All about Mobile, Web, Technology, Politics, Security, E-Commerce and Living in the Philippines.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Internet based voting is simply stupid!

This is in response to blog post Imperatives Of Electronic Voting, it details the plan to conduct Overseas Absentee Voting via the Internet. You might want to read it first before proceeding.

Reading the Scytl's "How it works", its clear the level of security is very low. Come on Scytl, web base voting over Internet? A script kiddie can do better than that!

If its running via a bootable BlueRay/HDDVD based LiveCD then there would be some hope. Why? Read more on BlueRay/HDDVD's hardware based key for disc/data encryption. From there you can achieve the minimal controlled environment for your system to run, you can even use Xbox 360 with HDDVD and it will run with a lot more security compared to any PC! Eventually secure systems only works on controlled environment and there is no way to completely secure a system once it connects to the Internet, that's the cold clear fact.

Finally, Security is just a pseudo-term for insurance companies which basically says they guarantee a certain risk-level ratio to cost. This means we cant totally blame Scytl, It seems our budget can only afford the unsecured system.

You can also follow the discussions at:

Friday, January 19, 2007

Filipino Ingenuity: Taxi store!

I often hear from my 'gurus' the tales of how Philippines was so far ahead compared to the other Asian countries (the late 70's to early 80's) in term of technology, infrastructures and commerce. "It's called Filipino Ingenuity!" they say, "..its just in our nature to excel in anything given we have the opportunity". Unfortunately I wasn't born before 1980 so I didn't have the opportunity to experience it for myself; it's hard to grasp the idea we were that we we're so far ahead before but we're so far behind now.

Today, a very inspiring event transpired on my way to the office; me and my girlfriend took a cab and we were surprised to see inside lots of women's accessories hanging by its window .

Picture: Accessories for sale, shop while you ride a taxi!

"They're earrings from Hongkong..." said the driver, "I sell them to mostly to foreign tourist and they loved it -- they're selling for big bucks too but I sell them cheap to locals". He picked two sets and offered to show them to us, "they're marvelous...", my girl exclaimed; Indeed they are marvelous... and a marvelous proof of marvelous Filipino ingenuity!.

"Manong, you must be the first [Philippine] taxi driver to ever think of it" I replied with amazement; "You can start this and build a franchise just like Jolijeep! Keep it up". The driver smiled at our compliments and encouragements, we all know its true, it just takes a small opportunity for this type of enterpreneurship to succeed.

So whenever you're around Makati area, take a look around maybe you'll spot the roving taxi where you can buy great sets of accessories and be inspired at the same time.

[Note: Jolijeep is a restaurant on wheels that sells native street food delicacies and its very famous here in Makati.]

Friday, January 12, 2007

iPhone Review: Has Steve Jobs done it again?

Everyone was asking; where's your iPhone review? We'll, I spent an afternoon reviewing footages of the iPhone from MacWorld as well as going thru lots of blogs detailing the iPhone but there were no complete specifications out there about it. So I went back to the footages and try to come up with some guess work specifications of iPhone v1.0

iPhone Specifications:

  • Screen size: 3.5 inchess.

  • Screen resolution: 320x480 @ 160 ppi.

  • Height: 114.3 mm.

  • Width: 60.96 mm.

  • Thickness: 11.6 mm.

  • Weight: 4.8 ounces or 135 grams (may vary with storage capacity).

  • Talk time: 5 hours.

  • Play time: 16 hours pure playback.

  • Camera: 2 megapixels.

  • Storage: 4 and 8 Gigabytes.

  • Operating System (OS): Mac OS X.

  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 2.0, WIFI, EDGE

  • Interface: Multi-touch point screen (no stylus).

  • External interface: Ring/Silent Button, volume control and a home button.

  • Browser: Safari.

  • Est. Release Date: June 2007.

  • Est. Price: 500 USD.

Some notable iPhone Features:

  • Phone Lock: graphical slide bar to unlock phone.

  • 'Flick Scroll': slide fingers quickly accross list like a flick to scroll quickly.

  • Battery saving: proximity sensor automatically turns off the screen when on call and placed near the ear.

  • Conferencing: When merging a call you can set a member(s) to private so you can quickly switch between private and conference.

  • Display orientation: tilt phone horizontally during browse modes to have wider display, extra paging controls will be available. Tilt it back vertically for normal view.Feature also available for photos.

  • Browsing: Use multi-points by pinching to zoom out, release (pinch out) to zoom in.

  • Typing: touch text input fields to bring up soft keys with predictive typing.

  • Maps: use maps to find for locations, search for stores to find nearest branches related to current map. Tap on markers to store show infos and finally tap on phone number to call.

  • Videos and Music: All your favorite iPod features.

  • Messaging: Message history can be listed as conversations. iChat type qoute bubble included!

  • Widgets: Stock, weather, etc...

  • Mail: Auto-preview plane available, attachments such as photos are automatically visible.

  • Calls: Calls can be recorded (acts as voicemail) and played back.

  • Network: Cingular/AT&T only

  • Applications: No 3rd party applications.

Well there you have it! It's not official and complete but so far that's what I can dig about iPhone specs and most probably much of it will drastically change during its release on June.

If you want to know about the weaknesses on iPhone then check out Oliver Starr's posts on MobileCrunch, IMHO it summarizes all the bad parts of the iPhone and I totally agree iPhone's UI is revolutionary (actually ripped-off technology from other companies) but technologically it lacks a lot especially for not supporting 3G. Personally i think iPhone wont sport 3G features but instead jump ahead and launch with 4G WiMAX!

Videos about iPhone on YouTube:

Job's presentation

Demo of iPhone's Feature

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Career change: Mobile 2.0 to Banking 2.0 ?

January 15th. That's my last day of my regular work for MegaMobile and FingerApps Inc, I'm not resigning from the company but from here on I'll be participating on consultancy basis. I'll be joining a banking company based on Australia with 2 other developers, the company and the nature of work is top secret for the mean time.

I decided to move on mainly to open more business possibilities for MegaMobile and FingerApps, both companies have grown so much in just under a year and the combined mobile technology is already far superior to the rest of local mobile firms. It's time to evolve.

Whenever I choose to work on a new company I would always consider the following:

1.) Will it be revolutionary - not just technically but business wise itself, it should be able to open new markets or revenue streams.

2.) Will it help people - I'm more interested on building services or tools that helps people to be more productive.

3.) Will my contribution be significant - working for money is easy but working for something you believe in is rare. I also have to gauge if my own talent can significantly improve the company's business.

4.) Will it leverage on my past accomplishments - Trying to reinvent the wheel is foolish, one must build on its previous achievements; refining it and evolving whenever necessary.

5.) Will it help my country - of course it has to be useful here in the Philippines.

Anyway be assured nothing will change on the blog, I'll stick on mobile 2.0 and Web 2.0 topics. I will post more updates about my new job later on and continue blogging from down under!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

How not to apply for a job -- ever!

I found this story is from Digg, about an applicant who thinks he's better than the rest of the world. May this serves as a warning to all; be respectful and you will be respected, if you go on bashing other people and you will never get a job :P


From: Amir Saffar
Sent: 02 December 2006 01:22
To: Amir Saffar
Subject: multimediator/web designer position
Amir Saffar
889 Bathurst Road
Toronto, Canada

To Whom It May Concern:
I am a web developer/designer with experience in designing corporate, commercial, retail, and business web systems. With more than 6 years experience designing Internet/multimedia systems professionally in a production environment, I could be a valuable asset to your web design and multimedia team.
Managing projects, task delegation, and client relations have been necessary skills at my previous employment positions. These have always been tasks that I excel at and enjoy.
My experience in web site consultation critiquing usability, functionality, aesthetics, and search engine placement can help clients with their existing web content by introducing them to innovative and cost-effective solutions.

My enthusiasm, creativity, communication skills and ability to work without supervision are my strong points. I have extensive design experience using Flash, Dreamweaver, HTML, CSS, VB, C#, SQL, Photoshop, Illustrator, QuarkXPress, 3dsMax, and other programs. I would be able to create a dynamic company presence for you on the Internet.

I am currently on vacation for two months in the region. Since I have a Canadian passport, traveling to the UAE would not be an issue for me at all. I also have to mention that since I have lived in a multicultural country and because of my background, I have been trained to work with people who have different cultures and backgrounds. Therefore I hope my experience in this field could be a valuable asset to your company.
I would welcome an opportunity to discuss my qualifications and experience in greater detail. I am available for an interview at your convenience.


Mike Platts wrote:
Hi Amir
Thanks for sending us your CV - we’d certainly be interested in speaking with you. Just to clarify, are you planning to visit Dubai during your vacation? If not, perhaps we can arrange to speak over the phone.
Mike Platts
Creative Partner, North55 Dubai


From: Amir Saffar
Sent: 11 December 2006 00:18
To: Mike Platts
Subject: RE: hi again
Hi again,
I guess people work for free in Dubai. Am I correct!??

take care


Mike Platts wrote:

Sorry, you’veveompletely lost me there…how did I imply that people ‘work for free’ in Dubai?


From: Amir Saffar
To: Mike Platts
Sent: Friday, December 15, 2006 9:11 PM
Subject: RE: hi again

it’s very simple Mike. You are interested in my profile and i wanted to know how much you were able to pay. no response means: you either can’t pay that much,
or you only hire indians and pakistanis who don’t ask for a good salary.
but dude, i am neither indian or paki and i have never worked for less than
2000 usd/month. You got it now!?



Mike Platts wrote:

Jesus, that’s some chip you’ve gve on your shoulder there pal. Before the email I received on 11th December, I’d only gotten one from you - the first, which included your CV. As far as I can see, it didn’tdidntion money. If you sent another after that, then sorry, but I didn’t gdidnt, which is why I didn’t repdidnAnyway, it’s all worked out well. I wowouldn want a bigobigottedearseholee you working with us, and I’m sure that the Indians and Pakis Pakisork at North55 - most of whom earn more than US$2,000 a month, some by a factor of three - are glad that they won’t have to put up with your small-minded bullshit either. The Brits, South Africans and Canadians will probably be pretty cock-a-hoop too.
Best of luck finding a job in Dubai - I’m sure you’ll get exactly the kind of position you deserve.


From: Amir Saffar
To: Mike Platts
Sent: Saturday, December 16, 2006 10:39 PM
Subject: got it?

i’m sending this e-mail twice. i wanna make sure you get it this time!!

2000 USD/month is a joke bro. I got paid that much when I graduated from College/without any exp.
I’m pretty sure most of you guys work at coffee shops when you finish your work at the studio.
What doesn’t make sense to me is, why would a guy from N America or Europe want to work for that amount. Perhaps you’ve hve a low paid job back home and you are satisfied with 2000 USD!USDrewerenou a cleaner/or a security guard…Mike!?


From: Mike Platts
To: Amir Saffar
Sent: Sunday, December 17, 2006 1:41 AM
Subject: Fw: got it?
You really are an irritating little troll aren’t you? You can barely write English, and you seem to have a problem reading it too. So I’ll break it down for you: not. wanted. here.
Now fuck off.
All the best,
PS - I’veveaking the liberty of copying some of my colleagues in the industry here, just in case they too should have the misfortune of hearing from you. I’m sure they’d be kind enough to forward it on to their pals, too, and with any luck you’ll be back fucking moose in time for Christmas. (Oh, and by the way, if you’re such hot shit, why the reluctance to include a link to any of your work in your CV? So you’ve got six yvers’ experience - big deal. You don’t seem to have been able to hold down a job for too long - or were they short-term cleaner/security guard contracts?)

[End excerpts]

Read the rest at The Dubai Life Blog

Now on to my personal reflections to this story.

Its January again and in a few months time it will be Job hunting season again especially for the fresh graduates. I remember the advice of my mentor well and I will dispense it to you also:

"to be successful, talent is only half of it.. the rest is about dealing with people".

That's why whenever there's an arguments, I try to be sensitive and respect other people's opinion. During discussions, there are times it seems you have an upper hand because you know more about the topic compared to others but it's not an excuse to belittle them in anyway. You may be a expert in one field but others will always be better than you in other areas.

Always remember when dispute persists, do not force your ideas unto others or think of them as inferior in anyway. They may lack the understanding but you also lack the means to communicate your ideas, this basically causes the failure in any discussions.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Predictions for 2007 and beyond

This is the first time I'm going to do this prediction gig basically because I'm a fan of the Uncertainty Principle and making predictions doesn't actually means predetermining the future, rather it gives us insight on the current what has come to pass. Predictions are built on present facts and data gathered from history and the possibility of history repeating itself or it totally changes making a 180 degree turn around.

1. Banking 2.0
We already have Web 2.0 and Mobile 2.0, I think this year other industries will jump into the 2.0 band wagon especially banking. Why? Because in order to develop things we need to finance it and most banks don't have the capability yet to offer smooth transaction between Web 2.0 and Mobile 2.0 enabled products. Imagine having your daily Adsense income going directly to your bank account or if your an advertisers, being able to pay for search placement in daily terms -- something like subscribed indefinitely until canceled.

Of course the world already have PayPal but its not a bank, its not even a credit card. PayPal is a broker that you authorized to conduct credit card and bank transactions in your behalf. But wait, why banks don't do it themselves? why doesn't Visa or MasterCard provide the payment gateway? IMHO cutting the middle man saves every a lot of money for online buyers or sellers; its a potential a cash cow for every banks. Finally PayPal isn't servicing some countries because they are prone to fraud, which IMHO is a huge portion of untapped markets. These are cases where banks are more suitable to offer payment gateways since they know how local ecommerce per region works and can easily adapt their payment systems to curb fraud.

2. Content is King
If you have read my previous post about Media's role in shaping Mobile 2.0 then this is the follow up. So far local telcos has been relying on contents custom made for mobile. However they have overlooked the fact that there are tons of contents already available out there; If you're a fan of YouTube, DailyMotion, Current.TV, Blogger and the likes then I think you already know what I'm talking about. These are community produced contents with Creative Commons Licenses, which basically means a bulk of them are almost free to redistribute or rebroadcast provided it has proper attribution. Telcos position is very unique, they can be publishers of content thus they can buy licensed contents to be republished for mobile or they can be passive communication providers; meaning any content with licenses they do not own can still be transmitted via the network and get a quick buck. It's just like why your ISP doesn't have to pay a dime to publishers for licensed content being transmitted through their network while they earn more when people download contents more; because the demand to use faster connections that cost more goes up too. However for telcos to survive 2007 and beyond, they must must evolve from being just network providers but be communications and entertainment providers. This means they have to provide all means of communications including tools and solutions to communicate as well as provide the reason why to communicate. The success of TV is primarily because its the primary medium for entertainment, it used to be the carrier of information too but that has been long taken away by the Internet and it won't be long enough when all of us will be watching TV via Internet thus signaling the end of broadcast stations. This will eventually force stations to downgrade into content providers type entities where they can easily merge with telcos to provide perpetual supply mobile and Internet TV entertainment contents.

3. The Rise of The Mashables
I have noticed more and more of the new sites are either a mash-up of services offered by other Web 2.0 sites or a complete clone of another. They call then widgets, embeddable piece of contents that can easily be integrated into any existing site (for example see the embedded map showing the site's recent visitors). So far Google and Yahoo are the biggest providers of these widgets which includes contributed ones from the developer network; all that just to promote their portal and hoping to build a big base community that will follow and use every product they released. However Google and Yahoo... OK lets add MSN, are still search engines at their core, their other products such are mail, eGroups, shopping and etc are just there to act as outlets to distribute their ad littered search results. Now there's an idea, why not build a company exclusively providing mashable widgets with ads; weather widgets that links to travel site when its sunny and flood insurance sites when there's storm; map widgets that tell you from what country other site visitors are, as well as links on cheap hotels and travel agencies; this list can go on. IMHO that company is just out there and its ready on 2007.

4. The Gaming Word: 'Massive'
IMHO game titles that will totally run away as winners for 2007 belongs to the genre of Massive Multi-player Online Games. We'll thats not new since the newest trend in online games is play for free but exclusive add-ons and game items are for sale. But wait , here is what's missing: Wii like accessories for PC + MMOG. Yes, in 2007 we may finally see Wii like PC games in WCG or maybe even Special Olympics where all Wii sports type games are played. Locally, I believe there will more and more MMOGs tapping the advertisement industry thus giving game providers more freedom to provide free games (Horay, play free forever). Its a fact that more games are developed to promote a brands rather than traditionally starting out as a pure game concepts; eventually MMOGs will be physically tied to the products they promote; e.g: you can have you online character order a pizza and in physical world the pizza will be delivered to your doorstep! Now that's not just Massive Gaming, it's Massive Marketing as well.

5. Philippine BPO Boom
There will be more BPO companies starting 2007. Why? Just with the 4 predictions above, a company will require lots of resources to pull one off and that's why BPO is crucial to extend one's capability but without sacrificing specialization and quality. In technology based companies, BPO isn't just a simple outsourcing of business process but as means of skill and technology transfer as well. It's actually recommended for a start-up company to have portion of their business be outsourced, this gives the company the chance to upgrade its current skills, competency and technology first without sacrificing its market opportunity. However one must be careful on choosing a BPO partners, some may don't want to share skills and technology thus they will device various interoperability systems. loose connectivity and APIs instead to solid frameworks you can use. I'm not saying this is wrong, but for start-up company its wise to find a BPO partner that provides the entire framework since use of Mid-tier systems should be reserved for large companies who has established frameworks and not willing to change it but still augment its capabilities. In 2006, India as well as Vietnam became the most prominent destination for companies to find BPO partners, however they soon found that most are not willing to share the frameworks thus putting them on a product type lock-in using the Mid-Tier applications. That's where Philippines comes in, having more and more companies outsource their costumer center operation in the country, they have found it wiser to move their technology/production outsourcing here as well rather than having costumer centers contact their outsourced production facility only to find its still closed because its 4-5 timezones away.

I hope you liked my predictions, I personally believe 2007 is a very good year for all and I'm very excited since early signs of my predictions are already there. Let's keep our fingers crossed and on 2008 we will look back on these predictions and see how well we scored.

P.S: I intentionally left out the usual topics like Google, Microsoft, VOIP, Firefox, OpenSource (sorry to guys at PLUG) and Politics (eew!). IMHO these are done deals and its clear enough where they are going on 2007.

TV is Personal, TV is Mobile 2.0

As early as August 2006, Nokia has announced the availability of pilot services for Mobile TV. Recently the site has announced it will be providing commercial mobile TV broadcast to New York city. Mobile TV broadcast is the latest service addition to 3G enabled telcos but unlike downloaded contents like 3GP videos (pull on demand) or streamed videos. Mobile TV is broadcasted just like normal TV using the open DVB-H specification for broadcasting to battery-powered handheld devices, and a related set of specifications for IP datacast (DVB-IPDC), which are the key enabling technologies for mobile television. The Nokia N92 is the first mobile phone to support Mobile TV which was announced during Nokia's Mobility Conference 2005 at Barcelona Spain however Modeo has taken it further by releasing Modeo enabled Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0 DVB-H Smartphone, manufactured by HTC.

Recently Inquirer (news paper publication) and GMA 7 (TV station) has unofficially announced a breakup and rumors has it that GMA 7 will built its own portal like YouTube. With Web 2.0 hammering TV stations market, Mobile TV and Mobile 2.0 is the future that local Philippine TV stations may not be ready to face yet.

Dawn of 4G WiMAX and the 5 Giants

Nokia joins Intel, Samsung and Motorola in creating advance infrastructure for 4G WiMAX. It also announced it signed a pact with Sprint Nextel to be the key infrastructure and consumer electronic device provider. Full story at Nokia Press Release.

With barely a year after Globe and Smart started offering 3G access in the Philippines, what will the dawn of 4G WiMAX bring to the local mobile industry. Obviously the telcos haven't recovered yet from their initial investments thus its most probable we will be again one of the last country to enjoy 4G experience while its ironic more and more countries look up to the Philippines as the number one innovator in value added mobile services.

But there is one player in the telco industry that might pull 4G first, introducing CURE, the 4th telco in the Philippines. I got acquainted CURE last August 2004 when they scouted for local VAS providers, CURE is very young as pointed by its President Eric Recto during an interview by PhilippineBusiness. However, unknown to many there is a 5th telco preparing its entry into the local mobile industry but its unlikely it's head will surface on the first half of this year (2007). I know the details on the 5th telco, compared to the 4 telcos, it won't be a GSM/WCDMA network and like CURE is in better position to enter Mobile 2.0 -- there are a lot of things where I must keep my mouth shut so that's all you'll get about it :P

What ever happens, its the consumer who will eventually be the winner having to choose between 5 Giants depending on their lifestyle and it means a brighter future for Philippine's mobile industry.

YouTube Stream beta launch

YouTube has launched Streams. Its a mash-up between watch playlist and chat, a noticeable feature is the ability to queue videos so they load up in the background as the current video still plays. It also allows other users to add videos on the list and shows on the chat the current video they are watching. Im not sure when they had this feature activated since there's still a few streams on the list which includes the greatest videos, comedians, nude videos and more.

See also YouTube help on Streams

Friday, January 05, 2007

Books on your mobile phones!

According to Textually, Japan has stepped up to be the first country to widely distribute novels via mobile phones written by mobile novelist (I'll call them mobelist). "The first mobile phone novel was written six years ago by fiction writer Yoshi, but the trend picked up in the last couple years when high-school girls with no previous publishing experience started posting stories they wrote on community portals for others to download and read on their cell phones". You can follow the rest of the story via Wired.

After reading this story I suddenly remembered the same thing posted about a year ago by Orlando Andico when he presented an idea of selling cheap novels via MMS (mms file). But just like my first mentor on business and marketing used to say: "Whenever you have a big new idea, you are alone, 10 other people in the world has the same idea.. It's a matter of who has the guts to do it". I guess the Japanese mobelists just beats us on that.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Firefox 3 Microformats will brings us to Web 2.5

If you think you're Web 2.0 savvy then think again.

Mozilla designer Alex Faaborg published some introductory posts on his blog about where Mozilla Microformats which on his own words, he describes them as "adding semantics to markup to take it from being machine readable to being machine understandable."

Basically it means you can now use your browser to automatically aggregate data/data sources and publish them to any Web 2.0 application. Example, when ever you digg a news it will also automatically post the URL to your or whenever you subscribe to a blog feed the blog's URL will also be added to your blog roll. This functionality is so powerful it will definitely give birth to another genre of Web 2.5 (or we ready for Web 3.0?) applications; just like how RSS gave rise to Web 2.0

Now here is the fun part, imagine doing this on mobile, add a friend on myspace then it will also add your friend's mobile number to your contact list or subscribe to his mobile service. Now that's Mobile 2.0, its simply amazing!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy New Year Google: Gmail Hacks posted on Digg!

Hacker's gave Google a new year's gift: A ways to steal all your Gmail contacts by just visiting a site, anysite for that matter. By the time im writing this, 1628 people dugg the article on digg plus they posted the code on the comment page.

I tried it myself and it only took me 10 minutes to code a Gmail address book slurper using PHP, this code is released for educational purposes only. You may try out if your Gmail is vulnerable here(fixed).

Maybe this is the end of Google peaceful reign and join the likes of Microsoft who battles endless wave of hackers trying to find the next vulnerability.

UPDATE: 3:53AM +8:00

Guys if your using the test site please create a dummy account and add some useless email address on the contact list. Although I'm not harvesting your account (so your safe if you trust me) but my hosting just called saying my access_logs has bloated. So please, create a dummy account first and add Bush to the contact list before testing. I'm adding more tests scripts using other sources of the contact list data such as Google notepad and Google groups.

UPDATE 7:31PM +8:00

I'm checking in to report that the hack has been closed thanks to the cult followers of Gmail who were relentless in finding all the bugs. I'm not sure what time it was fixed since I wasn't able to stay awake to test regularly via the test site, thanks to Aileen Apolo's reply (to my mass email warning) i woke up to update this post right away. Kudos to Google team, i think they had to skip some needed holiday break just to fix this hack as fast as possible lastly kudos the rest of the blogosphere and diggers who searched and posted the hack. IMHO if these guys who initially found the hack didn't come forward with the report (they didn't withheld the hack and use it for their own profit), lots of accounts could have been compromised.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Mobile Video Of Saddam's Execution

Google Video has one of the execution videos takes using a mobile phone. It shows Saddam hanging with rope around his neck (creepy). I advise all viewers with faint heart and children not to view the video but for all you sick puppies out there, enjoy the show :P

For sickier puppies out there, you can download the the video into you phone in 3gp format (created using YouTube Mobile Downloader).

You may also watch the video at or read the story about how the execution of Saddam video was smuggled (digg).

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