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18
Dec

Tim Cook Calls Apple’s Tax Avoidance Accusations ‘Total Political Crap’


60 Minutes has shared a preview of Tim Cook’s latest interview with journalist Charlie Rose, in which the Apple CEO emphatically counters the idea that Apple has created elaborate schemes to pay little or no U.S. corporate taxes on its overseas revenue.

http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsCook described the tax avoidance accusations as “total political crap,” and deflected blame on the U.S. tax code for being far outdated. He added that repatriating the money in the U.S. is not “a reasonable thing to do” due to high corporate tax rates.

Rose: You also have more money overseas probably than any other American company. […] Why don’t you bring that home?

Cook: “It would cost me 40% to bring it home, and I don’t think that’s a reasonable thing to do. This is a tax code that was made for the industrial age, not the digital age. It’s backwards. It’s awful for America. It should have been fixed many years ago. It’s past time to get it done.”

Rose: Here’s what they concluded: “Apple is engaged in a sophisticated scheme to pay little or no corporate taxes on $74 billion in revenue held overseas.”

Cook: “That is total political crap. There is no truth behind it. Apple pays every tax dollar we owe.”

Apple’s tax policies have been closely investigated over the past few years in Europe. Earlier this year, for example, Italian regulators accused Apple of booking profits generated in the country through an Irish subsidiary in an effort to lower its taxable income base and save nearly 900 million euros from 2008 through 2013. The investigation was completed in March 2015.

The European Commission began an investigation of Apple’s tax policies in June 2014, and the Brussels-based executive body formally accused the company of receiving illegal state aid from Ireland in September 2014. The commission has since requested more information from Apple, likely delaying a decision in the tax probe until at least after the Irish elections in early 2016.

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Apple is said to utilize multiple foreign subsidiaries in Ireland to move around overseas money, which Cook says accounts for two-thirds of Apple’s revenue, without being subject to high corporate tax rates in the U.S. and elsewhere. Apple has consistently denied any wrongdoing, and Ireland vows to take the European Commission to court over any negative ruling.

Cook’s wide-ranging interview will also touch upon encryption technology and manufacturing products in China. In the same episode, Rose will also offer a rare inside look at Jony Ive’s “secret design studio” at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California. 60 Minutes airs on CBS this Sunday, December 20 at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time and 7 p.m. Pacific Time.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

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18
Dec

Amazon renews ‘The Man in the High Castle’ for a second season


Amazon’s Original Series The Man in the High Castle was the retailers most-watched pilot, and it seems the first season was popular was well. The company renewed the show for a second season today, following its opening 10-episode run that debuted on Amazon Prime November 20th. If you’re not familiar, The Man in the High Castle is an adaptation of the Philip K. Dick novel of the same name. The story chronicles what life in the US would be like under German and Japanese rule if the Axis Powers had been victorious in World War II.

There’s no word on the premiere date for the second season just yet, but it’s expected sometime in 2016. The Man in the High Castle follows Transparent and other Amazon original shows that have garnered their fair share of attention as of late, with the latter nabbing both award wins and a quite a few nominations. You’ll need a Prime subscription to watch any of the Amazon series, and The Man in the High Castle is worth a look.

Via: Variety

18
Dec

Apple is being sued over another data-gobbling bug


Apple is fending off another lawsuit regarding its phones helping themselves to cellular data even when supposedly running on WiFi. As you may recall, a California couple took Apple to court in October over iOS 9’s WiFi Assist, which would clandestinely switch the phone from WiFi to LTE and eat through the user’s data allotment. Now, Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP has filed a class-action lawsuit against Apple for a similar, earlier, data-sucking bug.

The law firm alleges that iPhone 5 and 5c’s running iOS 6 and 7 would also silently switch back to LTE from WiFi. This Apple reportedly patched the issue for Verizon customers in September, 2012. Hagens et al accuse Apple of then waiting more than two years to apply the patch for AT&T customers and failed to disclose the problem in duration. This, the legal firm argues, violates California consumer laws, “including the Unfair Competition Law, the Consumers Legal Remedies Act and the False Advertising Law.”

[Image Credit: Getty]

Via: 9 to 5 Mac

Source: Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP

18
Dec

HTC Vive to demo a ‘very big’ breakthrough in VR at CES


Regular folks who are eager to get hold of the HTC Vive would have been bummed by the news that it’s been pushed to April 2016, but in return, we’ll actually be getting a much improved version. At today’s Vive Unbound developers forum in Beijing, CEO Cher Wang teased that two weeks ago, Valve and her team made “a very, very big technological breakthrough” with their virtual reality system, so big that they decided to just skip the original version and ship this new one, albeit missing the Q1 date. “We shouldn’t make our users swap their systems later just so we could meet the December shipping date.” That said, Wang remained mum on what this upgrade is all about, except that it’ll be unveiled at CES early next month.

Another big mystery surrounding HTC’s next big thing is its retail price. After all, it may take some more incentive to attract a crowd towards this brand new system, especially with many simpler but very affordable alternatives now readily available. After some nagging from this author, Wang finally gave a vague hint: In a recent survey conducted with her engineers, 80 percent of the group raised their hands when she gave a price considered to be affordable for them, based on their pay. According to recruitment site Glassdoor, the base salary of a software engineer at HTC ranges from NT$51,500 (about US$1,560) to NT$57,077 (about US$1,730) per month. Nope, still not helping here.

Regardless, it’s safe to assume that this kit will cost much more than existing offerings due to its extra hardware, though Wang remains confident that people will prefer the Vive’s more complete user experience, immersive feeling and quality of content. “Why would I buy a handicapped product? You won’t like it.” That’s mainly referring to the Oculus Rift’s lack of object tracking, though the exec acknowledged that from developers’ perspective, they need these low-end platforms as well to achieve a sizeable market, which is also why HTC never even considered enforcing an exclusivity with Valve’s SteamVR gaming platform right from the start.

It’s worth pointing out that the Vive isn’t just for consumers. Wang added that next year, Audi will be installing Vives in pretty much all of its flagship stores to offer virtual test drive. This will apparently be followed by “many of the major car brands that you can think of.” HTC is also pitching to hospitals with the use case of inspecting a 3D scan of a patient’s brain to better prep for surgery. Even schools can take advantage here: Wang likes the idea of letting kids learn about the human body by flowing around as a blood cell inside. As awesome as these ideas sound, we’ll reserve our judgement until HTC finally pushes this baby out into the market.

18
Dec

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 variant containing 128GB of onboard storage launches in South Korea


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Ever since the launch of the Galaxy Note 5, there’s been a number of complaints pertaining to the removal of the microSD card slot. At launch, Samsung limited the options to only 32GB and 64GB of non-expandable internal storage, which left many wanting more.

Earlier today Samsung launched a 128GB variant of the Galaxy Note 5 that it’s calling the ‘Winter Edition.’ The handset is only available in South Korea at the moment, however there’s still a possibility that Samsung will introduce the Winter Edition Galaxy Note 5 in more countries down the road.

The Galaxy Note 5 Winter Edition is available in choice of titanium silver and gold platinum. Samsung said it chose these two color options because of their high popularity. The 128GB variant will carry a 999,900 KRW price tag, which is equivalent to approximately $846 USD.

Source: Samsung
Via: PhoneArena

Come comment on this article: Samsung Galaxy Note 5 variant containing 128GB of onboard storage launches in South Korea

18
Dec

Audi’s Q7 SUV tries to make you a better driver


I’m sitting in the passenger seat of the new 2017 Audi Q7 as it prepares to turn left. Another car is barreling towards us in the opposite lane. An Audi engineer sitting behind the wheel assures me everything will be fine. Suddenly, at the last minute, the driver turns the wheel and punches the gas. We should have lurched into path of the oncoming vehicle and caused an accident. Instead, the car’s onboard safety technology slammed on the brakes and alerted the driver to the mistake. This all went down on a closed course in Northern California, but it happens all the time to real drivers on real roads. Audi is hoping to reduce those incidents with an SUV that’s not just smart, but actually fun to drive.Slideshow-349417

While the Audi e-tron we saw recently is the company’s plug-in hybrid, the Q7 is its flagship SUV. It’s a refined all-wheel-drive vehicle with top-of-its-class acceleration (zero to 60 in 5.7 seconds) with seating for seven. But it also ushers in technology that keeps the driver (and all those passengers) safer. The Q7 counteracts your bad habits, or at least attempts to by nudging you back into your lane and stopping the car before you hit a pedestrian or other vehicle. In short, it’s the nanny of cars. But not the boring babysitter that makes you eat broccoli and do extra credit homework before your parents get home. Instead, it’s Mary Poppins, guiding you down the right path while making everything funner than it should be.

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Because let’s be perfectly honest here. You’re probably a bad driver. You tailgate. You wait until the last minute to brake at stop lights. You insist on racing everyone on the road and you really need to stop texting, tweeting, Facebooking and Snapchatting while you’re behind the wheel. The Q7 might not cure you of your on-the-road shortcomings, but it adds an extra level of safety. While you might be distracted, the car’s pre sense system of cameras and sensors is always watching.

The standard “city” feature with pedestrian and vehicle detection and a braking system can mean the difference between a warning from the car and a potentially life-threatening collision. During demos on a closed course when the vehicle was speeding toward a foam-core car or child-sized mannequin, the Q7 gave the driver the opportunity to either brake or steer around the object. If the driver fails to react, the seat belts tighten and the brakes engage to bring the car to a complete stop just short of the object. Just for good measure, it also closes the windows so that in case there’s an impact minimal debris will make its way into the car.

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While the semi-autonomous features of the SUV are part of a larger journey toward fully self-driving cars, I can’t stress enough how important the baby steps being made by automakers like Audi and Tesla are. The chance to sit back and relax in your car while it drives you to work makes the future sound very chill. In reality, these cars will be more than just napping machines. They will reduce accidents on the road by taking you (and your horrible driving) out of the equation. An auto-braking feature should squelch the concerns of a driver who’s wary of autonomous vehicles the first time it keeps them out of an accident.

For now, at least, the Q7 is somewhat autonomous. While safety is a huge selling point, removing stress from the daily drive is also one of the company’s objectives. The active lane assist and adaptive cruise control features make commuting slightly less infuriating by matching the speed of the vehicles directly in front of your while maintaining the speed limit and keeping you centered in the road. On the freeway it’s great, but on two-lane back roads its ability to implement the lane tracking while navigating sharp curves is especially impressive.

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While driving the curvy mountain roads of Northern California, the A7 tracked both the vehicle ahead of me and speed limit signs along a narrow two-lane path. It kept me a safe distance behind the car in front of me, and slowed to a more pedestrian-friendly speed when we passed through various towns along the way. There was a moment when the vehicle felt like it was entering a hairpin turn too quickly, which is a good reminder to pay attention and that we’re not ready to give up the steering wheel just yet.

The active lane assist is equally impressive, but can be a bit overzealous. While hitting corners, the steering wheel consistently tried to adjust the placement of the car. Get too close to the yellow or white lines and the wheel nudges the vehicle to the center of the lane. If you’re holding onto to the wheel even with one hand it’s easy to overcome, but it can be annoying. It wasn’t so much a fight with the car; more of a low-key argument in which the Q7 insisted on having the last word. After adjusting the lane correction to “late” instead of “early” the nudging became less of an issue. On the open freeway, though, it’s helpful for those moments when you might not be paying attention because, again, you’re a bad driver.

While lane assist is clearly not intended for someone to drive without their hands on the wheel, I tried it and was impressed how well it kept the car from careening into a ditch or oncoming traffic. After a few moments the vehicle realized what I was doing and insisted I take the wheel, which I was glad to do.

SONY DSC

The 3.0-liter supercharged V6, 333 horsepower Q7 handles better than any SUV should. Carving through the twisty redwood-lined roads of Northern California the car felt like operating a sedan. The engine and eight-speed automatic Tiptronic transmission reacted quickly with a stomp of the accelerator from a dead stop or while passing without the Q7 jerking between gears.

Continuing our tour, the interior feels high-end but not ostentatious. Audi has also flattened its dashboard infotainment menu structure to make fine tuning the driving experience easier. About 80 percent of the time getting to where you want to go within its MMI system is quick and easy, thanks to the round navigation button and touchscreen. But there were times when finding a feature seemed unnecessarily complicated. That said, there are dedicated buttons for the most frequently used features (navigation, telephone, media) so that you don’t have to reach up from the center console.

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Even if you removed the tech and fancy navigation system, anyone looking for a high-end SUV should definitely give the 2017 Q7 3.0 TFSI Quattro (starting at $54,800) a spin before throwing down the cash for a BMW X5 or Mercedes GLE. But it’s the technology that makes it special and most of the time, it’s a welcome addition to an outstanding driving experience.

18
Dec

‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ up for pre-order on Google Play


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Millions of people worldwide are flooding movie theaters this weekend to see the latest installment of Star Wars. The newest film, The Force Awakens, returns the franchise to the big screen for the first time in ten years. If you don’t plan on seeing the film during its theatrical release or just want to secure your digital copy next year, Google Play is already accepting pre-orders.

While the standard definition copy is $14.99, Google is charging $19.99 for the nicer high definition copy. Once the film is released digitally, Google will automatically add it to your library.

The soundtrack for The Force Awakens, though, is currently available for $11.49 and includes more than twenty tracks. So before and after you see the film, enjoy the sounds of it over and over again.

[Google Play – Star Wars: The Force Awakens] [Google Play – Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)]

Come comment on this article: ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ up for pre-order on Google Play

18
Dec

MacRumors Giveaway: Win a Canvas Smart Desk for iPad Pro From iSkelter


For this week’s giveaway, we’ve teamed up with iSkelter to offer MacRumors readers a chance to win one of four Canvas Smart Desks we’re giving away for Apple’s newest tablet, the iPad Pro. For those of you unfamiliar with iSkelter, it’s a company that hand makes wood desks, lap desks, stands, and other accessories for Apple products.

We’ve featured their products in the past, including the SlatePro Tech Desk, which is custom designed with built-in docks and cutouts to accommodate Apple devices. iSkelter’s newest product is a set of lap desks for the iPad Pro, the Canvas Creator and the Canvas Pro.

Both the Canvas Creator and the Canvas Pro have a felt-lined cutout that’s sized to the iPad Pro, but it will accommodate smaller devices. I have one of these on-hand and it’s usable with the iPad Pro and earlier iPads, but not the Retina MacBook Pro. Placed flat, the iPad Pro fits neatly into the Canvas Smart Desks, laying flat for sketching with the Apple Pencil, reading, or playing games.

canvascreator

Its sizing also accommodates the Apple Smart Keyboard, providing a stable, comfortable surface for typing when sitting on the couch or for watching videos with the iPad Pro propped up using the keyboard’s cover. For video watching, there’s also a cutout at the back of the Canvas where the iPad Pro can be positioned upright.

This cutout also accommodates other devices like an iPhone 6s or an iPad Air 2, so it’s a handy way to be able to do work on the iPad Pro while watching videos or browsing the web on a secondary iPad or iPhone, which is my preferred use case. I’ve been using it on the couch while watching television — I can draw or browse the web while still keeping an eye on Twitter and Slack on my iPhone.

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Though made of wood, the Canvas is light weight, but given its large size, it’s not compact or particularly portable. It’s best for home use rather than travel. Along with the cutout for an additional device, there’s a slot specifically for the Apple Pencil on the Canvas Creator. On the Canvas Pro, there’s a cutout for an additional iPad, another cutout for an iPhone, and a space that can hold a cup or other accessory.

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The extra space on the Canvas Pro is the main difference between the two lap desks – it’s a good bit larger than the Canvas Creator. iSkelter is selling its Canvas Smart Desks for $68 on its website, but four MacRumors readers can win one through our giveaway, with the option to choose either the smaller Canvas Creator with Apple Pencil cutout or the larger Canvas Pro with extra flat space.

To enter to win, use the Rafflecopter widget below and enter an email address. Email addresses will be used solely for contact purposes to reach the winner and send the prize.

You can earn additional entries by subscribing to our weekly newsletter, subscribing to our YouTube channel, following us on Twitter, or visiting the MacRumors Facebook page. Due to the complexities of international laws regarding giveaways, only U.S. residents who are 18 years of age or older are eligible to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveawayhttps://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.jsThe contest will run from today (December 18) at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time through 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time on December 25. The winners will be chosen randomly on December 25 and will be contacted by email. The winners have 48 hours to respond and provide a shipping address before new winners are chosen. The prizes will be shipped to the winners for free.

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18
Dec

How to Use the App Store on Apple TV


The fourth-generation Apple TV has a lot of new features, one of them being the addition of the Apple TV App Store. On the surface, the App Store on Apple TV seems similar to that of the iOS or OS X version. There are, however, some aspects of the tvOS App Store that are are a little different and might need some explaining.

For example, some apps, like Lumino City, are available on iOS and Apple TV, while others such as Beat Sports are only available on Apple TV, and can therefore be a little harder to find. Apple has gradually been adding features such as categories to the Apple TV App Store, so things are definitely still a work in progress. We’ve got a few tips on how to navigate the App Store, and maybe even discover new apps worth downloading.

App Discovery

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Probably the most frustrating aspect of the Apple TV App Store is finding cool new content. Since the Apple TV’s debuted, Apple has added Top Charts and Categories, which have greatly improved our ability to discover content.

Top Charts shows the top 50 – 75 (or so) paid, free, and grossing apps. Currently there is no way to filter the lists by category. However, with more content being added daily, it is likely that Apple will at some point add category filter options so we can search for, say, Top Paid Games or Top Free Entertainment apps.

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When you visit the Categories section, you’ll be able to select from a few major classifications, like Games, Education, Entertainment, Sports, and more. Within a category, you’ll see a list of spotlighted apps, like “What to Play” or “What to Watch,” plus a few more lists. The category sections are somewhat limited right now.

One glaring omission from Apple’s app discovery mechanic is the “Customers Also Bought” section. Hopefully, Apple will implement this in a future update, when more content becomes available.

Read more »

18
Dec

Facebook accuses bug hunter of unethical behavior


A security researcher who uncovered a major Instagram hole has gotten into a tiff with Facebook and opened up a can of worms about the boundaries of “bug bounty” programs. Wesley Wineberg is a well-known bug hunter, having received $24,000 from Microsoft for stopping a nasty Outlook worm. He then turned to Instagram (via Facebook’s bug bounty program), after receiving a tip about a potential vulnerability on an exposed Amazon server. After confirming the bug, he decided to dig a bit deeper, and that’s where things went wrong.

Wineberg eventually struck gold via a hole that could allow hackers to run code remotely, and submitted a ticket to the bug bounty team. Probing further, he managed to crack some weak employee passwords, including “changeme” and “instagram,” and submitted another report. Using that info, he obtained a key that allowed him to access server files.

To demonstrate the extent of the vulnerability, he downloaded several “buckets” of non-user data from Instagram’s Amazon servers. The data, he discovered, gave him access to source code and secret authentication codes — the so-called keys to the kingdom. “To say that I had gained access to basically all of Instagram’s secret key material would probably be a fair statement,” he said in a blog post. Furthermore, he told Forbes he had access to the servers for over a month before the bug was patched. “My concern is that someone else has gained access to [the data]. What are the chances someone else has found this?”

To say that I had gained access to basically all of Instagram’s secret key material would probably be a fair statement

Having paid Wineberg $2,500 for discovering the earlier bug, Facebook was far from grateful for the escalation, however. It declined to pay him for the later bug submissions, saying he had violated the terms of its bug bounty program. In a Facebook post, CSO Alex Stamos wrote that, “intentional exfiltration of data is not authorized by our bug bounty program, is not useful in understanding and addressing the core issue, and was not ethical behavior by Wes.” (Facebook added that “this bug has been fixed, the affected keys have been rotated, and we have no evidence that Wes or anybody else accessed any user data.”)

Stamos went on to accuse Wineberg of being ungrateful for the initial reward, expressed surprise that he planned to write about it, and most severely, contacted his employer, Synack. “It was reasonable to believe that Wes was operating on behalf Synack … [because] he has interacted with us using a synack.com email address and he has written blog posts that are used by Synack for marketing purposes,” Stamos said. (Wineberg says all his correspondence with Facebook was via his personal email until after Facebook contacted Synack.)

We couldn’t allow Wes to set a precedent that anybody can exfiltrate unnecessary amounts of data and call it a part of legitimate bug research.

According to Stamos’ article, he told Synack’s CEO that “we couldn’t allow Wes to set a precedent that anybody can exfiltrate unnecessary amounts of data and call it a part of legitimate bug research, and that I wanted to keep this out of the hands of the lawyers on both sides.” He added that he didn’t threaten legal action or ask for Wineberg to be fired, but “I did say that Wes’s behavior reflected poorly on him and Synack.”

For his part, Wineberg said that he was acting on his own behalf and that Synack, which employs him on a contract-only basis, had approved his private bug bounty work. He believed that Facebook’s terms-of-service for its white hat bounty program didn’t specifically exclude his actions, and that some companies, like Tumblr, are more likely to pay for bugs if researchers dig deeper to show “impact.” On the other hand, Microsoft, for one, doesn’t want companies to move beyond the basic proof-of-concept, but spells that out clearly in its rules.

In his blog, Wineberg provided a transcript of his email conversations with Facebook, which differ from Facebook’s account — he asked for permission to write about the bugs and didn’t complain about the payout, for instance. He added that “without contacting me at all, Facebook had gone directly for my employer … if the company was not as understanding of security research, I could have easily lost my job over this.” While he agreed that Facebook didn’t threaten legal action directly, he called Facebook’s mention of lawyers “intimidation.”

Sportsfile (Web Summit)Facebook CSO Alex Stamos at Web Summit

Facebook’s Stamos — who has a sterling reputation as a pioneer in the security community — says he’s “proud that we run one of the most successful bug bounty programs” and that Facebook has paid out over $4.3 million so far. According to Forbes, he previously tweeted that “I will never spend budget on a security vendor who threatens researchers.” He admitted that “I don’t think we triaged the reports on this issue quickly enough,” and said “we will also look at making our policies more explicit and will be working to make sure we are clearer about what we consider ethical behavior.”

Many Reddit commenters said that Wineberg overstepped his bounds, since weak employee passwords are not code bugs and a lack of clear rules doesn’t give researchers carte blanche to hack sites. Furthermore, many security researchers believe that actually dumping data, even if it’s not sensitive user data, is a huge no-no.

However, others think that Wineberg was right to highlight the potential severity of the hole and that Stamos’ response was overly harsh. AVG security specialist Tony Anscombe told Engadget that his company also runs a bug bounty program with similar rules to Facebook. “If somebody came to us and said, ‘I found something outside the scope of [your rules],’ would we get upset? As long as they’ve done it in a responsible fashion, by disclosing it to us and not publishing the vulnerability, then of course we would talk to them. And I’d like to think we’d be friendly with them.” He added that the bounty programs are there for a reason. “They’re there to protect end-users.”

Via: Forbes

Source: Wesley Wineberg, Alex Stamos (Facebook)

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