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Posts tagged ‘Surface’

9
Nov

It sounds like Microsoft has shelved its Xbox streaming stick


Prior to Microsoft’s keynote at E3 this year, a raft of rumors were swirling about. Microsoft’s answer to the PlayStation 4 Pro (which we now know as Project Scorpio) and the Xbox One S garnered most of the attention, but loose lips also suggested an Xbox-branded streaming dongle was in the works as well. The Chromecast-like device would’ve streamed Windows 10 apps and “light Universal Windows Platform” games in addition to content from an Xbox One. It would cost $99 according to Windows Central. Not anymore, however.

“Project Hobart” (apparently the cool sounding codenames are reserved for gaming hardware), was pushed under the rug ahead of E3 to focus on the Xbox One S and revealing next year’s high-end Xbox One, Project Scorpio. As WC tells it, Microsoft was going to order 300,000 units of the device and it’d release shortly after E3. Furthermore, Microsoft was apparently forced to prematurely reveal Scorpio after Sony spilled its guts to the Financial Times about PlayStation 4 Pro, just ahead of gaming’s grand gala.

That last bit makes a lot of sense considering Microsoft has said close to nothing about the console in terms of real information, and chose to rattle off system specs and video of a motherboard instead of a console and games in June.

But this isn’t all. The company apparently scrapped a few non-Xbox devices ahead of last month’s Surface Studio event as well, according to The Verge. CEO Satya Nadella reportedly cancelled a Surface Mini tablet at the last minute, in addition to an Amazon Echo-like device that would feature the Cortana digital assistant.

Again, these are all reports with no official confirmation from Microsoft, so there’s still the chance that we could see any of the aforementioned devices at some point in the future.

Via: The Verge

Source: Windows Central

29
Oct

What creatives think of the Microsoft Surface Studio


Microsoft’s Surface Studio is a bold device. Ostensibly an all-in-one PC, it’s also a major play at winning more creatives over to the Windows way of life.

The bulk of the Studio is a 28-inch display, mounted on a pair of “zero gravity” hinges that allow it to act as a regular monitor or fold down into “Studio mode” for a a writing and drawing surface. In addition to 10-point multitouch, the display allows for interaction with a Surface Pen and a new accessory called the Surface Dial — a small metal puck that can be placed against the screen and rotated. The display runs at an ultra-high resolution (4,500 x 3,000) and can switch between the wide DCI-P3 color gamut and the more common sRGB with the push of a button — a useful feature allowing designers to see what their creations will look like on other devices.

Inside the base is a pretty powerful PC. The $3,000 model comes with an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, a 2GB GeForce GTX 965M GPU and a 1TB hybrid drive, while the high-end $4,200 model has a Core i7 CPU, 32GB of RAM, a 4GB GeForce GTX 980M graphics card and a 2TB drive. At those prices, with the incredibly high-spec display and the focus on Pen input, the Studio is clearly not meant for the average user. Microsoft says it’s “designed for the creative process,” pitching it as the center of your workflow. But is this what that market wants, or needs? We spoke with a number of professionals across multiple fields, from video game design to illustration, to gauge their initial reaction, and see what Microsoft needs to nail for the Studio to be a success.

Microsoft has a head start

Microsoft is in a good position coming into this gambit. The Surface series, especially the most recent Pro 4 tablet and Book laptop, has been received positively. Both work with the Surface Pen stylus, and offer a cheap, all-in solution for working away from a desk.

Several creatives we spoke to did just that. Scott Coello, a freelancer animator and director, uses Wacom tablets like the Intuos and Cintiq as his main setup, and a Surface Pro 4 “for the road.” Comfort Love and Adam Withers, co-creators of Rainbow in the Dark, The Uniques and The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing Comics, use Wacom and Yiynova tablets with displays for the bulk of their work, and a Surface Pro 4 when not at their desks. “It’s like our digital sketchbook,” said Withers. Love continued: “We use it for presentations, working on scripts and lettering our comics on the road.”

Despite the good faith in the Surface as a device, the Surface Pen itself has a mixed reputation. Hayden Scott-Baron, a game designer and freelance illustrator, recently started using his Surface Pro 4 connected to an external monitor at his desk instead of an iMac. “The Surface Pen is pretty fantastic, but definitely not as comfortable as the Wacom pens for longer sessions,” Scott-Baron explained.

Pen imperfections

Latency — the Surface Pen has higher input lag than Wacom’s high-end solutions — is “not actually a deal breaker” for Scott-Baron, but “the lack of responsiveness with light pressure is a problem.” Other designers agreed. “The pressure sensitivity could be a little better,” said Love. “It’s hard to get a perfect taper on our lines while we’re drawing sometimes.” Indeed, sensitivity and handling are big complaints with the Pen.

“Anyone coming across from Wacom’s Cintiq or Intuos — and Apple’s iPad Pro — will understand that tilt and rotate is kind of important to the feel of drawing,” said Coello. The Surface Pen just doesn’t work well at sharp angles. “I’ve always found when I hold my pen in this position on a Surface, I can’t see the cursor as it’s registered itself underneath the nib, which makes it awkward if you’re working on finer details. I always end up having to hold my pen straight up right, which doesn’t feel natural whatsoever.”

Think about it: You typically hold a pen or pencil at an angle, and that angle can be oblique, especially when shading. Other styli are more capable of handling different grips and angles. As Coello alluded to, even Apple’s Pencil does a better job, although accuracy, latency and application support are huge issues there too.

The Pencil is simplistic, but although the Surface Pen offers more features, it also suffers from a lack of support and customization. “The side button and eraser is awkward to press, and can’t be customized to behave differently in different software,” Scott-Brown explained. “I’m lucky that Clip Studio lets me use it as a color picker, but in software Photoshop you’re limited to the default behavior. The lack of customization makes me worry that the Surface Pro will never allow such tweaks, unlike Wacom’s offerings which are very flexible.”

The Wacom problem

Comparisons with Wacom came up in every conversation — that’s no surprise, given it’s the market leader. Creatives are used to a high level of sensitivity, good handling and customization options. Applications like those offered in Adobe’s Creative Suite are geared towards being controlled with only a stylus. Wacom also offers accessories like the Express Key Remote, a small controller with 17 buttons and a touch ring that can be configured to perform various tasks, which can replace keyboard shortcuts in many applications.

The Wacom Cintiq 27QHD, with Express Key Remote.

Microsoft’s answer to this is the Dial. Placed on the Studio’s screen, it activates a radial menu, allowing you quick access to things like brush and color settings that you can cycle through and select by spinning it. It can also rotate documents, and track back through changes. To the casual observer, it’s one of the most interesting accessories in years. But Scott-Baron, who uses a Pro 4 daily, wasn’t convinced. “[It’s] large and goofy and seems like it needs more controls on there. Anything that could be done with the Dial could probably be done with a UI window instead, especially if I can use multitouch while using the pen.”

Only Coello said he would definitely buy a Dial. “We’re key command junkies,” Withers explained. “Our left hands are hovering over our keyboards constantly, and we’ve rigged up our primary art programs with a lot of custom commands. Having to take our hand off the board to use this little Dial thing — for the few things it would actually be useful for — would actually take longer than just tapping the keys that do more or less the same thing.”

The Dial also doesn’t have the full weight of Adobe’s support behind it. Though it will work in apps like Photoshop, interaction is limited to zooming and other basic functions — there’s no radial menu with all of Adobe’s tools to play with. There are third-party apps that support it fully, of course — Sketchable, Metal Canvas and Drawboard are some of the heavier hitters — but without Adobe, Autodesk and other big names on board, it’s an expensive gamble at this point.

The devil is in the detail

It’s these small details where Microsoft has missed the mark. It’s been easy for creatives to accept the Pen’s shortcomings or the Surface Pro 4’s lack of power because they’re part of a secondary device chain. It’s tough to trust that same basic proposition to be the center of your workflow. Especially for $3,000.

The majority of creatives we spoke to weren’t planning on moving over to the Studio. A lack of power and upgrade paths (the Studio’s internals aren’t upgradable like on a tower PC) were deciding factors. Bret Recor, founder and Creative Director at Box Clever, said he was “definitely interested in seeing how it can help us with our design process,” and is “more concerned about Windows 10’s stability with demanding software” than latency or input lag. He is also hoping to see if Microsoft offers models with higher-performance processors.

Withers said “it looks like an excellent piece of hardware,” but he has “always been really reluctant about closed-off systems like these where upgrading and replacing parts is largely off the table. At $3,000? That’s a hard pass. It doesn’t offer nearly enough improvements over the machines we have, and even if it did, indie comic creators like us just don’t have that kind of disposable income to throw around.”

surfacedial

“If I take the long view,” Comfort said, “I can see this sort of thing getting picked up by a lot of people down the line. If you look around the digital artist landscape in five to ten years, you might have a lot more of these kinds of computers being used by a lot more people. And if somebody were looking to go from a regular tablet to something like a Cintiq, this would be a really nice alternative that’s a similar price.”

Scott-Baron, however, said Microsoft’s announcement has “pretty much killed any interest” he had in picking up a [Wacom] Cintiq. “I’m not planning to buy the Surface Studio right away, but it’s my first choice for my next desktop PC solution. I would gladly move all my games development work to the Studio, but I would never give up my Surface Pro 4.”

Olly Skillman-Wilson, a game artist working on The Signal From Tölva, uses a Wacom Intuos 4 every day for work and general computing, and says “there is certainly some appeal in the thought of being able to do 3D high polygon sculpting on a huge retina display.” However, he can’t justify the cost for “the specs of a desktop from two years ago,” as “it’s just not something that is going to be replacing the complex chain of tools that make up my very specific workflow. A 3D version of paint is not going to, and probably not trying to, replace that.”

“Indie comic creators like us just don’t have that kind of disposable income to throw around.”

Coello was on the fence. He currently has his Cintiq tablet on an Ergotron mount, which allows for similar display flexibility. “This setup is near-identical: It would slot right into my workflow,” he said. “Will definitely be buying the the Dial, but the Surface Studio? I dunno. I like the option of being able to upgrade my components if something goes wrong or it’s time to upgrade.” Nonetheless, he said it was a very interesting proposition, and that seemed to be a general consensus, at least when it comes to the idea of the Studio.

Another sentiment held by many is that it’s great to see Microsoft bringing these new ideas to the table. Wacom pulls in hundreds of millions of dollars every year. A 27-inch Wacom Cintiq costs $2,800, and it needs to be plugged into a computer at least as powerful as a Surface Studio. So, Microsoft’s $3,000 starting price doesn’t seem crazy after all.

This is Microsoft’s first attempt at a desktop, and the first time any company has tried to put this level of functionality into a single, standalone device. Put the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book next to the original Surface and Surface RT, and it’s easy to see what a difference some refinement can make. It’ll certainly be interesting to see how improved the Studio is in four years. If it really wants to own this niche market, it’ll need to produce Studios with different screen sizes, performance levels and price points. But, from initial reactions, Microsoft is off to a very good start.

28
Oct

The Engadget Podcast Ep 12: Surface Envy


Managing editor Dana Wollman and senior editor Devindra Hardawar join host Terrence O’Brien to talk about the value of the Esc key, the Nintendo Switch and the impeding Gilmore Girls resurrection. Then they’ll relive Microsoft’s big Surface event and dig in on future of Twitter… and whether or not it even has one.

The Flame Wars Leaderboard

Wins

Loses

Winning %

Mona Lalwani
3
1
.750
Christopher Trout
2
1
.666
Dana Wollman
10
6
.625
Devindra Hardawar
10
9
.526
Chris Velazco
3
3
.500
Cherlynn Low
6
7
.461
Nathan Ingraham
4
6
.400
Michael Gorman
1
2
.333

Relevant links:

  • Apple unveils a thinner MacBook Pro with an OLED ‘Touch Bar’
  • The Switch shows desperate Nintendo is the best Nintendo
  • The first official Netflix ‘Gilmore Girls’ trailer is here
  • Windows 10 ‘Creator’s Update’ arrives free of charge next spring
  • The new Microsoft Paint lets you share terrible 3D doodles
  • Microsoft passes on updating the Surface Pro
  • Microsoft’s big-screen Surface Studio is an engineering marvel
  • Twitter will fire around 350 employees in hunt for profits
  • Twitter promises ‘meaningful’ safety updates next month
  • Does anyone want to buy Twitter?
  • Twitter’s troll problem likely killed Disney’s bid

You can check out every episode on The Engadget Podcast page in audio, video and text form for the hearing impaired.

Watch on YouTube

Watch on Facebook

Subscribe on Google Play Music

Subscribe on iTunes

Subscribe on Stitcher

Subscribe on Pocket Casts

28
Oct

Microsoft Offering MacBook Owners Up to $650 Trade-In Credit Toward Surface Pro or Surface Book


Shortly after Apple’s October 2016 event, where the company debuted the new 2016 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, Microsoft launched a new promotion aiming to convert unsatisfied MacBook owners to either the Surface Book or Surface Pro 4.

Today, we are announcing a limited-time “trade up” offer to invite more people to experience Surface. If you have a Mac but want to experience the ultimate laptop with on-screen touch, Surface and Microsoft Store are here for you. Starting today, anyone in the U.S. can trade in their MacBook Pro or MacBook Air at a Microsoft Store or online for up to $650 off a Surface Book or Surface Pro.

Microsoft has also launched a website dedicated to letting users appraise their old MacBooks, listing a total of 117 different configurations of eligible MacBooks, MacBook Airs, and MacBook Pros. The range of eligible models goes back to the 2006 MacBook and MacBook Pros.

To be eligible for credit, the MacBook in question must not have a screen with any cracks or dead pixels. The housing must be intact and free of etchings, asset tags, or cracks. The computer must be able to power on and boot all the way to the desktop and all keyboard keys and functions must properly work. Additionally, Microsoft requires that users trade in the computer’s charger.

The trade-in offer is good at Microsoft Stores in the U.S. and on Microsoft’s website until November 10, 2016. The Surface Pro 4 tablet starts at $899 while the Surface Book starts at $1,499.

Microsoft yesterday announced the new Surface Book with Performance Base. The new hybrid laptop comes with an Intel Core i7 Processor that doubles performance over last year’s model and includes 16 hours of battery life. The new Surface Book goes on sale November 10 and starts at $2,399.

Related Roundup: MacBook Pro
Tags: Microsoft, Surface
Buyer’s Guide: Retina MacBook Pro (Buy Now)
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27
Oct

The Morning After: Thursday October 27th 2016


Microsoft’s big Surface showcase was aimed at creators and those of us interested in getting some new Redmond-made Windows 10 hardware. It was less about Office and more about 3D photography and, well, crazy physical “Dials” you can attach to your PC screen. Read on for a closer look at that and everything else from the past 24 hours. Remember, Apple’s big MacBook event kicks off today as well — check our liveblog here at 1 PM Eastern.

It’s gorgeous.Microsoft made its own all-in-one PC

newscreativesnewslter.jpg

The crown jewel of today’s Microsoft event was the Surface Studio, an all-in-one with a slender display and a silky-smooth hinge. That’s not to mention Microsoft’s Surface Dial, a puck that you can attach to the screen to dial through functions and shades, depending on which program you’re using. It’s going to take a lot more time and testing to say whether Microsoft’s AIO will fit with how people want to use it, but it’s looking pretty dreamy. Preorders started yesterday, priced at $2,999, with delivery expected in mid-December. Oh and here’s how it stacks up against the competition.

Ugh, that word.Microsoft’s play for Apple’s base of creatives

One clear takeaway from Microsoft’s event yesterday was its new sales pitch to creators and artists — one that the Surface Studio was a very clear part of. Before now: “Microsoft was about work. Apple was about art. Art is cool, work is not.” Microsoft wants to get cool.

Yes, Windows Phone still exists.T-Mobile accidentally leaked a new Windows 10 Phone with a VR headset

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It might not be the fanciest phone, but Alcatel’s Idol 4S comes with a companion VR headset ready for viewing a 60-day Hulu trial subscription — and future Paint 3D creations.

Time for a speaker upgradeDolby Atmos audio is coming to the Xbox One S

The Xbox One S is getting next-gen audio support to match its Ultra HD Blu-ray drive. No upgrade release date just yet, but it’s a testament to the thinking that games consoles often make better media players than standalone units. Updates and new features are always good.

Gaming has the power to humanize social issues.Video games are more important than ever

newsindienewslter.jpg

Jess Conditt reports on the many titles at IndieCade 2016 that looked to illustrate or add commentary on social issues. One game, “1979 Revolution,” will be featured as a case study in a UN-commissioned paper on conflict resolution in digital experiences.

But wait, there’s more…

  • Microsoft’s Surface event by the numbers
  • “Stranger Things” director will helm the “Uncharted” live-action movie
  • Audi switches from Le Mans to Formula E
  • Trump quashes the idea of a TV channel based around him
27
Oct

Watch Microsoft’s Surface event in 10 minutes


Microsoft had no shortage of announcements at its big Surface event. The Surface Studio all-in-one was undoubtedly the centerpiece, but the tech pioneer also unveiled a supercharged Surface Book, low-cost third-party VR headsets, the art-oriented Surface Dial accessory and a major Windows 10 update that’s focused on creators. It’s a lot to digest, we know. Thankfully, you don’t have to spend ages reading our liveblog to see what happened. We’ve recapped the choicest parts of the announcement in a 10-minute video that you can watch right here — you just have to sit back and enjoy.

27
Oct

Microsoft unveils an ergonomic keyboard for Surface fans


Surface computers (plus the Surface Dial) aren’t all that’s new at Microsoft’s fall event. The company has quietly unveiled various Surface accessories, headlined by a Surface Ergonomic Keyboard. The wireless input device is effectively a cross between the earlier Designer Bluetooth Desktop and an ergonomic keyboard — you get a more comfortable typing feel with quiet, low-profile keys. There’s even a double-cushioned Alcantara palm rest (the same material you saw in the Signature Type Cover) that promises to be gentler on your hands even as it spruces up your desk environment. A pair of AAA batteries will power it for a full year.

There’s also backlit, minimalist (i.e., non-ergonomic) Surface Keyboard for people more concerned with desk space than wrist strain, and a Surface Mouse with a metal scroll wheel. You can even get a special version of the Surface Keyboard with a fingerprint reader to help you log into Windows 10 that much faster.

All of the new add-ons will ship November 10th, and you can pre-order them today. They’re definitely not the cheapest accessories you can buy, however. The base Surface Keyboard costs $100, and it’ll take $130 to get the ergonomic version. (There’s no price for the fingerprint keyboard as I write this.) Think of it this way, though: If you want peripherals that complement a Surface PC or just want that look and feel for a third-party system, you now have the option.

Click here to catch all the latest news from Microsoft’s big Surface event.

Source: Surface (YouTube), Microsoft (PDF)

26
Oct

Microsoft built Twitch-like livestreaming into Windows 10


Broadcasting live gameplay to Twitch or Facebook isn’t easy. It means setting up special capture software and navigating a mire of complicated bandwidth settings. Microsoft is trying to fix that: The next version of Windows 10 is going to integrate game broadcasting directly into the Xbox App. The streaming experience promises not only to be easy, but also to almost eliminate the communication lag between viewers and broadcasters — but don’t expect to use it on Twitch. Microsoft’s game broadcasting tools seem to be designed specifically for Beam, the livestreaming service it acquired back in August.

If you’re not familiar, Beam was a start-up streaming service that let viewers more directly interact with a broadcaster’s game — allowing them to choose what weapon they might use next or select what weapon the player will have next. Microsoft bought the company earlier this year, and seems to be positioning it as the default streaming platform for Windows.

Starting with the Windows 10 creators update, gamers will be able to start a broadcast to Beam by pressing the Windows button and the ‘G’ key, giving them an instant streaming overlay with a preview of their stream and a community chat window. That’s great on its own, but the real selling point is Beam’s low-latency streams, which let players watch gameplay in near-realtime and gives broadcasters the ability to respond to chat messages almost instantly. Beam users are also be able to send audio commands that ask the broadcaster to pay attention to the chat window, or take a specific action in the game.

Microsoft hasn’t said if the Xbox App’s streaming tools will work with other streaming services, but it definitely seems like a simpler way to broadcast gameplay. Unfortunately, if you’re not a member of the Windows Insider program you’ll have to wait a while before trying it out — the streaming update doesn’t officially arrive until Windows 10’s Creators Update launches early next year.

Click here to catch all the latest news from Microsoft’s big Surface event.

26
Oct

Microsoft’s Surface Book i7 offers twice the graphics power


Were you worried that Microsoft would leave the Surface Book untouched during its Windows 10 event? You can set your mind at ease. Microsoft has unveiled the Surface Book i7, a refresh that focuses on pure power. The name is a giveaway as to the processor (surprise, there’s a Core i7), but you also get twice the graphics performance — the company added a second fan and otherwise redesigned the thermals to allow for faster GeForce GTX 965M video without cooking the inside. There’s also a larger battery that promises up to 16 hours of battery life in laptop mode (no word on the tablet mode yet).

The catch? Aside from the absence of major external revisions (not that this is necessarily a bad thing), this will be a pricey piece of hardware. The Surface Book i7 will cost $2,399 when it ships on November 10th. This is a flagship machine for people who want Microsoft’s definitive take on mobile computing, and are willing to pay whatever it takes to get it.

Click here to catch all the latest news from Microsoft’s big Surface event.

Source: Microsoft

26
Oct

Surface Studio vs. the competition: Beauty isn’t skin deep


Over the past few years we’ve seen Microsoft take on the world of tablets with the Surface and, for those who prefer something more on the laptop side, the Surface Pro and Surface Book. But it hasn’t truly tackled desktops until today’s announcement of the all-in-one Surface Studio. As cool as features like the zero-gravity hinge might be, the Studio will be facing off against established lines like the iMac. We’ve assembled the specs of some of the leading 27-inch machines on the market and matched them up against the 28-inch Studio to see which is worthy of sitting on your desk.

Microsoft Surface Studio
Apple iMac
HP Envy 27
Dell XPS 27
Price
$2,999 / $3,499 / $4,199
$1,799 / $1,999 / $2,299
$1,300 / $1,500 / $1,700
$1,550 / $1,650 / $1,850 / $2,300
Dimensions
25.09 x 17.27 x 1.26 inches (63.73 x 43.89 x 3.22 cm)
25.6 x 20.3 x 8 inches (65 x 51.6 x 20.3 cm)
25.7 x 19.3 x 7.95 inches (65.28 x 49.02 x 20.19 cm)
26.14 x 19.32 x 9.44 inches (66.4 x 49.22 x 24 cm)
Weight
21.07 pounds (9.56 kg)
21 pounds (9.54 kg)
24.25 pounds (11 kg)
35.3 pounds (16 kg)
OS
Windows 10
OS X Sierra
Windows 10
Windows 10
Display
28-inch PixelSense touch
27-inch Retina 5K
27-inch LED touch or non-touch
27-inch IPS LED touch
Resolution
4,500 x 3,000 (192 ppi)
5,120 x 2,880 (218 ppi)
2,560 x 1,440 (109 ppi)
2,560 x 1,440 (109 ppi)
Processor
Intel Core i5 / Core i7
Intel Core i5 (3.2 / 3.3 GHz)
Intel Core i5 (2.2 Ghz) / Core i7 (2.8 Ghz)
Intel Core i5 (3.4 GHz) / Intel Core i7 (4 GHz)
Memory
8 / 16 / 32GB
8GB
8 / 12 / 16GB
8GB
Graphics
NVIDIA GTX 965M / 980M
AMD Radeon R9 M380 / M390 / M395
Integrated / GeForce GTX 950
Intel HD Graphics / NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M
Storage
1 / 2TB hybrid drive
1TB HDD (7200 rpm) / 1TB Fusion Drive / 2TB Fusion Drive
1TB (5400 / 7200 rpm)
1TB (7200 rpm)
Ports
USB 3.0 (x3), Mini Displayport, SD card reader
USB 3.0 (x4), Thunderbolt 2 (x2), gigabit ethernet, SDXC card reader
USB 3.0 (x4), gigabit ethernet, 3-in-1 card reader
USB 3.0 (x6), HDMI, gigabit ethernet, 8-in-1 card reader
Wireless
802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0
802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0
802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2
802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0

* Specs listed are standard configurations and don’t include upgrade options available at checkout. Width dimensions include the base.

Click here to catch all the latest news from Microsoft’s big Surface event.

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