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Something about Trump cybersecurity executive order seems awfully familiar

Ars - Thu, 2017-05-18 16:53

Enlarge / President Trump’s executive order on cybersecurity is built on the orders and policies of his predecessor, and is almost entirely apolitical. (credit: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Last week, amidst the whirlwind surrounding the firing of FBI Director James Comey, President Donald Trump signed his long-promised executive order on federal government cybersecurity. While many of the other orders issued by Trump have been politically fraught, this one is not; it's possibly the least controversial document to be adorned with the president's signature since his inauguration.

In fact, aside from some of the more Trumpian language in the order, this Executive Order could have easily been issued by the Obama administration. That's because it largely is based on policies and procedures that were spearheaded by President Obama's staff.

"My initial reaction to the order is, 'this is great,'" former National Security Council Director for Cybersecurity Policy Ben Flatgard told Ars. "Trump just endorsed Barack Obama's cybersecurity policy." Flatgard was one of the principal authors of the Obama administration's Cyber National Action Plan (CNAP), published in February of 2016.

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NASA inspector questions why agency built rocket test stands in Alabama

Ars - Thu, 2017-05-18 15:50

Enlarge / Then-NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, right, visits the newest member of Marshall's skyline—Test Stand 4693—on December 14, 2015, with astronaut Butch Wilmore, center. (credit: NASA)

As part of rocket development, aerospace engineers extensively test booster components before they are assembled into a larger launch vehicle. To that end, NASA has built two big test stands at Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama to test its large liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen fuel tanks. These tanks are part of the core stage of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.

However, a new report from NASA's inspector general, Paul Martin, raises serious questions about the cost of these test stands and the decision to build them in Alabama rather than in Mississippi, where NASA has an existing facility that already tests rocket engines. Additionally, the Mississippi-based Stennis Space Center is also much closer to the Louisiana factory where the SLS hydrogen and oxygen tanks are being assembled.

Costs

As part of the SLS program, NASA determined that it needed two test stands: one is for the larger hydrogen tank, which is about half the length of a football field, and the second is for the oxygen tank. The agency budgeted $40.5 million for the project but ended up spending $76 million, which is an increase of 88 percent. The stands were completed in November 2016.

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A single mutation may explain why Zika exploded in the Americas

Ars - Thu, 2017-05-18 15:35

(credit: US DHHS)

A single mutation may explain why Zika suddenly erupted from obscurity to become the alarming re-emerging infectious disease it is today, researchers report in Nature.

According to researchers from Texas and China, the mutation boosts Zika’s ability to hop into feasting mosquitoes that can then shuttle the virus to more victims. Based on archived viral strains, the mutation popped up sometime between the virus’ low-profile outbreaks in Southeastern Asia (which took place in 2007 and 2012) and Zika’s explosive emergence in the Americas beginning in 2015.

“Our data offer a potential explanation for the recent re-emergence of ZIKV [Zika virus],” the authors conclude. And, they go on, the findings suggest that co-evolution between a virus and its vector—mosquitoes, in this case—is just as important for outbreak risk as co-evolution with its hosts—us.

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Gallery: All of Android O’s totally revamped emoji

Ars - Thu, 2017-05-18 15:25

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.—We're live at Google I/O, where Android O's second developer preview arrived with almost no new announced features. This was mostly an under-the-hood update for the developer preview, and it's apparently stable enough to be declared a "beta" now. In terms of user-facing features, though, there's not a lot to talk about.

One big surprise was the total overhaul of Android's emoji. Nearly every emoji has been redrawn in a new style, and all of the yellow "blob" face designs are gone. The new emoji all get better 3D shading and generally end up with a design a lot closer to what you'd get on iOS. We have dutifully chronicled every new emoji in the gallery above.

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Do ‘disorganized’ neighborhoods make us drink?

Futurity.org - Thu, 2017-05-18 14:24

A neighborhood with more poverty and disorganization may play a greater role in problem drinking than the availability of bars and stores that sell hard liquor, new research shows.

While there is evidence for the link between neighborhood poverty and alcohol use, the new twist—that socioeconomics are more powerful environmental factors than even access to the substance itself—suggests that improving a neighborhood’s quality of life can yield a range of benefits.

“Is there something about the neighborhood itself that can lead to problems? As we learn more about those neighborhood factors that are relevant, then this might point to population-level strategies to modify or improve the environments where people live,” says Isaac Rhew, a research assistant professor in the department of psychiatry & behavioral sciences at the University of Washington.

A common way to think of such broader changes is the “broken windows” theory of maintaining neighborhoods to deter crime. In other words, implementing programs, services, or clean-up efforts to improve a neighborhood could help attain another goal: reducing problem drinking.

Liquor stores and the neighborhood

In examining the combination of multiple neighborhood factors on alcohol use, the researchers turned to an ongoing research study of adults the university’s Social Development Research Group has followed for decades. They interviewed more than 500 of the adults in the study, who were first identified as fifth-graders in Seattle elementary schools and now live throughout King County. In this neighborhood study, 48 percent of participants were women; people of color made up nearly 60 percent of respondents.

Researchers determined the US Census Block Group (a geographic area of roughly 1,000 people) of each participant’s residence, along with demographic data tied to that area and the number of locations that sold hard alcohol there. Participants also answered a series of questions about their alcohol consumption and their perceptions of their neighborhood.

This information allowed researchers to classify neighborhoods according to poverty level, alcohol availability (location of bars and liquor stores), and “disorganization,” which included factors such as crime, drug selling, and graffiti.

Methadone clinics don’t cause a spike in crime

The ability to consider a number of neighborhood characteristics simultaneously and to identify patterns of how these characteristics grouped together to form distinct neighborhood types made this study different from others that might focus on the impact of, say, poverty alone, Rhew says.

Organized communities

And while poverty and disorganization often are assumed to go hand-in-hand, that’s not always the case, adds study coauthor Rick Kosterman, a research scientist in the University of Washington School of Social Work.

A socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhood might also be highly organized, with strong leaders, a sense of identity and various programs and services for residents. At the same time, a low-poverty neighborhood might be highly disorganized, with a lack of resources or sense of community, or a few streets with more trouble than others.

In this study, researchers found that residents of neighborhoods primarily characterized by high poverty and disorganization tended to drink twice as much in a typical week as those in other types of neighborhoods. Binge-drinking—generally defined as more than four drinks at a time for women, five for men—occurred in these high-poverty, highly disorganized communities about four times as frequently as in other types of neighborhoods. These findings are consistent with previous research indicating that people in lower income neighborhoods may be at greater risk for alcohol-related problems, Rhew says.

What’s different, Rhew and Kosterman agree, is the fact that neighborhoods characterized by greater alcohol availability showed no increased alcohol use among residents—suggesting that socioeconomic factors may pose a greater risk for substance abuse.

Neighborhood ‘walkability’ can boost your health

“On its face, the connection between poverty and disorganization and alcohol use may not be all that surprising, but when you find that this connection may be even more important than the location of bars and liquor stores, then it’s those characteristics of a neighborhood that we want to pay attention to,” Kosterman says.

The researchers point to an important change that has occurred since their original data was collected: the passage of a state law in 2011 privatizing liquor sales. The availability of liquor went from a little more than 300 state-run stores to some 1,500 pharmacies, grocery stores, and warehouse clubs.

“People who utilize the outlets aren’t just people from the neighborhood. We see stronger evidence of the link between where alcohol is sold and other problems such as violence, crime, and drinking and driving, but not necessarily consumption,” he adds.

The ability, thanks to recent funding, to overlay neighborhood data with the longitudinal Seattle Social Development Project—the study of 808 individuals begun in 1985—presents opportunities for future analyses of a variety of behaviors and circumstances, the researchers says.

The study appears in the Journal of Urban Health. The other coauthor is Jungeun Olivia Lee at the USC School of Social Work. The National Institute on Drug Abuse supported the work.

Source: University of Washington

The post Do ‘disorganized’ neighborhoods make us drink? appeared first on Futurity.

Upgrading Ubuntu 16.10 to Ubuntu 17.04 Desktop/Server

Ubuntu Geek - Tue, 2017-05-02 07:02

Sponsored Link google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3561711309083119"; google_ad_slot = "5550623370"; google_ad_width = 336; google_ad_height = 280; Codenamed “Zesty Zapus”, Ubuntu 17.04 continues Ubuntu’s proud tradition of integrating the latest and greatest open source technologies into a high-quality, easy-to-use Linux distribution. The team has been hard at work through this cycle, introducing new features and fixing bugs.
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Ubuntu 17.04 (Zesty Zapus) Released and Download links Included

Ubuntu Geek - Tue, 2017-05-02 06:57

Codenamed “Zesty Zapus”, Ubuntu 17.04 continues Ubuntu’s proud tradition of integrating the latest and greatest open source technologies into a high-quality, easy-to-use Linux distribution. The team has been hard at work through this cycle, introducing new features and fixing bugs.
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Huawei Mate 9 Review: Dual Cameras in a Solid Smartphone

brighthand - Tue, 2017-02-14 13:46

The Huawei Mate 9 has three features that could well define 2017’s smartphone crop: barely-there display bezels, AI, and a dual camera.

There’s nothing revolutionary about the implementation here. Bezels have been shrinking for years, as smartphone makers balance larger displays with small builds. Dual cameras are quickly becoming the norm, with Huawei itself having multiple devices with them. And between Google Assistant, Siri, Cortana, and Alexa, voice-powered AI is NBD.

But combined in a decent piece of hardware with high-end specs, they make for a quality smartphone. That’s what Huawei is going for with large the Mate 9, a follow-up to last year’s Mate 8.

Did Huawei succeed in creating something decent for its latest and greatest? Find out in this full Huawei Mate 9 review.

Huawei Mate 9 Build & Design

Huawei makes great hardware, so it’s no surprise the Huawei Mate 9 is a sharp and well-built smartphone. It measures 6.2 x 3.1 x .3 inches, and weighs .42 pounds. The phone has an all-glass front, with aluminum back and slightly rounded sides.

It looks like a slightly smaller version of the Mate 8, which we praised as “excellent,” and feels just as solid. (Huawei thankfully sticking to the “if it ain’t broke…” hardware philosophy.) Aluminum and glass are the best smartphone combo going, making any device cool to the touch and resistant to smudges and fingerprints. The Mate 9 also has Gorilla Glass 3, and should survive the occasional drop. If that’s not good enough, it ships with a clear plastic rear bumper for a small bit of additional protection.

Unfortunately, it’s not waterproof or dustproof. All flagships should be, not because we want to take them swimming, but because spills happen and sometimes we get caught in the rain.

Looking at the Huawei Mate 9 head on, the front sports two thin bezels above and under the display, with the top housing an ear speaker, sensor, and an 8-megapixel front-facing camera. The bottom sports Huawei branding. The back sports a slight round bulge, with a pinhole mic, dual cameras (20 megapixel monochrome and 12 megapixel RGB, f/2.2 lens), flash, sensor, and round fingerprint reader.

The 3.5mm audio input and an IR blaster sit on the top, while the speakers sit on the bottom, surrounding the USB Type-C input. A single-piece volume rocker sits on the right side, just above the power button, while a dual-SIM/microSD tray sits on the right. Huawei claims the Mate 9 has four microphones, so there must be some hidden in the speakers and maybe the headphone jack.

It’s a good layout, with the fingerprint sensor especially easy to reach in one-handed use. The only complaint is a common nitpick: having the power button and volume rocker on the same side too often results in accidental power button presses. Most devices add texture to the power button, making it easier to distinguish blindly, but Huawei didn’t do that for the Mate 9.

Huawei Mate 9 Display & Speakers

Huawei Mate 9 display

The Mate 9’s 5.9-inch LCD IPS display has a 1920 x 1080 resolution, resulting in about 373 pixels per inch. While other flagships have more pixels, and ppi counts exceeding 500, the Mate 9 has more than enough pixels for day-to-day use. VR-ready headsets benefit from the added pixels, and the Mate 9 has two smaller variants in the the Mate 9 Pro and Porsche Design Mate 9 with curved 5.5-inch AMOLED displays that each have 534 pixels per inch. These two support Google Daydream, while the standard Mate 9 does not, at least as of this writing.

Even compared to these two, the Mate 9 is no slouch. These days it’s near impossible to tell the difference between AMOLED and LCD on smartphones, and the Mate 9 has all the hallmarks of both: deep blacks and bright whites, with heavy contrasts and colors that pop. It’s bright enough to cut through glare as well as any other smartphone. Huawei sets itself apart with deep display settings, allowing users to tweak the color temperature, and it includes and “eye comfort” shortcut that cuts out the blue tones for yellow.

We’ve never bought into this feature, particularly in regards to smartphone use at night before bed, but others swear by it. Either way, we won’t knock Huawei for including added controls.

The Mate 9 has no buttons, and all controls are on the screen. In addition to the insanely-thin left and right bezels, the display glass protrudes slightly above the body. Huawei and others refer to this “floating” effect as “2.5D,” and it adds a bit of style to a strong display.

The speakers are also very good, at least grading on the smartphone curve. They are loud and produce relatively robust sound — certainly more robust than most other smartphones — with limited tin on the high end and some mud on the bottom.

Huawei Mate 9 Performance

Huawei’s Kirin 960 processor keeps the Mate 9 running. It’s the latest from the Chinese mobile maker, based on the premium ARM Cortex-A73. It’s quad-core, with four A73s running at 2.4GHz, and four A53s running at 1.8GHz for simpler tasks. It pairs with an i6 co-processor, octa-core Mali-G71 GPU, and 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM.

This is a potent combo, and our Huawei Mate 9 review unit rivals the Google Pixel XL as the best performing smartphone we’ve tested to date. It ships with Android 7.0, and runs it extremely well, with no hiccups, stuttering, bugs, or crashes. The Mali-G71 handles 3D gaming especially well, including the demanding Riptide, Modern Combat, and Asphalt titles.

In addition, Huawei claims the Mate 9 has a “cutting-edge Machine Learning algorithm,” which “delivers consistent performance by automatically prioritising CPU, RAM and ROM resources based on user habits.” Basically, it learns user habits and prioritizes accordingly, all within the device, and not through remote servers on the cloud.

The benefit should be zippy performance through the Mate 9’s lifespan, and it’s unfortunately impossible to test based on the few weeks we used our Huawei Mate 9 review unit.

This feature extends to storage, with the addition of UFS 2.1 flash memory, which Huawei claims has “data transfer speeds that are 100% faster than eMMC 5.1.” The Mate 9 ships with 64GB storage, of which about 48GB is available out of the box. The Mate 9 comes with plenty of bloatware (News Republic, Booking.com, TripAdvisor), along with some useful tools (Smart Controller, Sound Recorder, Phone Manager). Just as it is with previous Huawei smartphones, all of it can be uninstalled.

All this is backed up in the benchmarks. Our Huawei Mate 9 review unit either outperforms every other smartphone on the market, or closely matches. We ran into an issue with Geekbench 4’s GPU test, with the Mate 9 crashing during every attempt to run it. This is likely due to conflicts with Mate 9’s very new chipset.

Geekbench 4 is a cross-platform benchmark that measures overall performance. Higher score is better.

AnTuTu is a cross-platform benchmark that measures overall system performance. Higher score is better.

AnTuTu 3D is a cross-platform benchmark that measures graphical performance. Higher score is better.

AnTuTu CPU is a cross-platform benchmark that measures complex app and multitasking performance. Higher score is better.

AnTuTu RAM is a cross-platform benchmark that measures system speed. Higher score is better.

AnTuTu UX is a cross-platform benchmark that measures experience. Higher score is better.

As with general performance, storage performance is lightning fast. Apps open and close very quickly. The fingerprint sensor is also very quick and reliable. Huawei continues to have best overall on any device.

Huawei Mate 9 Battery

The Mate 9 has a 4000mAh battery, and our Huawei Mate 9 review unit lasted 8 hours and 38 minutes streaming Netflix over Wi-Fi with the display brightness set to max. This is about the bare minimum one can expect from a Mate 9, and it’s an average result. Eight hours is the cutoff, anything less than that is bad. The best devices hit 20.

Huawei packs many battery management features in the Mate 9’s settings. So take advantage, and it should easily hit 10 to 12 hours on a single charge with normal use.

Our Huawei Mate 9 review unit charged quickly, hitting 28% with 15 minutes of charging, and 78% with 45 minutes.

Huawei Mate 9 Features

Huawei once took a heavy hand with its Android implementation. Dubbed EMUI, its Android skin “borrowed” elements from iOS in the past, combining them with traditional Android and Huawei’s own branding, creating a garish aesthetic. It never bothered us as much as other reviewers, mainly because it didn’t bog down Huawei’s hardware. But, we’re still happy to see Huawei scale things back with its latest version, EMUI 5.

Huawei finally added an app drawer, and took a more standard approach to notifications, ditching the two-screen alerts/settings setup. Stock apps are less severe, with a brighter color scheme, while EMUI “feels” more like an official Android device rather than an Android-based device, like the Amazon Fire tablets and smartphone.

Huawei kept its deep settings options, allowing users to tweak the theme, background apps, power settings, button layout, and notifications, to name a few. A new “app twin” feature is a standout, as it enables users to run two instances of the same app with different accounts. As of this writing, it only works with WhatsApp and Facebook, though we’d love to see it expand to other apps like Chrome, Twitter, Hangouts, and any number of cloud services (and ultimately Android to “borrow” it for future updates). Finally, Huawei’s odd knuckle gestures are still present.

Ultimately, even the most ardent stock Android fan shouldn’t be turned off by EMUI, given it’s easy enough to download the Google Now launcher and set it as the default.

In addition to the clear plastic bumper, the Huawei Mate 9 ships with a USB Type-C charger and cable, headphones, and a USB Type-C-to-microUSB adapter. That’s a good haul. We’re suckers for extras, and the bumper and USB adapter are extremely useful, especially since USB Type-C is not entirely ubiquitous yet.

At its CES 2017 event, Huawei made a big deal of the Mate 9 being “the first smartphone with Alexa, Amazon’s cloud-based voice service.” That functionality is slated to arrive in February, and wasn’t ready at the time of this review. We’re interested to see how this is implemented, as an Alexa app is widely available in the Google Play Store. Will it just be a preloaded app? Will Alexa be baked in? What about Android Assistant?

We’ll update this review once it goes live.

Huawei Mate 9 Connectivity

In addition to the standard dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi support, NFC, Bluetooth 4.2 BLE, and GPS/Glonass/Galileo/BDS, the Huawei Mate 9 is a GSM unlocked smartphone. It’s dual-SIM with plenty of support for worldwide 2G/3G/4G networks, including Cat12 LTE.

In the US, it’s typical of a Huawei unlocked smartphone. AT&T and T-Mobile customers will have no trouble connecting, while Verizon and Sprint customers are out of luck. The Mate 9 actually supports CDMA similar to Sprint and Verizon, though it’s limited to China Telecom.

Huawei Mate 9 Camera

Apple popularized dual lenses with the iPhone 7 Plus, but HTC, LG, and Huawei itself all shipped devices with them beforehand, going back all the way to the gimmicky 3D smartphones from 2011.

These days, the dual lens mainly serves to create a shallow-focus effect in pics — the blurry background kind. It used to be shallow focus, or bokeh, was limited to expensive interchangeable-lens cameras. Through a combination of two lenses and some software trickery, smartphones like the Huawei Mate 9 can do the same.

Huawei differentiates itself in that it has two image sensors: a 12-megapixel RGB sensor for capturing colors, and a 20-megapixel sensor for capturing black and white. Both are backed by optical image stabilization and f2.2 lenses.

Huawei Mate 9 camera

It’s “co-engineered with Leica,” and includes Leica Summarit lenses. The Huawei Mate 9 has the second-generation of this particular setup, as versions of it have already appeared on the Huawei P9, Honor 8, and Honor 6X.

We’ve lauded it on those devices, and we’ll laud it here too. The Huawei Mate 9 has one of the best smartphone cameras on the market. A dual-camera setup and the Huawei camera app offer granular image controls that rival consumer-level DSLRs, along with fun and pleasing image filters.

The shallow-focus effect has real potential, and the software/chipset combo does a great job creating an authentic-looking image. It’s still not perfect, however, and some shooting situations will create wonky results with blur bleeding into the subject. Smartphones aren’t replacing DSLRs just yet.

One other issue, which isn’t unique to the Mate 9: a touchscreen is poor for deep camera controls. Adjusting the exposure value and shutter speed with a display slider is awkward. It’s much easier and quicker with a physical dial.

To be fair, it’s a double-edged sword. We like having the control; it’s always frustrating on a touchscreen.

This shouldn’t bother most users, besides. The Mate 9 camera is great in dummy mode, producing clear pictures with accurate, vibrant colors; and it’s fast to focus, too. It’s the best at black-and-white photography thanks to the monochrome sensor. A double tap of the volume rocker launches it from sleep, enabling very quick snapshots.

Low-light performance is also impressive, though not the best. We were disappointed to learn the Mate 9 had f/2.2 lenses, when flagships are going as wide as f/1.7 (smaller number equals wider aperture equals more light hitting the image sensor, as we explained in our Google Pixel XL review). Our Huawei Mate 9 review unit surprised us by matching the current best low-light shooters on the market, the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge and S7 (both have the same camera hardware) in a moderately challenging low-light situation (see example below compared against the S7 edge and a poor low-light performer, the otherwise solid Alcatel Idol 4S with Windows 10). Much of the credit has to go to the software and chipset for cleaning up these photos.

Huawei Mate 9 low-light photo

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge low-light photo

Alcatel Idol 4S with Windows 10 low-light photo

Dim the lights, and that changes. Noise creeps in and colors fade on the Mate 9’s pics, while the S7 and S7 edge pump out relatively excellent output. Just as with the bokeh effect, software can only match physical optics to a certain point.

The Mate 9 also has an 8-megapixel front-facing camera with an f./1.9 lens. Huawei’s “beauty” mode returns, as does an automated “perfect selfie” mode. Both are still weird.

Huawei Mate 9 Sample Pics

Huawei Mate 9 Value

As reviewed, the Huawei Mate 9 costs $600, available at Best Buy, Amazon, B&H, and New Egg.

$600 is a good price for the Mate 9. It’s a flagship-level smartphone, coming out just ahead of new high-end handsets from Samsung, HTC, and LG. Those may have a spec bump over the Mate 9, or have more features, but they won’t perform much better where it counts. And they likely will cost more.

Huawei Mate 9 Review Conclusion

The common knock on Huawei smartphones: great hardware, poor software. Huawei took big steps to correcting that with the Huawei Mate 9. It’s EMUI is still heavy enough to retain distinction from stock Android, though much closer to the real thing than previous versions. Those familiar with Android will get used to it quickly.

On top of that, Huawei checks all the right marks. The Mate 9 is well-built and designed, features excellent display and speakers, and performs extremely well. The camera is also worthy of the current crop of flagships. It’s one of the best.

The biggest knock against it is the lack of water and dust proofing. Those should be standard on all high-end smartphones. The battery life is only a little better than average without turning to Huawei’s battery management software, and that’s another biggest issue. Both are far from a deal-breakers, but it stand out as a flaws given how well the Mate 9 compares in other areas. We’re also disappointed it doesn’t support Verizon or Sprint.

All that makes the Huawei Mate 9 one of the best smartphones of early 2017, with features we expect to see in competing smartphones set for release in the near future.

 

The post Huawei Mate 9 Review: Dual Cameras in a Solid Smartphone appeared first on Brighthand.com.

St. Victor

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St. Lawrence of Brindisi

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St. Praxedes

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St. Wastrada

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