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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Lexa's LiveJournal:

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Monday, January 31st, 2011
3:19 pm
ich bin in Berlin
Haven't actually started working yet but haven't had a chance to get out much either. We're staying in Werneuchen, wich is a small villiage near Berlin, at a huge house with a nice dog and 4 cats where bobbie and I share our own huge room with east-ish and south-ish facing windows... with no internet and no microwave. It's positively barbaric.

I got internet working on my phone just 1 day ago (apparently international data roming can cost up to $20/mb) and that helps but sometimes I want to smash my phone when I can't do something. Bobbie and I are now the proud owners of FIVE sim cards but only have one working phone. Only 10 euros/month for unlimited data but about $0.22/minute-text so I'm not going to bother giving you my phone number. If you get a call from a google (California) phone number it might be us so answer. Look forward to a post about some of the ins and outs of german cellular service on http://postgradexplorations.blogspot.com/

Today is our first real day at the dance school but we're mostly just getting oriented (and using the internet).
Thursday, January 13th, 2011
6:25 pm
the self-delusion of car vs. bike road rules
I ride my bike alot (27mph ebike of awesome). I'm pretty safe and considerate often going out of my way and beyond my responsibilities to not impede the flow of traffic. But I'll make a confession: I don't always follow "the rules". Sometimes drivers get mad at me for not following "the rules" but here's the funny thing:

1. About 33% of the time I'm actually not breaking any rules at all when they get mad at me.
They might have gotten scared because they weren't paying attention and I magically teleported myself to within 5 feet of them before dropping my cloaking shields (this would totally be against traffic safety laws... if it were possible). Or they are just upset that I dared to exercise my right to use the road and their SUV is too big to get around me so they are stuck going 10mph up a hill for a block. Or perhaps they're just upset because I did something they can't do and want to justify their childish jealously by thinking that it somehow breaks the rules.  Like riding on the shoulder, moving from the road to the sidewalk on a whim, various forms of lane-sharing, or moving through stopped traffic. These are all perfectly legal, safe, and legitmate things to do on a bicycle. Bicycles are supposed to follow all the same rules as cars WHEN THEY ARE SHARING THE ROAD. No where does it say that bicyclists are required to stay on the road the whole time and just because a CAR wouldn't fit somewhere doesn't mean a bicyclist has to pretend like their bike won't fit there. Bicyclists aren't required to plaster themselves with flashing lights drivers are supposed to pay attention. Oh, and we're allowed to share lanes with cars. If traffic is thick and going <25mph a bicycle has quite a lot of advantages that are 100% legal and they can cut through traffic and get there faster than a car. Just get over it.

2. About 33% of the time the person who gets mad at me wasn't following the rules either.
Most motorists don't even know the rules or think that everyone else has to follow them so that they can break them without having to pay attention to where other cars, bikes, pedestrians are. And in most of these situations I didn't impede them either they just got scared due to my magical teleportation abilities (see #1 above).

3. And ~33% of the time they're just mad at me on principal.
I didn't impede anyone. I didn't create any unsafe situations. They're just upset because they can't get away with running a red light while piloting a 2-tonne SUV.

4. that leaves another ~1%... I'm not perfect. Still better than the average driver though.

I'd like to talk about #2.
Taking a right hand turn on a red light. You're allowed to do this. AFTER you stop and AFTER you signal intent and AFTER you check to make sure the way is clear WHILE STOPPED. If you don't do these three things you are running a red light. Period. Dear anonymous, self-important, lexus-driving scumbag: If in the process of trying to run a red light while taking a right turn without stopping or signaling and the way isn't clear because I'm busy running a red light in front of you: don't slam on your breaks and honk at me. Especially don't hold the horn down to communicate to me how incensed you are that I dared to get in the way of your red-light-running. Instead please go kill yourself. If you had bothered to STOP or at least maybe SIGNAL I would have never got in your way to begin with so you really only have yourself to blame. People like you are the root cause of all the worlds problems.
Sunday, January 2nd, 2011
10:24 am
need DDR2 desktop RAM

Need DDR2 desktop RAM. At this point I'll take anything so I can at least install OS on a new system for Jeremy Hiebel to repay him for the fantastic work he's been doing on my house. Paying for 1-2gb sticks. Plz help I have no car and almost no free time to run out and get some.

Sunday, November 21st, 2010
9:04 am
climate change
I'm beginning to think we are already past the point where merely reducing use of fossil fuel and forest conservation will avert catastrophic climate change. A degree or two warmer and the Siberian permafrost will quickly (1 or 2 summers based on my limited understanding) release an amount of carbon roughly equivalent to burning down all the rain forests in the entire world. The current temperature may already be too warm to keep it trapped for much longer. Carbon sequestering on an epic scale is the only thing that can prevent or reverse this.
Wednesday, November 17th, 2010
1:57 pm
liberal fascism
"Person A is allowed to violate the Liberty of Person B and Person C in order to preserve a some minor freedom of Person C" A form of fascism championed by muddle-minded libertarians (as long as they are in group C).

I have very strong libertarian roots, they are my people, but sometimes it pains me to listen to them. I think the main problem is that they aren't nearly as well educated or objective as they'd like to think.
Saturday, October 23rd, 2010
1:12 pm
cell phone memory architecture
To make sure we're keeping our terms straight I will attempt to define the "memory" in the context of computer hardware a way that is useful and timeless:
Memory is a digital storage medium (a device) that is used to store structured data (an implementation) for the purpose of reading it back later. RAM, ROM, flash, eepROM, magnetic, volatile, non-volatile, internal, external, solid state, spinning disks, tape etc. can all be "memory". We don't include chip configuration settings or hardware buffers in this definition even though they may use identical technology, or even identical chips, to store "data" because it's a different implementation. You could argue the taxonomy to say configuration settings and buffer implementations are a subset of "memory" but I don't think that's really useful as these implementations are irrelevant to any software-level or PCB-level discussions about device architecture.

HTC appears to be already using the term this way so get used to it. Their marketers are still unsure of what to put into the field though; it's totally inconsistent from one device to the next.

There were, historically, huge differences at every level of architecture between fast volatile memory vs. slow nonvolatile memory. That lead to different words being used for the two groups, memory vs. storage, especially in non-technical communication where this simple dichotomy was sufficient. This has never really been accurate as evidenced by the names Random Access Memory and Read Only Memory.   These differences are becoming smaller (and the industry would love to have them all go away so they could use a single chip for everything) and the dichotomy doesn't work well with embedded device architecture.  A typical modern smartphone has DDR RAM, NAND flash, and 1 or more "ROM"s (which might actually just be more NAND flash which makes more sense when you consider that flash is essentially a type of Electrically Erasable Read Only Memory). This really isn't different from a personal computer's RAM, HD, and various firmware/BIOS memory areas. But no one talked about the ROMs in a personal computer and on a smartphone your RAM and NAND are probably 1 part (an MCP or PoP putting the RAM and flash into one package possibly also with memory controllers) and your operating system is stored in ROM. So when Marketing asks Engineering "how much memory and storage" a device has they get a response they don't understand but since they are just marketing people they probably don't even know that they don't understand and just write up some nonsense.

Droid Incredible lists 8GB "Flash", 512MB "RAM", and another 512MB of unlabeled memory.

You can compare this to the BOM with an 8GB eNAND and a 4Gb + 4Gb MCP (remember 4Gb = 512MB)

G1 spec lists "RAM" and "ROM"

Touch Diamond spec lists "RAM, "ROM", and "Internal storage"

Touch Diamond 2 spec lists only 288MB "RAM" and 512MB "ROM"

You can compare this to my HTC Warhawk
WM6.5 device info screen:
RAM size: 288 MB
Flash size: 512 MB
Storage size: 235.39 MB
About screen:
Memory: 185.92
Memory screen:
Storage total: 235.39 MB
Program total: 185.67
Yeah, that doesn't make any sense to me either.
Thursday, October 21st, 2010
6:39 pm
open minded
Open mindedness is about considering new information that might show you to be wrong about something. Refusing to have an opinion in the first place out of fear of being wrong is called ambivalence. I can be wrong a million times and still change my mind and be right. If I never take a stand I will be wrong forever. Having an opinion but refusing to act on it out of fear of being wrong is not open mindedness either it is apathy.
Tuesday, October 19th, 2010
7:26 pm
"don't ask don't tell"
The news stories about this are making zero sense to me. The military never had a "don't ask don't tell" policy. CONGRESS has a "don't ask don't tell" policy that they make the military implement. There was high level resistance from within the military when it was being passed; they didn't want a policy telling them what to do with gays they wanted to continue to make their own rules. The military had a "no gays" policy and congress didn't really change anything. They wanted to have the power to change that policy in the future in a way that made sense to them. It's really not their policy and they never wanted it because it's a stupid way to implement that kind of policy.

So with that established: if a judge declares an injunction against Congress's "don't ask don't tell" policy all that means is the military can go back to doing what they want. They don't have to make any immediate changes. Does the judge even have the direct jurisdiction to put an injunction on a military policy like that? What's the president? How did the women in the military thing unfold?
Monday, October 18th, 2010
10:17 pm
flights to Boston are booked
Oh, what a saga that was. But it's done. Our flight is booked and we're going to Boston for training. HUZZAH!

Turns out the 25k point minimum on my rewards program for airline tickets is PER TICKET. They told me this in the very last step of trying to check out after I had to scour around to find a flight that fit our schedule. So I had to choose between 25k points (1.276 cents/point) and $319 as I don't quite have 50k points or $618 to just book it on Expedia. I had been counting on getting 1.5cents/point. So I bought the tickets and I'll apply my points towards my airfare to London in January instead.

Anyone with a Jet Blue rewards program want my points?

Anyone wanna help me run $13k through my credit card in the next 3 months so I can cover the whole flight? Please? Some of you have got to be buying expensive stuff and want to let me have the reward points, yes? If you have the cash I could pay your utility bills through the end of the year and it would really help me out. Also going to be grabbing gift certificats (grocery, costco, gas, stuff like that) in $100 denominations so let me know if I can count you in for some.

Oh, and we're still accepting donations for Bobbie at B. I just spent $309 for her ticket and she'll have another $500 due to United Planet as soon as she gets her paperwork turned in (paperwork deadline was moved up due to a flood of applicants going to Germany) and she could use another ~$345 for her airfare to europe (or ~21k reward points) and then all that's left is the remaining ~$5k to United Planet for living expenses. I'm sure it will be worth it.
Thursday, October 7th, 2010
10:37 pm
a dream (number theory, how it relates to society, and fun activities!)
I want to start a new society on the moon. Expressing values in hexadecimal little-endian format will be the norm. Eventually people will forget all about how people used to count backwards from the way they wrote the numbers and we'll live happily ever after in harmony with natural addressing schemes.

Hexadecimal is better simply because it translates to binary better. Binary is important not just for technology and if even if the vast majority of people never use binary and only use hex technology would get a significant boost from it being more widely adopted and it would have no negative impact on the commoner. It would also help encourage social classlessness/mobility, make understanding of technology and science more accessible to people. I think it may even help people think more rationally and be better able to gauge relative values if they are more familiar with binary number systems. We'll keep the rest of this discussion in base-10 for simplicity sake though.

Why little-endian instead of big-endian like every society in the world developed? I'll answer that in a moment but first I must point out that there are some problems with this questions.  1. people DON'T use Big Endian properly (nor would they want to, it's crap) 2. There are plenty of societies that developed little-endian. 3. related to #2 left-to-right vs. right-to-left is completely arbitrary and there is no genetic predication for either. Neither one changes how accessible the data is.

The crux of the issue of whether to put the Least Significant Bit first or last is that "first" isn't really the issue. The issue is relativity. The LSB is *always* in the same spot: the least significant digit. In little-endian all the other digits are simply positioned relative to the least significant digit. In big endian the other digits are placed relative to the most significant digit. If you have a number with more digits you have to shift all the existing numbers over. This is a big mess. To mitigate some of this mess you have to use leading zeros (you'll see them everywhere if you look: digital displays, bank deposit slips, often expressed as blank spots instead of putting an actual zero there but it's no less stupid and pointless). People don't do this when they write because it's a bunch of rubbish. People write numbers in little endian BACKWARDS and then you have to count the number of digits from left to right and then re-read them right to left to see what the number was. We say numbers over 19 in Big Endian, clearly identifying the most significant digit, but if you translate that directly into numerals you lose a that identification and you end up with backwards little endian because the only way to know the position of the most significant digit is to measure it relative to the least significant digit and that is the definition of little endian.

Bear with me here; remember that there are *only* whole, positive, numbers and don't go worrying about negative numbers or fractions until you've got this.

As we all know from grade school you have to add numbers starting with the LSB. So if you're working in big-endian the first step is to align the numbers (leading zeros) and then add them BACKWARDS. It's no wonder people have trouble with numbers. They're saying them in big endian, then writing them in backwards little endian, probably misaligning them in the process, and reading then BACKWARDS and then adding them BACKWARDS and then reading them FORWARDS to translate them back into big endian.

Continue to bear with me; remember that the ONLY mathematical operation in existance is adding. Don't worry about subtracting or how you learned to divide starting with the MSB because those are really just fancy forms of adding.

Little-endian also works a lot better when doing certain kinds of operations in certain kinds of computer hardware for basically the same reasons as above.

Switching things back and forth from big-endian to little endian is stupid and just slows us down and confuses people. How many geniuses are unidentified amongst us just because they lack the intellectual pony-trick of being able to switch back and forth between big endian and little endian seamlessly? This isn't just a problem for computer programmers, this is a pandemic, self-inflicted assault on our collective intellectual prosperity. Especially as we move into an era where modern technology takes care of most of our number crunching for us it is imperative that we make number skills more intuitive and accessible or we will experience a brain drain at every level of industry, technology, and science and a widening socio-econimic gap and the instability and lost productivity that goes with that.

Here are some examples of big endian vs. little endian that you might encounter in a normal day

multiply 3 times 3 and you get nine. This is the same either way but notice that the way we say all of the number is either explicitly little endian or ambiguous right up to twenty.

Add nine plus nine and you get eighteen. The word "eighteen" is in little endian. Eight(8)-Teen(01) but we write it backwards: 18

thirteen times thirteen equals one hundred sixty nine. Here we switched from big endian to little endian. Thir(3)-Teen(01) vs. One (1)hundred (100) Six(6)-ty(10) Nine (9) This switchover here could be evidence of how numbers of different magnitudes were being used in different ways by different classes of people back when the language for them was being developed?

Say this number out loud: 354651352846451
No really, do it. Then go look behind the cut

cutCollapse )
I already mentioned how computer calculations can be easier in little endian because they can be done in fewer operations, less information, and less code and I'm sure you can see how this would make technology easier to develop if everyone was already familiar with working with numbers in little endian. But one of the other ways in which technology and science would benefit from more people being familiar with little endian is because expressing values in little endian makes them line up with counting and avoids confusion between the two. When you count things or put things in order by number you start by assigning the smallest value to the first one and count up because that's the only thing you can do (THERE ARE NO NEGATIVE NUMBERS!!! I defy you to buy a flash drive with a negative amount of storage space on it so until you do just sit down and shut up). When you're out in the wild finding the "first" one can sometimes be a challenge and you might count and recount but in the lab it's easy: pick one and declare it to be the first one. The only real challenge is making sure everyone knows that's the one you picked to be the first one and how to measure relative distance from it to find the rest of the locations but there are systems in place to handle this in most cases that are invisible to higher layers in the architecture so they don't have to worry about it.

Time for another activity behind the cut!
to be finished laterCollapse )
9:26 am
DOJ lawsuit against AMEX
DOJ says it's anti-competitive to require merchants to not pass on CC fees to customers. I agree with that argument. This lack of transparency and freedom is bad for business and it's bad for our culture.

AMEX's counter arguments are pretty valid when taken on their own. 1 revolves around a take-it-or-leave-it attitude and the fact that there are 3 other major players in the CC transaction arena to choose from. If you don't like AMEX's contract don't accept AMEX. Something like half of merchants comprising 75% of all CC transactions do this already clearly proving there is competition in the market. 2 is that if AMEX does something to drive business to your store it seems reasonable that AMEX forbid you from encouraging their customers to use a different CC instead once they get there. 3 is a technical argument that Amex, with their measly ~25% market share, is exempt from anti-trust actions in the first place as they don't control the market.

However, none of these arguments remain nearly as valid when considered in context.

1. Until recently, this "take it or leave it" policy was the same policy used by ALL CC companies in USA. The DOJ didn't sue just AMEX they sued all of the major CC companies that had this policy. AMEX can't argue that their practice is justified by the existence of competition over a rule that, historically, didn't exist while the only reason they are arguing the case is because they don't think it will exist in the future unless the competition continues to be non-existent.

2. AMEX doesn't do anything to drive business to the majority of merchants that accept AMEX. The argument that AMEX card holders spend more because of the rewards programs would require proof to back it up. Card holders don't walk out of stores or put things back on the shelf when they realize a merchant doesn't accept AMEX they just pull out another payment instrument. If it *is* true that AMEX card holders spend significantly more money because of a rewards program that gives pays the back 1-5% the question of what this does to the market, economy, and our culture comes into play and we're back to the fact that AMEX is not being singled out. If AMEX does offer a special incentive to AMEX cardholders to shop at any specific merchant those incentives could be tied to using the card in fairly easy and reliable ways negating the need for anti-competitive contract requirements.

3. Can the DOJ prosecute an entire market for anti-competitive practices or are they limited to prosecuting only if the practice is being carried out by a market maker? If you assume that the DOJ can single out a market maker and force them to stop an anti-competitive practice you must agree that they are constitutionally mandated to enforce that rule on the entire market. Sometimes anti-trust action gets a bit confusing when trying to figure the balance of competition and equal enforcement of the law but it's pretty cut-and-dry in this case as it comes down to a single, concise, policy. Master Card, Visa, and Discover have all agreed to stop this wrong-headed practice; AMEX and all other payment processors must also stop. And this really is an all-or-nothing gambit by AMEX. Either they successfully argue that the rule doesn't apply to anyone and hope that Visa continues the status quo (which is essentially collusion, a point that will not go unnoticed by the judge), or they lose. If they win a special exemption or if Visa continues to follow the DOJ's request for any reason AMEX will be decimated in the free market. They must successfully argue that the DOJ has no teeth and large financial institutions are free to do anything they want or completely change their business model.

Goodbye AMEX. You won't be missed by many.
Saturday, October 2nd, 2010
4:51 pm
need SIM card
I need any GSM SIM card for a cell phone to sign up for service with boost. Old AT&T, T-mobile, etc. I used to have several and after not finding any reason to need them for several years I threw them away a few months ago :/
Friday, September 24th, 2010
11:46 am
Work party this weekend
Mostly yardwork. Could use help and tools. Free food. Pancake breakfasts. Some crash space available. For fun we're going to Crest Cinema tonight at 9pm. Saturday night we'll probably to go Gameworks. Sunday night we'll make dinner and watch a movie at home and head to bed by 10pm (hey, I have work). I can play DVD, AVI, USB flash drive so bring something to watch if you like.

If you are a skilled carpenter with tools I have some projects I could pay you for a little. Mostly doors.

I need a truck (hopefully I can borrow Jonwa's about a 2nd one wouldn't hurt)
pole saw
chain saw
extension ladder
plumbing torch
limb saw
hack saw
Thursday, September 9th, 2010
5:07 pm
daily cell phone service
$2/day unlimited minutes, text, internet cell phone service. No contract. Use your current phone (GSM or CDMA). Sign up on the website. Mostly posting this for my new friend Hillman but handy to know for any visitors to USA that this service is available. The next time we have guests over we'll be providing them with a phone. Having mobile internet is extremely handy as a tourist.

If someone has already tried this let me know how well it works.
10:50 am
united planet update
over 40,000 air miles were donated to Bobbie! We still haven't heard back about where we are going.
Saturday, September 4th, 2010
9:23 am
Friday, September 3rd, 2010
10:08 pm
itunes sux
So, I bought an used ipod (30g 5g iPod video or something like that, I think. $20 with a partly broken screen.) from a guy at work 'cuz it was cheap and they are supposed to be nice and the g/f needed an new mp3 player. I am so not impressed with iTunes. "it just works"? this software is a pile of crap. I can't add any movies (and I don't even get error messages) and i can't sync any music to the ipod at home either (unless I want to erase everything already on it).

I did finally managed to navigate the retarded UI and get some pictures synced over and confirmed that my dock to RCA and 3.5mm to RCA cables work for audio and video. Yay! Now I just need to figure out how to get movies onto it; slideshows are only so exciting.
Friday, August 27th, 2010
12:47 pm
maximizing cellphone discount
People keep asking me about how this is supposed to work so I will explain more.

Here's a list of GSM phones under $60 that you can buy without a contract right now . These are comparable to the phones you would get for free when signing a 2year voice contract.

Here's an android GSM phone without a contract. It's $400. That's pretty expensive and I'm trying to avoid doing that. You can get it for $50 with a 2 year contract. They'll try to make you sign a contract for data services also but I've weaseled out of it before (or you could get the data services and use them on the cheaper phones have basic web and email capabilities too).

So you can get $60 off a $60 phone or $350 off a $400 phone. Essentially I want you to get the android phone and then sell it to me for $110 saving me $350 and costing you nothing.
Monday, August 16th, 2010
10:51 pm
so much stuff not going right!
money is a little tight and nothing is going right :/ Working and working and going crazy feeling like I'm not getting enough done on any of my projects.
discovered a new problems with ebike. Could really use it to be working properly already without spending more money. It seems to be plenty fast enough and have enough range but I'm really past the point of wanting to spend more money and time fiddling with it.
Shoes are starting to split apart. Had really hoped they would last another 4 months so I could buy shoes and have them last until I get back from germany. Maybe I'll just take my boots.
My project at work is doomed. Even if the blocking issues are resolved tomorrow, which I already know is impossible, and no other problems are found, which is unlikely, there may not be enough time to finish testing everything once much less do a final regression. Oh, and I'm being blamed for the failure to finish a first complete pass which I really don't think is even fair since they are the ones who forced me to go about it all bass-akwards despite my repeated protests.
engine in bobbie's car is quite possibly on it's last legs (yet another fun new noise discovered)
it's HOT and my attic fan keeps seizing up. I've fixed it 3 times now. Spent all day saturday redoing a bunch of insulation in my attic and fixing the fan and it doesn't seem to have helped at all. My house didn't even cool down to ambient temp last night.
I can't find my nice screwdriver
I somehow managed to cosmetically smash the corner of my laptop a week or two ago. So much for trying to sell it...
the lawnmower doesn't work
I think my water timer just broke and I watered the front yard for 90minutes instead of 30minutes
refinance is dragging on much longer than it should. Costs me like $15 per day and I'm starting to get nervous it won't go through.
market appraisal of my house came in +5% lower than I had hoped for after I took an entire week off from trying to rent out my empty room in order to work on the yard.

and most of all, one of the main reasons I don't have the money to fix any of the above problems:
I've spent many, many hours trying to get my last room rented out and it's still empty. I seriously got like 50 inquiries in two weeks at the end of august but have only gotten 2 in the past 4 days.

Somethings gonna have to give,one way or the other, soon. This is not sustainable.

On the bright side my house is looking pretty good. Not that it seems to count for anything...
Wednesday, August 11th, 2010
9:57 pm
ebike up and running
You probably thought I had given up on this project too, didn't you? Well, you were wrong. Not only did I do a major amound of yardwork and landscaping before my appraisal last Thursday (+$51k to $300k in 1.8 years and it only cost me, uh, about $51k! how awesome is that?!) but I got back to working on the ebike, got it operational, and FINALLY took the ebike out for it's maiden voyage today.

It's AWESOME. A few trips around the parking lot and I was topping out at 22mph and running out of space so I hopped over to an nice straight level bit of Burke Gilman Trail and hit 27mph with ease! Then I rode to Home Depot and back to buy some mounting hardware to get the basket mounted better (mounting a rear basket on a rear suspension bike is a bit tricky). 22mph up moderate hills, maintaining 24mph most of the way without maxing the throttle out. 3.4miles round trip took battery pack from 50v down to 48.8v. (42v is fully discharged). That suggest that I can get ~22miles range at ~24mph. If that turns out to be true this setup will exceed my expectations and I won't have to feel dumb for not just buying the $450 ebike from costco.com that comes mostly assembled and tuned (it's less than half as fast, which is why I didn't get it in the first place, but this has turned out to be a lot more work than I had intended).

Still have a little more work to do. Rear breaks, beefier battery harness, charging harness, charger config, and I'm still thinking about getting a new bicycle and switching the motor to that one. It would be nice to have a 2nd bike anyway so I can go riding with bunny.
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