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This week, supporting Calgary restaurants by cooking with a chef, watching Evil Dead with Bruce Campbell, and brawling in Toronto streets as Scott Pilgrim. But first, details of Samsung’s new Galaxy S21 handsets.

Samsung’s new Galaxy S21 smartphones are available for preorder

Late last week, as the Consumer Electronics Show was coming to a close, Samsung held an online “Galaxy Unpacked” to show off the next generation Galaxy S21 handsets.

There are three models coming to Canada, all of which are available to preorder now for delivery on January 29.

They are all 5G devices and they all sport a new design that incorporates the camera bump into the metal housing.

The S21 and S21 Plus (respectively: 6.2-inch screen starting at $1,130 and 6.7-inch screen starting at $1,400).

The S21 Ultra, meanwhile, is the premium model, with a 6.8-inch screen with an adaptive refresh rate (starting at $1,650 and up to $1,890). It’s got an extra lens in the camera array and is compatible with Samsung’s S Pen.

Pre-ordering a Galaxy S21 Ultra and you get a set of Galaxy Buds Pro and a Galaxy SmartTag, which were also announced at the Samsung event.

The cost for a S21 is actually cheaper – by almost $200 – than the Galaxy S20 handsets released last year. Samsung found some play in the price by reducing the screen resolution on the S21 and S21 Plus, and by reducing the base amount of memory from 12 GB RAM to 8 GB.

Samsung is also packaging the S21 smartphones without earbuds or a wall charger.

Cook with a Chef supports Calgary restaurateurs

Here’s an interesting concept: take a cooking lesson from a renowned chef.

That’s what you get with Cook with a chef, a program connecting the chefs of Calgary’s restaurant scene with people who wish they could visit.

The initiative comes from Julie Van Rosendaal, a Calgary-based cookbook author and journalist.

The recipe and ingredient list – as well as wine pairing suggestions – are sent to participants in advance of the online cooking class.

And you only need one ticket per household, so you and your housemates, or significant others, or families, can all take part in the fun.

The classes with Jenny B from Jane Bond BBQ and with Chris Wong from Gorilla Whale are already sold out, but there are six others starting January 27 and running through February that you can still get in on.

They include Colin Metcalfe from Sidewalk Citizen, Judy Wood from the Lougheed House and Meez Cuisine, Paul Rogalski and Dean Fast from Rouge, Merritt Gordon from Dandy Brewing, and Andy Fennell from Cafe Gravity.

Watch Evil Dead with Bruce Campbell

Evil Dead, the 1981 film directed by Sam Raimi, produced by Rob Tapert, and starring Bruce Campbell, has a storied reputation in indie film.

This Saturday, January 23, you can watch the film online with Campbell hosting a viewing party in which he will “share memories, behind the scenes stories, [and] anecdotes from the film.”

Campbell was also a co-executive producer of the film, which sparked careers for Raimi, who would go on to direct a series of Spider-Man films, Tapert, who would produce the TV show, Xena Warrior Princess, and Campbell himself.

Tickets are $25 USD per device, so you can gather your household bubble to scream – and laugh – and the horror film that changed perceptions of what a horror film could be.

Scott Pilgrim vs the World video game re-release brings brawling back to Toronto streets

Gamers were thrilled last year to learn that Ubisoft would re-release the video game adaptation of Scott Pilgrim vs the World.

Scott Pilgrim vs the World: The Game, Complete Edition is now available for Nintendo Switch, PS4/5, Stadia, Windows, and Xbox One/Series X. It includes the add-on content that lets you play as Knives Chau and Wallace Wells.

The side-scrolling brawler’s 10th anniversary was last year, and it’s just as charming as it was back in 2010. You can battle as Scott or as other characters including Ramona Flowers, Kim Pine, and Stephen Stills, and each character has distinct attacks and supers.

You can upgrade the skills of these characters as you play, and visit stores and shops in the environment to get boosts from things that you buy with money you pick up along the way. These items include all the things interesting to a twenty-something finding their way in the big city, like concert t-shirts and nachos.

As with the original comic by Canadian Bryan Lee O’Malley and the film adaptation directed by Edgar Wright and starring Michael Cera, the story of Scott Pilgrim is set in Toronto, and the city circa 2010 is honestly represented in the game with locations that include TTC underground platforms and stand-ins for venues like Lee’s Palace and Sneaky Dee’s.

This game is almost as popular because of its soundtrack by Anamanaguchi, the pop band that incorporates video game hardware into their instrumentation to create music that’s referred to as “chiptune” or “bitpop” because of its pixellated sound.

Anamanaguchi’s energetic music is perfect for the game, providing the perfect syncopation for beating up all the nasties that get in your way.

You can play with up to three friends, locally or online, and this is how the game is best enjoyed. More than a nostalgia trip, Scott Pilgrim vs the World: The Game, Complete Edition is twitchy brawling fun.

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This week, updates from CES 2021 and all the recent news from Lucasfilm Games, including new Star Wars and Indiana Jones games. But first, Trump’s lost his soapbox and Parler looks to be gone, too.

De-platforming Donald Trump

He’s off Facebook. And Instagram. And Snapchat. And Twitter. And Twitch.

It’s permanent for Twitter, a ban for an undefined length of time from Facebook and Instagram.

Related interest groups in other platforms are also being shut down, including Reddit (“r/DonaldTrump” has been banned) and PayPal and Shopify.

Stripe, which had been processing payments for the Trump campaign, has cancelled the account.

Axios has the full list., which includes information on what other private companies are doing in response to the insurrection in Washington last week.

Social media platform Parler has an uncertain future

Parler, the social media company that built a business on lax moderation, went offline on Monday, and Deadline reports that CEO John Matze says that multiple vendors and a law firm “ditched us on the same day”.

The app has been removed from Apple’s AppStore and the Google Play store, and Amazon Web Services, which had been providing the servers and hosting for the company, has suspended the account after “repeated violations” of the terms of service. The AWS Trust & Safety Team had, apparently, been warning Parler that this might happen for some time.

On top of all this, web archivists have managed to download a substantial portion of the Parler database because the system was so poorly developed. That includes posts, images, videos, as well as user information.

All of this will now be open information and available to any law enforcement agency who wants to use it.

What’s going on at CES 2021

The online-only trade show is a little subdued this year, but there’s still stuff going on.

You can visit LG’s CES booth yourself.

TVs

  • LG’s new OLED line are the B1, C1, G1, and Z1. The C1 gets an 83-inch model, the G1 is ultra thin and mounts nearly flush with your wall, and the Z1 is 8K and up to 88 inches.
  • The LG OLED settings includes a single location for settings important to gamers, and includes a setting that automatically tweaks things depending on what genre of game you’re playing.
  • TCL is updating the 6-Series collection to 8K video and introducing the XL Collection of 85-inch displays.

Monitors

  • Acer’s Predator XB323QK NV gaming monitor is 4K HDR with a 31.5-inch screen while the XB273U NX, 27-inch, 1440 pixel display with an overclocked refresh rate of 275 Hz.
  • Alienware’s neatly designed M15 and M17 R4 are being upgraded with Nvidia’s RTX 30 series of graphics processors.
  • Asus has a line of monitors, including the ROG Swift PG32UQ, with HDMI 2.1 ports which makes them ideal for computer gaming or if you want to hook up a PS5 or Xbox Series X to get 4K resolution and up to 120 frames per second.
  • LG is releasing an OLED monitor, the UltraFine Display OLED Pro, a 4K HDR monitor intended for professionals like video editors and photographers.

Computers

  • Acer’s Predator Triton 300 SE includes the latest Intel and Nvidia chips and comes in at under four pounds. In a refresh, the Predator Helios 300 gets Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3070 or 3080 for graphics and a 240 Hz display.
  • Asus is updating the Republic of Gamers Zephyrus G14 and G15 with updated AMD and Nvidia chips, and is adding an option to upgrade the displays resolution and refresh rate.

Appliances

  • LG’s InstaView refrigerator has a window that clears when you knock on the door, giving you a view of the contents without needing to open the door. You can get ice that is cubed, crushed, or round (called “craft”), and there’s a UV light that sanitizes the water dispenser nozzle to keep it free from bacteria.

Lucasfilm Games brand renewed for Star Wars video games

Lucasfilm Games is back. Kind of.

The original Lucasfilm Games was created by George Lucas in 1982. Originally, the studio was making games from original ideas and after being renamed as LucasArts in 1990, it was where formative adventure games like The Secret of Monkey Island, Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle, and Grim Fandango. Knights of the Old Republic, a role-playing game set in the Star Wars universe and developed by BioWare, was released in 2003.

Lucasfilm Games isn’t being reborn as a development studio, but as a brand that will centralize the development, promotion, and publicity of games from the Star Wars universe.

This week’s announcement about the “new era” makes it clear games will be “developed in collaboration with the finest studios across the industry.”

There are new accounts on Facebook and Twitter, so if you’re looking to get the inside track on Star Wars games, you know where to go.

That news was followed up today with an announcement that Ubisoft’s Massive Entertainment in Sweden is creating an open-world Star Wars game.

EA will still be making Star Wars games for Lucasfilm Games, but it appears that any exclusivity is now gone.

Indiana Jones video game in development at Machine Games

Bethesda studio Machine Games is another group working with Lucasfilm Games. Yesterday, Bethesda announced that renowned game designer Todd Howard will be executive producing the game, which will have an original story.

Machine Games has most recently made three accomplished first-person shooter games in the Wolfenstein series.

Given that Microsoft owns Bethesda, I suspect that this may be an Xbox exclusive, but there was no mention of platforms or release date.

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