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'Forza Horizon 3' Update Accidentally Published Unencrypted Build of the Game
Posted by News Fetcher on January 04 '17 at 04:53 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's bad-day-at-work department:
An employee at Forza Horizon 3 developer Playground Games accidentally green-lighted the wrong update file for PC players, who found themselves downloading a whopping 53GB download that turned out to be an unencrypted future build (.37.2) of the entire game intended for developers. Motherboard reports: Naturally, players who'd managed to download it yesterday had a field day leaking the information within, right down to massive posts on Imgur showing all the new cars and forum threads detailing the Porsches thought to come in an future unannounced pack. Since Forza Horizon 3 requires a constant online connection and works off of a constantly refreshing save file, anyone who played the new patch on PC found themselves slapped with an error saying their Forza profiles were no longer available. Playing it with the new build would thus effectively mean starting a new game from scratch, even if they'd dumped dozens of hours into Forza Horizon 3 since its release last September. But starting over is exactly what players shouldn't have done. The best thing they could do was shut down the game, walk away, and wait for a fix. "PC players who completed the download of .37.2 and then started a new game save will have a corrupted saved game," wrote Brian Ekberg, Forza's community manager, in a forum post. "Avoid creating a new saved game on .37.2, and only play on .35.2 to avoid this issue. As long as you have an existing save and have not created a new one on .37.2, your saved game will work correctly once the update is available."

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Over 1,800 MongoDB Databases Held For Ransom By Mysterious Attacker
Posted by News Fetcher on January 04 '17 at 03:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's give-me-your-money-or-else department:
An anonymous reader writes: "An attacker going by the name of Harak1r1 is hijacking unprotected MongoDB databases, stealing and replacing their content, and asking for a 0.2 Bitcoin ($200) ransom to return the data," reports Bleeping Computer. According to John Matherly, Shodan founder, over 1,800 MongoDB databases have had their content replaced with a table called WARNING that contains the ransom note. Spotted by security researcher Victor Gevers, these databases are MongoDB instances that feature no administrator password and are exposed to external connections from the internet. Database owners in China have been hit, while Bleeping Computer and MacKeeper have confirmed other infections, one which hit a prominent U.S. healthcare organization and blocked access to over 200,000 user records. These attacks are somewhat similar to attacks on Redis servers in 2016, when an unknown attacker had hijacked and installed the Fairware ransomware on hundreds of Linux servers running Redis DB. The two series of attacks don't appear to be related.

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Samsung Claims Its New QLED TVs Are Better Than OLED TVs
Posted by News Fetcher on January 04 '17 at 03:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's he-said-she-said department:
Samsung recently unveiled its latest flagship televisions at CES 2017, the QLED series. The company is challenging the notion that OLED TVs represent the pinnacle of picture quality in the living room. According to Samsung, the QLED TV represents its best achievement in image quality and viewing experience yet. The Verge reports: Of course Samsung would say that at an event meant to showcase said product. But the company insists it's made very real improvements compared to the flagship TVs it unveiled only a year ago. One of those upgrades pertains to brightness. The QLED TVs reach a peak brightness between 1,500 and 2,000 nits -- up from the 1,000 peak from 2016's lineup. Color reproduction has also been improved. The QLED sets handle DCI-P3 "accurately" and are capable of reproducing "100 percent color volume" -- something Samsung claims to be a world first. "This means they can express all colors at any level of brightness -- with even the subtlest differences visible at the QLED's peak luminance -- between 1,500 and 2,000 nits." Samsung says all of this is possible because it's using a new metal material along with the quantum dot nanocrystals. On the software end, Samsung's 2017 TVs are still powered by Tizen and feature basically the same user interface as last year. But there are some new additions like a sports mode that aggregates scores and other content from your favorite teams and an expanded Music section that lets you Shazam music as it's playing in a TV show and immediately launch that track in Spotify another streaming services. Samsung is also looking to clean up how its TVs look in your living room. New this year is a clear-colored "Invisible Connection cable" that runs from the TV to an external breakout box where you'll find all the HDMI ports and other critical connections (besides power, which is a separate input).

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Google's AlphaGo AI Secretively Won More Than 50 Straight Games Against World's Top Go Players
Posted by News Fetcher on January 04 '17 at 02:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's don't-tell-anyone department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Quartz: When Google's artificial intelligence program AlphaGo made history by taking down Korea's Lee Sedol -- one of the world's best Go players -- in a landslide 4-1 victory in March, Chinese player Ke Jie was skeptical. He famously wrote on Weibo the next day, "Even if AlphaGo can defeat Lee Sedol, it can't beat me," and has since agreed to take on the AI at an undecided time. But now even Ke, the reigning top-ranked Go player, has acknowledged that human beings are no match for robots in the complex board game, after he lost three games to an AI that mysteriously popped up online in recent days. The AI turned out to be AlphaGo in disguise. On Jan. 4, after winning more than 50 games against several of the world's best Go players, Ke included, a user registered with an ID of "Master" on two Chinese board game platforms came forward to identify itself as AlphaGo. "I'm AlphaGo's Doctor Huang," the user "Master" wrote on foxwq.com, according to screenshots from Chinese media reports. Taiwanese developer Aja Huang is a member of Google's DeepMind team behind the AI. Since Dec. 29, Master has defeated a long list of top Go players including Korea's Park Jung-hwan (world No. 3), Japan's Iyama Yuta (No. 5) and Ke in fast-paced games. He won 51 games straight before his 52nd rival, Chen Yaoye, went offline, forcing the game to be recorded as a tie. By Jan. 4 when the test was completed, Master had racked up 60 wins, plus the one tie, and zero loss, according to numerous reports (link in Chinese).

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Apple is Investing $1 Billion In SoftBank
Posted by News Fetcher on January 04 '17 at 02:11 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's $$$ department:
Apple said Wednesday it plans to invest $1 billion in SoftBank's new technology fund to help finance technologies it could use in the future. From a report: SoftBank has said it is investing at least $25 billion in the fund and has been in talks with Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund for an investment that could go up to $45 billion. "We believe their new fund will speed the development of technologies which may be strategically important to Apple," company spokesman Josh Rosenstock told Reuters. SoftBank has also said that it plans to make future large-scale investments via the tech fund, rather than on its own.

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Amazon's Robot Workforce Grows By 50 Percent In Just One Year
Posted by News Fetcher on January 04 '17 at 12:52 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's more-of-them department:
Amazon hires a lot of people. But the expansion of its army of orange-wheeled robots is more than keeping pace. An anonymous reader writes: E-commerce and cloud giant Amazon has revealed that it now has 45,000 robots across 20 fulfilment centres around the world. This is a 50 percent increase on the same time last year, when the company said that it employed 30,000 robots alongside its 306,000 people. Amazon uses the robots to automate the picking and packing process at large warehouses. The robots are 16in tall and weigh 145kg. They can travel at 5mph and can carry packages that weigh 317kg. The robots became part of the company's workforce when Amazon acquired Kiva Systems in 2012 for $775m.

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Zuckerberg Could Run Facebook While Serving in Government Forever
Posted by News Fetcher on January 04 '17 at 12:52 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
Reader randomErr writes: Closer look at SEC documents reveal that Zuckerberg only needs to own enough Facebook stock or have the board's approval to be allowed to serve in the government. This comes hours after, Facebook co-founder said his 2017 personal challenge is to meet and listen to people in all 50 states, hinting that he may have intentions of getting into politics. Without the limit, Zuckerberg has the opportunity to be appointed or elected to a more significant office and have as much time as he wants to make an impact, rather than just dipping in potentially as a cabinet member whose terms typically last less than two years. Of course, getting elected would require the faith of the people which has been shaken by the fake news scandal. Some would surely view a role in government as a selfish push for power despite Zuckerberg's massive philanthropy initiatives. Certain government offices might have historically required him to give up control of Facebook, but Donald Trump is currently redefining how much ownership of business one can have as President

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Netflix Hasn't Forgotten About Its 4.3 Million DVD Subscribers
Posted by News Fetcher on January 04 '17 at 12:52 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's won't-let-go department:
Netflix hasn't forgotten about its DVD service, which millions of people still use. From a report on Quartz: The company is touting a new app that DVD customers can use to manage their Netflix queues, search for DVD and Blu-ray titles, and get movie recommendations. Those features for DVD subscribers vanished from the main Netflix app back in 2011, leaving subscribers to manage their accounts on DVD.com. The new app, called DVD Netflix, is currently only available on Apple's iOS in the US, which is the only country the DVD service is offered in. About 4.2 million people in the US still rent DVDs from Netflix.

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New HDMI 2.1 Spec Includes Support For Dynamic HDR, 8K Resolution
Posted by News Fetcher on January 04 '17 at 11:23 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's feel-bad-for-your-old-tv department:
The HDMI Licensing Group has unveiled the HDMI 2.1 spec, adding support for dynamic HDR, 8K60, and 4K120. From a report on TechHive: To take full advantage of the new HDMI spec, you'll need a new 48-gigabit-per-second cable. That cable will also work with older HDMI 1.3 (10.2Gbps) and HDMI 2.0a (16Gbps) ports, but those ports don't support the new HDMI 2.1 features. [...] HDMI 2.1 adds support for the new object-oriented audio codecs -- such as Dolby Atmos and DTS X -- which can position audio events from movie soundtracks in 3D space.

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New California Law Finally Makes Ransomware Illegal
Posted by News Fetcher on January 04 '17 at 11:23 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's enough-already department:
Reader Trailrunner7 writes: It was nice to see the calendar turn over to 2017, for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that on Jan. 1 a new law went into effect in California that outlaws the use of ransomware. The idea of needing a new law to make a form of hacking illegal may seem counterintuitive, but ransomware is a case of criminals outflanking the existing laws. Ransomware emerged in a big way a few years ago and the law enforcement community was not prepared for the explosion of infections. While there have been takedowns of ransomware gangs, they often involve charges of money laundering or other crimes, not the installation of the ransomware itself. In September, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that made the use of ransomware a crime, essentially a form of extortion. The law went into effect on Jan. 1.

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Silicon Valley Veteran On Apple: Company Has Become Sloppy, Missed Updates, Delayed Refreshes
Posted by News Fetcher on January 04 '17 at 11:23 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's review-2016 department:
Silicon Valley veteran Chuq Von Rospach's blog post, in which he has criticized Apple for the things it did last year, has received quite a few nods from developers, analysts and users alike. Von Rospach, who has previously worked at Apple, has lambasted at the company for, among other things, how it has handled the Mac Pro, a lineup that hasn't seen any refresh in ages, and the AirPort routers, which too have been reportedly abandoned. From the post:Back when I was running most of Apple's e-mail systems for the marketing teams, I went to them and suggested that we should consider dumping the text-only part of the emails we were building, because only about 4% of users used them and it added a significant amount of work to the process of creation and testing each e-mail. Their response? That it was a small group of people, but a strategic one, since it was highly biased towards developers and power users. So the two-part emails stayed -- and they were right. It made no sense from a business standpoint to continue to develop these emails as both HTML [and] text, but it made significant strategic sense. It was an investment in keeping this key user base happy with Apple. Apple, from all indications I've seen over the last year and with the configurations they've shipped with these new laptops, has forgotten this, and the product configurations seem designed by what will fit the biggest part of the user base with the fewest configuration options. They've chopped off the edges of the bell curve -- and big chunks of their key users with them. The most daunting sentence from his post, according to Nitin Ganatra, who worked at Apple for 18 years and headed engineering of iOS, is, "If you just look at the numbers, things are okay."

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Android Was 2016's Most Vulnerable Product, Oracle the
Posted by News Fetcher on January 04 '17 at 10:02 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's state-of-the-art department:
An anonymous reader writes: According to CVE Details, a website that aggregates historical data on security bugs that have received a CVE identifier, during 2016, security researchers have discovered and reported 523 security bugs in Google's Android OS, winner by far of this "award." The rest of the top 10 is made up by Debian (319 bugs), Ubuntu (278 bugs), Adobe Flash Player (266 bugs), openSUSE Leap (259 bugs), openSUSE (228 bugs), Adobe Acrobat DC (227 bugs), Adobe Acrobat Reader DC (227 bugs), Adobe Acrobat (224 bugs), and the Linux Kernel (216 bugs). When it comes to software vendors, the company for which the largest number of new CVE numbers have been assigned was Oracle, with a whopping 798 CVEs, who edged out Google (698 bugs), Adobe (548 bugs), Microsoft (492 bugs), Novell (394), IBM (382 bugs), Cisco (353 bugs), Apple (324 bugs), Debian Project (320 bugs), and Canonical (280 bugs).

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Amazon Doubles Deliveries in 2016 For Third-Party Sellers
Posted by News Fetcher on January 04 '17 at 10:02 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's booming-progress department:
Amazon.com shipped 50 percent more items this holiday season than last for third-party vendors and doubled the amount for 2016 overall, the retail giant said on Wednesday. From a report on Reuters: Amazon, the world's largest online retailer, has said the 2016 holiday was its best-ever shopping season. However, high spending on warehouses and video production are expected to drag on profits. More sellers are paying the company to store, pack and ship their goods through the Fulfillment by Amazon service. Amazon more than doubled the items it delivered for other sellers in 2016 from the year prior to exceed two billion, a spokesman said.

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AT&T Plans 5G Network Trial for DirecTV Customers
Posted by News Fetcher on January 04 '17 at 08:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's it's-happening department:
AT&T said it plans to test its high-speed wireless 5G network, which reached speeds of 14 gigabits per second in lab trials, for customers of its online streaming television service, DirecTV Now, in Austin, Texas. From a report on Fortune: The U.S. wireless carrier, which plans to conduct the trial in the first half of 2017, has also teamed up with Qualcomm and Ericsson for mobile and broadband trials of the 5G network in the second half of the year. New 5G networks are expected to provide speeds at least 10 times and maybe 100 times faster than today's 4G networks, giving the potential to connect at least 100 billion devices with download speeds that can reach 10 gigabits per second.

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Silicon Valley Veteran On Apple: Company Has Become Sloppy, Missed Updates, Delayed Refreshes By Long
Posted by News Fetcher on January 04 '17 at 08:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's review-2016 department:
Silicon Valley veteran Chuq Von Rospach's blog post, in which he has criticized Apple for the things it did last year, has received quite a few nods from developers, analysts and users alike. Von Rospach, who has previously worked at Apple, has lambasted at the company for, among other things, how it has handled the Mac Pro, a lineup that hasn't seen any refresh in ages, and the AirPort routers, which too have been reportedly abandoned. From the post:Back when I was running most of Apple's e-mail systems for the marketing teams, I went to them and suggested that we should consider dumping the text-only part of the emails we were building, because only about 4% of users used them and it added a significant amount of work to the process of creation and testing each e-mail. Their response? That it was a small group of people, but a strategic one, since it was highly biased towards developers and power users. So the two-part emails stayed -- and they were right. It made no sense from a business standpoint to continue to develop these emails as both HTML [and] text, but it made significant strategic sense. It was an investment in keeping this key user base happy with Apple. Apple, from all indications I've seen over the last year and with the configurations they've shipped with these new laptops, has forgotten this, and the product configurations seem designed by what will fit the biggest part of the user base with the fewest configuration options. They've chopped off the edges of the bell curve -- and big chunks of their key users with them. The most daunting sentence from his post, according to Nitin Ganatra, who worked at Apple for 18 years and headed engineering of iOS, is, "If you just look at the numbers, things are okay."

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Piracy 'Warnings' Fail To Boost Box Office Revenues, Research Says
Posted by News Fetcher on January 04 '17 at 07:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's act-surprised department:
A new academic study shows that graduated response policies against file-sharers fail to boost box office revenues. From a TorrentFreak report: The empirical research, which looked at the effects in various countries including the United States, suggests that these anti-piracy measures are not as effective as the movie studios had hoped. [...] Thus far there has been very little research on the topic but a new study, published by Dr. Jordi McKenzie of Sydney's Macquarie University, suggests that these "strikes" policies don't boost box office revenues. For his paper, published in the most recent issue of the journal 'Information Economics and Policy,' McKenzie looked at opening week and total box office revenues for 6,083 unique films released between 2005 and 2013. Using a variety of statistical analyses, he then measured the impact of the graduated response systems and related policies in six countries. In addition, another ten countries were included as a control measure. The overall conclusion based on thousands of data points is that these anti-piracy policies have no significant impact on box-office income.

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Google Really, Really Wants To Bring India's Small Businesses Online
Posted by News Fetcher on January 04 '17 at 07:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's going-big department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Millions more Indians are now coming online, but India's small businesses -- including everything from decades-old mom and pop stores to neighborhood bakeries -- are lagging behind. Google wants to change that. At an event in New Delhi today, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced a brand new program called Digital Unlocked aimed at helping India's 51 million small and medium businesses establish an online presence. Over the next three years, Google will hold 5,000 daylong classes in 40 Indian cities to teach business owners everything from the basics -- getting their business listed on Google Maps, for instance -- to advanced courses like running an online advertising campaign and measuring analytics.

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HP Made a Laptop Slightly Thicker To Add 3 Hours of Battery Life
Posted by News Fetcher on January 04 '17 at 05:51 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's not-that-there's-anything-wrong-with-that department:
When a technology company like Apple releases a new product, chances are it's going to be thinner than its predecessor -- even if may be slightly worse off for it. HP is taking a different approach with its new 15.6-inch Spectre x360 laptop, which was recently announced at CES. The machine is slightly thicker than its predecessor, and HP claims it features three hours of additional battery life. The Verge reports: The difference between the new x360 and the old x360, in terms of thickness, is minimal, from 15.9mm to 17.8mm. (For reference, the 2015 MacBook Pro was 18mm thick.) It's an increase of 1.9mm for the Spectre, but HP says it's now including a battery that's 23 percent larger in exchange. At the same time, the laptop is also getting narrower, with its body shrinking from 14.8 inches wide to 14 inches wide. Unfortunately, the claimed three hours of additional battery life aren't meant to make this laptop into some long-lasting wonder -- they're really just meant to normalize its battery life. HP will only be selling the 15.6-inch x360 with a 4K display this year, and that requires a lot more power. By increasing the laptop's battery capacity, HP is able to push the machine's battery life from the 9.5 hours it estimated for the 4K version of its 2016 model to about 12 hours and 45 minutes for this model. So it is adding three hours of battery life, but in doing so, it's merely matching the battery life of last year's 1080p model. The x360 is also being updated to include Intel's Kaby Lake processors. It includes options that max out at an i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD, and Nvidia GeForce 940MX graphics. It's supposed to be released February 26th, with pricing starting at $1,278 for an entry-level model.

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Scientists Turn Memory Chips Into Processors To Speed Up Computing Tasks
Posted by News Fetcher on January 04 '17 at 03:11 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's dual-purpose department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Science Daily: A team of international scientists have found a way to make memory chips perform computing tasks, which is traditionally done by computer processors like those made by Intel and Qualcomm. This means data could now be processed in the same spot where it is stored, leading to much faster and thinner mobile devices and computers. This new computing circuit was developed by Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) in collaboration with Germany's RWTH Aachen University and Forschungszentrum Juelich, one of the largest interdisciplinary research centers in Europe. It is built using state-of-the-art memory chips known as Redox-based resistive switching random access memory (ReRAM). Developed by global chipmakers such as SanDisk and Panasonic, this type of chip is one of the fastest memory modules that will soon be available commercially. However, instead of storing information, NTU Assistant Professor Anupam Chattopadhyay in collaboration with Professor Rainer Waser from RWTH Aachen University and Dr Vikas Rana from Forschungszentrum Juelich showed how ReRAM can also be used to process data. This discovery was published recently in Scientific Reports. By making the memory chip perform computing tasks, space can be saved by eliminating the processor, leading to thinner, smaller and lighter electronics. The discovery could also lead to new design possibilities for consumer electronics and wearable technology.

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Intel's New Mini PCs Have New Chips, an Updated Design, and Thunderbolt 3
Posted by News Fetcher on January 04 '17 at 12:11 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-and-improved department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: In the last four or five years, Intel's "Next Unit of Computing" (NUC) hardware has evolved from interesting experiments to pace cars for the rest of the mini desktop business. Mini PCs represent one of the few segments of the desktop computing business that actually has growth left in it, and every year the NUC has added new features that make it work for a wider audience. This year's models, introduced alongside the rest of Intel's new "Kaby Lake" processor lineup at CES, include new processors with new integrated GPUs, but that's probably the least interesting thing about them. Thanks to the demise of Intel's "tick-tock" strategy, the processing updates are minor. Kaby Lake chips include smaller performance and architectural improvements than past generations, and the year-over-year improvements have been mild over the last few years. The big news is in all the ways you can get bytes into and out of these machines. There are two Core i3 models (NUC7i3BNK and NUC7i3BNH), two Core i5 models (NUC7i5BNK and NUC7i5BNH), and one Core i7 model (NUC7i7BNH) -- that last one is intended to replace the older dual-core Broadwell i7 NUC and not the recent quad-core "Skull Canyon" model. The Core i3 and i5 versions come in both "short" and "tall" cases, the latter of which offers space for a 2.5-inch laptop-sized SATA hard drive or SSD. The i7 version only comes in a "tall" version. Like past NUCs, all five models offer two laptop-sized DDR4 RAM slots and an M.2 slot for SATA and PCI Express SSDs (up to four lanes of PCIe 3.0 bandwidth is available). Bluetooth and 802.11ac Wi-Fi is built-in. As for the rest of the NUCs' features, Intel has drawn a line between the Core i3 model and the i5/i7 models. All of the boxes include four USB 3.0 ports (two on the front, two on the back), a headphone jack, an IR receiver, an HDMI 2.0 port, a gigabit Ethernet port, a microSD card slot, a dedicated power jack, and a new USB-C port that can be used for data or DisplayPort output (the dedicated DisplayPort is gone, and this port can't be used to power the NUCs). In the i5 and i7 models, the USB-C port is also a full-fledged Thunderbolt 3 port, the first time any of the smaller dual-core NUCs have included Thunderbolt since the old Ivy Bridge model back in 2012.

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