URGENT SECURITY PSA: Stop Using GlobalCitizen.Org – Your Data Is Leaking

I’m a huge supporter of volunteer work and charities around the world. One major inspiration has been Bill Gates who recently came out supporting a site called GlobalCitizen.org.

Naturally, I signed up on January 23rd 2015 to show my support and help out in any way I could. The organization sports an impressive list of partners and seems to be serious enough.

However, I couldn’t. Or rather, I could, but when I logged in, I got the detailed information, including access to reward points for supporting the organization, for someone completely different. I have no idea why, but I was now logged in as a person was called Anuj K of India, born September 17, 1975.

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Now, this is a very serious thing, both because of the breach of privacy but also because the points volunteers earn are redeemable for real-life goods and services.

The first thing I did was email the group and inform them.

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I’ve blurred out the description of the ‘exploit’ (although it really isn’t).

Several days later, I got a response stating that my inquiry had been forwarded. However, checking a week later, the issue was still present, but now I got logged in as yet another person rather than myself.

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Here comes the shocking bit. I was told that they were aware of the issue and that others had reported the same thing. However, they didn’t do anything to fix it. I offered to help them because I’ve built a number of systems like these myself and could probably get it reviewed quickly, but I got no response.

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I then forgot about it until a few days ago, assuming that they had it under control. But, lo and behold, I logged in, got a clearly faked profile of Arnold Schwarzenegger and today the profile of someone called Rhonda.

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I should reiterate that I have full access to these people’s profiles, including it seems spending of their reward points (although I haven’t tried completing a transaction, for obvious reasons).

I can no longer keep mum when the organization after one and a half month has clearly neglected securing their users from privacy breaches and loss of reward points. I’ve urged them to close logins and signups until they fix the issue, but clearly they do not care enough.

Which is sad, but the short of it is: Do not under any circumstance log in to GlobalCitizen.org as your information will be leaked to the public, your rewards will be forfeit, and your profile is very likely to be misused.

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BallAns – A Game About Life to Piss You Off

It’s been a week or so since I’ve published my first game on Android. It sucks. It really does. And this isn’t one of those “oh, you’re too modest; it is really great” type of fishing for compliments; the game is designed to suck.

You see, the game is about life, or rather, the story of how frustrating and futile life can be, as told by a ball. It has been a very cool learning experience for both me and several people that have played and looked beyond the initial suckage.

The Story So Far…

You may be surprised that I built a game to suck, but frankly, that wasn’t my initial intention. I wanted to build a game that showed how humanity is consuming resources until it eventually will run out of resources to survive on this planet.

So I started with a basic idea. Put a ball in a circle and force the player to consume  small trinkets to grow. The more they eat, the larger the get, but the circle stays the same.

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However, I quickly realized that in many ways, this model explains much of the reason why I’ve decided to retire from SharePoint as well. It was always a chase after the next project or version or paycheck. I never took the time to ask why I was doing it.

But then I started realizing that not only was these simple elements telling me about humanity and my own chase for money, it was telling a larger story about how most people live today. And when I put the game out there, the questions I got from people blew my mind and made me realize so much more about how accurately the game described the lives of many people.

The Big Questions

BallAns isn’t a game like other games. Instead, by taking away the distracting elements like points, music, or complex controls, people play a game that in many way mimics life. The questions they then pose eerily mimics the questions of life as well.

Here are some of the observations and questions people have posted.

What’s the Point?

One question a lot of people have asked is a variety of “is there a point to this game beyond getting the next piece of food and growing big?”

Think about that for a second. There are no points in BallAns. There are no levels. You eat, you die, and that’s it. In the meantime, you’re distracted form the inevitable outcome by simple tricks that make you feel like you’re doing something valuable.

There is no other outcome. You can’t win because in the end, no matter what, you die, and when you do, there’s nothing left of you. Surely, the only point there is would be to enjoy the game while it lasts.

But Why Suck?

Another common comment is people stating in various ways why the game sucks. Popular opinions is that the game is too fast and stressful; that you have too little time to relax between having to get the next piece of food.

The esthetics also get bad but oh, so accurate reviews. “I was expecting something that looked stunning, awesome, and magnificent and I got this boring thing that just looks bland”.

Also, people state that the game is very boring very fast. “I play this for a few minutes and then I’m bored. I want to be entertained and have fun; this feels like a chore”

If I was building a ‘normal’ game, yes, that would have been horrible feedback. However, BallAns is supposed to mimic life and when people make observations that are so directly relatable to life itself, that’s actually exactly what I want people to realize.

Why Not Make it Fun?

A very important comment was to the tune of “If the game was more fun, more people would play it! If people stop playing, the game is meaningless!”

You know what? I’d love for the game to be fun. If it was, however, it would be pretty much like every other distraction out there. It wouldn’t make you think about your life, and that’s what I wanted to do.

Life isn’t fun. It’s not about being entertained. You will be stressed out chasing the next paycheck and you’ll always have a bit too little time to get it. You wanted a brilliant thing made for you? Sorry, it will most likely be boring and bland.

I suggested to one commenter that maybe I could put in a couple of weeks of vacation in the game so he or she could enjoy the game then, but all I got was hammered by the downvotes.

Any Reason to Play Then?

To be honest, I don’t expect anyone to want to play BallAns. Most people play games to escape form reality’s hell, not to be reminded about the futilities of life. And seriously, if you play BallAns more than a few minutes, there’s probably something very wrong with you.

However, for those that have played it, they have almost invariably offered insights into life that are very valuable to me, and if you find that you have a few minutes to waste, feel free to download the game on Android. It’s free and has no ads and if it doesn’t piss you off, it will bore or frustrate you to tears.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.furuknap.ballans.android

Feel free to leave comments here if you have them too.

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Beta Invite: BallAns, The Game of Life on Android

I’m about to publish my first Android game to Google Play. It’s a deceptively simple game with profound philosophical meanings.

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I’ve set up the Beta program through Google Play and would like to invite you to try out the game before I publish it to production in a few days. If you have an Android device (phone or tablet) that has an accelerometer (which most do), you’re hereby invited.

To join the beta program, hit me up at furuknap at gmail.com or through any other means of contact you know. I’m looking for 10-20 people at most and already have six of them. I’m looking for feedback on game balance; it seems most bugs are fixed.

The game has no ads and costs nothing. It will remain free of charge in production release as well.

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