1873 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009
Re: HH tiger?
The GSX extension to CP/M shipped in 1982, offering a hardware independent API for graphics. I think you're wading into ill-defined waters trying to talk about the first OS that supported bitmapped graphics; in the consumer market it's going to be one of a bunch of things that shipped with 8-bit micros. If you're looking for hardware independence then Acorn certainly have a shot, with the drawing primitives being OS calls rather than something implemented in the BASIC interpreter (which was a separate ROM and a separate piece of software), using a virtual resolution with subpixel precision (in that all drawing operations occurred at a conceptual 1280x1024 if memory serves, the available display modes being power-of-two divisors of that) and being suitably hardware independent as to work across the BBC, Electron and Archimedes.
And you've definitely got the Macintosh preceding Windows, the Xerox Star preceding that, etc, etc.
Re: So I take it...
Ars helpfully did a poll — http://arstechnica.com/apple/2012/12/poll-technica-whats-your-preferred-ios-mapping-app/ — 32% of iPhone users prefer Apple's Maps, 52% Google's and the rest are mainly on Waze (6%) or 'other' (4%), with Nokia and Bing both also managing to break the 1% barrier.
Summary then: Google has already saved the day, though a third of people weren't bothered anyway — and this is amongst technically minded folk that say the day-in day-out headlines.
Re: Copy protection ? Really ?
Track 41 was an option; others included deliberately malformed sectors (which couldn't be reproduced through the abstraction of a PC's floppy controller), oddly spaced sectors (which you'd time for after using a normal track for calibration), deliberately unformatted tracks and a host of other options.
Re: "Post-PC Era"
I don't think the return you imagine is necessarily going to happen.
It's uncontroversial to say that for some people a tablet is a better device than a desktop/laptop. Those people will migrate one way and then not migrate back the other. So I guess the disagreement is: how many people is that
I'd argue that it's a big number, being a large proportion of those that use a computer primarily for accessing the Internet. I further think that the people that just want to access the Internet are the reason that laptops have made their way into shops like Tesco, and that the £300 Tesco-level laptop is responsible for large volumes because it's so easily available and cheap enough compared to its perceived value to be an impulse buy.
So while businesses — not just technological but anything that involves document preparation or significant digital editing or anything like that, being pretty much all of them — and enthusiasts aren't going to migrate permanently to a tablet, a huge chunk of people are.
Re: The Downside Of Being Fashionable ....
The 33% drop in share price is because the product has stopped being fashionable, the product being 'shares in Apple'.
The P/E ratio is still low, sales are up and revenues are growing. Apart from the lack of profit growth as highlighted by El Reg, I think there's also the psychological problem that Apple shares are no longer a sure fire thing for an investor.
Re: Maybe (@Charlie Clark)
Our recollections obvious differ; I recall UIQ being a 'get the stylus out and prod at the scrollbar' experience just like Windows CE. It's not a technological step forward that Apple deserves any credit for but launching the iPhone OS only once it could assume a GPU by default was a massive gain for usability. It was immediately easy to run a 60 FPS user interface, removing another barrier between man and machine.
The UIQ machines, at least prior to the iPhone, were unaccelerated with the corresponding user interface lag.
Re: I have yet to buy anything from android...
In a lot of press it's because the press releases make that comparison, and the press releases more often make that comparison because — as you imply — there's more people that want to make their camp look larger. It's also a much easier narrative.
The technical press probably do it entirely because firms that chose to support Android devices on their infrastructure really don't care whether there's TouchWiz or whatever on top or not, and people who make money through applications similarly either put resources into iOS or put them into Android. Writing an Android application for a Samsung phone is no different from writing one for an HTC phone.
I guess the main people that really want a firm-by-firm breakdown are investors, which are the exception.
If I dare be contrary, the iPhone was judged as revolutionary because it was the first consumer device with a direct manipulation interface metaphor and because Apple cut sweetheart deals with the networks so that people who bought the iPhone got unlimited data where it generally wasn't available to anyone else for similar monthly rates.
So the difference was not technology but friendliness to the consumer — both in the interface and in the bill that came at the end of the month.
As I recall, quite a few mainstream reports correctly cited the original device's flaws: a slow network connection, no ability to install apps, a single day of battery life, no Exchange support, etc.
The media's willingness to report on the iPhone is also a good thing for everyone because it keeps Google on its toes and we're a free market economy. It's also nothing like an anomaly; if you compare the amount of press the iPhone gets to its installation base then compare the amount of press Windows Phone gets to its installation base you'll see that Apple's device is not the outlier.
It wasn't a vote, it's sales figures. The iPhone hasn't hung onto first place, it's reclaimed it. The driver of that appears to be the decision to keep the two previous generations around as cheaper models, from free on a contract.
Why not? Everyone loves Office 2007, Windows 8, GNOME 3, KDE 4, etc.
Re: That proves it (IMO)
You can make money by entering the lottery but it's still not a healthy strategy for running a business. There is, as you say, quite a lot of leeway for redefining what your product is — if your product is radio licensing, touring and appearances then the recorded versions you give away for free are just viral advertisements — but it'd be disingenuous to argue a whole business model based on a tiny subset of available data points.
Re: 2 Questions
I don't think Google Play does generate all that much revenue — one of the notable differences between the Apple and Google ecosystems is that the latter tends to be more focussed on apps that are free at the point of delivery and then make money through in-app advertising or through selling additional content. And, of course, Google doesn't have any sort of requirement that they receive a cut of the latter.
Per the App Annie report that El Reg (and many others) wrote about in December, Google were seeing about 85% as many downloads as Google but generating just a quarter of the revenue.
If you take whatever number that is, add Android advertising revenue and subtract development costs I can easily imagine the outcome being negative.
Re: Makes sense (@AC)
I think the problem is that you have to pick one company or another. The three biggest names in mobiles right now are probably Google, Samsung and Apple — if described at their worst, a personal information thief and wifi snooper, a convicted cartel member and a patent troll.
In those circumstances I think that someone with suitable technical skills buying a Google phone because it's most hackable and then going to the necessary extremes to remove the undesirable behaviour is understandable.
I miss Infogrames too
Specifically titles like Alone in the Dark, North and South, Hostages and Alpha Waves.
Not so much Stir Crazy Featuring Bobo, which I seem to remember acquiring only because Your Sinclair offered it as a freebie if you subscribed.
Re: End of an era
I think the poster's just saying that Ataris were pretty good regardless of the quality of Amigas.
The STE is also quite a bit better than the machine you're probably thinking of — it has a blitter and hardware PCM audio. Like Commodore, Atari released improved hardware as the years ticked by.
Re: Microsoft Stores execs must be worried then ;-)
I passed the first Microsoft Store I've seen, in New York's Times Square, just the other day. I can't talk to sales totals but it was definitely packed. That said, I'd imagine it's difficult for anything next to Times Square not to be packed.
If Apple's Stores stopped selling anything? I don't think Apple would do anything because I think that'd be symptomatic of the end of Apple. The post-2000 Apple as a purely consumer company lives and dies on its ability to attract lifestyle purchasers. I'm not sure they'd be able to contract back to the design and technology-obsessed* niches they held last time things went bad.
(*) in that the PowerPC really was quite a bit faster than the Pentium for a long period in the late 90s and RISC snobbishness shouldn't be underestimated, and nowadays there's the 'it's also a fully certified UNIX' angle plus things like the retina display.
Re: Hurry up Google - switch off H.264 on YouTube.
VP8 is going nowhere — that was true in 2010 and its true now. There's no real incentive for hardware acceleration so there mostly isn't any hardware acceleration. You can't wrap VP8 in Flash (other than with an in-Flash software decoder) so there's no easy transitional compatibility. 99% of computer users already have a paid licence for H.264 that came with the OS (Wimdows, Mac, iOS) or the hardware (Android). Even if they didn't, it's currently free to implement for browsers and if VP8 were to make any headway then the MPEG-LA could just make it free for that use permanently. Given that its also the Bluray, etc, standard, it'll probably always have better tools.
From the dirtier side of the business, the MPEG-LA has 18 companies that claim to have patents covering VP8, also available as insurance. That's probably just sabre rattling but you shouldn't bet your company on it.
If Google switched off H.264 on YouTube it'd just cut off most of the audience — such as anyone using Flash — and therefore most of Google's money.
Re: Puzzled (@JDX)
Since Factortame there's been official recognition that certain statutes are of a constitutional nature with the effect that they're not subject to implicit repeal — the normal rule is that if one act says one thing and another says another then the later one wins because the earlier Parliament can't bind the later; however if the earlier is recognised as a constitutional statute by the court then it'll override the later unless the later explicitly says that the former doesn't apply.
Amongst those acts recognised as constitutional is the Human RIghts Act. Since the ECHR which the HRA incorporates protects freedom of speech in Article 10 technically, even in the UK, there are constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression. Though they're explicitly subject to concerns about national security, public safety, etc, etc, so a WBC-style organisation wouldn't be safe.
I don't even really agree with the DOXing — like when The News of the World publishes lists of paedophiles there's too much of a risk that an error will have identified the wrong person or the message will get confused somewhere and someone not even identified by Anonymous will suffer. In general I don't support any similarly one sided attempt to render justice; any system created by people is just too fallible.
What I am thoroughly in support of is the online petition mentioned in the article to get the WBC legally recognised as a hate group. Let's have any measures against this sort of disgusting activity administered by people that are accountable and subject to appeal.
Re: So much for the days of Apple pushing out new tech. (@Zaphod.Beeblebrox)
There's really no ground on which you can give Nokia more credit for being amongst the first to ship a new kind of solid state storage that they've started buying in than you can give Apple for being amongst the first to ship capacitive multitouch based on the technology of an entire company they've bought and then funded for a few years.
Let's hear it for Micron and FingerWorks.
Re: Rebuilding a Speccy... (@blemblem)
Then I guess the solution is to buy 'The ZX Spectrum ULA: How to Design a Microcomputer' (ISBN-10 0956507107; published in 2010 so still widely available) as the ULA is fully documented and imaged within. You could definitely build an entire new ZX Spectrum with that and even have the correct horizon on Aquaplane, the correct multicolour text on Uridium, etc.
Re: 386? (@DaiKiwi)
There's no mark II; I've heard rumours some sort of internal disagreement about fjords.
Re: 386? (@Charles 9)
Surely CTC take a large chunk of the credit via the Datapoint 2200? They largely specified the 8008 instruction set and merely contracted it out to Intel. When Intel couldn't deliver on time they went with a TTL implementation, meaning that the very first commercial sale of a predecessor of the x86 architecture started in 1970 without Intel parts. As part of the contract termination negotiations, Intel got to keep the instruction set though at that point they'd never shipped a microprocessor — the 4004 wasn't available until late '71 and the 8008 itself wasn't completed until '72.
Dare I make an Apple comparison?
It feels to me that there are a lot of parallels between RIM now and Apple in 1997 — a product once emblematic of what has become a fundamental device category, and a resilient niche as a result, but marketshare that's been eroded almost down to nothing by later competitors with stronger offerings. So they're betting the house on a bought-in new operating system.
That being said, one reason so much has been written about Apple's recovery is that it was so improbable; there's probably no iPod in RIM's future. So I'm going to keep an open mind but not necessarily a great store of confidence.
Re: What was the name of that console system
The Phantom? That was almost ten years ago now. Based on a quick Google-powered memory refresh it sounds like they made a genuine attempt, showing prototypes and hiring ex-Microsoft staff from the DirectX and XBox teams, but seemed to have only the loosest possible plan for delivery.
Re: David Webb (@Fibbles)
It's not a fantastic dataset but looking at the Humble Bundle stats (because they're readily available), Mac users have been responsible for about 40% more purchases than Linux users. Though Linux have been willing to pay more on average so that's turned into Mac users supplying only about 10% more revenue.
Windows users were only about 63% of the buyers. Assuming that the Humble Bundle and the Steam crowd has a reasonably high degree of crossover (and there's a reasonable case for that given that the Humble guys provide Steam keys as part of the purchase in many cases), it would therefore seem that if you can take what would otherwise be a Windows release and make it a cross-platform release then you can add about 50% to your sales figures.
In an ideal world each party is so paranoid about the other two that they ensure all are barred from enforcing the patents in any capacity; the joint venture makes the patents effectively just go away. Though probably they'll just agree some sort of veto and the problem will be exactly what you describe.
Rather than pay $500m this quarter to fill the warehouses with stock they can't move, they're paying $195m this quarter and not having to deal with the overstocking problem. Then there's a definite $40m next quarter and a further $200m that isn't due until at least 2014.
I guess you've got to assume that the overstock problem would be a huge cost (with depreciating assets they can't shift) and/or that liquidity is a problem they're hoping will prove to be short term...
Re: i dunno, feelings of butthurt seem to be running high
I think the issue with the badges is that they reward posting frequently and receiving upvotes without penalising downvotes. Therefore the best route to a badge is to post polemics as often as possible; every so often you're going to catch the mood and get 50+ upvotes rather than 50+ downvotes, and the repeated attempts will push up your total.
Fairly valued per the profit-earnings ratio
The price-earnings ratio is what the name says — the price of a share divided by the earnings for the share. Most companies hang out in the range 10—17, indicating slow trends in profitability or general stability. Higher values mean a company is overvalued or a significant jump in profits is expected, lower values mean the opposite.
Microsoft's P/E ratio is 14.5. Google's is 21.7. Samsung's is 10.8. Apple's is 12.4. Facebook's is 27.5.
So probably all that's happening is that the expectation of no further big iPad-style new products is being priced in. There's no reason to expect an ongoing dramatic fall at present.
Re: Double Standards
My gut reaction is to brand short selling as morally questionable, not so much because it gives one person a vested interest in the declining fortunes of another — that's the essence of the entire market, surely? — but because of the increased risk it creates of amplifying exceptional circumstances. The gains it allows individuals to make are insufficient compared to the risks of the whole system collapsing at once.
That said, history shows that banning short selling does nothing in the long term to stabilise the market (see e.g. http://blogs.wsj.com/marketbeat/2012/07/23/short-selling-ban-reeks-of-desperation/ ), so I'm not sure it has as much effect as I imagine and I'm happier for cases like this to be treated analogously to theft; the issue isn't so much that the dealer sold equities he didn't then own as that he sold equities there was a good chance he'd never be able to acquire. He made a bargain with someone else that he could fulfil only if it was in his favour. That it was shorting isn't the main issue.
I'm not sure iFixit is complaining so much as reporting, the main objective being consumer information.
That said, the lack of access is more frustrating than it would be with most other computers because the Mac options are so limited, and the one you're meant to mess around inside of hasn't been properly updated in a very long time.
Re: I'm a STEM graduate migrant worker in the US that's trying to hire people... (@Don Jefe)
My opinions come from the sum of not just my own experience but that of many other people I've spoken to. Naturally I accept that an aggregate anecdote is still just an anecdote and I'm likely running a biased and self-selecting survey — I'm sure the comments I'm making in social arrangements are highly leading — but it's not just me. Per the article "Since the government defines full employment as being an unemployment rate of 4 per cent [...] US-citizen STEM workers are essentially fully employed, and more STEM folks are needed."; so I'm not just imagining a paucity of available talent.
I also appreciate it's proven easy to score some kneejerk points at my expense so I'll be explicit: the effect of the market is that I'm being paid too much. The work I do doesn't justify the salary I receive. A reformed system would likely lower my salary. I'm in favour of reform.
Re: I'm a STEM graduate migrant worker in the US that's trying to hire people... (@Blake)
On the contrary; if I were a Republican I'd believe that a free market would set appropriate wage levels. I wouldn't invest my faith in a market so artificially hobbled by immigration caps that both sides of the aisle agree that reform is necessary. If I were a Democrat I'd probably be concerned about the growing wage gap between those with a skill the immigration system does recognise and those without, created entirely by an artificial cap on availability of the former. If I were simply an American I'd be concerned that there's an area of the economy that could be more productive — producing more tax and benefitting everyone — but doesn't have enough labour to grow.
In practice I'm none of those things so to sum up the problem for you: an artifificial government measure has created a distorted market. The market itself doesn't want the measure and I can't see why anybody else would either.
I don't agree with your reply because I don't agree that the market is functioning.
(@AC: no, but having had a look I do seem to agree with him on a lot of things)
I'm a STEM graduate migrant worker in the US that's trying to hire people...
... and the existing quota limits are extraordinarily problematic. Not only are we having problems finding employees at all but we're having seriously to overpay.
There's a bit of a vicious circle at play here — the number of visas on offer per year is capped at far too low a number. Hence if you intend to hire a foreign worker then you need to make sure that the application your company submits in order to helper the worker obtain a visa goes through safely, first time. If it's rejected then it's very probable that there aren't any slots left by the time you get modified paperwork in.
To avoid any suspicion that the application is in any way dodgy you pretty much have to offer the new recruit the average salary. But that then turns the average salary into more like the minimum salary during that year's round of immigration as people already here realise what other employees are getting and what other employers have psychologically adapted to paying.
So the inflation rate on STEM salaries here is ridiculous; it'd be a natural effect of full employment in any normal sector but the only reason we're at full employment is that most of the world's talent is legally unavailable.
Stupidly, once you're already here the criteria changes for advancing to a green card. If your job is actively advertised and nobody else can genuinely be found to take it then you just have to go through the [severely backlogged] array of paperwork for a few years.
What the US needs is to apply similar criteria to temporary visas as to green cards — the test needs to be worker availability with no threshold. Introduce a new visa that makes it easier to remove people's authorisation if there's a crash if economics are a problem. To admit that there's full employment (ie, no further workers available) but then prevent anyone new from being brought is tantamount to deliberate sabotage of the industry.
Your figures sound dodgy (and, prospective down voters, you'll want to stay with this until the end).
The article makes clear that the US contributes the largest proportion of the pot to both stores.
In the US the iPhone 5 recently outsold all Android devices combined (quite accurately reported as e.g. http://qz.com/31396/apple-outsells-android-in-the-us-for-what-could-be-the-last-time-ever/ ).
Conversely, earlier in the year Samsung had a two-to-one lead over Apple(eg, http://www.christianpost.com/news/samsung-sold-double-apples-iphone-sales-thanks-to-galaxy-s3-78977/ ) so that's a highly seasonal trend.
Nevertheless, the reported story is exclusively about 2012 so the presumably temporary reversal of normal sales trends is quite relevant. My feeling is that the Android figures currently look proportionally worse (shortly after the iPhone 5 peak) than they will in, say, six months. If I were a developer making my decision solely on revenue trends I'd put more weight on Android than the bare numbers of this report suggests.
That hypothetical being said, I actually am a developer and can tell you that we consider iOS and Android to be equally important on the grounds that iOS earns us more money right now but the potential for user growth under Android is fantastic. In terms of being healthy not just now but five years from now I think you'd be stupid not to bet on both.
Can we at least get a cheer for the death of Cover Flow? If they can strip it out of the iPhone Music app too then I'll finally be able to use that without having to remember to engage the orientation lock in advance.
Re: This is going to take some getting used to (@Ian Yates)
While probably true, iTunes is still a bit too much of a feature mess to be described as merely a media manager. It's a media manager that also manages applications, streaming (both local and remote), performs device synchronisation — including its content and that inherently belonging to other applications, and has only recently stopped being a social media client.
I'm an advocate for splitting it up but I guess Apple want to be able to give Windows users who buy iPods, iPhones, etc, a single thing to install (and, for whatever reason, won't just make that thing 'a driver').
This is going to take some getting used to
Optimistically for Windows users, the interface looks like a complete rewrite, albeit possibly motivated by someone incessantly asking "can't we make it any brighter?". The binary isn't substantially different in size on the Mac though so let's not get too excited.
The advertised 'albums' view seems like a non-starter to me unless you have only about six of them but 'artists' works quite well and 'songs' provides the classic layout if you want it. Colour icons are back in the sidebar but the bar itself is no longer essential to navigation. The new control icons at the top are a huge improvement — the silhouette destroying circles they used to sit in are gone, making everything visually clearer. It's also good that they've made the mini-player more obvious but it now seems to have lost its progress bar, which is a shame.
Re: Fascinating, but very sad ..
Being temporarily in the US, I was at thanksgiving last week and heard much the same thing — having tried a couple of more local sources first, both of the people I was talking to ended up following the BBC's web coverage that day due to a combination of quality and accessibility.
Re: VCD's, etc (@RAMChYLD, others)
I'm not sure how CD Video or Video CDs match Whyfore's description of "something ... which seems to be a precursor to VCDs that look a lot like vinyl discs (or maybe they're just massive VCDs" — wouldn't those be like VCDs but exactly the same size (and in one case, exactly VCDs)?
More constructive question: does anyone else remember the Reel Magic, an MPEG1 decoding expansion card for PCs circa 1994? Other than Video CDs, I think Return to Zork had a version that supported it but that's about all. I once saw it being demonstrated with a standard retail copy of Top Gun as evidence that fast motion sequences weren't a problem, but the detail of the story was that somebody had spent weeks painstakingly tweaking the compression of that title. So not a fantastic sales pitch.
Re: VCD's (@Whyfore)
Are you thinking of Laserdiscs maybe? They're interesting because, despite the laser and its usual connotations, they're an analogue format — the video is always analogue and the sound was originally analogue but later could be digital, in exactly the same format as a CD. Since there was no compression and the resolution was about double that of VHS, the video quality was really very good.
You got at most 60 minutes of content per side so you actually need to swap them more often than video CDs though usually that just means flipping them over and high end players could do that for you, often by having two read heads like a floppy drive rather than by physically moving the disc.
There were a bunch of weird approximately LP sized video formats in the late 70s and early 80s; for a real oddity look up the Capacitance Electronic Disc, which is grooves read by a stylus just like a record.
Re: If Commodore didn't mismanage itself to the early grave...
It feels unlikely to me that a single vendor could have maintained a market lead over a diverse array of competitors. The competing technology catches up and the competition forces the prices down. DOS was particularly far behind, making the situation look worse than usual but I'm confident Microsoft or somebody else on the PC would have taken the crown by now.
I guess the real shame is that OS/2 wasn't ready in about 1984. IBM's focus on supporting mainly its own hardware would have reined in the PC architecture a little and putting a proper OS between software and hardware would probably have bought us stuff like intelligent video hardware a lot earlier.
Re: Microsoft won the way they know - dishonesty and fraud.
Didn't Micrografx Mirrors [more or less] allow Windows source to be compiled into an OS/2 application? Though I'll concede it was meant to be a stopgap emulation-ish layer rather than a tool that'd actually go in and adjust your source so that you were subsequently working on a native OS/2 application.
Per Inside Macintosh Volume 3, Page 18 (ie, Apple's official documentation):
"The pixel clock rate ... is 15.6672 MHz, or about .0642 microseconds (µsec) per pixel. For each scan line 512 pixels are drawn on the screen, requiring 32.68 µsec. The horizontal blanking interval takes the time of an additional 192 pixels, or 12.25 µsec. Thus, each full scan line takes 44.93 µsec, which means the horizontal scan rate is 22.25 kilohertz.
A full screen display consists of 342 horizontal scan lines, occupying 15367.65 µsec, or about 15.37 millisecond (msec). The vertical blanking interval takes the time of an additional 28 scan lines — 1258.17 µsec, or about 1.26 msec."
Per the GIMP FAQ: "For some industries, especially photography, 24-bit colour depths (8 bits per channel) are a real barrier to entry"
It's therefore explicitly not good enough for a lot of photographic work, per its own documentation. The good news is that the developers are fixing it, and I believe deserve credit for being upfront about the deficiency. If it were ordinary commercial software I'm sure the FAQ would disingenuously argue that nobody needs more than eight bits per channel.
Re: i'll stick with Maps thanks (@AC)
And Nokia's master stroke was ensuring that all the errors cited are present not just in Apple's app but also on the website, in the Android app, etc?
Re: Worthy but sluggish (@Steve Knox)
Nokia's app clearly eschews the built-in APIs. The inertial scrolling has the wrong inertia, double tap to zoom is painfully forced and clearly using the wrong animation curve, and all other controls are obviously custom (eg, on an iOS button you can put your finger down, drag outside, drag back inside and release and the button activates; in Nokia's app it activates only if you finger up without leaving the box).
I think the problem is more that when compared to Apple's app the Nokia effort is slow, blurry, responds incorrectly to user input and is in some areas barely functional. When compared to Google's data, Nokia's is noticeably incomplete and often inaccurate.
I think those flaws plus the puff piece this article amounts to are leading to the negative tone.
One of Android's early selling points was that it's much more open than iOS. Yet it took Adobe two years — three from the launch of the iPhone — to build a suitable version of Flash, which it then turned around and cancelled barely more than a year later.
From that you have to conclude that even if Apple had wanted Flash on the iPhone in 2007 there's no way it could have happened. So I just don't agree with Allaire's claim that Jobs killed Flash on iOS. For whatever technical reasons an argument was required as to why not having Flash was not a disadvantage.
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