Technology Has Made It More Impossible To Commit A Crime

The Jussie Smollett situation, which increasingly seems like it’s becoming a hoax, reminds me of just how technology has come. With surveillance cameras everywhere you go, it’s not a good time to break in someone’s car, steal someone’s purse, or just randomly beat up a person for no reason. (Not that I’m saying you are thinking of doing one of these things.)

In early 2006, a laptop of mine was stolen from the Fry’s Electronics parking lot in Manhattan Beach, CA. Yes, I accidentally left my car unlocked (something I’ve never done again). The Police weren’t able to determine the suspect since Fry’s didn’t have any surveillance cams in their parking lot. One year later, they did. And you can bet that barely anybody gets away with stealing in their parking lot anymore.

But surveillance cameras aren’t the only form of technology to help deter crime.

Drones

As this article from Timothy Roafa notes, drones can help patrol areas in ways that people never had imagined. They can capture location and video information of crimes as they occur. This can help provide evidence in future court proceedings. Of course, many people think that drones is going too far by creating a police state. However, there is no doubt that the use of drones by law enforcement has not only helped save lives, but it has brought many criminals to justice as well.

Rapid Identification Systems

Click to play in YouTube

An article from Purdue University points out how the rise of big data has led to identification systems that can allow police officers to quickly see someone’s criminal history through a basic search. And if someone is pulled over while driving without a license, they can still be identified instantly through an in-car computer search.

The rise of big data has also led to rapid identification systems, which allow police officers to quickly see the criminal history of individuals through a basic search. People pulled over while driving without a license can still be identified instantly through an in-car computer search.

IP Tracking and Beyond

You want to threaten someone anonymously on your computer? Well, there’s no such thing as “anonymous” anymore. The police have the best IP trackers, can track where your computer was located when you made the threat (even going past software that disguises your IP), and track you down.

The truth is that, for the most part, you can post what you want when you want. The police aren’t going to track you down for your opinion on Roger Stone. But once your opinions turn into legit threats, you are the one that can end up being in prison.

Conclusion

Remember the novel 1984 by George Orwell? Many people say that novel is becoming a reality with police being able to track everything you do. The question is whether this is a good thing or not.

 

 

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Samsung Galaxy S10: All The Latest

Samsung Galaxy S10 and S10+

Samsung is set to announce the Galaxy S10 on Wednesday, February 20. It’s said to be the biggest upgrade to Samsung’s flagship smartphone in years. The phone is set to be released in three different versions, including a regular S10, the S10+, and the S10e. Let’s take a look at some of the confirmed features.

Samsung Galaxy S10 Screen

Samsung’s new flagship phones, which include QHD+ 19:9 aspect ratio displays, are set to be all screen and hardly any bezel. The S10 and S10e will have a single hole-punch type camera on the upper right-hand corner, and the S10 Plus will have a double hole-punch camera. It looks somewhat invasive, but we will have to wait to see it in person.

Samsung will finally include and under-the-screen fingerprint reader — something it has tried to do for years. They have finally perfected the technology, and we will be glad to see it on the S10.

Samsung Galaxy S10 Camera

The rear of all S10 devices will have a camera — a triple-lens camera on the S10+ and a double-lens camera on the S10 and S10e. All three will be capable of taking HDR videos. The S10+ (in particular) is said to take absolutely stunning pictures in low-lit situations. The current camera on the S9 is already fantastic, so it will be interesting to see what Samsung can actually improve.

Battery Life

As with the Galaxy S9, there is no reason to worry about battery life on the new Galaxy S phones. The Galaxy S10 has a 3,500mAh battery, the Galaxy S10 Plus has a 4,000MAh battery, and the S10e has 3,100mAh of power. It is believed that all three S10 devices will have improved battery-saving features.

Please click to play in YouTube.

Processor and Memory

It is believed that the S10 and S10 Plus will use Samsung’s newly-announced Exynos 9820 processor, which comes with its own neural processing engine. That means that some AI tasks can be carried out on the chip itself. The processor is said to offer a 20 percent boost in single-core performance and a 40 percent boost in power efficiency.

The Galaxy S10+ is said to have a whopping 12GB of RAM, which is more than most laptops have. The S10 and S10e will likely have 6GB of RAM, which is still more than enough. All three versions are said to have various storage options up to 1TB.

Price and Release Date

Although the Galaxy S10 devices will be announced on Feb. 20, it’s likely they won’t go on sale until February 8. The S10e is said to start at $650, while the regular S10 could cost almost $800. And, if your wallet is really in the mood, prepare to pay at least $1050 for the S10+. These prices are high, but it looks like the phones will be worth it. 

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2019: The Year In Wearable Technology

2018 finally started the era of wearable technology, especially audio devices. Bose’s SoundWear Companion was a decent hit. Smartwatches, especially the Apple Watch Series 4, continued to make inroads. Let’s take a look at the state of wearables in 2019.

Bose Frames

Bose’s audio sunglasses have just hit the market, and they received an overall enthusiastic review on this blog. I have been using these a lot lately, and I do have some wishes for an upgrade to the Frames.

First, better battery life would be great. 3 1/2 hours of streaming playback is minimal, especially when it takes about two hours to completely charge the Frames. Also, prescription lens options would make these even more of a special device. Still, in general, the Bose Frames are worth the $199 price tag.

Bose Frames - Alto Style

Smartwatches

2019 should expand on an already great 2018 for the smartwatch industry. The Apple Watch 5 could see an even bigger screen, and it could be the wrist device that finally (sort of) replaces your smartphone. Future watch devices from Fitbit and Samsung will also challenge the traditional definition of a watch.

Apple Airpods 2

Some may not consider the AirPods wearables, but they do pretty much hang from your ears without any wires. And they are something that people wear all-day long. Apple is widely expected to release the AirPods 2 during the first half of 2019.

The new AirPods could be dangerous.

Not only are the AirPods expected to offer the “Hello Siri” feature, but they could offer some type of noise cancellation, which is a scary thought. It’s easy to imagine drivers forgetting to turn off the noise cancellation feature once they get in the car. And that can be really problematic.

Microsoft HoloLens Update

This blog reviewed the original HoloLens, the augmented reality device that became available to “developers” in 2016. Although it was certainly a unique device, the joy wore off fast and there wasn’t enough software to take advantage of the HoloLens. The viewing angles were also problematic. 

The new version of the HoloLens, code-named “Sydney,” could arrive the first quarter of 2019.  It is not only rumored to be cheaper (the last HoloLens was priced at $3,000), but lighter with a much better display. Perhaps, with the lower pricing, this admirable technology can finally go mainstream in 2019.

Conclusion

By the end of the year, you will see people wearing all different types of wearables, including some types of devices you’ve never imagined. Perhaps the best wearable device of 2019 is one that hasn’t even been announced yet.

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Dell XPS 13 9380 Is Powerful But Feels Outdated

The version of the XPS 13 9380 that’s being reviewed here has an Intel Core i7-8565U processor, a 4K screen, 8GB RAM, and a 256 SSD. It costs $1699 at the Microsoft Store, but you can easily get discounts. 

It’s possible that I’ve written more about the Dell XPS 13 than any other laptop. When it first came out in 2015, seeing an “infinity display” (barely any bezel space) was fascinating. Of course, other companies such Lenovo have copied Dell’s path to success.

To be sure, Dell’s XPS 13 (at least the first version) had a lot of issues. I remember buying one and returning it in early 2015 because the brightness levels always changed when scrolling. Also, the screen seemed to have a sandy texture, like many tablets did in 2015. The XPS 13 9350 wasn’t even a tablet — but it did offer a touchscreen.

By the time the XPS 13 9360 was released, many of the problems were fixed, even though the device still had a somewhat “washed-screen” look and the webcam was still on the bottom. The 9370 version changed the screen to 4K with better contrast in late 2018, but the webcam was still problematic. Thankfully, that isn’t the case anymore.

The Dell XPS 13 9380 has a beautiful 4K screen.

The new XPS 13 9380 finally puts the webcam on the top center. And one really doesn’t notice (or mind) the extra bezel space it took to put it there. Imagine how many more laptops Dell would have sold if they had done this a couple years back. I guess it’s better late than never.

The first thing I notice while using the XPS 13 9380, besides the webcam, is that the design feels a little plastic and dated. While HP and Huawei have made their laptops metallic all the way around, the XPS 13 looks premium while it’s closed, but appears and feels plastic-like when it’s opened. It’s not a deal breaker, and it’s important to note that the XPS 13  has a better keyboard and touchpad than any other PC device out there.

Then, there’s the fact that while many laptop makers are changing the aspect ratio of their screens to be more square (like all of Microsoft’s 3:2 laptops or at least the MacBook Pro’s 16:10 ratio), Dell still provides a somewhat outdated 16:9 screen. Don’t get me wrong; that screen is beautiful. And the XPS 13 is second to none when it comes to watching movies that don’t need to be resized to fill the screen. But for an overall computing experience, the 16:9 screen finally feels outdated in 2019.

The Dell XPS 13 9380 has an improved processor.

It’s not all gloom and doom….far from it. Besides the re-positioned webcam, the biggest improvement is the upgraded Intel Core i7 Whiskey Lake U Core i7-8565U processor. You won’t notice much of a difference when using most programs or surfing the internet. But I noticed my videos rendered at least 25 percent faster when using Adobe Premiere Pro, which worked decently for editing 4K videos. I only wished this high-end unit included 16GB of RAM instead of 8GB.

One wouldn’t expect great battery life from a device that is not only powerful, but has a 4K screen. Dell claims 12 hours, but I received about seven when streaming Netflix videos with the brightness set on 70 percent (which is more than enough for this unit). While it doesn’t match the battery life if the Surface Pro 6 or MacBook Pro, it comes very close. It’s the best battery life available for a current 4K laptop.

In conclusion, I am enthused but not elated about Dell’s latest 13-inch laptop. When the 9370 came out last year, I couldn’t stop touching it. It shows how one year in the laptop world can make things feel outdated. Still, I would definitely recommend the Dell XPS 13 9370 for those looking for a powerful and portable laptop.

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Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless Earbuds Are Great But Not For Everyone

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless

I have been using the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless Earbuds ($299.95) for the past week. I gave my first impressions review last week, and was really enthusiastic. My full review is still positive, but I realize that the Momentum True Wireless may not be for everyone, especially because of the price tag.

First of all, the best thing about the Momentum True Wireless is the sound. I’m shocked that the buds produce sound that is just as good as Sennheiser’s larger over-the-ear headphones. The Sennheiser signature sound is great for people who love bass that kicks you in the ear without completely dominating the sound spectrum. The highs are prominent, and the mids are somewhat recessed. It makes a great listening experience, especially when listening to EDM or hip hop.

The Momentum True Wireless Buds have a tight fit.

The True Wireless buds, however, aren’t as comfortable as some other buds, especially the AirPods. You definitely don’t want to fall asleep with these things on, but they are fine for driving, walking, and even working out. In fact, the fit is so tight that unlike the AirPods, these never fell out of my ears doing various types of exercises.

Then there is the battery life, which is decent but not great for earbuds. Sennheiser claims four hours of battery life per charge, but I usually got about 3 hours and 50 minutes. These won’t give you five hours of use on one charge like the AirPods or the Jabra Elite 65.  Luckily, the well-designed case provided with the Momentum buds charge them pretty fast.

The eloquent charging case has a USB-C charging port.

One thing that the Momentum True Wireless does better than just about any other set of buds is phone calls. Even when driving with the sound of traffic, my listeners said they could hear me clearly. Only when walking outside in extremely windy situations was there trouble understanding me. When it comes to voice calls, the only buds that do a better job (and only slightly so) are the AirPods.

I initially disliked the touch controls on the Momentum True Wireless, but am more happy after using the buds for a week. There are all different types of taps, and it doesn’t work unless you tap one of the buds correctly. However, no matter how frustrating it is at first,  your fingers eventually learn how to do the job. You can use these easily without the Smart Control app, but you won’t have access to the app’s equalizer, which you should use as your main equalizer no matter what music apps you use.

You don’t have to worry about the Bluetooth connection falling out. I’ve used these earbuds all throughout Orange County and Los Angeles — in busy and barren areas. The only time I lost my connection was when the battery ran out. That’s quite an accomplishment for earbuds.

The biggest question isn’t whether or not the Momentum True Wireless buds are good or not, but whether if they are worth $299. They are $140 more than the AirPods, but aren’t significantly better. If the Sennheiser True Wireless earbuds were $50 cheaper, I’d say go out and buy these right now. However, as they are priced now, I can still recommend them, but not if you’re living paycheck to paycheck and don’t mind some of the minor flaws.  There are cheaper alternatives out there that are almost as good.

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2019 Is The Year For OLED Laptops

Lenovo was one of the first companies to make an OLED laptop.

Laptops with OLED screens have been rare. There has been the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Yoga, the Samsung Galaxy Book 12, and Dell’s Alienware 13 R3. Many laptop makers have avoided OLED screens because of the cost of producing them. But not anymore, as 2019 is going to be the year of the OLED laptop.

In 2018, OLED television sets went mainstream, so it’s about time the same thing happened to laptops.  Let’s take a look at some OLED laptops making their way to consumers this year.

Dell XPS 15

Dell's new OLED XPS 15 will be available in March.

Dell’s XPS 15 has always been considered the larger version of the virtually bezel-free XPS 13. It’s  been the PC equivalent of the 15-inch MacBook Pro. Now, this March, the XPS 15 is expected to be updated with an OLED display.

The LCD screen on the current XPS 15 is already near perfect. A 15.6-inch OLED screen with a webcam on the top (rather than the bottom center) will make the new XPS 15 very hard to beat.

HP Spectre x360 15

HP has made quite a name for itself with their Spectre (both 13 and 15-inch versions) over the past few years. One complaint has always been the screen, which looks too washed out.

Their newly updated Spectre x360 15, with an OLED screen, looks like it could make its way to consumers around the same time Dell’s updated XPS 15 does. Given prices of current units, it looks like HP’s laptop will be at least $200 cheaper than Dell’s.

Razer Blade 15

Razer has made some of the best gaming laptops the world has ever seen. Now, their 15-inch laptop looks like it will get an OLED screen by the end of the year. Razer is also adding more RAM, more graphics options, and more color options as well to its 15-inch powerhouse.

More coming….

Samsung has just announced that they are creating 4K 15.6-inch OLED screens for laptops that will be massively produced starting in February. These new screens can get as bright as 600 nits while displaying an amazing contrast ratio of 120,000:1. The displays will be able to accurately reproduce 100 percent of the DCI-P3 color gamut.

OLED screens cost more to produce than LCD screens, and that’s one of the  reasons they haven’t been seen on laptops much. But hopefully, as they become more mainstream, the costs will go down. Still, once you see an OLED screen on a 15-inch laptop, you’ll probably agree that the extra $200 is worth it.

 

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First Impressions Review: Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless Earbuds Offer Fantastic Sound

I finally got my hands on the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless earbuds. I was hoping I wouldn’t like them so they can be returned. However, so far, the last thing I’m thinking about is returning these. Of course, once the honeymoon period ends, that may change. For now, here are my first impressions.

  • The packaging is very impressive. The rounded-rectangular case is a little thick, but premium. It will fit fine in any pocket.

The charging case has a USB-C charging port.

  • These Bluetooth 5.0 earbuds were very easy to pair. They paired with my iPhone XS Max as soon as I took them out of the case.
  • Downloading Sennheiser’s Smart Control app isn’t absolutely necessary, but it makes using the buds more convenient, especially allowing you to set up Transparent Hearing mode.
  • The sound is signature Sennheiser — strong lows (with bass that kicks rather than rubs), slightly recessed mids, and strong highs. Sennheiser has taken the sound from their over-the-ear headphones and put them into these small nugget like earbuds. I’m truly impressed.
  • When using the Momentum True Wireless, it’s better to set the equalizer on the Smart Control app rather than each individual app.
  • There is no active noise cancellation, but the passive isolation is excellent.

The Momentum True Wireless buds are thick, but they are actually very light.

  • These earbuds aren’t as comfortable as the AirPods; they are quite thick. However, this isn’t a deal killer — far from it.
  • The four-hour battery life is welcoming. The AirPods last longer at 5 hours, but the Momentum True Wireless buds are more powerful. They also charge in their case very fast. I haven’t been able to do exact charging measurements yet, but that will be in the full review.
  • The touch controls are difficult to get used to. I often finding myself activating the wrong function with my fingers. It gets frustrating, but the more I use these, the better I become with touch gestures.
  • Phone quality appears to be good as one person I talked to said I sounded as good as I do when talking on the AirPods.
  • The right bud has fallen out of my ear twice — probably because I don’t have the right rubber fitting. These buds come with three different fits.
You can purchase the Sennheiser True Wireless earbuds at Best Buy, where stock had begun to trickle in this past weekend. As somewhat of an audiophile, I believe they are worth the $299 price tag. I’m not sure I can say the same for your average listener, but I’ll give my final conclusion when I do my full review in the next couple of days. 
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Bose Frames Are Worth $199, But They Are Not For Everybody

Bose Frames - Alto Style

Last month, I attended a Bose event in Los Angeles and was able to try out the Bose Frames sunglasses. I was impressed, for the most part. I have been able to spend the last day testing the Frames, so here is my full review.

The Frames, which have  a metal hinge, fit very comfortably and can’t be mistaken for anything other than sunglasses. Each arm of Bose’s sunglasses contain a Bose speaker, and near the temple on the right arm is a microphone and multi-function button. The speakers are pointed backwards — this allows them to fire audio into your ears without the need for earbuds.

In my tests, people can barely hear your frames play music, unless it’s completely silent and the volume is turned all the way up. So, in many ways, the Frames feel like headphones that don’t have to be centered on top of your eardrums. And they can also be used to make phone calls, which they are pretty good at.

Unlike my experience with these last month, the Frames weren’t easy to pair with my iPhone.  I downloaded the Bose Connect app, tried to pair the glasses, and wasn’t lucky. After restarting my iPhone XS Max and restarting the Frames, things worked. Other people have claimed to have an easier time.

Bose Frames are stylish and fit comfortably.

Once things were connected, I was mostly satisfied. I walked with the Frames throughout Irvine Town Center in Irvine, CA. For most situations, the volume was loud enough. However, once I was next to a waterfall fountain or the highway, I did wish the Frames could get slightly louder.

The sound seems tinny at first. But once you break the glasses in and your ears adjust to the sound, the Frames produce audio that is better than the AirPods — the product I most compare them to, even if they seem worlds apart. The bass is decent considering the speakers are on a pair of sunglasses, but don’t expect to feel the “thump” you do with Bose’s headphones. The high ranges are prominent, and the mid ranges are somewhat recessed. In other words, it’s typical Bose sound, which — in my opinion — is a good thing.

Bose Frames are well-priced at $199.

The Bose Frames offer 12 hours of standby battery life, but only 3.5 hours of streaming playback. This wouldn’t be much of a big deal if it didn’t take the Frames two hours for a full charge. Still, I found myself being able to use these for most of the day (streaming and standby) without having to do any recharging. The battery life may be a disability, but it’s definitely not a deal killer.

I expect that like the Bose Sleepbuds, the Frames will do well for a niche audience. The new sunglasses won’t be for everybody, but they may lay the ground for similar future devices.

 

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New Dell XPS 13 9380 With Usable Webcam Is Announced

Dell's upgraded XPS 13 is now available.

I am a little underwhelmed with the new Dell XPS 13 9380 announcement, but it’s only because I’ve played with 2018′s Dell XPS 13 9370 a lot.

The 2018 XPS 13 added a white chassis, better keys, a 4K screen, and improved processor speed. The only thing one could really ask for was that the webcam be put on top, but the bezels were too small for that. However, Dell has finally listened to customers for the 2019 version.

“But that’s all a complaint of the past because for the 2019 model, Dell has heard our cries and moved the webcam back to the top of the display where it belongs. Praises be unto Dell and its R&D team,” says Chaim Gartenberg of The Verge.

The webcam issue has finally been fixed.

Dell has also added faster 8th Gen Whiskey Lake processors (available  in i3, i5, or i7). There is also a version that supports Dolby Vision. Dell also adjusted the hinge to make it easier to open with one hand. (Thank God! And anybody who has used the XPS 13 will understand this enthusiasm.)

Laptop Mag has the first full review, and it is an enthusiastic four stars.

“The Dell XPS 13 serves up a new color, a powerful Intel Whiskey Lake processor, a 4K display (and ditches the ridiculous “nosecam”) – all in a slim, lightweight chassis.”

Reviewer Sherri L. Smith seems to only be disappointed at the shorter-than-average battery life (at least when compared with devices like the Surface Pro 6 or the 13-Inch MacBook Pro 2018). But that’s what you get when you put so much power into such a thin device. But the XPS 13 still offers up to eight hours of juice, and that means that most people can take the 2019 version of the XPS 13 to work without worrying about leaving the charger at home.

The reason I am slightly disappointed is that I expected that Dell would get with the times and change the aspect ratio to 3:2 — just like the Surface Pro 6. Then again, Dell’s highly-rated laptop isn’t a tablet, and the 16:9 aspect ratio is perfect for watching movies, especially with the beautiful screen.

There is no word yet on how hot the laptop gets (the 2018 version got pretty warm). Still, the Dell XPS 13 9380 looks like it could be the ultimate laptop — especially for those who aren’t concerned with pen or tablet capabilities. So, don’t let my enthusiasm stop you from buying the Dell XPS 13 9380. Unless you own 2018′s version, you’ll be very happy.

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2019 Tech Predictions: It’s Gonna Be An Exciting Year

Samsung will debut its foldable smartphone in 2019.

I believe 2019 will be a great year in technology, though there will certainly be some tech. failures. It will be a great year for smartphones, and Samsung will surprise everybody at the beginning of the year with the Galaxy S10. However, some smartphones will not take off as well as expected. With that said, here are my main predictions for the year ahead.

Smartphones with foldable screens will flop…

Yes, Samsung will release the Galaxy X (or F according to some) during the first half of this year. Yes, it will cause initial excitement. But the backlash will be swift. There will be tons of technical issues, compatibility issues, and those who say that just having a smartphone and a tablet is more convenient than this future hybrid mess. I hope I’m wrong.

Microsoft Surface Pro 7 gets USB-C port and increased screen size…

After inexplicably leaving a USB-C port off the Surface Pro 6 this year, you can bet that Microsoft will finally make amends in the new year. Expect the new port to be a Thunderbolt 3 one as well.

But that’s not all we can expect to this big Surface Pro upgrade. I predict Microsoft will not change the size of the device, but decrease the bezels. This will allow for a 13-inch screen instead of the 12.3-inch one we see on all the most recent Surface Pro devices.

5G

2019 will be the year 5G becomes a consumer reality. There will be 5G networks, 5G smartphones, and 5G everything else. However, I predict that the 5G networks will run into some issues, and people really won’t be seeing the full benefits of 5G until 2020.

VR could make some inroads…

The Oculus Quest will be released during the spring of 2019

VR was supposed to be the next big thing, but it has never quite taken off. But I predict the Oculus Quest, which is a powerful standalone headset with inside tracking, could really shake things up. $399 is a great price for a standalone powerful  VR headset that reduces some of the problems people complain about with current wired VR headsets.

The Robots…

Could this be your next pet?

 

We’ve heard about sex robots, pet dog robots, etc. And now, in 2019, you will see your neighbors or family members (ones who you would least expect) with one of these. Some personal robots will be powered by Amazon’s Alexa, others will be powered by Google Assistant, and who knows if the government will be or will not be able to hear your conversations.

Facebook becomes less relevant…

Facebook has had many troubles in 2018, and barely anybody can trust the communication platform. The Cambridge Analytica scandal turned Facebook from a much-loved platform to a near joke. Then, there was the security breach, in which 120 million accounts were hacked.

I predict that there will be even more scandals for Facebook in 2019. This time, even the most frequent users will be logging off. Soon, Facebook could become the next MySpace.

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