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Which world would you rather live in?

  • Star Trek
  • Star Wars
  • Babylon 5
  • Idiocracy
  • Dark City
  • Other (Please specify in comments)

[ Results | Polls ]
Comments:184 | Votes:199

posted by janrinok on Friday January 17, @05:07PM   Printer-friendly
from the taking-the-piss dept.

WSJ runs this story (alternative MSN same text)

HONG KONG—Japanese citizen Midori Nishida was checking in to a flight in Hong Kong in November to visit her parents on Saipan, a U.S. island in the Pacific, when airline staff made an unusual demand. She had to take a pregnancy test if she wanted to board.

Ms. Nishida, 25 years old, was escorted to a public rest room and handed a strip to urinate on.

The test was part of the response of one airline, Hong Kong Express Airways, to immigration concerns in Saipan. The island has become a destination for women intending to give birth on U.S. territory, making their babies eligible for American citizenship. In 2018, more tourists than residents gave birth in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, in which Saipan is the largest island.

Pregnant foreigners aren't barred from entering the U.S., or from giving birth in U.S. territory. But immigration authorities can turn away visitors if they are found to be lying about their purpose of travel, or if they come to the U.S. planning to have a medical procedure, such as giving birth, but can't prove they have the funds to pay for it.

Airlines are required to take back passengers who are denied entry—an incentive to ensure that those who board their flights are likely to be deemed admissible to the U.S.

One would think the birth tourism was reaching crisis levels in Saipan; but TFA has a chart showing 582 births by tourists in 2018.

Heck, looks like even Trump's businesses are happy to oblige if the price is right.


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posted by janrinok on Friday January 17, @03:19PM   Printer-friendly
from the I'll-buy-one dept.

The GNU/Linux-based smartphone, PinePhone, has begun shipping. It uses the same Quad-Core ARM Cortex A53 64-Bit System on a Chip (SOC) as the the Pine64 Single Board Computer (SBC) and thus it also runs mainstream GNU/Linux. The goal is to provide a hardware platform for a wider variety of Linux-on-Phone projects. Hardware availability is expected to be five years.

Lilliputing: PinePhone Braveheart Linux smartphone begins shipping January 17th

The PinePhone is an inexpensive smartphone designed to run Linux-based operating systems. Developed by the folks at Pine64, the $150 smartphone was first announced about a year ago — and this week the first units will ship.

Herald Writer: The PinePhone begins delivery—a Linux-powered smartphone for $150

The PinePhone is powered through an Allwinner A64 SoC, which options 4 Cortex A53 CPUs at 1.2GHz, constructed on an attractive historical 40nm procedure. This is similar chip the corporate makes use of at the PINE A64 unmarried board pc, a Raspberry Pi competitor. There are 2GB of RAM, a Mali-400 GPU, 16GB of garage, and a 2750mAh battery. The rear digicam is 5MP, the entrance digicam is 2MP, the show is a 1440×720 IPS LCD, and the battery is detachable. There is a headphone jack, a USB-C port, and strengthen for a MicroSD slot, which you'll if truth be told boot running techniques off of. The mobile modem is a big separate chip this is soldered onto the motherboard: a Quectel EG25-G.

Earlier on SN:
PinePhone Linux Smartphone Priced at $149 to Arrive This Year (2019)
Librem 5 Backers Have Begun Receiving Their Linux Phones (2019)


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posted by Fnord666 on Friday January 17, @01:33PM   Printer-friendly
from the well-f***-me dept.

Worried About Swearing Too Much? Science Says You Shouldn't Be:

Well, damn. Maybe you stubbed your toe first thing in the morning. Or some thoughtless commuter forced you to slam the brakes on the drive to work. Perhaps you're just fed up with it all and feel like sinking to your knees and cursing the heavens.

If you've ever suppressed the urge to unleash a string of obscenities, maybe think again. Some research suggests that it might be a better idea to simply let the filth fly.

Scientifically speaking, a penchant for profanity doesn't seem to be such a bad thing. Studies have shown that swearing relieves stress, dulls the sensation of pain, fosters camaraderie among peers and is linked with traits like verbal fluency, openness and honesty.

And the effects of cursing are physical as well as mental. A 2018 study in Psychology of Sport and Exercise found that letting out a few choice words during a workout can actually make you stronger. In the study, participants who cursed aloud while gripping a hand vise were able to squeeze harder and longer.

Timothy Jay, professor emeritus of psychology at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, thinks that humans partly developed taboo language as an emotional release valve.

"There's a point where it's just more efficient to say, 'F*&^ you,' than it is to hit somebody," adds Jay, a world-renowned expert in cursing. "We've evolved this very efficient way to vent our emotions and convey them to others."


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posted by Fnord666 on Friday January 17, @11:42AM   Printer-friendly
from the a-slap-on-the-wrist dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

A Georgia court granted final approval for an Equifax settlement in a class-action lawsuit, after the credit-reporting agency was hit by its massive 2017 data breach.

Equifax will pay $380.5 million to settle lawsuits regarding the 2017 data breach, the Atlanta federal judge reportedly ruled this week. In addition, Equifax may be required to dole out an additional $125 million "if needed to satisfy claims for certain out-of-pocket losses."

"We are pleased that the Court approved the settlement, which provides significant benefits for consumers whose information was impacted in the 2017 breach," an Equifax spokesperson told Threatpost.

The $380.5 million will be placed into a fund for consumers affected who are part of the class outlined in the lawsuit. The settlement cost will also cover attorneys' fees, expenses and administration costs.

The $380.5 million for affected consumers is slightly more than the $300 million proposed previously  by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in July 2019. The July 2019 proposal was subject to the federal court's Monday approval.

As part of the settlement, the company will also need to pay at least $1 billion for improved security, as well as $175 million to 48 states in the U.S and and $100 million in civil penalties to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Equifax will also need to pay $1.4 billion in litigation expenses and $77.5 million as a percentage based fee, according to Bloomberg.

-- submitted from IRC


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posted by Fnord666 on Friday January 17, @09:51AM   Printer-friendly
from the I-see-^W-hear-what-you-did-there dept.

Researchers test hearing by looking at dilation of people's eyes:

University of Oregon neuroscientists have shown that a person's hearing can be assessed by measuring dilation of the pupils in eyes, a method that is as sensitive as traditional methods of testing hearing.

The approach is being developed as a potential way to test hearing in babies, young adults with developmental disabilities and adults suffering from a stroke or illness -- populations where direct responses are not possible.

In the experiments, changes in pupil size of 31 adults were monitored with eye-tracking technology for about three seconds as they performed a traditional tone-based hearing test while also staring at an object on a monitor. Dilation in all subjects matched their subsequent push-button responses, when prompted by a question mark on the screen, signifying whether or not a tone was heard.

The project, detailed in an open-access paper published online last month in the Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology, was inspired more than a decade ago when the study's lead author, Avinash Singh Bala, noticed changes in the pupils of barn owls in response to unexpected noises in their environment.

Avinash D. S. Bala, Elizabeth A. Whitchurch, Terry T. Takahashi. Human Auditory Detection and Discrimination Measured with the Pupil Dilation Response. Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology, 2019; DOI: 10.1007/s10162-019-00739-x


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posted by Fnord666 on Friday January 17, @08:02AM   Printer-friendly
from the Have-to-turn-a-profit dept.

Mozilla Lays Off 70 People as Non-search Revenue Fails to Materialize

Mozilla lays off 70 people as non-search revenue fails to materialize:

Mozilla has laid off 70 people, TechCrunch reports. It's a significant move for an organization that employs around 1,000 people worldwide.

"You may recall that we expected to be earning revenue in 2019 and 2020 from new subscription products as well as higher revenue from sources outside of search," wrote Mozilla interim CEO Mitchell Baker in a memo to staff obtained by TechCrunch. "This did not happen."

Baker said Mozilla had decided not to shelve Mozilla's $43 million innovation fund, which focuses on creating new Mozilla products. She said Mozilla would provide "generous exit packages and outplacement support" to those who were let go.

Mozilla Lays Off 70 Employees

Mozilla lays off 70 employees:

Mozilla laid off about 70 employees Wednesday as part of an effort to preserve funding for its top new priorities like protecting privacy and fighting surveillance online. The nonprofit is best known for creating the Firefox web browser, but it also is expanding into new areas including password management, file sharing and private network connections while doubling down on its longstanding push to improve online privacy.

"We're making a significant investment to fund innovation. In order to do that responsibly, we've also had to make some difficult choices which led to the elimination of roles at Mozilla which we announced internally today," Mozilla Chair Mitchell Baker said of the layoffs in a blog post.

And Mozilla is being more cautious with revenue and expenses. "We are taking a more conservative approach to our finances. This will enable us to pivot as needed to respond to market threats to internet health, and champion user privacy and agency," Mozilla said in a statement.


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posted by Fnord666 on Friday January 17, @06:11AM   Printer-friendly
from the let-me-out dept.

How to watch SpaceX show NASA the Crew Dragon capsule can escape if a launch goes wrong

Plan for success. Prepare for failure. SpaceX is setting out to prove that a critical safety system will be able to save astronaut lives in the event of a launch emergency.

The Crew Dragon in-flight abort test is scheduled for Jan. 18. This is a required step before NASA will allow astronauts to fly to the International Space Station in the SpaceX capsule as part of the Commercial Crew Program.

NASA announced on Tuesday it will livestream the event, with coverage starting at 4:45 a.m. PT [0745 ET, 1245 UTC] on Saturday. SpaceX and NASA are targeting 5 a.m. PT [0800 ET, 1300 UTC] for the launch, but the test has a four-hour launch window to work with.

Crew Dragon will take a ride on a Falcon 9 rocket, which won't survive the test. The launch will take place at Florida's Kennedy Space Center, which will allow the rocket to break up over the Atlantic Ocean. It could be quite an eye-opening experience.

[...] If all goes well, the Crew Dragon capsule will separate from the rocket, deploy parachutes and float gently down to the water.

An animation of the in-flight abort (IFA) test is available on YouTube.

Also at Ars Technica.


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posted by Fnord666 on Friday January 17, @04:20AM   Printer-friendly
from the business-as-usual dept.

https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2020/01/comcast-accused-of-lying-about-its-prices-gets-away-with-1-3m-settlement/

Comcast has agreed to issue refunds to 15,600 customers and cancel the debts of another 16,000 people to settle allegations that the cable company lied to customers in order to hide the true cost of service. Comcast will have to pay $1.3 million in refunds.

[...]"The settlement also requires Comcast to change its advertising practices to disclose to its customers the full amount that they will be charged for service."

[...]The consent judgment was filed in Hennepin County District Court. Minnesota alleged violations of the state's Prevention of Consumer Fraud Act and Deceptive Trade Practices Act, but Comcast did not admit any wrongdoing.

[...]About 8,400 customers are eligible for refunds of $80 each because they did not receive Visa prepaid cards or other promotional items that they were promised

[...]About 2,000 customers who were charged for a modem but returned the modem within three months will get refunds

[...]Another 5,200 customers who "were involuntarily disconnected or who voluntarily downgraded their Residential Services, and, as a result, paid an Early Termination Fee to Comcast" will get $80 refunds.

[...]"Part of being able to afford your life means knowing the full cost of what you're getting, getting what you were promised, not being overcharged for things you didn't ask for, and not being unfairly charged to get rid of things you didn't ask for. But when people signed up for Comcast, that's what happened to them," Ellison said.

Comcast has already identified the 16,000 customers who will get debt relief, the settlement says. Comcast is required to forgive their debts within 30 days.


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posted by Fnord666 on Friday January 17, @02:29AM   Printer-friendly
from the Windows-TCO dept.

The Insurance Journal is asking if the NotPetya Windows worm was an act of war. If so, that would change any potential obligations carried by insurance policies towards claimants, in this case Merck & Co. NotPetya took over Windows computers in 2017 but was apparently originally intended to target Ukrainian Windows computers. The rest of the Windows computers may have just been collateral damage.

By the time Deb Dellapena arrived for work at Merck & Co.’s 90-acre campus north of Philadelphia, there was a handwritten sign on the door: The computers are down.

It was worse than it seemed. Some employees who were already at their desks at Merck offices across the U.S. were greeted by an even more unsettling message when they turned on their PCs. A pink font glowed with a warning: “Ooops, your important files are encrypted. … We guarantee that you can recover all your files safely and easily. All you need to do is submit the payment …” The cost was $300 in Bitcoin per computer.

The ransom demand was a ruse. It was designed to make the software locking up many of Merck’s computers—eventually dubbed NotPetya—look like the handiwork of ordinary criminals. In fact, according to Western intelligence agencies, NotPetya was the creation of the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency—the same one that had hacked the Democratic National Committee the previous year.

In all, the attack crippled more than 30,000 laptop and desktop [Windows] computers at the global drugmaker, as well as 7,500 servers, according to a person familiar with the matter. Sales, manufacturing, and research units were all hit. One researcher told a colleague she'd lost 15 years of work. Near Dellapena's suburban office, a manufacturing facility that supplies vaccines for the U.S. market had ground to a halt. "For two weeks, there was nothing being done," Dellapena recalls. "Merck is huge. It seemed crazy that something like this could happen."

Earlier on SN:
Windows 7 and Server 2008 End of Support: What Will Change on 14 January? (2020)
Cyber Insurance claims NotPetya was an act of war (2019)
Original Petya Master Decryption Key Released (2017)


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday January 17, @12:40AM   Printer-friendly
from the trashy-auto dept.

New Atlas:

For its sixth concept vehicle, the ecomotive team at the Eindhoven University of Technology will build Luca – a sporty compact EV that's built using a bio-based composite that includes plastic waste reclaimed from the ocean.

[...] The idea is to implement as much waste as possible when building the Luca concept car. Its chassis is to be made using a composite material with reclaimed polyethylene terephthalate (PET) sandwiched between outer layers of flax. The body will be formed using a new material being developed in collaboration with Israeli startup UBQ, which will combine its additive derived from household waste with recycled polypropylene (PP). There will also be recycled aluminum spaceframes front and rear.

Building cars from waste. Maybe hoarders are onto something.


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday January 16, @10:49PM   Printer-friendly
from the nerds-win dept.

University of Michigan researchers have determined that the class of proteins known as Sestrins mimic the effects of exercise in mice and flies.

The findings could eventually help scientists combat muscle wasting due to aging and other causes.

Flies with increased levels of Sestrin showed increased endurance vs flies without it. Mice without the ability to produce Sestrin did not gain the improved aerobic capacity, respiration, and fat burning that those with it did when exercised.

For three weeks, researchers used a kind of treadmill to train Drosophila flies, which will instinctively attempt to climb up and out of a test tube.

when they overexpressed Sestrin in the muscles of normal flies, essentially maxing out their Sestrin levels, they found those flies had abilities above and beyond the trained flies, even without exercise. In fact, flies with overexpressed Sestrin didn't develop more endurance when exercised.

Additionally it was determined that

Sestrin can also help prevent atrophy in a muscle that's immobilized, such as the type that occurs when a limb is in a cast for a long period of time. "This independent study again highlights that Sestrin alone is sufficient to produce many benefits of physical movement and exercise," said [professor Jun Hee Lee.]

The first question that comes to mind for some may be whether Sestrin might one day come in a handy pill form. Unfortunately Sestrins are large molecules not well suited to supplements, however the team is "working to find small molecule modulators of Sestrin."

Journal Reference:
Myungjin Kim, Alyson Sujkowski, Sim Namkoong, Bondong Gu, Tyler Cobb, Boyoung Kim, Allison H. Kowalsky, Chun-Seok Cho, Ian Semple, Seung-Hyun Ro, Carol Davis, Susan V. Brooks, Michael Karin, Robert J. Wessells, Jun Hee Lee. Sestrins are evolutionarily conserved mediators of exercise benefits. Nature Communications, 2020; 11 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-13442-5


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posted by martyb on Thursday January 16, @08:58PM   Printer-friendly

Guardian

A specially deployed team of remote air firefighters helped save the trees from the giant Gospers Mountain fire

Firefighters have saved the only known natural stand of Wollemi pines, so-called "dinosaur trees" that fossil records show existed up to 200m years ago, from the bushfires that have devastated New South Wales.

The state's environment minister, Matt Kean, said a specially deployed team of remote air firefighters helped save the critically endangered trees from the giant Gospers Mountain fire.

The pines are in an undisclosed sandstone grove in the Wollemi national park, in the Blue Mountains, about 200km north-west of Sydney. They were thought extinct until discovered 26 years ago.

Kean said with fewer than 200 of the trees left in the wild the government had to do everything it could to save them, describing it as "an unprecedented environmental protection mission".

He said the operation by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and NSW Rural Fire Service included air tankers dropping fire retardant and specialist firefighters being winched in by helicopter to set up an irrigation system in the gorge. As the fire approached, helicopters water bucketed the fire edge to reduce its impact on the groves of trees.

A scientific assessment found while some of the trees were charred the species would survive in the wild. Kean said the government would continue to keep the precise location of the trees secret to ensure their long-term protection.

Wikipedia

In both botanical and popular literature the tree has been almost universally referred to as the Wollemi pine, although it is not a true pine (genus Pinus) nor a member of the pine family (Pinaceae), but, rather, is related to Agathis and Araucaria in the family Araucariaceae. The oldest fossil of the Wollemi tree has been dated to 200 million years ago.

A brief blog entry with some photos on how the trees look in wilderness.


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posted by janrinok on Thursday January 16, @07:07PM   Printer-friendly
from the still-want-your-data dept.

What can we rid the world of, thinks Google... Poverty? Disease? Inequality? Yeah, but first: Third-party cookies – and classic user-agent strings:

On Tuesday, Google published an update on its Privacy Sandbox proposal, a plan thoroughly panned last summer as a desperate attempt to redefine privacy in a way that's compatible with the ad slinger's business.

In a blog post, Justin Schuh, director of Chrome engineering, asked the web community for help to increase the privacy of web browsing, something browser makers like Apple and Mozilla have already been doing on their own.

"After initial dialogue with the web community, we are confident that with continued iteration and feedback, privacy-preserving and open-standard mechanisms like the Privacy Sandbox can sustain a healthy, ad-supported web in a way that will render third-party cookies obsolete," wrote Schuh.

"Once these approaches have addressed the needs of users, publishers, and advertisers, and we have developed the tools to mitigate workarounds, we plan to phase out support for third-party cookies in Chrome."

That's a significant shift for a company that relies heavily on cookie data for its ad business. Google Display Network uses third-party cookies to serve behavior-based ads. And Google partners, like publishers that use Google Ad Manager to sell ads, will also be affected.

Over the past few years, as Apple, Brave, and Mozilla have taken steps to block third-party cookies by default and legislators have passed privacy legislation. Meanwhile, ad tech companies have tried to preserve their ability to track people online. Google has resisted third-party cookie blocking and last year began working on a way to preserve its data gathering while also accommodating certain privacy concerns.

Schuh said Google aims to drop third-party cookie support within two years, but added that Google "[needs] the ecosystem to engage on [its] proposals," a plea that makes it sound like the company's initial salvo of would-be web tech specs has been largely ignored.

In a phone interview with The Register, Electronic Frontier Foundation staff technologist Bennett Cyphers said there doesn't appear to have been much community interest in Google's proposals. "When they announced Privacy Sandbox last fall, they threw a bunch of code on GitHub. Those repos don't show much sign of engagement."

Cyphers said he couldn't speak to discussions at the W3C, but said people haven't shown much interest in Google's specs.

Lee Tien, senior staff attorney at the EFF, said in an email that Google is influential with standards bodies like the W3C but that doesn't mean the company will get what it wants by throwing its weight around.


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday January 16, @05:18PM   Printer-friendly
from the who-are-you? dept.

Antibiotics could be promising treatment for form of dementia:

Frontotemporal dementia is the second-most common dementia after Alzheimer's disease and the most common type of early onset dementia. It typically begins between ages 40 and 65 and affects the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, which leads to behavior changes, difficulty speaking and writing, and memory deterioration.

A subgroup of patients with frontotemporal dementia have a specific genetic mutation that prevents brain cells from making a protein called progranulin. Although progranulin is not widely understood, its absence is linked to the disease.

A group led by Haining Zhu, a professor in UK's Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, discovered that after aminoglycoside antibiotics were added to neuronal cells with this mutation, the cells started making the full-length progranulin protein by skipping the mutation.

"These patients' brain cells have a mutation that prevents progranulin from being made. The team found that by adding a small antibiotic molecule to the cells, they could 'trick' the cellular machinery into making it," said Matthew Gentry, a co-author of the study and the Antonio S. Turco Endowed Professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry.

The researchers found two specific aminoglycoside antibiotics -- Gentamicin and G418 -- were both effective in fixing the mutation and making the functional progranulin protein. After adding Gentamicin or G418 molecules to the affected cells, the progranulin protein level was recovered up to about 50 to 60%.

Journal Reference:

Lisha Kuang, Kei Hashimoto, Eric J Huang, Matthew S Gentry, Haining Zhu. Frontotemporal dementia nonsense mutation of progranulin rescued by aminoglycosides. Human Molecular Genetics, 2020; DOI: 10.1093/hmg/ddz280


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday January 16, @03:23PM   Printer-friendly
from the plain-dumps-no-longer-what-they-used-to-be dept.

BBC

At least 60 people, many of them children, were treated for skin irritation and breathing problems.

Fuel may be dumped in emergency landings, but only over designated areas and at a high altitude, aviation rules stipulate.

The Delta Airlines flight returned to the airport due to an engine issue.

Delta confirmed in a statement that the passenger plane had released fuel to reduce its landing weight.

The children and adults treated following the dumping incident were connected with at least six local schools. All the injuries are said to be minor.
...
Allen Kenitzer, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, told Reuters news agency: "The FAA is thoroughly investigating the circumstances behind this incident. There are special fuel-dumping procedures for aircraft operating into and out of any major US airport.

"These procedures call for fuel to be dumped over designated unpopulated areas, typically at higher altitudes so the fuel atomises and disperses before it reaches the ground."

Business Traveler has other details

A Delta Air Lines Boeing 777-200 bound for Shanghai Pudong that was making an emergency landing dumped fuel on six schools in Los Angeles, mildly injuring 60 adults and children, according to media reports.
...
The students and staff members complained of minor skin irritation and breathing problems, but all declined transportation to hospitals, the newspaper added.
...
The Los Angeles Times reports that the plane flew north over Malibu within four minutes after takeoff at 11:32am (local time). After encountering an engine problem, the journey back to the airport, in which the airline said it dumped fuel over urban southeastern Los Angeles County, took a looping route over the San Fernando Valley. The flight, which never flew higher than 8,000 feet, then moved over Griffith Park not long after, heading into southeastern LA County. Minutes later, the flight began making its return to LAX, looping back west.

Flight tracking website FlightRadar24 posted an image on Twitter of the plane's flight path:

Flight path of flight #DL89 that returned to Los Angeles International Airport 24 minutes after departurehttps://t.co/JPER0N19p6 pic.twitter.com/XwJalaZfZq
        — Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) January 14, 2020

...
Several videos of the plane dumping fuel have emerged on social media, such as the one below: [linky]


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