikme is basically a condenser mic — the type usually used in studios for hardcore recordings (my way of saying it’s one serious mic). Even with my untrained ears, I hear the difference, especially because I don’t record in sound-proof rooms most of the time.

Honestly, I now use this tiny thing to record all my voice-overs. I’m not even going to attempt to explain or describe it, you just have to hear it yourself. You can do that by listening to the voice-overs here and here.

I have all good things to say about this tiny device and in so many ways, I consider it my audio lifesaver. But, there’s one caveat.

This mic also has Bluetooth capabilities which is a great thing in itself. It literally connects to a Mikme app that will allow you to shoot video with your phone with audio from the Mikme. Mindblowing stuff, really, except it only works for iPhones. 😢

As we hear the collective, agonized screams of Android users the world over with the collective sighs of what great sounding videos could be shot with a Mikme-iPhone partnership, I take it as a testament of how good this mic is. Even without the Bluetooth connectivity feature and despite sticking with my Android for now and the foreseeable future, I’ll probably still be rocking the Mikme. That says a lot.

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Automotive

2019 Hyundai Veloster Turbo: A Stylish Speedster

It’s your everyday sports car

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One of the biggest factors when buying a new car, apart from function, is how it looks. The impact of that first glance. Something that would make you look twice. Some of us have that desire to break the norm and it seems like Hyundai took note of this demand — and made it fast.

The grille is flanked with LED headlamps partnered with Daytime Running Lights

The 2019 Hyundai Veloster is the second of its generation and now has a more assertive exterior than its predecessor. The most noticeable part? Its redesigned front grille. It now comes in this meshed pattern with sharper edges and, if you ask me, this alone gives the car a more aggressive presence.


Then we go to the rest of the exterior and we see those subtle lines that add to the sporty vibe of this vehicle. From the hood to the wheel arches — these accents make the Veloster look like it’s always moving.

At the back we also have this eye-catching pair of LED tail lamps plus a rear spoiler with the third brake light. Rounding up the whole sporty look is a rear bumper diffuser to improve the car’s aerodynamics.

Other notable details include side mirrors with signal repeaters and sexy 18-inch alloy wheels. If you’re already familiar with the first Veloster, then you’d know that it’s unconventional in a way that it only has one door for the driver’s side while the other has the usual two. Some call it weird. I’d like to call it style.

In terms of features, the 2019 Veloster has the bells-and-whistles for the tech-savvy. There’s keyless entry, a mechanical seat for the driver, telescopic steering wheel, voice commands, and support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Those are just some of the things the vehicle assists you with before you start your day. And of course, there’s more for the drive ahead!

Your main hub for music, navigation, calls, and more is an 8-inch floating display. For controls, the steering wheel has buttons for Bluetooth as well as audio and cruise control.

Important driver information and settings can be accessed through the digital dash

In the age of smartphones, charging on-the-go is of utmost importance and with the Veloster, you get more than one option. There are two USB ports up front plus a special wireless charger just below it. Of course, your phone has to support this feature for it to work, but if it does, it feels good knowing you don’t have to fumble over plugging the cable to your phone — while you’re in the car, at least.

And for when you want more light during the day or when it’s simply colder at night, you can open the moonroof and let the breeze roll in. Added comfort creatures like this make the Veloster a package for those who like having fun on the road.

One of the things I love about its interior is how the black and red color of the exterior continues here. Its bucket seats wrapped in leather offer a premium feel for the driver and passengers alike.

The company is obviously keen to details as one can see in the cabin of the vehicle. From the buttons and knobs that reflect its sporty DNA to the ergonomics and materials used to make each ride as comfortable as possible.

Being a Turbo variant, it’s powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine. Power is then transferred to the front wheels through a seven-speed Dual-Clutch Transmission. Although unlike Schwarzenegger in Jingle All The Way, it’s not always “Turbo Time!” for the Veloster. It offers different driving modes depending on what the situation calls for.

There’s Normal, Sport, Eco, and Smart. Eco obviously goes for the most efficient fuel consumption, Smart mode adjusts to your driving habits, Normal is — well, normal. Sport is for Track Day or simply when you want to show off.

Of course, all that speed has to be kept in check with a couple of safety features. The vehicle comes with dual airbags for the front, plus side and curtain airbags. Adding to those are ABS (anti-lock braking system) and an immobilizer for anti-theft.

Having the Veloster as a daily driver made me realize a couple of things. One is that it’s actually fuel-efficient for a car with this oomph when it’s set to Eco or even Normal mode — averaging about 9km to 10km to a liter in the city and up to 16km/l outside the Metro. It may have slight delays when not in Sport mode but it had no shortage of power. And together with its stance and vibrant red color, the Veloster is a certified head-turner.

See more of it in this video:

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Her GadgetMatch

The Vivo x Benefit Cosmetics blossom pink V15 box set is here and I want it

Making blooming selfies possible

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Vivo has just announced a partnership that I am so here for and the resulting phone is oh so pretty!

 

The smartphone company unveiled a collaboration with Benefit Cosmetics, a makeup brand we all know and love, to release a phone/makeup box set that will definitely excite the ladies.


The highlight of the kit: Vivo’s blossom pink V15 — the phone color I’ve always wanted but rarely got!

Yes girls, this special kit does not only have this beautifully colored handset, it also includes Benefit box o’ powders in two shades: Dandelion Twinkle and the Gold Rush.

I am all for this partnership and the blooming selfies I will most definitely be able to shoot with this.

The Vivo x Benefit Kit will retail for PhP 17,999 starting May 25.

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