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Australian Census Stirs Up Storm of Privacy Concerns
Posted by News Fetcher on August 04 '16 at 10:01 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's con-census department:
An anonymous reader writes: Next week over 20 million Australians will take part in a mandatory government census. While such data-gathering exercises are usually uncontroversial, some significant changes to the process of collecting the 2016 data -- and in particular the way in which personally-identifying information will be retained for long periods (possibly indefinintely) -- have left many privacy advocates and others calling for a mass boycott. The Australian government's response has been to try to calm fears by promising that it will secure the census data, keep personally identifying data separate from statistical data, and only use each in a responsible way. It has, at the same time reminded Australian citizens that the fines for non-participation in the census have recently been radically increased (now $1800 for failure to submit a form; or $180/day for late submissions).Further reading: Australians threaten to take leave of their census.

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New Attack Steals SSNs, E-mail Addresses, and More From HTTPS Pages
Posted by News Fetcher on August 04 '16 at 08:41 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's security-blues department:
Security researchers at KU Leuven have discovered an attack technique, dubbed HEIST (HTTP Encrypted Information can be Stolen Through TCP-Windows), which can exploit an encrypted website using only a JavaScript file hidden in a maliciously crafted ad or page. ArsTechnica reports: Once attackers know the size of an encrypted response, they are free to use one of two previously devised exploits to ferret out the plaintext contained inside it. Both the BREACH and the CRIME exploits are able to decrypt payloads by manipulating the file compression that sites use to make pages load more quickly. HEIST will be demonstrated for the first time on Wednesday at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas. "HEIST makes a number of attacks much easier to execute," Tom Van Goethem, one of the researchers who devised the technique, told Ars. "Before, the attacker needed to be in a Man-in-the-Middle position to perform attacks such as CRIME and BREACH. Now, by simply visiting a website owned by a malicious party, you are placing your online security at risk." Using HEIST in combination with BREACH allows attackers to pluck out and decrypt e-mail addresses, social security numbers, and other small pieces of data included in an encrypted response. BREACH achieves this feat by including intelligent guesses -- say, @gmail.com, in the case of an e-mail address -- in an HTTPS request that gets echoed in the response. Because the compression used by just about every website works by eliminating repetitions of text strings, correct guesses result in no appreciable increase in data size while incorrect guesses cause the response to grow larger.

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Japanese Olympic Champion Racks Up $5,000 Bill Playing Pokemon Go in Brazil
Posted by News Fetcher on August 04 '16 at 08:41 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's gotta-buy-a-roaming-plan department:
An anonymous reader writes: A Japanese Olympics star has blamed Pokemon Go after being hit with a 500,000 yen (about $5,000) bill in roaming charges from his carrier. Artistic gymnast Kohei Uchimura, who won gold at the 2012 Games in London and is the reigning world champion, said he only downloaded the game after arriving in Sao Paulo to train for Rio, but quickly got hooked despite not having arranged a flat rate for data roaming. Uchimura "couldn't believe his eyes" when he saw the bill, according to the Kyodo news agency, with teammate Kenzo Shirai saying "He looked dead at the team meal that day." Even though Pokemon Go isn't particularly heavy on data and there were likely other culprits -- the game only officially came out in Brazil today, though Uchimura may have been playing the Japanese version -- roaming charges can rack up extremely quickly when you use your phone abroad for pretty much anything online.

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Apple Should Stop Selling Four-Year-Old Computers
Posted by News Fetcher on August 04 '16 at 07:21 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's old-computers department:
It's been a while since Apple upgraded its MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac Pro models. Four years, one month, and twenty-four days, to be exact, in case of the MacBook Pro. Apple is inexplicably still selling the exact same models for its Mac line that it introduced in 2012. Pretty much every Windows OEM has had an Intel Skylake-powered processor in its laptops for more than a year now, but Apple's computing lineup is still shipping with the three-to-four years old processor, and graphics card. Things have gotten so bad, that MacRumors' Buying Guide, which is considered to be an "online institution" among Apple nerds, has flagged all of Apple laptops as "Don't Buy" In a column, The Verge's Sam Byford says that Apple should stop selling the old laptops. He writes: Apple iterates quickly and consistently in mobile because the rate of technological progress is so much more dramatic in that arena. The company does amazing work to keep its iPhones and iPads ahead of competitors, performance-wise. Simple Intel processor upgrades are less important to laptops these days, however, and I'm finding this 2012 MacBook Pro fine to work from right now -- faster than my 2015 MacBook, at least, which is enough for my needs. But that doesn't mean it isn't unconscionable for Apple to continue to sell outdated products to people who may not know any better. Is the company really saving that much money by using 2012 processors and 4GB of RAM as standard? Even an update to Intel's Haswell chips from 2013 would have brought huge battery life improvements. Apple is bound by the whims of its suppliers to a certain extent, and it may not always make sense for the company to upgrade its products with every single new chip or GPU that comes out. But there's a certain point at which it just starts to look like absent-mindedness, and many Mac computers are well past that point now. [...] If Apple doesn't want to keep its products reasonably current, that's its prerogative. But if that truly is the case, maybe it shouldn't sell them at all.It's also ironic, coming from a company whose executive not long ago made fun of people who had five years old computer. Folks at Accidental Tech Podcast also discussed the same recently.

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Average Broadband Speed in US Rises Above 50 Mbps For First Time
Posted by News Fetcher on August 04 '16 at 07:21 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's internet-speeds department:
Internet speeds are getting faster in the United States, especially in cities such as Kansas City, Austin, Seattle, San Francisco, and Phoenix, according to a new Speedtest Market Report. The report, by Ookla's popular service, found that fixed broadband customers saw the biggest jump in performance this year with download speeds achieving an average of over 50Mbps for the first time ever. The result marks a 40 percent increase since July 2015. From a TechCrunch report: That average, 54.97 megabits per second is 42 percent higher than the same period last year, and upload jumped even more -- 18.88 is 51 percent higher year over year. This is all based on the 8 million or so daily tests conducted on Speedtest's website and apps, by the way, so the data is pretty sound. Comcast Xfinity took the honors for fastest speed on average, but its 125 megabits wasn't that much higher than the competition: Cox with 118 and Spectrum with 114. [...] On mobile, Verizon and T-Mobile are tied for first place with 21 megabits and change download speed on average, though the latter beats the competition by a long shot with upload speeds averaging 11.59 megabits. Poor Sprint, though.

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Intel Recalls Basis Peak Smartwatches Due To Overheating
Posted by News Fetcher on August 04 '16 at 06:01 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's warning-may-be-hot department:
Deathspawner writes: Intel's Basis has just sent an email to customers who own a Basis Peak smartwatch with some bad news: it's being recalled. In mid-June, Basis admitted that its flagship (and only) smartwatch had the chance to overheat, and then asked them to wait for a firmware update. Ultimately, a firmware update couldn't have been issued that wouldn't have compromised the user experience, and as such, the company is asking for every single Basis Peak to be returned for a full refund -- it will even handle the shipping. Users can still access Basic Peak services until December 31, 2016, after which they will be turned off and the watch will be rendered useless. If you own a Basic Peak, you can visit the support site and follow the instructions to return your unit and claim your refund.

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CP/M Creator Gary Kildall's Memoirs Released As Free Download
Posted by News Fetcher on August 04 '16 at 03:21 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's low-low-price-of-free department:
An anonymous reader writes from IEEE Spectrum: The year before his death in 1994, Gary Kildall -- inventor of the early microcomputer operating system CP/M -- wrote a draft of a memoir, "Computer Connections: People, Places, and Events in the Evolution of the Personal Computer Industry." He distributed copies to family and friends, but died before realizing his plans to release it as a book. This week, the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, with the permission of Kildall's children, released the first section and it is available for a free download. The rest of it, which they say did not reflect his true self, will not be made public.

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Moon Express Gets FAA Approval For Lunar Mission In 2017
Posted by News Fetcher on August 03 '16 at 11:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's first-of-its-kind department:
coondoggie quotes a report from Network World: The Federal Aviation Administration this week granted permission to a privately-held space firm to launch a robotic spacecraft to the moon. Moon Express expects to launch its MX-1 spacecraft on a two-week mission to the lunar surface in 2017. The MX-1, which is about as large as a suitcase will include instruments and a camera to explore the moon's surface. Moon Express has a contract with Rocket Lab USA for 3 lunar missions between 2017 and 2020. They are the first private company to receive permission to go to the moon. "Moon Express applauds efforts underway by the U.S. Congress and Executive Branch to establish a permanent regulatory framework to authorize commercial activities beyond Earth orbit," said Moon Express cofounder and CEO Bob Richards. "Our 'Mission Approval' process is an interim arrangement that can be implemented quickly enough for our 2017 launch requirements, allowing us to continue to execute on our business plans under U.S. law while ensuring our activities are consistent with U.S. obligations under the Outer Space Treaty."

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IBM Creates World's First Artificial Phase-Change Neurons
Posted by News Fetcher on August 03 '16 at 08:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's naturally-artificial department:
An anonymous reader writes from a report via Ars Technica: IBM has created the world's first artificial nanoscale stochastic phase-change neurons and has already created and used a population of 500 of them to process a signal in a similar manner as the brain. Ars Technica reports: "Like a biological neuron, IBM's artificial neuron has inputs (dendrites), a neuronal membrane (lipid bilayer) around the spike generator (soma, nucleus), and an output (axon). There's also a back-propagation link from the spike generator back to the inputs, to reinforce the strength of some input spikes. The key difference is in the neuronal membrane. In IBM's neuron, the membrane is replaced with a small square of germanium-antimony-tellurium (GeSbTe or GST). GST, which happens to be the main active ingredient in rewritable optical discs, is a phase-change material. This means it can happily exist in two different phases (in this case crystalline and amorphous), and easily switch between the two, usually by applying heat (by way of laser or electricity). A phase-change material has very different physical properties depending on which phase it's in: in the case of GST, its amorphous phase is an electrical insulator, while the crystalline phase conducts. With the artificial neurons, the square of GST begins life in its amorphous phase. Then, as spikes arrive from the inputs, the GST slowly begins to crystallize. Eventually, the GST crystallizes enough that it becomes conductive -- and voila, electricity flows across the membrane and creates a spike. After an arbitrary refractory period (a resting period where something isn't responsive to stimuli), the GST is reset back to its amorphous phase and the process begins again." The research has been published via the journal Nature.

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China Builds 'Elevated Bus' That Drives Over Cars
Posted by News Fetcher on August 03 '16 at 06:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's concept-to-reality department:
An anonymous reader writes: Remember that futuristic bus design from China a few months ago? China has actually built it and is testing it on the streets. The Transit Elevated Bus or TEB-1, as it's called, stands nearly 16 feet tall and straddles two lanes of traffic, allowing cars to pass under it. The hope is for TEB-1 to someday alleviate major traffic in China and other crowded countries. Washington Post reports: "The Transit Elevated Bus piloted in China's Hebei province rolls along a designated track, making it similar in some ways to a commuter train or tram -- the key difference, of course, being that it runs on top of the existing roadway without the need to construct a separate overpass. Images distributed by Chinese media show a spacious passenger compartment -- measuring 72 feet long by 26 feet wide -- capable of holding up to 300 riders. Surprisingly, there are not very many seats. That would probably have to change should an American model ever come to fruition." The concept of the elevated bus first arrived in 2010, where the company claimed it would "cost 10% of a subway system and use 30% less energy than current bus technologies."

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Canada Wants To Keep Federal Data Within National Borders
Posted by News Fetcher on August 03 '16 at 06:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's firewall department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Stack: Canada has released its latest federal cloud adoption strategy, now available for public comment, which includes policy concerning the storing of sensitive government information on Canadian citizens within national borders. The newly-published [Government of Canada Cloud Adoption Strategy] requires that only data which the government has categorized as "unclassified," or harmless to national and personal security, will be allowed outside of the country. This information will still be subject to strict encryption rules. The new strategy, which has been in development over the last year, stipulates that all personal data stored by the government on Canadian citizens, such as social insurance numbers and critical federal information, must be stored in Canada-based data centers in order to retain "sovereign control."

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Police Asked Facebook To Deactivate Woman's Account During Deadly Standoff
Posted by News Fetcher on August 03 '16 at 05:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's live-streaming department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from KABC-TV: In the midst of a five-hour standoff that turned deadly, Facebook granted an emergency request from the Baltimore County Police Department to take offline the social media accounts belonging to a woman who wielded a shotgun at officers. Baltimore County Police officers shot and killed Korryn Gaines, 23, after she barricaded herself inside her Randallstown apartment with her 5-year-old son and pointed a shotgun at officers attempting to serve an arrest warrant. Police Chief Jim Johnson said Tuesday that the department made the emergency request to have Gaines' social media accounts suspended after she posted videos online showing the standoff. People who saw the postings, Johnson said, responded by encouraging her to not comply with police. Videos posted on Facebook and Instagram appeared to show Gaines, who was black, talking with police in the doorway to her apartment and to her son during the standoff. The standoff Monday began after three officers went to Gaines' apartment to serve arrest warrants on her and her boyfriend, Kareem K. Courtney, 39, according to police. Gaines' bench warrant stemmed from charges during a March 10 stop, including disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Authorities said she was armed with a 12-gauge pistol grip shotgun that was legally purchased last year and toward the end of the negotiations pointed it directly at an officer and said, "If you don't leave, I'm going to kill you." An officer shot at her and Gaines fired two shots, but missed the officers, who returned fire and killed her, police said. Facebook's policy says that it may grant law enforcement permission to suspend accounts in cases where there is a substantial risk of harm. Facebook has received roughly 855 requests for emergency disclosures of information to government agencies due to the threat of harm or violence between July and December 2015, according to their Government Request Report. About 73 percent of those requests were granted.

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Pennsylvania To Apply 6% 'Netflix Tax'
Posted by News Fetcher on August 03 '16 at 05:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's nickel-and-dime department:
An anonymous reader writes: Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania has signed into law a new revenue package that will require residents to pay a 6% sales tax on their streaming subscriptions. AllFlicks reports: "Though the term 'Netflix tax' has become popular, laws like this don't just affect Netflix -- they also affect competitors like Hulu and HBO Now. App purchases and ebooks are also affected. They recently decided on a hefty $31.5 billion budget, and they came up $1.3 billion short of paying for it. The government is trying to close that funding gap, and streaming subscribers are being stuck with the bill." Magazine and newspaper subscriptions, as well as digital versions of the Bible, will be exempt from the digital downloads tax, reports CBS Local News in Pittsburgh.

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Alphabet Will Begin Testing Project Wing Delivery Drones In the US
Posted by News Fetcher on August 03 '16 at 04:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's permission-granted department:
An anonymous reader writes: Google's parent company, Alphabet, has been granted permission by the White House on Tuesday to start testing its Project Wing delivery drones in the U.S. The Guardian reports: "The drones will be tested in one of six designated Federal Aviation Authority areas within the U.S. as part of the government's initiative to promote research into unmanned flight and safety legislation. The announcement was made alongside a pledge from the U.S. National Science Foundation to spend $35m (26 million British Pound) over the next five years on drone research, and comes a month after the U.S. government green-lit commercial drone flights, but with restrictions around line-of-sight control that made automated drone delivery infeasible. The tests will help shape U.S. legislation around the types of automated flying systems that Amazon and Alphabet hope to use to delivery goods and services via air, and establish requirements for unmanned pilot licenses."

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Microsoft, Google, Apple Could Be Requested To Actively Block Pirated Downloads, Says Report
Posted by News Fetcher on August 03 '16 at 04:01 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's os-level-block department:
Popular operating systems by Microsoft, Apple, and Google could possibly soon nuke torrents downloaded (PDF, non-English language) from The Pirate Bay and other websites that offer copyright infringing content, warns a report published by Black Market Watch and the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime. The report adds that the aforementioned companies are in an ideal position to deter piracy, and could be requested by the authority to put a system in place to block pirated content on the operating system level. Via a TorrentFreak report: "Other players that possess the potential ability to limit piracy are the companies that own the major operating systems which control computers and mobile devices such as Apple, Google and Microsoft," one of the main conclusions reads. "The producers of operating systems should be encouraged, or regulated, for example, to block downloads of copyright infringing material," the report adds. The report references last year's Windows 10 controversy, noting that these concerns were great enough for some torrent sites to block users with the new operating system. While Sweden doesn't have enough influence to make an impact on these global software manufacturers, applying pressure through the international community and trade groups may have some effect.

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Tesla Posts 13th Straight Loss, Says On Track For Second-Half Deliveries
Posted by News Fetcher on August 03 '16 at 02:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's high-expectations department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Tesla Motors Inc reported its 13th straight quarterly loss as a rise in sales of its Model S and Model X electric cars failed to make up for the huge cost of ramping up production. The company, run by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Elon Musk, said on Wednesday it was on track to deliver about 50,000 new Model S and Model X vehicles during the second half of 2016. Shares of Tesla, which has offered to buy solar panel installer SolarCity Corp for $2.6 billion, were volatile in after-hours trading. They were last up 1 percent. Tesla delivered 14,402 vehicles in the second quarter, missing its goal of 17,000. It delivered 14,810 vehicles in the first quarter, which was also less than its expectations. Tesla said its net loss widened to $293.2 million, or $2.09 per share, in the second quarter, from $184.2 million, or $1.45 per share, a year earlier. Total revenue rose 33 percent to $1.27 billion in the quarter ended June 30. In addition to acquiring SolarCity, Tesla has unveiled its massive $5 billion Gigafactory in Nevada last week and announced its "Master Plan, Part Deux" not too long before that, which includes manufacturing electric trucks and buses, as well as a ride-sharing program.

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LibreOffice 5.2 Officially Released
Posted by News Fetcher on August 03 '16 at 02:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's fresh-software department:
prisoninmate writes from a report via Softpedia: LibreOffice 5.2 is finally here, after it has been in development for the past four months, during which the development team behind one of the best free office suites have managed to implement dozens of new features and improvements to most of the application's components. Key features include more UI refinements to make it flexible for anyone, standards-based document classification, forecasting functions in Calc, the spreadsheet editor, as well as lots of Writer and Impress enhancements. A series of videos are provided to see what landed in the LibreOffice 5.2 office suite, which is now available for download for GNU/Linux, Mac OS X, and Microsoft Windows operating systems.

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When It Comes To China, Google's Experience Still Says It All
Posted by News Fetcher on August 03 '16 at 01:21 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's when-in-China department:
Uber's defeat by its local competitor in China was the latest of a string of such cases, and Google's experience trying to establish itself there is illustrative of the challenges facing all American tech companies that aspire to dominate in that market, writes reader mirandakatz. Steven Levy writes at Backchannel:Perhaps because its market share never rose high enough, Uber did not experience the brunt of China's regulation. Still, who's to say what would have happened if Uber had managed to outperform Didi? If Uber's market share topped fifty percent, would the government have sat by as a neutral observer? Would the Uber app start experiencing slowdowns? Would its drivers be stopped? Would airports welcome Didi cars and not Uber? My bet is that, mixed with disappointment at not winning the country, Uber executives might be feeling a bit relieved that such worries are now off the table. As it is, Uber has become one more casualty in China's other wall, a towering fortress of restrictions, regulations and unfair play that keeps down American internet companies.

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Suicide Squad Fans Petition To Shut Down Rotten Tomatoes Over Negative Reviews
Posted by News Fetcher on August 03 '16 at 01:21 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's haters-gonna-hate department:
The much-anticipated movie Suicide Squad has largely failed to impress film critics and normal people alike. People are leaving the theaters disappointed, with a firm belief that DC Universe has let them down again. Vanity Fair goes as far as saying, "Suicide Squad isn't even the good kind of bad," adding that "I'd have to imagine that most fans of Harley Quinn -- male, female, gay, straight -- will be disappointed." The ratings are super low at IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes as well. Amid these reviews, the fans of the film have launched a Change.org petition with the intent of shutting down film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Variety adds: Abdullah Coldwater, the DC Comics fan who drafted the petition, accused the site of giving "unjust bad reviews" that "affects people's opinion even if it's a really great [movie]." He added, "Critics always give The DC Extended Universe movies unjust bad reviews." The petition has received over 13,000 signatures as of this post. "Suicide Squad," which stars Will Smith, Jared Leto and Margot Robbie and is one of the most highly-anticipated movies of the summer, currently has an approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes of 34 percent. In comparison recent critical disgrace "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" settled at 27 percent on 344 critiques, whereas Marvel's "Captain America: Civil War" garnered a laudatory 90 percent with 320 critics chiming in.

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Apple Makes Slight Progress On Diversity While Its Rivals Are Making Practically None
Posted by News Fetcher on August 03 '16 at 12:01 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's diversity-at-work department:
The workforce at Apple is still predominately white and male, reveals the diversity report the company released Wednesday. But that doesn't mean that its efforts to improve diversity haven't yielded improvements. This is the third year that the Cupertino giant has released its diversity numbers and the balance is improving, although a bit slowly. From a MacRumors report: Its overall workforce, including tech, non-tech, and retail jobs, is 68% male and 32% female as of June 2016, a slight change from a 69%-31% split in 2015. Apple's race and ethnicity breakdown among U.S. employees is 19% Asian, 9% Black, 12% Hispanic, 2% Multiracial, 1% Other, and 56% White, representing a 2 percent increase in White employees and a 1 percent increase in both Asian and Hispanic employees compared to last year's data. Females represent 37% of Apple's global new hires, while U.S. underrepresented minorities represent 27% of global new hires. Apple defines underrepresented minorities as "groups whose representation in tech has been historically low -- Black, Hispanic, Native American, Native Hawaiian, and Other Pacific Islander."Washington Post compares Apple's progress to other Silicon Valley giants, claiming that rest of the industry is mostly sitting idle. (Alternate source: Reuters) From the report: At Facebook, black and Hispanic employees make up 2 and 4 percent of the employee base. Despite commitments to diversity, neither Google nor Facebook have made a dent in those numbers since they first announced them in 2014.

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