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In 'Cyberpunk 2077,' The Only Truly Punk Move Is Not To Play – North Country Public Radio

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Image: CD Projekt Red

“Burn Corpo Sh**”

That’s what it says on my jacket. My weirdly puffy, annoyingly yellow, impressively armored and oh-so-very cyberpunk jacket. Because Cyberpunk 2077 operates almost exclusively in a claustrophobic first-person, I can’t actually see the slogan sloppily written on my super-cool popped-collar jacket except when I’m tinkering with my loadout on the inventory screen. But I know it’s there. I know it’s there all the time.

“Burn Corpo Sh**”

I mean, that’s part of the psychological deal we make with video games, right? We invest in the fiction that we are who we play. In this case, it’s V — the main character in CD Project Red’s massively hyped, massively disappointing open-world pantsless-motorcycle-riding-simulator. V can be anyone. They are you, whoever you want to be. They are me, every minute that I play. And they are wearing that stupid jacket with its stupid slogan which I refuse to take off and which, eventually, will become symbolic to me of everything that’s wrong with this game — everything sour and broken at the heart of it.

Cyberpunk 2077 is about … nothing. There’s a plot of sorts. A kind of threaded narrative about a heist gone wrong in such a way that V ends up with Keanu Reeves permanently stuck living in his head. But it isn’t about anything. You run around collecting guns and meeting people and (mostly) killing them and (occasionally) just talking to them, and both options are terrible because the killing is almost always pointless and the talking, somehow, is even worse because the writing is so, so bad.

Keanu Reeves plays a character called Johnny Silverhand, a rockerboy from 50 years back in the game’s timeline who — for only the most vaguely defined or defended reasons — nuked the headquarters of one of the biggest corporations in Night City and killed thousands of people. Like actually blew it up with a nuclear weapon. Johnny Silverhand is a full-on terrorist, but he’s the good guy in this story. Kinda. Because, you know …

“Burn Corpo Sh**”

Because of what my jacket says. Because in the Cyberpunk universe, corporations are bad and corporate elitism is the dominant evil and the rape-and-pillage corpo culture is what has brought the world to the state that it is in where V — my V and your V — lives as a street-level mercenary, selling his or her gun hand, cybernetic implants and abject lack of personality to anyone who’ll pay. V dreams of someday becoming the best merc in the city. Of being remembered, like Johnny Silverhand is remembered, for, ostensibly, burning corpo sh**.

And that’s all. That’s the game’s entire underlying rationale and animating ethos summed up in three words Sharpie’d onto an ugly jacket that I wear long past its point of in-game usefulness because it is such a perfect example of everything that is wrong with the game — everything cheap and shallow and thoughtless and vain.

There are other problems, to be sure. Serious ones. Cyberpunk 2077 was supposed to be the biggest game of the year. A decade in development, years of hype, a breathless final run-up to launch day, launch hour and launch minute — this was it. The One. Greatest thing since the last great thing.

And if you care at all about video games, you already know what happened next. The game was a mess. On next-gen consoles and high-powered gaming PCs, it’s kind of a mess — a beautiful, glossy, immersive mess, but still a mess — and on last-gen systems (PS4 and Xbox One), it’s a complete, irredeemable, janky, low-rent, almost laughable mess. It glitches, it crashes, it chugs and strains to operate at even a basic level. Textures are muddy, blurred or lost in stuttering pop-in. Look fast, uncritically, and it almost seems like you’re wandering through a real sci-fi city with its soaring architecture and grubby alleys, but linger even briefly and you notice how lo-fi, flat and pixelated everything looks.

These technical issues got CP2077 pulled from the Playstation Store late last week. CDPR has already begun offering refunds for gamers who felt cheated by the divide between what they were promised and what was ultimately delivered. It has been a complete disaster for everyone involved — a team that was already dealing with disasters over crunch, release delays, trans representation and a dozen other things.

But the jacket and its stupid slogan is a fishhook. It sticks in me and I can’t get it out. Its clunky wording, bumper-sticker shallowness and unearned patina of faux-outrage is like a distillation of everything wrong with the game. It’s like an Eat The Rich t-shirt with the Hot Topic price tag still on it; like Starbucks selling lattes in decorative All War Is Class War mugs. It’s evidence that the team at CDPR either had no idea how to handle the source material they were given, or didn’t care to think beyond it.

Fact: I played Cyberpunk back in the early 90’s when it was just a tabletop RPG inspired by Blade Runner and William Gibson’s sprawl stories. It was a product of its time, existing in a universe with space stations and cyberarms, but without cellphones. The way we played it — the way my teenage friends and I read ourselves into the world — was as small-time operators, always. The corporations were behemoths, the system so massively corrupt and powerful that no one could win against it. You fought to survive around the edges of it, living off the scraps. “High stakes, low impact” — that was our house rule. Because punks don’t save the world. Ever. They just try to live another day.

But CP2077 doesn’t work that way. Worlds and fortunes hang in the balance of everything V does. He (I played him as a man, though there are options) rubs shoulders with corporate titans and goes to space. The V of the main plot is different than the V of the side content, no matter how you play it. Moment to moment, he’s streetracing, fighting gangsters, solving crimes, shooting up brothels or chasing down missing cabs for a self-driving car company. His core motivation, reinforced early and often, is to be the best killer Night City has ever seen. The best merc. The most dependable. Whatever. What he truly wants is simply to be remembered. In a future where absolutely everything is disposable, V just wants to leave an indelible mark.

And really, that’s not bad. You could build an interesting character and a moving story around that. It’s something, right?

But to do so, the game would have to address two issues, both intertwined. First, there’s the bonkers assumption that the only way to make a mark in this world is to be a really good killer. Second, that this world is bad enough that it makes the first conjecture seem reasonable. And in order for there to be any story at all, the game must interrogate one or the other — either V’s motivations or the world’s death wish — and then come to some sort of conclusion.

And that’s where CP2077 fails. It does neither. It seems to believe that presentation is enough. Like, here’s V. He wants to be very good at a job that mostly involves shooting people at the behest of cops and/or corporations. And now there’s a rockstar/terrorist from 50 years ago living in his head. Isn’t that a crazy world? Okay, now let’s go blow some stuff up.

And even though V is ostensibly going through the motions of trying to get Johnny Silverhand out of his head before he dies of terminal Keanu poisoning (or something else equally ludicrous), V spends a lot of his time in Night City just capping people on the streets for a $10 payout from the cops or watching corporate soldiers gun down striking workers. There are nice moments in the game, sure. Any time I spent with Takemura (a disgraced ex-bodyguard vital to the main plot) was a pleasure. Judy is a badass. Playing around with hacking and braindance editing was fun. And there were views in Night City which were stunningly lovely. But I spent far more time as V working with various cops and corporations than I did burning any of their sh**.

The game tries so hard to be cool — to come off as crass and edgy, to talk tough and play like some kind of anti-capitalist anarchy generator. But you lean too hard into that act and it will always come off more like a desperate pose than anything honest. One of the reasons I think I had so much trouble getting into the game is that all the gloss and chrome and affected, fake punkery gelled together like a hard shell in the first hours. No matter what I did, I just kept bouncing off, unable to get past the surface of it, told to act punk and do whatever I wanted, but then offered only a narrow spread of pre-approved systemic options that usually broke down to a) shoot everyone, b) have sex with a robot, c) buy things, d) quit.

I hung with it, but honestly? Quitting is the most punk option of them all. I wanted to love this game. I really did. I’ve been waiting decades for someone to take my teenage techno-dystopian fantasies and turn them into something I could play around in. But names and labels aside, this ain’t that. It’s all surface, no depth. All signal, no content. You wanna stick it to the mega-corps and hit ’em where it really hurts, choom? Just turn the game off and walk away. You wanna burn it all down?

You do that by refusing to play.

Jason Sheehan knows stuff about food, video games, books and Starblazers. He is currently the restaurant critic at Philadelphia magazine, but when no one is looking, he spends his time writing books about giant robots and ray guns. Tales From the Radiation Age is his latest book.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.
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Signal and Telegram are also growing in China – for now – Yahoo News Canada

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The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 7:30 p.m. ET on Sunday Jan. 17, 2021. There are 708,619 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 708,619 confirmed cases (75,281 active, 615,324 resolved, 18,014 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 6,436 new cases Sunday from 70,499 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 9.1 per cent. The rate of active cases is 200.27 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 47,285 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,755. There were 149 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 1,001 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 143. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.38 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 47.92 per 100,000 people. There have been 16,557,083 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 396 confirmed cases (nine active, 383 resolved, four deaths). There was one new case Sunday from 204 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.49 per cent. The rate of active cases is 1.73 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been three new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 76,369 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 104 confirmed cases (nine active, 95 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Sunday from 331 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 5.73 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of two new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 86,220 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,558 confirmed cases (29 active, 1,464 resolved, 65 deaths). There were four new cases Sunday from 743 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.54 per cent. The rate of active cases is 2.99 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 30 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 195,810 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 947 confirmed cases (293 active, 642 resolved, 12 deaths). There were 36 new cases Sunday from 874 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 4.1 per cent. The rate of active cases is 37.72 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 168 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 24. There were zero new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of three new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.06 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 128,277 tests completed. _ Quebec: 242,714 confirmed cases (20,651 active, 213,008 resolved, 9,055 deaths). There were 1,744 new cases Sunday from 9,270 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 19 per cent. The rate of active cases is 243.38 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 13,893 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,985. There were 50 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 369 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 53. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.62 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 106.72 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,656,534 tests completed. _ Ontario: 237,786 confirmed cases (28,893 active, 203,484 resolved, 5,409 deaths). There were 3,422 new cases Sunday from 58,215 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 5.9 per cent. The rate of active cases is 198.35 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 22,004 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 3,143. There were 69 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 380 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 54. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.37 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 37.13 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,633,584 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 27,511 confirmed cases (3,081 active, 23,661 resolved, 769 deaths). There were 189 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 224.98 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,194 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 171. There were eight new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 31 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.32 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 56.15 per 100,000 people. There have been 436,236 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 20,272 confirmed cases (4,121 active, 15,936 resolved, 215 deaths). There were 287 new cases Sunday from 862 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 33 per cent. The rate of active cases is 350.88 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,158 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 308. There were three new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 24 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is three. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.29 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 18.31 per 100,000 people. There have been 321,266 tests completed. _ Alberta: 116,837 confirmed cases (12,234 active, 103,167 resolved, 1,436 deaths). There were 750 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 279.87 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,385 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 769. There were 19 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 152 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 22. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.5 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 32.85 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,979,663 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 60,117 confirmed cases (5,955 active, 53,115 resolved, 1,047 deaths). There were zero new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 117.42 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,440 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 349. There were zero new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 42 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is six. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.12 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 20.65 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,021,911 tests completed. _ Yukon: 70 confirmed cases (two active, 67 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 4.9 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,256 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 28 confirmed cases (four active, 24 resolved, zero deaths). There were three new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 8.92 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of four new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 8,323 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 266 confirmed cases (zero active, 265 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Sunday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.58 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,558 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 17, 2021. The Canadian Press

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Galaxy S21 vs. S20 vs. S20 FE vs. Note 20 specs compared: All of Samsung's updates – CNET

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Samsung’s new lineup (from left): the $800 Galaxy S21, $1,000 Galaxy S21 Plus and $1,200 Galaxy S21 Ultra. 


Drew Evans/CNET

This story is part of CES, where our editors will bring you the latest news and the hottest gadgets of the entirely virtual CES 2021.

Samsung took to its virtual Unpacked stage last week to take the wraps off its next-gen Galaxy S21 lineup, consisting of the Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21 Plus and Galaxy S21 Ultra. All three are available to preorder now, and will ship on Jan. 29.

So it’s a good time to revisit the company’s now last-gen flagship phones, the Galaxy S20 family, to examine what the South Korean phone-maker has changed, especially in light of its lackluster sales performance. The short answer? Not a whole lot.

Although Samsung made tons of improvements to last year’s Galaxy S20 series (including the addition of 5G and higher refresh rates, for instance), there are few salient changes in the Galaxy S21 lineup. For instance, the base S21’s major features like the screen size (6.2 inches), battery (4,000 mAh) camera module, and display (120Hz), remain largely unchanged. 

To be clear, Samsung did make the usual upgrades to the phone’s processor and the software it runs — it’s now on Android 11 with a Snapdragon 888 processor. It also improved the fingerprint sensor and 5G connectivity. Plus the highest-end S21 Ultra can now support a stylus known as the S Pen (sold separately), which is one of the more significant changes that blurs the line between the S series and the more pro Note series. There’s also the revamped camera housing design, which accentuates the camera lenses on the phones’ backs while linking them with their metal frames.


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Our first look at the new Galaxy S21 and S21 Plus

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But the standout feature of the S21 isn’t found in the device’s hardware or software. It’s its price tag. The S21 lineup has a starting price of $800 (£769, which is approximately AU$1,350), which is $200 less than last year’s $1,000 Galaxy S20. According to CNET’s Shara Tibken, it’s also the “flagship device’s biggest advantage in an increasingly crowded 5G phone market.”

It’s also important to note what Samsung removed from its S21 family to allow it to start at that lowered price. One of the most controversial changes is the lack of an in-box wall adapter and earphones. The South Korean company is pushing its customers to reuse older accessories in the name of the environment, just like Apple did with the iPhone 12 family. The S21 line also lost expandable local storage, joining last year’s Galaxy Z Fold 2 and Z Flip foldables in ditching the microSD card slot because “usage has markedly decreased.”

If you want more more information on the differences between Galaxy S21 versus the Galaxy S20, take a look at our chart below.

Samsung Galaxy S21 vs. S20 vs. S20 FE vs. Note 20 specs

Galaxy S21 Galaxy S20 Galaxy S20 FE Galaxy Note 20
Display size, resolution 6.2-inch Flat FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity-O Display (2,400×1,080 pixels), 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X; (3,200 x 1440) 6.5-inch super AMOLED; 2,400×1,080 pixels 6.7-inch AMOLED; 2,400×1,080 pixels
Pixel density 421ppi 563ppi 405ppi 393ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 2.80 x 5.97 x 0.31 in 2.72 x 5.97 x 0.311 in 6.29 x 2.97 x 0.33 inches 6.36 x 2.96 x 0.33 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) 71.2 x 151.7 x 7.9 mm 69.1 x 151.7 x 7.9 mm 159.8 x 75.5 x 8.4 mm 161.6 x 75.2 x 8.3 mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 6.03 oz; 171g 5.75 oz; 163g 6.70 oz; 190g 6.84 oz, 194g
Mobile software Android 11 Android 10 Android 10 Android 10
Camera 64-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide) 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 64-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide) 12-megapixel (standard), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide), 8-megapixel (3x telephoto) 12-megapixel (ultra-wide), 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 64-megapixel (telephoto)
Front-facing camera 10-megapixel 10-megapixel 32-megapixel 10-megapixel
Video capture 8K 8K 4K 8K
Processor Snapdragon 888 or 64-bit Octa-Core Processor 2.8GHz (Max 2.4GHz +1.8GHz) 64-bit octa-core processor (Max 2.7GHz + 2.5 GHz + 2.0 GHz) Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 (5G) Samsung Exynos 990 (4G) Snapdragon 865+
Storage 128GB/256GB 128GB 128GB 128GB
RAM 8GB 12GB (5G), 8GB (LTE) 6GB 8GB
Expandable storage None Up to 1TB Up to 1TB None
Battery 4,000 mAh 4,000mAh 4,500mAh 4,300mAh
Fingerprint sensor In-screen In-screen In-screen In-screen
Headphone jack No No USB-C USB-C
Special features IP68 rating, 5G-enabled, 30X Space Zoom, 10W wireless charging 5G enabled; 120Hz refresh rate; water resistant (IP68) 120Hz screen refresh rate, support for 30W fast charging and 15W fast wireless charging S Pen stylus; 5G connectivity; Wireless PowerShare; water resistant (IP68)
Price off-contract (USD) $800 (128GB) $999 $699 $1,000
Price (GBP) £769 £799, £899 (5G) £599 (4G) £699 (5G) £849 (4G) and £949 (5G)

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How to Make Signal Your Default SMS Messaging App on Android – How-To Geek

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Signal

Signal is a popular privacy-focused, encrypted messaging app. It’s an alternative to WhatsApp, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, and others. There’s a lot to like about the app, and if you make the switch, it can even replace your SMS app.

Like its competitors, Signal is mainly used for instant messaging other people who use the app. However, the Android app has an extra feature: It can be set as your device’s default SMS messaging app. Unfortunately, the functionality isn’t available on iPhone.

RELATED: What Is Signal, and Why Is Everyone Using It?

Not only will you be able to communicate with your Signal contacts, but you’ll also be able to send and receive text messages with your phone number. All of your conversations can be in one place. Let’s do it.

Warning: SMS messages sent through Signal are “insecure,” meaning they’re not encrypted like messages between Signal users.

First, open the Signal app on your Android device. Next, tap the three-dot menu icon in the top-right corner of the app.

tap the three-dot menu icon

Select “Settings” from the menu.

select settings

At the top of the Settings menu, tap “SMS and MMS.”

Select SMS and MMS

Next, you will see “SMS Disabled” at the top. Select it to proceed with making it the default.

SMS Disabled

A pop-up window will ask you to choose your default SMS app. Select “Signal” and tap “Set as Default.”

choose Signal as default sms app

That’s it. Sending an SMS message is the same as sending a Signal message. The contacts list will show people on Signal at the top, indicated in blue.

contact list

If for whatever reason you would like to send an SMS to a Signal contact, you can do that, too. Start by typing a message like you normally would.

enter a message

This time, instead of tapping the send button, tap it and hold.

tap and hold send button

Now you have the option to switch to “Insecure SMS.” As previously mentioned, SMS messages are not encrypted like Signal messages.

send as SMS

The send button will now be gray with an unlock icon. Tap it to send the SMS message.

send as SMS

You’re all set! Now you can keep all of your conversations, whether they’re over Signal or SMS, in one place. Keep in mind that you will not be able to access SMS through the Signal Desktop app.

RELATED: The 5 Best Alternatives to WhatsApp

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