Ruger No. 1 450 Bushmaster Single-Shot Rifle – Review

Ruger No. 1 Single-Shot .450 Bushmaster Rifle - Review
Ruger No. 1 Single-Shot .450 Bushmaster Rifle – Review

Grand Rapids, MI USA -( In this fifth installment of my .450 Bushmaster series, I will be taking a look at a very interesting departure from what many think a .450 BM rifle to be: the Ruger No. 1. What makes this rifle special and different from other .450 offerings on the market today? Well, for starters it is a single-shot.

There has been a race for capacity when it comes to rifles these days. It is no surprise that this has lead to problems with many rifles, especially those in .450 Bushmaster. As I described in my previous articles, there are many significant problems associated with magazine-fed semiautomatics, mostly stemming from said magazines. Problems in reliability can shake a hunter’s confidence in his rifle, and I know a great many of frustrated .450 owners who lament that their ideal hunting cartridge won’t cycle in their ideal hunting rifle.

The simplicity of the single-shot rifle is hard to ignore in the context of hunting. Americans have a long and romanticized history with single-shots, going back to the Civil War era, which saw the widespread acceptance of the Sharps rifle and other big-bores. As we manifested our destiny and headed west, the large single-shot became a staple of the buffalo hunter and cavalryman alike. Our story has been intricately linked to the single-shot, but the technology simply marched past it and only the most famous survived.

Ruger’s No. 1 is a falling block action like the Sharps, but it is of fully modern design and constructed of modern materials.
Ruger’s No. 1 is a falling block action like the Sharps, but it is of fully modern design and constructed of modern materials.

Ruger’s No. 1 is a falling block action like the Sharps, but it is of fully modern design and constructed of modern materials. The strength of the No. 1 action is such that it can chamber some of the most powerful hunting cartridges ever made. The .450 is not among those in that upper class of powerful cartridges, but it is a contender for this year’s most relevant. As I’ve already written, the .450 is gaining popularity because it is the most powerful commonly available cartridge that fits not only our favorite rifles, but also into state hunting law in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, and possibly more due to its straight case walls.

Simply open the lever and lower the block, insert a cartridge, and close it.
Simply open the lever and lower the block, insert a cartridge, and close it.

The choice to make a No. 1 was entirely logical on Ruger’s part. There is a group of discerning customers that demand something different, not just effective. The .450 has traditionally been an AR cartridge, but today it widely used in bolt actions as well. There are not that many single-shots out there that chamber the .450, as it is a problematic cartridge when it comes to headspace. Unlike many other single-shot cartridges out there, like the .45-70, the .450 has no exterior rim on the case head, in fact, it has a rebated rim. This means that the .450 is less than ideal for use in a single-shot.

Ruger must’ve missed that memo and instead went ahead with making the rifle not only extremely reliable, but also exceptionally easy to use. The operation is simple, with the only moving part in the action being the block. Simply open the lever and lower the block, insert a cartridge, and close it. After firing, lowering the block allows the case to eject straight back. It quite literally shoots straight out and clear of the action. Many single-shots have an extractor, but not an ejector meaning that the case stays in the action, but are just slightly moved out of the chamber.

Ruger includes a set of 1” rings that mount directly to their proprietary base attached to the rifle.
Ruger includes a set of 1” rings that mount directly to their proprietary base attached to the rifle.

The rifle features a 20” barrel, but it has a short 36” overall length. The compact No.1 action allows about 4” more barrel than a typical AR while being shorter overall. Interestingly, Ruger chose to not include iron sights with the rifle. I do lament this, but most people will ultimately end up using a scope anyways. I opted for a simple, fixed 4x Bushnell to approximate what a deer hunter may use in the woods. Ruger includes a set of 1” rings that mount directly to their proprietary base attached to the rifle.

Firing the rifle was quite a bit different than when shooting with an AR. The trigger is light but crisp, allowing great precision. I was surprised at how easy and fast the gun was to reload. I am far more used to Sharps and other hammer-fired single-shots that have a multi-stage loading and cocking process and the simple speed of the No. 1 was noticeable. While not as fast as a bolt action, the rifle could be reloaded in just about a second if a spare round is handy. I would recommend a stock sleeve that has loops for spare cartridges.

Another comfort feature is the muzzle brake.
Another comfort feature is the muzzle brake.

The stock is very comfortable and is made of an attractive grey laminate that nicely compliments the stainless steel of the barrel and action. The stock is fixed and does not feature butt spacers. Another comfort feature is the muzzle brake. I picked up a bit of speed over my 16” Brownell’s AR rifle due to the fact that the gun has no gas system and a longer barrel.

I tested the same four loads as my prior articles from Hornady and Buffalo Bore over my Oehler 35P chronograph. Accuracy is an average if 3, 5-shot groups at 100 yards.

Buffalo Bore 250gr JHP—————————————————————————– 2259fps, 2.9”
Buffalo Bore 275gr XPB—————————————————————————– 2005fps, 1.5”
Buffalo Bore 300gr JHP—————————————————————————— 1967fps, 2.7”
Hornady 250gr FTX———————————————————————————– 2197fps, 1.25”
Hornady 250gr FTX BLACK————————————————————————–2203fps, 1.25”

I came away with the impression that this is a solid, working rifle for a serious, no-excuses hunter. The gun is exceptionally rugged, was supremely reliable, and very accurate. If you want to turn some heads at the range, this will certainly be your ticket to do so.

You can see more of the No.1 .450 Bushmaster at Ammunition used in this article can be viewed at and

About Josh WaynerJosh Wayner

Josh Wayner has been writing in the gun industry for five years. He is an active competition shooter with 14 medals from Camp Perry. In addition to firearms-related work, Josh enjoys working with animals and researching conservation projects in his home state of Michigan.

Ruger No. 1 450 Bushmaster Single-Shot Rifle – Review

Christopher Bartocci’s Combat-Reliable AR-15 Build

About a month ago, Christopher Bartocci of Small Arms Solutions, posted on his website an AR-15 rifle that he was going to sell (already sold out). When I visited the page, I was really intrigued by the description of the rifle. Chris wrote: “It has hand selected components to make a reliable combat rifle. This build is what I consider a combat reliable, well balanced, accurate and durable battle rifle.“. I was curious, what is THE build that the renown AR-15 expert considers the best? I immediately contacted Chris to find out the details concerning this build.

Chris Bartocci Combat Reliable AR-15 Build (3)

Before we proceed with the examination of this rifle, let me briefly tell you who is Christopher Bartocci and why I consider his opinion so valuable. Many of you probably know him, but for those of you who haven’t heard about this man, I’ll tell you about the most significant parts of his career. Chris is a former forensic firearms examiner. He worked for Colt, Otis Technology and LMT, has traveled all around the world training military and law enforcement personnel of different countries. He is the author of “Black Rifle II: The M16 Into the 21st Century” book and a number of articles in various publications. Chris is also the founder of Small Arms Solutions LLC.

As you can see, if there are people in the industry who can be called AR-15 gurus, then Chris is definitely one of them. He kindly answered all my questions and provided all the necessary information to study the subject and write this article.

Chris Bartocci Combat Reliable AR-15 Build (6)

The story of this build starts back in 2015 when Chris wrote a two-part article in Small Arms Review journal titled “Boutique Black Rifles”. In these articles, Bartocci wrote about four AR-15 builds that he considered the best ones of the time. The main idea behind these builds is to use the commercially available components that have characteristics far exceeding the military specifications which eventually result in extremely reliable AR-15 builds. The rifle that we are taking a look at today is the evolution of the number two rifle from the mentioned articles. Some of the components of this updated build were changed with newly introduced and more advanced ones compared to what was available in 2015.

Now let’s go through the key components that this rifle is made of and see what unique features of these parts made them to the list of Chris Bartocci’s combat-reliable AR-15 build parts.

San Tan Tactical Billet Upper and Lower Receivers

Chris Bartocci Combat Reliable AR-15 Build (1)

The San Tac Tactical SST-15 receivers are machined out of billet 7075 aluminum. The lower receiver features ambidextrous magazine release and bolt catch. It also has a couple of built-in QD sling swivel sockets located on either side, behind the takedown pin area. The magazine well is beveled to aid the magazine insertion process.

Chris Bartocci Combat Reliable AR-15 Build (2)

If you read the mentioned Small Arms Review articles, you’ll see that the first version of #2 Boutique Black Rifle was built with an Aero Precision upper receiver. Back in 2015 when Chris was building this rifle, San Tan Tactical didn’t have an upper receiver yet. So the upper is one of the parts that was changed compared to the first iteration of this build.

Chris Bartocci Combat Reliable AR-15 Build (bcg)

The bolt of this BCG is machined out 9310 steel and it’s magnetic particle inspected (MPI). The latter is a feature that Bartocci recommends to look for. The bolt, bolt carrier, extractor, gas key, and cam pin are chrome plated.

Chris Bartocci Combat Reliable AR-15 Build (ch)

The design of this ambidextrous charging handle removes the stresses from the latch pin preventing it from breaking. Some other critical areas are beefed up compared to the mil-spec charging handle.

Chris Bartocci Combat Reliable AR-15 Build (stock)

Chris Bartocci recommends this stock and receiver extension combination for several reasons. First of all, he considers the materials of the stock to be some of the most robust ones in the market. There are markings of stock positions on top of the buffer tube and the stock itself has a corresponding hole that shows the selected position of the stock. There are also battery compartments on either side of this stock.

Chris Bartocci Combat Reliable AR-15 Build (Buffer)

Although the Vltor stock assembly comes with a buffer and recoil spring, Bartocci recommends using the JP Enterprises Silent Captured recoil spring assembly which proved to perform flawlessly removing the noise of the original spring and making the cycling of the action smoother.

Chris Bartocci Combat Reliable AR-15 Build (safety)

This ambidextrous safety selector has a configurable design allowing to choose the size of the selector lever on each side of the gun. Bartocci prefers using the full sized lever on the left side of the gun and smaller size lever on the right side. The opposite layout would be correct for left-handed shooters. Such configuration will allow you to have safety selector levers on both sides of the gun with the secondary lever being small enough not to dig into your trigger finger.

This part is made of heat treated steel. The levers are textured to provide better purchase. They also have larger surface areas which make it easier to manipulate the safety with gloved hands.

Chris Bartocci Combat Reliable AR-15 Build (eps)

Chris points out several important features of these takedown/pivot pins. Despite having virtually the same pinhead dimensions as the standard ones, the BAD EPS pins have an improved head design which makes pulling them out a much easier process. The pin tips also have a concave profile and slightly protrude from the left side of the receiver making pushing them out from left side easier both when pushing by hand or using a punch or a bullet tip.

Chris Bartocci Combat Reliable AR-15 Build (grip)

Probably there is no need to introduce this pistol grip because it is well known among the firearm enthusiasts. Two main features of this grip are the interchangeable back and front straps and the compartment inside the grip where you can store an oil bottle, spare bolt and firing pin or batteries.

Chris Bartocci Combat Reliable AR-15 Build (trigger)

These triggers utilize a pair of coil springs which along with other design solutions provide a light trigger pull without compromising the sear engagement surface or the hammer strike energy. In fact, the hammers of these trigger assemblies strike with an increased energy compared to the mil-spec ones.

Chris Bartocci Combat Reliable AR-15 Build (rail)

This free-floated quad rail is machined out of 6061 T6 aluminum and has a Type 3 hard coat anodized finish. It is installed onto the AR-15 pattern rifles by being clamped to standard barrel nuts. The installation does not require a removal of the front sight post.

Chris Bartocci Combat Reliable AR-15 Build (Barrel)

In this build, Chris uses the FN cold hammer forged barrels. In general, he considers the cold hammer forging to be the best way of manufacturing barrels for combat firearms. Another feature that Bartoccci points out is the mid-length gas system which he considers an optimal one for the 16″ barrel. Last but not least, these barrels feature chrome lined bores and chambers.

Chris Bartocci Combat Reliable AR-15 Build (fs)

The front sight of this A.R.M.S. product comes as a combination with the gas block. The front sight itself is a folding one and when deployed it forms the same shape as the standard M16/M4 gas block/FSB. According to Chris, the pinned gas block is an absolute must for a combat-reliable build ensuring that the gas block won’t come loose, rotate or slide forward.


Chris Bartocci Combat Reliable AR-15 Build (rs)

The folding backup rear sight of this build is also made by A.R.M.S. Inc. It has several options of the aperture size and also a version with a notch on top of the aperture The windage is click-adjustable in .75 MOA increments.

Chris Bartocci Combat Reliable AR-15 Build (md)

According to Chris, this flash hider has proved to work perfectly. It reliably mitigates the signature of the rifle and does not compromise the shooter’s position.

And that’s the list of the key components used in the combat-reliable AR-15 build recommended by Christopher Bartocci. Let us know in the comments section what do you think about this build? What would you add or remove and why?

Images from:,,,,,

via The Firearm Blog
Christopher Bartocci’s Combat-Reliable AR-15 Build

The Best Shovel

Left to right: Razor-Back 2593600; Corona SS 60020; Wolverine SL600; Wolverine FL500; Fiskars 96685935J; Razor-Back 45020; Nupla SSR2L-E; W. W. Manufacturing’s LHV-PT-R; Corona AS 90300; and Bully Tools 82515.

In 2018, we took a fresh look at the shovels available from Amazon, Home Depot, Lowe’s, and more, but none of them stood out enough to test against our current picks. We were most intrigued by the Root Assassin OS-002 One Shot Shovel, which has a special “winged” head with a larger step that extends around the sides and sets it apart from other round point #2 shovels. While we don’t think this new design can stand-up to the tried-and-true function of the standard round point shovel head, there are some people who might enjoy it, and the reviews so far are great. The fiberglass handle is also a dealbreaker for us.

The Razor-Back 2593600 is the company’s flagship heavy-duty shovel. It’s extremely robust, with its trademarked extended SuperSocket, and the traditional wood handle is comfortable and shock-absorbing. But the seam at the back of the socket (at least on our test unit) was splayed open and not flush to the handle, resulting in a pair of sharp-edged ridges that dug into my hand. And the two rivets that attach the socket to the handle are large and exposed—as with the Bully Tools 82515, not really a problem for righties, but potentially uncomfortable for lefties. The socket, where your lower hand grips the shovel, is also notably thick—a sensible design decision given that the shovel is aimed at the male-dominated construction trade, but a liability for most women and for smaller men.

The Corona SS 60020 gets high marks for build quality: The seam of its socket is neatly welded shut and ground smooth (making it very strong and also comfortable to hold), and its twin rivets are low-profile—comfortable whichever hand you use. It has a robust coating to deter rust, and its steps are crisply formed. But they are narrower than the Bully 82515’s, and the solid fiberglass handle, while ergonomically shaped and confidence-inspiring in its strength, also suffers from fiberglass’s tendency to transmit shock to the user’s hands.

The Wolverine SL600, an ultra-heavy-duty model, is almost comically burly and is also beautifully made. It lost out to the ultra-heavy-duty Corona for the minor reasons given above—no padded grip or rubber step—and because its 6-inch lift, compared with the Corona’s 4 inches, makes vertical digging a bit more cumbersome.

The Wolverine FL500 is another terrifically constructed shovel; its closed back is the most neatly formed of all the models tested, its rivets are unobtrusive, and the socket seam, though not welded shut, is flush to the handle. Its shortcomings match the Corona SS 60020’s: a crisp but relatively small step and a shuddering fiberglass handle.

The Fiskars 96685935J is certainly a very well-built tool. It’s made entirely of steel, and the welds and painted finish are flawless. And Fiskars stands behind it unconditionally: They’ll replace it for free if it ever breaks. But the all-steel construction is heavy for a general-purpose shovel: Mine weighed 94 ounces—almost 6 pounds. It’s very strong, but Fiskars creates that strength bizarrely, by running the handle-blade connection almost halfway down the blade. That means the handle gets in the way when shoving the blade into the ground and takes up valuable real estate when transferring loose material. The handle is ergonomically shaped: In cross-section it resembles an egg, with the narrow end facing the ground. It felt very comfortable at first, but under repeated loads the relatively narrow underside created a pressure point on the first joint of my fingers. And the extremely generous step—full-width and more than an inch across at its widest—meant that my foot could be placed at only a perfect perpendicular to the handle. It’s a subtle thing, but when digging you often want to be able to tilt your foot fore or aft to direct the blade in a certain way, and the Fiskars design makes doing so awkward or even impossible.

The Razor-Back 45020 is one of two solid-shank shovels tested. A solid shank is exactly what it sounds like: a solid-steel bar instead of the more common hollow socket. It’s exceedingly strong. It’s also very heavy, and tilts the balance of a shovel toward the blade end. Unless your digging requires an inordinate amount of prying (as it might if your soil is full of rocks or roots), you don’t need the added strength, and the added weight becomes a liability when you’re transferring material. Additionally, the 45020’s rivets are mounted with the heads to the left, the opposite of most shovel designs. They pressed against my palm—not hard enough to cause pain, but enough that I noticed. (Of course, lefties might appreciate this quirk.)

Finally, there’s W. W. Manufacturing’s LHV-PT-R ($80), “the King of Spades.” Refined over the course of decades, it enjoys an enviable reputation among professional gardeners, orchardists, and nursery workers, and understandably so. It’s light for an all-steel shovel at 5.75 pounds, its keenly sharpened edge slices through soil and roots, and it has a five-year guarantee even under the abusive working conditions it generally faces. The materials and construction are top-notch. But it’s a specialist tool. That keen edge is more easily dulled by rocks than the other ultra-heavy-duty models. And though lightweight for its type, it’s still too heavy for general use, and its 4-inch lift is designed chiefly for digging, not transferring loose material. Highly recommended for specialists; not the best choice for backyard generalists.

via Wirecutter: Reviews for the Real World
The Best Shovel

How to Watch the Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford Hearings Today, No Cable Required

Photo: Getty Images

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, one of the women who accuses Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, will both testify in front of a Senate committee today. You can watch the livestreams below even if you’re not near a TV.

The hearing is scheduled to start at 10:00am ET, 7:00am PT. And depending on how you count it, there are either four or five women who have now come forward to accuse Kavanaugh of misconduct. But the spotlight will be on Ford today who has four sworn affidavits from people who know about the incident back in the early 1980s when Ford alleges that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her. You can read Ford’s prepared statement here, and Kavanaugh’s prepared statement here.


You can watch the testimony live on platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and CNN’s digital outlets (no login required) below.


There are a number of different media outlets that will be streaming today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on YouTube for free:


You can also watch the hearings today on Facebook:


CNN also has options for watching the testimony and it’s even dropping the requirement to log in with your cable provider:


Reuters TV has a few options for watching the congressional testimony on devices like your iPad, Apple TV, Fire TV, and Roku.

  • You can watch Reuters TV on iOS and Android apps.
  • And you can also watch Reuters TV on Roku and Fire TV.

via Gizmodo
How to Watch the Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford Hearings Today, No Cable Required

The Best Lightning Cable for iPhone and iPad

Strong strain-relief collars help the PowerLine cable last longer.

The MFi-licensed Anker PowerLine Lightning cable offers everything we look for in a cable at a great price. It can charge every Lightning-equipped device except the iPad Pro at full speed, and it is built to be sturdy. Plus, Anker stands behind its products more than most companies do.

Most Lightning cables look alike, but when you look closely at the PowerLine, its benefits show. The most evident is the sturdy housing around the USB and Lightning connectors. Each has a hard plastic casing holding the plug, with a slightly more flexible material joining the housing and the cable itself. According to Anker, the cable is designed to have a 5,000-plus-bend lifespan. Though we haven’t independently verified this number, this is some of the best construction we’ve seen in reasonably priced cables. (Overengineered models exist, of course, but we consider them overkill—and they usually cost more than most people want to spend on a cable.) Anker also claims that the PowerLine cable is “reinforced with bulletproof Kevlar fiber.” Again, we take the company at its word on this one; what we can say is that the PowerLine cables look and feel sturdier, especially at those connection points, than some of our previous picks from Monoprice, AmazonBasics, and Aduro. We of course plan to monitor long-term durability.

The PowerLine cable’s plug housing is small enough to work with every case we tested.

Anker’s cables have always been some of the best when it comes to case compatibility. Often, the plug housing on Lightning cables can be too large to fit into some cases. We tested the cable on cases with notoriously tight Lightning port openings and found no issues. It even fit the Lightning-connector opening on LifeProof cases, although Anker warns that it won’t. And as for charging and syncing, we tested the MFi-licensed PowerLine cable with nearly a dozen iPhones and iPads running various versions of iOS 9 and iOS 8; it worked as advertised with all of them.

An included Velcro strap helps keep the cable in a loop for travel.

We verified the PowerLine’s charging speed by plugging it into a USB power monitor attached to Apple’s 12W USB Power Adapter. Then we connected an iPad Air 2, which can draw 2.4 amps. The power monitor consistently showed draw of about 2.3 amps, which matches what we’ve found with other cables (the figure is never exactly at 2.4 amps due to electrical resistance and rounding).

Anker’s warranty and customer service complement its products well. In our experience, the company has been quick to replace anything that breaks within the 18-month warranty period without any hassle.

Professional reviews of cables don’t exist at this point, but thanks to Anker’s popularity on Amazon, a large base of customer reviews backs up the company’s promises. Across 1,100 reviews at the time of publication, the PowerLine Lightning cable has a 4.8-star rating (out of five). That’s an impressive number of high ratings–only 12 percent of its ratings are below five stars. FakeSpot, a website that analyzes Amazon reviews for fakes, says the reviews as a whole seem trustworthy.

At the time we’re writing this, Anker has top picks in the Wirecutter guides to multiport USB wall chargersUSB 3.0 hubsportable solar battery chargers, USB car chargersiPhone 6 battery casesUSB battery packsUSB 3.0 docking stations,Bluetooth keyboards, and desk lamps. This list represents hundreds of hours of research and testing, plus extended use by our staff. Anker also made some of our previous top Lightning and Micro-USB cable picks. This extended history of quality products is part of what makes us confident in choosing Anker cables.

via Wirecutter: Reviews for the Real World
The Best Lightning Cable for iPhone and iPad

Conserve the Sound, an Online Museum for Old Technology Sounds

Conserve the Sound is a project aimed at the preservation of sounds from old technologies.

»Conserve the sound« is an online museum for vanishing and endangered sounds. The sound of a dial telephone, a walkman, a analog typewriter, a pay phone, a 56k modem, a nuclear power plant or even a cell phone keypad are partially already gone or are about to disappear from our daily life.

Accompanying the archive people are interviewed and give an insight in to the world of disappearing sounds.

The project originated in Germany, so the sounds of many of the gadgets might not be super familiar to those who grew up elsewhere, but everyone (of a certain age) can recognize the sounds of a Walkman, a folding map, a car’s manual window crank, putting a cartridge into an NES, a typewriter, and manually spooling a cassette tape.

More about…

Conserve the Sound, an Online Museum for Old Technology Sounds

Netflix’s Production Technology = Voltron

by Chris Goss

Change management is hard. In everyday production, there are numerous factors working against embracing change. Limited preparation time, whole new show = whole new crew, innumerable planning variables, and the challenge of driving an operational plan based on creative instincts. These are problems that technology is not yet built to solve. Time, training, and education can and will make a dent in our efforts, but creative planning is nuanced, and by nature, human.

So, where do we start? What can production management technology do now to pave the way for future change? Having spent the past two years building Prodicle, our production suite of apps, we hit several pockets of success, while learning from numerous obstacles. Others have ventured down this path as well, and there are several start-ups and moderate size companies that reach out to us about their product offerings. It’s exciting to see others with the same level of passion and enthusiasm we have for improving the way entertainment gets made. After many meetings, memos, pitches and 30-day trials, there are a number of trends we often find ourselves discussing with all production SaaS providers and we think it’s worthwhile to share these key development pillars to start an ongoing conversation about how we’re thinking of pursuing these problems. Some have manifested themselves in how we’ve built Prodicle, others are ideas and pipedreams we hope to pursue in time. If you’re a SaaS provider seeking to dig your heels into the entertainment production space, here are some common themes we often discuss with our partners, our crews and our software development teams.

Modularity is key.

We built Prodicle with the intention of being modular, which is critical based on the wide variety and volume of content we produce. We are not a domestic TV studio. We are a global streaming studio, which means we need to produce entertainment that satisfies the different tastes of our members all over the world. Live action films, multi-camera comedies, weekly talk shows, global competitions, international crime dramas, documentaries about the Rajneesh — all forms of content for all audiences. This means that one giant monolithic software solution will not work — build, buy or otherwise. We are often pitched the dreamstate of software: one end-to-end solution to rule them all. While all-in ecosystems may work for smaller studios/production companies, the variables across our content slate makes it very difficult to successfully operationalize. As such, our offering will always be a modular ecosystem of connected solutions, some things built by us, other things bought from vendors, and a whole bunch of stuff in between. The beauty is twofold — products that work great on their own, products that work better together. It’s like Voltron. Season 7 now streaming.

It’s perfectly fine for a singular solution to solve one problem really well — in fact, this is often preferred. If your solution seeks to do seven things, chances are we’ve already solved for five of them — we just need the remaining two. Those two become the attractive secret sauce, and if they play well in a modular sandbox, we want to hear more! But when they don’t, and we have to go all-in on multiple ecosystems that overlap in functionality, the pain of deployment and support makes it a near non-starter. Passport is Prodicle’s menu-based portal that brings multiple solutions together in one place. It’s where we seek to grow our product offering for our crews. One modular location, many products.

Identity is complex.

It’s important to have safeguards in place to protect our content. Filmmaking is collaborative and lots of people touch the final product. Safely getting in and out of our ecosystem is important to get right. If too complex, it becomes a barrier to change management and introduces less-than-ideal workarounds. If too liberal, then we face the possibility of content leaking early. It’s an exercise in balance. Where do we start? From the product/user perspective, we need one login. We cannot have a multitude of solutions all utilizing different usernames and passwords. Retail has got this figured out, the freelance work environment needs to solve it as well. If your product doesn’t offer SSO (single sign-on) it becomes an immediate point of resistance. SSO is crucial to making security as transparent to the user as possible. Second? Roles and permissions. Our Content Engineering team has built an internal solution to manage app-to-app roles and permissions in a single administrative portal. This means we can provision users across multiple apps in one location. We’d love the ability to call your APIs and set application roles individually and in-bulk from one place. It’s a user administrator’s dream. Working with tens of thousands of freelancers around the world mandates this as a requirement. SSO and APIs for roles/permissions is a biggie.

Collaboration is key.

Netflix adopted Google Cloud’s G Suite in 2013. This means our entire corporate file sharing platform is Google Drive. Thousands of users, millions of files within the cloud — accessible everywhere. When we started the studio, we were faced with a choice: a) deviate and use a different file sharing platform, perhaps different platforms for different types of content, or b) use G Suite on our productions so corporate, studio and production are all in one shared space. This was a tough call, as the variables within our content, as noted above, are extensive. However, we felt G Suite was and is flexible enough while subscribing to our core principles of modularity. Utilizing their service within our ecosystem was the fastest way to stand-up a global file sharing platform. We have hundreds of productions using the tools within G Suite, collaborating with our studio users. Instead of trying to build our own file platform, or buying a multitude of third party platforms, we started building production-centric features on top of G Suite. For dynamic watermarking, password protection and expiring links, we built Prodicle Distribution. It sits on top of Google Drive, taking advantage of the multitude of G Suite functions that would be silly for us to build ourselves, e.g. collaboration, commenting, file previews, etc. In doing this, utilizing consumer facing tech from companies whose full-time focus is workplace solutions (our main focus is great content), we’re able to leverage what works well and add what we need to that. We don’t expect consumer tech companies to build production functionality, but if we can leverage what they do well and we build what we need for us to do well (produce great content) it gives us a significant head start. We look for this in third-party production tools all the time. Again, we want production components that don’t exist anywhere else, not another folder-based file repository to store our scripts.

Data as operational currency.

There are groups, committees, and conferences where universal data IDs are endlessly discussed. While not impossible, the effort needed for unification is tremendous. Data reconciliation will be an ongoing challenge especially when data accessibility isn’t solved. As such, availability of production and studio generated data is a must-have. The production-to-studio relationship requires the real time transfer of assets and data. When data is locked behind a proprietary file format or within data architecture with no accessible APIs, the constraints significantly reduce the data’s usefulness. Studios are hampered by the time it takes for software companies to develop their UIs. This significantly limits the software’s functionality and reduces its value at the studio level. Investing in software is a dual focus: accessibility of the data and assets generated by the software and the operational efficiencies provided by the use of the software. Both needs have to be serviced as production and studio each have different data and operational needs. However, this raises a subsequent problem of…

Serving two masters.

Most third-party production software offerings service singular needs. The products are either loved by productions and disliked by studios, or loved by studios and disliked by productions. This is a real challenge because the benefit is in the marriage of the two. But as a SaaS provider, how do you prioritize user needs? By listening to the producer, the studio exec, the production assistant? We seek to answer this question, but it’s not easy practice. Most of the solutions lie within the above — separating the data from the UX. A production UX has to be attractive to a production user — someone singularly focused on executing his/her job for one production. A studio UX is macro, servicing the needs of a multitude of productions each with their own unique variances. Does this equate to doubling the investment? Perhaps from a UX perspective, but less so from a data perspective — that is, if the data is easily accessible. If a studio can centralize pertinent micro-level and macro-level data, the UX can be agnostic — built by us or built elsewhere. This is where third-party offerings can be very attractive: solutions that offer unique operational advantages in a killer UX with data and assets that are easily accessible at the studio level for macro-level needs.

Change is bigger than Netflix.

Our entire industry is on the precipice of embracing new technologies all in pursuit of providing the best tools to our productions with the goal of empowering them to focus on what matters most — creating great stories. There are significant opportunities to partner on solving operational challenges, and there are a lot of them. We seek to utilize modern technology to solve these problems by building support for a Netflix platform that can be used on any Netflix production. That platform is modular — one to utilize an agnostic offering of SaaS products, built by us, built by others. Ideally, industry-wide discussions on normalizing the data models would be ideal. Perhaps, one stop at a time. We work to solve the gaps that no studio has yet to solve, giving our creators the advantage of cutting-edge production management software. Through this line of thinking, we want to leverage what exists to move fast in solving areas that do not yet exist. But it’s a paradigm shift — both in how the collective industry builds and how our users adopt. We are still in our infancy, having barely scratched the surface and there’s still so much to be done. It’s an exciting time to be one-part entertainment and one-part tech. For more information on this initiative, check out the Netflix media blog here.

Netflix’s Production Technology = Voltron was originally published in Netflix TechBlog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Netflix’s Production Technology = Voltron

The Laravel Sell

Presumably, if you’re watching this series, you’ve already made the decision to embrace all that Laravel has to offer. However, if you’re still on the fence, give me just a moment to sell you on why I believe Laravel is the best framework choice in the PHP world.

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The Laravel Sell