Older blog entries for The Swirling Brain (starting at number 100)

2 Nov 2007 (updated 2 Nov 2007 at 02:31 UTC) »

Download the RoboMenu Konfabulator widget to get Robots.net RSS News feeds and Robot of the day directly on your desktop!!!

I want one: RepRap. They say you can build it for about $500. I'm thinking of doing it!

Next week, I'll be gone to Florida to do three, count them three software installs for my job. I'll leave Tuesday from Dallas and get to Tampa. Spend the night. Go to my first location on Wed and do an install. Drive down to Miami and spend the night. Go to my second install on Thurs and spend the night. Go to my third install in Miami on Fri, then come back to Dallas! Wow! I'm hoping to see the beach at Tampa and the beach at Miami or Ft Lauderdale! Hopefully the hurricane Noel won't be coming back for me! I wish I had the time to take my family to Disney World! Anyway, next week will be an adventure!!! I have jury duty on the 12th when I get back too.

I've been looking at Prosper.com to see if I can borrow some money to pay down some high interest debt. It seems sort of interesting. With my new job I've actually been able to pay down some debt but I've got a long way to go! I really like my new job!

I'm working again on my VBS in 3D idea! I'm really hoping that this year I can sell my church on the idea! I've gotten a few new software tools to help in this endevor. I got Anime Studio 5 and Cosic Blobs. I also have Adobe Photoshop 6, Adobe Premier 6.5, Micrografx Simply 3D 3.5, Magix Music Maker, Dark Basic Professional, and a few other programs all to help me. I'm really hoping that this year I can come up with something. I'm already disappointed in the Cosmic Blobs program because it doesn't appear to have perspective so when I create red/blue anaglyphs they appear flat not 3d-ized. I've thought of doing a world rotate to simulate perspective but that's sort of a lame way to do it. It is really simple to make some pretty easy models and even animations in cosmic blobs so I won't give up yet. I also want to make a stereo lens for my video camera so that I can capture stereo video animation and turn it into 3d anaglyph in premier. I guess it is quite an undertaking but I really want to do it! I'm trying to get some help making 3d bible images. Hopefully, my idea won't get shot down this year like it did in 2005. I should be better prepared next year. I'll try to make the presentation in January or February so I still have some time to get content made. I'm impressed with anime studio 5. It's really great for making cartoons! I thought it would be perfect for making Emergent Behavior cartoons even animated. What I'm wanting to do with it, though, is make left and right eye animations and pull them into premier and making them into 3d anaglyph cartoons. I've made two animation scenes with it so far and the results work great! I've tested the 3d up at church with the video projector and the 3d still works on the projector (I was afraid that they wouldn't). I've tried making a dvd and showing it on my TV but it doesn't seem to work. It's like it kills some of the color or something so the 3d doesn't appear very well. I can run my computer laptop with the video projector and that works so I'll just do that - run everything from the laptop and not try to do dvds. That'll be OK I guess. I'm currently trying to make a decent powerpoint presentation (or should I say Impress as I'm using Open Office), and hopefully I'll make something that will sell the church. I want to make it fun where everyone has 3d glasses to view the presentation too so they'll get the effect and the idea vividly! I tried to create some 3d videos with my t-mobile wing camera phone but the video codec doesn't pull into premier. I tried my little digital DXG camera too and the videos from that have problems also. It looks like the Sony CCD camera is the only thing I have that will work for this right now. My daughters have both agreed to help me with making 3d art and videos and vbs songs so I'm really excited about that.

I've been learning Perl. I was able to make a few programs that were useful at work! Wow, they actually are using my first programs I ever made in Perl and they'll probably deploy them for upgrade procedures to the customer. That's scary! Anyway, I know enough now just to be dangerous. I like it. I'm better at REGEXs also since I'm learning perl and since our database importer uses regex to transform data. Like we can removing leading zeros or add dashes to ssn numbers, etc. I was looking for a PERL that I could load on my T-Mobile Wing phone. So far haven't found any nice scripting language for my phone except for evolane's TCL/TK. I made a little random restaurant picker. Tim and I have been using it when we can't figure out where to go to lunch. It works. I've been playing with it. I'd like to write something to read in my GPS bluetooth coordinates and do something like make a speedometer but apparently the serial routines in it are disabled so I can't read the gps. boo! I guess it's because they're trying to save space or something that they removed the serial library. That was a real bummer. I'm not too interested in developing MS studio 2005 or Java and downloading to the phone. I really just wanted a scripting thing to play with while I was on the plane or in the bathroom. :-) I'd love it if Javascript was available. It looks like there's some sort of MS Script thing but I'm not wanting to run the browser to get it. I still love my t-mobile wing phone, tho.

At work we've been looking at Content Management Systems (CMS). We currently have something but it's old and dated. I asked Steve and he suggested Joomla! It looks like it's the best of the ones we've been looking at. We've looked at Postnuke, dotNetNuke, and a few others. The problem we're running into is that our current system is glued to Microsoft's CRM and we'll have to figure out how to glue Joomla to CRM and some other contact and inventory programs. It looks like some serious surgery to extract the old stuff and patch in this new stuff.

17 Sep 2007 (updated 17 Sep 2007 at 08:43 UTC) »

To rgeraci:

First off, I just now saw your message about my experience in NYC. Sorry, I didn't respond sooner. I wish there was a direct messing system for robots.net and responding via blog is not very direct.

I appreciate your insite into what probably happened in NYC. That makes more sense what you said. Sometimes it's harder to get along with different denominations than it is complete outsiders! I don't know why that is? I guess sometimes the divisions run deeper with familiarity?

Your survey is interesting. It seems here on Robots.net that Robots and Religion has gotten to be quite a theme. Seems whenever we have an article about robotics and religion it always gets a lot of responses. I suppose all sides are well aware of the implications. It's weird how it's almost a battle line topic.

Yea, it looks like the latest RoboMenu widget is finally posted on the konfabulator website! Now we can have Robots.net RSS news feeds and Robot of the Day on our desktops again! Yea! Happy downloading!

I have updated the RoboMenu Widget. I have uploaded it to the konfabulator.com website but so far they have not updated it (look for version 1.08 at the bottom right to make sure you're getting the latest version or on the about screen when you run it). Until they update the version, I've put it on snapfish for download but you have to remove the .zip extension as they don't allow .widget extensions and widgets are basically just zip files anyway So after download, rename RoboMenu.widget.zip to RoboMenu.widget to make it work. You'll probably want to put it in your My Widgets directory under your My Documents directory but I think konfabulator moves it there automatically if you run it.

This version fixes the display problems that the upgraded konfabulator broke as well as the background going missing problems. IE, now it's compliant with the latest version of konfabulator. Sorry it took so long for those who have been waiting.

I love the RoboMenu widget for the robots.net RSS newsreader! Enjoy!

FYI: Konfabulator is a free desktop widget engine provided by Yahoo!

11 Sep 2007 (updated 11 Sep 2007 at 17:08 UTC) »

I planted the Zoysia plugs in my front yard. While I was digging holes for the plugs, I found lots of grub worms. Bummer. That's why my yard look so bad. So I went to home depot and bought some Sevin bug poison granules. I spread it all over my yard. The package says you can't let it touch you and to wear gloves and long sleeves, don't breath it, etc. Well I got it all over my shoes and I can't get it out. Not sure if I can recover the shoes if the stuff is that dangerous. Anyway, it has been raining exceptionally hard here in Garland so I think all the poison got washed away. I'll have to reapply it I think. Bad thing is I think the poison kills everything even the wonderful earthworms that are so good for my lawn. I really hate to be killing the good bugs too. Anyway, I'm hoping that will fix the problem with the grub worms and with the grass and hopefully I can have a decent looking yard someday. Perhaps I could make a tiller robotic machine that could till the dirt, look for grub worms and ants to kill, look for earthworms to save, plant zoysia plugs and water?

I got my little GPS box. It has 32 channels for looking for satellites and it has a solar panel on top to make it last longer without having to be plugged in. It transmits bluetooth to my phone or laptop and I have a Delorme Street Atlas program that will give me voice gps directions on my phone or laptop. It's sort of limited on the phone because of space so you have to download maps to it of the specific area you want to view. You'd have to do that ahead of time for your trip and it's a little cumbersome. Really, if I wasn't a geek I'd just buy a tomtom or a magellan but I wanted the bluetooth gizmo because I think it would be good to get the text codes so that I could use if for a robot or to make my own gps program or something. Anyway it was about $67 on ebay and it appears to work on my phone. The Delorme street atlas program was $15 on ebay and I'm not sure I like it. I think I probably should have bought the MS streets and trips which is like $24 at Sams. Anyway, a GPS is really necessary for the job I have where they have me traveling all around. I've been borrowing my parents GPS so now I don't really need their's anymore. Anyway, I'm looking forward to having fun with it.

7 Sep 2007 (updated 7 Sep 2007 at 02:49 UTC) »

Saw the movie Hairspray. It was entertaining and a lot of fun. Give it 3 out of 5 stars.

Saw the movie The Dish. It was given to me as a movie purchased at a dollar store by a friend of mine. Surprisingly it was a lot of fun! It's supposed to be a true story yet probably heavily doctored a la hollywood. It's about the Apollo 11 moon landing and how a 200' dish in Australia managed to capture and beam the pictures around the world through various trials. It's sort of geeky and sort of historical and a slight bit of comedy. I'd give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Saw part of the movie Blades of Glory on an airplane. Funny but Trashy. I watched 1/2 of it and couldn't stand the trash so I stopped watching. Sorry but I give it a 0 out of 5 stars.

Saw the Last Mimsy. I liked it. It had a bit of magic and bit of technical stuff to it. It was interesting in sort of a Close Encounters type way. The end wasn't that great but the story was at least interesting. I'd give it a 3 out 5 stars.

I'm still loving my new job. So far I've been sent to NY, PA, OK, TN, VA, TX, etc. I like getting to travel. It's an adventure for me. My bosses seem to like me too so I guess that's good! I'm trying to do my best.

I'm still fighting with my lawn. I planted some Zosia seed and a little bit of it is coming up. I recently bought some Zosia plugs and I'm going to try that now. Hopefully, someday I'll have a decent looking lawn.

I'm loving all my tech gadgets my job has been giving me. I have a nice T-Mobile Wing cell phone that has Windows Mobile 6 on it. It's pretty cool and there's lots of software for it. I got a 2gig microsd card for it and only have about a 1/3rd of it loaded even with all the pics and software I have on it. It can recognize handwriting and voice recognition to some degree. I love it. My job has also issued me a laptop with the sprint mobile card so I can access the internet from anywhere. Wow, that's nice! I love it!

My finances are beginning to come back from the brink but I still have a terribly long way to go. I'm still selling stuff on ebay and trying to find deals and such.

Both of my cars are trying to go out on me. Hopefully I can fend off the finances long enough to scrounge up enough cash to buy a used car or two. One can hope. My wife's battery went out while I was in TN. She rented a Kia Spectra for a couple of days until I got back. When I got back, the next morning she made me replace her battery before I went to work. I got it working again. Then she told me she wasn't going to work that day so I'm wondering why I had to be late to work to change her battery if she wasn't going anywhere anyway? She told me I could take her car to work at least. Who can understand women? ugg.

My next door neighbor keeps asking to borrow stuff and never gives it back. Right now he has my lawn mower, my weedeater, and my ladder. I think the weedeater he fried by not putting oil-gas in it and he just hasn't gotten up the courage to tell me. When I ask him for my stuff back he keeps trying to change the subject and offers to do stuff around my house which I don't need done and I can never get my stuff back. It's very frustrating. I'm too nice or stupid not to let him borrow the stuff. I think he must have a lawn service and is using my stuff to mow other people's lawns and never has my stuff around to give it back to me. I don't know what to think. I guess I don't know how to say no or put my foot down.

18 Jul 2007 (updated 18 Jul 2007 at 03:39 UTC) »

Saw the movie The Island. I liked it a lot for the body harvesting swirling brain plot but at the chase scenes, it got boring. Ewen McGregor from StarWars and Dr. Flox from Enterprise was in it as well as a couple of other cameos. It reminded me a lot of Logan's run. I'd give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Saw the movie Ghost Rider. It was cheesy devilish fun. It sort of burns me up that it was too cheesy and too devilish so I'll give it a 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Got back from OK and NY! We got to see the statue of liberty. We didn't ferry out to it so it was sort of off in the distance but we did get to see it! Cool. We wanted to park down there but one parking garage said $245 per day and another said $269 per day! We found one that said $8.25 for the first half hour! I'm wondering how much it would be for the second. We didn't have time that day so we just went on back and didn't park down there. We found out later that we should have parked outside Manhatten and taken the train down if we wanted to walk around down there. Maybe next time.

When we arrived in Upstate New York, we stopped by the software install site so we'd know where to go the next day, then, we just went for a drive. Within a minute or two, we saw one of those ?Ascetic? Jews. You know, the ones with the black hats, black outfits and the hair locks down to their shoulders like you'd see in the movies. Of course that's unusual to see in Texas so that sort of stuck out to us. Well, so anyway, we saw another and then another and then another, etc. We probably saw about 50 or so. We had driven right into a Jewish village! We saw them walking we saw them riding bikes. We saw them thumbing for a hitchhikes. We saw them in Walmart. We saw them in restaurants and everywhere. Then we drove a little further and then it was Mexicans everywhere. Then we drove a little further then it was Blacks everywhere. So, we turned around and drove back through the various hoods and as we sort of got back past the Jewish community we found the next community was Catholic. So the Catholics were butted right up to the Jewish community. It was like little islands of peoples. In Texas everyone sort of mixes more so it was odd to me to see how everyone kept to their own little islands so much. A guy I spoke to later said that yes, there's China Town and Little Italy and such so each sort of sticks to themselves and are not homogeneous like they would be more in Texas (not that Texas is that homogeneous).

So anyway, we got brave and went to a Jewish restaurant. They asked us if it was for "here" or "to go". I sort of thought that odd/strange because it was a sit down type restaurant. We said "here" so they sat us by the door and never came back. So eventually we left. I wondered if my 1/2 German look may have stood out or unnerved them? Anyway, we went to another restaurant and this time it was a pizza hole-in-the-wall place. The Jewish don't eat or serve pork or beef (with cheese?) so they had cheese pizza and veggie pizza as well as various pastas. I had a slice of cheese and a slice of spinach. When I tried to pay, the cashier didn't seem to want to take the money from me. So, I laid it on the counter and then he took it. I guess he didn't want to touch a gentile? Anyway, the pizza was very good. We sort of felt like we were in a fish bowl as everyone was sort of looking at us now and then like we were from a different planet. However, we sort of looked at them too so I guess all's fair. This one five year old boy just stood there and staired right at us in front of our table. His mother leaned down and whispered something in his ear and then he turned around and walked off. It was really an odd experience.

I talked to a guy on the plane back and he said my interpretation of what happened was probably totally off as the Jewish really like visitors. So perhaps I'm just paranoid or am I?

As we were driving in New York, every road seemed to be a toll road and if you're not careful you'll miss the pay cash lane as we did once while going to a bridge. The toll booth had one of those wooden arms and wouldn't raise since we didn't have a toll tag so we had to wait for a police officer. He sort of gave us a hard time about it. He said it would be $4.50. So Tim handed him a $5 and he said if we wanted change we'd have to drive to some booth somewhere. So basically, he kept the change. I had my camera out and he sort of yelled at me, "You're not taking pictures of my bridge are you?" I guess it's something like terrorists would do or something. I said, "Oh no!" So then he yelled, "You better put that away!" I just said, "Yes sir!" and put it under my seat! So I guess I can say that I got yelled at by a police officer in New York, now!

We tried and tried to find a little souvineer Statue of Liberty. We first went into this dollar type store. There was this Chinese guy behind the counter. We asked him if he had any or knew where we could find one. He couldn't speak english so we just left. We went into this one Mexican looking Grocery store and asked this spanish lady for a statue of liberty. She just sort of looked like a deer in the headlights and walked off into the office. I'm guessing she didn't speak english. So anyway this guy comes out and she sort of fingered him over to us. So we ask him and I think he spoke less english. He said, "Uhhh Yeah...." and that's about it. So we left. It's sort of weird that so many people in NY don't speak english! All the stores there, even the Walmart had no New York Souvineers at all! We finally just bought stuff at the airport since it seemed we couldn't get any cool stuff anywhere else.

All in all, it was quite an experience for a TEX-UN like me.

I have a few Zoysia sprouts but not as many as I was hoping.

Saw the Transformers movie today! Absolutely loved it! My youngest daughter Natalie went nuts watching it! She said it was like watching a Godzilla movie but the humans helped out! That's probably the level of movie that I would say it attains to also. It was a lot of fun and if you go in with that attitude, you'll like it too. If you go in expecting perfection, then you'll be disappointed as there are plenty of plot holes and goofyness but if you can look past that, you'll see it's a very entertaining movie! Both of my daughters love it, I loved it, my wife sort of liked it so I'll give it a 4.5 out 5 stars! ****. Go watch it! It's lots of robot fun!

Well, I've been at my job for a week now. I've been trying to learn and absorb all I can. Next week I'll be traveling to Oklahoma on Monday and to New York on Thursday! Wow! I can't wait to go buy a little statue of liberty souvenir! The rest of the family wants to go, but that will just be too expensive.

Cool stuff my new job has done is bought my lunch a couple of times this week, given me a dell latitude D610 laptop to take with me everywhere with sprint broadband wireless service, they said they'd pay $200 for a phone and also pay for the service. I've been drewling at letstalk.com and I think I'd like a blackberry or a sidekick or a dash or a treo etc please. So little time, so many choices! What fun!

Got my Zosia seeds in the mail. I'm going to try to grow some Zosia grass in my front yard. I'm weird so this probably won't work either. You probably remember my fiasco with trying to grow Fescue a couple of years ago if you've read my blog at all. Fescue didn't work out in my yard and there's not much left alive today. We still have plenty of weeds though! Zosia is supposed to be better for southern states and is supposed to be the holy grail of grass for around here. I got turned on to Zosia from a coworker and he showed me the website Zosia Farms. However, after I looked for reviews about them I found a lot of negative comments about them so I ordered off of ebay instead. After researching, it looks like it would be a great choice, but perhaps centipede would have been better but I think I'll be happy with my choice. So anyway we've been getting a lot of rain so hopefully my seeds will sprout. I haven't had the bird feasting on my seeds like they did with the fescue so hopefully my seeds will have a chance as long as I keep them moist. Here's hoping.

1 Jul 2007 (updated 1 Jul 2007 at 00:46 UTC) »

Last month we bought a bunch of stuff to sell out at the Third Monday Trade Days, but alas, it Rained the whole weekend which basically means we sold next to nothing. The rain would stop so we would put our stuff back out and then it would start to rain again! We did that several times that weekend! We felt like putting out our stuff was causing it to rain! The sale was such a big flop for all the vendors! Hardly a sole came out, and if the rain stopped and they were brave enough to show up, it would start raining again and they would leave, just taunting us! We probably actually lost money on the sale if you count gas and lunch and handing out money to keep my daughters happy. Ugg. We were hoping to make a few thousand dollars instead we made zip. So that pretty much busted that. I don't think we'll ever do TMTD anymore. However, the items have been slowly selling on ebay so at least we'll probably be ok but it was so disappointing how it all turned out at TMTD for all the work we did. :'-(

I got a new job at Intrusion.com! I quit my job at JCPenney's. I was sad to leave, but the pay difference will soften the blow. I'm really happy to be back into a computer field. It's not exactly software engineering but at least it's computers. There'll be some travel, and I'll be working with a friend that goes back to my Junior High days so it sounds exciting. Hopefully, I'll still be able to say that after I've been there a few months! Perhaps now I'll have time and money! Naw! What has been nice, even if it is unrealistic is that my wife and I have been able to dream again of actually being able to buy stuff! Woo hoo! But the reality of it is more like we'll finally be able to pay of credit card debt. Which is still OK. But at least, we have hope again.

I like to take my daughters out periodically for a daddy daughter date. Usually we go out for dinner and shopping. My youngest daughter and I had been talking about the 4th of July and shooting off fireworks. I mentioned something about Diet Coke and Mentos and she got all excited and wanted to do that for our date! So we got up, went to Tom Thumb and bought about 5 different 2-liter soda bottles and a box of Mentos. My oldest daughter thought that looked like fun so she wanted in on it. So of course, my wife had to come out with her camera. So of course, I had to go back in and get my camera. First we tried the Diet Coke and one Mentos. It went up about 2 foot and died down. We were sort of disappointed. We next tried Diet Pepsi and 2 Mentos and it went like 4 foot up. So then we tried Diet Dr Pepper and 3 mentos. It went about like 6 foot up! Next we did Sprite One and 4 mentos and Natalie sort of botched it so it didn't really work right but it spewed pretty good all over the place anyway. Then last we did five Mentos and Diet Orange Soda and it went really high. We ran out of soda so we stood around and talked about wanting to do that for the 4th of July at Grandma's house instead of fireworks. We talked about doing all sorts of dangerous things sort of blowing up 2 liter bottles. Then, we remembered that we had one more bottle of Diet Dr. Pepper that Teresa had bought earlier in the week. So the girls ran in and grabbed it and brought it back out. They put like 5 Mentos in it and it must have spewed 12 feet in the air (see pic)! Oh the joy! This was pure Scientific experimentation of course! ;-)

31 May 2007 (updated 31 May 2007 at 15:31 UTC) »

Well, we did ok at the Third Monday Trade Days last month. This month we'll try to ramp it up and sell even more stuff! We bought 720 pairs of jeans and 100 dresses some wallets and some other stuff. Hopefully, we'll make a fortune and dance and sing, "We're in the money!" and all that jazz.

What's really helped is having a sniping tool to get stuff to sell really cheap. It's like you make your money on the buy and on the sell. If you want to buy low you must have a sniping tool. I chose PowerSnipe for my sniping tool because I can use it at home and at work and also it’s competitively priced and reliable. I have a business where I buy particular items on ebay for resale. I had been using a software sniping tool that only worked on my home PC. It worked but I couldn’t input new auctions from work, I couldn’t monitor my auctions nor edit bids from anywhere but from at home, if my power went off it couldn’t snipe until I could get home and turn my computer back on. What really put a nail in the coffin for me, was that ebay changed its page layout and it broke that tool for a few weeks until an update could be made and distributed. It was frustrating and it was inconvenient and at times completely unusable! Because it started to become such a problem I decided I wanted to use a web located sniping tool. I searched the internet and even found a page detailing the differences and prices of each service. I actually tried a few other web tools before settling on PowerSnipe. The other tools charge a minimal fee but also charge an additional fee for each snipe you do. Now if you do one or two snipes a month, you won’t notice this but if you do many more you’ll realize that it gets expensive quick! Even the free snipes to refer your friends can’t help for long when you do many snipes at all. I actually began thinking of making my own sniper tool because it was looking to be so expensive! So, then I found PowerSnipe. It’s like $46 or $49? so a year or like $4 a month! That’s the least expensive of them all and there’s no per snipe fee! You just about can’t find a lower cost sniping tool! There was a 30 day trial, so I went ahead and gave it a try! I loaded it up with more snipes than I could even put into my limited home software! So many in fact that I ran out of stuff on ebay to search for! The software worked flawlessly and immediately I had won more auctions (about 4 times) than I could have before! Well, so anyway, past the honeymoon stage, it had a problem. I emailed the support team, and the same day, they had an explanation and a fix! WOW! That’s something the other software could never have done! The other company wouldn’t even respond! OK, so I had another problem. I emailed, and the same day they emailed and it turns out it was actually me and not them! I have not had another single problem with the service! I have nothing but good things to say about these guys! Wow, I’m so impressed and sold with PowerSnipe! I would super highly recommend it to anyone looking to do serious eBay sniping.

I still have all of the robots to sell out at the sale. They didn't arrive last month until after the Trades Days sale. SO, I have them for this month. This month it will be June 15th, 16th & 17th.

The Trades days is sort of an experience. My girls want to go around looking all the time for girly stuff like jewelry and clothes. My wife just wants to make money. My dad and mom want to see me do well. My dad loves to play the salesman and talks to all the customer and tries to talk them into stuff. It actually works and he's good. I'm too shy. My wife likes to take up the money from people! My daughters like to lay around and act bored. All in all it's all fun!

I can't wait to see the Transformers movie! It looks fantastic! That's on my definately must see list!

We saw Pirates of the Carabean At World's End and Shrek the Third this weekend. I'd give them both a 3 out of 5. They were entertaining and good but not like really great! So I'd say go see them but don't be like expecting a blockbuster!

I found out the robomenu became broken with the newer version of the Yahoo Widget Engine. The good news is I figured out what the problem is and I should have a newer version soon. I want to make a couple of other fixes too before I release a new version. Hopefully, it'll be ready in just a couple of days.

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