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Taser Offers Free Body Cameras To All US Police
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '17 at 01:35 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's offer-that-can't-be-refused department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Taser, the company whose electronic stun guns have become a household name, is now offering a groundbreaking deal to all American law enforcement: free body cameras and a year's worth of access to the company's cloud storage service, Evidence.com. In addition, on Wednesday, the company also announced that it would be changing its name to "Axon" to reflect the company's flagship body camera product. Right now, Axon is the single largest vendor of body cameras in America. It vastly outsells smaller competitors, including VieVu and Digital Ally -- the company has profited $90 million from 2012 through 2016. If the move is successful, Axon could quickly crowd out its rivals entirely. In recent years, federal dollars went to police agencies both big (Los Angeles) and small (Village of Spring Valley, New York), encouraging the purchase of body-worn cameras. However, while cameras are rapidly spreading across America, they are still not ubiquitous yet. Axon wants to change that. "Only 20 percent [of cops] have a camera," Rick Smith, the company's CEO, told Ars. "Eighty percent are going out with a gun and no camera. We only need 20- to 30-percent conversion to make it profitable," he added. "We expect 80 percent to become customers." "Our belief is that a body camera is to a cop what a smartphone is to a civilian," Smith said. "Cops spend about two-thirds of their time doing paperwork. We believe, within 10 years, we can automate police reporting. We can effectively triple the world's police force." The offer is only available to American law enforcement, but Smith said the company would consider foreign agencies on a case-by-case basis.

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Uber Finds One Allegedly Stolen Waymo File -- On An Employee's Personal Device
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '17 at 01:35 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's things-intensify department:
Uber said today that it had found one of the documents Waymo alleges was stolen by a former employee -- who left its self-driving car effort to join Uber's -- on the employee's personal computer. From a report on TechCrunch: The document was found on a personal device belonging to Sameer Kshirsagar, Uber's attorney Arturo Gonzalez said at a court hearing today. It's the first time that Uber has acknowledged that any of Waymo's documents are in the possession of any Uber employees. However, Uber emphasized that the document was not found on Uber's computers. "We did collect documents from him and thus far we have only found one document from his computers that matches the documents identified in the complaint," Gonzalez said. Waymo claims that Kshirsagar downloaded several confidential documents in June 2016, one month before resigning and joining Anthony Levandowski at Uber. The names of the five specific documents are partially redacted in court filings, but one references "laser questions" and another "lens placement."

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Phony VPN Services Are Cashing In On America's War On Privacy
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '17 at 12:14 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's be-cautious department:
Reader Freshly Exhumed writes: Nicholas Deleon at Motherboard reveals a run-in with scammers who are already hard at work taking advantage of newly signed legislation that allows Internet Service Providers to sell your online privacy, including your web browser history, to the highest bidder without your consent. Relatedly, Tim Berners-Lee would prefer people to protest in the streets rather than take technical measures such as TOR and VPN. For those intent on using VPN, TorrentFreak has their latest reviews of VPN anonimity practices, with the caveat that the info is submitted by the VPN companies themselves on a "trust us" basis.

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Google's Custom Machine Learning Chips Are 15-30x Faster Than GPUs and CPUs
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '17 at 12:14 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's pushing-the-boundaries department:
Four years ago, Google was faced with a conundrum: if all its users hit its voice recognition services for three minutes a day, the company would need to double the number of data centers just to handle all of the requests to the machine learning system powering those services, reads a PCWorld article, which talks about how Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), a chip that is designed to accelerate the inference stage of deep neural networks came into being. The article shares an update: Google published a paper on Wednesday laying out the performance gains the company saw over comparable CPUs and GPUs, both in terms of raw power and the performance per watt of power consumed. A TPU was on average 15 to 30 times faster at the machine learning inference tasks tested than a comparable server-class Intel Haswell CPU or Nvidia K80 GPU. Importantly, the performance per watt of the TPU was 25 to 80 times better than what Google found with the CPU and GPU.

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Canonical Killing Unity For Ubuntu Linux, Will Switch To the Superior GNOME
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '17 at 10:56 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's changing-things department:
Reader BrianFagioli writes: Today, the company admits that it is throwing in the towel on Unity, as well as its vision for convergence with devices like phones and tablets. Starting with Ubuntu 18.04, the wonderful GNOME will once again become the default desktop environment! "We are wrapping up an excellent quarter and an excellent year for the company, with performance in many teams and products that we can be proud of. As we head into the new fiscal year, it's appropriate to reassess each of our initiatives. I'm writing to let you know that we will end our investment in Unity8, the phone and convergence shell. We will shift our default Ubuntu desktop back to GNOME for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS," says Mark Shuttleworth, Founder of Ubuntu and Canonical.

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In Tech, Wage Gender Gap Worsens For Women Over Time, and It's Worst For Black Women
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '17 at 10:56 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's what'-happening department:
An anonymous reader shares a TechCrunch report: According to a new study involving more than 120,000 job offers transacted on Hired, a jobs marketplace for tech workers, the average female candidate is still making less than her male peers for the same work, and sometimes far less. Hired's data shows that 63 percent of the time women receive lower salary offers than men for the same job at the same company, with white women offered 4 percent less on average, and women more broadly offered up to 50 percent less in the most extreme examples. Along the same vein, for one out of every 10 job openings that Hired analyzed, companies offered white men salaries that were at least 20 percent higher than those offered to women. According to the American Association of University Women, it might take another 136 years for the pay gap to disappear entirely. Perhaps more illuminating in this new report is what happens to women's salaries over time, and who is receiving the lowest pay of all for the same jobs at the same companies: Latina and black women. [...] It found that white women with four years or less of experience actually ask for more money than their male counterparts -- possibly because they're armed with information about what the market is paying for more entry-level jobs. A gap in the other direction begins to appear in candidates with six or more years of experience, however, with white women in tech both asking for less than their white male counterparts and receiving it. Indeed, over time and across the country, white women in tech earn an average of .90 cents for every dollar made by their male peers for the same work.

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FCC's Ajit Pai Says Broadband Market Too Competitive For Strict Privacy Rules
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '17 at 09:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's state-of-things department:
In an op-ed published on the Washington Post, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and his counterpart at the FTC have argued that strict privacy rules for ISPs aren't necessary in part because the broadband market is more competitive than the search engine market. From a report on ArsTechnica: Internet users who have only one choice of high-speed home broadband providers would probably scoff at this claim. But an op-ed written by Pai and Acting FTC Chair Maureen Ohlhausen ignored the lack of competition in home Internet service, focusing only on the competitive wireless broadband market. Because of this competition, it isn't fair to impose different rules on ISPs than on websites, they wrote. "Others argue that ISPs should be treated differently because consumers face a unique lack of choice and competition in the broadband marketplace," Pai and Ohlhausen wrote in their op-ed. "But that claim doesn't hold up to scrutiny either. For example, according to one industry analysis, Google dominates desktop search with an estimated 81 percent market share (and 96 percent of the mobile search market), whereas Verizon, the largest mobile broadband provider, holds only an estimated 35âpercent of its market." [...] Instead of addressing the lack of competition in home Internet service, Pai and Ohlhausen simply didn't mention it in their op-ed. But they argued that ISPs shouldn't face stricter privacy rules than search engines and other websites because of the level of competition in broadband and the amount of data companies like Google collect about Internet users. "As a result, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Congress decided to disapprove the FCC's unbalanced rules," they wrote. "Indeed, the FTC's criticism of the FCC's rules last year noted specifically that they 'would not generally apply to other services that collect and use significant amounts of consumer data.'"

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Bannon Loses National Security Council Role in Trump Shakeup
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '17 at 09:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
Top presidential strategist Steve Bannon has been booted from the National Security Council amid a reshuffling of the key panel, Bloomberg reports Wednesday morning. President Donald Trump reorganized the council, removing Bannon and downgrading the role of his homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert, the report added, citing multiple sources. From the report: Bannon, the former executive chairman of Breitbart News, was elevated to the National Security Council's principals committee at the beginning of Trump's presidency. The move drew criticism from some members of Congress and Washington's foreign policy establishment. A White House official said that Bannon was placed on the committee in part to monitor Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and never attended a meeting. He's no longer needed with McMaster in charge of the council, the official said. Trump fired Flynn on Feb. 13 for not disclosing to the president or to Vice President Mike Pence the extent of his conversations with Russia's ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, before Trump's inauguration.

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Kim Dotcom Announces New Bitcoin Venture For Content Uploaders To Earn Money
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '17 at 09:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's further-expansion department:
Infamous New Zealand-based internet mogul Kim Dotcom plans to launch a Bitcoin payments system for users to sell files and video streaming as he fights extradition to the United States for criminal copyright charges. From a report on Reuters: The German-born entrepreneur, who is wanted by U.S. law enforcement on copyright and money laundering allegations related to his now-defunct streaming site Megaupload, announced his new venture called 'Bitcontent' in a video posted on YouTube this week. "You can create a payment for any content that you put on the internet... you can share that with your customers, with the interest community and, boom, you are basically in business and can sell your content," Dotcom said in the video. He added that Bitcontent would eventually allow businesses, such as news organizations, to earn money from their entire websites. He did not provide a launch date. Dotcom did not provide details on how Bitcontent would differ from existing Bitcoin operations or how it would help news organizations make money beyond existing subscription payment options.

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Microsoft Finally Reveals What Data Windows 10 Really Collects
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '17 at 09:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's opening-up department:
Starting today, Microsoft is updating its privacy statement and publishing information about the data it collects as part of Windows 10. From a report: "For the first time, we have published a complete list of the diagnostic data collected at the Basic level," explains Windows chief Terry Myerson in a company blog post. "We are also providing a detailed summary of the data we collect from users at both Basic and Full levels of diagnostics." Microsoft is introducing better controls around its Windows 10 data collection levels in the latest Creators Update, which will start rolling out broadly next week. The controls allow users to switch between basic and full levels of data collection. "Our teams have also worked diligently since the Anniversary Update to re-assess what data is strictly necessary at the Basic level to keep Windows 10 devices up to date and secure," says Myerson. "As a result, we have reduced the number of events collected and reduced, by about half, the volume of data we collect at the Basic level."

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We're Creating a Perfect Storm of Unprecedented Global Warming
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '17 at 09:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: If we do nothing to reduce our carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, by the end of this century the Earth will be as hot as it was 50 million years ago in the early Eocene, according to a new study out today in the journal Nature Communications. This period -- roughly 15 million years after dinosaurs went extinct and 49.8 million years before modern humans appeared on the scene -- was 16F to 25F warmer than the modern norm. [...] During the Eocene, it took more atmospheric CO2 to influence temperatures than it does today. In fact, if we don't change our behavior, 2100 will be as hot as the Eocene with much less atmospheric CO2 than was present at the time. A hotter sun means we get more bang for our CO2 buck. "Climate change denialists often mention that CO2 was high in the past, that it was warm in the past, so this means there's nothing to worry about," said lead study author Gavin Foster, a researcher in isotope geochemistry and paleoceanography at the United Kingdom's University of Southampton. "It's certainly true, that the CO2 was high in the past and that it was warm in the past. But because the sun was dimmer, the climate wasn't being forced as much [as it will be] in the future if we carry on as we are."

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Samsung Electronics Spent $10.2 Billion On Marketing Last Year
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '17 at 06:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's marketing-budget department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Samsung and LG, South Korea's two leading tech giants, expanded their spending on marketing last year amid increased competition, data showed Wednesday. According to industry data, Samsung spent 11.5 trillion won (US$10.2 billion) on marketing in 2016. The figure included 4.4 trillion won on advertisements, which advanced 15 percent on-year. LG Electronics also spent 1.3 trillion won on advertisements last year, a 21.4 percent increase over the cited period. Industry watchers said the rise seems to be tied to Samsung focusing on promoting its smartphones and LG struggling to promote its high-end home electronics.

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Canadian Town Picks Uber For Public Transit
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '17 at 05:21 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's car-hailing-services department:
Stephen Shankland reports via CNET: Innisfil, population 32,727 as of 2014, concluded in a March council meeting that subsidizing the car-hailing service was a better deal than paying for a bus line. The city plans to pay 100,000 Canadian dollars (about $75,000) for a first stage of the program and CA$125,000 for a second round about 6 to 9 months in. That compares to CA$270,000 annually for one bus and CA$610,000 for two, the town said. The town evaluated on-demand transit proposals as an alternative to buses. "Uber emerged as the only company with an app-based platform (i.e. UberPool) that would facilitate ridesharing and the matching of two or more passengers on trips across the entire town," the town said in its explanation of the move. Innisfil will subsidize Uber trips so citizens pay between CA$3 and CA$5 themselves, depending on the destination, the town said. "You can't have taxpayers pay for a transit system which they cannot use," Innisfil Mayor Gord Wauchope told The Toronto Star. "And this was a transit system that people can get from anywhere in the town of Innisfil, and use it for a reasonable price."

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Spotify Premium Users Will Get Some Albums Two Weeks Before Free Users
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '17 at 03:51 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's first-come-first-serve department:
Spotify has signed a long-term licensing agreement with Universal Music Group, allowing new albums from Universal artists to be restricted to its premium service for up to two weeks. The Verge reports: In a statement, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek admitted that Spotify understands that its policy of releasing albums across its entire service couldn't last forever. "We know that not every album by every artist should be released the same way, and we've worked hard with UMG to develop a new, flexible release policy," Ek stated. "Starting today, Universal artists can choose to release new albums on premium only for two weeks, offering subscribers an earlier chance to explore the complete creative work, while the singles are available across Spotify for all our listeners to enjoy." The agreement with UMG should allow for deals with Spotify's other two major label partners, Warner Music Group and Sony Music Group, to be completed in short order -- deals that likely will match the parameters set in the Spotify-UMG deal -- paving the way for Spotify's initial public offering.

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How the IBM 1403 Printer Hammered Out 1,100 Lines Per Minute
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '17 at 02:30 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's behind-the-scenes department:
schwit1 quotes a report from IEEE Spectrum: The IBM 1460, which went on sale in 1963, was an upgrade of the 1401 [which was one of the first transistorized computers ever sold commercially]. Twice as fast, with a 6-microsecond cycle time, it came with a high-speed 1403 Model 3 line printer. The 1403 printer was incredibly fast. It had five identical sets of 48 embossed metal characters like the kind you'd find on a typewriter, all connected together on a horizontal chain loop that revolved at 5.2 meters per second behind the face of a continuous ream of paper. Between the paper and the character chain was a strip of ink tape, again just like a typewriter's. But rather than pressing the character to the paper through the ink tape, the 1403 did it backward, pressing the paper against the high-speed character chain through the ink tape with the aid of tiny hammers. Over the years, IBM came out with eight models of the 1403. Some versions had 132 hammers, one for each printable column, and each was individually actuated with an electromagnet. When a character on the character chain aligned with a column that was supposed to contain that character, the electromagnetic hammer for that column would actuate, pounding the paper through the ink tape and into the character in 11 microseconds. With all 132 hammers actuating and the chain blasting along, the 1403 was stupendously noisy [...] The Model 3, which replaced the character chain with slugs sliding in a track driven by gears, took just 55 milliseconds to print a single line. When printing a subset of characters, its speed rose from 1,100 lines per minute to 1,400 lines per minute.

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'Arctic World Archive' Will Keep the World's Data Safe In an Arctic Mineshaft
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '17 at 11:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's drastic-times-call-for-drastic-measures department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Norway's famous doomsday seed vault is getting a new neighbor. It's called the Arctic World Archive, and it aims to do for data what the Svalbard Global Seed Vault has done for crop samples -- provide a remote, impregnable home in the Arctic permafrost, safe from threats like natural disaster and global conflicts. But while the Global Seed Vault is (partially) funded by charities who want to preserve global crop diversity, the World Archive is a for-profit business, created by Norwegian tech company Piql and Norway's state mining company SNSK. The Archive was opened on March 27th this year, with the first customers -- the governments of Brazil, Mexico, and Norway -- depositing copies of various historical documents in the vault. Data is stored in the World Archive on optical film specially developed for the task by Piql. (And, yes, the company name is a pun on the word pickle, as in preserving-in-vinegar.) The company started life in 2002 making video formats that bridged analog film and digital media, but as the world went fully digital it adapted its technology for the task of long-term storage. As Piql founder Rune Bjerkestrand tells The Verge: "Film is an optical medium, so what we do is, we take files of any kind of data -- documents, PDFs, JPGs, TIFFs -- and we convert that into big, high-density QR codes. Our QR codes are massive, and very high resolution; we use greyscale to get more data into every code. And in this way we convert a visual storage medium, film, into a digital one." Once data is imprinted on film, the reels are stored in a converted mineshaft in the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. The mineshaft (different to the one used by the Global Seed Vault) was originally operated by SNSK for the mining of coal, but was abandoned in 1995. The vault is 300 meters below the ground and impervious to both nuclear attacks and EMPs. Piql claims its proprietary film format will store data safely for at least 500 years, and maybe as long as 1,000 years, with the assistance of the mine's climate.

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Scientists Invent Smartphone Screen Material That Can Repair Its Own Scratches
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '17 at 07:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's right-before-your-eyes department:
drunkdrone quotes a report from International Business Times: Researchers say they have developed a new material that could pave the way for self-repairing smartphones, robots and other electronic devices. Scientists from the American Chemical Society claim that the material, which can stretch up to 50 times its usual size, is able to heal itself "like nothing has happened" even when cut in two. The material is flexible, transparent and shares similar properties to human skin. When exposed to electrical signals, a current is generated that creates a chemical bonding reaction between molecules. The most obvious applications for electronics devices seems to be self-healing displays, although lead researcher Dr Chao Wang is also exploring the possibility of a self-healing lithium-ion battery. While the technology is similar to the hydrogen-infused rear cover found on the LG G Flex, which allows for small scratches to be healed, the material developed by the American Medical Society is a completely new innovation that can "automatically stitch itself back together" within one day of being sliced into pieces. The team will present its research at a Tuesday meeting of the American Chemical Society, according to Business Insider.

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GM Hooking 30,000 Robots To Internet To Keep Factories Humming
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '17 at 06:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's business-as-usual department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: General Motors has connected about a quarter of its 30,000 factory robots to the internet, and the largest U.S. automaker already is reaping the benefits of less down time. In the last two years, GM has avoided 100 potential failures of vehicle-assembling robots by analyzing data they sent to external servers in the cloud, Mark Franks, director of global automation, said at a conference in Chicago on Monday. Connectivity is preventing assembly line interruptions and robot replacements that can take as long as eight hours. Internet monitoring allows GM to order parts when it detects they're wearing out instead of having to store them at the factory. That reduces inventory and saves money, Franks said. Hooking robots to the internet for preventive maintenance is just the start of a spurt of new robotics technology, Franks said. GM is using robots that can work safely alongside humans in the factory that produces the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, he said.

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Utah Supreme Court Ruling Bars Direct Sales of Teslas Through a Subsidiary
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '17 at 05:12 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's direct-sales department:
The Utah Supreme court has ruled on Monday that the state's regulators could prohibit an auto manufacturer from having ownership interest in a dealer. "In what the court called 'a narrow, legal decision,' it said that it wouldn't weigh in on whether allowing the state's Tax Commission to prohibit direct sales from Tesla's wholly owned subsidiary was the best policy for residents of Utah," reports Ars Technica. "Instead, the court said its job was simply to determine whether the commission could legally make that prohibition." From the report: Tesla created its subsidiary, Tesla UT, to be able to sell new cars in Utah, but the State Tax Commission ruled that the subsidiary needed a franchise agreement. Tesla UT entered into a partnership with its parent company, but the commission said Tesla couldn't have a financial interest in Tesla UT's franchise. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, "Attempts were made in 2015 and 2016 to change Utah law to accommodate Tesla, but the car dealers and other automakers rebuffed the efforts." A Tesla spokesperson told Ars, "The Utah ruling is disappointing for Tesla and all Utah consumers interested in consumer choice, free markets, and sustainable energy. We will pursue all options to ensure that Tesla can operate in Utah without restriction. In the meantime, we will continue to provide service and limited sales activities (through our used car license) at our location in South Salt Lake City."

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Former Snapchat Employee Presses To Unseal Allegedly Doctored Usage Statistics
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '17 at 05:12 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's doctor-who department:
In early January, a former Snapchat employee named Anthony Pompliano filed a lawsuit against the company claiming they reported false growth numbers to investors in an effort to inflate its valuation. Today, Pompliano's attorney asked a judge to unseal court filings that purportedly show the misrepresented usage of its app. Los Angeles Times reports: The specific details remain redacted until a ruling on whether they constitute trade secrets protected from disclosure. Snap described the allegations as "preposterous" in a Los Angeles County Superior Court filing in January, weeks before the Venice company held one of the largest initial public offerings in U.S. history. The company pointed out Pompliano filed a similar lawsuit against Brighten Labs. That Los Angeles startup fired Pompliano months after Snap. His move to go public with a dispute contractually bound to take place secretly in arbitration is a publicity stunt designed to pressure Snap, the company's attorneys said in January.

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