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11
Mar

Nexus 5 ‘Always-On’ compatible with Ok Google command


The Moto X has a great feature which allows Google Now to be triggered with a simple ‘Ok Google’ voice command, which is made possible due the device always listening for that particular phrase to be announced.

Other devices such as the Galaxy S5 can be trigged using the ‘Ok Galaxy’ voice command, but only when S Voice is actually open. It seems, however, that this background listening is not constrained to just the Moto X and is infact embedded already in the Nexus 5. A recent video shows a concept which unlocks this native compataiblty in the Nexus 5, allowing Google Now to be triggered with the simple phrase hands-free.

The concept is part of the custom OmniROM and it seems to work pretty well. Hopefully the developer can build the feature into a finalised package for deployment to the general public in order to bring true hands-free operation to the Nexus 5.

Update – It seems that the video has already been taken offline.

The post Nexus 5 ‘Always-On’ compatible with Ok Google command appeared first on AndroidGuys.

11
Mar
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WhatsApp updated with new privacy settings and features


If there’s a messaging application we all really love and use, then I think it would be none other than WhatsApp. It was recently acquired by Facebook for a huge amount, and now the app just received its first update after the deal. First spotted by Android Police, the app now have following new features:

  • New privacy settings for last seen, profile photo and status
  • Add Camera shortcut for quicker picture sending
  • Add ability to pay for a friend’s WhatsApp service
  • Add large video thumbnails in chat
  • Add option to show unread messages on home screen widget (Android 3.0+)
  • Add option to share/save profile photo/group icon
  • Increase message history user can send
  • Fix sending flag emoji on Sony phones
  • Fix voice note recording volume on Samsung Note 3 and Sony phones
  • Enabled Hindi (Android 4.1+)

Whatsapp-Android-730x648The app will be upgraded to version 2.11.186 after installing the update. The most notable feature here is that WhatsApp will now allow you to pay for your friend’s subscriptions as well. The app is free to download and use for the first 12 months, and then $0.99 in-app payment required each year after that. So if you want to, you can pay for your friends, family members, or anyone else if you want to.

What are your thoughts about the new features?

The post WhatsApp updated with new privacy settings and features appeared first on AndroidGuys.

11
Mar

Use Bitcoins for in-app purchases with InAppCoins for Android


BitCoin has grown exponetially in its popularity and use as a virtual currency, and now a new app is launching called InAppCoins that easily integrates Bitcoin payments into mobile apps and games on Android.

In-app purchases form the freemium model for many apps, so InAppCoins has launched an SDK and web dashboard for developers who want to accept BitCoins as payments for their in-app purchases.

If you’re a developer and are interested in signing up for accepting BitCoins for your in-app purchases then you can try it out here.

The post Use Bitcoins for in-app purchases with InAppCoins for Android appeared first on AndroidGuys.

11
Mar
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BikeConsole Power Plus for Galaxy S4 review


Don’t look now, but we’re just about out of the winter and finally into warmer weather. With the friendlier temperatures comes our favorite outdoor activities, such as biking.

I love nothing more than to toss my handset into a bag and put in some miles on the mountain bike. Very few things beat pairing some Bluetooth headphones with my smartphone and killing a few hours. The problem I run into, however, is that it’s fairly easy to deplete the battery if I’m out for more than a few hours. Between music, GPS tracking, and the occasional message, I often finish the ride with less than desirable remaining battery life.

PrintI found a solution that I like quite well in the BikeConsole Power Plus. Available for multiple device types, I spent time playing with the Galaxy S4 version.

In essence, this is an extended battery pack, protective carry case, and bike mount kit. Not only does it allow you to see your device, it’s also charging it while you’re out and about. And, thanks to its kickstand and cutout for headphones, it’s a handy device off of the bike as well. Bonus points are awarded for the exposed camera port which lets me pull of the Galaxy S4 and snap some photos. Just know this isn’t some sleek designer case that’s going to look sexy in public.

One of the other details I like most about the Power Plus is that it is waterproof. While the battery pack itself cannot be submerged, the case is able to take a rainstorm without breaking a sweat.

The clip-on battery pack is rated at 2800mAh which means it essentially doubles your handset’s juice. No more worry about wrapping up a ride with like 30% of your battery to get you through the rest of the day.

The whole unit comes together quite easily and feels very snug when in place. Thanks to its double locking mechanism, the phone never feels like it’s going to fall off the handlebars. I’ve really come to like the Power Plus in that it brings my phone out in front of me again. Rather than keeping it in a backpack or bag, I can see the phone and interact with it much quicker.

I shot a short video outlining the process of installation but found that the official clip told the story better.

You can purchase the BikeConsole Power Plus for your Samsung Galaxy S4 for $89.99. That price is a little steeper than I’d like, and would recommend something closer to $75 for the bundle. I’ve checked Amazon and found it listing for as low as $49.99 through various retailers. If you can get one of these for that price then I say hop all over it.

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The post BikeConsole Power Plus for Galaxy S4 review appeared first on AndroidGuys.

11
Mar
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LaCie’s ‘Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 2′ Now Available for $1299 [Mac Blog]


First introduced at CES in January, LaCie’s 1TB Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 2 drive is now available for purchase for $1,299. The Little Big Disk is one of the first external hard drives to support Intel’s Thunderbolt 2 specification, delivering transfer speeds of up to 1375 MB/s.

Little Big Disk offers two 500 GB PCIe solid state drives from Samsung in a Raid-0 configuration and is able to support mobile streaming and editing of both 4K and 3D video. It features an aluminum enclosure with a Mac Pro-style black finish along with an optimized interior design that improves cooling efficiency and reduces noise.

To achieve the full potential of Thunderbolt 2 speeds, LaCie engineered the Little Big Disk with some of the best–performing solid state drives on the market – a pair of 500 GB PCIe Gen 2 SSDs. It’s possible to push the boundaries of the technology even further by daisy chaining two LaCie Little Big Disks to achieve speeds faster than the maximum Thunderbolt 2 transfer rate. By connecting them in parallel to Apple’s powerful new Mac Pro, they can deliver speeds up to 2,600 MB/s.

Thanks to its Thunderbolt 2 ports, the Little Big Disk can be daisy chained with up to five other Little Big Disks along with a 4K display, all connected to a computer with a single cable.

The Little Big Disk is available in a 1TB SSD capacity from the LaCie online store for $1299.

    



11
Mar
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Listen to All of Siri’s Voices From Around the World [iOS Blog]


siri_ios_7_iconAround the world, Apple’s voice-based assistant Siri has 32 voices for various languages, which have been compiled by Tes Mat, developer of the app Vocab Ninja.

Mat has created a website that offers a sample of the voice assistant saying “Luke, I am your father,” in all of Siri’s languages, ranging from Arabic to Turkish.

Each voice clip is available in both standard and enhanced quality, a higher quality version of the voice assistant that has been available since iOS 7. Though some languages, such as US English have multiple Siri voices available, the website appears to list only one voice per language.

The site has been updated for iOS 7.1, adding the newly introduced enhanced voices for Siri in Mandarin Chinese, UK English, Australian English, and Japanese. iOS 7.1 also brought new functionality for Siri, allowing users to manually control when Siri is listening to speech by holding down the home button on an iOS device.

The different voices and languages of Siri can be accessed by visiting the Vocab Ninja website.

    



11
Mar
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HP Spectre 13 Ultrabook review: a good deal, but with trade-offs


HP Spectre 13 Ultrabook review: a good deal, but with trade-offs

It’s already March, dear readers, which means with the exception of this post right here, you’re not going to find many laptop reviews on this site. Why? Because Intel’s just three months away from launching its next-generation chips and besides, we’ve reviewed most of the current-gen models anyway. But not HP’s. We haven’t reviewed a Hewlett-Packard Ultrabook in more than a year. So here we are, picking up where we left off. The company’s newest flagship, the Spectre 13, has a metal-clad body, much like the older models we’ve tested, except it steps up to an optional 2,560 x 1,440 display and an extra-wide touchpad designed to make all those Windows 8 gestures easier to pull off. It also starts at $1,000, making it a good deal cheaper than most of the other models we’ll be name-checking throughout the review. So does that make it a good deal?

Look and feel

When the Spectre 13 Ultrabook first launched late last year, a company rep told me that the laptop takes design cues from other luxury items — namely, expensive cars. As much as that sounds like marketing hooey, it turned out to be a pretty smart strategy on HP’s part: The brown lid, metal keyboard and champagne-colored chassis make the machine look… expensive. To be fair, the build quality helps too — the palm rest doesn’t flex or bend when you hold it in one hand and, thanks to a strong hinge, the screen doesn’t wobble when you touch it. I also appreciate how clean the bottom side looks, right down to the metallic accents surrounding the rubber feet. (Of course, a clean underside means the parts aren’t user-replaceable, but that’s par for the course for Ultrabooks.) Really, my only complaint is that the brushed-metal lid picks up scratches too easily, but then again, the same thing can be said of the MacBook Air.

SONY DSC

Actually, I do have a second complaint: At 3.34 pounds, the Spectre 13 is actually on the heavy side for an Ultrabook. Case in point: The Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro and Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus both come in at 3.06 pounds, while some models, like the Acer Aspire S7 and Sony VAIO Pro 13, come in well under the three-pound mark. All that said, it won’t break your back to put it in a bag — I even got away with using a leather tote. Also, for what it’s worth, the cut of the laptop at least makes it comfortable to hold; the wide, blunt edges leave lots of room for your fingers, and the chamfered hinge is also easy to grip. Speaking of those wide edges, the Spectre 13, as hefty as it is, does make room for a good selection of ports. These include two USB 3.0 connections, a full-sized HDMI socket, Mini DisplayPort and an SD card reader, along with the requisite headphone jack and power connector.

SONY DSC

Though the Spectre 13 is available with a 2,560 x 1,440 display, we tested it out with the standard 1,920 x 1,080 option. Even with the lower (but not “low”) resolution, it’s still a lovely screen. The viewing angles are wide enough that I was able to watch many a Netflix movie from all sorts of angles — head-on, from off to the side, lying on the couch, dim light, fluorescent light. The Spectre 13′s display thrives in most any environment, and the colors are nice and punchy too (but don’t worry, not too punchy).

Keyboard and trackpad

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The kindest thing I can say about the Spectre 13′s keyboard is that I ultimately got used to it. Well, mostly anyway. Even now, after weeks of use, I still frequently have to go back and correct a typo, because my key presses didn’t register the first time around. It’s a shame because the buttons are well-spaced and easy to find without taking my eyes off the screen. And yet, between the shallow pitch and lack of bounce, it’s quite possible you’ll find someting something you wrote has a letter or two missing.

If you’re like me, you’ll adjust your typing style over time without even really thinking about it, but even then, you’ll make some annoying mistakes. For most people, the layout here will be fine, especially since Ultrabooks by definition tend to have flat, space-saving keyboards. But if typing is of the utmost importance, you can still do better (might I suggest the new ThinkPad X1 Carbon?).

SONY DSC

Unfortunately, I can’t be nearly as charitable about the touchpad. Which is ironic in a way, because the trackpad, with its so-called touch zones, was actually designed to reduce erroneous clicks. Here’s my problem: The main surface has way too much resistance, so that if I want to do something like scroll or pinch to zoom, I have to go out of my way to apply pressure with my fingers. I’d rather I didn’t have to think about it at all. What’s worse is that even when I do think about it, the touchpad doesn’t always respond the way I want it to; oftentimes, I either used the touchscreen to scroll through web pages, or (carefully) dragged my cursor to the arrows along the side of the screen. Not an ideal situation.

And what of those clearly marked touch zones? They do a good job of separating the “Windows 8 gesture” areas from the “regular touchpad areas,” so that you know exactly where to swipe if you want to expose the Charms bar or cycle through open apps. The thing is, most other touchpads do this just fine, even without an obvious line separating the main touch surface from the edges. Rather than solve a problem that doesn’t exist, we’d rather HP issue a driver update to ensure the touchpad works properly.

Performance

PCMark7 3DMark06 3DMark11 ATTO (top disk speeds)
HP Spectre 13 Ultrabook (1.6GHz Core i5-4200U, Intel HD 4400) 4,786 6,005

E1,837 / P962 / X293

527 MB/s (reads); 327 MB/s (writes)
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro (1.6GHz Core i5-4200U, Intel HD 4400) 4,676 5,688

E1,713 / P914 / X281

546 MB/s (reads); 139 MB/s (writes)
Samsung ATIV Book 9 Lite (1.4GHz “quad-core” processor, AMD Radeon HD 8250) 2,060 2,814

E749 / P530

550 MB/s (reads); 139 MB/s (writes)
Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus (1.6GHz Core i5-4200U, Intel HD 4400) 4,973 5,611

E1,675 / P867 / X277

547 MB/s (reads); 508 MB/s (writes)
Acer Aspire S7-392 (1.6GHz Intel Core i5-4200U, Intel HD 4400) 5,108 5,158

E1,724 / P952 / X298

975 MB/s (reads); 1.1 GB/s (writes)
Sony VAIO Pro 13 (1.6GHz Intel Core i5-4200U, Intel HD 4400) 4,502 4,413

E1,177 / P636 / X203

1.04 GB/s (reads); 479 MB/s (writes)
Sony VAIO Duo 13 (1.6GHz Core i5-4200U, Intel HD 4400) 4,440 6,047

E1,853 / P975 / X297

546 MB/s (reads); 139 MB/s (writes)
Sony VAIO Pro 11 (1.8GHz Core i7-4500U, Intel HD 4400) 4,634 N/A

E1,067 / P600 / X183

558 MB/s (reads); 255 MB/s (writes)

After using the Spectre 13 for weeks, I can assure you that the Spectre 13′s performance never calls attention to itself. And that’s a good thing. Throughout, as I was writing stories, streaming Netflix and Pandora, juggling browser tabs and talking in HipChat, I had no problem opening apps and switching from one program to another. The fast 10-second startup time is also easy to get used to, perhaps because almost every Ultrabook these days can cold-boot in a similar time. If anything, the biggest thing holding me back from getting work done was that flaky trackpad, but I, of course, won’t lay that at Intel’s feet.

As it turns out, too, that brisk performance wasn’t just a figment of my imagination: The Spectre 13 bests most of its Ultrabook peers, even those that have the same dual-core Core i5-4200U processor. In particular, you’ve gotta hand it to the Liteon solid-state drive, which achieves not just category-standard read speeds of 527 MB/s, but also write speeds as high as 327 MB/s. Big improvement over the SSDs in most of the other Ultrabooks we’ve tested.

Battery life

HP Spectre 13 Ultrabook 8:30
MacBook Air (13-inch, 2013) 12:51
MacBook Pro with Retina display (13-inch, 2013) 11:18
Sony VAIO Duo 13 9:40
Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus 8:44
Sony VAIO Pro 13 8:24
Lenovo IdeaPad U430 Touch 7:53
Acer Aspire S7-392 7:33
Acer Iconia W700 7:13
Sony VAIO Pro 11 6:41
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro 6:32
Microsoft Surface Pro 2 6:27
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 5:32
Samsung ATIV Book 9 Lite 4:33

To say the Spectre 13 has “middling” battery life would be like saying a fourth-place Olympic skier is “slow.” The truth is, with eight and half hours of continuous video playback, according to our tests, it does rank somewhere in the middle as far as new Ultrabooks go. Sure, it’s no MacBook Air, which lasts nearly 13 hours on a charge. Then again, we’ve tested a handful of other models capable of eight to 8.5 hours, so at the very least, the Spectre 13 finds itself in good company.

Besides, doesn’t eight and a half hours count as “all-day battery life” for lots of people? We think it does, especially if you expect to be near an outlet for at least part of that time. And if eight hours isn’t enough, the sad truth is that most Haswell-based Ultrabooks won’t last longer than that anyway. And most “regular” notebooks won’t last longer than an Ultrabook, at least not without the help of a secondary battery. So even if you do need more runtime, this is very nearly the best you can do.

Software

Though HP didn’t pre-load the Spectre 13 with much extra software, what’s there calls a little too much attention to itself. I’m mainly referring to McAfee LiveSafe, which constantly greets you with pop-ups when you boot up and go to the desktop for the first time. The good news? HP at least threw in a year of McAfee service, as opposed to just 30 days, so you can at least get some use out of the app for a good while after you purchase the laptop. In addition, HP also included Adobe Lightroom 5 (nice!), Box, HP Connected Music and HP Support Assistant.

Configuration options

The Spectre 13 starts at $1,000 with a dual-core Core i5-4200U processor, 4GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, 1,920 x 1,080 display and 802.11n WiFi. Basically, then, for a thousand bucks you’re getting specs that a year ago would cost you as much as $1,400. What’s more, even the base model includes a two-year warranty — about twice the coverage you’d get on most any other consumer PC.

Of course, no one’s stopping you from spending $1,400 if you do indeed want cutting-edge components. This year, that means a dual-core Core i7-4500U processor, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, a 2,560 x 1,440 screen and a faster 802.11ac wireless radio. With all the trimmings, you’re looking at a price of $1,435, not including extras like Microsoft Office.

The competition

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We’ve already name-checked most of the Spectre 13′s main rivals, but it’s worth circling back to talk about what makes each of them a potentially good (or not-so-good) buy. Perhaps its most direct competitors are the Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro ($899-plus) and Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus ($1,400 and up), both of which weigh about a quarter of a pound less and come standard with 3,200 x 1,800 screens — likely the same one, actually. If anything, the Yoga 2 Pro will win you over with its convertible design, which lets you use it as a notebook, tablet and in “Stand” or “Tent” mode, with the keyboard tucked out of the way. Our big caveat there is that the battery only lasts 6.5 hours, making it one of the shortest-running Ultrabooks we’ve tested lately. The ATIV Book 9 Plus, meanwhile, delivers almost identical battery life to the Spectre 13, but again, weighs a lot less. Point, Samsung.

Meanwhile, you might also want to check out the 2.34-pound Sony VAIO Pro 13 ($1,250-plus), the lightest laptop in its class. Despite its pin-thin frame, it manages to match the Spectre 13 in battery life. Similarly, the 2.87-pound Acer Aspire S7 ($1,350-plus) ekes out some respectable runtime, even if it’s not quite as long as the Spectre 13′s. Word to the wise, though: We’re betting that if you get the Acer Aspire S7 with a 2,560 x 1,440 display instead of the 1080p panel we tested, the battery life will probably dip.

Finally, we have two oldies. One is the Dell XPS 12 ($1,000-plus), which came out in 2012, but has since been refreshed with Haswell processors, NFC and a bigger battery. In short, we like it a lot. Finally, there’s the Toshiba Kirabook. Though it was one of the first Ultrabooks to rock a 2,560 x 1,440 display, we ultimately panned it because it launched at $1,600 with already-old processors. Now that it’s been refreshed with Haswell processors, you can surely expect longer battery life. But man, that $1,500 starting price still stings.

Wrap-up

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It’s easy for us to give the Spectre 13 a good review, but that’s partly because the price is so reasonable. Were this priced in line with its peers, we’d have a harder time forgiving its flaky trackpad, sticky keyboard and relatively heavy weight. As it stands, though, it offers an attractive design, fast performance, a bright display and a generous two-year warranty, all for a relatively low $1,000. For the money, you can get used to the keyboard, and the slightly heavy design won’t kill you, either (though we still think there should be a bigger battery inside). Assuming HP can come through with a much-needed touchpad update, the Spectre 13 is a solid, if imperfect, choice.

Edgar Alvarez and Daniel Orren contributed to this review.

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11
Mar
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When you cram an entire smartphone into a watch, you get the Exetech XS-3


Most smartwatches act as a secondary display for your phone, but there’s a select few, like the Neptune Pine, that just want to replace it altogether. It’s in this latter category that you’ll find the chunky Exetech XS-3: a watch that stands almost two centimeters tall from your wrist. Wrapped in plastic and attached to a heavy-duty rubber strap, the hardware looks tougher than it really is. There’s no back cover other than the battery itself, which is exposed to the elements and leaves us concerned as to how sweat-resistant (let alone rain-resistant) this device will be. In any case, it’s with the internals and software that things start to get interesting, because the XS-3 comes pretty close to replicating every major function of a smartphone.

The XS-3 runs Android 4.0 on a dual-core MediaTek processor with 2GB of on-board storage, while a 3G radio lets you emulate Penny / Dick Tracy / John Sheridan (delete as appropriate). The 420mAh may be vulnerable, but it’s at least user replaceable, and beneath it you’ll find micro-SIM and microSD slots. On standby, the XS-3 will last around 18 hours, but that falls to 6-7 hours if you use it a lot throughout the day, and to just 2.5 hours if you put it to work as a GPS tracker.

Since the device is able to access Google Play, users are able to get some benefit from Google’s apps, although we doubt that too many of them will run as efficiently as you’re used to, given that the real estate is a 1.54-inch 240 x 240 capacitive LCD touchscreen.

There are two navigation buttons on each side of the bezel, and in the center on the right hand side is a dainty 2-megapixel camera for taking cheeky snaps of your friends or, you know, corporate documents you’re planning to steal. The left middle button swings away to reveal the microUSB port, which you’ll use to charge the unit, as well as connecting headphones (via an adapter). The XS-3 is currently available in black, with a white version appearing on the Italian company’s website in the very near future, priced at €350 ($485).

Sharif Sakr contributed to this report.

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Source: Exetech

11
Mar
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Move over Chrome, Google Docs has add-ons now too


Power users have been tricking out Google’s Chrome browser with extensions for years, and now they can do the same with… Google Docs? Today the search giant launched an add-on store for its word processing and spreadsheet web apps so that productivity buffs can get more work done with less hassle. So far the store comes stocked with about 60 tools, ranging from the seemingly arcane (Supermetrics somehow turns Docs into a web analytics tool) to the incredibly useful (EasyBib takes the sting out of crafting those awful works cited pages). If you’re feeling particularly creative, you can start crafting a Google Docs add-on of your own too — just make sure you’ve got a nifty use-case in mind or Google will shoot it down. Neat as it is, though, the move is no surprise. Microsoft rejiggered its own web-based Office suite just last month, and courting developers could help the folks in Mountain View keep their edge in a battle that’s only going to heat up.

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Via: TechCrunch

Source: Google

11
Mar
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Chrome developers can now charge for themes and extensions


Google made a few changes to the Chrome Web Store today to benefit developers and make it easier for them to publish to the platform. The biggest change has to do with what’s actually sold in the store. Now, instead of just paying for apps, you might also pay for extensions or themes. If commitment isn’t your thing, subscriptions or free trials will be offered for some extensions, and the test-drive option is also available for packaged apps (read: Chrome apps that can run offline). All this is good news for developers, who starting May 1st will no longer be able to publish extensions outside of the Chrome Web Store for Windows users. It could also be great news for users. Now that developers have the opportunity to make a little cash for their work, hopefully we’ll see some even better themes and extensions headed to the store in the future.

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Source: Google Developers

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