The Cyberdeck and You
So you want to access the Matrix? Well then chummer your going to need a Cyberdeck. What is a Cyberdeck you ask? Well as Ricky used to tell Lucy come over here and let me ’spalin you.
Cyberdecks & Networking
Cyberdecks are the ultimate personal networking tool, used by almost everyone. They are a combination wireless router, cellphone, vidcam, PDA, GPS unit, chip reader, wallet/credstick, and mobile gaming device — all in one easy-to-carry package that fits inside a pocket, belt-clip, or wrist-clip. Cyberdecks come in a dizzying array of shapes, sizes, and colors, from stylized head-sets or faux jewelery to cranial implants and Cyberdecks woven into the fabric of your jacket.
Cyberdecks serve as the primary hub for your PAN (Personal Area Network), allowing you to access and maniplulate all of your PAN-connected electronics through your Cyberdeck. Need to make a call? Review a video file you took yesterday? Scan the diagnostics on your cyberlimb? Check the fuel on your drone? Program your alarm clock? You can do all of this and more through your Cyberdeck.
Cyberdecks also provide you with instant wireless access to the world around you. Not only can you send messages, make calls, transfer files, or access data via the Matrix, but you can access the wireless devices and networks all around, from the store’s sales catalog to your friend’s PAN to the lamppost tourist-info RFID (Radio-frequency identification) tag to the social networking profile of anyone else looking to play a game of chess in the park.
Cyberdecks typically carry all of your personal data, replacing the registered credsticks of old. Your ID, SIN (System Identification Number), licenses, passport, medical history, insurance data, educational diplomas, credit balance, and far more can be securely stored on your cyberdeck and instantly beamed over for transactions purposes — with proper authorization, of course.
Many people openly broadcast certain portions of their personal data via their PAN for others to access. This is often done for convenience and consumer purposes — for example, your favorite stores can access your purchasing history and wishlists as soon as you walk in, and offer specials tailored specifically to you. Some data is broadcast for social networking and gaming services, notifying you if someone single with your same hobbies and interests is in the same bar, or allowing you to engage random opponents in virtual battles in public spaces.
Of course, most users carefully control how much information they make publicly available, but the law often requires certain core pieces of data to be accessible in certain areas (SIN and ID must be broadcast on UCAS federal property, for example), or for certain data to be accessible to security officers who attempt to access it with authorized security codes. In high-security neighborhoods, it is common practice for police drones to scan the PANs of random people on the street — those with something to hide are usually up to no good.
Via the Cyberdeck, PANs can be set to operation in three different modes. You can change your PAN as a Free Action.
Active: This is the default mode for most PANs. In active mode, you can both access and be accessed by other nodes. (PANs, devices & networks). Certain areas may require your PAN to be in active mode (airports, corp facilities, etc.)
Passive: A PAN is this mode can access nodes but cannot be accessed by them without your approval. PANs in passive mode will still show up as active networks if searched for. This mode is useful for operation in high traffic areas, where advertising nets or spammers abound. Passive mode allows you to automatically filter out noise, only alerting you if specific pre-authorized nodes request access.
Hidden: In this mode your PAN is invisible to other nodes unless you access or authorize them. PAN users in hidden more are said to be “ghosting,” since there is no way for other users to see them. Using hidden mode is discouraged in some high-class social situations, where it is considered rude. In other areas, however—particularly tech-free zones or shadow establishments where privacy is expected—the opposite is true. Certain secure areas and high-class establishments prohibit users from operating in hidden mode, and will punish those doing so with expulsion, arrest, or worse.
The persona represents your Matrix alter ego. It is a combination of programs you use, in conjunction with with your device’s OS, to represent yourself to other users and nodes in the Matrix. Your persona’s attributes are determined by the attribues of whatever device/OS you are using to access the Matrix—usually your Cyberdeck or terminal, though you may sometimes access via other devices.
Your persona’s attributes are covered in the next section, attacks made against your persona affect the device/OS, though Black IC (Intrusion Countermeasure) programs affect the actual user directly.
Your persona’s icon graphically represents you in augmented reality, and in most forms of Matrix communications (email, messaging, phone calls, etc). Whether you bought your icon off the shelf or programed your own, icons are easily customizable with the a library of features and you can trick them out on the fly with different animated movements, color schemes, mutable design elements and other digital skin effects. Icons take many shapes and forms , from animated characters and anthropomorphic creature to more artsy or abstract designs like mobile waterfalls or swirling color patterns. All Matrix-capable devices have default icons loaded in case the user doesn’t have his own—usually a simple blank-white anonymous anthroform shapes, often emblazoned with the device manufacturer’s stylized logo. Occasionally programs you have loaded will add additional elements to your Icon’s look, such as the glowing green force field of an Armor utility or the blurring effects of a Stealth utility.
Parts of a Cyberdeck
MPCP Master Persona Control Program; this controls all the other parts of the Cyberdeck. No program or utility can have a higher base rating than your MPCP. You can run a number of active programs equal to 3 times your MPCP. In most places the maximum legal MPCP is 4.
Signature Each MPCP has a serial number embedded in its programing that is used to identify it. This serial number is required in almost all interactions between it & other computers.
Persona Your persona is made up of 5 parts. Your Icon and your Persona Programs Bod, Sensor, Evasion & Masking. Additionally the maximum total of your Persona Programs can not exceed MPCP x3.
Bod Measures the structural integrity of the persona.
Sensor Translates the crushing amount of data flowing through the Matrix into a form understandable by the metahuman user.
Evasion Defines the agility of the persona—its ability to maneuver in cybercombat.
Masking Performs a variety of functions, all designed to interfere with any process that requires the Cyberdeck’s signature. This is used along with the Spoof utility when running in Hidden mode.
Icon This can be the default or a custom Icon, the higher the rating the more detailed your Icon is. High end Icons can even have smells, sounds and other effects associated with them.
Firewall The is made up of two parts a Guardian utility to prevent physical intrusion of your Cyberdeck and a frame or agent utility to prevent Matrix intrusion.
Signal: Signal represents a device’s raw broadcasting power. The higher the Signal, the father the device can transmit. Note for two devices to communicate your must be in range of the weakest Signal involved.
Utilities This is the software that assists you with accomplishing tasks in the Matrix. A really good deck doesn’t need software to do something however it does make it much easier to accomplish tasks with the right utilities. Due to the advances in memory in the 2070s you can store an almost limitless number of programs on a Cyberdeck.
Case Your average Cyberdeck is roughly the size of three blue ray cases stacked on top of each other or 5 3/8" wide 6 3/4" tall and 1 1/2" thick. Though they can vary in size and shape quite radically. The standard Cyberdeck case has a barrier rating of 3, tougher cases are available up to a barrier rating of 12.