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Free Geek Robbed

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the free-as-in-ripped-off dept.

275

Ellen Wilson writes, "Portland, Oregon, non-profit Free Geek, which turns old PCs into Linux boxen, has been robbed of about $4500 worth of hardware. Portlanders are asked to keep an eye out for suspicious sales of Ubuntu laptops." This blog post has some details of labeling that could help to spot the stolen laptops. BoingBoing picked up the story and added that another local outfit, the Independent Publishing Resource Center, which supports Portland's zine scene, had been hit on the previous night.

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275 comments

Free Geekin' (3, Informative)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 7 years ago | (#16920298)

I've been to there a dozen times looking for old hardware and the place is just awesome. It bites that someone robs them and i hope whoever it is caught. They deserve the book, the largest, to be thrown at them.

Re:Free Geekin' (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16920416)

It does suck they help people that are in dire need of computers to help their familys get started. so that someone stole from here is despicable jerks and they deserve to get mugged.

Not a book . . . (2, Interesting)

StefanJ (88986) | more than 7 years ago | (#16920432)

An old Kaypro. One of those luggables with two full-height 5.25" floppy drives. This is probably the most useful thing you could do with such a system other than breaking it down into raw materials.

The only question would be to aim for the knees or the solar plexus.

Re:Free Geekin' (0, Troll)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 7 years ago | (#16920468)

But the computers wanted to be free. I hope whoever it was gets caught so they can be given a medal for liberating those poor computers from people who thought they could be "owned".

If you want a chair thrown at them ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16920694)

(this doesn't even deserve a punchline, but) ... you know who to call.

Re:Free Geekin' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16920808)

To hell with throwing books at them, Start with the freegeek network adapter and work your way up from there. Theives deserve nothing m ore than to be torched till they die. goddamn motherfuckign tweakers.

Re:Free Geekin' (1)

Hao Wu (652581) | more than 7 years ago | (#16921232)

Who ever calls themself reputable nerd but instead goes around town stealing this and that should be shot on sight with no trial or issue of warrant. Being a thief is dishonest profession, on e e that will get you in to truck loads of trouble like you really deserve.

Re:Free Geekin' (4, Funny)

bitt3n (941736) | more than 7 years ago | (#16921356)

this is almost enough to make one lose faith in the noble enterprise of burglary.

Business in the US gets robbed (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16920304)

If this doesn't make it on CNN, I am so firing off an email.

Re:Business in the US gets robbed (5, Funny)

TFGeditor (737839) | more than 7 years ago | (#16920630)

In other news tonight, Microsoft kingpin Steve Ballmer was arrested in connection with the theft of several thousand dollars worth of laptop PCs configured to run the competing Linux operating system. As he was led away by police, witnesses reported Ballmer saying, "It has to stop somewhere! Won't someone *please* think of the children!" Ballmer then reportedly munbled over and over, "Damned pinguins, damned pinguins," until police took him away.

Re:Business in the US gets robbed (1)

StarvingSE (875139) | more than 7 years ago | (#16921202)

Ballmer then reportedly munbled over and over, "Damned pinguins, damned pinguins," until police took him away.

I think you meant "I'm gonna f***ing kill FreeGeek!!! muhahahahah!!!!

About 5 years ago I was robbed (5, Interesting)

chroot_james (833654) | more than 7 years ago | (#16920354)

I was playing in a band and we went on tour. We stopped in Birmingham, Alabama. After we played we were waiting for the follow up bands to finish and someone broke into our van and stole my laptop and someone else's laptop. They stole 2 of our cell phones too. I figured wtf, I'll call one of them. The robbers actually answered the phone and after about 30 minutes we convinced them to bring us the laptops back. We met in a dark alley and walked slowly with our hands in the air while on the phones to each other. I held up a couple 20's with some 1's and we did the swap. When I booted my laptop, it went into recovery mode as though someone turned it on, saw the linux boot up screen and thought, "wtf is this crap?! Jeez... I can't sell this... Hmm... the phone is ringing." and decided to try to get money for the crazy system from the owner.

Re:About 5 years ago I was robbed (1)

CoughDropAddict (40792) | more than 7 years ago | (#16920744)

You agreed to meet a burglar in a dark alley? That sounds insane.

Re:About 5 years ago I was robbed (1)

diersing (679767) | more than 7 years ago | (#16920834)

Yet adds a bit of suspense though doesn't it? Shoulda made them an Asian gang who rides crotch rockets around, that'd been sweet.

Re:About 5 years ago I was robbed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16920966)

yes, but we asian crotch rocket riders already know linux

Linux not ready for prime time (5, Funny)

fyoder (857358) | more than 7 years ago | (#16921108)

When I booted my laptop, it went into recovery mode as though someone turned it on, saw the linux boot up screen and thought, "wtf is this crap?! Jeez... I can't sell this...


Nine out of ten thieves agree, Linux is not ready for prime time.

I guess what they say is true (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16920358)

Hardware just wants to be free.

Not to disagree too much (1)

The_Abortionist (930834) | more than 7 years ago | (#16920618)

Sorry, but here we care only about free software. 2-4 CPU machines with loads of RAM to run Linux can cost a whole lot, but we'll be damned if we pay $100 for software that has millions lines of code and a ton of bundled applications.

And it's definately about free=freedom, otherwise we wouldn't have opteron and core duo 2 dicks in every orifice. We'd all be running sparcs.

At the end of the day, open source is all about free loading and acting smog.

Re:Not to disagree too much (3, Informative)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 7 years ago | (#16920804)

Some guys actually try to create open source hardware.
A graphics card:
http://wiki.duskglow.com/tiki-index.php?page=Open- Graphics [duskglow.com]
Various Open Source processors:
http://www.opencores.org/ [opencores.org]

Of course their efforts are somewhat hampered by the fact that chip manufacturing equipment is awfully expensive. If you could buy a Star Trek style replicator for the price of a PC, I guess we would see a lot more free hardware.

Uh. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16920370)

"suspicious sales of Ubuntu laptops"

So, ANY sales of Ubuntu laptops?

Re:Uh. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16921470)

For real. Why the fuck would anybody buy a five-year-old Ubuntu laptop, much less steal one. That's like stealing an old diesel VW bus converted to run on vegetable oil.

Boxen Is Not A Word (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16920394)

"Portland, Oregon, non-profit Free Geek, which turns old PCs into Linux boxen

Please stop using this boxen word. There is no such thing is boxen. The plural of box is boxes.

This madness must stop. Anytime somebody says boxen in real life to me gets a punch in the face.

Re:Boxen Is Not A Word (2, Funny)

jdray (645332) | more than 7 years ago | (#16920482)

boxen boxen boxen boxen

Personally, I think it's an imminently useable colloquialism.

Re:Boxen Is Not A Word (2, Funny)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 7 years ago | (#16921450)

Cute. You think it's an impending or threateningly useable neologism?

    Now I can't decide whether you had a good point or not.

Re:Boxen Is Not A Word (1, Insightful)

jibjibjib (889679) | more than 7 years ago | (#16920532)

You used "boxen" as an adjective and "is" as a preposition, so you can hardly complain.

Anyway, the language changes, it doesn't matter whether the plural of box used to be boxes or not, as long as you understand what people are talking about.

Re:Boxen Is Not A Word (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16920674)

boxen, adjective (arch.) of or pertaining to box; made of or like boxwood

Source : page 276, Shorter Oxford English Dictionary Vol 1, ISBN 0-19-860575-7

Re:Boxen Is Not A Word (3, Informative)

firegarden7 (808626) | more than 7 years ago | (#16920764)

It's been explained before in previous Slashdot articles, but here it is again. The word "boxen" comes from a Brian Regan stand-up comedy bit on his Live CD.

Re:Boxen Is Not A Word (1)

Sabaki (531686) | more than 7 years ago | (#16921300)

Regan has one CD entitled "Brian Regan Live" which was released in 1997.

I'm pretty sure I'd heard "boxen" used at work before 1997, and I don't recall having heard of Brian Regan before now. He might have helped spread it, though.

Re:Boxen Is Not A Word (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16920862)

Please stop using this boxen word. There is no such thing is boxen.


Allowing new words to the language embiggens us all. Besides that, it's a perfectly cromulent word.

So, Your "Boxen" Solution Would Be... (1)

CheeseburgerBrown (553703) | more than 7 years ago | (#16920878)

...boxin'.

Your hypocrisy digusts. (It doesn't disgust me because I have a very strong stomach, but won't somebody please think of the children?)

Re:Boxen Is Not A Word (4, Insightful)

onebuttonmouse (733011) | more than 7 years ago | (#16920924)

And I think that a burglar burgles, but that won't stop talk of 'burglarizing'. Some groups of people use language that other groups consider incorrect, no need get all uppity about it.

Oh YEAH? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16921018)

Boxen
B0xen
Box3n
BoXen
boxen
B0xen
Box3n
b0xeN
Mush-ROOM!
Mush-ROOM!

Re:Oh YEAH? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16921206)

5N4K3!!!!!111

Re:Boxen Is Not A Word (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16921024)

Ok, Luddite, feel free to use the word neologism [m-w.com].

Re:Boxen Is Not A Word (4, Funny)

beadfulthings (975812) | more than 7 years ago | (#16921082)

Oh, dear! It's a good thing that you're probably too young to remember the vaxen. They might have driven you to violence.

Re:Boxen Is Not A Word (1)

pryonic (938155) | more than 7 years ago | (#16921122)

I always assumed it was from 1 ox, many oxen

Us geeks love our word play. Byte, nibble, bit!

Mooo!

Re:Boxen Is Not A Word (2, Funny)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 7 years ago | (#16921258)

Quit complaining or I'll infect you with some virii I got from an ATM machine when I entered you're PIN number wrong.

Re:Boxen Is Not A Word (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16921306)

"Boxen" was in use in 1530-1569, the mid 16th century, before C.S.Lewis and Computer hackers.

Re:Boxen Is Not A Word (1)

xrayspx (13127) | more than 7 years ago | (#16921324)

Moosen I completely agree with you but slashdot won't let me post very quickly so I need to burn time.

Re:Boxen Is Not A Word (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16921374)

I think "die Boxen" is the plural for "die Box" in german. /shrug

For Sale (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16920438)

Ubuntu laptops...CHEAP!

Who would want them? (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 7 years ago | (#16920442)

After all, they're running Ubuntu. And what is a 'zine scene' ? Is this 1992? /hippies

"Zine Scene" (2, Informative)

MiloBlue (1029874) | more than 7 years ago | (#16921052)

as pointed out, one could consider a zine like a paper blog, but they're so much more. As for the scene itself, it's like many other subcultures. Conferences, libraries and archives, people actively creating media which often fall into the "free as in beer" and "free as in speech" catagories.


Of relevance, many zinesters are proponents of the F/OSS movement. At this year's Portland Zine Symposium, a workshop was dedicated to using OSS tools for the creation of zines.


At http://www.qzap.org/ [qzap.org](which I am a co-founder of), we're very vocal about using F/OSS software on our servers and some desktops. We recognize that it's not 1992... because of this, we actively hope that people will use what we do and roll their own projects.

and much much less.... (1)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16921378)

"as pointed out, one could consider a zine like a paper blog, but they're so much more"

Paper zines really have a lot of Myspace thrown in. You know, the basic idea of "if I can fit a graphic here, why not?" and the incredible fun of unreadable font/color/background combinations. I have yet to see one that didn't suffer from extremely poor design decisions.

Crime (1)

Das Auge (597142) | more than 7 years ago | (#16920444)

It's never pleasant to hear about someone being the victim of a crime, but some crimes are a cut below the usual. Stealing from a non-profit organizations whose aim is to help the poor ranks pretty low on a scale that's pretty low to start with.

If those responsible are caught, I hope the judge throws the book at them.

I hope it's the hard cover edition of War and Peace.

Sounds like burglary (3, Informative)

D H NG (779318) | more than 7 years ago | (#16920448)

Burglarized [wikipedia.org], not robbed [wikipedia.org].

Re:Sounds like burglary (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#16920864)

Quite. This one pisses me off more than there/their.

Re:Sounds like burglary (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 7 years ago | (#16921442)

Really? There/their is a clear grammatical mistake, whereas the distinction between robbery and burglary is a technical one. (Maybe I'm just pouting because I didn't know the difference until a few minutes ago.)

How old (valuable) are the old PCs? (1)

OnTheWay (529387) | more than 7 years ago | (#16920486)

I wonder if the thieves made off with really old PCs that have no Windows resale value at all?

Re:How old (valuable) are the old PCs? (3, Interesting)

nick.ian.k (987094) | more than 7 years ago | (#16921044)

You'd be surprised. I'm a staffer at FreeGeek Chicago, and when we first started up about a year ago, we had a guy from the neighborhood come around and demand that we sell him some busted up P1 laptops from our store of equipment. His plan was to load them up with pirated copies of Win98 and sell them on the street for, in his words, "twice what I'm payin' you guys", and we were supposed to go along with this as he saw us as cutting in on his business. We explained to him that those machines were below even our paltry baseline spec and our plan was just to insure that they get recycled properly...when he realized we were giving out stuff better than absolute crap free-of-charge in exchange for volunteer labor, he said we were crazy, and we wouldn't believe how much we could be getting if we sold our stuff at his "rates"; his take was that people who don't know much about computers are naive enough to think that all laptops perform like champs, are status symbols, and that $100 for one is a steal, regardless how outdated it may actually be.

Since then, we've also become privvy to what an allegedly similar recycling/refurbishing organization in the Chicago area charges for machines that match our baseline spec. Given the business they seem to get, I'd say our street salesman friend may not have been too far off the mark...it's more than twice what we charge in the rare event we're selling a machine (again, we usually just ask for 20 hours of volunteer time as opposed to money).

20 hours for a used PC? (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#16921410)

again, we usually just ask for 20 hours of volunteer time as opposed to money

I don't know who you're selling these machines to, but 20 hours of volunteer time seems like a lot. Even low-balling the value of my free time, I could probably go out and buy a brand new system for that. If the work you're asking volunteers to do is in any way unpleasant (negative value), that's a very expensive computer. Though, if the work was fun, it might be a better deal. A lot of volunteer organizations that I've worked with, though, treat new people like crap and/or use them for whatever their "scut work" happens to be that day.

I'm not trying to act like a rich bastard here, because I'm not -- I'm your basic cube-slaving working stiff -- I just was startled by how high a bar that seems to be. (And perhaps I'm undervaluing these computers -- when I think of a 'used PC' I'm imagining something in the $100 "Craigslist" range.) I wouldn't mind working for a Saturday afternoon if there was a free computer in it (particularly if it was something interesting), but I just wonder how many people are willing to do 20 hours for something that would only require half that number of hours to buy outright in an average-wage job. Do you get a lot of takers?

"Boxen" is not a word. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16920502)

"Boxen" is not a word.

Really eager to use Ubuntu (3, Funny)

businessnerd (1009815) | more than 7 years ago | (#16920554)

These guys must have been so eager to use Ubuntu that they couldn't wait long enough to download and burn their own copy or order one in the mail. While I admire their enthusiasm over Linux, I can't condone stealing stealing a copy.

Re:Really eager to use Ubuntu (1)

Glowing Fish (155236) | more than 7 years ago | (#16921360)

And we use Dapper Drake, too! So I bet they will feel double cheated when they realize that after all that theft, they still don't have access to cutting edge Feisty Fawn!

As bad/worse (1)

jdp816 (895616) | more than 7 years ago | (#16920558)

A Kansas City local computer recycler, www.surplusechange.org, lost almost all of their stuff when the building next to their old one burned to the ground. They had about 10,000gal/min of water flowing between the two, as there was an elevated pathway connecting them. It was worse than being robbed, as nothing or very little could be salvaged. (I just posted and it came up as A/C, login didn't stick, eh?)

Don't get me wrong (2, Interesting)

TheBogie (941620) | more than 7 years ago | (#16920612)

Don't get me wrong, I think the scumbags who did this should be lined up against a wall and shot.

I also think that giving computers away to needy people is admirable.

But don't you think the folks at FreeGeek doing sort of a disservice to those they give computers to? Linux is not the easiest to learn, and once it is learned the skills are only applicable to less than 5 percent of all computers.

If I were a poor person scraping to get by, one of these computers may just convince me that computers are not for me at all.

Re:Don't get me wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16920754)

They're free. They give away a free operating system on them so that they can afford to continue providing the computers. They also provide training on how to use their computers.

teaching a man to fish (5, Informative)

whistlingtony (691548) | more than 7 years ago | (#16920802)

Hi there,

I do volunteer work at FreeGeek. I teach the command line class once a week.

Freegeek does more than just hand out boxes. They teach people how to make the boxes. They teach people how to use the boxes. They empower people to fix their own stuff.

They're not always successful mind you. It's still a wonderful endeavor.

Right here I'd insert a "Teach a man to fish" line... but you get the idea.

-Tony

Re:teaching a man to fish (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16921290)

You mean, like,

"Give a man enough rope, he'll hang himself. Teach a man to make rope, he'll hang other people." or "Give a man a fire and you keep him warm for a night. Set him on fire and you keep him warm for the rest of his life."?

*runnin'*

Re:teaching a man to fish (5, Funny)

Gospodin (547743) | more than 7 years ago | (#16921316)

You mean like: Give a man a Linux box and he'll be confused for a day; Teach a man Linux and he'll be confused for the rest of his life?

I kid, of course... ;)

Re:Don't get me wrong (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16920942)

But don't you think the folks at FreeGeek doing sort of a disservice to those they give computers to?

No.

KFG

Re:Don't get me wrong (5, Insightful)

egypt_jimbob (889197) | more than 7 years ago | (#16921038)

But don't you think the folks at FreeGeek doing sort of a disservice to those they give computers to? Linux is not the easiest to learn, and once it is learned the skills are only applicable to less than 5 percent of all computers.
Firstly, they seem to mostly give machines to non-profits and their volunteers. Secondly, they train their volunteers in using the software as well as how to build a machine from parts. Also, those skills will be useful on a computer the volunteer now owns which could not happen without this program (or something like it). The more people who are turned on to Free software, the more people will know how to use it and the more useful the skills become.

Your post reminds me of teachers I had in high school who had the mentality that we were "just kids" who couldn't be expected to learn without being forcefed. Poor does not equal stupid; give people the opportunity to learn and they will surprise you.

I'll help (4, Interesting)

Beek Dog (610072) | more than 7 years ago | (#16920624)

I'm in Portland, and when I'm not at work I could easily be mistaken for a criminal (I look like a skater). I'm going to call up some of my more unscrupulous friends (I went to an inner city high school) and see if anyone knows where to find a 'cheap' laptop.

I think checking CraigsList and eBay can be helpful, although I've never had much luck with eBay. A friend of mine found his laptop on CraigsList and contacted the seller to buy it. Once he had met the individual, he was able to 'persuade' the individual into to giving it back.

I can't stand thieves in the first place, but from FreeGeek? That's low.

Re:I'll help (2, Funny)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 7 years ago | (#16921346)

"I can't stand thieves in the first place, but from FreeGeek? That's low."

I know, I mean I can't stand a thief without a Code of Ethics.

Well we know that it wasn't (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16920636)

Hans Reiser

Re:Well we know that it wasn't (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16920948)

Dude, whoever you are, you're goin to hell.

And taking me with you, cause that's *damn* funny. Sick. But funny.

I Point the Finger at SCO (1)

eno2001 (527078) | more than 7 years ago | (#16920784)

Considering that they aren't having much success extracting teabagging extortion fees from the fiercly masculine Linux userbase, they've had to resort to more desperate means. $4500 should cover the $699 fee for about six machines and Darl McBride's penis shortage.

"Boxen"? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16920854)

What the fuck is this shit? Who the fuck says boxen? FF2 marks it as a misspelling. Seriously WTF? What the hell is with you linux dorks saying boxen when you refer to linux BOXES?

Re:"Boxen"? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16921178)

Time for you tell them firefox boys to get a real dictionary then.

>$ dict boxen

3 definitions found

From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 [gcide]:

    Boxen \Box"en\ (b[o^]ks"'n), a.
          Made of boxwood; pertaining to, or resembling, the box
          ({Buxus}). [R.]
          [1913 Webster]

                      The faded hue of sapless boxen leaves. --Dryden.
          [1913 Webster]

From The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing (19 Sep 2003) [foldoc]:

    boxen /bok'sn/ (By analogy with {VAXen}) A fanciful plural of {box}
          often encountered in the phrase "Unix boxen", used to describe
          commodity {Unix} hardware. The connotation is that any two
          Unix boxen are interchangeable.

          [{Jargon File}]

          (1994-11-29)

From Jargon File (4.4.4, 14 Aug 2003) [jargon]:

    boxen /bok'sn/, pl.n.

          [very common; by analogy with {VAXen}] Fanciful plural of {box} often
          encountered in the phrase `Unix boxen', used to describe commodity
          {Unix} hardware. The connotation is that any two Unix boxen are
          interchangeable.

(END)

Re:"Boxen"? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16921340)

Those "boxes" as you so call them are like oxen, very sturdy and can do lots of work. You know... boxen! Duh!

Applying logic seen on Slashdot (1, Informative)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 7 years ago | (#16920940)

It's FreeGeek's fault! They should have had better security!

If it works for breaking into a computer system and stealing credit card numbers, it should work for breaking into a building and stealing computer systems.

Re:Applying logic seen on Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16921062)

Yep. Since there's little possibility of catching the criminal, blame the victim.

Re:Applying logic seen on Slashdot (3, Informative)

Glowing Fish (155236) | more than 7 years ago | (#16921332)

It should be noted that Free Geek does have pretty tight security, to an extant that most people, even most people who spend lots of time there, don't know about.

Two points: first, in five years, large scale breaches of security have not been common.

Second, as much as there was stuff taken, there was a lot more valuable stuff not taken, due to security measures that you will have to guess at.

Ubuntu Laptops? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16920978)

Oh, please. Who in their right mind would buy a Ubuntu laptop? They're probably already formatted and running Windows XP. Hell, considering that Ubuntu (and the other Linuxes) literally cannot GIVE their product away, what moron would pay for it?

Has any thought been given to....... (4, Interesting)

8127972 (73495) | more than 7 years ago | (#16921068)

..... Slashdot readers picking up the slack by donating PC's or donating money? I'm guessing that this organization could use the help.

Obligatory (1)

trimbo (127919) | more than 7 years ago | (#16921184)

This is news? $4500 of computers being stolen is national, no ... international IT news worthy of the front page of Slashdot?
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