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Movies

Slashdot Asks: What's Next For Netflix? (500ish.com) 127

What does the future hold for Netflix? The company first earned a name for itself over a decade ago renting DVDs via mails in an era when Blockbuster used to laugh at the mere idea of DVDs-by-mail. It then moved to offering online streaming service way before most of the companies. As VC and former journalist MG Siegler writes, Netflix was always ahead of the curve. But the market -- and the demand from the market is changing, again. To address that, the on-demand streaming service has over the past three-four years started to invest heavily in getting exclusive rights for movies and TV shows, as well as make its own original content. But this time, Netflix is facing immense competition from its rivals -- and its moves aren't that unpredictable. It's also worth pointing out just recently, the company's decision to hike prices led its stocks to tank. Siegler writes: The streaming content game is now hyper competitive. And even the streaming original content game has gotten extremely competitive. And this means it has gotten extremely expensive. The result has been great for us, the users, as we do seem to be in a golden age of television-like content, even if it's being delivered via streaming "channels" like Netflix. With 54 Emmy nominations this year, second to only HBO, Netflix is seemingly closing in on what they set out to do once again. They've become HBO faster than HBO has been able to become Netflix. Of course, HBO still has the warm blanket of cable operator fees to keep them cozy; Netflix's model has them a bit out in the cold in that regard. So, again, what's next? Is it VR? Something else? Don't tell me it's 4k. Worldwide expansion is huge, but that's really just growing into the last business. What's the next business pivot?What you, Slashdot readers, think Netflix's next move will be? Or do you think the company will soon become just another name in its respective category?
Sci-Fi

Star Trek's 50th Anniversary Celebrated at Comic-Con (deadline.com) 103

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: Leonard Nimoy's 59-year-old son released a trailer for his upcoming documentary, For The Love Of Spock. CBS released a video teaser for their upcoming Star Trek: Discovery series. And Schmaltz brewery released a "Trouble With Tribbles" beer.

It was all part of the festivities celebrating the 50th anniversary of CBS's original Star Trek series at this year's Comic-Con festival in San Diego, which culminated with an all-star panel of actors from previous Star Trek TV series. William Shatner, Michael Dorn, Brent Spiner, Jeri Ryan, and Scott Bakula all reminisced on the phenomenon of the show's fan culture, with Dorn telling the audience that Apple's iPad was inspired by Star Trek technology. And Brent Spiner told the audience, "We're in a time now where identity is under attack... Politicians could learn from Star Trek."

Businesses

Comcast To Offer Pay-As-You-Go TV, Broadband Service (dslreports.com) 43

An anonymous reader quotes a report from DSLReports: Comcast plans to roll-out prepaid cable TV and internet services later this year in portions of Illinois and four other states. According to a company announcement, Comcast's Xfinity Prepaid Services lets users sign up for TV or internet services and renew service for seven or 30 days at a time -- instead of paying by the month. A one-time setup fee of $80 includes equipment and 30 days of service, with users paying $15 for an additional seven days and $45 for an additional 30 days. "We want to create an easy, pay-as-you-go option for people who want more flexibility and predictability when buying our services," said Marcien Jenckes, Executive Vice President, Consumer Services, Comcast Cable. "And our partnership with Boost Mobile will give Xfinity Prepaid customers even more places where they can conveniently sign-up and pay-as-they-go."
Movies

Man Builds $1.5 Million Star Trek-Themed Home Theater (cepro.com) 161

CIStud writes: This $1.5 million "Star Trek" home theater is the envy of every geek on the planet. The theater is a reconstruction of the bridge of the Starship Enterprise from "Star Trek: Next Generation" and also includes $1 million worth of memorabilia from the classic sci-fi TV show. The home theater was created by financier Marc Bell with the help from Jay Miller of Boca Raton-based Acoustic Innovations. The two started working on the home cinema in 2002 -- before construction of Bell's house even began -- and it took them four years to complete. CEPro reports: "A D-Box controller manipulates hydraulics installed beneath the floorboards, meaning the entire room shakes when anything loud happens on screen. The room also includes a JBL Synthesis sound system, which at the time of installation was only used in commercial theaters. The audio system is currently being upgraded to Dolby Atmos specifications and Bell plans to install a 4K projector. A big movie fan, Bell has had over 3,500 films digitized, which are stored and streamed through a Kaleidescape server. He also spent approximately $35,000 on a Prima Cinema system, allowing him and his family to watch films at home the day they are released in commercial cinemas. A wraparound control center surrounds the 11 custom leather chairs in the theater, eight of which recline into beds, while the doors that open into the theater are exact replicas of the Turbolift doors as seen on the TV show. When someone steps on the circular "transporter," the doors open with that familiar "whoosh" sound." Bell apparently likes to spend his money on others too. He has rented a local movie theater for every Star Trek film released in the past 25 years and has taken all of his employees, friends and their children along on opening night. The Wall Street Journal posted a video on YouTube of the home theater.
Movies

'The Wolf of Wall Street' Movie Was Financed With Stolen Money, Says DOJ (nydailynews.com) 160

An anonymous reader quotes a report from NY Daily News: Federal officials charged a $3.5 billion Malaysian money-laundering scheme helped finance the Leonardo DiCaprio movie "Wolf of Wall Street" -- the Hollywood tale that parallels the corruption charges. U.S. officials seek to recover $1.3 billion of the missing funds, including profits from the Martin Scorsese-directed movie that earned five Oscar nominations. The conspirators used some of their illicit cash to fund Scorsese's tale of "a corrupt stockbroker who tried to hide his own illicit profits in a perceived foreign safe haven," said U.S. Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell. DiCaprio famously played the lead role of convicted fraudster Jordan Belfort, who was ordered to repay $110 million to 1,500 victims of his scam. The identified conspirators included movie producer Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz, the prime minister's stepson, and businessman Low Taek John, a friend of Najib's family. A third scammer identified only as "Malaysian Official 1" was widely believed to be Najib. Court papers indicated that $681 million from a 2013 bond sale went directly into the official's private account. The nation's attorney-general, Mohamed Apandi, came to Najib's defense Thursday, expressing his "strong concerns at the insinuations and allegations" brought against the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). Apandi's office, after investigating the $681 million bank deposit, announced in January that the funds were a donation from the Saudi royal family. The prime minister wound up returning most of the cash. Federal officials, in their California court filing, indicated they were hoping to seize proceeds from the 2013 movie, along with luxury properties in New York and California, artwork by Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet, and a $35 million private jet. Investigations of 1MDB are already underway in Switzerland and Singapore, with officials in the latter announcing Thursday that they had seized assets worth $176 million. This is shaping up to be the largest U.S. Justice Department asset recovery action in history.
Crime

Feds Seize KickassTorrents Domains and Arrest Owner In Poland (arstechnica.com) 300

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Federal authorities announced on Wednesday the arrest of the alleged mastermind of KickassTorrents (KAT), the world's largest BitTorrent distribution site. As of this writing, the site is still up. Prosecutors have formally charged Artem Vaulin, 30, of Ukraine, with one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and two counts of criminal copyright infringement. Like The Pirate Bay, KAT does not host individual infringing files but rather provides links to .torrent and .magnet files so that users can download unauthorized copies of TV shows, movies, and more from various BitTorrent users. According to a Department of Justice press release sent to Ars Technica, Vaulin was arrested on Wednesday in Poland. The DOJ will shortly seek his extradition to the United States. "Vaulin is charged with running today's most visited illegal file-sharing website, responsible for unlawfully distributing well over $1 billion of copyrighted materials," Assistant Attorney General Caldwell said in the statement. "In an effort to evade law enforcement, Vaulin allegedly relied on servers located in countries around the world and moved his domains due to repeated seizures and civil lawsuits. His arrest in Poland, however, demonstrates again that cybercriminals can run, but they cannot hide from justice." KickassTorrents added a dark web address last month to make it easier for users to bypass blockades installed by ISPs.
Businesses

Verizon Begins Charging a Fee Just to Use an Older Router (dslreports.com) 180

Karl Bode, reporting for DSLReports: Several users have written in to note that Verizon has informed them the company will begin charging FiOS customers with an older router a new "Router Maintenance Charge." An e-mail being sent to many Verizon FiOS customers says that the fee of $2.80 will soon be charged every month -- unless users pay Verizon to get a more recent iteration of its FiOS gateway and router. Since Verizon FiOS often uses a MOCA coax connection and the gateway is needed for Verizon TV, many FiOS users don't have the ability to swap out gear as easily as with other ISPs. "Our records indicate that you have an older model router that is being discontinued," states the e-mail. "If you do plan to keep using your current router, we will begin billing, on 9.29.16, a monthly Router Maintenance Charge of $2.80 (plus taxes), to ensure we deliver the best support."
Movies

Pixels Are Driving Out Reality (vice.com) 302

An article on Motherboard today investigates the reasons why people didn't go "oh-my-god, that was awesome" looking at the CGI-based scenes in the recent movies such as Independence Day: Resurgence, Batman v Superman and X-Men: Apocalypse. Though the article acknowledges that this could be the result of some poor-acting, spotty storyline, or bad editing, it also underscores the possibility that this could be the aftermath of a "deeper mechanism that is draining all substance from our cinematic imaginary worlds?" The author of the article, Riccardo Manzotti to make his case stronger adds that the original Alien movie was able to impress us because what we saw was strongly linked to actual life. From the article: The humongous spaceship Nostromo -- a miniature model -- provoked awe and respect. When the creature erupted from Kane's abdomen -- a plaster model encased in fake blood and animal entrails -- people were horrified. The shock was registered on the faces of the actors, who, per Ridley Scott's direction, weren't told ahead of time that the moment would include a giant splatter of blood. "That's why their looks of disgust and horror are so real," producer and co-writer David Giler said. Manzotti further argues that some of the modern movies haven't left us awe-inspired because there is just too much CGI content. Compared to 430 computerized shots in the original Independence Day movie, for instance, the new one has 1,750 digitized shots. "People have been looking at pixels for much too long," the author argues, adding: Our imaginary world has been diluted and diluted to the point that, so to speak, there is no longer even a stain of real blood, love, and pain. Nowadays, when spectators see blood, they see pixels. [...] VR and augmented reality and the steady pace of CGI have pushed the process of substitution of reality to a higher level. At least, movies were once made using real stunts and real objects. Now, the actual world is no longer needed. The actual world, which is the good money, is no longer required. The virtual world, the bad money, is taking over. Yet, it lacks substance. The author makes several more compelling arguments, that are worth mulling.
Television

Star Trek CBS Series To Be Streamed Internationally On Netflix (variety.com) 161

An anonymous reader writes: Netflix has announced that it has secured a deal to stream every episode of the new Star Trek TV series within 24 hours of its original network broadcast. However, neither the U.S. nor Canadian subscribers are included in the deal, which otherwise covers every territory that Netflix operates in worldwide. Stateside viewers will be able to stream the new show via CBS's own All Access digital subscription video-on-demand and live streaming service, with Canadian streaming provisions yet to be announced. The deal represents a potential major step forward in the company's determination to bypass regional licensing, and at one stroke eliminates the typical years of delay that occur when a U.S. program seeks foreign audiences.
Opera

Chinese Consortium's $1.24B Bid To Acquire Opera Software Fails, $600M Deal Agreed Instead (tech.eu) 85

The $1.24 billion takeover of Opera Software by a Chinese consortium of internet firms has failed, Opera said on Monday. The deal did not receive the required regulatory approval in time of a final deadline. But they will be doing some business. The consortium will now acquire only certain parts of Opera's consumer business, including its mobile and desktop browsers, for $600 million on an enterprise value basis. Tech.eu reports: What will not be acquired by the consortium is: Opera Mediaworks, Apps & Games and Opera TV. In 2015, Opera says these business units combined delivered revenues of $467 million. The company will report second-quarter results on August 31, 2016.
Government

Patriot Act Expansion Fails In The House (thehill.com) 93

An anonymous reader write: The "Anti-terrorism Information Sharing Is Strength Act" failed in the U.S. Congress on a vote held earlier this week. "Many libertarians warned of potential privacy violations if the measure went into effect," reported The Hill, "which helped prevent it from reaching the necessary two-thirds majority to pass through the fast-track process under which it was considered." The bill would've expanded the number of crimes which would trigger the expanded investigation powers, including crimes covered by the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. "The Patriot Act should not be casually expanded," warned the House Liberty in a statement, arguing the bill would "permit the government to demand information on any American from any financial institution merely upon reasonable suspicion."
In a related story, a new campaign ad is criticizing Senator Russ Feingold for being the only Senator to vote against the original Patriot Act in October of 2001. Shipped to TV stations Thursday night, its narration begins "Islamic terrorists slaughtering innocents. And when Congress gave law enforcement the tools to keep Americans safe from international terror, only one senator voted no: Russ Feingold." After Friday's attack in Nice, Feingold's opponent attempted to reschedule the ads until a later date, but was unable to stop them from airing on at least three stations.
Businesses

Theresa May Reshuffles Cabinet, Warns Amazon and Google of Power Shift (arstechnica.co.uk) 227

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Ars Technica: British Prime Minister Theresa May has given a stern warning to big business, telling the public to "think not of the powerful, but you." Specifically, she singled out Google and Amazon for dodging taxes and creating a lot of parliamentary scrutiny. Ars Technica reports: "May has been quick to stamp her brand of conservatism on her party by letting go of key members of Cameron's cabinet. She has so far sacked big hitters such as chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne, justice secretary Michael Gove, and culture secretary John Whittingdale. Philip Hammond now has the keys to Number 11, but we're still waiting to hear who will replace Whittingdale, whose remit included the rollout of super fast broadband in the UK. He's also the man behind the White Paper on the future of the BBC, which sought radical changes at the public service broadcaster. So far, 10 cabinet positions have been announced by May. They include Justine Greening as secretary of state for education, and Liz Truss becomes justice secretary, while former London mayor and key Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson -- to the surprise of many -- now heads up the foreign office. May has handed her home secretary job to Amber Rudd -- who will now be responsible for the government's push for greater online surveillance laws. Rudd was previously the minister for energy and climate change." David Davis is now in charge of withdrawing the UK from the European Union. David has for many years "opposed the government's attempts to bring in a so-called Snoopers' Charter." Ars Technica writes, "He's also currently suing the UK government over DRIPA -- legislation that was rushed through by the Tories after the European Court of Justice had ruled that the Data Retention Directive was invalid for failing to have adequate privacy safeguards in place."
Television

Apple Launching Reality TV Show Called 'Planet of the Apps' (venturebeat.com) 62

theodp writes: The Verge reports Apple is making good on an earlier threat to create a reality TV show about app developers. An open casting call has been issued for "Planet of the Apps," with the goal of finding "100 of the world's most talented app creators" -- news which VentureBeat suggests must be making Steve Jobs' ghost weep. Apple has teamed up with Propagate, a new production company created by the producer of "The Biggest Loser." The description of the show says: "Join us on the search for the next great app in a new original series. Those selected will have the chance to receive hands-on guidance from some of the most influential experts in the tech community, featured placement on the App Store, and funding from top-tier VCs." The show is expected to be released in 2017.
Graphics

Ask Slashdot: Why Don't Graphics Cards For VR Use Real-Time Motion Compensation? 159

dryriver writes: Graphics cards manufacturers like Nvidia and AMD have gone to great pains recently to point out that in order to experience virtual reality with a VR headset properly, you need a GPU capable of pushing at least a steady 90 FPS per eye, or a total of at least 180 FPS for both eyes, and at high resolutions to boot. This of course requires the purchase of the latest, greatest high-end GPUs made by these manufacturers, alongside the money you are already plonking down for your new VR headset, and a good, fast gaming-class PC. This raises an interesting question: virtually every LCD/LED TV manufactured in the last 5 or 6 years has a 'Real-Time Motion Compensation' feature built in. This is the not-so-new-at-all technique of taking, say, a football match broadcast live at 30 FPS or Hz, and algorithmically generating extra in-between frames in real time, thus giving you a hyper-smooth 200-400 FPS/Hz image on the TV set with no visible stutter or strobing whatsoever. This technology is not new. It is cheap enough to include in virtually every TV set at every price level (thus the hardware that performs the real-time motion compensating cannot cost more than a few dollars total). And the technique should, in theory, work just fine with the output of a GPU trying to drive a VR headset. Now suppose you have an entry level or mid-range GPU capable of pushing only 40-60 FPS in a VR application (or a measly 20-30 FPS per eye, making for a truly terrible VR experience). You could, in theory, add some cheap motion compensation circuitry to that GPU and get 100-200 FPS or more per eye. Heck, you might even be able to program a few GPU cores to run the motion compensation as a real-time GPU shader as the rest of the GPU is rendering a game or VR experience.

So my question: Why don't GPUs for VR use real-time motion compensation techniques to increase the FPS pushed into the VR headset? Would this not make far more financial sense for the average VR user than having to buy a monstrously powerful GPU to experience VR at all?
Robotics

Parents Upset After Their Boy Was 'Knocked Down and Run Over' By A Security Robot (abc7news.com) 255

An anonymous reader writes from a report via KGO-TV: PSA: Beware of dangerous security robots at the Stanford Shopping Center! After a young boy was "knocked down and run over" by one of the Stanford Shopping Center security robots, the boy's parents want to help prevent others from getting hurt. KGO-TV reports: "They said the machine is dangerous and fear another child will get hurt. Stanford Shopping Center's security robot stands 5' tall and weighs 300 pounds. It amuses shoppers of all ages, but last Thursday, 16-month-old Harwin Cheng had a frightening collision with the robot. 'The robot hit my son's head and he fell down facing down on the floor and the robot did not stop and it kept moving forward,' Harwin's mom Tiffany Teng said. Harwin's parents say the robot ran over his right foot, causing it to swell, but luckily the child didn't suffer any broken bones. Harwin also got a scrape on his leg from the incident." Teng said, "He was crying like crazy and he never cries. He seldom cries." They are concerned as to why the robot didn't detect Harwin. "Garage doors nowadays, we're just in a day in age where everything has some sort of a sensor," shopper Ashle Gerrard said. "Maybe they have to work out the sensors more. Maybe it stopped detecting or it could be buggy or something," shopper Ankur Sharma said. The parents said a security guard told them another child was hurt from the same robot just days before. They're hoping their story will help other parents be more careful the next time they're at the Stanford Shopping Center. The robots are designed by Knightscope and come equipped with self-navigation, infra-red cameras and microphones that can detect breaking glass to support security services.
Technology

Hamilton Producer Jeffrey Seller: Live Theater Is the Antidote To Digital Overload (recode.net) 100

As more people come online and get hold of smartphones, we are witnessing a generation that is reliant on their phones to get news, entertainment, and educational resources among other things. They watch movies and TV shows on Netflix and other services, and they listen to music on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube. Naturally, you would think that people in the Broadway theater business must be threatened that nobody will physically attend their show anymore, but that's not necessarily the case, at least not with everyone. Take Jeffrey Seller, for example, the producer of Broadway megahit Hamilton refuses to fold to the virtual reality laden world, and he has numbers on his side. From a Recode article (you can also found an hour-long podcast on this there): The success of "Hamilton," which is sold out in New York through May 2017 and will soon spread to Chicago, San Francisco and London, has convinced Seller that demand for a real, non-digital experience is stronger than ever. He said 13 million people went to see Broadway shows in the past season, and only 500,000 of those were "Hamilton" attendees. By contrast, when Seller first made a splash as the co-producer of "Rent" in 1996, he estimated total Broadway attendance was around eight million to nine million people. "Experiencing art live with friends, with family, with people we love, is so rewarding that people are searching it out amidst the digital age, in which our faces are in our phones seemingly every other hour of the day," he said.Explaining why he thinks that virtual reality cannot completely take over, in a rather crass example, Seller adds, "Do you want to have sex or do you want to have a virtual reality experience of sex?"
Television

YouTube Looking To Launch Online TV Service Next Year With ESPN, ABC, and CBS (theverge.com) 24

An anonymous reader writes: Bloomberg reported in May that YouTube is working on a paid subscription service called Unplugged that would offer customers a selection of TV channels streamed via the internet. Now, The Information (Warning: source may be paywalled) is reporting that deals are starting to come together, and ESPN, ABC, and CBS are "firmly expected" to be available through the service. Other major broadcasters are expected to try and get involved with the service, but the report notes that YouTube may purposely choose to pass on smaller networks, like HGTV, to try and market YouTube videos instead. The question remains to be answered as to how YouTube plans to make anyone interested in its service. ESPN, ABC, and CBS are already offered through other online TV services, like Sling TV. CBS has its own standalone subscription service, and ESPN will soon have its own as well. Also, The Information notes that YouTube Red -- YouTube's existing subscription service -- isn't doing so well. Although, it's worth noting that service is completely different than what Unplugged is rumored to feature.
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: Is It Ever OK To Quit Without Giving Notice? 765

HughPickens.com writes: Employees and employers alike have the right under at-will employment laws in almost all states to end their relationship without notice, for any reason, but the two-week rule is a widely accepted standard of workplace conduct. However, Sue Shellenbarger writes at the WSJ that a growing number of workers are leaving without giving two weeks' notice. Some bosses blame young employees who feel frustrated by limited prospects or have little sense of attachment to their workplace. But employment experts say some older workers are quitting without notice as well. They feel overworked or unappreciated after years of laboring under pay cuts and expanded workloads imposed during the recession. One employee at Dupray, a customer-service rep, scheduled a meeting and announced she was quitting, then rose and headed for the exit. She seemed surprised when the director of human resources stopped her and explained that employees are expected to give two weeks' notice. "She said, 'I've been watching 'Suits,' and this is how it happens,'" referring to the TV drama set in a law firm.

According to Shellenbarger, quitting without notice is sometimes justified. Employees with access to proprietary information, such as those working in sales or new-product development, face a conflict of interest if they accept a job with a competitor. Employees in such cases typically depart right away -- ideally, by mutual agreement. It can also be best to exit quickly if an employer is abusive, or if you suspect your employer is doing something illegal. More often, quitting without notice "is done in the heat of emotion, by someone who is completely frustrated, angry, offended or upset," says David Lewis, president of OperationsInc., a Norwalk, Conn., human-resources consulting firm. That approach can burn bridges and generate bad references. Phyllis Hartman says employees have a responsibility to try to communicate about what's wrong. "Start figuring out if there is anything you can do to fix it. The worst that can happen is that nobody listens or they tell you no."
What do you Slashdotters think about providing employers notice of departure? Has there ever been a circumstance that warranted quitting your job without any prior notice?
Google

Comcast Will Let Netflix Onto Its X1 Platform 43

Kara Swisher, reporting for Recode:Cable giant Comcast will allow popular web video streaming service Netflix onto its X1 platform. (Editor's note: both the companies confirmed the move to the publication.) Sources said the deal to be on the cable giant's set-top box would be akin to the arrangement that Netflix has cut with smaller cable operators in the United States and bigger ones across the globe. Netflix also has deals with Apple, Roku and Google's Chromecast; its app is offered on these Internet TV services. It also is embedded in smart televisions.It's an enormous step, given the long and sometimes contentious history between the two companies against a backdrop of increased consumer usage of internet-delivered video. From the report:Back in 2012, for example, Peter Kafka reported that Netflix CEO Reed Hastings was "once again accusing Comcast of violating 'net neutrality' principles by favoring its own web video service over those from Netflix, HBO and Hulu, when it comes to data usage."
Chrome

Google Cast Is Now Baked Into Chrome, No Extension Needed (trustedreviews.com) 93

An anonymous reader writes: The Google Chrome 51 browser now includes a built-in 'Cast' option within the drop-down settings menu, which can also be accessed from right clicking in a tab. This will then cast the current tab to the appropriate TV or monitor. Previously, if you wanted to cast content from your computer to your Chromecast-equipped display, you needed to download a Chrome extension. Along with the new changes, Google has removed the ability to tweak settings for resolution, bitrate, and quality when casting a tab, so Chrome itself will now control such parameters automatically. Chrome 51 is now available as a stable version, and the Cast option should be rolling out to users now. This casting ability will also be baked into Chrome OS. The report points out several new related features coming in Chrome 52, such as the ability to cast to Hangouts. You will be able to push Chrome tabs to your contacts within an open video Hangout, which may be useful for remote meetings. In addition, the Cast to Hangouts feature will also retrieve your calendar information to find such scheduled Hangout meetings to make quick sharing easier.

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