* Posts by rurwin

182 posts • joined 14 Oct 2010


Raspberry Pi 3: Four days old and already flying


Re: "We make these Pis"

They seem to have kept up with Pi3 demand here in the UK. RS still has 2,128 in stock.



Hack job

I wish articles like this would reference the original papers that they are based on, not just some other hack article based on a press release.

"In vitro" indicates that this was not a live animal study -- no rats were forced to play Quake for twelve hours a day. They appear to have shone bright light on retina cells in a test tube (or more likely a petri dish).

Bizarre Tolkien-inspired GCHQ Xmas card CAN'T BE READ by us PLEBS


A million times smaller...

Many years ago, there was a SunOS fortune cookie:

Nine megs for the secretaries fair,

Seven megs for the hackers scarce,

Five megs for the grads in smoky lairs,

Three megs for system source;

One disk to rule them all,

One disk to bind them,

One disk to hold the files

And in the darkness grind 'em.

Apple iWatch due in October 2014, to wirelessly charge from one metre away – report


Not convinced

I can't help thinking that a magnetic field of that strength would act as a good de-gaussing coil for your credit cards.

'Copyrighted' Java APIs deserve same protection as HARRY POTTER, Oracle tells court


Re: Bah!

It's a nice dream but I think you will find that IBM, unlike Oracle, will decide not to cut off their own noses.


They did too, do a clean-room implementation

All the code differs, except for a tiny piece that is not used on mobile phones (it's in the test suite), which was written by a contractor, and for which Google has admitted fault. That code is not at question in the appeal.

All the rest is entirely new except for the names of objects, classes, methods and parameters. Even the documentation is reimplemented (and, in many cases, better.)

The PC BIOS issue is precisely the same as this case. IBM even published the source-code for it (in the Technical Reference manual.) But it could still not be used in clone PCs without infringing copyright. The PC clones only became successful when they had a 100% compatible clean-room implementation. Compaq was never 100% compatible; Phoenix was the company that nailed it. ( http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/65532/Reverse_Engineering?pageNumber=1 )

Swollen Reg reader recounts FALSE WIDOW spider HORROR


Re: Well

> we don't, to the best of my knowledge, have mosquitoes here in Blighty.

We have loads and loads and loads of them. They breed in water butts and garden ponds up and down the country, and bite people all summer long.

We even have the ones that carry malaria, but fortunately they don't tend to live long enough to bite two people (or something.)

We'll build Elon Musk's Hyperloop ... if you lob us ONE-MEELLION dollars


Scares the willies out of me

700 mph within inches of something stationary?

That's 313m/s.

Say a car weighs about a tonne

Kinetic energy is 1/2mv^2...

So 48 MJ, enough to heat 283 gallons of water to boiling point, or about 10kg of TNT equivalent.

... I was going to research what sort of damage that would do, as in "how much TNT do I need to..." but I'd rather not scare GCHQ.

The Raspberry Pi: Is it REALLY the saviour of British computing?


Maybe you have missed the fact that the majority of the Raspberry Pi Foundation's time and energy is spent in developing educational resources. They didn't just sit back on their laurels like your Pi did. It's a non-profit foundation -- every bit of profit that comes from geeks and home theater hackers goes to provide teachers with resources to teach children about computers. (Or similar outreach work.) The computer was always only one piece of the jigsaw. Just a tool. It has always needed buy-in from teachers to make a difference to the national educational landscape. Teachers are always the only thing that matters. To suggest otherwise is a patent straw-man. In fact, for schools, The Pi computer is not particularly necessary... if they can get their PCs out from under the IT supplier's lock-down and let the kids actually program them.

And it didn't exist before. Not for $25. It existed for maybe $100, but there are large numbers of applications for which $25 or $35 is a shoe in, and for which $100 or even $50 is a teeth-sucking decision. Sending it up under a weather balloon springs to mind.

And no. I would not choose a better tool. A PC or a smartphone is horrible for a vast number of projects that I want to investigate. The Raspberry Pi sits very neatly between an Arduino and a netbook. Its got I/O and its got a network stack and filesystem.

US aviation watchdog approves $75K balloon ride into SPAAAACE!


Eight rich people and a bar?

So you get eight people who can afford the trip. You ply them with alcohol for eight hours. Then you drop them like a stone.

At the very least, they will return to Earth pebble-dashed with diced carrot.

At the worst, they'll do something stupid like interfering with the pilot.

Microsoft: Ha ha, my Wall Street friends - THIS time the victory is OURS


Have I got this right?

Did I understand correctly; Office is now split over three different waring divisions?

Or is this just for accounting purposes?

Open-source hardware hacking effort 'smacked down' by USB overlords


Patent Exhaustion

What is everyone getting so worked up about. This is the way patents work, and it is perfectly rational, including the existing companies who issue product IDs.

By implementing the USB interface, a product necessarily uses patented technology and techniques. The USB-IF is willing to license those patents at the rate of $4000 plus $5000 per vendor (IIUC). In order to build a USB interface that is the price you have to pay. If you don't like that then go ahead and demolish the patent system.

On the other hand companies who have already paid that license fee can sell you a chip that implements the USB interface. Because they have paid the licensing fees, the chip is licensed and the patent is "exhausted". Similar to how you can sell a second-hand book without paying royalty, you can implement a USB interface free of charge if you use a device for which the royalty fee has already been paid.

What no company can do, especially an open-hardware consortium, is to enter into legal agreements on behalf of random members of the public, before those members are even known. The concept is clearly nonsensical. It would be the same as asking a publisher for a a book so you could copy it and give it away free. It is not going to happen and it is no surprise, couched in those terms, that the USB-IF's response was a cease and desist.

Vulture 2 paintjob: Kim Jong-un battles flag-waving Brits



That is not pink. That is Magenta.

Those are two totally different colours.

Reply-all email lightning storm STRIKES TWICE at Cisco


Re: $600,000?!

If you count the lost productivity from the entire workforce being without email for at least half a day, you'll probably get somewhere around that figure. Then if you add any on-call workers and their expenses claims that will add a bit more. It's not so much that everyone had to delete a thousand emails, but that the servers had to cope with 34 million emails within a few minutes and promptly crashed in flames.

11m Chinese engulfed by 'Airpocalypse' at 4000% of safe pollution levels


Re: Now pull my other one

In Birmingham, my Dad recounted driving home with the passenger door open so he could see the kerb.

Apple handed Samsung-busting nuke after Steve Jobs patent U-turn


A pain in the butt, but not the end of the world

There's only one independent clause (repeated twice). It would seem to be rather easy to code around, since it depends on the initial direction of finger movement to determine if the command should be a one-dimensional or two dimensional scroll or a "next-item" command.

In fact I seem to remember Samsung making a persuasive argument that they did not infringe this patent... although the jury was seriously dysfunctional and probably ruled that they did.

Wait for it, waaiiit for it: We update an Atom tablet to Windows 8.1 Pro


Not just Microsoft, Linux and iOS

I bought two new items from Amazon on Friday for my PS3.

* A game -- Beyond: Two Souls (reviewed here, thanks Register)

* A Blu-Ray -- Much Ado About Nothing

Both of them have been released very, very recently. Like within days.

The first thing Beyond did was to upgrade the PS3 OS. The second thing it did was download patches for the game. I can understand the OS upgrade -- I don't play many games, although a product as close to end-of-life as the PS3 should be rather stable by now. But patches to a game released ten days ago?

Then when I had problems playing the film I tried updating the PS3 OS again, and it found an update to install. How come the previous upgrade wasn't sufficient?

Loathed wiggly-word CAPTCHAs morph into 'fun' click-'n'-drag games


Not digitizing books

"Google's reCAPTCHA at least serves some useful purpose of helping to digitize books."

The ones I see nowadays appear to be photographed house numbers. I think we're helping Google Maps.

So that's invasion of privacy rather than infringement of copyright.

Oz bookshop to deliver by drone


Kindle sucks for Textbooks

"Of course it's already possible to have books delivered to a smartphone: Amazon's Kindle app is available on iOS, Android, Windows Phone and even BlackBerry while the Nook app works on the first three OSes mentioned."

Kindle is great for novels, but it is terrible for any book where you might want to keep track of more than the page you are reading. Where with a paper book, it's simple to keep a finger on a page with a useful table, diagram, etc., with Kindle you have to keep skipping back and forth with multiple page-turns or clumsy dialogs.

MS Word deserves DEATH says Brit SciFi author Charles Stross


Unavoidable, unmaintainable

Publishing houses require double-spaced text, headers and footers and a title page, all with defined contents. ASCII text just isn't capable of providing them what they need, even if it is good enough for 95% of anything any author writes. All of them accept .doc, many accept RTF, some of them accept PDF, very few of them accept anything else. I can understand that, after all, publishers can not be expected to have copies of every authoring tool under the sun, just in case some author decides to use it. There have to be standards, and apart from .doc, there simply aren't any.

Even writing short stories, Word and LibreOffice are incapable. I need a word count, but it mustn't include the title page or the headers/footers. I have to highlight all the text every time. All I need is a word count of the current section, but neither of them have that function.

Then, as a software engineer, I am well aware of the utility of version control. Word's own version control is pitiable. Git, Mercurial etc. see these files as binary, and so can not display changes. Even saving in RTF in Word or LibreOffice creates a file so full of markup that any text changes are overwhelmed. ODT is theoretically an XML files, but it is stored in zip format with other files.

There are applications out there that save in minimalised RTF. But then I need to import that into Word or LibreOffice and add the title page and the headers and footers before I can send it off to a publisher. There's no automated method for doing that.

What I need is an authoring tool that allows me very basic facilities. Most of the time italic is the only feature I use, but let's include bold, underline, subscript, superscript, paragraphing, centering and maybe footnotes. It needs to save in a text format so the version control can track it properly. Then it needs to be able to export to .doc (etc.) in a highly customisable form, maybe using a template of some sort. That template would add the title page and the headers and footers. It would set the style of the paragraphs and the font.

Double-click? Oh how conventional of you, darling!


Skoda too

Just to bring the two halves of this article together.

The remote control for my door lock needs a double single-click. The first unlocks just the driver's door, the second unlocks all the doors. But a double-click is too fast.

Even more annoying, when locking it again, the second click disengages the deadlocks, making the car less secure. So when you walk away and think "did I lock it?" you need to unlock it and then lock it again.

UK plant bakes its millionth Raspberry Pi


Five percent is enough.

Eben Upton has said that in the 1980's, maybe 5% of all kids who had a computer, learned to program it. That was enough to significantly affect the country's IT skills.

The dynamics are different these days. If kids want to play games they get a Wii/XBox/PS. But if kids are exposed to the Raspberry Pi, maybe in school, or by a friend, then that same 5% may be interested enough to buy one for themselves.

And this mass uptake by hobbyists is just the sort of exposure that could lead to those kids learning about the Pi and deciding that they want one.


Firstly, there is no classroom of kids huddled round a PC. Everyone gets one each, or maybe one between three.

Secondly, Your throwaway Laptop needs to be purchased, wiped, installed, and the USB hardware needs to be bought. I bet you can't do all of that, including the labour and the thrid-party insurance, for under £30 each.

Oh, shoppin’ HELL: I’m in the supermarket of the DAMNED


I actually like the auto-tills and use them in preference to the manned tills. It is true that they are not truly un-manned; an operative is necessary every so often, but the shops generally know this now and the wait is only short. I am an expert at avoiding as many automated voices as possible. (Never hit start.) So I use them easily and generally enjoy myself while doing so... Except in one important case -- when I'm shopping with my partner. She forbids me to use any self-checkout, and if I do have sufficient saved brownie points to go against her wishes and still avoid the spare room, the self-checkout ALWAYS fails. It does so in the most obscure and un-fixable manner I have even seen. One time the card machine failed during the secure handshaking, forcing the operative go to the office in order to cancel the transaction . To recover that one we had to rescan the entire shop... which my partner had already taken off to the car in high dudgeon.


Re: Waitrose FTW

We started to do that at Sainsburys. But you get rechecked randomly, and it's frequent enough to be a real pain. You've packed all your goods, now unpack them and pack them again. See, that saved time.

DEAD STEVE JOBS kills Apple bounce patent from BEYOND THE GRAVE



Anyone else notice that the video cuts out just before Steve demonstrates Google Maps running on an iPhone? ;-)

Congrats on MP3ing your music... but WHY bother? Time for my ripping yarn


I feel your pain

I have a large box full of 35mm slides that I inherited from my parents. There's loads of memories there, but ripping them is ten times the pain it is with CDs, and the indexing is near impossible.

As fr the 8mm cine film, there's no alternative other then send it off and spend a significant number of quids.

Reg readers! You've got 100 MILLION QUID - what would you BLOW it on?


Doing their job would be a start

Some investigation and enforcement actions against unlicensed transmissions would be good. Let's start with power-line networking.

Bill Gates: Yes, Ctrl-Alt-Del salute was a MISTAKE


Re: Sun Server Keyboard...

I always use one hand for Ctrl-Alt-Del.

Thumb on Right-Alt, first finger on Right-Ctrl, second finger on Delete.


Re: Ignore the obvious choice

IIRC, SysRq was used by OS/2, and it is still used by Linux.

Of course modern OSs are more complex than DOS, and you don't want to shut them down without stopping all the processes and syching all the disks. So hold down Ctrl-Alt-SyqRq and type (slowly)

r - Put the keyboard into a sensible mode

s - Sync the disks

e - Terminate all processes

i - In case some processes are hung ignoring signals, kill them all with a big axe.

s - Sync the disks again, to be sure, to be sure.

u - Unmount all disks

b - Reboot (or o to switch off).

Raising Skinny Elephants Is Sometimes Utterly Boring

Space truck Cygnus left idling outside ISS after data format snafu borks docking


Data format error

The ISS still uses .doc files.

Chap unrolls 'USB condom' to protect against viruses


Pedant alert

Please note: "minicomputers" are generally the size of a six-foot equipment rack.

"mini computers", I would have accepted.

NASA: Humanity has finally reached into INTERSTELLAR SPACE


Re: How strong is the wind?

Don't forget that the sun is orbiting the centre of the galaxy, taking around 200 million years to go around. There wont be a resultant force in that direction.

The force exerted by the solar wind is well known, as is the light pressure. But both of them reduce with the inverse square, so they'll be tiny out where Voyager is, and negligible at the centre of the galaxy.

But the force of the solar wind is not at issue. The issue would be how much force resulted on the sun due to it flinging out that mass and sunlight, and the answer is zero. It flings it out equally in all directions at once, so the resultant force is zero.

So in answer to your question, the force due to the solar wind and the gravitational attraction towards the centre of the galaxy, do indeed exactly match each other, since they are both zero.

Apple’s iOS 64-bit iUpgrade: Don't expect a 2x performance leap


If this goes the same way as Linux x86 64-bit, then there will be either no visible difference between 32-bit and 64-bit, or 64-bit might be a little slower. It's a highly complex equation and the only way to find out is to suck it and see.


Re: LaeMing

Interrupts will generally stack all or most registers, and they happen relentlessly with great frequency.

Should Nominet ban .uk domains that use paedo and crim-friendly words?


Those who do not learn from history...

I collected this apocryphal tale a while ago; it isn't by me, but it is apropos...

This reminds me of a story from the dark ages of computing - when the Computing Center at a major university had both a monopoly on computing resources and a policy of "no frivolous use of the computer(s)".

The CC, in its unchallengable wisdom and power, had decreed a single file-and-compute server for a university with about 35,000 undergraduates. Much of the hardware was purchased with grant money, and the grants included strings that in essence required billing real $ for every microsecond of crunch, and guaranteeing the granting agencies a usage fee no higher than that charged any other user. (So the No Frivolous Use bit wasn't JUST puritanism - the guys who kicked in the megabucks were likely to get irate.) And the sysops didn't realize how popular the first text-only Startrek game would be until it was well-known and chewing up significant computer resources. You can imagine what came next.

They removed it.

It reappeared.

They removed it again.

Several users had made copies, and some of them announced where copies could be found.

They wrote a program to search the entire filesystem for copies.

Several encrypted copies were announced on the grapevine.

They upgraded the program to search for these encrypted copies.

And the war continued, with progressively more redundant copies using progressively more of the disk farm, and the encryption methods evolving under the selection pressure of the system administrators' decryption efforts.

Like any war, it began to have effects outside the actual battle. (One observer placed a line to the effect of "Kirk Spock Enterprise NCC-1701 klingon phaser photon torpedo Federation" in a datafile used by a perfectly legitimate application, blasted the administrators through channels when the file vanished, and gleefully showed me how the usecount of the restored file kept rising, as the Startrekfinder kept finding it, and the CC administrators kept examining it to see if it was part of a hidden game.)

But, also like any war, destruction befell innocent bystanders. And, like any crusaders out to destroy sin, the staff didn't catch on from the early, minor incidents, and kept increasing their efforts. What finally ended it was a pair of almost simultaneous hits on valuable files.

The lesser incident was the destruction of a file named "Kirk", owned by a student nicknamed "Kirk", and containing coursework completely unrelated to the Great Interstellar War. The greater was medical.

It seems a drug company was in the late stages of testing a new drug, and had paid the university over a half-million (1970's) dollars to run one of the tests.

The drug in question had an effect on the endocrine system, and one of the measures of this effect was the length of the penises of male rats who had matured under influence of the drug. The project was near completion, the (rather large number of) rats had been grown, and as they were retired from the experiment, during its carefully-scheduled last few weeks, measurements made on each were filed on the exceedingly-well-maintained-and-backed-up central computing utility.

One day the researcher logged on to enter the latest set of measurements, and found that the contents of the file named "RAT_PENIS_DATA" had been replaced by a short tirade about improper use of the computing center resources. You can imagine what hit the fan.

The center staff, of course, in their War on Fun, had not taken care to preserve the latest state of the file they had blasted. Indeed, the file name had been, in their minds, a minor side-issue during their assault on the Startrek Plague. Yet the research was to prepare the drug for use on humans - with potential liabilities far exceeding the half-meg-plus pricetag of the research - and potential damage to the big U's reputation resulting in loss of lucrative research contracts ditto. Would error-corrections applied to the file between the last backup and the destruction be re-applied correctly? Was the CC prepared to pay for the extra costs incurred by Biochem as it completely re-entered the data from the notes, re-ran the experiment if it couldn't resolve any differences to the satisfaction of the FDA, and pay the drug company for the lost sales if it delayed the introduction of a useful drug?

Thus, goes the story, did the war end.

But the repercussions didn't stop, of course. The war had left lingering fallout, in the form of alienated clients of the Computing Ceter, and the center's destruction of valuable data provided an extra round to be used against the Center whenever a department was trying to obtain computers of its own, over the Center's opposition.


Re: Careful what you search for...

There was this time I was looking for a font. I'd got it in TTF and liked it. It was (and is) called Bizzaro. Every glyph is made of one or more strange creatures like something from Italian carnival or a nightmare fairyland.

Although I had it in TTF, I was writing a book in TeX, well LaTeX to be exact, and that doesn't play nice with TTF. It needs the font to be built specifically for it, and I was wondering if anyone had done the work before.

So I googled "bizzaro latex".

The defense rests m'lud.

Bin half-baked Raspberry Pi hubs, says Pimoroni: Try our upper-crust kit


Re: The least of its problems

>Nope, nothing forgotten here. It's important to understand that this is a suggestion for a model C (per. the post) and not as a replacement / substitute for the existing boards.

I think you will find that any possible model C, (which is a long, long way off,) will be addressing the same market as the model B. The Raspberry Pi is fantastic as a hobbyist computer, but that is not what it is designed as. It is designed as a cheap computer for kids. None of your suggestions are good ideas in that context.

Ethernet is fast, easy and foolproof. Not so WiFi. In a school environment, you need to be sure everyone is connected to the right network. WiFi would also increase the cost.

Any change in the layout to move connectors would increase the cost because the board would have to grow.

IIRC, Micro SD was considered, and it was found that the sockets were of insufficient quality. I would prefer a full-depth metal socket, but that probably comes down to cost too.

Having all the OS on exchangeable SD is what makes the RaspPi work in an educational setting. It is impossible to brick it.

Smartwatch craze is all just ONE OFF THE WRIST


Re: nothing wrong with digital watches

Mine's solar powered. No battery changing, no winding, and fully sealed to 100m.

LOHAN cops a faceful of smutronyms


How else to interupt an out-of-control career?


Required (or Remote)





Unfortunately there is already a REHAB, but they won't be confused, and this usage is far cooler. ;-)

Xbox One launch date REVEALED - and it's on the 360's birthday


> your credentials for that statement.

I was in the queue for the Acorn Atom, and for the Raspberry Pi. :-)

The question is the definition of "full production". If they mean they are going flat out, then they cannot cover the demand. If all they mean is that they have started one out of ten factories, then they should be able to. It would be a rather disingenuous use of the word "full" though.

I'm not a fanboi; I wont be buying either platform for a long time, if at all. I'm just sitting back in my deckchair munching popcorn.


> Pre-orders had sold out faster than any of the company's previous gaming products, Mr Mehdi said.

Translation: we made fewer of them than any of the company's previous gaming products.

It's in full production for two and a half months to cover existing orders. It sold out quickly, so there are probably at least twice as many people wanting it as have been allocated product. So to satisfy even those people who already tried to order, they will have to continue in full production for at least another two and a half months. As the release date approaches and arrives, and the first hands-on reviews are published, even more punters will pre-order.

So if they are serious about being in "full production", I would expect new orders to be delayed for several months well into 2014.

I'm sure that looks good to the shareholders, but it sucks if you want to buy product.

Microsoft gives TechNet a one-off reprieve


" ... us the professionals, because we are ultimately the people who drive the decision making process."

Someone is deluded. Microsoft drive the decision making process, based only on the profit, always have and always will. If customers don't like that they are welcome to go elsewhere -- except they have sunk so much into Microsoft that no alternative is possible.

Can't agree on a coding style? Maybe the NEW YORK TIMES can help


Re: 4 SPACES?!

Hehe probably my most unpopular post ever, and I don't care.

Tabs to indent, spaces to align to text. It always works perfectly, however tabs are set.

OK, there may be tools; a pretty-print would work OK, so long as it was configured for your style, and your style was very fixed. But spaces to tabs doesn't work when the number of spaces is wrong, and in my experience that happens a lot. YMMV.


Re: 4 SPACES?!

I have never understood why people would want to use spaces. I know it can look a bit wide if you haven't set your editor up right, but it never looks wrong. You never have to reformat vast swaths of code which have unaccountably ended up having three spaces instead of four, which I regularly get in 4-spaces code. You hit the tab key, and you find it doesn't line up. Then you have two options, hit space again to line it up, or hunt down the incorrect line and correct everything that was entered after it, by hand. There are no automated tools to help do that.

And anyway, once code is tab-indented, every engineer can set tabs to their favourite number of spaces. The only problems that might arise are non-optimally laid-out comments.

TAB -- works every time

Spaces -- fails every time


But if you forget to put in the opening of closing brace, you can end up with a totally ridiculous block structure and not notice. Lining up braces means you can check them by eye.

Geneticists resolve human dilemma of Adam's boy-toy status


Re: The most certain are the least likely to be correct. (@ P.Lee)

> but to have morals as an atheist is irrational.

Frankly, I find that belief terrifying.

I assume you mean that without religion to hold you back you would feel free to murder, rob and rape all day and every day. Most of us are not like that. Most of us actually like acting selflessly for the general good. We might not always succeed, but neither do the religious succeed all the time.

Religion is in serious danger of losing the moral high ground. I'm not talking about the child abuse stories. Those are a little like shooting fish in a barrel, and the church now admits that it's handling was wrong. However on matters such as family planning, women's rights and gay rights, no major religion is as enlightened as modern secular morality.


Re: Consider this

Over my rather longish life, I have seen a steady increase in religious and scientific fundamentalism, and an increase in the rudeness, crudeness, and coarseness in society.

It does not have to be black or white. Plenty of scientists are religious. Plenty of the religious do not believe the literal physical truth of every word in the Bible. Most people just want to get along with everyone else.

Your own £19 Pocket Spacecraft could be FOUND ON THE MOON


I doubt very much if they will land intact on the Moon. There is no atmosphere to slow them down and they are moving at orbital speeds. The ones that are released in Earth orbit might land OK, although there's a four-fifths chance they'll be under water.

BBC abandons 3D TV, cites 'disappointing' results


Re: Avatar...

The maturity of handling was key to Avatar. Most of the 3D effects were understated with the action taking place inside the screen and only jungle insects fluttering over the audience. There should be a rule for making 3D films: make them just as you would for 2D. The added dimension is an enhancement, not a feature.

As for plot, meh; there are only a limited number of plots, and that one was pick-and-mixed enough to be satisfying. If you thought it wasn't then maybe you haven't read enough SF to see that everything is derivative of something. So Avatar is a remake of Princess of Mars. So What? At least it's better than John Carter.

It's also a remake of Dune... now that would have been good in 3D...


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