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back to article HP Z1 quad-core Xeon 27in PC

Extreme PC Week PC users who secretly covet their cubicle neighbour’s 27in iMac but don’t want to leave the Windows world can begin to feel rather smug these days. HP's Z1 is its take on the all-in-one concept, but has the heart of a workstation. It's a handsome beast too, with a 27in display which also houses a Xeon server- …

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Almost there, really

Needs to use a standard ITX board of some description, a standard PSU of some type, and have support for at least a dual slot full length PCIe 16x GPU.

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Re: Almost there, really

and you're going to fit that lot in an AIO case with propper cooling and ventilation just how?

If you want a fully modular system with standardised components it's always going to be bigger and clunkier than will fit into what is basically a monitor case. Live with that or buy a mini tower, your choice.

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Facepalm

@Piro

You Sir, lost any IT credibility you had with that post.

Unless you were just being silly.

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Holmes

Noisy?

I count .. 6 fans in that screenshot of the things guts (2 screws in the PSU + 4 centrifugal) . Is it noisy ?

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more like it

2560x1440 screen - you can change everything except the screen, so that's a good choice.

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Red Hat? Suse?

Not on the UK web site. Windows 64bit is compulsory. £ 2431. We are invited to "Call to discuss your graphic requirements " but there is no option to omit Windows, or supply with Linux

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Holmes

Re: Red Hat? Suse?

The models listed on the website are just a few examples of the gazillion or so possible configurations HP offers. There are others which include Linux or even come without OS.

And if none of the available configurations are right for you then there is always the BTO option which lets you configure almost everything according to your needs, including the OS.

The only shame is that HP does not offer BTO through their UK (or any European) webshop as they do in the US.

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Why oh why

do they insist on glossy screens.

Do they ever try to use these things in a real life situation?

Then why are they insisting on EEC RAM if you want to go above 8Gb? That pushes the price up considerably.

I#ll be that HP branded RAM is the only stuff that will work without BSOD's as well.

Nice try but it ain't an iMac killer especially if as rumoured Apple are going to announce some juicy H/W upgrades in a few days.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: ECC RAM

Might be to do with using the Xeon CPU (a server part at heart)?

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The author was just wrong

"Then why are they insisting on EEC RAM if you want to go above 8Gb? That pushes the price up considerably."

This doesn't make any sense (I know first hand that the z1 works fine with 16GB non-ECC) and the author was just wrong.

However, according to the Quickspecs (HP's term for a specification sheet) the z1 can be configured with either a XEON CPU (which supports both ECC and non-ECC RAM) and with a Core i3 processor which does not support ECC, and therefore ECC memory is only supported in the XEON variants. Simples.

I guess the author came to that (false) conclusion because HP only offers a 8GB config (4x 2GB) as the largest non-ECC memory config. This does however not mean that the z1 can't take non-ECC memory in larger configs (i.e. 4x4GB), it just means that HP does not offer more than 8GB in non-ECC form.

"I#ll be that HP branded RAM is the only stuff that will work without BSOD's as well."

You lost. The z1 works fine with any memory that is JEDEC compliant, as does any other PC workstation made by HP during the last 10 years or more.

"Nice try but it ain't an iMac killer especially if as rumoured Apple are going to announce some juicy H/W upgrades in a few days."

This isn't supposed to be an 'iMac killer', it's a professional workstation in a compact AIO format. The iMac is no workstation.

Apple may announce some hardware upgrade in a few days but so far they were too cheap to put professional graphics in their top model (Mac Pro), so if I were you I wouldn't bet that they now start to put XEONs and Quadro graphics into the iMac as you may loose again.

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Holmes

Re: The author was just wrong

>>The iMac is no workstation.

I disagree... for about £1600 (with cunning use of a friends student discount etc.) you can get a 3.4Ghz (quad) i7 with 4Gb a 2Gb 6970M, slap in another 4Gb for £20 an extra 120Gb Sata3 SSD for £70 to go with the 1Gb (which you can swap over as a data disk), bootcamp it if you want, lovely Apple screen (similar to the Z1), all in all around the same as the entry price for the Z1 - but arguably a better machine.

In other words, a high spec iMac is better spec and value than an entry level Z1, but put some serious cash into a Z1 (like 3 grand) and you have a much better spec machine than an iMac (no shock there), I think there's an overlap between the iMac and the Z1 but it's quite a narrow band.

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Re: Why oh why

For that money you could build yourself a couple of SSD based Shuttles of similar CPU and RAM grunt and plug them into IPS panelled Dell U2711 monitors of identical size and resolution, *but* with a practical matt screen instead of the Apple-esque "Must only be used whilst wearing black" gloss screen. Yes, *that's* why Mr jobs always wore than turtle-neck.

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JC_
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@No, I will not fix your computer

In other words, a high spec iMac is better spec and value

How would you feel about hauling your all-in-one to an Apple store and waiting a couple of weeks for repair? The HP has 3-year onsite warranty.

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Re: The author was just wrong

>>The iMac is no workstation.

>

> I disagree...

You can disagree all you want but that is a fact and no matter of opinion. The iMac lacks the main properties of a workstation, namely ISV certification (doesn't have any) and professional-grade support.

"for about £1600 (with cunning use of a friends student discount etc.) you can get a 3.4Ghz (quad) i7 with 4Gb a 2Gb 6970M, slap in another 4Gb for £20 an extra 120Gb Sata3 SSD for £70 to go with the 1Gb (which you can swap over as a data disk), bootcamp it if you want, lovely Apple screen (similar to the Z1), all in all around the same as the entry price for the Z1 - but arguably a better machine."

The con using a student's account you're not really eligible for aside, the £1600 buy you a nice home computer with gamer graphics that may impress your friends, but in terms of a workstation all the money bought you is a polished turd. The iMac has no ISV certification whatsoever which means most professional software vendor will show you the middle finger if you request support as you're running an unsupported plaform. And the lousy gamer graphics lacks many advanced features like AA lines which are critical for many applications like precision CAD and thanks for being fillrate optimized for games will suffer from a shoddy performance in many professional applications. And I won't get started about Apple's consumer support vs business-class mission-critical support options available for the z1.

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Re: The author was just wrong

So.. the only arguments for this machine being a "real" workstation compared ti the MAC (or any homebrew) is the certification, officiel support, NBD blabla - thievery? All of it just i big scam, and completely pointless if you know how to swap a stick of RAM, PSU etc....

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Re: The author was just wrong

"So.. the only arguments for this machine being a "real" workstation compared ti the MAC (or any homebrew) is the certification, officiel support, NBD blabla - thievery?"

I know the concept is a bit difficult to grasp if all you've ever seen are self-build home PCs and Macs but in an industry where reliability and precision is much more important than the lowest possible price or the ability to impress drinking buddies with the symbol of a half-eaten Apple, certified hardware means that this computer is guranteed to run that very important and very expensive piece of software without any hickups, and that any issues will be dealt with swiftly which even may include the software manufacturer providing a purpose-built patch within a few hours.

"All of it just i big scam, and completely pointless if you know how to swap a stick of RAM, PSU etc...."

You really don't get it, do you? It's not about RAM or PSU (that's what the hardware support is for, which again is worlds apart from what Apple offers), it's about ISV (ISV=Independet Software Vendor, the guys that provide your f*****g expensive application) support. The thing with most ISVs for professional software is that if the software shows a problem (say your 3D model doesn't show all textures) then they will ask you if you use a certified platform (combination of certified hardware, certified OS/drivers and often enough also a certified BIOS level), and if you don't then they'll say sorry but go and f**k yourself. Which is not a problem if all you do is playing games on that computer, but which translates to an actual loss of money if you use that computer for anything important in a business.

Additionally, not every business can afford to keep dedicated IT staff. Especially small businesses can't have someone sitting around until some hardware breaks so that he can change that. Even more, having spare parts of everything to compensate for a hardware problem is a no-no in business as it means stocking dead capital. That's why workstations usually come with 3 years onsite warranty next business day as standard, which can be upgraded to 4hrs reaction time 24/7. With that you also get engineers which know your workstation inside out, and can locate and fix the problem quickly.

A workstation is not your typical home PC. It's a computer for areas where the hardware price is almost irrelevant compared to the overall costs (software, support) per seat, and people buy that not because they are idiots but simply because the return of their investment justifies that expense.

Simples.

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Re: @No, I will not fix your computer

I don't disagree, but that is a separate argument to the specification and value of the hardware, besides I think apple support gives different experiences for different people, I knew someone who had an issue with their iMac, they carted it into the store (after booking an appointment with a genius), an hour later they walked out with a brand new machine (with the hard drive swapped over), conversely I have heard of bad experiences where people have had "fixed" machines only to have the same error happen again. You have to remember, there's no such thing as a free lunch (or free on site warranty) - and if you never use it it's very costly for what you get.

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Re: The author was just wrong

>>You can disagree all you want but that is a fact and no matter of opinion.

Only if you consider ISV a key definer of "workstation", which IS opinion, after all look at the Microsoft WHQL certification, or AppLabs Linux certification, both of which could be applied to iMacs, the components that an iMac is built from can be (or indeed have) some ISV certifications.

>>And the lousy gamer graphics lacks many advanced features like AA lines which are critical for many applications like precision CAD and thanks for being fillrate optimized for games will suffer from a shoddy performance in many professional applications.

Well, the graphics aren't exactly "lousy", but it certainly does depend what you want to run on it, the questions are will if do the job? and what is your budget? if you have a £2k ceiling the performance edge of the iMac (at this price point) may be the defining feature, if you have unlimited budget then the HP can deliver a much faster machine, dismissing the iMac purely because of ISV certification is as relevant as saying "but these go to 11" - there are so many factors to take into account than that. Let me give you another example, where I work insisted that the standard for servers is inbuilt hardware RAID (specifically separate controllers), I specified a six server webfarm (3+3 different physical sites), the servers I specified didn't have hardware RAID (software RAID, single controller), but they cost significantly less, I saved about £30k for a minuscule additional risk, more so as the farm was live/live - standards and certifications are great as they reduce the amount of thinking required when you have unlimited budgets, but they are also bad to follow dogmatically without understanding what they give you.

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Headmaster

Re: The author was just wrong

"Only if you consider ISV a key definer of "workstation", which IS opinion"

No, it's not. ISV certification is the key parameter which distinguishes a standard PC from a workstation, period. It's not the ECC RAM or the XEON processor which makes a computer a workstation.

"Well, the [iMac[ graphics aren't exactly "lousy", but it certainly does depend what you want to run on it,"

The iMac comes with mobile GPUs which is a lot slower than the desktop equivalent, and it's performance is lousy if you pay £2k for a computer.

" if you have a £2k ceiling the performance edge of the iMac (at this price point) may be the defining feature,"

Yes, if you can live with a standard PC. However if you need a workstation then the iMac could be the fastest computer on the planet but without ISV certifications that doesn't matter, and therefore the £2k probably rather go into a HP z420 or Dell Precision T3600 with an external monitor, which for that price also outperforms your iMac.

"there are so many factors to take into account than that."

Yes, but the fact remains that if the differentiator between a workstation and a standard PC is in the ISV certifications. If you don't need that then you don't need a workstation, period. And if you don't need a workstation then a iMac may do fine.

"Let me give you another example"

Your example is nice but completely unrelated, as you had several alternatives. However, if you need support from your ISV then there usually is no alternative to using a certified system (a workstation). You can use a non-certified system but when the shit hits the fan then you're on your own and stuck with Google. If you can afford not to spend the money for workstations and support then there is no need to pay for that.

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Holmes

Re: @No, I will not fix your computer

"I think apple support gives different experiences for different people,"

It does, but the main point is that Apple support is aimed at and made for consumers. Consumers in general don't depend on their computer, they can easily live without a computer for a few days, and they have time to carry their computer to the Apple Store to have it fixed. For the majority of business users this support model is useless as computers are tools for running the business, they usually can't afford to be without it for several days (or in some cases more than a few hours), and they can't waste employee time to carry the defective computer into the next Apple shop.

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Re: The author was just wrong

>>No, it's not. ISV certification is the key parameter which distinguishes a standard PC from a workstation, period.

In your OPINION - and as I said why would Apple ever need ISV when they own the whole hardware/OS stack? The fact is that the very nature of ISV is opposed to Apples business model (what does the I in ISV stand for again?)

>>The iMac comes with mobile GPUs which is a lot slower than the desktop equivalent, and it's performance is lousy if you pay £2k for a computer.

Whoh! hold up there - we're comparing the iMac with the HP Z1 - and the key point that I'm making is that the Z1 £3k entry level graphics are significantly worse than a £2k iMac - so at least eat some humble pie and admit that the iMac has a performance edge at this price point.

>>Yes, if you can live with a standard PC. However if you need a workstation then the iMac could be the fastest computer on the planet but without ISV certifications that doesn't matter, and therefore the £2k probably rather go into a HP z420 or Dell Precision T3600 with an external monitor, which for that price also outperforms your iMac.

ISV blah blah blah...... yes and these go to 11 right? what is it with you? ISV is a big white elephant in the wrong context, it means absolutely nothing (for example) when asking if CS6 runs on an iMac, yes it *might* mean something in some very narrow support agreements (like my XW8600 running Avid) but just because you have this obsessive belief that ISV certification=Workstation it doesn't mean that every type of business that needs workstation (power) needs ISV certification, in fact I know a local photo company that uses iMacs to do all the post on their shoots, ISV would mean nothing to them.

So yes, by all means consider what ISV means to you, but don't make it a de jure requirement.

>>Yes, but the fact remains that if the differentiator between a workstation and a standard PC is in the ISV certifications. If you don't need that then you don't need a workstation, period. And if you don't need a workstation then a iMac may do fine.

OK, I get it, you only ever want the word "workstation" to be used for machines with end to end ISV - fine, but also remember the word "workstation" existed before the acronym ISV, I remember using a 386SX 25 "workstation" connected to a 486DX "server", also look up the defintion of "workstation", your defintion is not the defintion - by all means get excited by semantics - but don't let it rule your life (or other peoples business) - hell! one day the general understanding and defintion might follow your belief, but even then that won't mean that an iMac ceases to be the right "fit for purpose".

>>You can use a non-certified system but when the shit hits the fan then you're on your own and stuck with Google. If you can afford not to spend the money for workstations and support then there is no need to pay for that.

Where I work we have an eight figure IT budget, ISV is irrelevant as we test the stack, small businesses can save thousands by not buying something they won't use, if you have some key software then you should be confident that it will work (or at least is fully supported), ISV per se means nothing, and more so (going back to the first point) ISV means nothing in an Apple context.

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Re: @No, I will not fix your computer

@Davidoff

Well, yes and no, if a company is so small that they don't "have people for that" then I suspect that paying an extra £1k for a lower spec (HP Z1) is also going to sway them, if the company is slightly bigger then the maths still stack up, £6k budget = 2x Z1 or 3x iMac, a whole "spare" machine, and that's before you get into the fact that the iMac tech is pretty old and actually very reliable - it's only a guess if the HP would be more reliable or less. As soon as a company is big enough to "have people for that" or maintenance contracts then they can mitigate against downtime - besides, have you experienced HP's onsite warranty? yes, someone does turn up that day (probably, depending on your working day), but that doesn't mean that they won't just take it away for a day anyway.

There are a huge number of companies and individuals using Macs, airs/pros/iMacs, and it's been working really well for the majority of them.

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So close and yet...

I do like the case design, especially for the corporate environment. However, and it is a big however, why do they think they can charge £2900 for this? If the BTO iMac comes in at £2049 you just cannot charge that much premium for the case being accessible.

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Re: So close and yet...

It's a workstation with workstation grade Xeon CPUs. It's not a home computer.

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Re: So close and yet...

lol my "home computer" has a pair of 3Ghz quad xeons, todays home computer was yesterdays "workstation", hell! an Atrix or Transformer Prime has more power and capcity than companies used to run their entire businesses on.

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Happy

Re: So close and yet...

That's not really the point I was making though.

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Holmes

Re: So close and yet...

"I do like the case design, especially for the corporate environment. However, and it is a big however, why do they think they can charge £2900 for this? If the BTO iMac comes in at £2049 you just cannot charge that much premium for the case being accessible."

They are not charging £2900 for the case. They are charging £2900 for a workstation computer which has been certified for a wide range of professional applications, which comes with professional graphics and supports ECC memory. None of this is true for your £2049 iMac home computer.

BTW: no-one pays really £2900 for that system. £2900 is the official list price but in reality HP takes a big chunk off that price (by how much depends on how many you buy), so the real world price of the HP z1 will probably be much closer to an iMac's price than you may think.

BTW2: it's also quite common that for tasks requiring a workstation the hardware price is just peanuts compared to what the software costs (which can easily exceed £100k) and the annual support contracts.

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Re: So close and yet...

>>They are charging £2900 for a workstation computer which has been certified for a wide range of professional applications, which comes with professional graphics and supports ECC memory. None of this is true for your £2049 iMac home computer.

You have to remember, the reason why ISV exists as a concept is because most companies don't own the whole OS/Hardware relationship, if Microsoft built all the hardware that runs Windows then ISV would be a nonsense (i.e. no WHQL/ISV certification), Apple do own this relationship with iMacs etc. it would be insane for them to say to is (for example) CS5 is ISV certified for a specific platform, when you know the complete limitations of the OS/Hardware stack up front.

And of course, don't forget we are comparing the a similarly priced HP with the iMac, the "professional graphics" are cut down (no ECC for example), the Quadro 1000M has half the memory bandwidth of the 6970M in the iMac, which would probably explain why it's a much faster than the HP.

Yes, a 3 year on-site warranty is great, and it's also probably it's working life, but having a grand left over with high iMac resale prices could allow an upgrade in a years time to another brand new iMac (you could also get a 3 year warranty on an iMac for £100).

The HP might be what a company needs, but an iMac also might fit the bill, there's no one size fits all, and it's naive to present the HP as the only solution.

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Re: So close and yet...

"You have to remember, the reason why ISV exists as a concept is because most companies don't own the whole OS/Hardware relationship, if Microsoft built all the hardware that runs Windows then ISV would be a nonsense (i.e. no WHQL/ISV certification),"

Sorry but that is nonsense. First, WHQL is *NOT* the same as a ISV certification, WHQL merely says that a driver only passed a few standard tests. Even MS says that WHQL doesn't gurantee a stable driver or the support of a certain feature set.

ISV certification is much more than that and much more involving (benn there and done these certification runs in a former life). And unlike WHQL the result is not some meaningless statement but the insurance for the user that the system will run this critical piece of software flawlessly and that any issues will be fixed quickly.

"Apple do own this relationship with iMacs etc. it would be insane for them to say to is (for example) CS5 is ISV certified for a specific platform, when you know the complete limitations of the OS/Hardware stack up front."

Sorry but that is more nonsense, probably because you don't understand what an ISV is. FYI: ISV stands for 'Independent Software Vendor', and 'independent' means independent of hardware vendor and OS vendor. Apple may 'own' it's platform but they can not gurantee that some piece of software which is not developed by them and on which they have zero influence on runs flawlessly on their Macs, unless they specifically build their hardware and software around that piece of software (which they don't). So no, even Macs would need ISV certifications.

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Meh

Re: So close and yet...

>>Sorry but that is more nonsense, probably because you don't understand what an ISV is. FYI: ISV stands for 'Independent Software Vendor', and 'independent' means independent of hardware vendor and OS vendor. Apple may 'own' it's platform but they can not gurantee that some piece of software which is not developed by them and on which they have zero influence on runs flawlessly on their Macs, unless they specifically build their hardware and software around that piece of software (which they don't). So no, even Macs would need ISV certifications.

Apologies, it looks like I haven't explained it correctly;

Windows;

An ISV produces a package for the OS, however, as there are many, many permutations of hardware and software stack the computer provider will want to give an assurance that key software packages will work on set combinations, it is insufficient to say it's windows compatible - ISV certification *might* be nice because the software vendor couldn't test on all combinations.

OSX;

An ISV produces a package for the OS, there are a very limited humber of hardware and software stack combinations, because of this limited stack, the software vendor is (almost) always aware of compatibility.

e.g. CS6 can be ISV certified for a particular windows/PC stack, but in OSX terms you're more likely to see "supported features" like MPE/OpenCL - i.e. As the vendor of both the hardware and OS stack, Apple will not get into the business of ISV, it's merely the responsibility of the vendor to document the features and compatibility, ISV just doesn't fit with the Apple business model. ISV has a theoretical use in the multi-vendor world of Windows (aibet, possibly an expensive white elephant) but not in the Apple world.

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Pint

Gas struts

That's an interesting design choice.

The thing looks slick. Deployment should be easy. All PCs would be better these days with SSD - spinning disks are s l o w.

HP is having a bit of an identity crisis in their workstation division right now. It leads to processes that are... interesting.

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Anonymous Coward

Niiicee

Wants one, it's more power than I need but hell..

The only let down is the MXM graphics but that's not a deal breaker for what I'd use it for.

Interesting they made it so easy to open and service, wonder if they learned a lesson from the earlier AIOs which were a lot more difficult to open.

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Impressive design.

What impresses me most is that this is the design. This is the first all in one with a decent, modular and easily upgraded design - Apple could learn a few lessons here, especially if they wanted to do a pro-oriented iMac.

The spec isn't bad either, though I'd offer some gaming GPUs as well as the Quadro boards to widen the attraction (and fill the gap between the Intel and Quadro).

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Trollface

stupidest opening line ever...

"PC users who secretly covet their cubicle neighbour’s 27in iMac but don’t want to leave the Windows world"

... can install bootcamp.

there, fixed it for you.

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