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Getting Back To Coding

ImdatS Re:Tool complexity leads to learning the tool (240 comments)

Oh, please, please give me mod-points --

Working at an SMB, my experience is exactly this! I joined four months ago and am responsible (actually as a 'Chief Product Officer') to increase the quality, performance and usability of the products we are selling.

The problem is still understanding where all the problems come from - in the meantime I decided that it is mostly from extremely inexperienced (in CS concepts) Java developers as well as hundreds of tools, frameworks, new concepts that nobody has understood but which are "hype" and so on.

Instead of doing my Product Management job, I'm currently more involved in showing the developers where to find the bugs, problems and how to fix these...

*sigh*

about three weeks ago
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Jimmy Wales To 'Holistic Healers': Prove Your Claims the Old-Fashioned Way

ImdatS Re:You know what they call alternative medicine... (517 comments)

Diets: you know what? I realized long time ago, that the right diet has the following ingredients:

1) A healthy mix of fresh vegetables (a lot), dairy products (some), and proteins (some meat, fish, eggs)
2) It tastes good
3) I really like eating it
4) Lots of water to drink
One should never underestimate the importance of (2) and (3) above...
On top of that, you could add: 5) Exercise.... and its not even much. Walk to shopping, walk through a park/forest. Try not to use your car that often, try using the stairs instead of elevators, etc - you don't necessarily need a gym membership. Just walk more, drive less and it will already be a major step forward..

Then: lots of fresh fruit - and, every now an then: some "food for soul" (such as chocolate, chips, or whatever that is actually "unhealthy" - but I can use it as "soul food" every now and then and really, really enjoy also eating "unhealthy")

I'm 5'11", about 162 lbs and quite fit, though already in my 5th decade of live - I love to enjoy food, love cooking - but also like to "... just get a freakin' fatty cheeseburger ..." from time to time. Never had a problem.

Long story short: all those diet recommendations in media is BS for me. Listen to your body, mix lots of fresh vegetables with some protein, dairy products and your fine. And as someone said, keep in mind the golden rule:

Energy in == Energy Out.

If you want to reach the expert level, keep in mind: Carbs are converted to fat in your body when your Energy Input is higher than your Energy Output.
For the body, the order of burning its reserves are: 1) Carbs; 2) Fats; 3) Proteins

Proteins cannot be converted to fat, they can only be converted directly to energy. The more carbs & fats you eat, the fatter you get when your Input is higher than your Output. The fatter you get, the more Energy Input you need in order to just keep the weight, which creates a vicious cycle.
(the last two paragraphs are for "Expert Level" dieting) - tongue in cheek...

about 5 months ago
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Jimmy Wales To 'Holistic Healers': Prove Your Claims the Old-Fashioned Way

ImdatS Re:You know what they call alternative medicine... (517 comments)

Actually, the "herbal medicine" is NOT "alternative medicine". At least over here in Germany (and most of continental Europe) herbal medicine is a "classical medicine" segment called "Naturheilkunde", which could be translate back as "Medicine using natural ingredients" (i.e. natural grown) instead of "artificially created" ingredients (i.e. lab-generated ingredients).

"Naturheilkunde" is the segment of medicine looking at the healing effects of herbs, teas, fruits, etc. But it still, thankfully, uses scientific approach (Trial->Result->Replicate Result->Communicate; Trial by Third Parties->Replicate by Third Parties->Communicate).

about 5 months ago
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Jimmy Wales To 'Holistic Healers': Prove Your Claims the Old-Fashioned Way

ImdatS Re:You know what they call alternative medicine... (517 comments)

Actually herbalist's (the traditional ones') approach was this:
They either had heard from some other person that a specific herb worked successfully against a specific sickness, or they tried out herbs against certain ills to see if it worked.
When they saw that it worked with one patient, they kept using it with other patients with the same ills or sicknesses. For example, daisy-flower tea was recommended against kidney-stones or to remedy it a bit or so.
What the herbalists didn't know though was why it worked. For them, the only thing that counted was the result. If a given herb didn't work with a given illness, they tried a different herb or a combination of many herbs until they either gave up or they saw that it worked. Traditional herbalists (ages ago) actually only kept those herbs (and combinations) in their "portfolio" that reliable delivered the same results with the same/similar sicknesses. If they couldn't replicate the result, they dropped that herb (or combinations) from their "portfolio"...

Thus, the traditional herbalist were in fact using "scientific methods" without knowing that they were using them: Trial -> Result -> Try to Replicate Result -> Communicate to other Herbalists; The other herbalists again: Trial -> Result -> Replicate;

While growing up in a backwater-village in central Turkey in the 1970's, I learned much about herbs and "household remedies" (to reduce the impact of a common cold or to protect wounds becoming infectious, etc). For example: when you're wounded (e.g. while carving a stick or so) by a knife or anything that was not clean, the first thing to do (that I learnt) was to pee on the wound. Nobody knew why it worked, but they knew that that helped against infections... (well, after having gone to school, now I know why it worked ...)

Today, I am happy to use "household remedies" (as long as they deliver, reliably, same/similar results for a given situation) as well as "School Medicine" (as it is called). But I would never think of trying to cure an infection with a tea - I'll prefer an anti-biotic, thank you very much (so far, there are no herbal solutions I am aware of against infections, but antibiotics are proven to work ...) - in fact, anything that can be scientifically proven is fine with me - whether it herbs, medication, surgery, - I don't care as long as it is proven. And no, homeopathy, "Energy-whatever", or "holistic medicine" (what is it actually) is not my "cup of tea"... (no proof there)

The difference (for me) between scientific and non-scientific approach is very simple:
1) Can you reliably reproduce the results under similar conditions but changing at least one parameter (for example with other patients)
2) Can third parties reliably reproduce the results under similar conditions but changing at least one parameter (e.g. other patients)

If the answer to both is "YES", then, for heaven's sake use whatever means you come up with to help people. But if either you or other people can't reproduce it under similar conditions, chance is that the result was a "random fluctuation in space-time" and had nothing to do with your "(alternative) medical approach" (or any other approach).

about 5 months ago
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Time Warner Deal Is How Comcast Will Fight Cord Cutters

ImdatS Re:what price increases? (424 comments)

Here in Germany, I pay for 100Mbps/20Mbps (Down-/Upstream) EUR 25 per month (at current exchange rate around 34 USD/month).

Well, at least the company selling the service offers the product as "100Mbps/20Mbps", but in fact when the technician came and connected it, we saw sync-speed of 100Mbps/31Mbps and his comment: "Yeah, we actually sell only what we can guarantee".

I have measured it many times, and it is really effectively 100Mbps/30 Mbps

While I was in the US from 2009 onward, I had the feeling that the US has the worst internet connection (to homes) of all the countries I spent time in (except emerging markets). And it was the most expensive I have seen so far.

about 6 months ago
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Wozniak To Apple: Consider Building an Android Phone

ImdatS Re:first (249 comments)

Well, I guess it will be time to move on when beta becomes standard and/or the only option.

Sad that I will lose my "Karma: Excellent", but beta is really bad - actually, horrible.

Dice: Please go back to the drawing board and just make the classic/current design slightly nicer/better - that's all we need. No new fancy UI which I can't really use.

It will be a sad day when I ask for deletion of my account - all those times I spent trying to write really informative comments - lost in time like tears in rain...

about 7 months ago
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Wozniak Gets Personal On Innovation

ImdatS Re:All the other crap... (161 comments)

But there is no question that public education's primary purpose is not for an individuals rote memorization of facts as much as developing civil minds for the preservation of our nation.

Yes, I fully agree with this statement, but fact is that in today's schools, it is rote learning and information cramming only. If the schools would prepare kids for life by educating them that learning is a great thing by itself, educate them to understand how they learn and teaching them to think for themselves, that would be a school-system I'd fully support.

The problem is that today's schools really teach kids how not to think for themselves, and how not to be analytical, questioning the status-quo, etc.

I'm all for learning some facts, i.e. information transfer. But let me ask you a simple question:
Which school (or which teacher) tells the kids clearly during history-lessons that what we know about is history may not be the actual fact but only what some people, and in most cases only the victorious's, have written down?

History is taught in schools as if it was something "true" - while being known for most people that it is only what was written down mostly by the victorious party. It would be more prudent to teach kids: "Look, I'll tell you what we have discovered so far about history - but some things might have been quite different or opposite, so take it with a grain of salt..."

Same is true for everything else: In science, most of what the teachers are teaching they do so as "facts" instead of "... as far as we know so far ..."

If we'd first teach kids how to think for themselves and actually encourage them to question especially their teachers, and then start teaching them "facts", the school-system would be probably significantly better for the society and we'd be developing the civil minds you are talking about. But, as said, currently we're just producing human resources for the economy - preferably human resources that don't think for themselves...

about 7 months ago
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Wozniak Gets Personal On Innovation

ImdatS Re:I blame textbook monopolies. (161 comments)

During the last 10+ years, I came to the conclusion that the worst things that happens to kids is going to school. I'm basically convinced now that the single-source of dumbing down kids is going to school.

The main reason for me is that kids don't learn really right things in school. They learn by the rote, for tests. There is a standard curriculum for all kids - one curriculum to rule them all. It is all based on tests (whether in the US, Europe, or elsewhere - it is the same everywhere).

I can't see any approach where:
a) Kids learn how they learn best
b) Kids learn based on their strengths & preferences
c) Kids have fun learning and learn having fun learning

I'm afraid, the only thing we do in schools is try to created "standardized human resources" for the economy. There is no learning of "creative thinking", understanding how one learns best, what one's strengths are, etc.

Form many, many direct observations, I have seen kids being "tortured" with standardized curricula though these were kids with strong artistic senses, or strong scientific senses, etc. Why, on earth, does a kid who loves STEM and is really a high-flyer in STEM, need to do well in Arts, Sports, and other topics in order to continue school/high-school/college? Same is true for kids who love Arts, Sports, or so who are tortured with STEM?

If someone loves history, geography, social sciences and is really strong in it, why do they need to do all the other crap?

It is a convoluted situation: We actually teach kids in school how NOT TO think for themselves anymore, how NOT to be creative, how NOT to understand how they learn - we just cram information into them for 10+ years and test whether this information-cramming worked or not with all school-tests...

I have no solution, but at least I believe I have (partially) identified the problem (for me) - next step would be to really try to find solutions.

Caveat: Yes, I believe there are basic things that everybody should learn: reading, writing, basic math, basic history, basic geography - but this is something that can be done "on the side"...

Well, just the EUR 0.02 of a frustrated person - frustrated with the schooling system around the world (and no, I don't go to school anymore, I'm 45, but I also don't stop learning new things and am actually thinking about going to College - again...)

about 7 months ago
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Do Non-Technical Managers Add Value?

ImdatS Re:Managers (249 comments)

What I learned over my lifetime is this:

A good manager does:
1) Define clear objectives (what to achieve);
2) Define a "strategy" (how-to in general terms) to achieve it;
3) Create the right team with the right, complimentary skill-sets to reach the objectives;
4) Provide all the resources needed to the team so they can achieve the objectives;
and the most important:
5) Clear the path for the team to run towards the objective - on an ongoing basis - so that the team doesn't need to bother with anything like politics, bureaucracy, and other hindrances that would otherwise make it impossible for the team to achieve the objectives.

On a regular basis, the manager needs to do some "controlling', i.e. compare the team's achievements against the plan/objectives and either adjust the plan, the objectives, or the team/team's requirements. A manager who believes that the plan "is carved in stone" is a bad manager. A manager who believes that after implementing 1-4, everything will work out is a bad manager. A manager who believes that "... the team will work out the best solution and deliver as planned ..." is a bad manager.

#5 above, i.e., making sure, on a daily basis, that the team's path is clear and that the team can run towards the objective (including changing team members if needed) is one of the core tasks.

If the manager masters these five tasks, he will be (more or less) invisible and the team will think that they didn't actually need him/her at all to achieve the objective... This is when I would call such a manager a "Master"...

Whether such a manager is technical or not doesn't matter - it might be helpful to be of technical/engineering background (so the manager can understand things better), but it might also be a hindrance to be of technical background (bias)...

about 8 months ago
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Battlefield 4 Banned In China

ImdatS Re:First Shot (380 comments)

... culturally, violence is arguably more alien to the Chinese than it is to us Westerners....

Hmm, according to this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wars_and_anthropogenic_disasters_by_death_toll#Wars_and_armed_conflicts, if I do a back-of-the-envelope calculation, the total death total (minimum) of inner-Chinese wars was about 100m people. On the max side, we are talking about over 210m people dead (sources vary).

This is not to say that Chinese Culture is per-se violent; it is more to say that it is not per se non-violent.

Let's be careful with generalizations...

about 8 months ago
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Battlefield 4 Banned In China

ImdatS Re:First Shot (380 comments)

I would say: "He who is without sin shall throw the first stone..."

In human history, there were many atrocities and every great empire/culture was built mostly on violence first and then became peaceful. That's what it is and that is our shared history as humans. Even China as of today is not a coherent culture.

There are a lot Mongol mixes, lots of Turc people (Uighurs), Tibetans, and may more. Many were conquered, some voluntarily joined the Middle Kingdom. So, what?

What counts is whether people are free today - wherever they are living. And in most places around the world, they are not, including, but not limited to, China. Our goal as humans should be to make sure that everybody on this planet can, at one point, have a decent, dignified and free life.

about 8 months ago
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Prime Minister Wiretapped — Vast Corruption Upending Turkey's Government

ImdatS Re:They named a country after a bird? (123 comments)

The funniest thing? In Turkish, that bird is called "Hindi", which assumes that the bird came from India...

about 8 months ago
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Alan Turing Pardoned

ImdatS Re:Not enough, (415 comments)

Actually, he is an OBE (Officer of the Order of Most Excellence of the British Empire - wow, what a title) - (or was it an MBE?)

As I understand, OBE is the fourth-level. The highest level is something like Knight Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (GBE). According to Wikipedia, this is the order:

1. Knight Grand Cross or Dame Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (GBE)
2. Knight Commander or Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE or DBE)
3. Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE)
4. Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE)
5. Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE)

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_of_the_British_Empire

Once he reaches Level 2 or 1, we can then finally call him "Sir Alan Turing", which he more than deserves...

about 8 months ago
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Alan Turing Pardoned

ImdatS Re:59 years too late (415 comments)

Actually, laws can be declared "illegal" retroactively. I don't know what are the circumstances in each country, but in Germany during the last 10-20 years, a lot of laws were declared "illegal" retroactively, including e.g. some tax laws. The government had to pay compensation to the effected people retroactively.

And no, I'm not talking about laws from the time of 1933-1945. These were new laws (e.g. one from 2003 that was declared illegal in, if I remember correctly, 2008 or so).

Now, admittedly, this was because these laws were declared "unconstitutional" and I don't know all the circumstances under which laws can be declared illegal retroactively, but it seems it is possible...

about 7 months ago
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Alan Turing Pardoned

ImdatS Re:Not enough, (415 comments)

He pleaded that he "did have an intimate relationship with a man" (to paraphrase). Whether that is guilt and/or criminal is decided by others not him.

The fact that laws at that time defined this action as criminal does not make it criminal per se. Laws are supposed to be as just as possible and not necessarily always reflect current morals. If we accept current morals as the benchmark for laws, we are doomed to never develop as a species... we should aspire to have ethics as the basis for laws, not current morals...

In Germany, e.g., any (even consensual) sexual relationship between a man (over 18) and a male person (under 18, even if it was over 16) was illegal under criminal law. But the same didn't apply for a man over 18 and a woman between 16-18 as long as it was consensual. This was the case until mid 1980's - it wasn't fair, it wasn't just - it was just a law. Laws are there to be changed and adapted to be more just. We learn. This doesn't mean mean that we should not condemn old laws that created so much injustice....

He was not guilty under a just law - he was guilt because the law was unjust... there are too many examples in our history to cite - without even calling on Godwin's Law - for which we should be ashamed as humanity and make sure that they never happen again.

about 7 months ago
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Alan Turing Pardoned

ImdatS Re:Really? (415 comments)

According to Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Turing#Government_apology_and_pardon (and The Times of London), he will be pardoned tomorrow, Dec 24th, 2013, UK time...

An apology was expressed in 2009 by the British Government.

But, alas, that doesn't make a past wrong right - the only we can do now is to learn from the past mistakes and wrongs and do whatever we can that it doesn't happen again in the future...

about 7 months ago
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Amazon Workers Strike In Germany As Christmas Orders Peak

ImdatS Re:Not Amazon's Fault (606 comments)

Actually there is kind of major difference between Germany and the rest of the EU.

In Germany, basically every company above a certain size (say 7 or 18 employees or so) can or must must have worker's council (the first size-level is for "can" and the second is for "must-have", but I'm not sure about the size anymore as it changes from time to time). This is the starting point.

For most of the industries, there is also one or more specific unions.

Also, for all large corporations, there needs to be a Supervisory Board (similar to Board of Directors in the USA), of which 50% must be filled-in by worker's council members or unions. In larger companies, there can be dedicated worker's council members, who are paid by the employer but do only worker's council work.

Also, in Germany, there is no such thing as an "HR-Department". There is a "Personalabteilung" (Personnel-Department), that actually represents the employer's interest and there is the worker's council that represents the employee's interest. Therefore, there is also no interest-of-conflict within those organizations such as in a hybrid HR-department.

Lastly, membership in a Union is purely voluntary, i.e. you can work for a corporation/company that is member of a Employer's Organization but that doesn't necessarily require you to be member of a Union.

If the Employer (the company) is member of a specific collective-bargaining Employer's Organization, the salaries of all (or nearly all) rank-and-file employees is agreed-upon between the Union and the Employer's Organization. Technically, this also means that once the company leaves the Employer's-Organization, they do not need to abide by the rules of Collective Bargaining, meaning that they can either negotiate directly with the Unions or directly with each employee separately.

Usually, most companies (apart from the small ones) are members of such Employer's Organizations as that makes it really easy doing the yearly salary-negotiation-dance (as I call it). But unless you are a member, you do not need to, but you still can abide by the rules of Collective Bargaining in your industry.

For example: If you are a software company, you can abide by the rules of Collective Bargaining between Verdi (Services Union) and the Services Employer's Organization (or something like that) or you can negotiate directly with the Union or you can negotiate directly with each employee or group-of-employees directly (if you are not a member of such an organization). But if you are member of, let's say, the "Software Engineers' Service Employer Org" (just to make up an org) and they agreed to Collectively Bargain with Verdi, you must implement their agreement or leave the Org.

The employees who become members of Unions must pay a monthly fee to the Union (a small fraction of their salary). In exchange, they have the right to strike and be paid some amount during such a strike by the Union (I don't know all the details). The counter-tool the employers have against striking employees is "Lock Out", i.e. the employers can "strike" as well by locking out employees, in which case the Unions must pay the employees some part of their salaries.

Germany is extremely consensus-driven in this regard and usually you won't see strikes like in France. Since there is worker's council and/or supervisory-board membership, the worker's council-members as well as the employee-representations in the Supervisory Board have an equal interest in keeping the company healthy as well as achieving good terms for employees. The worker's council-members are elected (once a year, or once every two years, I don't know) by the employees, so they have an interest not only to make sure that the company is healthy but also that the employees are happy as well...

Rest of Europe is quite different insofar as they don't have these rules in this detail, and most of them don't have the Supervisory Board-Requirements...

Hope this helps.

about 8 months ago
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German Court: Open Source Project Liable For 3rd Party DRM-Busting Coding

ImdatS Re:Does the copyright need an owner? (178 comments)

As I understand, you can actually create something and immediately put it into Public Domain. You may need to use the right wording (ask a lawyer) such as "non-revocable", "unlimited", "unrestricted", etc., but your lawyer may be able to help.

Also, you could use something like this if you don't want to put it into Public Domain:

Copyight (c) 2013 by "KJDFOIQWEPOSODKFLKWE)(#I$KJLKDSFMNCVK" (GPG-Encrypted)

This could be use for situations where you might consider keeping certain rights (i.e. not putting into Public Domain) for future use. And the text in quotes above could be something like your name encrypted using your public key... (or such).

Just some thoughts...

about 9 months ago
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Airline Pilots Rely Too Much On Automation, Says Safety Panel

ImdatS Re:In the SIMULATOR? (270 comments)

In fact, an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) need at least 1,500 hours of practical, i.e. non-simulator flying experience before they can become one. A commercial airline pilot (level below ATP), needs at least 250 hours. And that's not to say "... in his lifetime ...", there are even more restrictions.

Yes, they usually do ALSO train in simulators, but the hours required here must be actual plane-flying.
The problem with long-distance flights is though that most of the time there is really nothing to do for pilot once the plane reaches the cruising altitude and auto-pilot is on (even on smaller planes). You have to watch the skies, the instruments, listen to radio - and that's it. Most of the work is done during take-off and landing (approach).

about 9 months ago
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Stop Listening and Start Watching If You Want To Understand User Needs

ImdatS Re:No shit? (161 comments)

I don't really get it: Software is just another tool and it seems that every OTHER tool-maker in this world works exactly as described above (observe what the user does and how he does and create a tool for him/her to do it even better) and only in software we seem to ignore this insight.

Tool-development is as old as humanity; only because software-dev is such a young industry doesn't mean we should be ignoring tens-of-thousands of years of tool-development techniques.

I know out of 25+-years of experience that (a) the user doesn't know exactly what he/she needs; (b) he/she cannot really articulate his needs; (c) even if they can, they don't actually know what is possible in software so they come up with a crappy request.

Best approach so far for me was this:
1) Ask the user what they need
2) Observe them while they work
3) Come up with a proposal to do the work even better
4) Get input on the proposal: now, this is crucial: during this step, the requirements will change significantly because if I did my job right, I not only showed him how to solve his problems but also what is possible at all. He/she will then start piling on and together we usually come up with a great requirement.

During the development phase, I usually work very, very closely with the users and get a lot of feedback for each and every feature - from functionality to usability - everything. And most of the time, my users were quite happy in the end...

about 9 months ago

Submissions

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Backbencher German politician declares "war on net

ImdatS ImdatS writes  |  more than 2 years ago

ImdatS (958642) writes "According to an article by a little-known German politician (member of the parliament), the Internet is destroying the culture. The internet-users ("Nerdizens" as he calls them) are behind destroying intellectual property for which the french revolutionaries fought hard for... (no joke here)

The trending topic in Germany on twitter today is "#haveling" and "#havelingfacts" — his website was hacked as he seems to have used his firstname and lastname as username and password..."

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