* Posts by Mike 16

780 posts • joined 17 Jun 2009


Netflix wants to choose its own adventure where Bandersnatch trademark case magically vanishes

Mike 16 Silver badge

Re: Trademark, not Patent.

Looking for prior art is (mostly) associated with patents. I'm pretty sure the "famous Czech Branching Movie" ("Dream Machines/Computer Lib", Ted Nelson) from 1967 predates the examples mentioned so far, as do the IBM "Programmed Learning" books I first met in 1961 or so.

The issue isn't the technique, but the name. Having a character named Ricky Rat may skate close to the edge, but using the M-words is gonna cost you.

Kaspersky Lab takes bite out of Apple in Russia over borked parental controls app

Mike 16 Silver badge

Re: 1984 won't be like 1984, but 2020 will

Pretty standard in tech. People overestimate "progress" * in the short term, and underestimate it in the long term.

* For whatever definition of "progress" is under discussion, whether it is monetization of the limited oxygen supply on Mars, 24-7 observation and recording of everybody (except billionaires and their tame politicians), or the improvement of safeguards beyond "But Fred would never abuse that, and he's the only one who knows the 4-digit PIN"

What was that P word? Ah. Privacy. Yes, we'll think about privacy, says FCC mulling cellphone location data overhaul

Mike 16 Silver badge

How else?

With the population aging and many skills over-represented in the boomer generation, how do we expect to keep up with the demand for accomplished assassins if we cannot enhance the accuracy of drone strikes with accurate location data? Automation must be expanded to jobs that used to require training and apprenticeship.

Don't be too shocked, but it looks as though these politicians have actually got their act together on IoT security

Mike 16 Silver badge


At the risk of becoming yet another broken record (in the vinyl sense of the word, not the Guinness sense), there are at least two issues around updates:

1) Devices need to be _capable_ of updating their software (and of reverting to a "not great but not totally borked" state).

2) Making updates mandatory, non-reversible, and silent? That's how a zero-day at the manufacturer becomes a worldwide shit-storm.

(And that's not even addressing which criminal gang/government agency is using that zero-day.)

Strewth! Apoplectic Aussies threaten to blast noisy Google delivery drones out of the sky

Mike 16 Silver badge

Frog Boiling

It's clearly {The illuminati, Masons, George Soros, Thetans, Roscicrucians,...} getting folks used to the sounds the invasion fleet will make as it arrives.

We have a few more years as the experience ramps up from mosquitos with 2-meter wingspans and modified dental drills for propulsion to space-going DC-8s full of recycled aliens for "drone delivery" into a volcano.

'It's like painting with atoms'... Watch how boffins form armies of simple micron-sized bots from a silicon wafer

Mike 16 Silver badge

Re: The researchers hope the bots can also be powered by ultrasound or magnetic fields

So the tiny submarine with the tinier Raquel Welch could be powered by biomimetic Electric Eel cells?

UK tech has a month left to bare gender pay gaps, but less than a fifth of firms have ponied up

Mike 16 Silver badge

Focus, People!

Who has time to worry about Gender Pay Gap Reports when the Zombie Apocalypse will be here sooner.

Or some such? I just know folks have been screaming at me about some dire event coming soon.

Sniff the love: Subaru's SUVs overwhelmed by scent of hair shampoo, recalls 2.2 million cars

Mike 16 Silver badge

Young'uns and switches

Concur with the various mentions of minimum current. Once was a time when _serious_ switch interfaces made sure the combo of pullup resistor value and the B+ on the other end kept things shiny :-)

But it's not just the folklore on electrical stuff that gets forgotten/ignored. After several sessions of an EE lying through his teeth about a particular switch being readable at all (despite being on the 10th bit of an 8-bit port), I got to confront the physical design. The ME had used a stamped lever to bear directly on the little button of a PCB-mounted microswitch, rather than the must-be-50-years-old practice of having something with a bit of compliance between the fragile, low-travel switch and the big-bad-world of industrial equipment. But by the time I could get anybody to listen (Go away, Gramps, you're just a programmer), it was too late, so they just edited the spec-sheet to no longer promise any mitigation of that particular failure mode.

Did you hear the one about Cisco routers using strcpy insecurely for login authentication? Makes you go AAAAA-AAAAAAArrg *segfault*

Mike 16 Silver badge

Important word

Newspaper editors sometimes called it the "million dollar word":

"entire contents of a [ALLEGEDLY] zero-terminated buffer"

Trust, but verify.

Oracle: Major ad scam 'DrainerBot' is rinsing Android users of their battery life and data

Mike 16 Silver badge

Re: Liability ?

You may be leaning a bit too heavily on Hanlon's Razor, and not enough on Occam's.

If a group is doing something dodgy, and your representatives seem curiously hesitant to address the issue, ignorance is probably somewhere in the mix, but is probably not as relevant as brown envelopes.

Sufficiently advanced cluelessness is indistinguishable from malice.

'Occult' text from Buffy The Vampire Slayer ep actually just story about new bus lane in Dublin

Mike 16 Silver badge

85 comments in

and nobody has yet mentioned


a mashup with Buffy and Edward Cullen?

What did turbonerds do before the internet? 41 years ago, a load of BBS

Mike 16 Silver badge

Re: 300 Baud - much faster than Baudot RTTY

Baudot (Murray) RTTY at 45.45 baud with 7.5 bits/character is slower than 300 baud 10 bits/character, but not _that_ much slower. Yes, I did edit over 300 baud, when there was "bad weather" for 1200. Using DEC's EDIT (then later KED, think: VI, but with slightly less arcane commands). Staying in non-visual mode unless needed, and setting ROWS to something like 4 (rather than 24) when going visual.

At least nobody I ever met tried to use a "visual mode" editor on a Teletype. :-)

Mike 16 Silver badge

Re: Once upon a time...

Be glad you were on that end of the "conversation". A friend was our BOFH when we took delivery of a system from a contractor. It was an (alleged) improvement of a data-collection device, meant to poll a number of remote systems for daily logs. But it just couldn't seem to connect from our office. After a lot of finger pointing and raised voices, my friend thought to clip a "butt set" (lineman's phone) in "monitor" to the line, and heard an exasperated woman "answer" with as close to expletives as a gentlewoman could be expected to use. Apparently the file of numbers to call had a typo for some location, and had been harassing this poor woman with unlimited retries.

There was a bit of discussion with the contractor about having neither a retry limit nor any log of retries. We did have to wonder how many enemies they had made while testing at their own office, or whether there had in fact been any such testing.

'This collaboration is absolutely critical going forward'... One positive thing about Meltdown CPU hole? At least it put aside tech rivalries...

Mike 16 Silver badge

Re: why people don't patch

Not to mention that many a "urgent security update" seems to come bundled with some obscure "improvement" that turns out to be "enable a new way of monetizing the user".

Of course, the tech industry is just following the lead of legislatures everywhere with their "urgent national defense (and pork for selected districts)" bundling of laws.

Wells Fargo? Well fscked at the moment: Data center up in smoke, bank website, app down

Mike 16 Silver badge

Re: Datacenter fire just a cover story?

I was wondering if someone had recently seen Ocean's 11 (The Rat Pack Version) and thought it could be profitably updated.

(TL;DR Latent hack to casino security is triggered by a widespread power failure. OK, blowing up a major power transmission tower is more dramatic than striking a match under the smoke detector, or maybe wearing particularly natsy cologne.)

Maybe we should check if Benny Hill is somehow still active in heists (Does WFB have Italian branches?)

Mike 16 Silver badge

Re: Smoke detection should just be a warning

They should have had spares on hand:


( In the toolbox next to the left-handed monkey wrench and the snipe-nets)

Mike 16 Silver badge

Re: Wells Fargo is still a thing?

Yup. Much like Bank of America, AT&T, and Atari. What's left of them is a name and some "goodwill" (in accountant-speak) after being acquired some years ago (In Atari's case, at least a half-dozen times).

Common decency forbids my naming several (formerly) U.S. and British auto and motorcycle brands...

(And don't get me started on "Craft beers" owned by mega-breweries)

Reliable system was so reliable, no one noticed its licence had expired... until it was too late

Mike 16 Silver badge

A byte for the year

Except that when many of these systems were written, a byte (called character at the time) was most likely 6 bits. Even when the term "byte" was introduced, it was defined as "The smallest addressable unit of storage), by which definition I have used machines with 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 16, 24, 32, and 60 bit bytes. Most of those would have no trouble stashing a number > 200 (C'mon, who expects to live past 2100? Other than those who have met pretty spry people in their 90s), but not all. Time is hard.

"Byte" became synonymous with "octet" in the same way the "baud" became (equally erroneously) synonymous with "bit per second" about the time (and probably due to) the proliferation of Personal computing, and the notion that "Every computer in the world works _EXACTLY_ like the S-100 box I built from a kit".

National Enquirer's big Pecker tried to shaft me – but I wouldn't give him an inch, says Jeff Bezos after dick pic leak threat

Mike 16 Silver badge

Re: Attempt to blackmail the richest man on the planet, WCGW?

Reminding me of when Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) asks something along the lines of:

"So, you believe ... one of the wealthiest and most powerful men on the planet... is a vigilante who beats criminals to a pulp with his bare hands and your plan is to blackmail him?"


Things that make you go .hm... Has a piece of the internet just sunk into the ocean? It appears so

Mike 16 Silver badge

Succession Planning

Like that going on currently in the U.S. state of Virginia (named, IIRC, for a certain queen who apparently lacked any such planning)? At the moment, it is likely that the next governor will have, effectively, been drawn by lot, as the Governor, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General are all facing calls for their resignation, and the next in line (Speaker of the house) owes his post to a 1-vote majority, which in term was provided by a tie for one house seat, which was then decided by drawing lots (or flipping a coin, or some such).

Comparison and contrast to some watery tart handing out swords.

Fake fuse: Bloke admits selling counterfeit chips for use in B-1 bomber, other US military gear

Mike 16 Silver badge

Doesn't have to be a dodgy middleman

I dimly recall a story from the 1970s wherein a mid-tier semi manufacturer shipped a bunch of empty packages (no die inside) to the U.S. navy. Their contract had strict penalties for not delivering a specified number of units per month, but no penalty for units that failed incoming test.

Grumble Pai: FCC boss told by House Dems to try the novel concept of putting US folks first, big biz second

Mike 16 Silver badge

There is another system

No, not Guardian, and I don't know if this applies outside the U.S., but IIRC there are at least two "Caller ID" like systems in the U.S. The common or garden Caller ID depends on the information given by the "network" in general, either (ideally) originating at the caller's provider and passed along unmolested, or "just made up" by one of the hops along the line. Think of it like the "From" header on email. "Trust, and don't bother to verify".

The other system is used for "Free calls" ("Callee Pays", 800 etc. "Area Codes" in the U.S.). That info is much more likely to be correct, because one of the main reasons for having an "800 number" in these days of really cheap "long distance" calls is to gather the phone numbers of every caller. This can be used as proof of an "established business relationship", and thus exempt one from "Do Not Call" regulation. I assume there is a similar use for "900" (enhanced services, aka porn-chat) lines. _somebody_ has to know who to bill), and of course "911" emergency services, although the recent 911 call from space indicates there is "room for improvement"

In summary: requiring that a call have "Caller ID" is hardly likely to improve things, since it is almost certainly unreliable, and probably fraudulent. Get an 800 number if you want a (mostly) truthful "origination number". Like most surcharges for "not spitting in the soup", it will cost you...

Bug-hunter faces jail for vulnerability reports, DuckDuckPwn (almost), family spied on via Nest gizmo, and more

Mike 16 Silver badge

Re: Disclosure

_Many_ years ago I bought some used tapes to use as scratch. (How many years? 1/2 inch 7-track, OK?). Well, of course I took a look at them first. Mostly wiped, but one had customer data from some financial institution. Actually just what appeared to be records of customer name, street address, branch or maybe department number, some other number too short to be an actual account number, etc.

I wiped it before putting it back in the case.

Before anybody gets huffy about the recklessness of using tapes that had almost certainly been "retired" for too-high error rate, I'll mention that I was a student at the time, and that, unlike some modern storage media, one got immediate indication of write-errors, so the penalty was slightly longer write times and reduced capacity. Each error due to a surface imperfection resulted in a 3.5-inch section of tape being "lost", equivalent to about 2K (out of 2-20 Meg).

Mike 16 Silver badge

Re: SS7 hacked?

My memory is that "prevention of phone-phreaking" was at first more things like "2600 sniffers" and "Out of Band Signalling". But of course I have no knowledge of such things

SS-7 was more, IIRC and as the article says, for inter-exchange, but got a real boost after the breakup of AT&T (now reversed by the most rapacious of the resulting "Baby Bells"). As a wide range of small telcos sprung up like mushrooms after a rain (or lawyers after a disaster), there had to be some way to route traffic. But, yeah, the design and the mods were made in a spirit of "we're all responsible adults here", which has been patently untrue for decades.

Kinda like the Internet...

I'm a crime-fighter, says FamilyTreeDNA boss after being caught giving folks' DNA data to FBI

Mike 16 Silver badge

Cigarette Butts

So, they had been studying up on Kurt?


Wherein the installers (3rd Reich) scattered American Cigarette packets were scattered about to reinforce the notion that the robot weather station was set up by the Allies.

Note also Italian resistance fighters attached Allied-supplied bombs (triggered by sudden drops in light, e.g. from entering a tunnel) to railroad rolling stock in alpine regions. They were labelled as being "tracking devices" attached by the Germans, and warned of dire consequences for anybody tampering with them.

Intel to finally scatter remaining ashes of Itanium to the wind in 2021: Final call for doomed server CPU line

Mike 16 Silver badge

Re: Design Flaw

So, the hardware variant of the "Sufficiently Smart Compiler"


Wherein the point is made that the compiler has to not only be sufficiently smart (to take crap-code and re-write it), but also _perfect_, lest a formerly unnoticed inability to deal with a particular corner case result in a trivial change to the source dropping performance in the toilet.

Facebook cuts off independent political ad reviewers, claims security concerns

Mike 16 Silver badge

Re: Anti-Vaxers

Why do all these x86-lovers still get all huffy about the VAX? I mean, yeah, it almost defined the term "CISC", what with "Polynomial Evaluate", but at least you could expect to survive having a paper copy of the architectural spec thrown at you. Let's have a little perspective.

Wait, do you mean those following in the wake of Wakefield?

Never mind.

Mike 16 Silver badge

Contract reviewers

Why don't they just contract it all out the the Internet Research Agency? It would be enormously more efficient after all.

Tech sector meekly waves arms in another bid to get Oz to amend its crypto-busting laws

Mike 16 Silver badge

Crocodile clips

Just had an image from my youth re-surface. One of a particular sort of test clip used on Central Office frames back when things were a lot more electromechanical. They were bent 90 degrees and had a nice (wooden?) handle with a button t open the jaws . So, these clips tended to go walkies quite a bit, and local users of The Devil's Weed tended to have them despite having nothing to do with the local TelCo, other than knowing someone who worked there.

Anyway, I wonder what other uses a "virtual crocodile clip" could be used for? Drowd maintenance?

Look out, kids. Your Tinder account is about to be swamped by old people... probably

Mike 16 Silver badge

Age discrimination?

So, is it also illegal for businesses to offer "senior rates"?

(Often without even asking for age verification, once I greyed and wrinkled enough.)

Don't those discriminate against the 15-60s? (Old enough to be spending their own money, too young to pass as a geezer).

Surface: Tested to withstand the NFL. Microsoft firmware updates? Not so much

Mike 16 Silver badge

Re: It's a bit like rugby?

I recall reading American Football described (in the 1970's IIRC) as a perfect combination of the two most characteristic aspects of American culture: Violence and Committee Meetings.

Oracle boss's Brexit Britain trip shutdown due to US government shutdown

Mike 16 Silver badge

Shutdown as negotation

@geoffrey W:

-- What were they thinking when they came up with that mechanism? --

Just as Bill gates did not invent CTRL_ALT_DEL, but did popularize it, there was guy who weaponized the shutdown as the one true way to govern.

Nice thing about recent history is that many of the players are still around, so you might ask him:


(I predict, though, that the answer will be somewhere between "The end justifies the means" and "F-you commie rat-bastard")

Not to single out Newt, really. A _lot_ of politicians are lawyers, and most seem to think that "If it is not illegal (yet), it is perfectly OK". Also, a surprising number (at least in the U.S. Congress) of politicians are former cheerleaders


and once you have a certain level of physical gymnastics handled, perhaps getting into mental and moral gymnastics is easier.

World's first robot hotel massacres half of its robot staff

Mike 16 Silver badge

Maybe they should have

put the bid out more widely than just going with Sirius Cybernetics, even if the owner's brother did own a bunch of SC stock.

Yes, you can remotely hack factory, building site cranes. Wait, what?

Mike 16 Silver badge

Re: Not good


How would the controller know that moving the load N instead of E would put it through the window of the bosses car?


How about N vs S? Your comment pushed me over the "should I bother to post?" edge, as the article had tickled an old memory about a not-exactly-security issue with a traveling crane. I probably read it on comp.risks, which means "before 2001" when I went cold-turkey.

Anyway, some repair of said crane had resulted in the phases being connected incorrectly. It powered up OK, stopped. Then the repair guy commanded a small movement one direction, but due to the reversed phases, the result was in a small movement the other direction, which the control loop "corrected", leading quickly to full power the opposite of the correct direction. The stop blocks at the (actual, not anticipated) end of the track were not able to halt the mass of the crane traveling at full speed, and it crashed through the wall and landed on a vehicle parked outside. There was speculation at the time whether that vehicle was owned by the electrician who had done the erroneous wiring. Poetic, but unconfirmed.

Smartphones gateway drug to the Antichrist, says leader of Russian Orthodox Church

Mike 16 Silver badge

Re: The so-called "beast" of Revelation was an STD ...

IIRC The identity of the "John" who wrote Revelations is far from settled. The claim that he was actually the Apostle John has been disputed for some time.

Facebook apparently did not enforce their "Real Names" policy at the time.

Linus Torvalds opts for the scream test: Linux kernel syscall tweaked to shut data-leak hole – anyone upset, yell now

Mike 16 Silver badge

Re: Probably an access control issue


have to let the system know which processes are trusted and which are not.


I thought one of the key principles in the Evil Overlord's Guide to World Domination was to _never_ let any of your "trusted" henchmen know which of them is actually _trusted_ (for now).

Mainframe brains-slurper sues IBM for 'age discrim', calls Ginny and biz 'morally bankrupt'

Mike 16 Silver badge

In people as in things

(allegedly) old saying:

Two fools. One says "This is old, and therefore good". The other: "This is new, and therefore better"

Meanwhile, I, and the other "nudged out the door" greybeards of my acquaintance had a tendency to document what we know, and were doing, including early design notes, without needing a patented process in place. Those who have stayed with a company for more than a few years have a personal relationship with their (soon to be) former co-workers, and do not want to make their lives difficult. Sometime, we are given time to do this. Others? Well, I left work on my last day of one job after 8PM, finishing up some notes to my replacement.

You can blame laziness as much as greed for Apple's New Year shock

Mike 16 Silver badge

Selling security

Some folks on another list have mentioned that the Apple "Privacy" sign is on the side of a Marriott hotel. Odd choice given the Marriott data leak.

Meanwhile, I do believe the Apple ecosystem is (a bit) more secure than most, as long as:

1) They don't get subborned by some TLA

2) You avoid iCloud like the plague.

Problem is, with the rise of authoritarianism, (1) will not last long, and (2) requires constant vigilance to avoid the dark patterns that try to get you to click the "leak all my info, passwords, email, etc. to Apple" link that _looks_ like a "make your device more secure with our guard-unicorn! It even farts rainbows!" button.

It's 2019, the year Blade Runner takes place: I can has flying cars?

Mike 16 Silver badge

Re: Imagine a smart bomb that refuses to explode

Let there be light.

(As "Benson Arizona" plays softly,,,)

Gotta go. My turn to feed the alien (and service the elevator).

Microsoft's 2018, part 2: Azure data centres heat up and Windows 10? It burns! It burns!

Mike 16 Silver badge

Re: It Burns!?

Thank you! The first, definitely. The second, most likely, Should have guessed they were from Hammer.

Thanks again, and Happy New Year!

Mike 16 Silver badge

It Burns!?

Very OT, but I would love to be told the name of the film or program that I stumbled on many years back when many UHF channels were pretty much "obscure old films, all the time". It was almost certainly toward the end of this one, and the scene I remember is some guy stumbling out of a spherical tank (probably shot at an oil refinery or other chemical plant) screaming "It Burns!", and the revelation that the "advanced fertilizer process" was actually making food (or fuel, or aphrodisiacs?) for some alien overlords.

On the chance that the headline is referencing that film, could someone enlighten me with the title and (rough) year)?

While diverging into B-movie filmography. any hints of one that features a tube station overrun by crocodile-sized intelligent mantis-like creatures? At least as far as I could ascertain through the (RF) snow. We no longer have that problem (snow, not crocodile-mantises), just variations on major parts of the frame entering Witness Protection, or the audio becoming completely unmoored from the video, in our brave new DTV world.

Your two-minute infosec roundup: Drone arrests, Alexa bot hack, Windows zero-day, and more

Mike 16 Silver badge

Russian vote-hacking, and 2FA

So, the Russians had nothing to do with dodgy "signature fails", false announcement of polling places moving, real moving or closing of polling places with little or no notice, "harvesting" of absentee ballots... Good to know American Ingenuity is still a thing, without help from furriners..

As for 2FA, having it actually work might be nice, but as it is, every time I use one of my alternate computers, or a VPN, or use the (horrendous) gmail web interface _on_ my main computer, I get a panic message from Google about a "new device", even if I had had it for years and used it the day before. It's almost like they will not rest until I give up dealing with their buggy IMAP interface on a non-google device, and just turn on the "snoop everything, all the time" stuff in the webmail and app.

But that "no password reuse" advice is "table stakes" for security. But also consider "Don't invite a vampire (IoT) into your home"

Google settles Right To Be Forgotten case on eve of appeal hearing

Mike 16 Silver badge

Likewise public record cannot be altered or deleted.

I suspect you meant "should not". Public records have been altered and deleted for probably as long as they have existed. It's just that destroying, say, some incriminating cuneiform tablets with a mallet is easier than destroying all extant copies (even those in the internet archive) of Hansard.

Apple iPhone X screen falls short of promises, lawsuit says

Mike 16 Silver badge

Re: 32 rods per hogshead?

Wow, that's worse than my son's old 1970 Chevelle. I'm picturing a 30-liter V16 with a blower stolen from one of those open-pit-mine crawlers. Does your gas/petrol tank resemble an Olympic swimming pool! :-)

Fraudster convicted of online banking thefts using… whatever the hell this thing is

Mike 16 Silver badge

Re: Revenge of the 80's

--- I recall a 555-based tone generator a friend and I breadboarded together ---

Are you sure that wasn't a 556, for Dual Tone?

And that your muse didn't have a surname starting with 'W'?

OTOH, the harmonic content of simple 555-based tone generators made for their use as "tariff reduction devices" iffy.

UK Supreme Court considers whether spy court should be immune to legal probes

Mike 16 Silver badge

Any chance

that while they are remodeling the Star Chamber, they run across an old copy of Magna Carta in the walls?

Oz opposition folds, agrees to give Australians coal in their stockings this Christmas

Mike 16 Silver badge


So, if a backdoor does not affect _all_ applications on _all_ systems (e.g. has no effect on at least one flashlight app, or doesn't work on an iPhone 3), then it's all good?

GOPwned: Republicans fall victim to email hack

Mike 16 Silver badge

Hacks R us

When someone (probably senior, but they'll find an intern to blame) forgets to renew the contract with a "security consultant", you can expect said consultant to go looking for other customers. "Business is Business".

But I totally agree that it is far more likely the contractors were not merely out for monetary rewards for services rendered.

Electing someone who owes us money: Maybe a few hundred million dollars

Sowing chaos in the 'Free World': Priceless!

Tesla autopilot saves driver after he fell asleep at wheel on the freeway

Mike 16 Silver badge

Dog in the "Driver seat"

A friend (In Californian, mid 1960s) with a mid-1950s right-hand drive Land Rover delighted in the reaction of other drivers to his Irish Setter in the front passenger seat.

Why, you're no better than an 8-bit hustler: IBM punts paper on time-saving DNN-training trick

Mike 16 Silver badge

No loss in model accuracy?

That sounds a lot like the typical advertising "There is no better <x>", which they intend us to read as "This is clearly the best" while those who stayed awake in rhetoric might discern it as "This is not really any worse than the rest of the crap".

I like the analog stuff, though. At last an explanation for occasionally wildly odd AI results. "It works just like your brain", which is so simple/obvious that even Uncle Phil can understand, after a few too many pints.


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