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Google Unveils $79 Daydream View VR Headset, Attempts To Reduce VR's Complexity
Posted by News Fetcher on October 04 '16 at 12:38 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's another-go-at-VR department:
With its Cardboard, Google showed the world (and other companies) how people can experience VR without spending a premium for it. Today, on the sidelines of Pixel announcements, Google outlined its next step in the nascent technology category. Enter Daydream View VR, a $79 headset that is more comfortable and friendly, and with more capabilities. The Daydream VR comes with a Daydream controller, which has three-degrees-of-freedom. The Verge adds: The goal of Daydream View is to make a VR headset people can get their phones into and out of within a few seconds. To that end, it's revealed a few new features. When you put an unlocked phone on the front panel, an NFC chip will tell it to launch Daydream, after which you can close the panel and start using the headset. When you latch it shut with the elastic loop on the top, a pair of rubber nubs on the face will help the phone detect its position and automatically center the image. While we've already seen the basic Daydream controller design, Google is now showing it off as an actual piece of hardware. The controller has one home button and one menu button, plus a clickable trackpad on the end, volume buttons on one side, and internal sensors that can detect motion -- it can't tell your absolute position in space like Oculus Touch or the HTC Vive, but it can sense which direction it's pointing, and loosely follow your hand. When you're not using it, the controller fits into a slot on the inside of the headset, so the whole device is self-contained.Here's the official blogpost with more details.

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A Self-Driving Uber Car Went the Wrong Way On a One-Way Street in Pittsburgh
Posted by News Fetcher on October 04 '16 at 11:13 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's that's-how-it-begins department:
An anonymous reader writes: Uber driver Nathan Stachelek was pulled off to the side of the road when he saw the self-driving car turn the wrong way. It was the night of Sept. 26 and the car he had spotted, one of the autonomous Ford Fusions that Uber is testing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was heading through the city's Oakland neighborhood, just steps from the center of campus for the University of Pittsburgh. Stachelek watched the car turn off Bates Street and onto Atwood, a one-way road, going in the wrong direction. From a distance he couldn't tell whether the car was driving itself, or its human operator had made a mistake. Stachelek took out his phone in time to shoot a brief video of Uber's vehicle backing up and driving away, then uploaded it to Facebook. "Driverless car went down a one way the wrong way," he wrote. "Driver had to turn car around."

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Outage Knocks Out All Major Phone Providers On the East Coast
Posted by News Fetcher on October 04 '16 at 11:13 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's outage-report department:
Every major phone carrier experience outages on United States' east coast this morning at around 11am local time. The outage lasted for about 45 minutes. DownDetector, which monitors outages of services, confirmed AT&T, Verizon, Charter Spectrum, Comcast, Sprint, Time Warner Cable, US Cellular, and Vonage among others were affected. From a DailyDot report: T-Mobile CEO John Legare tweeted about the incident, pointing to issues with Level 3, a major internet backbone. Other tech firms quickly pointed to a Level 3 outage as well. No specific information has been released on potential causes of the outage or consequences that may result from it.

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High-Tech Card Rolled Out By French Banks Replaces CSC Number Every Sixty Minutes To Prevent Fraud
Posted by News Fetcher on October 04 '16 at 11:13 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's we-win department:
French digital security firm Oberthur Technologies has come up with a method for making stolen cards useless after an hour. Called the Motion Code, the card replaces the fixed, three-digit Card Security Code (CSC) that sits next to your signature with a miniature display that shows a new number every 60 minutes. From a PopularScience report:In order to combat the rise of online credit card theft, several French banks are partnering with security company Oberthur Technologies to create a credit card with a security code that is constantly changing so that within an hour, a stolen number will be useless. Online credit card fraud is a rapidly growing problem. Thieves can steal your credit card info in a number of ways, such as hacking various consumer websites, or phishing, where they trick you into handing over your information yourself. Once they have your credit card numbers, thieves can go on a spending spree until you or your bank notice, and by the time that happens you can wind up with thousands of dollars in debt. Many banks try and combat this problem by flagging suspicious transactions, but this is an imperfect system that can miss real fraud and accidentally catch legitimate use. Now, two French banks, Societe Generale and Groupe BPCE, are introducing a new system to prevent fraud.

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Police Complaints Drop 93 Percent After Deploying Body Cameras
Posted by News Fetcher on October 04 '16 at 09:52 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's all-good department:
An anonymous reader writes:A study from Cambridge University documents an immense drop in complaints against police officers when their departments began using body cameras. But even more surprising is that the data suggests everyone is on their best behavior whether the cameras are present or not. The data was collected in seven police departments, and represents over 1.4 million hours logged by 1,847 officers in 2014 and 2015; the researchers published their data last week in the journal Criminal Justice and Behavior. Officers were randomly assigned to wear or not wear cameras week by week (about half would be wearing them any given week), and had to keep them on during all encounters. The authors used complaints against police as a metric because they're easy to measure, an established practice in most police forces and give a good ballpark of the frequency of problematic behavior. In the year before the study, 1,539 complaints in total were filed against officers; at the end of the body camera experiment, the year had only yielded 113 complaints.

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Google Unveils Pixel and Pixel XL, the First Phones It 'Designed Inside and Out'
Posted by News Fetcher on October 04 '16 at 09:52 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's google-pixel department:
At an event on Tuesday, Google unveiled the Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones, the first phones "designed inside and out by Google." Focusing less on the hardware, the company says the biggest selling point of the phones is Google Assistant, which will be available to users wherever they go. Both Pixels have a quad-core 2.15GHz 64-bit processor, 4GB of RAM, 32GB or 128GB of storage, a 12.3MP rear camera, an 8MP front camera, a fingerprint scanner on the back, and a USB-C port on the bottom. The major differences between the two are in size, display (5-inch vs 5.5-inch), and battery (2770mAh vs 3450mAh). The company says the rear camera on both phones is top-notch as well, scoring 89 on DxO, the highest ever for a smartphone. Both phones also come with "endless cloud storage," the company said. It will let users backup unlimited storage in full-resolution images and videos shot with the Pixel. Pricing starts at $649 for the smaller 5-inch Pixel, available for preorder today. Mark Gurman of Bloomberg shares the inside story of how these phones were conceived.

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Facebook Says a 'Technical Issue' Caused Drugs, Animals and Other Illegal Listings To Flood Its New Craigslist Competitor
Posted by News Fetcher on October 04 '16 at 08:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's tech-is-hard department:
On Monday, Facebook launched Marketplace, its own take on eBay and Craigslist to offer users a platform to buy and sell things. Less than a day later, the company said there was a "technical issue" that caused drugs, animals, adult services, and other illegal items to appear in Marketplace. Business Insider reports: In a statement to Business Insider, Facebook director of product management Mary Ku said the company is "working to fix the problem" and "closely monitoring our systems to ensure we are properly identifying and removing violations before giving more people access to Marketplace." To police what is sold in Marketplace, a Facebook spokesperson previously told us that the social network will rely on its employees proactively looking for offensive listings as well as users reporting posts they think should be removed.

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Amazon's Kindle Unlimited Is a Victim of Its Success in Japan
Posted by News Fetcher on October 04 '16 at 08:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's bad-pr department:
You really need to understand the market before you start operating there. Take Amazon's case for instance, which has found itself in the middle of a backlash with publishers in Japan. When Amazon launched its "all-you-can-read-subscription" Kindle Unlimited service in Japan, the company didn't know it would become such a big success. And yet it did. So much so that Amazon had to sharply scale back within weeks of its introduction in the country. Before Amazon introduced the feature in Japan, it partnered with Japanese publishers to offer their popular content, committing to pay them a premium through the end of this year when a customer reads at least 10 percent of a book or other content. It worked -- too well, WSJ reports. From an article: Since it's easy for readers to get through the first 10% of a magazine or photo book in just a few minutes, Amazon quickly found itself on the hook for large payments (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternate source), a person at one publisher said. A person at another publisher said Amazon made an overture for talks in September saying it had hit its budget limit for the payments to publishers and wanted revisions to its contract with the publisher."

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CloudFlare Working On New System That Removes CAPTCHAs For Tor Users
Posted by News Fetcher on October 04 '16 at 07:04 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's fixing-things department:
Tor users have long criticized CloudFlare for annoying CAPTCHAs, but it appears the CDN provider is finally working on a fix. An anonymous reader writes: CloudFlare is working on a new system called "Challenge Bypass Specification," which it wants to deploy as a Tor Browser extension and replace the CAPTCHAs Tor users see when trying to access a website protected by CloudFlare. This new system will have users solve one CAPTCHA at the beginning and after that, the browser extension will use nonces (one-time authentication tokens) to prove the user's real identity before accessing a CloudFlare-protected site.

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Julian Assange: All That Malware On Wikileaks Isn't a Big Deal
Posted by News Fetcher on October 04 '16 at 07:04 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's it's-all-cool department:
WikiLeaks celebrates its 10th anniversary today. At a press conference, its editor Julian Assange hinted that Wikileaks could soon disclose more things about the U.S. election. Making use of the occasion, Motherboard asked Assange about the malware that Wikileaks website contains. To which, Assange responded (via Motherboard): âoeThe [Hillary] Clinton campaign has been going around saying 'don't read Wikileaks, because there's malware,'" Assange said in response to a general question about malware on the site from Motherboard. Talking specifically about malicious files that were included within a recent dump of emails from Turkey, Assange emphasised that there wasn't an issue for users who just visited the site, and that people needed to download the files themselves. "However this same risk exists for most '.exe' or '.doc' files downloaded elsewhere from the internet or received by email. As time goes by we flag documents to alert readers," a print-out given to journalists at the press conference reads. Assange even thought that the presence of malware itself was noteworthy. "There was malware sent to [the ruling Turkish party] AKP, either from criminals or from state attacks on the AKP. That's extremely interesting," he said.

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Yoshinori Ohsumi of Japan Wins Nobel Prize In Medicine For Study of Cell Recycling
Posted by News Fetcher on October 04 '16 at 05:42 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-discovery department:
Dave Knott writes from a report via The Guardian: The 2016 Nobel prize in medicine has been awarded to Japanese cell biologist Yoshinori Ohsumi for discoveries on how cells break down and recycle their own components. Ohsumi uncovered "mechanisms for autophagy," a fundamental process in cells that scientists believe can be harnessed to fight cancer and dementia. Autophagy is the body's internal recycling program -- scrap cell components are captured and the useful parts are stripped out to generate energy or build new cells. The process is crucial for preventing cancerous growths, warding off infection and, by maintaining a healthy metabolism, it helps protect against conditions like diabetes. The report adds: "[Ohsumi] said he chose to focus on the cell's waste disposal system, an unfashionable subject at the time, because he wanted to work on something different. By studying the process in yeast cells, Ohsumi identified the main genes involved in autophagy and showed how the proteins they code for come together to build the autophagosome membrane. He later showed that a similar cellular recycling process occurs in human cells -- and that our cells would not survive without it."

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Researchers Restore the First Recording of Computer-Generated Music
Posted by News Fetcher on October 04 '16 at 02:51 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's beep-boop department:
BoxRec writes: Alan Turing was part of a team who created the earliest known recording of music produced by a computer. It starts with a few bars of God Save the Queen, a snippet of Baa Baa Black Sheep and then Glenn Miller's swing hit In The Mood. The recording was captured by the BBC in the Autumn of 1951 on a 12-inch (30.5cm) acetate disc. But when Professor Jack Copeland of the University of Canterbury in Christchurch and composer Jason Long discovered the disc, the audio on the disc had been distorted. In a blog post for the British Library, Copeland and Long said it "gave at best only a rough impression of how the computer sounded." BBC News reports: "By analyzing the recording, Copeland and Long realized it was playing at the wrong speed, possibly as a result of the recorder's turntable running too quickly as the acetate was cut. As they knew the notes the computer was actually capable of playing, the pair were able to calculate exactly by how much the recording needed to be speeded up in order to exactly match the sound made by the Ferranti Mark 1. They also removed extraneous noise from the recording -- though not the engineer's voice. 'It was a beautiful moment when we first heard the true sound of Turing's computer,' Copeland and Long wrote. Now anyone can hear it in all its somewhat ramshackle glory."

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Toyota's Kirobo Mini Companion Robot To Sell For $400
Posted by News Fetcher on October 04 '16 at 12:01 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's man's-best-friend department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Digital Trends: Three years ago a small robot called Kirobo blasted into space, headed for the International Space Station. When it arrived, the 34-cm-tall, Toyota-made android became best buddies with Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, accompanying him around the station, engaging in polite conversation, and even showing emotion according to the subject matter. Following Kirobo's successful space jaunt, the car company decided to back the development of a smaller version of the already small robot, calling it -- rather appropriately -- Kirobo Mini. It unveiled the diminutive droid at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show. Toyota announced on Monday that Kirobo Mini will go on sale in Japan next year for 39,800 yen (about $390), though a 300-yen (about $2.95) monthly subscription fee will also be necessary. Besides the robot itself, you'll also receive a "cradle" that's designed to fit inside a car's cup holder, ensuring that the robot travels in style wherever you take it. An ad (video) released by Toyota over the weekend shows Kirobo Mini hanging out with families, couples, the elderly, singletons, and students, with everyone visibly enthralled by its ability to say the right thing at the right time. However, Kirobo Mini's specific functionality, and the extent to which it'll be able to interact with humans, is yet to be revealed.

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Researchers Develop System To Send Passwords, Keys Through Users' Bodies
Posted by News Fetcher on October 03 '16 at 07:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's human-contact department:
Trailrunner7 quotes a report from On the Wire: Credential theft is one of the more persistent and troubling threats in security, and researchers have been trying to come up with answers to it for decades. A team at the University of Washington has developed a system that can prevent attackers from intercepting passwords and keys sent over the air by sending them through users' bodies instead. The human body is a good transmission mechanism for certain kinds of waves, and the UW researchers were looking for a way to take advantage of that fact to communicate authentication information from a user's phone directly to a target device, such as a door knob or medical device. In order to make that idea a reality, they needed to develop a system that could be in direct contact with the user's body, and could produce electromagnetic signals below 10 MHz. And to make the system usable for a mass audience, the team needed widely available hardware that could generate and transmit the signals. So the researchers settled on the fingerprint sensor on iPhones and the touchpad on Lenovo laptops, as well as a fingerprint scanner and a touchpad from Adafruit. The concept is deceptively simple: generate an electromagnetic signal from the fingerprint sensor or touchpad and transmit that through the user's body to the target device. The signal can carry a typical password or even an encryption key, the researchers said. "We show for the first time that commodity devices can be used to generate wireless data transmissions that are confined to the human body. Specifically, we show that commodity input devices such as fingerprint sensors and touchpads can be used to transmit information to only wireless receivers that are in contact with the body," the researchers, Mehrdad Hessar, Vikram Iyer, and Shyamnath Gollakota, of UW said in their paper, "Enabling On-Body Transmissions With Commodity Devices."

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4chan Is Running Out of Money and Martin Shkreli Wants To Buy It
Posted by News Fetcher on October 03 '16 at 06:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's this-can't-end-well department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: The infamous message board 4chan is struggling to stay afloat and will have to make changes to reduce costs, the site's owner wrote in a post on Sunday. "4chan can't afford infrastructure costs, network fee, servers cost, CDN and etc, now," writes Hiroyuki Nisimura, who bought the site from its founder last year. Nisimura says ads haven't been effective enough to support the site, nor have subscriptions offering additional features. "We had tried to keep 4chan as is. But I failed," Nisimura writes. "I am sincerely sorry." There are three options for 4chan to survive going forward, as far as Nisimura sees it: sell more subscriptions, include "much more" -- and potentially even malicious -- ads, or cut traffic to the site in half. That might be done by closing message boards, slowing down the site, or reducing the size of images that can be posted. Nisimura makes it sound bad (his post is titled "Winter is coming"), but he also proposes changes to save the site. Meanwhile, another infamous name -- Martin Shkreli -- says he's interested in buying 4chan; he's in touch with Nisimura, so maybe we'll see how that remarkably bad combination turns out. Martin Shkreli tweeted: "I'm open to joining the Board of Directors of 4Chan. @4chan." Not too long after, Hiroyuki Nisimura replied: "I have replied your DM. Thank you for supporting 4chan @MartinShkreli twitter.com/MartinShkreli/...."

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Samsung's Next Flagship Smartphone May Not Feature a Headphone Jack
Posted by News Fetcher on October 03 '16 at 06:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's all-good-things-must-come-to-an-end department:
Samsung's next flagship smartphone, which may be released sooner than later due to the Note 7 fiasco, may not feature a 3.5mm headphone jack. In fact, Samsung may be one of many manufacturers to make the jump from the 3.5mm headphone jack to USB-C for audio. The USB Implementers Forum published the Audio Device Class 3.0 specification that brings USB Audio over USB Type-C. What this means is that "mobile devices including smartphones, tablets and ultraportable laptops could ditch the headphone jack in the very near future without worrying about having to bake audio support into USB-C or a new, proprietary port," writes Chris Smith via BGR. SamMobile adds: "Removing the dedicated audio plug will also allow OEMs to create smartphones that are slimmer and have better water resistance capabilities."

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Google Fiber Is Now a Fiber and Wireless ISP
Posted by News Fetcher on October 03 '16 at 05:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's two-in-one department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Google Fiber today said it has completed its acquisition of Webpass, a wireless Internet service provider that will figure prominently into its plans for deployment of high-speed Internet. But the Alphabet division is not giving up on fiber, saying it will use both wireless and fiber networks to compete against cable companies and telcos. Google Fiber revealed its plan to buy Webpass in June, and the company said in an announcement today that Webpass "is now officially part of the Google Fiber family." The Webpass site has been updated to call the service "Webpass from Google Fiber." Webpass uses point-to-point wireless technology that's useful for connecting businesses and multi-unit residential buildings in densely populated areas. It hasn't been financially feasible for Webpass to bring its high-speed network to single-family homes, so it can't fully replace Google Fiber's wired Internet service. "[O]ur strategy going forward will be a hybrid approach with wireless playing an integral part," Google Fiber President Dennis Kish wrote. "Going forward, Webpass will continue to grow and scale their business with point-to-point wireless technology, including expanding into new cities. And for our part, Google Fiber will continue to build out our portfolio of wireless and fiber technologies, to bring super fast Internet to more people, faster." Existing Webpass customers will see no change to their service, he wrote. Webpass's residential service offers speeds of up to 1Gbps for $60 a month in San Francisco, San Diego, Miami, Chicago, and Boston. There's no word yet on where Webpass will deploy next.

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'If KickassTorrents is a Criminal Operation, Google Should Start Worrying'
Posted by News Fetcher on October 03 '16 at 05:11 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's seeking-clarification department:
An anonymous reader writes: Polish authorities have extended the arrest of Artem Vaulin, the alleged owner of KickassTorrents. His defense team is currently preparing to fight the U.S. extradition request, which will start next month. According to Artem's U.S. lawyer, operating a torrent site is not a criminal offense. "In fact, in my opinion operating an index search engine cannot constitute a crime in the United States because secondary infringement is not criminalized under US law. If KickassTorrents is a criminal operation, then Google should start worrying," Gurvits says

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The Microsoft Band Is Dead
Posted by News Fetcher on October 03 '16 at 03:44 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's rest-in-peace department:
Microsoft's fitness-band line of devices have not be very well adopted over the years. Last month it was reported that Microsoft will be killing off the Lumia brand in favor of a new Surface Phone brand. Now, it appears the company is discontinuing its Band devices, as it has removed all references to them from its Microsoft Store listing online. Mary Jo Foley writes via ZDNet: A tipster who asked not to be named showed me a cached version of the Microsoft Online Store listing from yesterday, October 2, which included Band devices; today, October 3, references to the Band devices are gone from the company's Store sites. Microsoft also removed the Band software development kit (SDK) today, which isn't surprising given it's no longer selling Band 2 devices. Microsoft is believed to have disbanded the software team that was looking to bring Windows 10 to the Band a couple months ago. I've gotten various tips that at least some of the Band hardware team members have dispersed, too, with some moving to other Microsoft hardware teams inside the company. Even though sources of mine have said Microsoft is planning to phase out its fitness band devices and to have no plans to roll out a Band 3 device any time soon (or likely, ever), company officials still haven't completely conceded that it's the end of the line for Band. I asked again today and have yet to get an updated statement from the company regarding when and why Band devices were removed from Microsoft's online stores. A spokesperson sent me the following statement: "We have sold through our existing Band 2 inventory and have no plans to release another Band device this year. We remain committed to supporting our Microsoft Band 2 customers through Microsoft Stores and our customer support channels and will continue to invest in the Microsoft Health platform, which is open to all hardware and apps partners across Windows, iOS, and Android devices."

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FBI Agreed To Destroy Laptops of Clinton Aides With Immunity Deal, Sources Say
Posted by News Fetcher on October 03 '16 at 03:44 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's destroyed-evidence department:
An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes a report from Fox News: Immunity deals for two top Hillary Clinton aides included a side arrangement obliging the FBI to destroy their laptops after reviewing the devices, House Judiciary Committee sources told Fox News on Monday. Sources said the arrangement with former Clinton chief of staff Cheryl Mills and ex-campaign staffer Heather Samuelson also limited the search to no later than Jan. 31, 2015. This meant investigators could not review documents for the period after the email server became public -- in turn preventing the bureau from discovering if there was any evidence of obstruction of justice, sources said. The Republican-led House Judiciary Committee fired off a letter Monday to Attorney General Loretta Lynch asking why the DOJ and FBI agreed to the restrictive terms, including that the FBI would destroy the laptops after finishing the search. The immunity deals for Mills and Samuelson, made as part of the FBI's probe into Clinton's use of a private email server when she served as secretary of state, apparently included a series of "side agreements" that were negotiated by Samuelson and Mills' attorney Beth Wilkinson. The side deals were agreed to on June 10, less than a month before FBI Director James Comey announced that the agency would recommend no charges be brought against Clinton or her staff. Judiciary Committee aids told FoxNews.com that the destruction of the laptops is particularly troubling as it means that the computers could not be used as evidence in future legal proceedings, should new information or circumstances arise.

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