Review : The Everio JVC all weather camera.

Dec 14

Camcorders .. you love them .. or you hate them. Its a simple as that. Once hey used to be the sidearm of choice of the annoying uncle at your birthday party, who insisted on pointing them into peoples faces to suck away all spontaneous behavior and replacing it with a bunch of awkward grins.  Now, most of them have been pushed into oblivion by high end camera’s on smartphones or super rugged go-pro action camera’s used by ‘outdoorsy’ types to impress their friends. So who (aside from a budding porn producer) still needs a camcorder ?  And why in hells bells would you want a waterproof one ?

Well, once you wrap your hands around JVC’s All Weather Everio Camcorder .. you kind of start to see the point of this camera. Smartphones are cool, they are ubiquitous and they are great for the average point-shoot-and-share experience of a Youtube Video. But the absence of physical controls (and a static lens) make it hard to do some of the more advanced filming tricks like zooming and stuff. Smartphones also have the tendency to break, snap, splinter, shatter and disintegrate at the slightest hint of “adventurous use” If your pristine phablet survives a gravity powered french kiss with a concrete floor from three feet high without breaking .. you are a lucky man.  The industries answer to the “adventurous youtuber” comes in the form of the go-pro like action camera. Encased in a force field of plastic this stabilized “set and forget” camera is mounted on you bike – helmet – stroller .. and will survive any stunt the owner preforms as he/she steps in the footsteps of the JAckaSs crew (and perhaps dies while doing it). So since surviving the ordeal is more important then an oscar for best director .. the Action Camera’s have few to zero options.

So enter the Everio. This Full-HD , Dust, water, shock and freeze proof camera is JVC”s savior of your upcoming winter-holiday video. With a form factor that looks like a classic camcorder, the Everio promises 4.5 hours of battery life and a 60* Zoom capability. We won’t go into technical details because we aren’t big shutterbugs, and break it down into our first impressions. The Everio looks pretty solid when you grab hold of it. The slightly larger casing makes it easy to hold even while wearing ski gloves or something. The placement and size of the primary controls (zoom, record etc) is also designed with the down sloping glovev wearing Spielberg in mind who is more focused on making the shot while trying to stay upright (and alive) instead of fiddling with little buttons.

But there are some cool extra things included in the camera’s software like taking 10Mpixel still shots (no need for an extra DSLR) , wireless syncing to your tablet or phone (no PC required) and the option to livestream your actual footage to a smartphone or tablet over wifi.  Throw in some built in instagram filters and the Everio is a little one-stop holiday production shop for your video’s. With good audio and video quality to match (and why not thrown in some software stabilization) we do see you using this camera on your next adventurous holiday.

But hey ! Its waterproof ! (or so it says on the box) .. So lets test that .. shall we ?

At 319 dollars this thing brings a lot to the table for anyone who is going on a holiday and wants to rough things up a little.

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KW904 : Reviewing the Oneplus One

Dec 03


We get our greedy hands on one of the most desired smartphones of the day : The Oneplus One. Is it worth the begging for invites, the groveling, the craze ? We take a good hard look at the Oneplus One and give you our first impressions of the phone when it comes to hardware, software and its place in the Smartphone market of today.

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Review : The Huawei Ascend Mate 7. A big phone on a small budget.

Nov 28
“Whow .. Thats a big phone !” “There is no way you can make phone calls with that !” “How do you fit that in your pocket”. If I got a penny for every time I have heard that remark in the past, it would have been enough to buy me my next phablet and still have spare change for parking. Yes … my name is Knightwise and I’m a Phablet Fan.  Discontent with small screens and cramped mobile interfaces I switched to the “larger kind” of smartphone a couple of years ago with the Galaxy Note 2… and afterwards the Note 3. The thing is I don’t see my “Phablet” as my phone. I see it as my personal communicator, that also allows me to do voice calls. It is the one single digital device I probably spend  most of my time on during the day.. So when Huawei asked me to review their “Ascend mate 7″ (what’s in a name) it was not going to be easily impressed.
The thing is : Phablets are rapidly becoming the “high end” niche market of the smartphone industry. Where the ‘average Joe’ pays about 300 dollar for the “average Joe” smartphone with “Average Joe” specs .. the phablet market is usually reserved for the geek with higher system requirements (and a larger amount of cash to spend on his mobile device). Result ? Phones like the Galaxy note 4, the new Nexus 6 and the iPhone 6 plus  boast high resolutions , big screens, good specs and … high prices.  So what is there do to when you want a ping-pong table sized  smartphone, but you are on a midget-phone budget ?
huawei-ascend-mate-7-11-2
Enter the Huawei Ascent Mate 7 : A bigger phone for a smaller budget. With its 6 inch Hd Display (1920*1080) it has a smaller resolution that the Note 4 Samsung Phablet Flagship (or Aircraft carrier) and its Quad Core Cortex A15 1.8 ghz processor with 3Gb or ram are also not as heavy as the competition … but neither is its price. For 300 euro’s LESS then the 749 price point of the Note 4 .. you get a LOT of phone for what you pay for.
For one : Huawei’s spin on KitKat is a LOT cleaner then Samsung’s over cluttered ‘Touchwiz’ interface. Not having to lift an extra layer of graphic bloatware, makes the ascend preform remarkably well , despite its lighter processor. The phone is quite responsive when pinching swiping and zooming but lags a little bit when opening large apps like Linkedin. Huawei’s version of Android takes some getting used to (there is no app drawer) but comes with some nice little tweaks and handy features like Fingerprint unlocking and “Single handed operation”. Samsung might have these features too, but in touchwizz they are buried beneath a thick layer of clutter.
Screenshot 2014-11-28 08.40.03
What we really liked about the Mate 7 was its fingerprint sensor. Located on the BACK of the phone, its in a very natural position for when you want to use it to unlock the phone. As you hold the phone in your hand your index finger is automatically placed on the sensor and the phone unlocks. Additionally the sensor can be used to trigger the camera. The fact that its not a button but a touch sensitive surface makes that you don’t “nudge” the phone (and blur your pictures) as you are taking a snapshot. We liked this feature .. a lot !  Speaking of the camera , the 13 megapixel front facing camera is quite good (but is a little lacking in low light conditions).
The screen on the Mate 7 is not the brightest of the bunch. Its colors are bright and vivid but do not match the “over saturated blown up colors” of the competitors amoled screens. Personally I like this because the latter do make a picture from a funeral look like a page from a holiday catalog. The (replaceable) battery life is good, we managed to get about 1.5 days out of the battery with fairly heavy use which pleasantly surprised us.  The overall signal reception on the phone is good (Wifi and 4G) although it did drop a call on us twice as we got into the car.
Screenshot 2014-11-28 08.40.15
The look and feel of the Mate is good. Its a full metal jacket (We don’t know which metal, but it sure ain’t plastic) and the phone is well balanced. The bezel on the side of the screen is almost non existent giving the phone a premium look and feel.
So is it worth it ?  Yes ! If you want a maxi-sized phone with more then average specs on a medium sized budget, the Huawei Ascend Mate 7 is surely something you should take a serious look at. The only competitor we see on the horizon is the immensely popular (but also immensely scarce) Oneplus One. With the price of the Nexus 6 going into the same premium price range as Samsungs Galaxy Notes and the iPhone Six , the Huawei ascend mate 7 will get the geek-on-a-budget (or the geek who shops sensibly) a great bang for their buck.

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Ebook Week Day 5 : Write your own eBook ! (By Daniel Messer)

Nov 14

Introduction : Writing is hard.

Writing a book is hard, but actually making and publishing an eBook doesn’t have to be. Here’s an easy way to take your finished text and turn it into eBooks for popular devices and Kindles using nothing but free and open source software! I can vouch that it works, because I’ve done this twice. I’ll do it a third time when this current book is finished.

Things You Need & Things You Need To Do

Let’s Download Things!

You’re going to need two free and open source applications and a free and open source plugin. The great thing is that all of them are platform independent, so no matter if you’re running Windows, OS X, or Linux; you’ll be able to make your eBook a reality.

First, you’ll need LibreOffice, a free and open source office suite similar to Microsoft Office. OpenOffice will do the job too, but I prefer LibreOffice. Pick the one that you like. Second, you’re going to need Calibre, which is also a free and open source application. Calibre is an eBook manager, database, content server, and more importantly, eBook format converter. The plug-in you’ll need is for LibreOffice and it’s called Writer2ePub and that’s an apt description of what it does.

Download and install LibreOffice and Calibre or snag them from your repositories. Once LibreOffice is installed, you should be able to double click and install Writer2ePub as your OS will recognize that as a LibreOffice plugin. Installation is quick and easy and soon you’ll be up and running with some prime software to make an eBook.

Styles

First, you’ll have to write that eBook, and I can’t give you help on that here. I do suggest that, when you’re formatting your book in LibreOffice, make use of the Heading 1 style for your chapter names. Formatting and design is a thing for another post but using the Heading 1 style for your chapter names will be important because Writer2ePub automatically builds a table of contents for you, based off those Heading 1 style calls. If you don’t have chapters then that’s fine. You don’t have to worry about the style selection at all, unless you want to!

Once you’re done organizing and setting your chapter styles, you’re ready to go! Obviously, make whatever edits you think you need for your finished book, but when you’re ready to pull the trigger click the Writer2ePub icon on your LibreOffice toolbar. You’ll actually see three of them. The first builds your eBook; the second handles your metadata which includes title, author, cover, and description; and the third is preferences. You can set preferences as you like, but for now, let’s set our metadata. So click the Writer2ePub icon with a little blue i on it and set up your metadata as appropriate.

Writer2ePub Metadata

You should add a cover because, as a professional librarian, I can tell you that people judge books by their covers, cliches notwithstanding. eBook design is a thing all its own, but your cover should be a high quality image, at least 500 x 800 and 72 pixels per inch. I use an image that’s 625 x 1,000 and 100 pixels per inch. The preferred maximum size for the longest side is usually 2,000. So edit your image accordingly. That stuff set, you can continue editing and tweaking as needed. If you save the file, your metadata saves with it.

Are you ready to make an eBook? Excellent! Time to click the Writer2ePub icon on the LibreOffice toolbar! You’ll have one more opportunity to edit your metadata and then click Ok. LibreOffice and Writer2ePub will work for a few moments and, at first, it looks like nothing happened. Ah! But check the folder where you’ve saved your original LibreOffice file and you will find an ePub there by the same name!

Congratulations! You just created an eBook!

Lets make a Kindle book too ! 

The eBook you just created using Writer2ePub and LibreOffice is in ePub format. That format will work on almost everything out there from tablets to eReaders. It will not, however, work on a Kindle eInk. If we’re talking about a Kindle Fire, then users of the Fire can get apps to open ePub files. That’s fine, but Kindle eInk users can’t get apps for their device, so let’s make sure they can read our eBook too, and that’s where Calibre comes in!

Open up Calibre and import your newly created ePub. Don’t worry, because Calibre copies all imported eBooks to the library folder you select. So your original remains untouched.

Importing Books in Calibre

Importing Books in Calibre Dialogue Box

Once it’s imported into Calibre, right click the item and select Convert Books – Convert Individually. You’ll get a screen with a bunch of options. Set those as you like but your interest probably lies near the top left of the screen where it says Output formateBook Conversion Options in Calibre

Select MOBI from that list and click Ok. Calibre will run the conversion and let you know when it’s finished.

eBook Conversion Formats in Calibre

If you click your book again and look over the right sidebar, you’ll see your cover, author, formats, and path. Next to path is a link that says Click to open. Do that, and you’ll get the directory with your imported ePub and newly created mobi file! That mobi file is perfectly compatible with Kindle eInk devices.
cover

And that’s it! You’ll have your eBook in the two most popular formats for devices and eReaders. If you’re looking to upload your book to a site like Amazon or Barnes & Noble, check to see which format they prefer, though Amazon will most certainly need the mobi format.

Happy writing! Make your eBook happen!

Post by Daniel Messer.

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Ebook week Day 4 “The Kobo Aura ebook reader”

Nov 13
I hate paper books. I don’t know why. Some people love them, tell them they smell good, feel nice, love to put them on a shelf, stroke them, sniff  and do other deeds that I classify under “papyrus-porn.”  I have never been one of them. One of the reasons is that for the longest time I have been reading books that are hard to find (or just ‘not around’) in this part of the world. With Amazon these days its whole different thing. You can have your copy of Fifty Shades flown in by Drone overnight and your husband doesn’t even have to untie you to accept the delivery. But back in the late 90’s it was different. I loved sci-fi books.. I loved ENGLISH sci-fi books. I traveled all over the country to one or two obscure bookshops to pick up overpriced paperbacks of Star Trek Novels and all kinds of geeky stuff I liked to read. Behold my amazement when the internet came along and i could actually DOWNLOAD (perhaps not completely ‘legal’) copies of all kinds of wonderful stuff I loved to read. So when other people where tapping appointments with non-existing pens into their Palm pilots .. i was using the little buggers to read books on. Like some proto-geek I would walk around with this little PDA in front of my face .. reading.
hero
When Ereaders came along I was the first to hop on board. When other geeks were still trying to make fire .. i had my first Sony PRS505 and I loved it. I loaded up 700 Star Trek novels on it and kissed reality goodbye.  However the whole tablet rave broke the loving relationship between my Sony and me .. and I started reading books on my Tablet and .. my smartphone. “Why have a separate device to read books on, if you have tablet that can do books .. and the internet , and twitter, and Facebook, and porn .. ” (Kidding : i never said ‘Porn’!)  And that is where the problem is. (not with Porn of course) but with all the other stuff. The tablet might be ok for reading , but the urge to get distracted is enormous.
You can’t “hide in a book” when you are reading on your tablet. Its that simple. the amount of Dings, popups and temptations to quickly check Facebook are too damn high ! So this week I decided to get a Kobo for my birthday.
I went for the Kobo Aura because of 3 things. 1: Its small. 2: It has a backlight (so I can read in bed) and 3: it syncs with POCKET. The design is well done, the Kobo feels nice to hold and has a long battery life even though it has a wifi connection. This “should” enable you to buy books online and all that crap.. but what its awesome for is Syncing down all those articles you tagged for “i’ll read this stuff someday’ in Pocket.
 
The digital magazine.
So aside from reading the book I had put on the Kodo using Calibre (at night , with the nice backlight) I also have a little “digital magazine” in my hands. The Calibre articles sync down over the wifi connection and give me small byte-size reads when I don’t feel like diving into the next chapter of my book. The fact that there is hardly any other form of connectivity (there is a browser on the Kobo .. but come-on,) helps you stay focused and relaxed during your reading.
I am very happy with the Kobo. The form factor (and the fact it does not have a raised bezel around the reading area) make it enjoyable to use. Its big enough for reading, but small enough to carry around. The limited Wifi is an added bonus but its the Pocket integration that helps this baby shine. A perfect balance between connectivity with the grid .. while still offering the disconnected “seclusio

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Ebook Week Day 2 : Undrm your Ebooks.

Nov 11

If there is one thing that I hate with a passion, then it is DRM or  Digital Rights Management. To explain it as simple as possible DRM is the technology used to screw over a paying customer. It is a form of copy protection that should prevent piracy of digital content but instead creates a paradoxical situation where it is more annoying for somebody who PAYED for said content vs anyone who chooses to pirate it.

When I forked over 15 of my well spent dollars in the Google Play store for an Ebook a couple of weeks ago, I was under the assumption that, since Google has no E-Readers of its own, I would be able to read said book on whatever Ebook reader I purchased. Lets be honest : I bought the book, Payed for it and I bought the e-reader. No biggie .. right ? Wrong ! Turns out that when trying to read the ePub file on my recently purchased Kobo Aura , the thing would not open. “DRM Protected” was the error I got.  Possible solutions were : Reading the book on my android tablet (in the Play Books app) or buying it all over again in a DIFFERENT online bookstore (with DIFFERENT drm). Not gonna happen Google, Not Gonna Happen.
Alternatively I could download a piece of Adobe software, hook up my Ebook reader, Authorize my ebook reader online, make an account with Adobe and “transplant” the book. Meanwhile the guy at the Pirate Bay who got a pirated copy of the book has been reading it for the last 4 hours and is way past the second chapter. Yet as a paying customer I have to jump through adobe hoops ? No .. no thank you.
Enter “All DRM Removal” : a great app for Windows or the Mac that lets you strip the DRM of your favorite ePub file using a simple drag-and-drop application. The first three books you “strip” are free, but then you have to pay for the app. I dropped my “Drm infested” ePub into the app and sito-presto : I got a new ePub file back.. Drm free ! After dragging it over to the ebook reader it worked like a charm.
I would not use All DRM Removal to completely strip the DRM of an ebook collection you don’t own (thats piracy , remember ? ) but for the occasional book you buy in a DRM’d store .. This is the app to set them free. Happy ebook’in !
Link.
DRM removal by Epubor.com

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“Ebook week” Day 1: Calibrate my Pocket.

Nov 10

By McVries, Geek, Dad, Avid Reader, Open Source Enthusiast, @mcvries_ on twitter.

calibre

Calibre.

Distraction free reading, a bliss after a day of notifications, phone calls, co-workers with questions and the lot. Just kick them shoes off and put your feet up, maybe sippin’ a glass of Laphroaig. Lovely. And in the last four years or so the idea of me ploughing through a pile of books is no longer a reason to worry about our oxygen levels, paperless it is. An E reader, specifically a Kindle, is my way to protect the environment.
Using Calibre, a multiplatform Ebook management suite, to manage my ebooks gives me the freedom to use actually any format with the Kindle. Calibre reads any Ebook format I can think off and is able to convert them to about any other format. So the usual setup is something like this, I add an epub, txt or doc file to my collection and with a single click I tell calibre to email it to my Kindle. Calibre knows that that little device isn’t multilingual so it translates the whole book into the mobi dialect it does understand. Sweeps it out through port 25 and it lands on my nightstand.
So although I actually own a quite locked down device I don’t really notice it as such.

pocket-logo-icon

Pocket.

Throughout the week I tend to collect quite a few articles and blogposts which I all mean to read later. I save them to my Pocket account if they are a bit longer then usual and if I don’t have a direct need for the information. They wait patiently inside my pocket account and every time I have the time to read up at all the interesting stuff I didn’t get to in that week I can use the Pocket webapp on my laptop, or the application on a tablet. That is just fine and dandy, but the setting is not that of distraction free reading. Popups are still there, the screen is still a glowing display and it just doesn’t feel like reading the way it does on a Deadtree or Electronic book. Especially the well written informative and longer articles I like to read in a more Zen situation.  And here comes calibre to the rescue again.

Calibrate my Pocket.

Calibre contains some nifty tools and one of them is “Fetch News”, which comes with a trunkload of predefined scripts. One of them titled “Pocket”. And although there are some caveats, with sorting and archiving the downloaded articles and working with the correct tags it actually works pretty well for me. And while I was ironing out the forementioned caveats, all of a sudden I ended up creating an Ebook containing six months of weekly columns by a well known columnist here in the Netherlands. Neat.

The HowTo.

Presuming you have a Pocket account and have your credentials available and you have got a copy of calibre running on your preferred OS, here we go.

 

2

Summary: In calibre click Fetch news and select Add a custom news source.

3

 

Now choose to Customize a builtin recipe. In the next screen you want to select Pocket.

4

In the edit screen as below you can select the Script on the left en in the right panel scroll down to the “Settings people change” to finetune the recipe for your needs. The picture (click to enlarge) shows the defaults.

5

 

I changed some options for my needs. My version reads:

 

 

  • #Settings people change
  • max_articles_per_feed = 50
  • minimum_articles = 1
  • mark_as_read_after_dl = False # Set this to False for testing
  • sort_method = ‘newest’ # MUST be either ‘oldest’ or ‘newest’
  • # To filter by tag this needs to be a single tag in quotes; IE ‘calibre’
  • only_pull_tag = None

If you don’t meet the required minimum_articles, the script fails with an error. And since I push that button, I want those articles, even if there are just a few. So I lowered this to 1. The mark_as_read_after_dl. I changed this to false, since I want to use my webapp for managing my pocket account. And the sort_method I changed to newest, so if I fail to manage my pocket account I get the latest articles first instead of wading through a whole lot of stuff I have forgotten to clean out. The “only_pul_tag = None creates the situation that only untagged articles are pulled down. So if you would like to create a dedicated stream to your ereader the tag “calibre” or “ebook” would be approriate to use. Just don’t forget to tag them correctly when tagging to pocket!

And don’t forget to save your script (Add/update recipe on the left) and click close. Some loose ends here, even if you saved it it will still warn you you might lose the changes. Take a risk for once and click close. On we go:

6

 

Under Fetch news, schedule news downloads will tie your freshly editted script to your pocket account. Just pick the Pocket script under custom, create a schedule and fill in the credentials.

7

 

Now to go out and build your own ebook for your reading pleasure. Under Fetch news click “Download all scheduled news sources”8

Allright, after this the actual building of your ebook will take about 2 minutes, tops. Done, you now own an Ebook with all the needs to reads you collected throught the week. And the next time it will only take about a minute. Transfer it to your E reader and discover it is menu driven, with smart links within the ebook for navigation and enjoy your distraction free quality time with the interesting stuff you harvested.

Get Calibre here and join Pocket here.

 

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TGIF : How about a slice of Turkish bootleg Star Wars ?

Nov 07

What do you do if your name is  Çetin İnanç , its 1982 and you are running out of idea’s for your next movie ?  Simple : You start directing the epic adventure flick called : Dünyayı Kurtaran Adam  (The Man Who Saved the World). A wonderful B-movie full of horrible sets, bad acting, shaky storylines and Star Wars scenes.  Wait .. WHAT ? Indeed , you read that right. To “dress up” his production of “The man who saved the world” (a movie that has a story line that does not even bother to be better then a 70’s pornflick) he used stock footage from Star Wars “A new hope”. For tunes he stole the theme songs from Battlestar Galactica and Indiana Jones to liven up the movie and apparently had no idea that something like “copyright” ever existed. Funny enough the movie became an instant cult classic , so who are we to keep you from its amazing trailer .. Enjoy and try not to ruin your shirt when your eyes and ears start bleeding.

Link :  Here is the terrible truth about the movie on Wikipedia.

BONUS : It appears you are still conscious after watching the trailer, so we will give you this little easter egg : How about a full TURKISH STAR TREK movie ?   Have a nice weekend !

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Zen week : Sleep onboard a starship with these great soundscapes.

Nov 06

The sound of a waterfall, an untuned TV set, or a fan in the background : All of these are examples of ‘White noise’ that help you concentrate or get to sleep. They have one thing in common : They are BO-RING .. How about spending 12 hours inside a Starfleet shuttlecraft. Or lounging around in Deckers aapartmentin the movie Bladerunner ? How about falling asleep to the sounds of Dave Bowmans shuttlepod in 2001 a space odyssey  ? Crynsknife007 has got just the thing for you. On his Youtube channel he has collected an impressive set of geeky 12 hour sound loops that really help you space out .. or focus. So have a slice of sci-fi inspired white noise and spend your day in the ambient sounds of the Battlestar Galactica engine room or fall asleep to the echoes of the death star. Plenty to choose from. Here is an example.

 

 

Link : Enjoy his entire collection here.

Tip : If you want to download these sounds for your phone or your favorite MP3 player (do people still have these  ?) take a peek at our YOUTUBE-DL show to quickly learn how 

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Zen week : Work on your ‘chicken neck’ posture with this simple video.

Nov 05

” Sit up straight” , “Don’t hunch like that” , “Pull your neck back” . You might have all gotten these remarks at some time in the past. The fact is : the people who told us are probably right. We hunch over our screens , our tablets our smartphones. We tilt our necks forward and “bog down” while we are raving away on the digital plain. One of the ways this affects our posture is by growing a “chicken neck” where our head it tilted forward relevant to our shoulders. Its bad for you, it gives you headaches, affects your health and by the time you are 60 you will look like a one of these scowering trolls from the lord of the rings movie.
The good news is : You can fix it : With just a couple of exercises explained in the video below you can work on your posture, improve your health and look REGAL while you are doing it.

 

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