* Posts by DougS

12863 posts • joined 12 Feb 2011

Boffins: 68 exoplanets in prime locations to SPY on humanity on Earth

DougS Silver badge

Re: Here's looking at you (Maybe)

AFAIK they estimate temperature based on how far it is from the star and what type of star it is, and estimate size based on how much the light from the parent star is dimmed by its passing.

Obviously a planet with Venus' atmosphere would be temperate (perhaps even still too hot) in Mars' orbit, while Mars might be liveable (assuming SPF 150 and an oxygen mask) in Venus' orbit, so there are some assumptions being made.

They are really trying to identify candidates for further study. It is the news that hypes them as being Earth-like. Some of them will probably be Venus like and Mars like, and perhaps further study and better telescopes will be able to determine which is which.

Surprising nobody, lawyers line up to sue the crap out of Equifax

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A modest proposal

While jail is appropriate for truly criminal conduct, if it is used for simple negligence then CEOs will spend all their time butt covering and consult their personal lawyer before any decision.

Making them pay out settlements is more appropriate. Take all the money they've made from their job beyond the 90% percentile of all the company's employees - hypothetically they might have to give back every penny they made over $190K or thereabouts. They wouldn't be left destitute, but they'd think twice about a scheme to cut corners and make the quarterly numbers so they earn their bonus if it meant they might have to give back all the millions they made over the last decade since they took the job.

F-35 firmware patches to be rolled out 'like iPhone updates'

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Re: Samsung TV software update comes to mind

"Instantly fatal"? That's a bit of hyperbole, methinks. I'm pretty sure the software updates won't be delivered in flight, or applied by the pilots at all.

Equifax mega-leak: Security wonks smack firm over breach notification plan

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Re: CC hacked starting mid-August Thank you Equifax!

I got a text from Chase security (my credit card provider) on Monday asking if a particular transaction was legit. It was for 45 cents. They cancelled the charge and issued me a new card.

I'm pretty sure that's unrelated though as it says only a small number (220K) of credit cards were compromised. I'd presume the ones compromised would be from people who would have actually had reason to pay Equifax for something and had given them their credit card number. If you hadn't done that, I think your CC hack, like mine, was just coincidence. I use that card to buy stuff online all the time (I use paypal where I can, but a lot of places don't take it) so I'm not surprised it happens every few years. Doesn't cost me any money, and it isn't the only credit card I have (but the only one I ever use online) so NBD.

Wonder why Congress doesn't clamp down on its gung-ho spies? Well, wonder no more

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Re: Waste, fraud and abuse

I'm talking about political courage, not courage against some imagined deep state conspiracy planting evidence of sex with 12 year olds or whatever to get congressmen to vote them budget increases.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Waste, fraud and abuse

Why would they take action against him? They need a few lone voices against them or it WOULD look like they are silencing/blackmailing congress to give them a blank check.

I don't think the intelligence agencies need to lift a finger, as the other poster said politicians are too afraid of getting the blame if another 9/11 happens. So they'll continue looking for "savings" of a few million here and there in stuff like programs investigating loss of honey bees, or banning transsexuals from the military and ignore the places where real savings would be found: defense, intelligence and medicare/medicaid. You gotta go where the money is being spent to find money that should not be spent.

Another in the long list of reasons we need a two term limit for congressmen and senators. Then half of them are not able to run again, and freed from worries about giving their opponent something to put in attack ads, they can actually do their job properly, instead of acting out of fear or cold political calculation.

DougS Silver badge

Waste, fraud and abuse

Politicians always like to claim they'll be able to cut the budget without hurting anyone because they'll cut billions in "waste, fraud and abuse". A $50 billion budget for spy agencies that has almost no congressional oversight seems like the perfect place to start!

How alien civilizations deal with climate is a measure of how smart they are. Just sayin'...

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Re: That's small fry.

Who says you can't use all the energy of a galaxy? If you can use all the energy of a star by building a Dyson sphere around it, why can't you build a Dyson sphere around every star in a galaxy? Sure, some will eventually go supernova and bust up your nifty sphere, but you have lots of spares, and the shock wave hitting gas will eventually create new stars for you to build Dyson spheres around.

Obviously the scale of such a civilization is beyond ridiculous to think about, but if you can build one Dyson sphere, you must have the ability to build self-replicating machines to accomplish that, so merely becomes a question of time and patience (lots and LOTS of patience) before you've done it for every star if that's your intent.

OK sure some energy will "escape" down a black hole, due to supernova, or whatever so maybe you won't grab every single watt generated in that galaxy, but you can capture substantially all of it to the point where if we observed such a thing we'd wonder what the heck that galaxy sized object that radiates only in infrared is.

Google rushes to curb Oreo's massive appetite for your 4G mobile data

DougS Silver badge

Re: Data allowances

With G.fast, 150m from the exchange would get you around 300 Mbps. I've had 40Mb down for around a decade, and I'm on almost a kilometer of copper from the cabinet where it turns into fiber, thanks to VDSL2. Your telco is apparently using a very old flavor of DSL if you couldn't get more than 22.8 at 150 meters!

Oh, and I first had DSL in 1996 - my telco wasn't offering it yet but I read about DSL in some IT related magazine, asked my friend who owned an ISP about it, and he started getting in some equipment for testing and ordering dry pairs (alarm circuits) to utilize it without the telco's knowledge or help. I had 8M/1M DSL from 1997 until the mid 2000s for free as a result, until he sold his ISP.

DougS Silver badge

Preventing rollback

Why are they preventing rollback? Even Apple allows you to roll back to a previous version for a short period with the older version still available in case you run into issues.

DougS Silver badge

You can see how they'd miss this

Google probably has some special truly unlimited plan for its employees. If so, the engineers testing it didn't notice it was using LTE instead of wifi because downloading 100GB in a month wouldn't raise any issues for them the way it would for regular people...

Stand up who HASN'T been hit in the Equifax mega-hack – whoa, whoa, sit down everyone

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Re: Sounds like 143 million POTENTIALLY affected

I think we'd probably be better in general if it wasn't so easy to do so much electronically or via mail just using a few bits of not-so-secret information to identify yourself. Most banks offer free notary services for their customers, which is basically "proving you are who are say you are" when signing something. If you had to visit when applying for a new credit card or signing your tax return the only effect would be that banks would have to dedicate a full time employee to this because demand would shoot up.

The additional hassle might keep people from applying for that 8th credit card, which is probably a good thing.

DougS Silver badge

Sounds like 143 million POTENTIALLY affected

Another article had a link to an Equifax site where you could check if you were impacted, and it said I was not. I know they have my credit data, so obviously they didn't get everyone.

Unless the whole thing was a ruse to get people to input their last name and last six of SSN which is what it required to determine impact, of course!

The way I look at it, if hackers did get all the relevant information for every person in the US who has a credit rating, it wouldn't matter much to most of us. The odds of them using my information to try to get credit would be pretty low.

Such a breach would also likely force some major changes in the way credit operates in the US, because they'd no longer have any way of validating if you were who you say you were without you presenting yourself in person with government issued ID at somewhere mutually agreed upon like your local bank. If it were no longer possible to apply for credit online it wouldn't be a bad thing at all.

Oracle throws weight behind draft US law to curtail web sexploitation

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Given that prostitution is legal in the US in one state - and not even the most populous parts of that state - if this law should hobble legal prostitutes advertising their services, I think that's acceptable collateral damage if it makes it much easier to prosecute sex traffickers.

Google to relieve HTC of its phones biz – report

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Re: Wasteful Google

Simple, they dominate the online ad market and anything that helps feed the ad monster means more profit for them. Developing a bunch of chat apps and buying phone OEMs don't contribute to that, so they are wasted money, but that wasted money is a drop in the bucket compared to how much they make.

DougS Silver badge

Competing with their own customers

Buying Motorola was a bad idea, but at least they had other goals in mind rather than competing with Android OEMs. What's the goal of buying HTC, if not to compete with Android OEMs? Putting out a low volume high priced phone like Pixel is one thing, but buying HTC's phone business would seem to indicate they are interested in offering phones across the Android market, and in volume.

Maybe they are no longer worried about Samsung forking Android or going with Tizen or whatever, and feel Android OEMs are stuck with Android and therefore can't do anything about Google competing with them?

Facebook claims a third more users in the US than people who exist

DougS Silver badge


you set up a business page and administrate it separately, but it "has" to be linked to a "real" account.

I'm not talking about pages for businesses, I'm talking about a second personal account so they can have separate friends lists. Sure, Facebook could cut one off if they figure it out, but given the number of 18-24 year old accounts versus the number of them there are, it is pretty obvious this is the rule rather than the exception and what I've observed is just the tip of the iceberg.

DougS Silver badge

I'm also well over 100 years old on Facebook

I have my birthdate info hidden though, so people never see when it is my birthday. Occasionally I see ads that are targeted at oldsters, which makes me laugh at how Facebook's advertisers are wasting their money on me!

DougS Silver badge

I know several people with two accounts

They have one for themselves and one for their business - doing stuff like hairstylist, realtor, etc. I can see why you'd want to keep your professional and personal separate if you're a realtor who is probably friend requested by half the people you work with. You don't want to consider them a friend and post your drunken vacation pics for them to see, but on the other hand you want them to feel like they are your friend because you want them to call you when they decide to trade up to another house in 5-10 years.

I'm sure there are more of my friends that have two accounts that I don't know about. Maybe one has a separate account they use to keep in touch with grandma and the cousins, maybe another is a swinger or something like that and wants to keep those friends separate from their other friends, maybe one has an account just to harass an ex girlfriend he never got over. There's a million reasons people might do this, and I don't see how Facebook could ever stop it unless they required you to show an official government issued ID to them.

As Hurricane Irma grows, Earth now lashed by SOLAR storms

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Re: Public nudity?

They've been doing those naked bike rides in cities all over the world for years, it is nothing new.

DougS Silver badge

Public nudity?

I must have missed that...or at least missed how there is more this year than any other year.

We don't need another hero: Huawei overtakes Apple – even without a big-hitter

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@Hans 1

In what way does iCloud make Apple as evil as Google? You don't have to use iCloud you know, it is not mandatory.

DougS Silver badge


Curious why that would be a factor in your purchase decision.

Mo' money mo' mobile payments... Security risks? Whatever!

DougS Silver badge

Google wants you to do it because that's more information they can collect about you to monetize. Apple touts the anonymity of Apple Pay, but wants you to do it because you're more likely to buy another iPhone the more of their services you're using. No one is altruistic here, all the of players from Apple/Google to banks to credit card issuers are most definitely for-profit concerns, after all.

I view it as a "nice to have" in case I am ever somewhere without my wallet but I have my phone and want to buy something. But there's really no reason to go out of my way to look for places that can do it and use it, because it isn't any faster nor any more convenient. The times when I don't want to bring my wallet are usually times I'll be drinking - if I bring cash only I know I have a limit on my spending and won't keep buying rounds of shots :) Fortunately when I'm drunk enough to do that I'm probably too drunk to remember I have Apple Pay, even if bars start taking it (until the EMV hard deadline comes which hasn't even been set yet, few have chip readers since the 'signature override' mode is acceptable for now)

Sub plot subplot thickens: Madsen claims hatch fumble killed Swede journo Kim Wall

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Re: Interesting but not directly linked

Well maybe they think it could be like The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and Madsen's father killed in the past, and initiated his son into it.

Unable to give up on life on Mars, bio-boffins now thrilled to find boron

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Re: It's a sign there may have been life on the Red Planet.

Can't we send Trump? Since he knows more about ISIS than the generals do, he probably also knows more about exobiology than NASA does!

WhatsApp irons a shirt, dons a suit, prepares business services

DougS Silver badge

Why the hell would anyone want this?

Businesses can already receive messages via Facebook and Twitter, as well as old standbys like email, phone calls and snail mail. How many methods of communication do they need, or should they be expected to support?

I don't see the point of trying to tie businesses to another me-too messaging platform, especially when Facebook ALREADY has this in place. First Apple announces "Business Chat" earlier this summer, though given that you can't install iMessage on Android phones or Windows PCs it seems that only Apple-related businesses would have incentive to adopt it. Now this.

Next we'll see the same from Google for their messenger (as a beta, which they'll drop two years from now) and then Samsung will decide it has to introduce a messenger of its own and connect it to businesses, because they always have to clone everything Google does and put an 'S' in front of it.

Please, pleeeease let me ban Kaspersky Lab from US govt PCs – senator

DougS Silver badge

Offering up source code for review

What's the point of such an offer, given that all AV software is designed specifically to allow for updates to be automatically installed. Unless you get the source code of every update and have someone check it out before approving the update and allowing it to be installed, the software could be completely innocuous until one day an update it delivered that isn't.

No different than Microsoft delivering source code for Windows to China. Unless they give them the source code for every KB* update that comes along, and China inspects it before applying, they might as well not even look at the source code in the first place because they couldn't be assured that the NSA spy package wasn't delivered in an innocuous update that claims to fix an obscure SMB bug.

Hurricane Irma imperils first ever SpaceX shuttle launch: US military's secret squirrel X-37B

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Maybe Trump will want to build a wall to keep out the hurricanes. 10 or 15 miles high ought to do the job.

DougS Silver badge

You can design houses that work against both

The reason concrete block homes are bad in earthquakes is because concrete is strong compressively, but not good for shearing forces. Block homes have only mortar holding the blocks together, so they can easily fall apart during a violent shaking.

If you build with poured concrete reinforced with rebar, with the rebar tying the foundation to the walls, and the walls to the roof then you may end up with some cracked walls after an earthquake, but you'd be safe inside (unless your antique dresser falls over on you or something) Well, you'd also need hurricane proof windows that are laminated like car windshields, but those are very expensive so probably easier to just have a safe room in the house that's got concrete walls on all sides and no windows. Good place for your home theater.

Of course building that way is more expensive because you have to lay the rebar, set the forms, and bring in a concrete pump to pour it in the forms, which is why most homes in the US and Mexico are either stick framed or concrete block which are only resistant to certain disasters but not all of them like reinforced concrete is.

15 'could it be aliens?' fast radio bursts observed in one night

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@Chris G - 15 death stars

We can't pinpoint the exact location of this at such a distance, who's to say it wasn't 15 death stars located at various places in a Milky Way sized galaxy, destroyed over a period of 200,000 years, that due to an amazing cosmic coincidence just happened to have their light all reach us at the same moment :)

Or way one Super Death Star that had 15 reactors inside it, which exploded in sequence causing 15 separate flashes?

DougS Silver badge

It would be a little like responding to a 911 (or 999 for you cross ponders) call made in 1965.

China bans cryptocurrency fundraising schemes

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@David Roberts

The implicit assumption is that these new cryptocoins would become successful and popular like bitcoin or etherium. The more cryptocoins there are the less each one will be used as the market gets split amongst them, so clearly many of these ICOs will fail.

Basically they're relying on suckers who tell themselves they're getting in on the ground floor of the next bitcoin, or next etherium, and an initial $1000 investment will be worth millions in a few years. Of course that won't be the case, probably every single ICO will be a failure in the long run, for everyone but those behind the offering (and the Paris Hiltons getting paid to flak for them)

DougS Silver badge

Re: What can you spend the tokens on?

There are a lot of 'phantom' transactions that occur with Bitcoin because of mixers/tumblers that are designed to obfuscate transactions by breaking everything up into tiny pieces and moving it through the system separately.

i.e. if I wanted to pay you $50,000 in bitcoin to "make a problem go away", but neither of us wanted this transaction recorded for the Feds to possibly trace later, it might end up causing several dozen or who knows even several thousand transactions depending on the mixer.

DougS Silver badge
Paris Hilton

Peak Paris?

The Chinese knew it was time to intervene when ICO scams were becoming profitable enough that they're hiring celebrities like Paris Hilton to shill for their cause.

Flying electric taxi upstart scores $90m from investors

DougS Silver badge

Re: Batteries?

They claim it uses the about the same amount of electrical power cruising in flight as an electric car does while driving, though it doesn't say what speed that electric car is traveling at.

This probably doesn't have better batteries than you find in an electric car, just more of them.

DougS Silver badge

Parachute aircraft landing on your head

Leaving out how unlikely it is to actually land on you personally, or your property, assuming it is blaring some sort of warning siren as it falls you'd have plenty of time to look up and get out of the way.

If it lands on your roof then I guess that's your bad luck, but people have cars crash into their houses all the time and sometimes die or are seriously injured in their own bed. That would be a lot less likely with this craft parachuting onto your roof, especially if you live where there's enough winter that roofs are engineered for snow load.

DougS Silver badge

They won't be falling from the sky they'll be parachuting gently from the sky, as I'm sure regulators would require something like that in case of a power failure.

It's official: Users navigate flat UI designs 22 per cent slower

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"Once upon a time, all UIs were flat"

Did they really go with the '3D' look for buttons because of usability studies in the 80s? Or was it because they wanted to show off the computing/graphics power they had and make flat buttons look dated and backwards? I'll bet it was the latter. Apple seemed to be the only company that ever gave much credence to usability studies back then - if Microsoft paid attention to them back in the 80s and 90s they need their money back!

Once everyone and everything had 3D buttons by 2000 or so, I guess Microsoft decided to be different and unfortunately for the rest of us Steve Jobs liked what he saw. He always liked simplicity, so I guess its not surprising, but too bad everyone else went that way too.

Maybe it is like hem length, and everything that is old will become new again. The old flat buttons rule today, but maybe soon we'll see the 3D buttons return in a UI here and there as a way to stand apart from the crowd, and it will come back into fashion.

DougS Silver badge

Isn't slower navigation BETTER for web site owners?

More time with your eyes wandering around the page looking for that hidden 'NEXT' link the more time to see their ads, and maybe even click on one by mistake if it fools you into thinking it is page navigation!

Climate-change skeptic lined up to run NASA in this Trump timeline

DougS Silver badge

Re: I don't mine a skeptic. I prefer a skeptic in this position

He's not a skeptic if he's already decided that the climate scientists are wrong and warming has stopped.

NASA just launches the satellites that get the data, they don't do any interpretation of it so whether its director is a skeptic, a denier or a believer doesn't really matter. But understanding NASA from having actually worked at NASA or been in space seems like kind of a useful thing for a job running it.

DougS Silver badge

If commander-in-chief was the sole job description of the president, that would be true, but it is a small part of the overall job of the president of the United States.

If this job included much more than running NASA, like say you had to run the NWS and park service as well, then requiring a space professional would be rather silly since that would be only part of the job. But it is the whole job here, so there's a good argument to be made that he should have a proper space background.

Big Tech fumes over Prez Trump's decision to deport a million kids

DougS Silver badge

Not surprising he punted it to congress

This way he can chalk up a promise kept to his base, while blaming congress and saying "not my fault, I gave them plenty of time!" if they fail to act and dreamers started getting deported next March.

Inaction is likely given that congressional inaction on immigration policy for over a decade is the reason Obama went this route in the first place. Not sure why that would change this time. The only way something could get passed would be if democrats teamed up with moderate republicans to pass something, but Trump would have no choice but to veto it or his base would go ballistic.

There's probably not much point in congress wasting time debating this because passing something they know Trump will veto is a waste of time, and they don't have nearly enough republicans who are "tough on immigration" at a Trumpist level to pass a bill through the House, let alone the Senate.

Stealth, lightweight Android breaks cover

DougS Silver badge

Re: Apps are more of a problem

Windows developers can't assume big jumps in computing power anymore, as Intel gives you maybe 3-5% a year if you're lucky, unless it is something that can be helped by SIMD instructions.

We're quickly reaching the same point with phones, Apple has already reached Core i5 performance levels with the A10X so they're soon going to hit the same wall of diminishing returns and the Android SoCs will as well. Check back in five years, and I'm sure you'll find app makers will have figured out they can't keep depending on big performance increases to bail out shitty programming techniques.

Vivaldi boss: It'd be cool if Google went back to the 'not evil' schtick

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Re: anti-competitive practices.

The "anti-competitive practices" is not a reference to the company's competition, but to the market's. Google does things that make the ENTIRE MARKET less competitive. Great for them, because they make more money, not so great for everyone else.

You're right that a company would prefer to have no competition, because then they can charge whatever the market will bear and not worry about getting undercut by someone else willing to make less profit than them. Capitalism requires functioning competitive markets to thrive. If you allow monopolies to go unchecked, the market fails and capitalism is only functioning for the monopoly, not its market or its customers.

UK not as keen on mobile wallets as mainland Europe and US

DougS Silver badge

Re: Combined use?

The same is true in the US. If you use a credit card the protections are better, plus if there's an illegal charge on your debit card the money is already gone from your account and you'll have to wait to get it back. In the meantime you might have trouble if you were living paycheck to paycheck (which is unfortunately the kind of person who needs credit card level protection the most, but is least likely to have good credit)

I always tell people this, but a surprising number of people tell me they don't want to get a credit card because they don't trust their ability to control their spending!

As far as illegal charges, I just got a text from Chase yesterday morning asking me if a charge was legitimate. It was not - someone charged FORTY FIVE CENTS to my card. Talking to the fraud department person they said it is listed as a charity. Obviously my account number got out there somehow (I make online purchases with this card all the time, so it was bound to happen eventually I guess) so I had to get it shut down and get a new one. The annoying part is I had the full 16 digit number and 3 digit code on the back memorized from typing them in for online ordering so much, now I'm going to have to run and grab my wallet everytime I want to make a purchase for months until the new one sticks in my mind!

DougS Silver badge

Define "regularly"

I almost never see anyone pay with their phone, though I don't drink coffee and AFAIK Starbucks is probably the most likely place for it.

I never think about it even in places that can do it, because it isn't any faster or easier so why bother? I do it when I get my hair cut, because she's independent and uses Square for transactions. She can swipe cards but has to get out a little dongle to attach to her phone for that. She's set up for Apple Pay transactions without needing that dongle so that's the easiest for us both in this one case, meaning I do one transaction about every six weeks. I wonder if that's "regular" enough to put me in the 17%?

Retail serfs to vanish, all thanks to automation

DougS Silver badge

Re: Good news ???

Let's say we made some massive technological improvements, and fully one third the jobs done today by people are done by machines in 2040. Some jobs are created servicing the machines in various ways but obviously a fraction of those they replaced. You may gloat that you're educated and have a job that can't be replaced (which isn't necessarily true, among the jobs that are already being replaced are high education jobs like lawyers, accountants and radiologists) but that's pretty short sighted.

How does you having a job (or having had a job if you will be retired in 2040) protect you against the societal upheavals that would occur with so many people not only losing their job but having no hope of getting a job? What happens to your tax rate, as they need to be supported lest they revolt? Perhaps you refuse to help support them with your taxes, and you'd be happy to live in some fenced off community with a perimeter patrolled by giant police robots to keep the huddled masses at bay?

Now obviously this will come slowly, but it is already happening and we're already seeing the first signs of this upheaval (Trump and Boris) and things are going to get harder for those who feel they've got the short end of the stick - i.e. the uneducated or those who are educated but happened to choose the wrong field. They've seized on nutcases the first time around. The next wave of politicians speaking for them will be a lot slicker and not so easy to dismiss.

Thousands of hornets swarm over innocent fire service drone

DougS Silver badge

Fit that drone with a flame thrower

Or the largest air fuel bomb it can carry, just to be sure.

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