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24
Jun

Lexus LC 500: Goodwood 2016 sees the concept become reality (gallery)


After Lexus revealed its LF-LC concept it knew it was onto a winner and has since turned it into reality with the LC 500. That car is now being put through its paces, taking on the competition at the Goodwood Festival of Speed 2016.

The Lexus LF-LC dropped jaws in 2012 and now the LC 500 has arrived for 2017, packing in a hefty 467hp from its 5.0-litre V8 engine. It looks stunning with that aggressive grille, swooping body lines and piercing lights. All that should result in a well-balanced machine that handles like a real sports car should.

The rear-wheel drive machine has a priority on its weight distribution to create a low centre of gravity, combined with aluminium, carbon fibre and composite build materials. It’s not only well balanced, but light in the right places, which should make for an impressive drive.

At Goodwood that hill climb is more about the power, showing off the 467hp and 389lb-ft torque in the 10-speed automatic. With a 0-60mph time of 4.5 seconds it’ll be right up there with the competition.

Despite sporty power and handling the interior is luxurious. Swathed in leather and tech you can see where the concept designs have found their way from fantasy to reality. Lexus was very cagey about letting anyone take photos inside the car so you’ll have to forgive the gonzo shot at the back of the gallery.

The Lexus LC 500 will be available to buy later in the year, but take a look through our gallery. We’ll be booking an appointment with this beast as soon as we can.

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24
Jun

Netflix finally considering downloads for offline viewing


A couple of years ago, Netflix told Pocket-lint that offline viewing was very unlikely to ever happen. Licensing of shows and movies was one reason given.

Since then, its major rival Amazon Instant Video added offline viewing for some of its content, for Amazon Prime members to download to a mobile device and watch on the go.

Other services, such as DisneyLife and Sky Go/Sky Q in the UK and Comcast in the States offer similar incentives.

That its rivals offer the option seems to have changed Netflix’s mind.

The chief operating officer of mobile video software company Penthera, Dan Taitz, told communications website LightReading that Netflix is working a feature to allow subscribers to download certain shows.

“We know from our sources within the industry that Netflix is going to launch this product,” he said. “My expectation is that by the end of the year Netflix will be launching download-to-go as an option for their customers.”

READ: Dredd TV show for Netflix, Amazon or HBO: “Exciting stuff happening in the background”

Netflix’s response was noncommittal: “While our focus remains on delivering a great streaming experience, we are always exploring ways to make the service better. We don’t have anything to add at this time,” said a company spokeswoman.

That’s a far cry from the company’s previous quoted stance: “”[Offline viewing is] very unlikely,” said Joris Evers in 2014, when he was Netflix’s director of global communications.

24
Jun

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio: Alfa’s super saloon return (gallery)


Alfa Romeo has chosen the Goodwood Festival of Speed 2016 to make the UK debut of its new range topper, the Giulia Quadrifoglio.

Alfa is positioning the 2017 Giulia as its powerhouse, and rightly so. The top-end beast packs in a turbo-charged 2.9-litre V6 that outputs a hefty 510hp and 600Nm torque to the rear wheels. Double wishbone suspension system, torque vectoring and aluminium composite materials should make for decent handling too.

Outside the car features high-spoke 19-inch wheels, five door ease of access and decidedly classy yet sedate lines. There’s no spoiler, there aren’t any body kit lines, this is understated for power in a classy disguise, but very much the return of the Alfa in saloon form.

Inside the car is swathed in leather and wood grain inserts. A click wheel control in the centre console plus myriad buttons on the wheel make for what Alfa calls its “human-machine interface”.

The car features an 8.8-inch Connect 3D Nav infotainment system with voice activation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It also has a 3.5-inch or 7-inch screen behind the wheel for even more at-a-glance information. There’s a Harman Kardon 12-channel, 900W system with 14 speakers which should make for an immersive soundscape too.

The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio will be available to buy from £59,000 and comes in varying trim levels including a more affordable 2.2-litre diesel variant.

24
Jun

Aston Martin Vantage GT12 Roadster: Most extreme open-top Aston yet (gallery)


Aston Martin has just taken the wraps off its Vantage GT12 Roadster that not only looks powerful, but should take the top-spot as the company’s most extreme open-top yet. The bad news is, there’s only one.

The Vantage GT12 Roadster features a hefty 592hp V12 engine under that track-worthy frame. You can see from the bonnet inlets there’s plenty of air needed to feed that 6.0-litre beast.

The car comes from “Q by Aston Martin” based on the Vantage GT12 Coupe. That means it’s a special build made based on a single customer’s requests. This is the first time this customisation group has gone beyond simply offering personalised colours and trim combinations for customers.

It features magnesium inlet manifolds, lightweight magnesium torque tube, full titanium exhaust system, carbon fibre body panels and a specialised suspension setup.

“The GT12 Roadster is the first project to combine all of those skill sets in one magnificent car. In just nine-months we took a customer’s dream and realised it, with a fully-formed, exactingly engineered and fully road-legal one-off. That is the essence of the Q by Aston Martin service,” said David King, vice president and chief special operations officer.

Andy Palmer, company president and CEO, said: “Not just because it’s sensational to look at, but because it vividly demonstrates the expanded capabilities of Q by Aston Martin. By incorporating the exceptional engineering capabilities of Aston Martin Advanced Operations within the Q by Aston Martin bespoke commissioning service we have a truly formidable creative team.”

And a truly formidable car, too.

24
Jun

Audi piloted driving: A real-world glimpse into the future of self-driving cars


We’re sat behind the wheel of “Jack” – a modified Audi A7 concept, adapted for the full Audi piloted driving experience (the company’s fancy name for self-driving cars, essentially) – zipping down the Autobahn in Germany at 130kmph.

Although we’re not too fussed about the origins of his name at this point in time, because our hands are off the wheel and feet fully off the pedals. We might well be behind the wheel, but the car – sorry, Jack – is the one actually driving us down the highway.

It all starts with the satnav route set on Jack’s main 8.3-inch dash display, with both our driver’s cockpit display and the dedicated central status indicator window beneath begin the distance countdown to when piloted driving will become available. Right now it’s only available on highways/motorways/autobahn because the parameters for such road conditions are more limited and therefore controllable. Road lines are abundant and clear, as are road signs, lights and so forth.

The countdown reaches zero and a voice alerts us that piloted driving is available. So we press-and-hold the two glowing steering-wheel icon buttons on the wheel itself and set things into motion. A sweeping light, tucked under the base of the windscreen, illuminates turquoise and slides from left to right, filling the full distance of the screen; the steering wheel automatically retracts itself away from our body.

Some would say it’s frightening. Others incredible. Perhaps both. We’re in the second camp, as we never felt remotely out of touch with the car. Piloted driving is a very smooth experience; there’s no jolting about or risky manoeuvres – the likes of which we would probably make ourselves. That’s the crux of it: Jack speeds up (never exceeding the limit), slows down if cars are in front, merges lanes, pulls in when someone approaches us from behind at 200kmph, and is every bit the gentleman chauffeur.

Audi piloted driving: When will it be available?

There’s been so much talk about self-driving cars that the idea of it seems far-fetched; like an imaginary concept of silly-looking Google cars and computer-generated Apple illustrations. But that’s what is actually further from reality: indeed, from what Audi has shown us with piloted driving, full autonomy is already highly functional – it’s just a case of assembling the many stepping-stone features and safety tests on its path to completion. Well, ignoring the many and variable legal standpoints for the time being.

Pocket-lint

Such stepping-stones are already well in the pipeline. Many of Audi’s imminent “Assist” features – autonomous safety and control elements, such as braking in traffic jams and self-parking – will be in the new Audi A8, due out in 2017. That will then progress with motorway pilot (self-explanatory), parking garage pilot (you guessed it: the car will park itself in the garage, you needn’t even be behind the wheel if space is tight) and city pilot (which will take on board the huge number of variables in busy city road situations) in the years that follow to full piloted driving.

This supposed far-fetched futurism must be why Audi has softened its typically Germanic numbering convention of its cars with actual names, such as Jack here. It’s humanising, the basis of trust. He is not the first, though, as Klaus Verweyen, head of pre-development piloted driving, explains: when working on a car that is learning and adapting it’s hard to always think about it like a machine; the names, the first one was Shelly, are based on famous racing drivers, keeping in check with the company’s automotive agenda.

Not that you’ll be going into the store to buy “Dave” or “Sheila”. The piloted driving experience will be an optional extra, and potentially cost a fair packet too. After all, it uses five cameras, two lidar (laser) and six radar sensors to gauge the car’s surroundings. Many of these sensors, however, are already integrated and available for other Audi Assist features in the here and now, such as lane detect and surround cameras for 3D parking assist, so the company is well set to adapt their presence for future concepts delivery.

Pocket-lint

Audi piloted driving: Is it safe?

What’s particularly neat about Audi’s implementation is how consumer-ready it all feels. If the system detects something it’s not sure about – on our trip there was a side-parked highway vehicle with temporary speed reduction sign – it will hand control back. But not suddenly: it alerts us, vocally, the windscreen light morphing through orange to red to indicate imminent control takeover is required. The steering wheel comes forward, we’re back at the wheel proper, now in full control. The lights, words and visuals all tell us this.

Audi is keen to make the point that the driver is always the failsafe in the piloted driving experience, though. Full control can be taken immediately if it’s required too: for test purposes we interrupt the system with a touch of the brakes and we’re immediately back at the controls (using the wheel does the very same).

Pocket-lint

Audi piloted driving: What about other autonomous driving plans?

Now, it’s not the first time we’ve seen a so-called driverless car in action. Toyota took us on a trip down a Japanese highway in 2015, in its adapted Mobility Teammate Concept Lexus GS 450h. And, of course, there’s Tesla Autopilot too, which is available in its cars right now – but it’s not quite as heavyweight in terms of actually driving the car, it’s more hyper cruise control.

READ: Driverless cars are reality: Toyota’s autonomous car takes us for a drive

It’s the delivery that’s particularly standout in the Audi. It’s not fussy: it doesn’t dwell on telling you where the car is in relation to others, it just drives smoothly and lets you sit back. This is Jack in control. And while that may sound a bit “2001” in 2016, we’re totally on board and excited by how this technology can and will revolutionise road safety, economy and comfort in the future.

24
Jun

‘Halo 5: Guardians’ is getting Warzone Firefight this July


With the Halo Wars 2 beta freshly ended, Halo fans are likely looking for something solid to sink their teeth into. Halo 5: Guardians developer 343 Industries has come forward with exactly that: The big Warzone Firefight update, which launches on July 29th. Get ready to dust off those Needlers.

Warzone Firefight is a cooperative game mode that hearkens back to the Firefight mode originally seen in Halo 3: ODST and Halo: Reach, where each round the opponents get a little tougher as you stave them off. Alongside a few new bosses and vehicles like the UNSC VTOL and AV-49 Wasp, there are new maps, REQs items, and a new Forge level to build levels upon.

In a bid to keep as many players interested as possible, 343 Industries is also making Halo 5: Guardians entirely free as well from June 29th through July 5th for all Xbox Live Gold members. If you want to purchase it and make it your own, it’s also going to be 50% off during that time too. You might want to pick it up and keep it as the original Halo 5: Guardians campaign is also getting a new Score Attack campaign where you can play with others via online co-op or go solo.

Take a look at the Warzone Firefight beta in action below.

Source: Xbox Wire

24
Jun

DARPA’s ‘Virtual Eye’ lets soldiers see around obstacles


Intel’s virtual FreeD replay tech used in the NBA and other sports is cool, but it requires a lot of cameras and GPU horsepower. DARPA, the US military’s science fiction arm, thinks the same technology could give soldiers and rescuers better situational awareness. Since there’s no way personnel can lug all those computers and cameras into a battle or disaster, it worked with NVIDIA to create Virtual Eye. The system fuses two images into a live synthetic 3D scene using just a powerful laptop and a pair of cameras.

First responders could send a pair of camera-equipped drones or robots into a burning or unstable building, place them in separate locations, and let the software take over. Running on a laptop with a dual NVIDIA K20 GPUs, it fuses the images into a live virtual scene, using extrapolation to fill in the missing pixels. While the images aren’t as pretty as Intel’s FreeD replays, users get a continuous video feed that they can rotate around in real time, unlike the still images from the replay tech.

The resulting synthetic view would help personnel find someone trapped in a fire by looking around objects, or even through them, as shown above. Soldiers could also peer over and around obstacles to spot enemies or booby traps. They could then create a plan for a rescue or incursion with better information than from, say, a single camera.

The researchers also think that Virtual Eye tech could be used for sports, but not just in replays. By adding support for additional cameras, networks could do 3D broadcasting in real time, letting you control exactly what you’re watching. That would give you something else to do with that pricey VR headset.

Source: NVIDIA

24
Jun

The best tech and apps for your home office


By The Wirecutter Staff

This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a buyer’s guide to the best technology. Read the full article here.

You don’t need the thinnest, lightest, or most elegantly designed items for your home office. You want reliable, comfortable, efficient tools—but it doesn’t hurt if they look nice, too. That’s why a team of three experienced remote workers spent more than 150 hours researching and testing new gear and apps, and picking the most office-friendly items from The Wirecutter’s guides, to give you a selection of tools that we’re sure will earn a place in your workspace.

Home-office laptop

The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display offers the best balance of power and portability. Photo: Kevin Purdy

For most home-office users, we recommend the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display. It offers the best balance of power and portability for a range of work, plus it has a fantastic screen, keyboard, and trackpad. We like the 13-inch model with an Intel Core i5 processor and 8 GB of RAM for most people, but if you regularly work with complex spreadsheets, compile large blocks of code, or edit photos and video, you may want to step up to 16 GB of RAM.

Its superior specs will keep the Pro relevant and working well for longer than the more portable MacBook Air; it also offers a higher-resolution screen and a Force Touch trackpad. Because the Pro has an HDMI port and two Thunderbolt ports, you can connect an external display and still have another left for connecting a Thunderbolt dock, storage devices, or other peripherals. At 3½ pounds, the Pro is still portable enough for occasional business trips.

In addition to its fantastic hardware, the MacBook Pro with Retina Display runs Apple’s stable, easy-to-use, bloat-free OS X. And if you ever have a problem, AppleCare plans and Apple’s Genius Bar Support are peerless in their quality.

Business laptop

Lenovo ThinkPad laptops are the quintessential business notebooks, thanks to their rock-solid construction, easy serviceability, and excellent, deep-throw keyboards. Photo: Marshall Troy

Most people, even actual businesspeople, don’t need a “business laptop” anymore—any ultrabook (such as the MacBook Air or Dell XPS 13) will do just fine for most office work. But if you need a laptop that will still be kicking in five years despite knocks, bumps, and spills, and you’re willing to pay a little extra, you should get the Lenovo ThinkPad T460, specifically the configuration with a 1080p screen, a backlit keyboard, 16 GB of RAM, and a 512GB solid-state drive.

After more than 30 hours of research and testing, we found that the ThinkPad T460 is fast and durable (with a military-specification certification for ruggedness) and still reasonably light, thanks to its magnesium-alloy body. It has dedicated buttons for the TrackPoint and one of the best keyboards of any laptop, period. It even has batteries you can swap in and out while the system remains running. It’s the best option for anyone who needs more ruggedness and more ports than an ultrabook can offer.

27-inch monitor

The Dell UltraSharp U2715H has a fantastic high-resolution display and a great combination of connections, adjustability, and USB 3.0 support. Photo: Kevin Purdy

The Dell UltraSharp U2715H is the best large monitor for your home office. It has a beautiful 27-inch IPS display and ultrathin side bezels that make the screen look even larger. Its stand is among the most adjustable we’ve found, which is crucial for a monitor you’re going to spend hundreds (or even thousands) of hours looking at every year. It can tilt, swivel, and easily rotate from landscape to panel mode.

The 2560×1440 display is large enough to put two windows side by side, but not so high-resolution that you run into weird scaling issues. Its factory-calibrated display is near-perfect, as we discovered when we tested it with a $1,200 X-Rite i1Pro 2 spectrophotometer and a $170 Spyder4 Pro colorimeter. No other 27-inch monitor we tested looked as good.

The U2715H has two HDMI 1.4 connections, one Mini DisplayPort 1.2 connection, and two standard DisplayPort 1.2 connections—one for going from your PC to your monitor, and the other for hooking up a second monitor to the first. Many monitors have the DisplayPort input; not as many have the output. You also get an audio jack for connecting your own set of speakers or headphones to the monitor (if your computer can pass audio signals over HDMI or DisplayPort), as well as five USB 3.0 ports—including one specialized for quick-charging devices (up to 1.5 amps).

Wireless mouse and Bluetooth keyboard

The Logitech MX Master and the Bluetooth Easy-Switch Keyboard are pricey, but the investment is worthwhile for people who spend all day using these devices. Photo: Kevin Purdy

After spending more than 100 hours testing 28 mice and 21 Bluetooth keyboards over the past year, we found that the Logitech MX Master is the best wireless mouse for home office professionals, and that Logitech’s Bluetooth Easy-Switch Keyboard (for Mac or Windows) is the best Bluetooth keyboard. The MX Master has five programmable buttons, a second (programmable) scroll wheel for your thumb, and a rechargeable battery, plus it can pair with up to three Bluetooth devices at the same time. It’s comfortable, too.

Logitech’s Bluetooth Easy-Switch Keyboards have long been the gold standard for Bluetooth keyboards because of their smooth, well-spaced keys, their adjustable key backlighting, their platform-specific layouts for Mac and Windows, and their ability to switch instantly between multiple paired devices. Both the Logitech MX Master and the Bluetooth Easy-Switch Keyboard are more expensive than the other mice and Bluetooth keyboards we recommend, but we think the investment is worthwhile for people who spend all day using these devices.

Portable document scanner

The Fujitsu is speedy, accurate, and portable, with easy-to-use software. Photo: Amadou Diallo

Don’t let the “portable” label fool you: The Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i is the best tool for getting a large amount of scanning done at your desk, keeping your space tidy and your documents organized. After more than 70 hours of research and hands-on testing, the S1300i delivered the best combination of accuracy, speed, and portability, and it came with the easiest-to-use software of any we tested. It can load as many as 20 sheets of regular laser paper and scan them, duplexing if needed. And it’s small and capable of drawing power from a single USB port, so it’s great for carrying on business trips or simply moving to another room.

Printer

Because the Brother Hl-L2340DW is a laser printer, it’s low-drama compared with any inkjet.

We’ve spent more than 200 hours researching and testing printers over the past few years, and of the 100 cheap printers we’ve come across, the Brother HL-L2340DW (or—if it’s cheaper—the HL-L2360DW, which adds an Ethernet port but is otherwise nearly identical) is the safest bet for most home offices.

For home offices where printing is mostly limited to mailing labels, packing slips, and the occasional document, the dirt-cheap cost of ownership is the best thing about the HL-L2340DW. Each page costs just 2.7 cents’ worth of toner and drum wear, less than with any other printer out there. The HL-L2340DW also provides automatic two-sided printing, and supports mobile printing standards like AirPrint and Google Cloud Print, as well as printing over Wi-Fi (though in a small office connecting to the printer via USB is probably easier).

Because it’s a laser printer, the Brother is relatively low-drama. Toner cartridges have a high capacity, which reduces the chance that you’ll find yourself out of toner when you really, really need to print. Laser printers don’t need to run lengthy cleaning cycles, either. You give up color printing with a cheap laser printer, but that’s more trouble than it’s worth at this price.

Webcam and Web-meeting app

The Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920 has the best call quality for frequent video meetings. Photo: Kimber Streams

If you need a webcam, we recommend the Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920, our choice after we researched 15 different webcams and tested two head-to-head in Skype calls, Google Hangouts, and Zoom meetings. It has great image quality and helpful software, and reviewers universally love it. The C920 sits on top of your laptop screen or monitor and braces itself against the back of the screen, or you can mount it on a tripod.

The best Web-meeting software for people who work from home and get to select their own is Zoom, which works on Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Android, and BlackBerry. Zoom’s free Basic plan contains enough features and free connection time to cover most teams’ meeting needs, and it works across the vast majority of devices. Among the 20 services and plans we considered, it’s the fastest, most painless route between “We need to have a meeting” and being in that meeting.

Time-tracking and invoicing apps

Harvest conveniently tracks time, and FreshBooks provides robust, multiplatform tools for billing, payment tracking, and expenses.

If you don’t have a good time-tracking or invoice-generating service already set up, the easiest services to try out are Harvest and FreshBooks. If you’re a one-person shop and need time tracking, project management, and simple create-and-send invoices, we recommend Harvest. If you generate trickier invoices, have many expenses, and need to closely track payments from different clients, FreshBooks will help you get paid. Both are easier to set up for most people than the 40 other invoicing and tracking services our experienced freelancers considered.

USB 3.0 docking station

Anker’s Dual Display Universal Docking Station offers the best selection of ports plus fast-charging USB. Photo: Kimber Streams

We researched 30 docking station models, tested six top contenders for more than five hours, and found that Anker’s Dual Display Universal Docking Station is the best for most home offices. In a field of very similar products, Anker’s dock offers the best combination of high-speed drive transfer, fast-charging USB ports, and 4K video support at the lowest price.

Anker’s dock has two USB 3.0 ports and an additional four USB 2.0 ports. In our tests, the USB 3.0 ports put out 0.5 A (enough for some small accessories such as Bluetooth headsets), and the USB 2.0 ports were more impressive at 1.5 A. That’s still a slower rate than what many smartphones and tablets support, but it isn’t bad. And 4K video support from both the HDMI and DVI connectors worked without issue.

Router and modem

The AC1750 Netgear R6400 is faster than the TP-Link Archer C7, and the ARRIS SurfBoard SB6141 supports most of the fastest Internet packages. Photo: Kevin Purdy

The router and modem we recommend for home office users are the the Netgear AC1750 R6400 and the Arris SURFboard SB6141 DOCSIS 3.0, respectively. The Netgear AC1750 R6400 was faster at most tests than the router we recommend for most people—40 percent faster at longer distances under ideal conditions—and it offers power features usually found in much more expensive routers, such as a built-in VPN server to provide a secure connection to your network while you’re on the road, and a QoS feature to prioritize certain apps’ traffic. Meanwhile, the Arris SURFboard SB6141 is more than fast enough for the Internet plans most people have. Though it’s compatible with most of the fastest Internet packages from seven of the eight major ISPs, you should confirm that it works with your Internet plan before you buy it; if it doesn’t, you’ll want to buy one of the cable modems your provider recommends instead.

This guide may have been updated by The Wirecutter. To see the current recommendation, please go here.

24
Jun

Pluto’s moon Charon features a massive, deep chasm


While humans are still a long way away from going canyoneering on the moons of Pluto, we can at least start scoping out the terrain. In images shot last summer by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, we can see one immense and interesting feature of Charon: a deep canyon dubbed the Argo Chasma that slices through one hemisphere of Pluto’s largest satellite.

Thanks to the viewing angle New Horizons got on its closest approach to Charon last July, scientists were able to estimate the depth of the Argo Chasma. In sections, the canyon is believed to be about 5.5 miles (or 9 kilometers) deep with sheer cliff faces several miles tall. Without a complete picture of the canyon, scientists believe Argo is about 430 miles (700 km) long. For reference: Earth’s Grand Canyon is about 280 miles (450 km) long and a mile deep. Argo’s massive scale means it also beats the three-mile-high cliffs at Verona Rupes on Uranus’ moon Miranda for the tallest (known) cliff face in the solar system.

Until extra-planetary rock climbing becomes a reality, however, Earthbound humans hoping to explore Argo will have to be content to don our cardboard VR headsets and gaze up at Charon from Pluto’s virtual surface.

24
Jun

Tune in to watch President Obama and Mark Zuckerberg live at 1:45 PM ET


This afternoon, President Obama will meet with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and a panel of other young entrepreneurs at the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Summit on Stanford’s campus in Palo Alto. While the discussion is scheduled to focus on business, Zuckerberg has recently been celebrating the power of live video to bring “more openness to the political process.” Earlier this week, Facebook Live and its competitor Periscope proved invaluable for bringing a sit-in on the House floor to millions of people.

The stream goes live at 1:45 PM ET. And you can watch via WhiteHouse.gov or the embedded YouTube stream below.

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