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Old 12th Apr 2012, 10:05   #1
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Technology Apathy Is Bad For Everyone

Should we all be doing our bit?

http://www.bit-tech.net/blog/2012/04...p-computing-m/
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Old 12th Apr 2012, 10:41   #2
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I always go with "You'll need to buy a reasonable computer because of your propensity for clicking on adverts and downloading countless toolbars for internet explorer and swathes of malware"
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Old 12th Apr 2012, 10:54   #3
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I do agree. However it is difficult to sell someone the idea that getting a bit more headroom is a good idea.

Mind you most of the relatives I have I just give them either my old stuff or recommmend they get slightly older and massively cheaper hardware.
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Old 12th Apr 2012, 11:08   #4
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I've been 'burnt' before by giving out advice and now I don't bother, instead pointing them to this handy guide from which they can make their own mind up: http://www.gpanswers.com/blog/139-no...ar-person.html
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Old 12th Apr 2012, 12:05   #5
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After doing a fair ammount of Photoshopping recently. My sufficient 4gb of ram will have to be upgraded to 8gb. Though when i built the PC, it was more than I needed.
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Old 12th Apr 2012, 12:31   #6
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People might be more inclined to upgrade more often if manufacturers gave consumers what they want and not what is convenient or easy for the manufacturers.

Case in point: laptop screens. Who cares if laptops come with 8 cores and clocked to 4GHz if they come with the worst screens ever made? How many people are happy with shiny, 15.6in, 1366x768, low DPI screens with the most appalling colour reproduction ever seen?

I want to upgrade my mother to a new laptop because I'm getting tired of trying to support an 8-yo IBM with a Celeron M 1.6GHz, Mobility 7500 and 256MB of RAM. Every time it slows down, she complains and I have to re-image the system and apply various updates (which slow the damn thing down again!).
All because she HATES 16:9 screens and manufacturers don't make laptops with 4:3 screens any more. She likes 1024x768 on a 4:3 14in screen, or at least likes it better than 16:9.

I have been seriously thinking about picking up a refurbished Lenovo R60, last of the 4:3 laptops, which would come with a C2D of around 2GHz and should be reasonably fast for the foreseeable future.

As a point of interest, what do people use their laptops for?
The people in my social sphere use it for browsing the Internet and creating various documents, neither of which is enhanced by 15.6in 1366x768 screens.
What I find is that the same group of people don't use their laptops for is sitting down and viewing movies or watching Flash videos at full-screen, so why is this made the main feature of laptops? Other than the laptop manufacturer's fight to the bottom?

I'd pay a 30% premium for a basic laptop with a better screen, without having to spend $2000+ on a high-end system.
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Old 12th Apr 2012, 14:38   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adnoctum
I want to upgrade my mother to a new laptop because I'm getting tired of trying to support an 8-yo IBM with a Celeron M 1.6GHz, Mobility 7500 and 256MB of RAM. Every time it slows down, she complains and I have to re-image the system and apply various updates (which slow the damn thing down again!).
All because she HATES 16:9 screens and manufacturers don't make laptops with 4:3 screens any more. She likes 1024x768 on a 4:3 14in screen, or at least likes it better than 16:9.

I have been seriously thinking about picking up a refurbished Lenovo R60, last of the 4:3 laptops, which would come with a C2D of around 2GHz and should be reasonably fast for the foreseeable future.
Do both of yourselves a favour and buy her an iPad. She won't have to worry about it slowing down, and you won't have to worry about re-imaging.

On an eight year old laptop, I suspect she'd only be using the internet, and maybe doing some word processing. At these processes, iPads are strong. Furthermore, the iPad has a 4:3 screen, thus fitting that requirement. iPads are supported well.

No matter what your views of what iPads can and cannot do are (I suspect from your comments about reformatting that you, like me, are a more hands-on user), I suspect that you'll agree that for simple tasks (such as those that can be done on an eight year old laptop), the iPad is a good alternative.

Obviously, I don't know your mum, so have probably got it all wrong.
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Old 12th Apr 2012, 15:14   #8
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@Bakes
I thought the same thing. However, if this person is too cheap to get a newer laptop, chances are she won't want to get something as expensive as an ipad.

@Adnoctum
Well, just because you personally dislike the appearance of some screens, it doesn't mean everyone else does. When 1366x768 is a good resolution for a small laptop, tablet, or netbook. As for your mom not liking resolutions higher than 1024x768, what exactly is the reason? Why not just get a 1366x768 laptop and use 1024x768 as the resolution? If she doesn't like the physical width of the screen, then find something to prevent the resolution from stretching to both sides of the screen.


As for responding to this article, I both strongly agree and strongly disagree. I absolutely agree with the aspect of preparing yourself with something a little extra to ensure you don't need a replacement system in the future, but it isn't that simple:
1. Portable devices like laptops run noticeably cooler, faster, and power efficient every other year. The extra you spend on a laptop intended for minimal purposes could be spent later on a new laptop that will inevitably be purchased somewhere along the road.
2. Portable devices' batteries have a shelf life. Using 1 laptop for a very long time would end up meaning that battery will eventually need to be replaced, and we all know how expensive batteries are sometimes.
3. Some people's definition of the "bare minimum" is VERY different. People on bit-tech's forums act like 2GB should be the bare minimum and a 1.66GHz intel Atom is complete garbage. If you run Vista or 7, then yes, that hardware might be a little on the low side, but to me that is plenty for web browsing and office stuff. My netbook has a 900MHz Celeron and 1GB of RAM running linux, and for over a year of constant use, it still runs faster than the average Windows XP machine I've encountered.
4. Not everyone has the money to spend on hardware that is better than the bare minimum.

Sometimes it is better to let people buy the crappier device so they know not to go that cheap in the future. But, I've known people who have done the complete opposite of what you suggested - they come to you for advice and then they buy something overkill. I knew someone who bought a quad core with 4GB of RAM strictly for web browsing and email and nothing else - not even office or media, and no antivirus installed.
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Old 12th Apr 2012, 15:29   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adnoctum
People might be more inclined to upgrade more often if manufacturers gave consumers what they want and not what is convenient or easy... Who cares if laptops come with 8 cores and clocked to 4GHz if they come with the worst screens ever made? How many people are happy with shiny, 15.6in, 1366x768, low DPI screens with the most appalling colour reproduction ever seen?
I know this is alpha-geek heresy, but there's a reason why Apple is doing better than most in laptop sales. A 13" MacBook Air comes with a better screen resolution than most 15" Windows laptops, despite its otherwise-puny specs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adnoctum
As a point of interest, what do people use their laptops for? The people in my social sphere use it for browsing the Internet and creating various documents, neither of which is enhanced by 15.6in 1366x768 screens.
From what I can tell (at least here in the States in a metropolitan area), they use their laptops for everything. Movies, photos, web, research, gaming (light & heavy), art... In most cases, it's the only computer they own. Despite my rational objection, 16:9 is a good aspect ratio for all of this. Heck, Photoshop became easier by leaps and bounds for me the instant I moved from a 4:3 to a 16:10 (and, eventually, a 16:9) display because I could finally fit all of my open palettes next to a 3:2 or a 4:3 picture without encroaching upon the frame of what I was working on. Spreadsheet maniacs love it because they get more horizontal space to work with.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adnoctum
What I find is that the same group of people don't use their laptops for is sitting down and viewing movies or watching Flash videos at full-screen, so why is this made the main feature of laptops? Other than the laptop manufacturer's fight to the bottom?
First: Just because you don't bear witness to it doesn't mean it's not occurring. Second: Yes, there's always going to be a race to the bottom. For current examples, see tablet computing, entry level DSLR cameras, smartphones, and practically any unessential-to-human-survival consumer appliance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adnoctum
I'd pay a 30% premium for a basic laptop with a better screen, without having to spend $2000+ on a high-end system.
So, you'd like an Apple computer, then? Now I don't feel so bad for my earlier statement
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Old 12th Apr 2012, 15:32   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schmidtbag
Sometimes it is better to let people buy the crappier device so they know not to go that cheap in the future.
I actually meant to mention this in the blog but forgot.

If this happens, if people are allowed to buy hardware that wont be up to the task then when things go wrong they will blame the hardware, not themselves or their purchase decision. Humans are generally pretty bad at admitting mistakes, especially expensive ones where there is some hardware they can blame instead.

This'll just lead to people becoming increasingly anti PC - the experience needs to be as smooth and simple as possible to convince people that they need a PC in their life, and you'll only get that by having the correct hardware or setup.
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Old 12th Apr 2012, 15:37   #11
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Despite my rational objection, 16:9 is a good aspect ratio for all of this.
Whoopsie. Meant to say: "1366 x 768 is a good resolution for all of this." Reason being is it doesn't stress the hardware and effectively maintains a certain level of 'expectation' for the user. 720p for a movie on a 15" laptop is more than enough unless your blind-granny nose-to-the-screen close, looking for pixel imperfections. Same can be said for gaming. Few widely-played, currently-played, non-hardcore games stress the underlying hardware to the point where anyone would notice slowdown. A few years down the line, someone might notice their system is no longer up to snuff - which would probably around the time the hardware is out of warranty and a new computer would be considered anyway.
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Old 12th Apr 2012, 17:34   #12
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I've walked away and had a bit of a think about the article.

Funnily enough, when I'm making a purchase for myself, my family or my work, I'm not thinking about a "healthy and prosperous tech industry", I'm thinking about the needs of the purchaser and the available resources.
It isn't the job of consumers to subsidise the tech industry by purchasing more resources than would reasonably be needed.
It certainly isn't my mum's job to spend her pension on things she doesn't need in order to churn products for multi-nationals. Nor that of my less informed friends. Nor even myself.

If you think that I am misrepresenting the article, I disagree. That is what is being said - "Buy more expensive stuff (on the off-chance they may need it in the future...maybe), so the tech industry makes more of the better stuff".

I think there is a disconnect between what people think they will do on their laptops (especially at point of sale), and what they actually do. Which is where I disagree with the article.
I think people think about all the things the could be doing with the laptops, but find they never do in practice. This is especially the case if they have bought with the expert help they receive from the retail outlet. Did you see the seething sarcasm there?
Naturally, this is not a blanket comment, but just my opinion about what I see. People keep talking about all those images and home videos and whatever they get enthused about, but they don't actually do it when it comes to doing it.
Timmy's netbook failure has more to do a misinformed consumer and has nothing at all to do with the weakness of Atom processors or the netbook platform. I have an Atom-based system that functions perfectly adequately because I don't expect it to be anything more than it is. Atom is a bit weak for my mum, but a Brazos-based multi-core system would be perfectly fine (if it came with a 4:3 screen).
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Old 12th Apr 2012, 17:48   #13
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@ Comments.

Sadly, my mum'd throw a fit if I presented her with an iPad.
I installed Ubuntu on her laptop and made the interface as XP-like as possible. She was already using Firefox and didn't like the Ribbon-interfaced Office 2007 so I thought she could easily get to like Open Office.
I know, it was inspired, right? She lasted two weeks and I had re-image the laptop.
It's not as if she doesn't like new things (she instantly liked using Tabs in Firefox), she just doesn't like new things for the sake of new things. Gadgets are wasted on her! And she doesn't like lots of changes all at once. Introducing an iPad would probably end with a crime scene and a police investigation.

I didn't say that people don't use laptops for videos, I said that in my social group (which encompasses both my personal life which spans retirees like my mother, casual users, and enthusiasts and gamers to my professional life which is in a very mixed business/office situation which includes IT professionals) people aren't using their laptops for much more than Internet browsing (including casual Youtube videos) and document creation. What you and your acquaintances do is going to be as different as mine.

16:9 is great if your activity needs width (movie watching, spreadsheets, audio/video editing, etc), but terrible for anything requiring height (everything else).

At work, if I had a dollar for every time someone complained to me about how awful their super laptop is with a 1366x768 screen, I'd estimate I could buy a return airfare to Bali (and yes, I just did a check of airfares!). An internet search would show forums full of similar people.
If a laptop manufacturer offered a product with a 4:3 screen with a 20-30% cost premium, it would be a big seller to business/office users.
One office I know has all laptops as desktop replacements. Some "manager" thought he/she was smart, and justified themselves with some dubious reasoning. Workers could take their work with them even though they don't and has given IT more security and network access headaches to sort out. They've become little more than terminals, because the workers have to use more ergonomic USB mice and keyboards, and they're hooked up to () 17in 4:3 screens because the laptop screens (raised up on expensive arms) proved massively unproductive.
People couldn't function properly with 1366x768, but are perfectly fine with 1280x1024. It is not just a matter of what they are used to, because they all go back home to their crappy little 1366x768 laptops.

My current laptop has a 12.1in screen with a 1280x800 resolution (LP C2D, not Atom) and it is for mobility use and some Internet browsing. I'd get a tablet, but I like the keyboard. The fact that it is a full power C2D doesn't hurt.
I could never use Photoshop on it because of the terrible colour reproduction of the TN panel. Compared to my IPS desktop monitor, it is like comparing real life to dog vision, and this was a premium $2000 laptop. It is so...I'm sorry, I have to say it...s!*t I was shocked by how washed out colours were when I first used it. Newer TN-based laptop screens aren't as bad, but...

I wouldn't mind paying an Apple-like premium for a better screen, but it is all the other design choices that Apple makes that I object to. I don't want my laptop to be a fraction of an inch thick and light enough to blow away in a slight breeze, and I especially don't want to send the laptop back to Apple to change the battery and forego a DVD drive (I still use mine, thanks).
I think I'd have to give up on life if I had to own an Apple laptop (and yes, I've used several with OSX). I suspect that I'd have to install a Linux distro on it. It would sicken me on several different emotional levels, and this is from someone who owns more 680x0 and PPC-based Apples than he could reasonably explain.

Another pet hate: PC stuff that get power via Molex plugs (fans, fan controllers, PCIe adaptors). Please, please, move to SATA power connectors already! I have two PCs that don't have Molex connectors and I had to buy a SATA->Molex adaptor on eBay.
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Old 12th Apr 2012, 18:44   #14
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@Adnoctum
I pretty much entirely agree with your 2nd last post, you made a lot of valid points.

Regarding your 2nd post, I understand how your mom doesn't like change, but sometimes change is necessary. I knew someone who wanted a multi-monitor setup but wanted his monitors set to 1024x768 just because it was more familiar to him. I told him that if he just increased the resolution to the native amount (which was nearly twice that) then he could probably drop 1 entire monitor, but he didn't care. It isn't difficult to make linux operate nearly identical to windows, I did the same thing for my mom as you did with yours (except used debian instead of ubuntu) and she has yet to find any problems with it.

And yes, I understand that people don't want to move out of their comfort zones and they shouldn't need to either, however, people who can't accept something like a graphical change or a different (possibly faster/easier) way of doing something are the same people who cause problems like HTML5 not being adopted several years ago. Some people just need to suck it up and deal with the newer things whether they like it or not. If you're not comfortable with the switch then maybe you be in a rapidly expanding market. Nothing states you MUST use a computer on your free time, it is entirely optional.

And again, get a widescreen monitor but set it to a 4:3 ratio. There are ways to make it not stretched out. And 16:9 resolutions are practical for everything, they offer the same height of pixels as 4:3 monitors, just additional width. If you really need the extra height, rotate the monitor 90 degrees and you've got a super long display. I think people not functioning with 1366x768 due to "display quality" are coincidental. That is a very typical and reasonable resolution of small laptops or large netbooks. I have yet to see a display like that which I strongly disliked. I'd like to know what brand you and people you know are getting that has such awful displays.

There are macbooks with removable batteries and contain a dvd drive and are just as portable as your 12.1" laptop. I'm not sponsor of apple, I'm just saying your complaint isn't valid. I'm not sure why you hate their computers so much. Sure they're ridiculously expensive and contain mediocre hardware, but they're still designed well (not the cheap macbooks, those suck) and have nice features.

I would also blame you for getting a PSU that doesn't use molex connectors. Personally, I like them because they're more flexible than SATA connectors, since they don't have as many wires. They're also easier to "hack" if you make your own hardware/mods.
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Old 12th Apr 2012, 18:55   #15
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The last laptop I was asked to check out, I pointed out that they could probably get a bigger screen that wasn't as shiny, and that they would make much better use of a larger hard disk than they would of the Ram that was in there (500GB and 6GB). All this was completely irrelevant to her, she had already decided on that one because it was..... blue.
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Old 12th Apr 2012, 19:14   #16
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Good blog post and like OzThe2 I got burnt and after that, told that particular person asking advice to stick to buying Dell as I wasn't putting myself out for the hassle anymore.

As for my Mum, she was happy that Vista looks like 7 (somewhat) so she didn't have to learn much that was new, and I set all the browsers to take her straight to web mail but she was conscious of an older PC's slower speed. So instead of any more upgrade money spent on an older machine I used to use, she bought a laptop instead, but the screen was fine for her, she just hated the smaller keyboard and trackpad so doesn't use the portable as much even when I added a real mouse.

So for the next PC, she'll be on the Dell trail as well most likely, as the next door neighours are laughing with a Dell Q6600 running Vista, which is powerful enough to upgrade to 7 or 8 and still do everything they want.

As for Paul's views in the blog post, at least nowadays you could tell someone to get an AMD laptop if they're even thinking about playing games more powerful than Solitaire - then they would be covered for as long as they could be bothered to seek out the mobile GPU driver updates.

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Old 12th Apr 2012, 19:29   #17
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In reality 90% of the population use a PC to surf the web, it's not a work tool.
That, I guess is why iPads and the like are so popular, they accomplish there main task out of the box.

A low end Dell set up will be more than enough for the majority of people, whilst not breaking the bank.
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Old 12th Apr 2012, 19:34   #18
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I think another reason for ditching the 4:3 screens, was that 16:x you can have two A4 sized documents open at the same time, so when using your laptop to write up documents/copy them it is a lot easier.
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Old 12th Apr 2012, 19:34   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schmidtbag View Post
And again, get a widescreen monitor but set it to a 4:3 ratio. There are ways to make it not stretched out. And 16:9 resolutions are practical for everything, they offer the same height of pixels as 4:3 monitors, just additional width. If you really need the extra height, rotate the monitor 90 degrees and you've got a super long display. I think people not functioning with 1366x768 due to "display quality" are coincidental. That is a very typical and reasonable resolution of small laptops or large netbooks. I have yet to see a display like that which I strongly disliked. I'd like to know what brand you and people you know are getting that has such awful displays.
It might be the case for a desktop monitor, but you can't rotate a laptop screen, and 768 for vertical resolution is crap - all you do is scroll, it's like going back 12 years. 16:9 screen offers the same vertical resolution as 4:3 only if you go for full hd, for a laptop that means 17"+ or paying 1200+.
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Old 12th Apr 2012, 22:20   #20
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Originally Posted by Adnoctum View Post
@ Comments.

Sadly, my mum'd throw a fit if I presented her with an iPad.
I installed Ubuntu on her laptop and made the interface as XP-like as possible. She was already using Firefox and didn't like the Ribbon-interfaced Office 2007 so I thought she could easily get to like Open Office.
I know, it was inspired, right? She lasted two weeks and I had re-image the laptop.
It's not as if she doesn't like new things (she instantly liked using Tabs in Firefox), she just doesn't like new things for the sake of new things. Gadgets are wasted on her! And she doesn't like lots of changes all at once. Introducing an iPad would probably end with a crime scene and a police investigation.

I didn't say that people don't use laptops for videos, I said that in my social group (which encompasses both my personal life which spans retirees like my mother, casual users, and enthusiasts and gamers to my professional life which is in a very mixed business/office situation which includes IT professionals) people aren't using their laptops for much more than Internet browsing (including casual Youtube videos) and document creation. What you and your acquaintances do is going to be as different as mine.

16:9 is great if your activity needs width (movie watching, spreadsheets, audio/video editing, etc), but terrible for anything requiring height (everything else).
I see your issue about the whole iPad thing.

I generally find that a massive regime change is taken better than subtle reform. This is in my view one of the problems with Linux - for so long it was focused at being a Windows replacement that it gained no traction - because there were many things it did worse than Windows. Now, we have Unity and other interfaces, and it's becoming more popular because it's becoming a genuine alternative, it's no longer just trying to look like Windows and is such succeeding.
I bought an iPad recently, and though I only expected to use it for stuff like Netflix, I've ended up using it for most of my daily computing needs. For a risky strategy, you could give her an iPad, show her word processing and suchlike, show her how to do most of her daily things on it, and see in a couple of months whether she's still using her laptop much. The risk of course is that you've just given her a 400 device, and she might not use it at all.

I bought my mum an iPhone last year, and she uses it for Sudoku and Scrabble. 500 well spent right there.

Two solutions to the whole 16:9 problem.
1) Use a 16:10 monitor -- it's a fair bit closer to 4:3.
2) Get a massive monitor (with an appropriately massive resolution). My 2560x1600 gives as much vertical real estate as a pretty big 4:3 screen gives horizontal.
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