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Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 is a darkly fascinating immersive sim

Eurogamer - 3 hours 5 min ago

It launched back in November 2004, is one of the most cherished PC games of all-time and people have been clamouring for a follow-up the 15 years since - and today, at GDC, that finally became a reality. Yes, Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines is getting a sequel, and it's coming to PC and consoles in 2020.

You might have guessed as much from the recent teases made by publisher Paradox, or possibly hoped as much back when Paradox acquired the rights back in 2015, though it's all come together remarkably quickly.

"When we as Paradox acquired the IP, we saw Bloodlines as the crown jewel," says producer Christian Schlutter. "We wanted to do a new Bloodlines, but we also knew there were a lot of expectations connected to it, not just from the fans but also from us. We actually thought we'd hold off on doing Bloodlines 2, because we wanted to do it right - then these guys come along and have the perfect pitch, with the original writer on-board too. It all happened far faster than we expected."

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Categories: Video Games

Apple's Plan For Its New TV Service: Sell Other People's TV Services

Slashdot - 3 hours 5 min ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Recode: After years of circling the TV business, Apple is finally ready to make its big splash: On Monday it will unveil its new video strategy, along with some of the new big-budget TV shows it is funding itself. One thing Apple won't do is unveil a serious competitor to Netflix, Hulu, Disney, or any other entertainment giant trying to sell streaming video subscriptions to consumers. Instead, Apple's main focus -- at least for now -- will be helping other people sell streaming video subscriptions and taking a cut of the transaction. Apple may also sell its own shows, at least as part of a bundle of other services. But for now, Apple's original shows and movies should be considered very expensive giveaways, not the core product. All of this might very well work. Apple has an installed base of 1.4 billion users, and some of them will buy the things Apple promotes: Look at the success of Apple Music, which launched seven years after Spotify but quickly amassed 50 million subscribers due to a free trial period and prominent real estate on Apple's devices. Another reason this could work: Amazon has already been very successful with its own version of the same idea. Facebook is also bullish on selling TV subscriptions and is pushing would-be partners to sign up so it can launch later this spring or summer, according to industry sources. Similarly, Comcast (which is a minority investor in Vox Media, which owns this site) is rolling out Flex, a $5-a-month service that gives you a bunch of free content (some of which you can also get other places) and the ability to easily buy HBO, Showtime, etc. Instead of offering exclusive content, Comcast is offering subscribers a Roku-like streaming box. According to people who've talked to Apple about its plans, Apple's new TV service will consist of selling TV subscription apps surrounded by millions of other apps in its main app store. "Apple plans on making a new storefront that's much more prominent for those who use Apple TV boxes and other Apple hardware," reports Recode. "It will also be able to offer its own bundles -- for instance, it could offer a package of HBO, Showtime, and Starz at a price that's lower than you'd pay for each pay TV service on its own."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

First Medical Device To Treat Alzheimer's Is Up For Approval By the FDA

Slashdot - 4 hours 30 min ago
the_newsbeagle writes: An FDA advisory committee met today to consider approving the NeuroAD device, which is supposed to help with the cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. The device uses a combination of brain stimulation and cognitive training tasks to strengthen the neural circuits involved in language, memory, and other components of cognition. The treatment requires patients to come to the clinic daily for 1-hour sessions. Regulators in Israel and Europe have already approved the device. The CEO of the company behind the device, Neuronix, says that they're not attempting to cure the underlying biological causes of Alzheimer's. "We're attempting to modify the course of the disease," he says. The cognitive improvements last for up to a year, after which they fade away.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

750,000 Medtronic Defibrillators Vulnerable To Hacking

Slashdot - 5 hours 10 min ago
The Homeland Security Department has issued an alert Thursday describing two types of computer-hacking vulnerabilities in 16 different models of Medtronic implantable defibrillators sold around the world, including some still on the market today. The vulnerability also affects bedside monitors that read data from the devices in patients' homes and in-office programming computers used by doctors. From the report: Medtronic recommends that patients only use bedside monitors obtained from a doctor or from Medtronic directly, and to keep it plugged in so it can receive software updates, and that they maintain "good physical control" over the monitor. Implantable defibrillators are complex, battery-run computers implanted in patients' upper chests to monitor the heart and send electric pulses or high-voltage shocks to prevent sudden cardiac death and treat abnormal heart beats. The vulnerabilities announced Thursday do not affect Medtronic pacemakers. The more serious of the two is a vulnerability that could allow improper access to data sent between a defibrillator and an external device like an at-home monitor. The system doesn't use formal authentication or authorization protections, which means an attacker with short-range access to the device could inject or modify data and change device settings, the advisory says. A second vulnerability allows an attacker to read sensitive data streaming out of the device, which could include the patient's name and past health data stored on their device. The system does not use data encryption, the advisory says. (Deploying encryption in medical devices is tricky because is increases computational complexity and therefore uses the battery faster.) The FDA isn't expected to issue a recall as the vulnerabilities are expected to be patched via a future software update.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Labo VR is lo-fi, inventive and pure Nintendo

Eurogamer - 5 hours 35 min ago

There was a time, not so long ago, when it felt unlikely Nintendo would ever enter the world of VR. As Oculus, Vive and PlayStation VR were all making their initial plays, Nintendo was finding success with a very different bit of kit; a hybrid device that promised the possibility of play anywhere, was built around very traditional video games and sold on the idea of its inherent sociability. It always seemed one of those cute ironies that, while everyone was obsessed with these technologies that asked you to shut yourself away from the world, Nintendo stole a march by offering a console that said you're free to go out and enjoy it.

There now is the prospect of Nintendo VR, though - a tantalisingly close one, too, seeing as it's out early next month - and, typically and somewhat unsurprisingly, it's quite unlike any VR already out there. This is Nintendo marching to its own beat once again; lo-fi, imaginative and with a suite of creative flourishes, Labo VR is everything I'd personally hoped for from Nintendo's first foray into VR since Gunpei Yokoi's ill-fated Virtual Boy.

It helps that it's tied to one of the more offbeat inventions to have come out of Nintendo in recent years (and something which itself feels blessed by the toymaker touch of old-school Yokoi). Labo VR, as the name suggests, is just as much the latest in DIY cardboard construction sets as it is a means for VR, with the first thing you do upon opening up the box being building those goggles yourself. It's a fairly involved, meticulously explained process that should take most people around 20-25 minutes, the end result a sturdy and moderately light headset.

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Categories: Video Games

Microsoft Boots Up the First 'DNA Drive' For Storing Data

Slashdot - 5 hours 50 min ago
Since 2016, Microsoft has been working with the University of Washington to develop the first device to automatically encode digital information into DNA and back to bits again. "So far, DNA storage has been carried out by hand in the lab," reports MIT Technology Review. But now Microsoft and researchers at the University of Washington "say they created a machine that converts electronic bits to DNA and back without a person involved." From the report: The gadget, made from about $10,000 in parts, uses glass bottles of chemicals to build DNA strands, and a tiny sequencing machine from Oxford Nanopore to read them out again. According to a publication on March 21 in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, the team was able to store and retrieve just a single word -- "hello" -- or five bytes of data. What's more, the process took 21 hours, mostly because of the slow chemical reactions involved in writing DNA. While the team considered that a success for their prototype, a commercially useful DNA storage system would have to store data millions of times faster.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

The Majority of Scooters in LA Are Going To Share Your Location With the City

Slashdot - 6 hours 34 min ago
Los Angeles is pumping the brakes on scooter companies that won't tell it what part of the city you're wheeling around. From a report: Last September, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation said it would require all scooter companies to provide real-time location data on the vehicles to help with city planning purposes. The data is collected by GPS on the scooters. The requirement raised privacy concerns because sensitive data would be handled by the city government. The government partners with data aggregators, like Remix, to analyze that information. Privacy advocacy groups, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Center for Technology and Democracy, have publicly spoken out about these data requests. It still isn't clear how long LADOT retains the location data, and there aren't public details on what aggregators can do with that information. What is clear: Companies that don't share the data won't be allowed to put as many scooters on the streets as those that do. Companies that declined to provide the data were given a 30-day provisional permit to operate in LA, which were handed out last week, while those that agreed to hand over anonymized location data received permits for a full year.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Quirky post office and village life sim Willowbrooke Post gets new trailer

Eurogamer - 6 hours 40 min ago

Developer Dante Knoxx's village-life-meets-post-office sim Willowbrooke Post is launching into Steam early access next week, March 27th, and there's a new trailer to celebrate.

In Willowbrooke Post, you're summoned back to your childhood village home in order to manage your parents' post office following their slightly sinister-sounding "unexpected departure". Publisher Excalibur Games previously pitched Willowbrooke Post as "Animal Crossing meets Papers, Please", and the game's Steam page elaborates further, explaining that you'll be required to "manage finances, serve the community and protect the family reputation, until [your parents'] return."

Your new vocation gives you the run of both the post office itself and the family home, with your work responsibilities including package sorting, parcel wrapping, letter stamping, email writing, and managing your ledger. That appears to equate to a variety of different mini-games (you can certainly sense the debt to Papers, Please during parts of the trailer below), and you'll also need to interact with the locals, fulfilling any post-related requests they might have in order to keep your operation's reputation high.

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Categories: Video Games

Microsoft Says the FCC 'Overstates' Broadband Availability In the US

Slashdot - 7 hours 15 min ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Microsoft this week was the latest to highlight the U.S. government's terrible broadband mapping in a filing with the FCC, first spotted by journalist Wendy Davis. In it, Microsoft accuses the FCC of over-stating actual broadband availability and urges the agency to do better. "The Commission's broadband availability data, which underpins FCC Form 477 and the Commission's annual Section 706 report, appears to overstate the extent to which broadband is actually available throughout the nation," Microsoft said in the filing. "For example, in some areas the Commission's broadband availability data suggests that ISPs have reported significant broadband availability (25 Mbps down/3 Mbps up) while Microsoft's usage data indicates that only a small percentage of consumers actually access the Internet at broadband speeds in those areas," Microsoft said. Similar criticism has long plagued the agency. The FCC's broadband data is received via the form 477 data collected from ISPs. But ISPs have a vested interest in over-stating broadband availability to obscure the sector's competition problems, and the FCC historically hasn't worked very hard to independently verify whether this data is truly accurate. The FCC's methodology has long been criticized as well. As it currently stands, the agency declares an entire ZIP code as "served" with broadband if just one home in an entire census block has it. In its filing, Microsoft "suggested that the Commission's ongoing effort to more accurately measure broadband could be improved by drawing on the FCC's subscription data, along with other broadband data sets from third-parties such as Microsoft, to complement survey data submitted under the current rules."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Tesla Sues Former Employees For Allegedly Stealing Data, Autopilot Source Code

Slashdot - Fri, 22/03/2019 - 00:40
Tesla is suing a former engineer at the company, claiming he copied the source code for its Autopilot technology before joining a Chinese self-driving car startup in January. Reuters reports: The engineer, Guangzhi Cao, copied more than 300,000 files related to Autopilot source code as he prepared to join China's Xiaopeng Motors Technology Company Ltd, the Silicon Valley carmaker said in the lawsuit filed in a California court. Separately, Tesla lawyers on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against four former employees and U.S. self-driving car startup Zoox Inc, alleging the employees stole proprietary information and trade secrets for developing warehousing, logistics and inventory control operations. The Verge reported on the lawsuit filed against Cao: Tesla says that last year, Cao started uploading "complete copies of Tesla's Autopilot-related source code" to his iCloud account. The company claims he ultimately moved more than 300,000 files and directories related to Autopilot. After accepting a job with XPeng at the end of last year, Tesla says Cao deleted 120,000 files off his work computer and disconnected his personal iCloud account, and then "repeatedly logged into Tesla's secure networks" to clear his browser history before his last day with the company. Tesla also claims Cao recruited another Autopilot employee to XPeng in February. Tesla claims that it gives XPeng "unfettered access" to Autopilot: "Absent immediate relief, Tesla believes Cao and his new employer, [XPeng], will continue to have unfettered access to Tesla's marquee technology, the product of more than five years' work and over hundreds of millions of dollars of investment, which they have no legal right to possess," the company's lawyers write.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Monster Hunter World on PC getting free high-resolution texture pack DLC next month

Eurogamer - Fri, 22/03/2019 - 00:36

Those playing Monster Hunter World on PC can look forward to a notably prettier Monster Hunter World on PC next month, when Capcom introduces a new optional high-resolution texture pack for the game - but you'll need a relatively beefy graphics card to take advantage of it.

News of next month's update, scheduled to release on April 4th, comes via a new post on Steam, wherein Capcom explains that the new high-resolution texture pack (a long-requested feature on PC) will be available as free DLC. It warns, however, that the texture pack will require at least 40GB of free hard-drive space and a graphics card with at least 8GB of VRAM. Additional system requirements will supposedly be detailed after the update's arrival.

If you've got the requisite grunt to run the new high-resolution texture pack tucked inside your computer box, you can expect the changes to look something like:

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Categories: Video Games

Grandson of Legendary John Deere Inventor Calls Out Company On Right To Repair

Slashdot - Fri, 22/03/2019 - 00:00
chicksdaddy writes: The grandson of Theo Brown, a legendary engineer and inventor for John Deere who patented, among other things, the manure spreader is calling out the company his grandfather served for decades for its opposition to right to repair legislation being considered in Illinois. In an opinion piece published by The Security Ledger entitled "My Grandfather's John Deere would support Our Right to Repair," Willie Cade notes that his grandfather, Theophilus Brown is credited with 158 patents, some 70% of them for Deere & Co., including the manure spreader in 1915. His grandfather used to travel the country to meet with Deere customers and see his creations at work in the field. His hope, Cade said, was to help the company's customers be more efficient and improve their lives with his inventions. In contrast, Cade said the John Deere of the 21st Century engages in a very different kind of business model: imposing needless costs on their customers. An example of this kind of rent seeking is using software locks and other barriers to repair -- such as refusing to sell replacement parts -- in order to force customers to use authorized John Deere technicians to do repairs at considerably higher cost and hassle. "It undermines what my grandfather was all about," he writes. Cade, who founded the Electronics Reuse Conference, is supporting right to repair legislation that is being considered in Illinois and opposed by John Deere and the industry groups it backs. "Farmers who can't repair farm equipment and a wide spectrum of Americans who can't repair their smartphones are pushing back in states across the country."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Historic, Widespread Flooding Will Continue Through May, NOAA Says

Slashdot - Thu, 21/03/2019 - 23:23
The U.S. is likely to see "historic, widespread flooding" through May, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association's spring outlook. From a report: "This is shaping up to be a potentially unprecedented flood season, with more than 200 million people at risk for flooding in their communities," said Ed Clark, director of NOAA's National Water Center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. NOAA's outlook calls for nearly two-thirds of the lower 48 states to face an elevated risk of flooding through May, with the potential for major to moderate flooding in 25 states across the Great Plains, Midwest and down through the Mississippi River valley. "The flooding this year could be worse than what we have seen in previous years ... even worse than the historic floods we saw in 1993 and 2011," said Mary Erickson, deputy director of the National Weather Service. The warning comes amid record flooding triggered by a sudden warm-up and heavy rains earlier this month brought on by the "bomb cyclone." Combined with rapid snowmelt, the factors in recent weeks have put many places in the Great Plains and Midwest underwater.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Don't Starve dev's space colony sim Oxygen Not Included leaves early access in May

Eurogamer - Thu, 21/03/2019 - 22:55

Klei Entertainment, the developer behind the likes of Don't Starve and Mark of the Ninja, has announced that its excellent space colony management sim, Oxygen Not Included, will be leaving early access in May.

Oxygen Not Included has been available in early access for a little over two years now, having launched in pre-release form all the way back in February 2017.

And if you've not yet had the pleasure, it's really very good, tasking players with constructing and managing a sustainable colony deep within an alien space rock. It's got bags of personality (its art style is an absolute joy) and an enormous amount of depth as you command your crack team of Duplicants so that they might mine and build their way back into outer space - all while ensuring they're equipped to eat, poop, and not drop dead.

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Categories: Video Games

Cable Lobby Seeks Better Reputation By Dropping 'Cable' From Its Name

Slashdot - Thu, 21/03/2019 - 22:44
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Cable lobbyists don't want to be called cable lobbyists anymore. The nation's top two cable industry lobby groups have both dropped the word "cable" from their names. But the lobby groups' core mission -- the fight against regulation of cable networks -- remains unchanged. The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) got things started in 2016 when it renamed itself NCTA-The Internet & Television Association, keeping the initialism but dropping the words it stood for. The group was also known as the National Cable Television Association between 1968 and 2001. The American Cable Association (ACA) is the nation's other major cable lobby. While NCTA represents the biggest companies like Comcast and Charter, the ACA represents small and mid-size cable operators. Today, the ACA announced that it is now called America's Communications Association or "ACA Connects," though the ACA's website still uses the americancable.org domain name. "The new name reflects a leading position for the association in the fast-growing telecommunications industry, where technology is rapidly changing how information is provided to and used by consumers," the cable lobby said. "It's all about the communications and connections our members provide," said cable lobbyist Matthew Polka, who is CEO of the ACA. The "ACA Connects" moniker "explains what our association and members really do," Polka continued. "We connect, communicate, build relationships and work together with all, and that will never change."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

PewCrypt Ransomware Locks Users' Files and Won't Offer a Decryption Key Until - and Unless - PewDiePie's YouTube Channel Beats T-Series To Hit 100M Subscribers

Slashdot - Thu, 21/03/2019 - 22:12
The battle between PewDiePie, currently the most subscribed channel on YouTube, and T-Series, an Indian music label, continues to have strange repercussions. In recent months, as T-Series closes in on the gap to beat PewDiePie for the crown of the most subscribers on YouTube, alleged supporters of PewDiePie, in an unusual show of love, have hacked Chromecasts and printers to persuade victims to subscribe to PewDiePie's channel. Now ZDNet reports about a second strain of ransomware that is linked to PewDiePie. From the report: A second one appeared in January, and this was actually a fully functional ransomware strain. Called PewCrypt, this ransomware was coded in Java, and it encrypted users' files in the "proper" way, with a method of recovering files at a later date. The catch --you couldn't buy a decryption key, but instead, victims had to wait until PewDiePie gained over 100 million followers before being allowed to decrypt any of the encrypted files. At the time of writing, PewDiePie had around 90 million fans, meaning any victim would be in for a long wait before they could regain access to any of their files. Making matters worse, if T-Series got to 100 million subscribers before PewDiePie, then PewCrypt would delete the user's encryption key for good, leaving users without a way to recover their data. While the ransomware was put together as a joke, sadly, it did infect a few users, ZDNet has learned. Its author eventually realized the world of trouble he'd get into if any of those victims filed complaints with authorities, and released the ransomware's source code on GitHub, along with a command-line-based decryption tool.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Warframe's first community event of 2019, Operation: Buried Debts, is here

Eurogamer - Thu, 21/03/2019 - 22:07

UPDATE 21/3/18: Warframe's first community event of 2019, Operation: Buried Debts, is heading to Xbox One, PS4, and Switch today, Digital Extremes has revealed.

Buried Debts initially launched earlier this month on PC, and introduced a new multi-part operation, unfolding across a number of weeks. Throughout the event, players are encouraged to work together to investigate strange fissures on Venus' surface, with success bringing a range of special rewards.

Today's console update also introduces a new Warframe, Hildryn, and new cosmetic options known as Ephemera - more of which you can read about below.

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Categories: Video Games

Comcast Unveils $5-a-Month Streaming Service Xfinity Flex

Slashdot - Thu, 21/03/2019 - 21:34
Comcast announced a $5-a-month streaming video service Thursday called Xfinity Flex, an offering that aggregates on-demand video from your subscriptions like Netflix Amazon Prime Video and HBO, as well as offering free ad-supported shows to watch and options to rent and buy programming. From a report: It essentially replicates some of the features of a cable service but delivers over the internet rather than... well, cable. But it won't have live channels or DVR, and it won't let you watch a live-TV streaming service like YouTube TV or Sling TV, keeping Flex squarely in the realm of on-demand viewing that's less threatening to Comcast's traditional -- and lucrative -- cable TV packages. Instead, Flex will have built-in ways to upgrade to live TV from Comcast. Xfinity Flex comes with a 4K and HDR-ready wireless set-top box with an X1 voice remote, Engadget adds. It's scheduled to launch March 26th, and will be available to customers who have Comcast internet.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geeky Stuff

Nokia Firmware Blunder Sent Some User Data To China

Slashdot - Thu, 21/03/2019 - 20:50
HMD Global, the Finnish company that sublicensed the Nokia smartphone brand from Microsoft, is under investigation in Finland for collecting and sending some phone owners' information to a server located in China. From a report: In a statement to Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, the company blamed the data collection on a coding mistake during which an "activation package" was accidentally included in some phones' firmware. HMD Global said that only a single batch of Nokia 7 Plus devices were impacted and included this package. The data collection was exposed today in an investigation published by Norwegian broadcaster NRK, which learned of it from a user's tip. According to NRK, affected Nokia phones collected user data every time the devices were turned on, unlocked, or the screen was revived from a sleep state. Collected data included the phone's GPS coordinates, network information, phone serial number, and SIM card number.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Gone Home dev's sci-fi narrative adventure Tacoma is currently free on Humble Store

Eurogamer - Thu, 21/03/2019 - 20:24

Should you be in the market for some video game amusement this weekend, and are hankering for the very specific combination of critically acclaimed sci-fi narrative adventure that is also free, then you might like to know that developer Fullbright's enjoyable Tacoma is currently available for zero pee on the Humble Store.

Fullbright, in case it slipped your mind, first turned heads in 2013 with its spookily atmospheric family-drama-meets-house-nosy Gone Home, and Tacoma sees the developer expanding on that game's exploratory storytelling with a bunch of new ideas. And also space ships.

Tacoma is still very much in the realm of walking simulator, so your mileage may vary, but it's a little more hands-on than Gone Home. As you explore the game's deserted space station setting, the lives of its wonderfully defined crew - and the mystery surrounding them - unfold through a mix of environmental storytelling and audio-visual logs - the latter playing out across different physical spaces within the ship, encouraging you to wind back and forth and move around to eavesdrop on these last recorded conversations. I liked it a lot!

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