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Links 25/10/2009: GNOME 2.28 Reviewed, PCLinuxOS Turns 6

Posted in News Roundup at 9:41 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • It’s official: we love Windows 7

    Perhaps most exciting of all is that our two articles tackle the comparison from two quite different angles. Linux vs Windows 7 goes through the competition blow-by-blow, breaking things down into categories and showing how the two operating systems match up feature by feature.

    On the other hand, Benchmarked: Ubuntu vs Vista vs Windows 7 is all about numbers, showing in easy-to-read graph form just how efficient Linux is compared to Microsoft’s latest efforts.

    One of the key reasons why our pages are appearing so high on these search terms is because you folks, our readers, very kindly linked to our articles in your blogs, your Twitter feeds, your IRC chats and more, and Google picks up on all those links and ranks our pages higher.

    As a result, all that linkage has turned into an incredible opportunity for Linux evangelism: people who hadn’t even considered Linux before are reading about some of the cool things it can do for their computer. And you can bet that if Windows 7 doesn’t turn out to be the perfect OS that Microsoft is promising, those same users will at least consider giving Linux a try. Thanks for the links – every one counts.

  • GNU/Linux Security: Linux House vs Microsoft House

    How is GNU/Linux different? A GNU/Linux desktop system is designed from the ground up along the Unix model of multiple tasks with multiple users among multiple computers on a network. I will call this a many-many-many design. As such the basic design also includes consideration for securing the operating system and data on same when many users may have access to the same system simultaneously. Therefore, when a GNU/Linux computer is taken out of the box for the first time it already has a higher security capability. This is because of the many-many-many design that included consideration for security from the beginning.

  • Linux frequently asked questions for newbies

    Here at TuxRadar, and in the magazine behind the website, Linux Format, we get a lot of really basic questions from new users. We’ve taken the most common questions and printed them verbatim below, providing Plain English answers along the way, trying to simplify technical information as much as we can. We didn’t write the questions, so more experienced users might look at them and think “wow, that’s a stupid question,” but if you’re a newbie asking Linux questions or if you have friends asking you questions that you don’t have time to answer, we hope this information will prove useful.

  • “Linux” support

    The first point relates to what I said earlier, that there’s no connection between the use of Linux on servers and devices versus its use on desktop computers. The usefulness of Linux on servers and devices is firmly recognised in many sectors.

  • Applications

    • Chromium Rocks

      I just compiled Chromium, and it rocks. The download manager is better than Firefox, the design is cleaner, the JavaScript performance is a 4 times better, and overall it just seems more solid. The web works better in it. My only complaints so far are some weird font rendering issues and a lack of extensions (adblock, customize google, gmail notifier, live http headers, modify headers, open in browser, right-click-link, skipscreen, useragent switcher…). I’ll stick with Firefox until there is good extension support for Chromium.

    • Using vSphere Client on Ubuntu Linux with Single Application RDP
    • Create Greetings Using Kreeting Kard

      Wondering how on earth to create a quick greeting card or postcard without having to go through using Scribus or some other software? I grew up in the 80s so I was used to Print Master. In Print Master, all my greeting card needs and banner needs were easily remedied. Each of them would have some kind of template and wizard and the images where easily chosen because they came with the application.

    • Episode 124: PS Translation Service
  • Desktop Environments

    • Reviewed: Gnome 2.28

      The Gnome project’s latest release, comes just in time to be bolted on to Karmic Koala. But with KDE making big strides forward with each point release of KDE 4, are the Gnome team doing enough to keep up? Only just… read on to find out more!

    • KDE

      • animations in plasma with javascript on top

        We were lucky this summer in that not only did we have a bunch of our own great Google Summer of Code students, but we got one more for “free”: a student working with another mentor organization that has a strong working relationship with KDE completed their assigned project rather quickly, and so we inherited them, and another half-project, for the second half of the summer. They worked on animations using the new QtKinetic framework that appears in Qt 4.6 and over the last couple of weeks a number of Plasma hackers descended up on that work. We cleared out some of the lose ends, cleaned up the code, added a bunch more functionality and merged it into trunk this past week.

      • Akonadi goes Web2.0

        I don’t know what’s going on, but I didn’t want Akonadi to miss the party. At the recent Akonadi sprint, I decided to spend some time putting together a proof of concept for a web client for Akonadi. Here’s a screencast of the result:

        Ogg link.

        The video shows web pages in multiple web browsers showing the same data as KMail, KAddressBook and the proof of concept gtk applications I wrote about before, with everything kept in sync. They share the same data. I could edit the same data in the web pages too if I had taken the time to write the javascript code to handle it.

  • Distributions

    • Celebrations

      • Happy Birthday PCLinuxOS

        Today marks the 6 year anniversary of the PCLInuxOS distribution. PCLinuxOS was originally founded October 24th 2003 by Texstar of Houston TX, USA. You’ve come along way baby.

      • FDC09 photos! Here they are!

        As promised, here are some pics from FDC09! Michele Tameni, Fabio Erculiani (me), Vincenzo Di Massa and Yusef Maali (new, “honoris causa” Sabayon developer) on these.

    • New Releases

    • Ubuntu

      • Ubuntu 9.10 Review; even better than before

        With the latest version, Ubuntu will give you integration with cloud computing and net-books. The ability to deploy applications in the cloud much easier than before is one of Canonical’s goal for 9.10 using Amazon’s EC2 platform. Canonical is also trying to beat the 25-second booting time when using Ubuntu 9.04 on net-books.

      • A Guided Tour Of Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala

        Of course this over-view is merely scratching the surface of all of the improvements, refinements and changes present in Ubuntu 9.10; a hell of a lot of work has gone on under the hood, too.

      • Upstart in Ubuntu 9.10

        Upstart is the ‘new’ event-based sysvinit replacement by Canonical, that has been widely adopted in the linux world ever since it first appeared in late 2006. The idea is centred around causality, that is, defining relationships that are not loosely defined by some measure of time, but by the presence (at runtime that is) of processes that a service depends upon. For example, if you need service X to run after service Y, you shouldn’t have to ‘wait’ for Y to start before starting X, but, instead, you should be able to specify that X depends on Y in some canonical form and the system would try to start X as soon as Y was up and running. In other words as a user/administrator of a machine you shouldn’t have to go through all that S?? and K?? silliness from SysV.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Linutop OS 3.0 is available!

      Linutop OS 3.0 is small, secure, powerful and maintenance free:
      Perfect for professional use public Internet access, digital signage in industrial environments and displays.

    • Phones

      • Android phones proliferate

        Motorola posted and then removed specs for its Verizon-destined, Android-based “Droid” phone, says eWEEK. Meanwhile, Motorola “Calgary” and “Zeppelin” Android phones have been tipped, T-Mobile launched Huawei’s Android-based “Pulse” phone in the UK, an HTC Desire photo has appeared, and HTC released source code for the Hero, say various reports.

      • AdMob: 10% of UK smartphones are running Android

        It’s a fascinating time for the industry.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Firing up the Corporate Forge

    This is all good stuff. The only thing that leaves me perplexed is the fact that all this openness is happening inside a company that is one of the most vocal and powerful supporters of software patents in Europe. That’s paradoxical because software patents are the antithesis of open source and its methodology. If SAP gets its way on software patents, it will be pointless for others in the company to set up software forges, since the legal issues surrounding open, collaborative development will make that prohibitively complex and expensive to police.

  • Open source applications provide government services using mobiles

    The software is published using the GPL open source licence.

  • Audio

    • Linux Friendly Audiobooks

      When people first think of getting audiobooks online, they probably think of Audible. But, Audible has one really big problem: DRM (Digital Rights Management). I.e. every book you buy from Audible is encrypted so that you can only listen to it using a very limited number of applications and media devices. There is no application for Linux to play Audible audiobooks, and Android devices don’t support playing Audible files (yet anyway) either. Quite frankly, when you purchase a book from Audible, you are not buying it, you are only renting it. Even if you have a player that is compatible now, in 5 years when you get the urge to listen again, it is likely that your new device or computer will no longer be able decrypt the file. If you are lucky, Audible may pull an Apple and offer to remove the DRM from the file for additional cash out of your pocket; so you can finally own the book you thought you already bought. However, there is no guarantee of even that…

    • FLOSS Weekly 92: MakerBot

      MakerBot, an affordable open source 3d printer for home users.


    • GRUB on Lemote Yeeloong

      This is quite significant for GNU GRUB as it’s the first time it’s ported to a mipsel platform. In addition, it is planned to support the Yeeloong both as a “disk bootloader” (i.e. the way it is normally used on x86/PC) and as a “firmware bootloader”, thereby offering a more flexible alternative to PMON2000 (the preinstalled firmware).

  • Government

    • Of Open Source and Open Government

      One of the key figures in the open government in Australia – and indeed globally, given the paucity of such people – is Kate Lundy. She’s been speaking at the Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial Conference 2009. Understandably, her talk was mostly about geospatial data, but there was also this nice section:

      FOSS is like a living blueprint – a map if you will – for trust, sustainability and interoperability in the implementation of Gov 2.0 principles.

  • Licensing

    • Cultivating Open Source Software

      But for your open source software to be successful, you need to provide the full source code every time you make a release. This expectation is built into the GNU General Public License, but it is also a key to building a successful community. Making the source code available to your users allows for the cooperative development and rapid code improvement that fosters “mind share”. Not provide the source code – such as making a “testing-only release” or a “preview version” – means your users will not be able to see how your code works. More importantly, your users will not be able to help you fix bugs. Without a way to contribute, developers tend to lose interest in a project, and find something else to do.

  • Programming

  • Standards/Consortia

    • What does a cloud computing user want?

      The cloud you use today may not be the cloud you want or can afford to use later. The information you store in one cloud may need to be extracted and moved to one or more clouds by other providers. You may decide to convert from a public cloud to a private or private-public hybrid. Do you want to rewrite your cloud applications completely to use completely different APIs? Creating and using open standards is one of the best ways of getting interoperability.

    • What is the open web? Two things, at least.

      Looking back over all these materials in the last few days, I came to a realization: when you sort for broad patterns, people in the Mozilla world use ‘open web’ in two very different ways:

      1. The first is to describe the open web as a set of technologies. It’s HTML, CSS, JavaScript and so on. The list of technologies grows over time, but all pass the test of being developed in the open, letting you create and innovate without asking permission. This is Atul’s ‘magic ink’.
      2. The second broad category is open web as place or condition.


  • Databases

    • Data.gov.uk Newspaper

      We’ve been thinking about the beta Data.gov.uk repository, and wanted to explore putting some of the information contained within into people’s hands in a form that is accessible, timely, and relevant.

    • German government to host flu database

      The German Ministry of Food, Agriculture & Consumer Protection (BMELV) today announced that it has agreed to host the influenza gene sequence database of the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID), putting its future on a more solid footing as the world enters the second wave of the H1N1 flu pandemic.

    • The Utter Moral Bankruptcy of the DNA Database

      This is an utter scandal on so many levels, but above all because the UK government is continuing to foist this intrusive, disproportionate, racist and morally repugnant approach upon us when it’s *own figures* demonstrate that it is failing more and more each year.

    • ChangeTracker – keeping an eye on US Government websites

      This is cool. A service that watches US government websites to see when changes are introduced.

  • Finance

    • Foolish bonus rage will kill our Goldman Sachs goose

      What is it about the name Goldman Sachs that makes otherwise sensible people foam at the mouth? Over the past few days it has become mandatory for any public figure to fulminate about Goldman’s announcement that it would be paying billions in bonuses to its 5,000 London-based employees. Alistair Darling declared that this was a grievous mistake and that no bank “would be standing here today if the taxpayer had not put their hand into their pocket”.

      Lord Mandelson spoke darkly of an “unacceptable return” to past practices. Lord Myners, the minister responsible for the financial sector, lambasted people “being grossly over-rewarded for their contribution to the value added”. Even Boris Johnson, as London mayor the City’s stoutest defender, wrote that Goldman’s decision was “unbelievable … what Asperger’s afflicts them?”.

    • Wall Street’s Naked Swindle

      Here’s how naked short-selling works: Imagine you travel to a small foreign island on vacation. Instead of going to an exchange office in your hotel to turn your dollars into Island Rubles, the country instead gives you a small printing press and makes you a deal: Print as many Island Rubles as you like, then on the way out of the country you can settle your account. So you take your printing press, print out gigantic quantities of Rubles and start buying goods and services. Before long, the cash you’ve churned out floods the market, and the currency’s value plummets. Do this long enough and you’ll crack the currency entirely; the loaf of bread that cost the equivalent of one American dollar the day you arrived now costs less than a cent.

      With prices completely depressed, you keep printing money and buy everything of value — homes, cars, priceless works of art. You then load it all into a cargo ship and head home. On the way out of the country, you have to settle your account with the currency office. But the Island Rubles you printed are now worthless, so it takes just a handful of U.S. dollars to settle your debt. Arriving home with your cargo ship, you sell all the island riches you bought at a discount and make a fortune.

    • SEC Moves to Regulate Dark Pools

      In a unanimous vote, the five SEC commissioners proposed measures to give investors a clearer view of dark pools – private trading systems that allow participants to make trades without displaying quotations to the public.

  • AstroTurf

    • UK Government Blows it on Lobbying

      If you wanted proof that the UK government is still an enemy of transparency, try this:

      The Government is grateful to the Public Administration Select Committee for its examination of lobbying in the UK, which is the first Parliamentary inquiry on the subject since 1991.


      What this conveniently glosses over is the difference between “making representations to government on issues of concern” – which is what you and I as citizens do all the time, mostly by sending emails to MPs and ministers – and *lobbying*, which is now an entire industry of people employed to use every trick in the book, from the most to least subtle, to get what their clients want.

      The first – making representations – is just what it seems: someone expressing their view and/or asking for action. Lobbying, by contrast, is your typical iceberg, with most of its intent invisible below the surface. That is why a lobbyists’ register is needed – so that others can work out the iceberg. The UK government’s refusal to countenance this – and the pathetic excuse it offers for doing so – are yet another blot on this administration’s record as far as openness is concerned.

    • LDA Reports

      Section 209 of HLOGA requires the Secretary of the Senate to make all documents filed under the LDA, as amended, available to the public over the Internet. The information and documents may be accessed in two ways. A researcher with a specific query in mind may use the query system, which has been expanded from that available prior to January 1, 2008. A researcher who is interested in downloading the Secretary’s lobbying documents database may do so by clicking below.

  • Internet/Censorship/Web Abuse/Rights

    • FCC set to start pursuing ‘net neutrality’ rules
    • FCC Approves Net Neutrality Rules, Now the Fight Begins

      The Open Internet Coalition, which counts Google and Facebook among its members, welcomed the vote.

    • Another Way to Understand Twilight and Authors

      There is an extra point here. When Ms. Meyer says she can’t continue with the book, she is giving honest information to her fans: certain acts (i.e., unauthorized copying and distribution of her work) upset her. In fact, they upset her enough that she will not finish the work in question.

    • US free speech lawyer Marc Randazza discusses Glenn Beck parody

      Wikinews interviewed US free speech lawyer Marc Randazza, on his defense of a parody website which satirizes American political commentator Glenn Beck. Florida resident Isaac Eiland-Hall created the website in September, and it asserts Beck uses questionable tactics “to spread lies and misinformation”.

      The case Beck v. Eiland-Hall is currently before the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva, Switzerland. Wikinews previously reported on the case, in an article earlier this month, “US free speech lawyer defends satire of Glenn Beck”.

    • Britons Weary of Surveillance in Minor Cases

      A local government’s investigation of a British family over a girl’s school application raised concerns about the usage of a 2000 surveillance law.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Is There “Hope” for Shepard Fairey?

      Shepard Fairey may have hoped to teach something new about art and copyright with his iconic “Hope” poster of Barack Obama. Instead, he is accused of lying about which Associated Press photo he used. (He says he made a mistake.) But if Fairey’s lying has probably made a hash of his case and lost him a lawyer, it has also raised that pesky question yet again: Just what is fair use? Was it legal for Fairey to take an AP photo and turn it into this piece of artwork?


      Here’s a second example: This is the Economist’s use of the infamous Abu Ghraib photos, taken by American military personnel, which TV, newspapers, and magazines repurposed without hesitation. What we have here is fair use in news reporting. The photographs in the Abu Ghraib scandal were the story; what might have otherwise been an infringement of copyright is permitted so that the news can be reported. From this, we understand why fair use bears a close relationship to the freedom of the press. Again, the use is considered “fair” because there is some good reason, or many, for it.

      What counts as a “good reason”?

    • Government backs down on cutting off filesharers

      CULTURE SECRETARY Ben Bradshaw has revealed that, due to strong opposition, measures to tackle illegal filesharing will be watered down.

    • PRS threatens shop worker for singing

      The Performing Rights Society don’t like bad press. Today, the BBC are reporting that the PRS have backed down after threatening 56 year old Sandra Burt of the A&T Food store in Clackmannanshire, Scotland with a fine of “thousands of pounds” for the serious crime of singing to herself while stacking shelves without purchasing a licence.

Interview with Linus Torvalds of The Linux Foundation

OEM Documents Which Microsoft Labels “MICROSOFT SECRET”

Posted in Antitrust, Dell, Hardware, HP, IBM, Microsoft at 6:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Microsoft’s “OEM watch list” is out in textual form, with interpretation

TODAY’s Comes vs Microsoft exhibit is Exhibit px04275 [PDF], which we conveniently describe as the “OEM hit list”. Wallclimber has helped us clean it up, reconstruct tables, and she has also extracted all the text from it. The exhibit can be found appended to this post, but here are some interesting bits worth paying attention to.

What is the “Dumbo Plan”?

Dumbo Opportunity: Dumbo Plan was presented to Minolta, who is interested in this project and will have a presentation to MSKK to prove that they can do mass-production.

“Microsoft marketing and sales jargon is truly mind-numbing stuff,” argues Wallclimber.

Watch the resistance from Dell. The ultra-aggressive [1, 2] Joachim Kempin steps in.

Dell continues to reject our WFW proposals on the basis that our offer is a financial mis-fit with their “Build-to-order” marketing model and our per copy pricing is too high. Executive discussion between JoachimK and Joel Kocher yielded no progress.

Having looked at this exhibit, one regular reader of ours wrote: “It’s Microsoft’s “watch list” of OEMs and ISVs, so they can target those who stray from Windows, with their usual racketeering methods. The goal is 100% market saturation of pre-installed systems, and the method is intimidation and blackmail, specifically – the threat of revoking their right to distribute Windows systems if they support anything other than Windows (via secret MoU signed under NDA). Since the DOJ judgement, the new threat is a reduction of volume discounts on licenses, which then reduces the OEMs competitiveness. New method, same racketeering.”

As the items at the beginning of this document show, Microsoft pressures the already-impoverished companies in the East. “Interesting that the Far East OEMs were feeling the pain of deep price cuts while Microsoft’s revenue was exceeding their budget in most areas of the Far East,” alleges one person.

Appendix: Comes vs. Microsoft – exhibit px04275, as text

Read the rest of this entry »

FSF Hostility/Disagreement from a Libertarian, TechDirt, and Microsoft General Counsel

Posted in Finance, Free/Libre Software, FSF, Google, Law, Microsoft at 5:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell newspaper

Summary: This post addresses common new criticisms of the FSF and/or its philosophy

THE Free Software Foundation (FSF) is no stranger to controversy because its views are seen as ‘not permissible’ in some circles whose goals rely upon subjugation. But the Free Software Foundation seems to have found an uncommon opposer not in proprietary software vendors or even the media industry, which smeared the FSF repeatedly this year.

According to Tim Lee, a promoter of some of the FSF’s ideals as applied to more than just software, someone from the network neutrality debate has disparaged the FSF.

James Lakely, a research fellow at the Heartland Institute, recently pointed me to a new study he’s written on the network neutrality debate. (See also his op-ed summarizing the argument.) Lakely is clearly a smart guy, and his paper is backed up by a significant amount of research. However, the basic argument of his paper—that the network neutrality movement has “unwittingly bought into” the “radical agenda” of the free software movement—strikes me as pretty misguided.


The free software movement is textbook example of the libertarian thesis: it’s a private, voluntary community producing public goods without a dime of taxpayer support. Some leaders of the free software movement don’t realize they’re walking libertarian case studies, and some have an unfortunate tendency to employ left-wing rhetoric to describe what they’re doing. But if you look at the substance of their views, and even more if you look at their actions, it’s hard to find anything for libertarians to object to.

Here is how it’s summarised in Slashdot:

‘I’ve got a new article analyzing the unfortunate tendency of libertarian and free-market organizations to attack free software. The latest example is a policy analyst at the Heartland Institute who attacks network neutrality regulations by arguing that advocates have ‘unwittingly bought into’ the ‘radical agenda’ of the free software movement. I argue that in reality, the free market and free software are entirely compatible, and libertarians are shooting themselves in the foot by antagonizing the free software movement.’

It mostly boils down to government regulation/intervention and Lee defends the goals of the FSF, which he claims are being grossly misinterpreted. This pattern of daemonisation is one that we see quite often (a form of infighting) and words like “religion” [1, 2, 3] are sometimes used to stigmatise the FSF.

It may be a good time to address another daemonisation pattern*. The FSF is often being accused of “exclusion” when in fact it is GPL violators who exclude by not honouring their agreement to share rather than monopolise and exclude others, by preventing access to source code and the permission to modify and redistribute it. Mike Masnick seemingly fails to acknowledge this in the following new column

Even The Open Source Community Gets Overly Restrictive At Times


I find this fascinating on a number of different levels. The argument he’s making — within the open source world — pretty much mirrors the arguments we make to copyright maximalists: that focusing so much on “freeloaders” is pointless, they’re going to exist. Instead, focus on building your overall community, adding value, and setting up a model that works for those people. It’s amazing to think that the excess restrictions in some open source licenses creates something of a parallel world, with parallel issues.

Once again, it all seems to come down to the same thing: restricting what others do is rarely a good strategy. Let people do what they want, and focus on providing the most value for the largest community that wants to be a part of what you’re doing.

The problems in Masnick’s mind are probably very different and the analogy improper because when it comes to derivative works, code and music, for example, vary tremendously. By doing the above (being overly permissive and tolerant of interference between individual freedoms), you enable and empower those who restrict, including those who capitalise at your own expense, at the expense of your freedom. Comments are already pointing this out. Take this new case of HTC for example.

HTC Releases Hero Kernel Source for Developers (Updated)


As the GPL requires immediate availability of all source code created under the aforementioned license, many developers were upset when the initial requests for the source code after the release of the smartphone were met with vague responses and no specific availability information, with some even threatening legal action due to perceived non-compliance.

The short story is that HTC did not comply with the GPL and only under pressure did it release Android source code. That is a good thing and those who suggest otherwise fail to understand the requirements of peer production; it’s the GPL which keeps people honest. Likewise, diversity is not bad, but some people miss the point right now (in reference to Android). The whole point of Free software is that modifications are allowed and even encouraged. To decide on one single way is to eliminate freedom of choice. If deviation is frowned upon or not permitted, then it becomes a development tyranny which puts off the very same developers that it requires. We keep seeing this spin on diversity, which is not just a euphemism for fragmentation; it’s people’s essential need to express themselves and be creative.

Mike Masnick also writes about this new intellectual monopolies colloquium that involves Brad Smith, the General Counsel of Microsoft. There also a guy there from the copyright cartel. To quote some portions:

Amusingly, Microsoft’s Smith early on suggests that it’s a question Congress could solve “if the industry got behind it; if copyright holders got behind it.” Striking, huh? He basically admits how copyright law works in this country. It’s not about what’s best for the overall society or economy. It’s not about the politicians fixing things where they see a problem. It’s not about consumers. It’ll happen if the industry gets behind it. Welcome to the way things work in DC. The rest of this part of the discussion is interesting — and it’s one (rare) case where I mostly agree with Lichtman, that as a resource, Google’s Book search is incredibly useful, and we should figure out some way for it to happen.


Brad Smith, at one point, does point out that this is all a “revenue” problem, and does a pretty good job describing the revenue problem… but then falls into the trap of saying the law needs to “fix the piracy problem” because without that, business models can’t be built up.

How conveniently Microsoft ignores companies like Red Hat that manage just fine without customer obstructions.
* There are many other examples, like false claims that the FSF is not capitalistic or that it imposes views rather than represents people’s existing views and puts these under a common umbrella.

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