* Posts by The Eee 701 Paddock

32 posts • joined 28 Nov 2014

Star wreck: There's a 1 in 20 chance a NASA telescope and US military satellite will smash into each other today

The Eee 701 Paddock

Re: Cascading collisions?

The theoretical scenario you describe (a cascading chain-reaction of collisions and debris-creation) has worried more than a few people over the decades. As another poster has said, it is often referred to as "Kessler syndrome", after NASA scientist Donald J. Kessler, who proposed it way back in 1978.

I see your blue passport and raise you a green number plate: UK mulls rewards scheme for zero-emission vehicles

The Eee 701 Paddock

Re: (electric) taxis

A couple of months ago, on the spur of the moment, we at E7P Towers decided on a weekend break in Amsterdam (while we can, etc.). Upon leaving Schiphol airport, we looked at the options for getting to our hotel, and ultimately headed for the taxi rank.

They were *all* Teslas... and let's just say, by the time we reached the hotel our daughter was saying to us, "can we have one of these?"

For that matter, Amsterdam also has a great tram system too - what I wouldn't give for something like that where we live... but that's a whole other ball-of-Edam game :-)

Go fourth and multi-Pi: Raspberry Pi 4 lands today with quad 1.5GHz Arm Cortex-A72 CPU cores, up to 4GB RAM...

The Eee 701 Paddock

Re: Gone is the full-sized HDMI type A connector,

Yes, the Pi Zero (looking at mine for confirmation...) has mini-HDMI.

I sort-of get why they added two micro-HDMIs to the Pi4 (there *must* be a good few Pi-fans out there who want to drive two displays), but I wonder if they missed a trick with the Pi4's USB-C being power-only? I own an Asus Chromebook Flip C101PA, which packs two USB-C ports. With one of those USB-C "hubs" ("port-replicators", really) you can pick up from Amazon for £30, you can send all sorts of I/O via one USB-C socket, plus "passthrough" power.

I suppose it's cheaper to cough up for two HDMI-to-microHDMI cables than one of those USB-C hubs, but if it were possible engineering- and cost-wise, I'd really like to see a future "Pi4+" sport a USB-C "plug" which can handle data as well as power.

Still wouldn't mind one of these little fellas, though - maybe it could run the RasPi port of CentOS at a more usable speed?

People hate hot-desking. Google thinks they’ll love hot-Chromebooking

The Eee 701 Paddock

Re: Multiple screens?

In the case of my Asus Chromebook Flip, it can not only drive an external HDMI display, but the default in Chrome OS is to treat it as a separate "screen". When I have worked from home, I link the Chromebook to a 1080p display and run Citrix Receiver on that, with the Flip's own screen (1280x800) kept for anything running locally.

(On a side-note: Chromebooks have come on a long way in the last couple of years, but from the kind of criticisms that keep being raised about CBs - "they can't run multiple displays"*, "they can't print locally"**, "where are the apps?"***, etc. - you'd think Google had frozen development some time in 2013...)

* - They can (see above)

** - Local printing support was added in 2016

*** - Android support in COS is now pretty good, and Linux "container" support is on the way

Apple iPhone X: Two weeks in the life of an anxious user

The Eee 701 Paddock

This is why I always wait a version or two...

I've been an iPhone user for about five years now, but each time handset upgrade time comes up, I have chosen an iPhone model that's at least one or two "versions" behind the latest-greatest-up-to-datest. Thus, when the 6 was the newest, I chose the 5S; next time around, the latest model was the 7, but I chose the 6S.

In most cases, I just don't see the point of coughing up silly money every month, for a couple of extra features (gimmicks?), a slight speed-bump, bragging rights amongst the hipsterati at the coffee-shop, or whatever. To me, the relatively small difference in functionality just isn't worth the sizeable difference in moolah, but hey-ho.

I have about a year to go until upgrade time, so by then I'm pretty confident that the iP X will have come down quite a bit. Even if it doesn't much, then there's always the 8-series or even the 7 - I'm wondering about a 7 (or 8) Plus next time around.

So, I'd neatly sidestep the "£1000!??!" issue by waiting patiently until the X isn't "£1000!??!" any longer...

Google to kill its Drive file locker in two confusing ways

The Eee 701 Paddock

What about Chrome OS?

Firstly: it looks as if the recently-added auto folder-backup feature is staying, which I'm happy about as that's actually useful...

I'm still a bit confused from this, over whether Google Drive (as in "your drive in the 'cloud'") is staying available. For me, this matters, as I have an Asus Chromebit CS10 (a "stick PC" running Chrome OS), and am eyeing up an Asus Chromebook Flip.

Chrome OS' file storage is focused on integration with Google Drive (yes, COS can mount local mass-storage devices and certain other network filesystems, but GD is the primary file-storage location), so I don't quite see how Google could phase out the files/folders "area" of GD without a remodelling of Chrome OS' file-management interface. Hopefully, that's not what they're looking to do.

Nasty firmware update butchers Samsung smart TVs so bad, they have to be repaired

The Eee 701 Paddock

I'll always buy 'dumb' tellies if I have a choice...

(...and yes, "choice" being the operative word" here...)

I've long thought that for all sorts of reasons, TVs that are anything more than a "dumb" display, just aren't a good idea at all. We have three in the house, and none of them do much more than show output from what you physically plug into the things.

I learned the hard way about the "obsolescence" issue, from our Sony Blu-ray player (bought 2010). We used it for networked video for a while (iPlayer, Amazon, DLNA, YouTube), until by 2015 none of the services we wanted remained on the player. We still use the Sony, but only for discs - network-video duties are now handled by Roku and Chromecast streamers, which we can ditch and replace in a few years as/when their makers abandon support for the things.

Problem is, of course: if you want a snazzy 60" curved-screen OLED idiot-lantern, you CAN'T get a "dumb" one - AFAIK, they *all* come with the "smart" gubbins loaded on. So much for "sustainability"... here's hoping we can soldier on with the 2010-vintage LG "thick-screen" in the lounge, for a few more years...

TVs are now tablet computers without a touchscreen

The Eee 701 Paddock

Re: Dumb display + smart devices

Sorry, I should've been a bit more specific - the three online services that we specifically used on the BR player, ended up not usable for us.

We lost BBC iPlayer (as I mentioned) because the Sony used the "big screen" version, which Auntie discontinued in 2013 because "no-one was using it" (and Sony never updated the firmware to give us iPlayer back). The YouTube "channel" disappeared when Google changed the API (around 2014-5, IIRC), and the Amazon Video channel might still work, but we stopped that service when we moved to Netflix (and I don't think Sony ever added the latter).

There may well be online services on the Sony BDP-S370 which still work, but as they're not the ones we use, the general thrust of my point stands: online service providers change their services, and manufacturers generally don't support them indefinitely. With that in mind, I'd rather have a "dumb display" and have the content delivered by affordable "smart" devices which can be replaced as needed, rather than a £PRICEY smart telly which gets dumbified after a few years.

Still, the Sony continues to give good service as a BR/DVD player, and we get the VoD services from our Roku 2. All came out in the wash...

The Eee 701 Paddock

Dumb display + smart devices

I may as well be the umpteenth voice to add to the scepticism regarding "smart TVs". In 2010, we bought a "dumb" (by today's standards) 42" telly, and around the same time, a Sony Blu-ray player which also did double-duty as a networked video-streamer (BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon, etc.).

You can guess what happened: gradually, the networked services fell away as their APIs/interfaces were end-of-lifed (e.g. the Sony BR used the iPlayer "big screen" interface, which Auntie killed off in 2013). By 2015, none of the network services we wanted were usable on the Sony, so we got a Roku Streaming Stick to handle those (and add Netflix, Viki and others). It's since been replaced by a Roku 2 (the Stick migrating to the kitchen telly) and a "hockey-puck" Chromecast - the BR player now only shows BR and DVD discs, and that not very often.

TL;DR - I'd far rather have a "dumb display", with content delivered by connected low(er)-cost devices that can be replaced easily, than a "smart TV" that will effectively be reduced to a "dumb" one within a few years when the manufacturer thinks it's time we bought a new one. Of course, that assumes we GET a choice in the matter...

(In passing: interesting to read about MPEG-2 being gradually phased out for terrestrial TV. I wonder how that might affect the services we get, and when our increasingly-aged telly may start losing channels. I understand Roku devices don't support MPEG-2 either (which is why they can't show content directly from network TV tuners like the HDHomeRun), so overall, this looks like an issue to keep an eye on.)

Nokia's 3310 revival – what's NEXT? Vote now

The Eee 701 Paddock

Yes, definitely the Psion Series 5...

Take the bits that were great (the keyboard, obvs), fix the bits that weren't (that &@#! screen cable that kept failing after a while of, er, opening and closing the lid)...

...and give it the benefits of two decades of tech advances (WiFi, Bluetooth, SD or MicroSD card slot(s?), capacitive colour touchscreen). Not sure what OS to put on it, though - a customised Linux, or would Android be the inevitable victor?

If it "hit the right buttons": I'd be interested...

(And while the air is getting soggy with nostalgia ((C) Tom Lehrer), and someone mentioned printing from a Psion: around the turn of the Noughties, my workplace had a particular HP laser printer with a built-in IrDA (infrared) port on the front. I could line it up with the IR window on my S5, hit "Print" in Psion Word, and run off a document with no faffing around with cloud or networks. Nearly twenty years later, I miss that simplicity...)

Haven't deleted your Yahoo account yet? Reminder: Hackers forged login cookies

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Thumb Down

"Why haven't you deleted your Y! account yet?"

If I had a tenner for every time an article here has asked this question (or implied it) in the last few years, I could probably go away for a nice spa weekend or something, to calm down...

There is one reason, and one alone, why I still have a Y! account: Flickr. I'm a Pro account holder; I've been one for over a decade; have 1000s of pics in my account (some of which only exist there AFAIK (yes, I KNOW, more the fool me, etc.))... and call me weird, but I actually LIKE the way Flickr works (esp. the auto-upload from the iPhone app). If Flickr could be liberated from its current ownership, I'd drop my Y! account so fast it would exceed the pull of gravity, and I feel sure thousands of users would follow suit.

I'd practically bet real moolah that Y! knows this, which is why I fear Flickr will have to be crowbarred out of its owner's cold, dead mitts...

So where has the legal 'right' to 10Mbps broadband gone?

The Eee 701 Paddock

Re: Don't get me started......

We're in a similar situation where I live - BT exchange a mile up the road, all fibred-up and Infinity-ready, except I think that when our street was built in the 2000s, they cabled up our street with overcooked noodles. (Just under 7Mb download, is the fastest SpeedTest has ever recorded in our house, and that was exceptional.)

And we're not even out in the proverbial boondocks, but on the outskirts of a large and supposedly-hi-tech town in southern England. I'd like it if BT could do the honours by linking their exchange to our street's cabinets, some time before 2020 without being frogmarched into it, but somehow I can't see it happening. Hope I'll be proven wrong...

Raspberry Pi celebrates fourth birthday with fruity version 3

The Eee 701 Paddock

Re: Somewhat tempting...

Thanks! :-)

Actually, I should've clarified my question - my OldPi usually runs off Arch Linux ARM (and has done since the beginning. I was wondering if ALARM needed rebuilding in any way, due to the new Broadcom SoC, the new WiFi/Bluetooth hardware, etc.?

Hopefully not, but you can't take these things for granted...

The Eee 701 Paddock

Somewhat tempting...

I have one of the earliest RasPi models (from before they started building them in Wales) in my lounge - unfortunately, it's gathering dust, as I find it's just too underpowered for the few uses I could put it to. (We already have a Synology NAS and a Roku player, so the Pi wouldn't be needed for those tasks.)

That said, I get the idea the RasPi 3 is quite a bit more powerful than OldPi, and with four USB ports and built-in Bluetooth and WiFi, I can imagine it making a useful always-on Linux box at home.

Hopefully, there's no problem installing Arch Linux ARM on the RP3 - time to query the Pi forums...

SCO vs. IBM looks like it's over for good

The Eee 701 Paddock

Calling all makers...

...of wooden stakes infused with essence of pure garlic, with a nice fat core of unadulterated Kryptonite:

We have a great job for you, and will make it worth your while :-)

But seriously: won't this stay dead? SCO has such a remarkable ability to reach groaning from the grave, I'd be surprised if they're not a by-product of HYDRA research (read your Captain America comic-books)...

What we all really need is an SD card for our cars. Thanks, SanDisk

The Eee 701 Paddock

Our new-ish Nissan has an SD card slot in the central console (just to the top-right of the satnav/audio/etc display), but I believe it's mostly to carry the satnav data. There's a USB port in the upper glovebox to add a hard- or flash-drive from which to play your MP3s - by coincidence, we use a SanDisk flash (a 64GB Fit "nano") for that purpose.

As I understand it, you can purchase updated satnav-map SD cards from Nissan if you need them (and/or are feeling somewhat "flush"). I'm guessing SanDisk have an eye on that particular market-opportunity here.

What the world needs now is Pi, sweet $5 Raspberry Pi Zero

The Eee 701 Paddock

"Would have liked 1GB RAM, but for £4 who the hell cares!"

I just realised: the Zero has double the RAM (512KB) that's in my first-gen RasPi (256MB), so with that and a faster CPU, the former should leave the latter eating dust (literally, in our lounge).

I always found the low RAM a problem on OldPi, when running X11 - I assembled a low-fat Arch Linux ARM on there, yet even running a "lean" window manager (Fluxbox), the machine seemed to struggle to keep up. By the looks of things, the Zero should laugh at a similar setup; hopefully I won't have to wait long to find out...

The Eee 701 Paddock

Let me at it...

As an owner of one of the first-gen RasPis (China-built...), I've already got most of the cables and kit to get a Zero up and running, so I'm off to my local WHSmiths shortly, in the hope that every RasPi fan in town hasn't heard the news and emptied the place of copies of The MagPi...

Granted, my OldPi has been gathering dust under the telly for months (never quite sure what to do with the thing), but at this price, I think the Zero's worth taking a punt on.

(If anyone's interested: those great folk at Pimoroni have launched a Zero-scaled version of their PiBow case. Next on the shopping list...)

Brits rattle tin for custom LCD Raspberry Pi funbox

The Eee 701 Paddock


I can't comment on the merits of this product in electronics terms... but I'm with the folk who said that in appearance alone, this looks like you could make a cute little terminal with it.

Actually: add a mini wired keyboard, and this could almost pass as an Amstrad eMailer for the mid-2010s...

Touchnote breach: Wrote a postcard with us? Thieves have your pal's name, address

The Eee 701 Paddock

This news really made my Friday afternoon...

I'm one of those folks who really tries to take care, not to provide identity thieves with easy pickings. I routinely shred letters and anything with my name, address or other useful details on them, and although I probably could be even more careful, I do my best not to give this info to just anyone.

And then on Friday, I received the email from Touchnote (whom I have used a couple of times in the past to send postcards), and I wonder why I bothered. I feel like asking: what is the point of guarding one's personal information, if all it takes is one bunch of muppets who don't bother encrypting* most of their customers' valuable details, getting virtual-ram-raided, and it's suddenly all out there for the taking?

I'm also now wondering: how many other websites who have my personal data stored, have a similarly cavalier attitude to it? I think I'm long overdue for an audit of which sites I have accounts with, but rarely or never use any more... and time to start closing them.

Maybe I might start with Touchnote... but the burglars are over the hills now with their loot, so what would be the point?

* - This, BTW, is also why I'm keeping a nervous eye on the future of encryption in the UK.

'A word processor so simple my PA could use it': Joyce turns 30

The Eee 701 Paddock

My non-gaming computing started here...

My mother got a PCW8256 around the end of the 1980s, by which time I was starting my A-levels. It probably helped that my college happened to have a room of these machines, so for the first time, I could borrow time on Mum's "Joyce", and then take my own 3" disk between home and study. (This was a pretty big deal 25 years ago, or at least it was to me...)

So, by 1990, I was wordprocessing my A-level essays/assignments using Locoscript, which stood me on good stead when I went off to uni the following year (migrating to actual PCs and WordPerfect 5.1 - no Joyces there, sadly).

Yes, the 8256 printer wasn't exactly fast or quiet - each page necessitating five-plus minutes of ear-splitting racket to commit to paper - but the machine got me started with using a computer for writing on, which anyone who has had to negotiate my handwriting, can only be thankful for.

(Amazingly, I didn't get my own first PC until my third and final year of uni, and even then I only knew of one other computer-owner in my cohort. The past truly *is* another country...)

Scrapheap challenge: How Amazon and Google are dumbing down the gogglebox

The Eee 701 Paddock

No to 'smart TVs'...

I posted on a similar story to this the other week, but TL;DR: given the choice, I would always go for a "dumb" TV and fit it out with a video-streamer (I like Roku players myself, but each to their own depending on their needs), rather than a "smart" one.

Having experienced "planned obsolescence" already with our 2010 Sony BR player (summary: iPlayer and YouTube both discontinued; no other network "channels" that we use left working)... at least one of the "sticks" (Roku, Chromecast, Amazon FTV, etc.) can be nabbed for well under £50, and will serve for a few years until it, well, doesn't anymore, then you buy a new one.

As someone else pointed out, though: we might not have much of a choice of a "dumb" telly for much longer... what if they all end up "smart", and we just have to accept that after a few years, the set will become "stupid"?

Samsung looks into spam ads appearing on Brits' smart TVs

The Eee 701 Paddock

Re: Easily solved.

"There are much better alternatives out there..."

...and I would've thought a good starting point would be: why buy a "smart TV" in the first place?

I've learned the hard way about "planned obsolescence" in this kind of product, when in 2010 we bought our Sony Blu-ray player (with added network media facilities - LOVEFiLM/Amazon, BBC iPlayer, YouTube, etc.), and a "dumb" LG flat-screen.

By early 2015, iPlayer and YT had both stopped working, thanks to the APIs they relied upon being phased out by the services in question. Now, the BR player lives on solely as a way to play BRs and DVDs, with all network-based video-streaming duties handled by a Roku device (Streaming Stick, at time of writing) plugged into HDMI on the TV.

Point? At least in this case, the loss of iPlayer and YouTube was fixed by a ~£35 HDMI dongle, and the BR player was still partly useful afterwards. I'd feel sick as the proverbial talking avian, if I'd coughed up £100s (or more) for a "smart" telly, only to be left high and dry a few years later when the manufacturer decided it was time we bought a new set off them.

Personally, I'd rather add "smart" capabilities to a "dumb" TV via a plug-in device which can be replaced when it (the device, not the telly) becomes obsolete, but that's just me...

What's black, sticky, and has just 8GB of storage?

The Eee 701 Paddock

Arch Linux ARM

If my experience with my RasPi (or, on Intel, my venerable Eee 701SD) is anything to go by, the Stick sounds like a good candidate for Arch Linux (ARM version). Instead of a full-fat Ubuntu installation, with Arch you can "roll your own" system - choosing "lighter" applications and only installing what you want/need.

I bet a few folk in the Arch/ARM community have their "test-labs" ready as we speak...

Roku 3: Probably the best streaming player on the market ... for now, at least

The Eee 701 Paddock

Re: List of supported channels/services

Roku has all of the terrestrial UK catch-up services (BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, All4, Demand 5).

You do need to register an account with Roku and give them a payment method such as PayPal (Apple and Amazon ask for this too, BTW). You can PIN-protect your account to avoid unauthorised app/channel purchases (a small number in the Roku "store" are paid-for). Other channels are "free" in the Roku store, but some are linked to Web video services where you need an account (eg Dramafever, Crunchyroll), and sometimes need to pay for a "Premium" account with the service, to get HD, no ads, etc.

In short: you don't have to buy anything through the Roku store, and if you're canny, you can avoid it entirely (if you only want the UK TV catch-ups, you're sorted).

One more suggestion: if you have an iDevice and want to "cast" Web video from sites/services with no Roku channel, check out "Video & TV Cast for Roku" in the Apple App Store (and its matching Roku channel). Seems to work well so far.

The Eee 701 Paddock

Our Roku experience (mostly good)

We recently jumped from the Amazon video ship to Netflix (TL;DR - Am's choice has gone south in recent months in our view, and they charge extra for many of the video items unless you cough up for Prime Membership), and wanted a NF-capable streamer for our lounge telly.

On our, ahem, modest budget, it was down to one of the "sticks", and the Roku won by a nose, largely because it can operate via a remote without a phone/tablet/2nd computer. (Yes, the Amazon Fire TV units can do this too, but as we were moving away from Am's service... just go with it, mmm?)

In short: the Roku Streaming Stick "does the job" for not much outlay - compact, easy to use, and can handle 1080p HD video streams as long as your wireless network can. It shows signs of under-poweredness in the menus - occasional unresponsive moments, and certain channels take 15 seconds or more to load - but video-playing doesn't seem to suffer. if we had the dosh, we'd probably invest in a second Roku (2, or 3 if poss) for the lounge and keep the Stick for the bedroom TV, but for now we're pleased enough.

One feature the Amazon Fires pack that the Rokus don't (AFAIK): if you're trying to link to a WiFi hotspot that needs a Web-based sign-in, a Fire player supports this interface, but a Roku does not. I understand a WiFi "re-broadcast" solution is needed (eg a laptop, a "travel router", etc.) to get a Roku online in such settings - not holding out much hope of a solution from Roku, but maybe a future beefier player might support this?

The Eee 701 Paddock

Re: I'm a Cynic

Re the idea of Roku forcing you to watch ads they've inserted - I do hope they don't go down that route, as some of the Roku "channels" stuff quite enough ads into programmes as it stands... yes, All4, I'm looking at you.

That said: we're pretty content with our Roku Streaming Stick, though given that it occasionally goes unresponsive in the menus for a few seconds (though the vids play fine), we'd probably cough up for the beefier Roku 2 or 3 if we had the spare moolah.

New dirt-cheap Chromebooks: Team Google keeps jackboot on throat of PC titans

The Eee 701 Paddock

Well, *I*'d like a Chromebit, anyway...

If they could get the UK price down to around £70-80 (I can dream... but go with it), I think the Chromebit could be a winner.

I imagine it being handy for the hotel room (as long as the wifi there is affordable, not dodgy, etc.), and if you can hook up a powered hub to the full-sized USB port, I guess that opens up the option of local USB storage for videos and the like (at the expense of flexibility). I have a couple of Logitech 2.4GHz keyboards - including the K400 with built-in trackpad - and Bluetooth input devices cost chump-change these days on Amazon.

I missed how the Chromebit is powered - would it be over USB, HDMI, internal battery or some/all of these?

Also, I hope someone figures out how to give the CB Chromecast functionality, as that really WOULD make it attractive to myself, and maybe a few others too. I'll be keeping watch on this little fella...


The Eee 701 Paddock

Can anyone take "telepresence robots" seriously...

...after that episode* of "The Big Bang Theory"?

* S4E2: "The Cruciferous Vegetable Amplification" - the one where Sheldon decides never to leave his bedroom, and interact with other people solely through a TR ("ShelBot"), so he doesn't pick up an infection from anyone and therefore not achieve immortality...

Cloud Printing from a Chromebook: We try it out on 8 inkjet all-in-ones

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Synology NAS and GCP

Just in case it's of any interest: Synology's NAS boxes can act as a Google Cloud Print (and AirPrint) "gateway" for older printers (either network, or connected directly to the Syno).

I can now print to our venerable HP LaserJet 4100TN via GCP or AP, although GCP seems to be a bit hit-and-miss when out of the house (in terms of whether it works or not). I suspect the problem is more likely to be down to the GCP add-on for CUPS on my Linux netbook, than the Syno, but if I ever really need GCP to work for when I'm away, I'll take a good look at the problem...

Festive streamers caught in Vulture's claws: Gadget-ogle for audiophiles, video geeks

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RIP Squeezebox :-(

I like some kit that Logitech makes, but I feel I can never forgive them for assimilating Slim Devices' Squeezebox range, and then "disappearing" it.

I picked up our Squeezebox Duet three years ago (as, effectively, an end-of-line product), and it has given nearly-flawless service every since, teamed with Logitech Media Service running on our old Synology NAS box. The "Receiver" is plugged into my venerable Technics amp along with the CD player, which rarely gets used as most of the music I want, is now on the NAS.

The Squeezebox sounds great, handles Ogg and FLAC files (the latter, my format of choice) and the software is open-source, so not quite so much at the mercy of one vendor. Unfortunately, Logitech seems to have digested Squeezebox completely, so when the Duet finally croaks, I'm not sure how I'd replace it. Probably eBay... or an iDevice running Squeezecast, on an audio-dock?

Thanks for nothing, Logitech.


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