* Posts by Flocke Kroes

3745 posts • joined 19 Oct 2007

Clean up orbit first, then we can think about space factories, says FCC

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Re: slowish orbit?

Two magic numbers for orbits are apogee and perigee (maximum and minimum altitudes). Given those numbers you can work out the only possible velocity at each altitude between the two. To get something to de-orbit quickly, you need a low perigee (lowest point in orbit). If you want something to go slowly at perigee the only way to achieve that is to reduce the apogee.

Give two objects the same apogee and perigee but start them at different points along the orbit then to a first approximation they will never collide. (In real life the orbits will diverge for many reasons like the Earth is not a perfect sphere and there might be a collision far in the future.)

Objects in orbit collide when their orbits are different. One could be in a circular orbit (apogee=perigee) and the other in an elliptical orbit that crosses it. Another way to get a collision that is easy to describe is two satellites in a circular orbit at the same altitude, but one is equatorial and the other is polar. For these examples and for the vast majority of others the velocity at impact will be huge - several kilometres per second.

Cleaning up space is really hard. Putting a vast number big things in orbit to catch a little debris is theoretically possible but would end most Earth based astronomy. By far the cheapest solution is to stop making a mess.

India’s latest rocket flies but payloads don't prosper

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Re: Verbing Nouns

I am not convinced there is an error. It sounds a little odd but going back to the source of the word does not make things any better.

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Re: Verbing Nouns

In English caveat has been nounified to mean a warning, but it is actually a verb. Third person active present subjunctive of cavere: "Let him/her/it beware" as in "caveat emptor" (buyer beware). Grey beards from posh schools would know it from the first person perfect active "cavi" (pronounced kay vee) meaning "I have looked out" or "the teacher is coming". The proper Latin here would probably be "cavit" (she warned) but only ex-public school kids now in their dotage would understand that.

FauxPilot: It's like GitHub Copilot but doesn't phone home to Microsoft

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Re: Flying pigs build ice rink in hell

I bet that a huge number of companies are working right now on how to displace programming with AI.

Yeah, and I bet some are working on EM drive, cold fusion and orbital steam rockets. Want to buy a bridge?

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Re: Fair use

Perhaps, but do you really want to discuss your use of rangeCheck with Oracle's lawyers?

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Re: Flying pigs build ice rink in hell

Natural language as used by humans combines vagueness with self contradiction. This makes it useless as a single source for programming computers. A big part of a programmer's job is to understand what the problem is so it is then possible to narrow the vagueness where is matters and strip out the defective half of self contradiction. (Unless you are on a cost plus contract, where vagueness is an opportunity to implement the wrong thing and charge extra for a change order.)

Programmers will not be replaced by AIs with no understanding of the problem converting natural language into code. Far more likely is that humans will learn to understand there own problems and be able to express them clearly and unambiguously. I am sure this will happen as soon as my flying car is powered by a portable fusion reactor.

Remember the humanoid Tesla robot? It's ready for September reveal, says Musk

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Creation exceeding its creator...

Can an Optimus robot run a Twitter account without being labelled a 'bot by Botometer?

Virgin Galactic delays commercial suborbital flights again

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Re: Science?

Vomit Comet gets you multiple 30 second drops for each ~$5000 ticket. 4 minutes of continuous microgravity may be more useful for testing some ISS/Orion life support kit than a Comet ride. Also "for science" might mean you can call your joy ride a business expense.

If you are near death then by all means enjoy a Comet ride if that is on your bucket list. If you can wait decades for Virgin Galactic to get through their existing customer list then Starship will offer far more for a similar cost to a Comet.

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Re: Shameless

Virgin is not a single company. It is many companies. SpaceX is doing really well and people want to buy in but cannot because SpaceX already has the maximum number of investors that a private company is allowed. Every time Virgin Orbit puts something in orbit Virgin Galactic (completely separate) issues and sells more shares and Branson cashes out a little more.

Other Virgin companies may or may not be overcharging their customers but they are not subsidising Virgin Galactic - which is quite capable of separating money from fools investors on their own.

AI-friendly patent law needed 'as a matter of national security', ex-USPTO boss says

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The plan

1) AIs to generate 100 patents per second.

2) AIs to 'read' and award 99 patents per second.

3) AIs to examine descriptions of profitable human inventions and decide which patents they infringe.

Anti-piracy messaging may just encourage more piracy

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Re: expect candid and honest analysis from El Reg's journalists

Years ago, there were weekly articles on this subject here with a much lower standard of journalism. It reached the point where I would check which articles were written by Andrew Orlowski before deciding which ones to read. The new streaming services are bringing this back.

It would be nice if The Register would put the author's name near the headlines. I would be fine if reporters used a (consistent) pseudonym for things that they consider less than their best work.

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Re: great majority of them are far from rich

If more people bought music from legitimate sources would poor session musicians be any less poor?

Data brokers amass profiles of pregnant women – and, of course, it's all up for sale

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Re: In my youth ....

Might I recommend professing your devotion to the invisible pink unicorn? Give you god seller some opportunities to prove the IPU does not exist then repeat the same words back the them, but substitute god/Jesus for IPU.

Bad news, older tech workers: Job advert language works against you

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News reports about de-ageing the workforce got followed by news reports of productivity issues. Clearly I need a posher job title and a huge pay rise to not see the connection.

SpaceX upgrades Starlink to reflect less light, can't launch without its Starship

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Re: Corporate Good Citizenship?

"waiting until until 2,700 of the shiny blobs are already orbiting the earth before publicly acknowledging the problem."

Actually the current fleet already have exceptional measures installed to reduce their impact on astronomy because SpaceX have been listening to astronomers since before the first operational launches. The orbits were lowered so they spend less time sunlit over the dark side of the planet. Dark paint was already used and this report shows they have found something 10x darker. The satellites already face the edges of the solar panels towards Earth during the brief times that it matters. A visor was added to keep the Earth facing parts in shadow until a better solution was found for version 2 satellites. At the request of astronomers, the state vectors for Starlink satellites have been published during the ascent and descent phases instead of just for the operational orbits that are normally available.

"who knows how many more after that?"

Anyone who has read the publicly accessible filings.

In every possible way your comment shows an outstanding level of ignorance on this subject.

Lapping the computer room in record time until the inevitable happens

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Re: The inevitable

Many years ago I saw a wonderful cartoon:

Enthusiastic father: "I got this amazing new camera! It does everything!"

Young daughter: "It doesn't bounce."

China's 7nm chip surprise reveals more than Beijing might like

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Re: Aha!

AMD sold off their FABs and hired whichever contract manufacturers could help them the most.

There were plenty of reasons for Intel's delays with 10nm. One of them was control shifted away from engineers and towards MBAs. Instead of having all the latest kit to play with the engineers had to be efficient: plan out exactly what the needed, buy that, learn how to use it, find they need something else then wait around (tweak their 14nm process) until it was delivered. Another reason was Intel chose to explore a different direction to get to 10nm than other manufacturers. In hindsight, that direction was a longer more difficult path than doing both and picking a winner after getting the required experience.

It's on: Twitter vs Elon Musk trial to start October 17

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Core issue of ???

Bot numbers, their definition and how the were measured would be a core issue of due diligence. They are certainly a core issue of Musk's tweets and court filings. What actually matters to the Delaware Chancery Court is a much narrower issue.

There were no legal requirements on Twitter on how to define or measure bot numbers for their SEC filings. They got to choose both. Musk has to prove that following Twitter's methods (whatever they were) did not lead to the numbers published in the SEC filing. Using a different method at a different time to find a number with a different definition then has to be followed by evidence that this method proves Twitter did not get the number they published as Twitter (loosely) defined it.

What is actually going one here is Musk needs time. He needs vast amounts of data and a huge team of data scientists working with a complex supercomputer AI. He needs to delay giving their findings until the last possible minute. He needs to make those finding huge and opaque so he can take time 'explaining' them in court. He will give Twitter's lawyers an unlimited amount of time to study his findings and counter them, then argue over every nitpicking detail. The idea is to get his loan and investor agreements to expire so he can claim that he cannot afford to buy Twitter.

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Yeah, and I want a pony. Musk only cares about his own free speech and has somehow worked out that buying Twitter does not protect him from charges of securities fraud when he tweets things like "funding secured".

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Re: I don’t have a dog in this fight

The Twitter board changed tack when Musk made them a ridiculously good offer. Failing to accept would have been a breach of fiduciary duty to their shareholders.

Sorry, you are not going to get anything substantial on 'bot numbers. They are simply not relevant to the deal. At an enormous stretch, Musk's lawyers could start by trying to prove statements about 'bots in Twitter's SEC filings were malicious lies (really high bar). Those filings were scrutinised before publication by a team of Twitter lawyers to ensure there is evidence for every word and that nothing is provably misleading. Finding a gross misconduct in that document would only be the first hurdle in a marathon steeple chase.

When it comes to 'bot numbers, Musk's Lawyers' response to Twitter's complaint is full of "Mr Musk believes ...". If you translate that to English you get "We have no evidence to support ..." It is almost as if Musk's lawyers think there is a difference in credibility between a statement in a Twitter SEC filing and one of Musk's tweets.

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Re: throwing the dice!

The usual nickname is the court of chicanery which may well be fair comment for person vs company. Company vs company is likely to be an objective application of contract law.

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Re: Musk claims he wanted to close the deal quickly, but couldn't

A normal person would accept that they are at the bottom of a deep hole and stop digging. Elon would call in The Boring Company.

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Musks co-conspirators and a bank have signed agreements. They are on the hook and presumably Musk could sick his lawyers on them if they do not pay up their share for a purchase. On the other hand, they may well get off without paying a cent if Musk accepts a settlement that does not include purchasing Twitter.

The reason Musk can be forced to make the purchase is the specific performance clause. [gigantic]If[/gigantic] Twitter had been mistaken about the 'bot numbers it would not matter as they are not a part of the purchase agreement and Musk waived due diligence.

Finally there are some words from Musk's lawyers that are very important here. I cannot find the exact quote, but it is pretty much standard boilerplate: Twitter is a home to invective and hyperbole. No reasonable person would consider Musk's Tweets as a reliable source of factual information.

The popularly believed method that Twitter uses to count bots comes from a Musk Tweet. Twitter's complaint deals with it in paragraphs 74 and 75. You should treat Musk's Tweets on bot numbers like "pedo guy" or "funding secured".

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

A couple of fun options are to appoint a special master who would have the legal authority to do whatever Musk could, like sell his Telsa shares. (Tesla is incorporated in Delaware.)

It is almost as if Tweeting about buying Twitter to deal with the 'bots, waiving due diligence and signing a specific performance clause are not actually genius business moves.

I paid for it, that makes it mine. Doesn’t it? No – and it never did

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Re: only the lifetime of the product

No, it is the lifetime of new updates in the required format.

“When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

Why Intel killed its Optane memory business

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Re: Longer endurance

I get there by over-specifying capacity. Optane is stuck in the usual new tech catch 22: at its current volume it cannot compete on price with too much flash. As it cannot compete with too much flash it is stuck at low volume.

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Re: Sigh...

The high IOPS looks really good until you spot the Pi4's SDHC interface is limited to 50MB/s. Connect an SSD via USB3 and you will get 300MB/s - if you can keep the CPU cool. A Pi4 is plenty fast enough for emails and web browsing. For more demanding tasks you pay for that low price with memory and IO bandwidth constraints.

Battle of the retro Unix desktops: NsCDE versus CDE

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Re: Opening a window on the windows

Some people do have a very different work flow: mostly I use keyboard shortcuts to switch between virtual desktops. Desktops are most often a full screen browser or four terminals. As all of these default to the right size and are automatically placed to not overlap I almost never move or resize windows.

I suspect most people only use a fraction of what their environment provides but there may well be plenty of strange people who do not use the most popular subset and would be upset if their favourite features went missing.

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Re: RAM usage

For early '90s my monitor could do 1600x1200 but my computers could only do two colours at that resolution. I had to drop to 640x480 (and wait a few seconds for resynchronisation) to get 256 colours. It took years and several house moves with that 50kg monitor before I could use 1600x1200 with 2^24 colours. You must have had some top notch kit back then.

NASA: Mars rocks won't make it back to Earth until 2033

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Heat shields are lighter than rockets

To come back from Mars, the up hill journey to an orbit that comes close to Earth requires a rocket. Once on the way, the returning vehicle is going downhill (closer to the sun), so picks up speed. Getting close to Earth (or the Moon) is a steep downhill journey so the vehicle picks up even more speed. Matching velocity with ISS or the Moon would require a really big rocket (that you would have to send to Mars with a much bigger rocket). Matching velocity with Earth requires a heat shield that is much lighter than the Moon/ISS rocket so it is far cheaper to send to Mars orbit.

It is possible to use a heat shield near Earth to slow down enough to enter orbit instead of landing. Next use a rocket to get to ISS or the Moon. That gets you a big saving because this rocket does not have to be sent from Earth to Mars and back. It only has to go from Earth to Earth orbit, match velocity with the return vehicle then go to the Moon or ISS. Then you need tiny rocket and a heat shield to go to Earth where all the equipment to study the samples is. Round about this point you should see the value in scrapping this plan and going straight to Earth's surface without taking a detour to the Moon or ISS (which will not be functional in 2033).

Charter told to pay $7.3b in damages after cable installer murders grandmother

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Zero customer complaints

I can just imagine how the call centre software statistics collection gets used by busy staff required to meet targets: tick boxes for customer called, connection now working and complaint resolved then move on to next call.

Hints about SUSE's 'Adaptable Linux Platform' emerge

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Re: Turtles all the way down

'telnet.netkit localhost 25' still works and I could read the email with 'cat ~/Maildir/new/*'. Sending to a remote system would probably require SMTP AUTH and I have never tried to do that by typing SMTP commands directly into telnet. Change 'user' to your user name and this will probably work:

HELO localhost

MAIL FROM:<sender@localhost>

RCPT TO:<user@localhost>


From: "Sender Name" <sender@localhost>

To: "User Name" <user@localhost>

Date: Tue, 26 Jul 2022 10:50:00 -0000

Subject: Telnet Email

Hello me



Meta proposes doing away with leap seconds

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Re: Expected more

From the article is sounded like they were adding support to an existing solution: run clock a little slower for a few hours around the time when a leap second is scheduled.

This has benefits and problems: it will work well with software that does not understand leap seconds. It will work badly with software that does understand leap seconds. It adds yet another possibility for confusion when computers using different time standards have to agree on the time.

Facebook are being reasonable here: identifying a problem. Pointing at one possible part of a solution. Not inflicting a solution on the world that only solves only their own problems. Trying to get the problem addressed in a forum where many stakeholders have a voice. Hopefully we will end up with one more time standard that suits many people instead of dozens of new ones.

Aviation body wants views on rocket plans of Virgin Orbit

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Virgin Galactic sold 700 rocket joyrides and has taken one customer to space. They continue to sell tickets but it has been over a year since their last flight and they might fly again next year. There are promises of regular flights eventually but very little supporting evidence.

Virgin Orbit is a completely different company that has put satellites in orbit twice but is too small to take a live human to orbit and back. This article is about Virgin Orbit.

Every time Virgin Orbit achieves something constructive a bunch of idiots invest in Virgin Galactic and Branson sells some more of his Galactic shares. He is now down to under 12%. Galactic has sold enough shares to buy two new carrier aircraft. My personal bet is that the bankrupt shell of Galactic will sell them for a pittance - to Virgin Orbit or Vox Space.

Browsers could face two regimes in Europe as UK law set to diverge from EU

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My confidence in browsers has already reached the point where I use separate user accounts on my computer to browse different sites and I clear cookies between visits. Pays off when shopping: I get introductory offer codes when I use a clean browser that are still valid when I log in to check out.

SpaceX crewed flight to ISS delayed by damaged rocket

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Re: Plans for the future

A) Use the ISS as a base for assembling a replacement for continued research + pork without having to deal with one particular other country.

B) Use ISS for propaganda until the human spaceflight program dies from lack of funds getting through a kleptocracy to essential maintenance.

Don't dive head first into that crypto pool, FBI warns

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Re: It *is* kind of amazing

The precise mechanism that allows someone to cash out of a ponzi scheme with a profit is that other people buy in with more money.

The precise mechanism that allows someone to cash out of bitcoin with a profit is that other people buy in with more money.

A manufacturing company can pay dividends to their share holders by selling goods at a higher value than the cost of the source materials and labour required for processing.

Yes, it really is kind of amazing how some people perceive a difference and other don't.

My smartphone has wiped my microSD card again: Is it a conspiracy?

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Re: Cyniclally

IIRC, France taxes storage devices to punish people who create their own content and to double charge those who purchase legitimate copies of copyright works. In theory the taxes are distributed among content creators so (in rainbow unicorn) France obtaining music from pirates does not harm the creators (who may well have harsh words for this theory). This type of copyright protection should be unnecessary in France.

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Works for me

My first Raspberry Pi (ordered the day they were released) is still working fine with the same SD card (which is even older). It has no difficulty with log files and swap on the card. I used to have problems with defective SD cards, but I became more careful about where I purchased pre-Pi and have not had an SD card fail in a Pi or elsewhere since.

To be fair, I do not require my Pi's to thrash the swap partition and I repartition leaving a healthy chunk unassigned. Flash is made by Samsung, Toshiba and Micron. Do not buy from anyone else. Buy from as close to the manufacturer as you can. Buy from a distributor that specialises in electronics, preferably one you find on the list of authorised distributors you can find on the manufacturer's web site. Amazon (spit) have a common binning policy: cards sold by Samsung on Amazon were (years ago and perhaps still are) mixed into a bin with cards with the Samsung logo from other sources.

Tesla jettisons 75% of Bitcoin holdings, boosting cash balance by $936m

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Re: Twitter fine?

$1B does not buy Musk out of his rock solid commitment to pay $44B for Twitter. The only way he can get off with $1B is if he can convince the US government to block the sale (and he has a shortage of friends there). He could get $1B from Twitter if they cancel the deal but that is even less likely than a big birthday bonus from Biden.

NASA stalls water-seeking VIPER lunar rover to 2024

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Plenty of oxygen

Pick any moon rock at random and it will have plenty of oxygen bound to a light metal. The obvious shortages for humans are hydrogen, carbon and nitrogen. Replacement fuel for your nuclear reactor is also in short supply.

Singapore distances itself from local crypto companies

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Ponzi progress

Before each generation can cash out a new generation must be suckered into buying in. Crypto has reached the point where the only people dumb enough to invest are politicians. I fully expect the UK government to leap in by guarantying bail out future crypto crashes with tax payers' money.

UK chemicals multinational to build hydrogen 'gigafactory'

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Really that bad?

Getting backed by the UK government is not an indicator for potential profit. At least this is cheaper than OneWeb ... so far.

Bogus cryptocurrency apps steal millions in mere months

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Re: "legitimate cryptocurrency investments"

Sorry for replying twice but it took me a while to find the link explaining how to reliably warn off a potential crypto victim.

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Re: "legitimate cryptocurrency investments"

Wikipedia says Ponzi Scheme too, with citations.

Just because you failed doesn't mean you weren't right

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Spelling error


Copper shortage keeps green energy, tech ventures grounded

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Re: Mode of failure

Xmas tree lights are wired in series. If any one of them fails to open circuit the entire chain goes dark. If one of them fails to short circuit each of the remaining bulbs shine a little brighter - and age a little more quickly.

If instead we wired Xmas lights in parallel a failure of one to open circuit just reduces the power draw and total brightness. A failure to short circuit has more interesting possibilities but hopefully just results in a blown fuse and darkness.

If you wanted to wire a large number of solar cells in parallel the obvious solution would be to use a layer of solar cells with one terminal connected to a sheet of steel full of holes. Connect the other terminal of each cell with fuse wire through a hole to a second sheet of steel.

IT departments often regret technology buying decisions

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Crypto lender Celsius in Chapter 11 deep freeze

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Re: Who is going to buy wadges of crypto

It is more a matter of when than who. Half of when is when the bankruptcy court has decided who is owed money, and with what priority. The other half is when the price of crypto has fallen to slightly below its perceived value. The good news is by that time if perceived value is .1% of the current price you only need to find a bunch of fools worth $4.3M.

Tories spar over UK's delayed Online Safety Bill

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Re: The British Internet....

I thought the internet was supposed to be a television you cannot turn off, always shows government selected content, watches everything you and and sends it to the Ministry of Love.


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