back to article Keyboard PC design recalls Amiga era

Fashion often repeats itself, with dated products reborn into popular products. Just think of VolksWagen’s Beetle or BMW's Mini. And now we can add the Commodore Amiga to the list, sort of, thanks to a new all-in-one PC with a look rather reminiscent of the home computer. Cybernet's Zero-footprint PC (ZPC), as it's curiously …

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  1. Kier

    8 bit?

    The Amiga 500 (the first of the keyboard-style Amigas) was 16 bit, while the successor, the Amiga 1200 was a 32 bit machine.

    If we're talking about a keyboard-style computer from Commodore, perhaps the article is in fact referring to the Commodore 64?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    UK sales?

    Website shows USD prices only. Any ideas how to buy one in GBP from their UK arm?

  3. Gordon Fecyk
    Alert

    Amigas weren't 8-bit! You mean the C-64s?

    Amigas were 32-bit machines, mostly using 16-bit "386 SX-like" CPUs but still 32-bit inside.

    I'd be surprised if you don't get a flood of hate mail from former Amiga followers like myself. :-)

    Otherwise, aside from the DVD drive being on the wrong side, it resembles an Amiga 500, all right. Makes me wonder how Commodore could have rebuilt the machine today. And loaded to the hilt - 4 GB RAM and huge hard drive... this thing's built to last a few years.

  4. dreadful scathe
    Stop

    amiga 8bit

    The Commodore Amiga was an 8bit machine? i wasn't aware of that :)

  5. roger thomas
    Thumb Down

    It maybe worth you reading up on the Amiga spec's

    The Amiga was not an 8 bit computer. It used a 68000 processor that was 16/24/32 bits. As in 16 bit memory width, 24 bit address lines and a 32 bit CPU core.

    All in all it was somewhat more advanced than most of the other machines available at the time.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    8 bit?

    a500/a600 = 16 bit

    a1200 = 32 bit

    or thats how I remember it anyway.

  7. Kane Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Um...

    ....so, a laptop without the monitor then?

    And where is the Paris Hilton angle?

  8. Glenn Meadows
    Unhappy

    So what's the big deal here???

    What, it's a laptop without the screen. BFD!!!!

    I've done similar with older laptops that have had failed LCD's and turned them into working "desktop machines".

  9. mike2R
    Stop

    sigh

    "Amiga ... the 8-bit home computer"

    oh dear oh dear oh dear. Geek card please...

  10. Steve Hine

    8-Bit Amiga ?

    I'm struggling for words here; really I am. And I thought you cared.

    *sob*

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Urk

    It looks absolutely horrible. I wonder if you can get an add-on 20mb hard drive that slots into the side? Or a Fat Agnes? Do you have to use a soldering iron in order to fit the maximum 9mb memory?

    Fat Agnes or Fat Angus, I can't remember. Doesn't matter.

  12. Cyberwlf

    Actually...

    The Amiga was never an 8bit computer, the C=64 was. The A500 was 16bit, the A1200 (which had a similar design) was 32bit, and the BlizzardPPC mobo-like device you could put in the 1200 was 64bit.

  13. Joe
    Happy

    I rather like this!

    Now all they have to do is make it plug into the telly instead of a monitor and they're onto a winner.

    Also, as I'm sure I won't be the only one to say, the Amiga was a 16-bit machine, not an 8-bit... :P

  14. Luke Wells

    The Amiga era eh?

    Surely the Atari ST era? You know the Atari ST came out before the Amiga right?

  15. Hywel Thomas
    Paris Hilton

    Multi-touch ?

    Is it multi-touch ? Maybe not. There's not really room for two fingers.

    I doubt one could say the same about Ms. Hilton.

  16. bluesxman

    curious portage

    What, no HDMI?

    And is that a parallel port I see?

    And serial ports?

    Are you SURE this isn't an Amiga?

    It's certainly retro-tastic on those fronts!

    I'd almost be tempted to get one as a low-profile Media Centre type effort, and whilst the lack of HDMI isn't a deal-breaker (I have no HD display device at this moment) one would have to obtain a wireless keyboard to facilitate lounge-bound web-surfing, which seems to almost defeat the object of the whole exercise...

    Now where's the "not quite sure" thumb icon?

  17. Rich

    VIC 20

    Re: "If we're talking about a keyboard-style computer from Commodore, perhaps the article is in fact referring to the Commodore 64?"

    Or rather, the VIC 20. The VIC 20 pre-dates the C64 by quite a few years - same shaped box. Different internals.

  18. Lee

    Anyone else think it looks like a BBC ?

    As for UK versions they do sell 'em or at least they used too as I have 2 cybernet ZPC's at home somewhere I picked up a few years back.

  19. Rich

    Actually....

    Pre-dating the VIC 20, we also have the TRS80, Apple II, Ohio Challenger (somewhat larger than a TRS80, but even so...), etc etc...

  20. Simon Barclay
    Paris Hilton

    Acorn A3000

    More like the good old Acorn Achimedes A3000!

  21. Phil Royall
    Stop

    Great

    That'll be even more expensive when I spill coffee on it.

  22. J-Wick
    Coat

    I don't know if it's been mentioned already...

    But the Amiga wasn't an 8-bit computer. You must mean the C=64...

    /gets coat with straight face...

  23. Brian Miller

    I wonder how...

    Graphics capable this is. The amiga was renowned for its superior gaming. I bet this thiing has an Intel 915 integrated "vista capable" card inside.

  24. Torben Mogensen

    Too heavy

    Many people who have laptops don't really need to work outdoors, but simply use it to take their computer from work to home and to plug into projectors for presentations. For this purpose, a screen-less and battery-less compact computer is fine (assuming you have external screens at home and work). But this one weighs in at over 3 kilogrammes, so it sort of defeats the purpose. It's not exactly cheap either. One would think that producing a "laptop" without screen and battery would be considerably cheaper than this.

  25. Stuza

    BITS: So much speculation and only ONE right answer! @Roger Thomas

    My God! How many people here appear to have no idea what 8/16/32/64 bit actually means!

    So far only 1 of you has it correct: Roger

    "The Amiga was not an 8 bit computer. It used a 68000 processor that was 16/24/32 bits. As in 16 bit memory width, 24 bit address lines and a 32 bit CPU core."

    And I ask, whats "386SX-like" processor mean? The 680x0 range were built by Motorola and were nothing like the x86 range.

    I'm guessing that I'd be right Roger by saluting a fellow 68k Assembler programmer 07

    To me, this looks more like a C64/Amiga hyrbid in design.

    Now, question for you all, why was it called Amiga? Clues: think co-processors and chipsets

  26. David Viner Silver badge

    Been done before...

    ...for PCs as well. By Amstrad/Sinclair with the PC200. Here's one:

    http://www.nvg.org/sinclair/computers/pc200/pc200.htm

    The spec was appalling - yuk!

  27. James Bryant

    coffee proof

    is it coffee proof, cos i've lost several keyboards to this and would rather not lose an entire computer to it. not that i'd buy one of these ugly devices.

  28. Richard Newlove

    Those were the days . . .

    Ahh . . . I can still remember lifting the lid on my Amiga 1200 to install a 170Mb hard drive that cost about £170.

    Lemmings, Chaos Engine and the original Civilization . . . was there any more fun to be had?

  29. Graham Wood
    Coat

    Looks more like an ST to me.

    Mine's the one that lets me copy the logos for your coat, but isn't as popular itself ;)

  30. David Cornes
    Stop

    Silent?

    It looks kinda neat in the pictures, but in real life I'd be concerned about the heat, noise, and vibration, put out by all those mechanical gubbins. Do you really want a hard disk, CPU/fan and optical drive whirring away right under your fingertips??

    One of the nice things about having a PC in a box is that you can put it at the back, or even under, your desk, where it doesn't disturb you so much.

    And before other suggest laptop technology, for the CPU yes probably, but I don't see many 750GB HDs in laptops...

  31. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

    Sometimes...

    I surprise myself at how much of a geek I really am. I stormed straight to this comments page to vent my frustration that you were calling the amiga an 8-bit machine...

    only to find I had been beaten to it! Glad I'm in good company, POWER TO THE GEEKS! :)

  32. Glen
    Thumb Up

    VIC-20, C64, C128 and Headstart Computers

    The computer in the article reminds me more of the older Commodore computers like the VIC-20, C64 and the C128. As for the PC clone side, does anybody recall the HeadStart computers? I want to remember a model or two that had an all-in-one format.

  33. Mr Chris

    BBC Micro ftw

    Pre-load this baby with Elite, and paint it beige.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sinclair PC 200

    It's the Sinclair PC 200!

    http://www.system-cfg.com/photos/sinclair_pc200_1.jpg

    Amstrad put a PC into an Amiga/ST style case and tried to flog it to the publuc. Sadly the PC in question was underpowered and just the wrong platform for games in 1988. As a result few were sold.

    Nice idea though to stick a PC in such a case by Amstrad. Seems it took the rest of the world 20 years to catch up!

    No icon as there are a lack of Alan Sugar type options.

  35. phil

    oldschool

    even as a dyed-in-the-wool Atari fanboy I have to tajke issue with the Amiga 8bit error in the text - 'shurley' everyone knows it's a 16bit machine ?

  36. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Re: The Amiga era eh?

    Atari ST released Early July 1985 (can't find any definitive date).

    Amiga A1000 released 24th July 1985.

    Who cares which was first. The Amiga was better, ST was a cheaper rushed to market design which featured the same awful sound as a Sinclair Spectrum 128k. Atari lost the Amiga to Commodore and needed a replacement fast. That's not to say it was no good, it had MIDI, PC compatible disc format, high res monitor and a reasonable OS.

    Apple beat both of them to market anyway.

    The original C64 case was nicknamed the breadbin btw, so this is a PC in a breadbin?

  37. Outcast
    Thumb Up

    Coffee machine

    As an Amigan I remember my A1200 being spread all over the table..

    ie: Cdrom ( naturally scsi)

    Genlock

    Goliath psu

    extra floppies

    and a whopping 170mb HD

    So do we take it that if this design sells well then Jay got it right all those years ago ?

    Also when using my A1200 I made damn sure liquids never went ANYWHERE near it. ( The 060 accelerator cost £600 alone)

    btw.. Would anyone actually admit to being an ex ST'er ?

    ;-)

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Re: Sinclair PC200

    David Viner wrote:" Been done before for PCs as well. By Amstrad/Sinclair with the PC200. Here's one:

    http://www.nvg.org/sinclair/computers/pc200/pc200.htm

    The spec was appalling - yuk!"

    Yeah, but take a look at this:

    http://www.custompc.co.uk/features/59895/project_sinclair_pc200.html

    Sorted!

  39. Steve Oliver

    Bindun!

    http://www.mini-itx.com/projects/c64/

  40. Andy

    god it looks awfull. Korean car design comes to computer cases.

    that design recalls nothing of the amiga era. the only thing in common is it is an all-in-one unit.

    a home built apple II with original peeling 70's wood veneer would look better than that pos.

  41. Kevin
    Dead Vulture

    U G L Y You ain't got no alibi

    You fugly!

  42. Jon H
    Unhappy

    "There's room in there for..."

    "...up to 750GB of hard drive storage, 4GB of 667MHz DDR 2 memory"

    Hmm, I didn't realise a 1TB drive took up more physical space than a 750GB drive, nor did I realise 800MHz DDR2 memory sticks were larger than those tiny 667MHz sticks.

    Maybe is they used a slower DVD drive, then they could put in a smaller one and save some more space!

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Sometimes...

    Yes, Dr Mouse, and I was storming to comments page to say that the machine looked a lot more like a BBC Micro or even its predecessor the Acorn Atom.... only to find that I had also been beaten to it.

    Gosh, I miss those machines. They were knowable.

  44. calagan

    Atari 600XL

    IMHO, as far as the shape is concerned, the closest match would be the Atari 600XL pictured at the link below:

    http://pc-museum.com/gallery/rcm-037-big.jpg

    As the proud owner of several Amigas, Apple Mac SE and Atari ST, I feel like banging my head against the wall when I read folks referring to the Motorola 68k CPU as "386SX-like": it's simply outrageous.

    It's a decent product, slightly overpriced, but it's doomed by the lack of a full-size PCIe slot to fit a graphic card.

  45. Faber foX

    Oooold news

    This machines are being sold for at least 5 years or even more. They have full page ads in the back of wired magazine.

    At least looks like the author corrected the 8 bit issue...

  46. J
    Linux

    Interesting...

    Seems interesting... Now, laptop without a screen, really? Show me a laptop that can have Quad Core, 4 GB of RAM and 750 GB of HD for $1300 and I'll agree.

    Hey, and you can buy it without operating system, according to their "customize" options! (add $110 for XP home, $166 for XP Pro SP2, no Vista)

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Amiga vs ST

    Can I start up an Amiga vs ST debate? Sure the Amiga was technically superior, but I bought my STE for music making as it had a built in MIDI interface and some great software.

    I think STs were used in studios until relatively recently?

  48. Paul

    Damn

    Someone beat me to the Sinclair PC200 reference.

    At least this one looks like it's got contemporary specifications. The PC200 wasn't exactly cutting edge tech when it launched, and wasn't very expandable. I seem to recall YS being pretty critical of the spec when it reviewed the machine.

    "Do you really want a hard disk, CPU/fan and optical drive whirring away right under your fingertips??"

    I'd better, since that's the arrangement you'll find in the average laptop.

    My question is, can you plug it into your telly?

    Reminds me of the Friday night gathering at a friend's house, just after I'd upgraded my Amiga 4000 HD from 120MB to 1GB (200 quid that cost me!) and we decided to shoehorn my old drive into his Amiga 1200. We had to remove the metal mounting rails from the drive to make it fit. This was done sitting on a sofa, in near darkness, no anti-static precautions, and decreasingly sober as the task progressed. It worked, too!

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Alien

    curious portage II

    Unless my eyesight is a bit off just now, isn't there keyboard and mouse ports between the fans and the USB ports. Why would a keyboard need an extra keyboard?

    aliens at work?

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The BOFH is waiting in the wings

    Would all those complaining about lack of reliability in Amiga reporting please assist by rolling up your sleeves? Thankyou.

  51. Killian

    Curious...

    I'm not quite sure what to make of this... while the concept seems to compare well to a desktop (apart from being f'ugly) I have to agree with Torben Mogensen - how have they managed to reach this price-point without having to meet all the expensive challanges of producing a laptop or offer any of it's benefits?

  52. Stu
    Thumb Up

    Not a bad idea...

    Although very retro and kewl in appearance, I'm sure from my years of ye olde Atari ST usage back in 80s-90s that I got RSI From using such an elevated keyboard.

    Healed up nicely now though! ;-)

    And yes, I agree with the comment above - I'm not sure I'd want all the humming PC gubbins right under my fingers and taking up desk space. As I type this out now, I have a lot of desk space either side of me because the PC case is under the desk nicely out of the way.

    Although I do like the idea of combining the touchpad & keyboard - IBM sent us a combo keyboard touchpad unit for using in KVM trays, they're great all-in-ones for plugging into development PCs dug straight out of storage.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unergonomic

    The keyboard angle is *far* too steep -- very bad for the wrists.

    They should be banned, and any company that puts these on desks is simply setting itself up for a lawsuit.

  54. Pheet
    Thumb Up

    Keyboard

    From the FAQ:

    "What happens if there is a liquid spill on the Zero-Footprint-PC™’s keyboard?

    Since the keyboard matrix has a metal tray, this protects the electronics in the PC. However, the key matrix will be damaged and in need of replacing. This damage is not covered by the warranty, so please contact Cybernet for cost details."

    I quite like the look (being a former Speccy & ST owner), less cabels all over the place and such, but I don't like the touch pad.

    Considering how weak the US$ is at the moment, it sounds like a bit of a bargin, depending on postage costs...

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Form over function

    This is obviously another machine aimed at the home market which will be bought by people who know no better simply because it looks nice. You can guarantee that everything inside will be non-standard and impossible to upgrade. That keyboard looks like crap to - flat keyboards are a necessary evil on a notebook but a Bad Thing on a desktop machine if you want to actually _type_ anything.

    And what's with the DVD at a funny angle? In my experience optical drives are pretty unreliable at the best of times and if the same rules hold for them as hard drives then mounting it at an angle like here is asking for trouble.

  56. Bruce Leyden
    Coat

    ATX, BTX, SFF ...

    ...EFF - Eighties Form Factor

  57. Mad Hacker

    I replace my keyboard a lot more often than my computers

    I have 2 problems with this design

    1) I go through about 2 or 3 keyboards during the life of a computer. This would require the computer being replaced when the keyboard wears out.

    2) Does anyone else hate low profile keys? I use them on a laptop when I have to but at my desk I have a $100+ Alps switch based keyboard with lots of travel. I fear that all desktop keyboards will be going slimline soon as they are becoming more and more common.

    (and the Atari ST was better than the Amiga)

  58. James Cleveland

    Whee

    Hmm. A shame it doesn't have decent graphics. This thing would be damn near ideal for lan parties otherwise :(

  59. Christopher E. Stith

    "386SX-like"

    All of the the 386SX, the 68008, and the 68EC020 had narrower physical memory paths than what they allowed the programmer to address. The fact that Ix86 and M68k are not compatible doesn't mean the comparison is invalid. They used the same technique to make lower-end, cheaper machines possible.

  60. james newcombe
    Happy

    But

    Does it come with Sensible World of Soccer... Or Cannon Fodder??

  61. Scott

    Wow, reconditioned units already for sale too

    One picture of the unit shows a Card Reader; I'm guessing the target market for this is POS. Hope it holds up with an inch of dust caught in the fans. The top-mounted air inlet makes sure all the operator dandruff gets sucked in.

  62. DrXym Silver badge

    That's one ugly machine

    In principle, I suppose an Amiga / ST like PC would be fine. Indeed the Sinclair PC 200 has already trodden that path, and probably other machines since.

    But god does this particular machine look really cheap and ugly. I would expect a lot better build quality and ergonomics than this machine appears to offer.

  63. Geoff Mackenzie

    The wedge made me smile

    I have to admit, but having the keyboard built into the top of the computer was always an uncomfortable point for me back in the 80s and it still is now. As far as I'm concerned, the lifetime of a computer (in my possession) is at least 15 years; a keyboard is a consumable.

    So cute, but not practical. And the spec is too high for my liking as well; EEE PC-like internals would suit me far better. Guess what I'm really waiting for is the desktop eepsie.

    If the retro connection was a little stronger I'd be more tempted. Think they'd do me a 2MHz 6502-based model with 32K of RAM? I'd keep the DVD writer though, as long as it's 40/80T switchable. :)

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    All in 1 PC

    hahaah! great!

    i remember the days, when Schneider released a 286 just like this....back in the day! it had a PC and disk drive all wrapped up into 1 machine. Pretty cool idea in those days...everything wrapped under the keyboard...

    Me coming from the days when my first computer was an Acorn Electron with 2k expansion slot. wweehhhhhehee!!! and the only decent game was Chuckie Egg!!!

  65. heystoopid
    Paris Hilton

    Given the Problem

    Given the problem certain Danish Police Officers had with the very old G3 Mac all in one computer with plug key board and mouse not all that long ago what happens when the fuzz come a busting down the door and only see er this keyboard connected to the monitor , will they rip the house apart looking for the rest of the computer ?

    Say , what a wonderful cute factor and just the thing one of those plus an LCD display monitor and no other desk clutter and to add to the air of mystery an old 60's Bakellite GPO phone with out a cord with mobile phone innards replete with ye old dial thanks to modern trickery , now that be an evil classic !

    I wonder if they sell these units to the rest of the world ?

  66. Jesper
    Happy

    386SX-like again

    didnt the x86 family processors use a multiplexed address and data bus? M68k family had separate buses for data and addressing. you could set address and data on the bus in the same clock cycle. X86 had to wait atleast four cycles to complete if I dont remember it wrong.

  67. Herby Silver badge

    What isn't shown...

    In the picture is the b*** ugly power module you need. Can't someone get this right. If we are getting a "zero..." goodie, I don't want any other junk. Just a power cord that plugs into the wall. Until then, don't bother me. If I want a screen-less laptop, I'll just yank the screen off the hinges and continue. It has all the ports anyway.

    Where is one of those EEEPCs when you need one. Much nicer, cheaper, and comes loaded with the right operating system.

    Cue the picture of the model...

  68. Steve Roper
    Go

    @ heystoopid

    "...what happens when the fuzz come a busting down the door and only see er this keyboard connected to the monitor , will they rip the house apart looking for the rest of the computer ?"

    You, sir, are a genius! What you then do is, you set up an old PC box with empty hard drive, maybe Win95 on it, and have that sitting on the desktop next to this thing. When the pigs kick your door in, they take that instead, giving you a chance to slip the REAL all-in-one round to a friends house before they realise they've got a dud and come back!

  69. Tigre Marino
    Jobs Horns

    Bad design

    Remove the mousepad thingie, get a 2.5 inch hard drive, an ATi 780G, standard WiFi, DVI and HDMI, remove the legacy ports, a slimmer, sexier design with the keyboard closer to the front, get it an internal BD-ROM, give it 10 USB ports, internal PSU (like the one on the Dreamcast) and that could be the excellent home computer.... just plug it into your HDTV's VGA/DVI/HDMI port and turn on the power... with low power consumption, low heat emissions (thanks to an Athlon LE) that could be an excellent computer for the kids or for HTPC...

  70. Christopher A Light
    Thumb Down

    Retro! (I.E. - Backward)

    It's OK - the extra for WiFi seems excessive.

    However, the main problem I can see in that enclosure is cooling. Those tiny 'chipset' (40mm) fans they are using tend to be both noisy and have a short service life. There's a fair amount of heat generating hardware in there and fan performance degradation and/or failure may turn out to be a problem...

    And why do I see a <spit> trackpad? This is a desktop machine, why lumber it with the most wretchedly nasty HID the computer industry has yet invented?

    Oh, and seeing it's extremely unlikely, to say the least, there's a PSU in there - how big is 'the brick'?

    Finally - the PRICE. I note a fully speced top of the range version costs out at $1264... Say... £1299 from any UK distributor (without a monitor BTW). This is not by any stretch of the imagination a mass market domestic machine, is it?

    Interesting machine - niche market only though I feel.

  71. Portia

    It's not an Amiga...

    ...it looks more like a Sam Coupe to me.

  72. DaveK
    Heart

    Amiga vs ST

    Heh, so there are still some people out there who won't admit the ST was a pile of poo compared to the Amiga? I remember the old "ST has a MIDI interface" argument from way back when, it goes something like:

    "Sure... your Amiga has a higher resolution display, more colours, four channels of sampled sound, a display coprocessor, sprites, a blitter, DMA engines....... but my ST has a serial port! Yes, I know the Amiga has a serial port too, but my ST's serial port comes on a midi DIN connector instead of a db9".

    So yes, you lucky ST owners, you did indeed save yourselves the three or four quid that a DB9 <-> DIN level adapter would have cost you. Well worth sacrificing 90% of the multimedia functionality of the machine for, eh?

    Um, no, actually.

    You chose wrong, you got burned - it's twenty years later now, it's time you faced up to it.

    - DaveK a.k.a "Ubik".

  73. Steen Hive
    Stop

    @DaveK

    As an Amiga fan & a musician, the lack of MIDI ports on the Amiga was the second-worst design decision in the history of computers (after IBM not going with the 68k).

    "Cracked by MCA" under AmigaOS? Jesus! it would've been legend.

  74. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    Re: Amiga vs ST

    DaveK: "Heh, so there are still some people out there who won't admit the ST was a pile of poo compared to the Amiga?"

    *sigh*

    Some things never change.

    C64 owners -> Amiga owners -> Mac owners.

    All smug c*nts, who never miss a opportunity for a dig at the 'proles' who own Spectrums/STs/PCs.

    Thanks for your contribution 'Udik'.

  75. Malcom Ryder

    Does it come with a genlock?

    It wasn't the awkward shape of the Amiga 1200 that made it great, it was the video capabilities of a modestly priced computer that made it the thing of fond memories. None of my PC friends had a genlock and the crappy videos I made back in the early 90's were way cooler than my PC owning buddies could do.

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