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Driverless Taxis Debut On Singpaore Streets

August 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

nutonomy-driverless-taxis-150x150The world’s first driverless taxi debuted Thursday in a limited public trial on the streets of Singapore.

Developer nuTonomy invited a select group of people to download their app and ride for free in its “robo-taxi” in a western Singapore hi-tech business district, hoping to get feedback ahead of a planned dull launch of the service in 2018.

“This is really a moment in history that’s going to change how cities are built, how we really look at our surroundings,” nuTonomy executive Doug Parker told Reuters.

The trial rides took place in a Mitsubishi i-MiEv electric vehicle, with an engineer sitting behind the steering wheel to monitor the system and take control if necessary.

The trial is on an on-going basis, nuTonomy said, and follows private testing that began in April.

Parker, whose company has partnered with the Singapore government on the project, said he hoped to have 100 taxis working commercially in the Southeast Asian citystate by 2018.

Nutonomy is one of several companies racing to launch self-driving vehicles, with automakers and technology firms striking new alliances.

Swedish automaker Volvo AB said last week it had agreed to a $300 million alliance with ride-hailing service to develop a driverless vehicle.

Israeli driving assistant software maker Mobileye NV said its vehicle, developed with Delphi Automotive Plc, would be ready for production by 2019, while Ford Motor Co said its self-driving car was slated for 2021.

 

Are Notebooks Moving To On-Board Memory?

August 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Notebook vendors have largely moved to on-board memory designs and are killing off DIMMs so that they can make their Intel Apollo Lake-based notebooks as slim as possible.

According to Digitimes shipments of Intel’s 14nm Apollo Lake CPUs, which feature low-power consumption, high performance and reduced sizes is apparently on the increase and with that a move to on board memory designs. The reason is that the manufactures think an anorexic look is super fashionable.

Numbers of new notebooks using LPDDR4 has also increased as vendors have continued to make efforts to minimize power consumption, improve performance, while prolonging battery life.

Acer has two new ultra-thin notebooks, the Aspire S 15 and S 17, both featuring a thickness of less than 17mm. Other vendors, including Lenovo, Asustek Computer, HP and Dell are also expected to focus on ultra-thin notebooks and 2-in-1 models for the second half of 2016, Digitimes said.

Courtesy-Fud

MIT Researchers Develop Technique To Triple Wireless Speeds

August 25, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

MIT-logo-150x150MIT researchers have uncovered a way to transfer wireless data using a smartphone at a speed about three times faster and twice as far as existing technology.

The researchers developed a technique to coordinate multiple wireless transmitters by synchronizing their wave phases, according to a statement from MIT on Tuesday. Multiple independent transmitters will be able to send data over the same wireless channel to multiple independent receivers without interfering with each other.

Since wireless spectrum is scarce, and network congestion is only expected to grow, the technology could have important implications.

The researchers called the approach MegaMIMO 2.0 (Multiple Input, Multiple Output) .

For their experiments, the researchers set up four laptops in a conference room setting, allowing signals to roam over 802.11 a/g/n Wi-Fi. The speed and distance improvement is expected to also apply to cellular networks. A video describes the technology as well as a technical paper (registration required), which was presented this week to the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Data Communications (SIGCOMM 16).

The researchers, from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, are: Ezzeldin Hamed, Hariharan Rahul, Mohammed Abdelghany and Dina Katabi.

 

Microsoft Makes A Deal With Lenovo

August 25, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Software King of the World Microsoft has apparently been seen in public with the PC supremo Lenovo and insiders have been told that they want something more serious.

The pair have announced that they are deepening strategic ties but have not hinted about financial details. Instead Lenovo will load Microsoft’s productivity apps, including Microsoft Office, OneDrive and Skype on select Lenovo devices that use the Android operating system.

Microsoft did not say how much gear would be involved in the deal. Lenovo expects to ship millions of these Android-based devices worldwide over the next several years.

The deal is the latest in a string of similar deals by Microsoft with more than 70 Android device makers, including Samsung, HTC, Asus, Acer and Xiaomi.

The expanded collaboration between Microsoft and Lenovo also includes a patent cross-licensing agreement that covers Lenovo and Motorola devices.

Since Microsoft launched its IP licensing program in December 2003, it has entered into more than 1,200 licensing agreements.

Nick Parker, corporate vice-president OEM division, Microsoft said that Vole was thrilled that its productivity apps will be pre-installed on Lenovo’s premium devices and was talking about marrage.

“The marriage of Microsoft’s apps and Lenovo’s Android-based devices will enable customers worldwide to be more productive and connected and achieve even more,” he said.

Courtesy-Fud

Microsoft Releases 64-bit Versions Of Office 2016 Applications For Mac

August 24, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Office-on-Mac-150x150Microsoft has released 64-bit versions of its Office 2016 applications for the Mac, after a series of previews since April.

The five apps — Excel, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint and Word — will be updated to 64-bit for all customers, including those with an Office 2016 retail license, a consumer or commercial subscription to Office 365, and a volume license. Most users will be updated automatically as the suite launches an update app on its regular schedule.

Microsoft has been testing the 64-bit versions with Office Insider participants since April.

Apple has long urged developers to release 64-bit versions of applications — the Mac’s operating system has supported only 64-bit Intel processors since 2011’s OS X Lion — but Microsoft has been one of the most significant holdouts.

For users, the biggest benefit is the ability to work with much larger files — thanks to the significantly bigger swaths of memory that a 64-bit operating system can access.

Unlike the Windows edition of Office 2016, which comes in both 32- and 64-bit flavors, the Mac-specific suite will be available only in 64-bit after September. Microsoft offered users a one-month grace period during which version 15.25 will be provided in both 32- and 64-bit.

“There may be situations in which the customer has to change code that’s not 64-bit ready,” Microsoft said in a support document, referring to possible conflicts with third-party Office add-ons. “If customers can’t immediately move forward to 64-bit builds, we will make available a one-time 32-bit update for the 15.25 release in addition to the default 64-bit updates.”

That 32-bit version of 15.25 must be downloaded manually from Microsoft’s site.

The support document included instructions for reverting to 32-bit if Office 2016 had already been updated to 64-bit.

 

Get Ready To Pay Taxes For Using Ride-Hailing Apps In Massachusetts

August 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Uber-taxis-150x150Massachusetts will begin levying a 5-cent fee per trip on ride-hailing apps such as Uber and Lyft and spend the money on the traditional taxi industry, a subsidy that appears to be the first of its kind in the United States.

Republican Governor Charlie Baker signed the nickel fee into law this month as part of a sweeping package of regulations for the industry.

Ride services are not enthusiastic about the fee.

“I don’t think we should be in the business of subsidizing potential competitors,” said Kirill Evdakov, the chief executive of Fasten, a ride service that launched in Boston last year and also operates in Austin, Texas.

Some taxi owners wanted the law to go further, perhaps banning the start-up competitors unless they meet the requirements taxis do, such as regular vehicle inspection by the police.

“They’ve been breaking the laws that are on the books, that we’ve been following for many years,” said Larry Meister, manager of the Boston area’s Independent Taxi Operator’s Association.

The law levies a 20-cent fee in all, with 5 cents for taxis, 10 cents going to cities and towns and the final 5 cents designated for a state transportation fund.

The fee may raise millions of dollars a year because Lyft and Uber alone have a combined 2.5 million rides per month in Massachusetts.

The law says the money will help taxi businesses to adopt “new technologies and advanced service, safety and operational capabilities” and to support workforce development.

Regulations for how the fee will be collected and a plan for how it will be spent still need to be drawn up, said Mark Sternman, a spokesman for the state’s MassDevelopment agency, which will be in charge of the money.

Riders and drivers will not see the fee because the law bars companies from charging them. Instead, companies themselves will pay the state, although Evdakov said it will be passed on to riders or drivers one way or another.

Authorities worldwide are grappling with how to regulate and tax ride-hailing. Seattle has passed a law that allows drivers to unionize. In Taiwan, Uber is battling a tax bill of up to $6.4 million.

Despite the cost, ride services in Massachusetts appear to have accepted the fee in exchange for other provisions. For example, the law does not ban them from picking up at Boston’s airport or convention center, although there will be special rules for those sites.

Lyft is pleased with the law even though it is not perfect, spokesman Adrian Durbin said.

Soliciting readers for how to spend the 5-cent fee, a column in the Boston Globe offered ideas such as hospitality training, incentive bonuses and help so taxi owners could buy “flagship” vehicles like a 1940s Checker or a Porsche.

Meister said the money could go toward improving a smartphone app his association has started using, or to other big needs.

“We definitely need some infrastructure changes,” he said.

 

Samsung To Launch Refurbished Smartphone Program

August 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung-logo-2-150x150Samsung Electronics Co Ltd is gearing up to launch a program to sell refurbished used versions of its premium smartphones as early as next year, a person with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

The South Korean technology firm is looking for ways to sustain earnings momentum after reviving its mobile profits by restructuring its product line-up. As growth in the global smartphone market hits a plateau, Samsung wants to maximize its cost efficiency and keep operating margins above 10 percent.

The world’s top smartphone maker will refurbish high-end phones returned to the company by users who signed up for one-year upgrade programs in markets such as South Korea and the United States.

Samsung would then re-sell these phones at a lower price, the person said, declining to be identified as the plan was not yet public.

The person declined to say how big a discount the refurbished phones would be sold at, which markets the phones would be sold in or how many refurbished devices Samsung could sell.

A Samsung spokeswoman said the company does not comment on speculation.

It was not clear to what extent the phones would be altered, but refurbished phones typically are fitted with parts such as a new casing or battery.

Rival Apple Inc’s iPhone has a re-sale value of around 69 percent of its original price after about one year from launch, while Samsung’s flagship Galaxy sells for 51 percent of the original price in the U.S. market, according to BNP Paribas.

Refurbished phones could help vendors such as Samsung boost their presence in emerging markets such as India, where high-end devices costing $800 or so are beyond most buyers.

Apple sells refurbished iPhones in a number of markets including the United States, but does not disclose sales figures. It is trying to sell such iPhones in India, where the average smartphone sells for less than $90.

Selling used phones could help Samsung fend off lower-cost Chinese rivals that have been eating into its market share, and free up some capital to invest elsewhere or boost marketing expenditure.

Deloitte says the used smartphone market will be worth more than $17 billion this year, with 120 million devices sold or traded in to manufacturers or carriers – around 8 percent of total smartphone sales. Some market experts expect the used market to grow fast as there are fewer technology breakthroughs.

“Some consumers may prefer to buy refurbished, used premium models in lieu of new budget brands, possibly cannibalizing sales of new devices from those budget manufacturers,” Deloitte said in a report.

HipChat Adds Videocalling Feature

August 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Hipchat-video-calls-150x150It just became easier for HipChat customers to see one another whenever they want it. The company launched new group video calling and screen sharing functionality that lets up to 10 other people share a virtual face-to-face meeting.

Users can spin up a call in a HipChat channel, or bring additional people into a one-on-one video call. That way, people who work in far-flung teams can get onto the same page face-to-face, using the same software that they count on for text chat during the day.

HipChat’s announcement Thursday is a move to compete with both consumer services like Skype and Google Hangouts, as well as workplace videoconferencing systems like Lifesize and Skype for Business. The launch is particularly important for HipChat’s competition with Slack, which recently added group voice calls and has video calling on its roadmap.

Group video calls are only available for teams that pay for HipChat Plus, which costs $2 per user per month.

The new video calling features are based on technology HipChat vendor Atlassian acquired with the JitSi open source video-conferencing product. The company still makes the open source version available, but this integration brings video calling into HipChat natively.

Right now, group video calling is only available on HipChat’s desktop apps, but it will make its way to mobile in some form in the future.

It will be interesting to see how quickly Slack can answer with video calling features of its own, after the high-flying productivity startup acquired screen sharing company Screenhero in January 2015.

Some teams may still find themselves in need of dedicated videoconferencing services, if they use specialized hardware for video meetings or if their needs exceed what HipChat can offer. For example, meetings in HipChat can’t have moderators with special privileges, and are limited to 10 participants at launch.

 

Hyundai, Google Discussing Self-driving Car Deal

August 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Hyundai-Motor-150x150Hyundai President Jeong Jin Haeng said that his company is holding discussions with Alphabet’s Google unit about helping it develop a self-driving car.

The world’s fifth largest automaker hopes to enter into a symbiotic relationship, where it will bring its manufacturing prowess to Google and the Silicon Valley giant will help the automaker’s autonomous technology development.

“Hyundai is lagging behind the competition to develop autonomous vehicles,” Ko Tae Bong, senior auto analyst at Hi Investment & Securities Co, told Bloomberg News. “It’s not a choice but a critical prerequisite for Hyundai to cooperate with IT companies, such as Google, to survive in the near future.”

At a news conference with Korea’s Minister of Trade on Wednesday, Haeng said that “because Google is not too familiar with vehicles” his company can help with the execution of Google’s self-driving vehicle, which is one of the most advanced in the market.

The two companies are already connected in that Google’s self-driving vehicle project is being led by John Krafcik, the former CEO of Hyundai Motor America; Krafcik left Hyundai in 2013.

Hyundai also has been among the most aggressive automakers adopting Alphabet’s Android Auto and Apple’s CarPlay, which allow the iPhone and Android smartphones to connect wirelessly to car infotainment systems.

Google’s self-driving vehicle division has also joined forces with major carmakers and ride-sharing services to form a coalition to lobby lawmakers and regulators for faster adoption of self-driving car technology.

In all, five companies — Alphabet, Ford, Lyft, Volvo and Uber — formed the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets coalition. Its mission: to spur the federal government to usurp a “patchwork” of state driving laws that could hinder autonomous vehicle acceptance.

 

Major Technology Giants Join Forces To Crackdown on ‘Robocalls’

August 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Robocalls-150x150Major technology and communication companies announced they are joining the U.S. government to crack down on “robocalls,” automated, prerecorded phone calls that regulators have labeled a “scourge.”

AT&T Inc, Google parent Alphabet Inc, Apple Inc, Verizon Communications Inc and Comcast Corp are among members of the “Robocall Strike Force” that held its first meeting with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

The strike force will report to the FCC by Oct. 19 on “concrete plans to accelerate the development and adoption of new tools and solutions,” said AT&T Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson, chairman of the group.

The strike force hopes to implement Caller ID verification standards to help block calls from spoofed phone numbers and consider a “Do Not Originate” list that would block spoofers from impersonating legitimate phone numbers from governments, banks or others.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in July urged major companies to take new action to block robocalls, which often come from telemarketers or scam artists.

“This scourge must stop,” Wheeler said on Friday, calling robocalls the No. 1 complaint from consumers.

“The bad guys are beating the good guys with technology,” Wheeler said. In the past, he has said robocalls continue “due in large part to industry inaction.”

Stephenson emphasized “the breadth and complexity” of the problem.

“This is going to require more than individual company initiatives and one-off blocking apps,” Stephenson said. “Robocallers are a formidable adversary, notoriously hard to stop.”

The FCC does not require robocall blocking and filtering but has strongly encouraged phone service providers to offer those services at no charge.

The strike force brings together carriers, device makers, operating system developers, network designers and the government.

Other companies taking part include Blackberry Ltd, British Telecommunications Plc, Charter Communications Inc, Frontier Communications, LG Electronics Inc, Microsoft Corp, Nokia Corp, Qualcomm Inc, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, Sirius XM Holdings Inc, T-Mobile US Inc and U.S. Cellular Corp.

Consumers Union, a public advocacy group, said the task force is a sign “phone companies are taking more serious steps to protect their customers from unwanted calls.”

Are Power Outlets A Security Risk?

August 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-OutletIt if we did not have enough to worry about, it seems that, thanks to the internet of things, we have to be concerned about the security of our powerpoints.

Security researchers from Bitdefender have found an IoT smart electrical socket which leaks your Wi-Fi password, your email credentials and is so poorly coded that attackers can use it to hijack the device and use it for DDoS attacks. In the good old days all the power point could do was turn electrical equipment on and off.

Bitdefender didn’t reveal the device’s manufacturer but said the company is working on a fix, which will release in late Q3 2016.

Smart electrical sockets are small electrical socket extenders, which you can plug into a regular wall socket. In this case the device comes with a module that allows users to manage power consumption using predetermined limits and schedule the socket to allow usage only between certain hours.

Bitdefender said that there were several major problems with this unnamed smart socket. When users set up the product, they also need to install one of the accompanying iOS or Android apps. These apps allow the user to connect to the smart electrical socket’s built-in hotspot and configure it by entering the local Wi-Fi network credentials.

The IoT socket uses these credentials to connect to the local network, and contact the vendor servers, where it sends a configuration file that includes several device details, such as model, make, device name, firmware version, MAC address, and others

All this networking is done without encryption, in cleartext, which an attacker can easily pick-up if sniffing the local network at the right time.

Additionally, the device’s default admin username and password is easy to guess, even without reading the device documentation.

The device also comes with a built-in feature to send users email notifications when a device scheduled task executes successfully. For this feature to function properly, users must fill in their email account username and password in the device’s configuration panel. The device improperly stores these details.

Bitdefender researchers say that an attacker that knows the device’s MAC address and default password can take control over the device, rescheduling it, or access data on the user’s email account and password.

Courtesy-Fudzilla

Are People Too Busy To Deal With Security

August 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Security Notices

Security Notices

Only ten percent of people respond to and deal with desktop security alerts immediately, suggesting that the rest of the population simply ignores them or just lets it happen automatically.

You know the sort of warning. It might be Chrome telling you that something is untrusted, something like that. They are very easy to become blind to, like cookie warnings for example, and the study, which comes from Brigham Young University (BYU) and Google engineers, said that most people just ignore them.

The study, entitled More Harm Than Good? How Messages That Interrupt Can Make Us Vulnerable, suggests that this seeming neglect is down to the fact that people can only do so many things at once.

“System-generated alerts are ubiquitous in personal computing and, with the proliferation of mobile devices, daily activity. While these interruptions provide timely information, research shows they come at a high cost in terms of increased stress and decreased productivity,” the study said.

“This is due to dual-task interference, a cognitive limitation in which even simple tasks cannot be simultaneously performed without significant performance loss.”

Multitasking, then. People struggle to comprehend alerts because they are busy closing windows, stopping videos, typing or uploading at their desk or while mobile. Some 87 per cent showed the most disregard when “transferring information”.

The researchers explained things better in an interview with Phys.org. “We found that the brain can’t handle multitasking very well,” said co-author and BYU information systems professor Anthony Vance.

“Software developers categorically present these messages without any regard to what the user is doing. They interrupt us constantly and our research shows there’s a high penalty that comes by presenting these messages at random times.”

A better time to alert, according to the researchers, is at more passive times, for example while punters are waiting for a page to load or have finished watching a video.

“Waiting to display a warning when people are not busy doing something else increases their security behaviour substantially,” said Jeff Jenkins, lead author of the study.

 

Courtesy-TheInq

Oracle Unveils What It Calls The Largest Marketplace Of Audience Data

August 16, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Oracle rolled out what it terms the largest marketplace of audience data targeted specifically at brands that sell to other businesses using programmatic and data-driven B2B marketing techniques.

The new offering from Oracle Data Cloud includes more than 400 million business users and one million addressable U.S. companies, the company said. Factored into that mix are proprietary insights from Oracle BlueKai, Datalogix, and AddThis as well as data from Oracle partners Bombora, Dun & Bradstreet, FullContact, Gravy Analytics, HG Data, Infogroup, PlaceIQ, and TransUnion. Predictive analytics from Leadspace are included as well.

The data derives mostly from the U.S., but some international B2B segments are available, Oracle said.

“B2B marketers can now take advantage of more than 700 enhanced Oracle B2B audience segments, as well as a robust B2B audience marketplace boasting more than 4,000 pre-built audiences from partners,” Oracle said.

The offering aims to help marketers align digital expenditures with campaign objectives and sales outreach, providing a regular flow of relevant and qualified leads from target accounts.

The move is likely in part a result of Oracle’s $1.2 billion investment in Datalogix in late 2014, said Jim Wheaton, principal and cofounder with Wheaton Group.

Datalogix is one of four major cross-vertical “data co-ops” that focus on the acquisition, integration, and ongoing management of massive quantities of data about American consumers and businesses, Wheaton said via email. The others include Abacus, I-Behavior, and Wiland.

Oracle has long targeted the B2B market with sales tools designed to help organizations identify new opportunities, and it’s been “very useful for targeting and territory planning,” said Denis Pombriant, managing principal at Beagle Research Group.

“This marketing data provides the same kind of opportunity, and I expect there might be software add-ons to sell with it,” Pombriant said. Either way, “having a massive, up-to-date data source should be a boon to many companies.”

 

 

 

HP Building Mobile Device Strategy Around Windows 10

August 15, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

HP has experimented with many operating systems over the last few years, but the company always returns back to Microsoft’s Windows.

The company is building a mobile device strategy around Windows 10 Mobile and is slowly cutting its reliance on Android, once high on the company’s list for tablets and PCs.

HP has discontinued low-cost Android tablets, and two remaining enterprise tablets feature aging hardware and an old version of the OS. Company executives have said future mobile devices will be built around Windows 10 unless there’s significant new demand for Android.

HP is following the lead of Dell, which has cut Android devices to focus on Windows. Lenovo, meanwhile, still sells Android tablets and smartphones but is cutting its number of Android tablets and increasing its number of Windows 2-in-1s.

The goal for HP is simple: to unify products around one OS, much like Apple. That’s a challenge facing Samsung, with its PCs on Windows, tablets and smartphones on Android, and wearables and smart TVs on Tizen. Samsung is still working to put the pieces together to ensure all devices communicate flawlessly, but the company claimed progress during the recent launch of Galaxy Note 7.

HP is re-entering the smartphone market its Elite X3 handset, which runs Windows 10 Mobile. The company is building its smartphone strategy around Windows 10 Mobile, which had just a 0.7 percent market share in the first quarter, according to Gartner.

HP says Elite X3 can be a PC replacement with help from cloud services and accessories. Users will be able to run Universal Windows apps on PCs and smartphones. HP also plans to bring augmented reality apps on HoloLens to the Elite X3.

“We’re not trying to hit the volumes and scales of Android,” Park said. “We’re going after IT shops. There are a lot of people in the commercial domain who are not using Pokemon Go.”

HP has said it doesn’t want to sell low-cost devices and has cut many Android devices in the process. But the same strategy doesn’t apply to Windows — this week it announced low-cost Stream notebooks running Windows 10 starting at US$199.

 

 

 

 

CVS Debuts CVS Pay

August 15, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

CVS has rolled out its CVS Pay program that exists inside its mobile app. It allows customers to pay in store for prescriptions by scanning a barcode at the register.

Payments will be backed by a customer’s credit or debit card, the company said.

CVS Pay is currently available in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware; a nationwide rollout at all 9,600 stores is expected to kick off later this year.

CVS doesn’t support Apple Pay or other NFC-based payment technologies, and its use of barcodes for payments is reminiscent of the way Starbucks customers pay for coffee. Working with the barcode technology was a faster way for CVS to bring forward technology for more convenient in-store payments, analysts said.

Other retailers have created in-store payments through their own apps. Walmart created Walmart Pay in December to allow payments through mobile device QR codes that can be read at checkout registers.

“There’s nothing really innovative here with CVS Pay,” said Gartner analyst Avivah Litan on Friday. “They are pretty much following the trend. It’s just mobile commerce with a credit card attached. It’s no big deal to put a credit card in a wallet.”

At one point, CVS was working with Walmart and dozens of other major retailers in the Merchant Customer Exchange, which was designed to process mobile payments electronically through bank accounts and not credit cards to cut out the card processing cost that merchants paid to banks. But MCX ended its pilot of its mobile app, CurrentC, in June. Analysts have predicted the concept will not continue.

 

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