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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 9th Nov 2016

 

WhatsApp and Facebook logosImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Facebook has been told it must not use data gathered from UK WhatsApp users to target ads on its core social network.

The country's Information Commissioner said she did not believe the firm had obtained valid consent for the move and added that people must be given "ongoing control" over their data.

Elizabeth Denham said that Facebook had agreed to "pause" its rollout but had not met all her demands.

The firm said it was having "detailed conversations" with her office.

"We remain open to working collaboratively to address their questions," a Facebook spokeswoman said.

She added that the updates "comply with applicable law, and follow the latest guidance from the UK Information Commissioner's Office".

"WhatsApp designed its privacy policy and terms update to give users a clear and simple explanation of how the service works, as well as choice over how their data is used."

The California-based company bought WhatsApp in 2014 and pledged to keep the chat app independent.

However, in August, WhatsApp made changes to its privacy policy, prompting an investigation by the UK watchdog.

"I had concerns that consumers weren't being properly protected, and it's fair to say the enquiries my team have made haven't changed that view," blogged Elizabeth Denham, the Information Commissioner.

"I don't think WhatsApp has got valid consent from users to share the information.

"We've set out the law clearly to Facebook, and we're pleased that they've agreed to pause using data from UK WhatsApp users for advertisements or product improvement purposes."

Enforcement

Ms Denham said she now wanted Facebook and WhatsApp to:

  • offer customers' more details about how their data will be used
  • let WhatsApp members restrict access to their information beyond the existing 30-day cooling-off period
  • let users completely opt-out of the agreement at any time

Ms Denham said that Facebook had not agreed to these terms.

"If Facebook starts using the data without valid consent, they may face enforcement action from my office," she warned.

WhatsApp has already been cautioned warned by European privacy watchdogsabout sharing user data with its new parent company.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 9th Nov 2016

 

Adobe Voco demoImage copyrightADOBE

Image captionAdobe has yet to say when it might release Voco to the public

A new application that promises to be the "Photoshop of speech" is raising ethical and security concerns.

Adobe unveiled Project Voco last week. The software makes it possible to take an audio recording and rapidly alter it to include words and phrases the original speaker never uttered, in what sounds like their voice.

One expert warned that the tech could further undermine trust in journalism.

Another said it could pose a security threat.

However, the US software firm says it is taking action to address such risks.

Voice manipulation

At a live demo in San Diego on Thursday, Adobe took a digitised recording of a man saying "and I kissed my dogs and my wife" and changed it to say "and I kissed Jordan three times".

The edit took seconds and simply involved the operator overtyping a transcript of the speech and then pressing a button to create the synthesised voice track.

Adobe VocoImage copyrightADOBE

Image captionThe operator edited the voice track via a text-based tool

"We have already revolutionised photo editing. Now it's time for us to do the audio stuff," said Adobe's Zeyu Jin, to the applause of his audience.

He added that to make the process possible, the software needed to be provided with about 20 minutes-worth of a person's speech.

Dr Eddy Borges Rey - a lecturer in media and technology at the University of Stirling - was horrified by the development.

"It seems that Adobe's programmers were swept along with the excitement of creating something as innovative as a voice manipulator, and ignored the ethical dilemmas brought up by its potential misuse," he told the BBC.

"Inadvertently, in its quest to create software to manipulate digital media, Adobe has [already] drastically changed the way we engage with evidential material such as photographs.

"This makes it hard for lawyers, journalists, and other professionals who use digital media as evidence.

"In the same way that Adobe's Photoshop has faced legal backlash after the continued misuse of the application by advertisers, Voco, if released commercially, will follow its predecessor with similar consequences."

ID checks

The risks extend beyond people being fooled into thinking others said something they did not.

Banks and other businesses have started using voiceprint checks to verify customers are who they say they are when they phone in.

Voice waveformImage copyrightTHINKSTOCK

Image captionVoice biometic systems use the charactersistics of a person's speech to verify their identity

One cybersecurity researcher said the companies involved had long anticipated something like Adobe's invention.

"The technology is new but its underlying principles have been understood for some time," said Dr Steven Murdoch from University College London.

"Biometric companies say their products would not be tricked by this, because the things they are looking for are not the same things that humans look for when identifying people.

"But the only way to find out is to test them, and it will be some time before we know the answer."

Watermark checks

Google's DeepMind division showed off a rival voice-mimicking system called WaveNet in September.

But at the time, it suggested that the task needed too much processing power to find its way into a consumer product in the near future.

Voice studioImage copyrightTHINKSTOCK

Image captionAdobe suggested that Voco could save voice recording costs

For its part, Adobe has talked of its customers using Voco to fix podcast and audio book recordings without having to rebook presenters or voiceover artists.

But a spokeswoman stressed that this did not mean its release was imminent.

"[It] may or may not be released as a product or product feature," she told the BBC.

"No ship date has been announced."

In the meantime, Adobe said it was researching ways to detect use of its software.

"Think about watermarking detection," Mr Jin said at the demo, referring to a method used to hide identifiers in images and other media.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 9th Nov 2016

tesla factory robotsTesla will build its next Gigafactory in Europe and it will produce more than just batteries, CEO Elon Musk said Tuesday. 

Musk said that Tesla plans to establish a combined vehicle and Gigafactory in Europe, where both batteries and vehicles can be produced on site. Tesla plans to eventually have at least one, if not multiple, battery and vehicles facilities in Europe, he said. 

However, it will likely be awhile before this hybrid factory becomes a reality. The company will begin looking for locations for its second Gigafactory next year, Musk said. For now, though, the company remains focused on getting ready for Model 3 production, which is slated for the end of 2017. 

Gigafactory 1, which is located in Sparks, Nevada, is still under construction, but it's where Tesla plans to build the battery cells that power its vehicles, including the Model 3, and its energy products. Once Gigafactory 1 is fully operational, it will produce more lithium-ion batteries a year than all other lithium-ion manufacturers combined created in 2013. 

tesla gigafactoryTesla Motors

 

During the last year Tesla has increasingly been focused on improving its manufacturing methods.

In May, Musk said that he was "hell-bent" on Tesla becoming the best manufacturer on Earth and in September he said that his biggest epiphany of 2016 was that what really matters is the "machine that builds the machine," or the factory.

Tesla strengthened this resolve to automate production when it announced Tuesday that it plans to acquire Grohmann Engineering, a Germany-based engineering group that specializes in automated manufacturing methods. Tesla said the firm, which will be renamed Tesla Grohmann Automation, will help the electric car maker build "the most advanced factories in the world." 

Advanced factories capable of high-volume production play a major role in helping Tesla achieve its goal of accelerating a sustainable energy future, the company said in a statement published on its website Tuesday. This is because these highly-efficient factories let Tesla build products with extreme economies of scale, which helps drives down the cost of its products. 

For example, Tesla's Gigafactory 1 is using advanced manufacturing methods and economies of scale to significantly reduce the cost of its batteries. Once the factory is fully operational by 2020, Tesla estimates the factory will enable it to reduce its battery prices by about 30%, which will in turn help it build its vehicles for less money. 

By combining battery production with car production for the first time in its future European Gigafactory, Tesla will likely be able to make its production process even more efficient, thus helping make its products more affordable for more people. 

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 9th Nov 2016

GoPro droneImage copyrightAFP

Action camera firm GoPro has recalled its new drone after reports of power failures.

The company said there had been a “small number of cases” of the drone malfunctioning during flight.

GoPro said it would rectify the problem and put the Karma drone back on sale once the issue was resolved. Anyone who has bought the $799 (£646) drone can get a full refund, it said.

GoPro launched the Karma in September along with two new cameras.

The cameras are not affected by the recall, the company said on Tuesday.

GoPro issued the recall notice just as polls began to close in the US presidential election - giving rise to accusations the company was seeking to bury the news.

Instructions for people who bought the drone have been posted on the GoPro website.

GoPro boss Nick Woodman had high hopes for the drone when it launched.

“These products are the best products we’ve ever made,” he told the BBC in September.

He needs the products to reverse the recent fortunes of the company he founded.

More competitive rivals such as DJI, as well as a trend of people using their smartphones to take pictures rather than buying cameras, has seen GoPro’s shares slump over the past year.

In its latest earnings report, published at the beginning of November, the company posted a loss of $84m.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 8th Nov 2016

Firm halts online operations following 'suspicious transactions'

tesco bank

Tesco Bank has admitted suffering a breach that led to money being stolen from 20,000 customers' accounts. 

The bank, which has more than seven million customers, confirmed on Saturday that around 40,000 accounts saw "suspicious transactions" over the weekend, of which half had money taken. 

Benny Higgins, Tesco Bank CEO, said in a statement on the company's website: "Tesco Bank can confirm that, over the weekend, some of its customers’ current accounts have been subject to online criminal activity, in some cases resulting in money being withdrawn fraudulently."

Customers have reported that as much as £2,000 was siphoned from their accounts over the weekend. Many of those affected also complained that they were unable to get through to Tesco on the phone. 

Ajeet Khatri @AjeetKhatri

@paullewismoney @tescobank text and email received. Logged online and £2000 missing from the account. Helpline not picking up. Worried!!!

8:53 AM - 6 Nov 2016

6 Nov

Tesco Bank Help ✔ @tescobankhelp

As a precaution we have notified some customers that we have blocked their cards to protect their account - https://yourcommunity.tescobank.com/t5/News/Suspicious-Activity-Texts/m-p/6538#U6538 …

 Follow

Christopher Mills @chrismi1

@tescobankhelp @tescobanknews My available balance has gone down by £700 without making a tx. I cannot get through by phone!!!

11:14 AM - 6 Nov 2016

As well as suspending online transactions, Tesco Bank has blocked some customers' cards. The company said in a statement to the BBC that it hopes to refund customers within 24 hours. 

"As a precautionary measure, we have taken the decision today to temporarily stop online transactions from current accounts. This will only affect current account customers," Higgins said.

"While online transactions will not be available, current account customers will still be able to use their cards for cash withdrawals, chip and PIN payments, and all existing bill payments and direct debits will continue as normal. We are working hard to resume normal service on current accounts as soon as possible."

However, the Financial Conduct Authority said that banks must refund unauthorised payments immediately, unless they have evidence that the customer was at fault or the payment was made more than 13 months ago.

We'll update this story as soon as we hear more.

Source: v3.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 8th Nov 2016

Donald Trump at a rally in VirginiaImage copyrightAFP

Image caption"You can't review 650,000 emails in eight days," says Mr Trump, but is he right?

Road to the White House

To the outrage of Donald Trump and his supporters, the FBI says it has found no evidence of criminality in a newly-discovered trove of emails linked to Hillary Clinton.

With election day in touching distance, late last month FBI director James Comey said the bureau was investigating new emails potentially connected to its investigation into Mrs Clinton's private email server.

He has since faced a backlash from leading Democrats, with President Obama saying investigations should not operate on "innuendo" and the party's leader in the US Senate, Harry Reid, even suggesting Mr Comey may have broken the law.

There was little sign that US voters would see a conclusion before the final vote.

But now, in another letter, Mr Comey has effectively concluded they have found nothing new. And Mr Trump has made his displeasure clear.

"You can't review 650,000 emails in eight days," Mr Trump told a rally in Michigan.

"Hillary Clinton is guilty, she knows it, the FBI knows it, the people know it and now it's up to the American people to deliver justice at the ballot box on 8 November."


A tweet reads: Image copyright@GENFLYNN


Several computing experts, though, say otherwise.

"That's taking a rather naive view of it," the University of Surrey's Alan Woodward said of Mr Trump's claim. "The investigators don't go through each email manually."

The emails themselves were found on a device belonging to Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of Clinton aide Huma Abedin. Mr Weiner, a former congressman, is subject to a separate FBI investigation.

Details about the fresh FBI inquiry remain scant. Several reports say that the emails discovered were simply duplicates of ones already examined.

In the latest letter, Mr Comey said investigators had "reviewed all of the communications that were to or from Hillary Clinton while she was Secretary of State", leaving open the possibility they were still looking into some of the emails.


An email reads: Image copyright@KHANOISSEUR


For Steven Murdoch, a research fellow at the University of London, the key word is "review".

"It doesn't mean they have been read," he said, adding that privacy considerations and the sheer volume of data would have been prohibitive.

Despite the seemingly intimidating size of the email cache, there are several ways they could have been narrowed down, experts say, such as using the to and fromfield to determine which messages came from Mrs Clinton, filtering out duplicate emails, or using search parameters.

Dr Murdoch compared the process to how officials might root through vast amounts of court documents.

Using these techniques, it is unlikely there would have been many emails investigators would have to read with their own eyes.

"Very quickly you would find that the haystack becomes the needle," as Prof Woodward said.

Fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden offered a few more tips to the authorities on how they might go about their search.


A tweet reads: Image copyrightTWITTER


Mr Snowden suggested they may have used hashing, which would involve coding the two sets of emails into a shorter expression of that data for quick comparison - something the authorities presumably had a head start on given the months of investigation into Mrs Clinton's email use.

Speaking anonymously, one former FBI expert told Wired he had processed much larger sets faster.

"We'd routinely collect terabytes of data in a search," he said. "I'd know what was important before I left the guy's house."

For the Errata Security blog, "the question isn't whether the FBI could review all those emails in eight days, but why the FBI couldn't have reviewed them all in one or two days. Or even why they couldn't have reviewed them before Comey made that horrendous announcement that they were reviewing the emails."


A tweet reads: Image copyright@DITZKOFF


 

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 8th Nov 2016

 

3 year old girl buildingImage copyrightTHINKSTOCK

Image captionDawn Bonfield found this kind of early enthusiasm had disappeared by the age of eight or nine

When Dawn Bonfield, the former chief executive of the Women's Engineering Society, ran a stand recently at a big military airshow, she was in for a shock.

There were around 900 Brownies amongst the crowd and Ms Bonfield recounts, "I'm saying to all these girls, 'Do you know about engineering, would you like to be an engineer, have you thought about engineering?'

"And in the whole day... probably five or six of them said yes. Every other one said no, just straight out no."

What surprised her most, she says, is that it wasn't that these eight and nine-year-old girls didn't know what engineering was. Simply that they had already switched off.

"So how much work does it take to change that?" asks Ms Bonfield. "I mean it's huge."

Numbers game

There's no shortage of data to back up her estimation of the scale of work required. The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that women make up around just 8% of engineers in the UK.

And this is at a time when the UK needs to produce thousands more engineers, so much so that the inventor, Sir James Dyson, is planning to open his own institute to address the skills shortage.

Further back in the chain that links school, university and then employment, other data show that 49% of state schools send no girls to study A-level physics. And of those students who are taking an A-level in the subject, only a fifth are girls - despite getting similar grades at GCSE as boys.

Engineering students past and present at John Warner school

Image captionFuture problem solvers? Past and present engineering students at the John Warner School. Jamie (front, centre) is now an engineering apprentice

At the John Warner School in Hertfordshire, where you can take a GCSE in engineering, Dawn Bonfield's discoveries would come as no surprise to the girls in the GCSE and A-level groups. They are well aware of the stigma surrounding women and engineering. It seems even in the 21st Century it is still thought of as a job for a man.

"It starts at a young age... and that's just what we've grown up with," says Sophie, who did an engineering GCSE, but isn't continuing it to A-level, because of a timetable clash.

She puts it down partly to the fact that "girls are just put in the corner with a doll" - while boys play with trucks and cars - and partly down to the idea that manual labour is the preserve of men.

"It's only when you get to GCSE age that that option's offered to you, so a lot of people might still at that age be thinking, 'Oh well, I shouldn't be doing building or coding,' and stuff like that."

The girls at the John Warner School seem to defy some of these perceptions - 11 out of 13 of them said they would consider a career as an engineer. Nevertheless all of them are vastly outnumbered by boys in their different GCSE and A-level classes in engineering. And they're in the minority in physics and maths classes too.

Mum and dad matter

Sexual stereotyping and not enough female role models are well documented as reasons why girls don't choose engineering. As are misconceptions about the job itself, which isn't always about getting your hands dirty.

Campaigns such as the Institution of Engineering and Technology's "#9PercentIsNotEnough" are trying to address this.

Hannah Huggins

Image captionHannah's mother was dubious at first but then backed her daughter's enthusiasm for engineering

In addition, in one of the many recent reports concerned with the dearth of girls pursuing science, technology and engineering (Stem) subjects, the attitude of parents was also cited as an important factor in career choices. For girls, perhaps unsurprisingly, mothers were particularly influential.

"My mum was a bit iffy about it at first cos she was more like, 'Girls should do this and that and the other,' more like 'keep your posture up and be ladylike'," says GCSE student Hannah.

"But my dad used to build a lot of stuff and he got me into that. So after my mum saw how me and my dad interacted she said, 'Yeah, go for it' and she's kind of the one who supported me with this."

Educating parents, as well as the girls themselves and their teachers, is key believes Helen Macadam, a civil engineer who works on railway projects for the construction company Skanska.

Helen Macadam on Crossrail project for SkanskaImage copyrightSKANSKA

Image captionHelen Macadam has a novel solution to the engineering problem

"For me it's all about being more open and being more transparent and showing people, because what is [an] engineer? It covers so many different jobs, you can't even begin to describe it. And that's probably why it's so difficult to promote it," she says. "It's almost whatever job you want."

'No silver bullet'

The UK has a particularly low percentage of female engineers, other European countries put the figure at around 20%. In the US it's 14%, according to a recent congressional estimate, but the same question preoccupies the profession on the other side of the Atlantic too.

"There's no silver bullet," says Lina Nilsson, a biomedical engineer who works for a medical equipment company. She, however, believes she might have found one answer. When she was the innovation director in the Blum Center for developing economies at the University of California, Berkeley, the department started offering a postgraduate course on solutions for low-income communities.

Half the students who enrolled in the first classes in the autumn of 2014 were women.

Ms Nilsson thinks it was the obvious, practical good that designing an affordable solution for clean drinking water, or medical diagnostic equipment for tropical diseases, would do, that drew women to the course.

"The rationale of why to do it, not how, is really powerful," she says. "It's engineering with a social impact. On traditional courses it becomes hidden, or assumed that young students know what the purpose of engineering is. In fact we only have a vague idea of what it is."

john warner Year 11 girls with robot

Image captionJohn Warner GCSE students Lizzie, Clare and Kaitlyn with the robot they created in the school's robotics club

The UK is following suit. Several universities and colleges are finding new ways of teaching engineering that are aimed at pulling in a more diverse group of students.

Some courses are experimenting with dropping physics and maths A-level as a prerequisite for engineering. Others are offering courses, such as humanitarian engineering, which are popular with women.

As if to prove Ms Nilsson's point, Helen Macadam says she was attracted to the rail industry because it is a "useful and important part of our community".

But she has another solution to the engineering problem. "Maybe, if we didn't call it engineering, if we didn't say, 'Do you want to be an engineer?'" she suggests.

"If you just completely rebranded it and said, 'How would you feel about a career being a problem solver?' That immediately just sounds like something that you can apply to anything, that you could do in whatever context interests you."

The A-level students at the John Warner School would probably agree with her. They are aware that women are not stereotypically seen as problem solvers, but that's not their view.

"Women are good at fixing problems," Alice, Georgia and Cerys tell me. "Men are expected to do it and praised when they do do it, but women kind of do it naturally and it doesn't get really noticed."

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 8th Nov 2016

 

President ObamaPresident Obama speaking at a rally for Hillary Clinton at the University of Michigan on November 7.Associated Press

Even President Obama has had enough of fake news on Facebook.

Obama criticized how "crazy conspiracy theorizing" is spread on social networks like Facebook while speaking at a rally for Hillary Clinton at the University of Michigan on Monday.

"And people, if they just repeat attacks enough, and outright lies over and over again, as long as it's on Facebook and people can see it, as long as its on social media, people start believing it," he said. "And it creates this dust cloud of nonsense."

A recent BuzzFeed investigationfound that 38% of posts shared from three large right-wing politics pages on Facebook included "false or misleading information," and that three large left-wing pages did the same nearly 20% of the time. A follow-up investigation by BuzzFeed revealed how teenagers in Macedonia create fake, pro-Trump news stories that go viral on Facebook.

Reports of fake news stories surfacing on Facebook spiked after the social network fired the human editors who ran its Trending news section. Facebook has said it's working to better filter out false and misleading stories from the News Feed but has yet to introduce any major changes.

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 8th Nov 2016

RISING RUINS

RISING Ruins app visual

RISING Ruins is an exciting new augmented reality app that allows people to step inside the ruins of Coventry Cathedral and see the building as it was before the blitz.

The app uses Google Tango technology to show users a digital reconstruction of the 14th-century building based on their position on a smartphone or a tablet.

Recreated features of the bombed building include the vast medieval stained glass windows, stone pillars, wooden vaulted ceiling and wooden pews.

RISING 16 marks the launch of the innovative new app. Delegates and members of the public will have the opportunity to experience the ruins of the cathedral in a way like never before.

RISING Ruins uses the latest technology to tell an old and familiar story in a new, vivid way.

Coventry Cathedral was bombed during the second world war. On 14 November 1940 a ten-hour air raid devastated the city, leaving two thirds of its buildings damaged or destroyed. Only the cathedral tower, spire, outer wall and the tomb of its first bishop survived.

The RISING Ruins app has been created by the RISING Global Peace Forum, funded by Coventry University and in collaboration with Coventry Cathedral.

For details of the launch and how you can enjoy this exciting new experience, please sign up to our mailing list

Source: rising.org
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 7th Nov 2016

Site will open in 2017 and there are no fees to attend

Dyson offers hands-on training and university education

UK inventor Sir James Dyson has announced the creation of a new technology institute in an effort to provide the nation with enough skilled technology and engineering graduates for the future.

The Dyson Institute of Technology will be based in Malmesbury, Wiltshire, and will open in the autumn of 2017. The courses offer a mix of hands-on engineering with degree-level teaching provided on site by the University of Warwick.

"In your first two years, you'll study general engineering modules. Assessment will be through exams and live Dyson projects," the site stated.

 

"Across years three and four, you will have the option to specialise in Mechanical Engineering, Electronics or a combination of Mechanical Engineering and Electronics."

The first intake of students will be only 25 strong, but Dyson hopes to grow the institute to become a fully-fledged university with the ability to issue its own degrees.

The website also lists several potential areas in which students will work if they are chosen as one of the first 25.

"With Dyson’s expertise across motors, fluid dynamics, separation systems, energy storage, robotics, software, aerodynamics and hair science, you’ll have the chance to work in a number of technical disciplines," it said.

Perhaps even more useful for those interested in attending is that there are no fees and students will be paid for their time working at the institute.

However, entry won't be easy. Applicants need at least AAB at A Level or equivalent "including an A grade in Mathematics and at least one other science, technology or engineering-related subject".

Dyson explained that the mix of experiences will ensure that students are better prepared for the real world when they graduate.

“The new degree course offers academic theory, a real-world job and salary and access to experts in their field," he told the BBC.

Universities minister Jo Johnson added that the institute will play a vital role in producing talented engineers for the future.

"The Dyson Institute of Technology will not only offer students the chance to study on cutting-edge degree level programmes, it will play a vital role in educating the next generation of much needed engineers," he said.

Source: v3.co.uk
 
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