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Psychophant

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Posts posted by Psychophant

  1. The difference between 50-60% resistance and zero is huge, even if it would be much better to be at 80-90%, not to mention the reduction in mortality. And for me, it clearly separates you from those that do not wish to get it, and the unlucky ones that do not have much hope of getting it any soon. Or are too young to really benefit from it. 

  2. As getting one is a kind of compromise of getting the second (and soon, the third...) jab, I prefer to count it as vaccined. My wife got her second Pfizer yesterday. We decided to spread the risk, so we got different ones, which is why I got Moderna. 

  3. 4 months later, with patch 1.21, I have finally finished Cyberpunk 2077, with small periods when I tried the patch of the day to see if they had solved my particular crash. 

     

    It is infuriating, because you can see the tons of work, the potential, the sparks of glory, and it is surrounded by unbreakable railroads, countless bugs and performance problems, and missing opportunities that were well established in other games ten years ago.

     

    It is the excellent writing in some side missions and the great atmosphere you get at times what makes it worse when it fails. I tried all of the endings and I am happy that the most satisfactory one was the one I picked first. Quite fitting with the No Future, No happy endings of Cyberpunk literature, but still quite bleak. Keanu clearly invested a lot in his Silverhand role, and it helps, even if you hate him most of the time.

     

    The main story is a shambles, you have long pointless conversations, the character progression is random, and the crafting and improvement parts seem bolted in late. But the details really make it for me. How many gigs connect, how events appear in the conversation afterwards. And the non-combat scenes are welcome, at least for me, except for car races. The interface is so buggy and random that it becomes a chore. 

     

    It has many details of a graphic novel, interspersed with a limited FPS and broken down RPG elements, with astounding visuals and attention to small details. I still like to ramble for 15 minutes in my car, taking the sights and watching the landscape and the people. 

    • Like 1
  4. I have ben trying, without success, getting The employees in English. And apparently no problems getting it in French. Any comments on the quality of the translation, and if one of the French speakers has read it in French, what is their opinion? As the original is in Danish, I need a translated one anyway, and Spanish is not an option right now.

     

    If it gets the booker price I suppose it will be translated in Spanish, but I prefer not to wait.

     

    As reading, mainly Spanish literature. Julian Marias connected novels Berta Isla and Tomas Nevinson. The stress of secrets, and what more secret than working for a secret service, and how it affects all around you. Pedantic and overwrought, I love his mastery of the Spanish language. So I can only recommend it if you read it in the original Spanish. 

     

    I am also reading archeology works on Roman legions, camps and tactics. Mainly pdf through Academia.org. We have several camp ruins nearby, and I also got caught in the mystery of the fate of the IXth legion, and also how British nationalism wanted to have it destroyed by the Caledonians or the Britons. A deep rabbit hole of stele inscriptions and Roman politics, combined with nationalism and a popular series of novels. 

     

     

     

     

  5. Work and life got complicated in February, and work at least even more complicated in March. I hope I can find some stability now.

     

    I started the reread of Stephenson's Reamde, but I could not finish it. Then I went for Fall, as that was the reason for the reread, and I have abandoned it around page 350. He tries too hard, and the only one character I care, a little, is Dodge himself, and I think that is spillover from Reamde. The first 300 pages are an introduction, and possibly another attempt by Stephenson to be considered a serious futurist, which is where he is always behind, despite his actual technical knowledge, compared to Sterling or Gibson. Because he sees only a small window, and misses the picture. Eventually I will get back to it, because it is interesting and informative, but that is not what I am looking for now.

     

    So after the Fall fiasco, I was quite succesful with Japanese writers. After the overdose of Banana Yoshimoto in January, I read Hiromi Kawakami's The Nakano Thrift Shop. The book is more a collection of short stories, or “vignettes”, in the life of the four main characters, than a coherent whole. However they progress chronologically and they build on the previous ones. The characters grow and change. The final chapter serves as an epilogue to in a way tie up the loose ends.

    I really enjoy the window the author opens on a Japanese woman’s life, even if it is only how close we are in most things, as well as so alien in others. The four main characters are somehow outsiders that nevertheless have managed to find a place. However they still are torn between conformity and happiness. The novel does not resolve the dilemma, and in a way the reader can choose how it goes.

    All the characters are lovable, even with their defects, and you end up caring about them, which shows the skill of the author in building up a small universe in a thrift shop.

     

    As I felt there was aconnection between Mr. Nakano and Mr. Nishino, possibly due to all the womanizing, I reread The Ten Loves of Mr. Nishino, from the same author. And yes they have their similarity, though without the counterpoint of his sister. It lacks the progression we see in the Nakano Thrift Shop, however.

     

    It is a pleasure to read full stories that you can savor in a few hours. So I continued with Sayaka Murata Convenience Store Woman. This is a short book about trying to conform, and finding your place. Though it is quite specifically Japanese, most of it, with different details, could fit anywhere.

    It starts as a comedy, but halfway it becomes an unflattering view of society, with some uneasy moments as normality is shown as fake. That will resonate more powerfully on those people who feel life should have an instruction manual and that others know something you don’t.

    The ending, while unsatisfactory, is the only one that fits.

     

    With my mood fitting ordered lives and short reads, I read in Spanish Yanagi Soetsu The beauty of everyday things. This is a collection of essays and articles presenting his views on the artistic value of everyday objects. Sometimes philosophical, sometimes very specific, they span a period of over 40 years where his efforts became popular and influenced art and design in Japan and abroad.

    I went to him because I was looking for the principles behind the Muji Stores, and, as far as I know, he was the one who first recognized the intrinsic value of simplicity ("muji") in common objects, one of the greates effects of Japanese arts and crafts in the rest of the world.

    As in all collected works there are some pearls, but also some failures. He was still a man of his period and with certain aesthetic snobbism (rejecting machine manufactured objects, and therefore ignoring design as an art), and you have to work through some dross to find those pearls.

     

    I am also reading a vanity ress autobiography of a friend of my father, dealing with industrialization in Franco's Spain, and how the automotive industry worked to fulfill the regime's aim of a car in every hoesehold, and how that at the end killed all homegrown initiatives to become colonized by the multinationals. As that is also a big chunk of my father's life, it is personally interesting, even if the writing is dreadful.

     

    Finally my brother loaned me his 1928 edition of Lowell Thomas' Raiders of the Deep. This is a book on German submarine warfare in the First World War, written by an American journalist based on interviews after the war.

    Apparently it was compulsory reading for German submarine officers in the Second World War, which is ironic on a way, as the tactics and systems were quite different, but also understandable, as it presents the submarine officers as gentlemen corsairs, an elite breed of technological fighting aristocrats.

    I can only assume that either they did not describe the drudgery and claustrophobic stress of a submarine, or the author preferred to gloss it over and focus on the courage of crewing a ship that might not surface each time it submerged and where you really were alone against the world.

    Interesting but flawed, in my opinion, based mostly on reading later submarine accounts, but also showing the kind of book that influenced the following generation of submariners.

  6. Michael Swanwick's "The Iron Dragon's Mother", despite the title, has more in common with the "Dragons of Babel" than "The Iron Dragon's Daughter", but does not really need reading those two books. 

     

    The book is more polished than the other two, with Dark Faerie more consistent and developed, but that is not necessarily good, because the unexplained events and weird magic is one of the things that make Faerie so compelling. The characters are likable, though we do not see the same character development we got in TIDD. So despite similar ages it is more a suspense romp than a coming of age book. It gets better in the second half, but that may just be because I really like Raven. 

     

    I may look those Aaranovitch stories, as I also read "Foxglove Summer" the fifth novel in the "Rivers of London" series, and I liked it a lot. It felt good to get out of London for a while, and the level of violence and anguish is much lower than usual. But maybe it is that some expected personal developments finally go right for Peter, and if you are this far in the series, you have to be rooting for him.

     

    Starting Stephenson's "Fall, or Dodge in Hell", but I am unsure whether to reread "Reamde" or not. I did not like it the first time, which is why I have not reread it.  

    • Like 1
  7. The Cyberpunk 2077 fiasco (unsolved unusual bug that blocks me at 75% of the storyline) has left me more time for reading. However I am mostly rereading in preparation of two anticipated books.

     

    I first finished my scheduled reread of Banana Yoshimoto's Hardboiled / Hard Luck and Goodbye Tsugumi, mainle because they are short sweet books, great for reading while on a load screen or rebooting a computer. Hardboiled / Hard Luck are two novellas in one book, totally unrelated except in how people handle loss and grieving, a common thread in most of the author work. Hardboiled has an almost Murakami supernatural feel, of the kind that you have to decide if it happened or if it was only in the narrator way, with a ghost helping the narrator cope with her lover's loss, after breaking up with her. The second is more inmediate, about the strange emotional landscape you could be, with your sister in an irreversible coma just before her marriage. Goodbye Tsugumi seemed at first more of the same, coming of age while your childhood friend, almost invalid, will leave your life forever, but becomes surprisingly positive, with a violent twist and then a positive outcome that are both not what I expected. Nice recall of summer in a Japanese tourist town that makes you wish to go.

     

    Then I got Port of Shadows, from Glen Cook, a new Black Company novel. So I reread the two books it lies in between, The Black Company and Shadows Linger (books 1 and 2). Which brought some more rereading, till I finished all the action in the North (The White Rose and The Silver Spike).Those books were written in 1984, so the style now is totally different, except two parts that were already published as short stories, which resemble much more the old style. The book also has some problems with mistreatment of female minors that I understand can be troublesome for many people, though coming from 1984 it felt right for ruthless mercenaries working for the bad guys. But, at least for me, the patchwork style, the troubling ideas and the fully unreliable narrator (more unreliable than usual) were secondary compared to revisiting a series I used to be emotionally involved, revisiting favored characters long gone, as well as a look into the past of the setting and of some key characters. A must, with some forewarning, for fans of the series, to avoid for all others as most of the references and back story require previous reading.

     

    I also have got Michael Swanwick's The Iron Dragon's Mother, but I am still finishing a reread of The Iron Dragon's Daughter, to get back into his dark Faerie before tackling the book. They are supposed to be non-sequential, but with that title I preferred to be up to date, and it has been a long time since my last reread. On this reread I find that the Faerie setting is a gimmick, a way to mix magic with technology and to keep a pseudo-victorian setting with modernity. But it works, the opression of children's labor, the horrors of dark magic and pre-ordained fate, mixed with high school angst and wild university years. He has also several short stories and another novel in the same setting that are also highly recommended. I have read relatively recent The Dragons of Babel, a kind of follow up the previous novel, so I will not read it now, but depending on how much I enjoy  The Iron Dragon's Mother I may end up fishing it out.

     

    I have added Convenience Store Woman to the pile, as well as a few others that I will comment as I progress through them, as well as a couple of French, Spanish and Italian books that will never be translated in English, so I will not list them here. 

    • Like 1
  8. For me it is a matter of perceived signal to noise, as what I consider noise is signal to others. So in the same way Twitter became an impossible time sink for a compulsive reader, Slack quickly became impossible to follow without a high investment in time, if you really need to follow it all. A binary response, I know, but I am finding myself less flexible as I age.

     

    A second factor is that the crowd in Slack is mainly the twitter community that grew up the last 12-15 years, so mature enough, and not a nostalgy haven for a board that effectively died ten years ago, even if we are playing at being a small village of indomitable gauls, but probably just feelingnostalgia for who we were twenty years ago.

  9. Privacy apart, Slack has, for me, similar problems to Twitter, so I am afraid I have just stopped following. Too much work finding the grains among the straw. 

     

    It will be great for setting up meats without telling the whole world, however. But the rest just seems what would have been on twitter.

     

    And I know it is mean, but I would really like the option to mute some people.

     

    So I will be checking once a day for messages and mentions, then once a week and in a while I will stop looking, as nobody has a reason to mention an absence.

  10. 7:00. Alarm sounds. Get up half sleep and set up breakfast.

    7:15 Shower. Get a new bandage for the left arm (blood donation yesterday). 

    7:30 End grooming. Check the weather forecast and pick clothes and shoes. 

    7:40 Check the mobile work backpack that I take daily (MS Surface, masks, powerbank, notebooks, alcohol gel...)

    7:45 Breakfast while checking news and first wave of work e-mail (America and Asia).

    8:00 Make sure my wife is awake and conscious. Wish good morning. Go to work.

    8:15 Arrival at work. Temperature and mask check. Get into my office.

    8:30 Start answering e-mails, while the mails from Europe start to arrive.

    9:00 First Teams meeting. Raw material supplier of a modified  nanomaterial for UHP Tires. Dancing around which is the Tire manufacturer. As we have a patent with them, the cat ends out of the bag. They want a higher price, we compromise with the same price higher volume.

    9:35 Local crisis. The pallets of bags for a cod oil manufacturer in UK do not fit in the 45' container. The shrink wrap is not tight enough and they have grown a beer belly. Loader desperate after breaking a couple bags, driver angry due to the delay in loading. Contact customer and arrange to send 16 rather than 22 pallets. Follow up discussion with packaging unit and shift overseer. General manager arrives and it becomes his problem.

    10:00 Second Teams meeting. EMEA purchaser from the tire manufacturer, to confirm the price and availability of the material. Fishing for the car manufacturers that have approved the new material. No luck. Refusal to commit to a time frame. More information the first week of February.

    10:30 Report to the General manager about the previous meeting. Set up two different plans for February, depending on the potential feedback.

    10:45 Coffee with my former doctorate student, now R&D Leader for rubber applications, about the results of the last experiments.

    11:00 Another coffee, now with the colleagues of the commercial office (talking from our offices with doors open). Discussing COVID rates and what would be a good car to buy. Two are shopping.

    11:15 After the coffee, in my office, but two meters away, the logistics manager for Africa and Asia tells me in confidence she is getting divorced. Some support, some practical details, such as possibility to leave early this week and the next. Barely manage to avoid asking too many questions. More relieved than sad, so I congratulate her. It is cruel that we cannot hug.

    11:35 After rejecting three calls (once in the meeting at 10:30, two during the personal talk) from our French agent, I call him back. A customer is desperate because the containers from China are late, and needs material now. An endemic problem this month, with freight costs from China three times the usual rates. It is possible next week, but impossible this week. Quick visit to the Production manager to see what can be done, specially as this is expected to continue at least till the end of the Chinese New Year. 

    12:00 Check with the Food applications research leader, as we are setting up a new equipment to manufacture a new grade. It is unstable, so all our prototype testing and preliminary sampling will be delayed, as production will not allow further trials for two weeks (my fault, or the French, or the Chinese, depending on your point of view). End up having another coffee. 

    12:30 Some time to cut down the inbox size. Mainly requests for information or price offers. A customer calls in between, but it is possible to multitask. An interesting project about hydrolized proteins in a slaughterhouse. Getting something similar to dried milk whey, but from blood and marginal meat cuts. As lactoserum is a big market for us, could be good.

    13:00 Urgent call from the CEO. A Turkish acquaintance has an opportunity in Romania. Prepare an offer, cut down another 10% because it is not about money, prepare a distribution contract. Point out we cannot give exclusivity. Prepare list of exceptions.

    13:45 Check the internets before lunch. Write this piece.

    14:30 Lunch (fixed time slot and fixed table) in the company canteen.

    Expected...

    15:00 Back from lunch, another opportunity to beat the unread counter to zero.

    15:30 Phone call with German agent. Expected cancellation of exhibition in June. Review of current customers. Family, COVID situation in Germany, local lockdown troubles (a small town near Hamburg). Arrange Teams call with two main German customers in February.

    16:30 Teams meeting of the Regulatory Group of our industry association. Filling up information requests from EFSA (European Food Safety Agency, in Parma) and ECHA (European Chemicals Agency, Helsinki), and polishing the results of the toxicology reports. It was more fun when we would travel to a meet...

    17:30 Typical moment for special requests from management (the official working day ends at 17:00), as I will be the only one around, after the meeting. Last battle against the unread counter. Arrange through WhatsApp if we need to buy anything for home.

    18:XX Leave work.

    18:XX+15 Probably Lidl, for lactose free pasteurised milk, cheeses, Haribo gummibears and any daily offer that draws my attention. I also have to go to the neighborhood butcher to have him slice and dice the whole cured ham (8 kg) we got at Christmas.  

    19:30 Arrival home. Put shopping in fridge. Wash bedheets (all Thursdays). Decide between computer game, TV series or book (movie if I already know she will be late).

    20:30 My wife gets home. Update on daily activities.

    21:00 What to put on TV, what we are going to dine. Any pending activities or necessary actions for tomorrow.

    21:30 Dinner preparation. It will include hanging the bedsheets out (unless it is freezing).

    22:00 Phone check up with assorted parents and occasionally other family members. Dinner after the calls.

    22:30 Continuing the entertainment (TV/DVD, PC or book).

    00:30 Wake my wife and make her go to bed. Go to bed as well.

     

    • Like 2
  11. The last two months I have been playing much more than I have been reading, and most of that reading has been rereads. I am close to finishing the reread of the whole Iain Banks (both with and without M.). However Matter was a slog upwards, so I will take a break. Also rereading all I have of Banana Yoshimoto (NP, Lizard, Hardboiled and Goodbye Tsugumi). I also had Kitchen but I cannot find it. The four together have half the wordcount of Matter. 

     

    Most of this reread is that I am a bit afraid of Moore's Jerusalem, and I am procrastinating. As I also got Stephenson's Fall, or Ddoge in Hell, that may be an easier option. I did not really enjoy Reamde, but as people here liked it I am willing to give it a try. 

     

    In the to read pile there are also several books in French and Italian, but as it is mainly educational, to improve my reading of those languages, it feels more as a chore. 

     

    I have added Convenience Store Woman and The employees to my wish list, as they feel right up my preferences. 

  12. Although I have voted " Working outside the home like normal", because I do go out daily for work, it has nothing to do with normal, as I used to travel 2 weeks per month, and I have not traveled for work since the 25th of February of 2020 (Hannover, Germany). Right now, no plans to travel till the autumn, at least. Using almost exclusively MS Teams with customers.

     

    I have spent several days working from home, while we waited for my wife's COVID PCR test results (she has been tested 4 times). The only time I have been tested it was on a Friday afternoon and I got the results on Saturday, so it did not affect work.

     

    All negative, so far.

     

    I work in an essential industry, have a 15 m2 office (3 meters from the door to my chair), and we would have killed each other if we had both worked from home at the same time. From my car to my office and back, two short conversations with my neighbours from 2 meters away and occasional meetings with the managers / owners who still insist in mask to mask meetings. Ate in my office till May, when the Health authorities allowed the company canteen to reopen. We have fixed times and seats, so I interact with very few people who is not through a screen or phone. 

    • Like 1
  13. Looking back to history, intimidation of politicians by small group of armed supporters is classic fascism. This will generate martyrs, as quite a few people will be going to jail for this (all those cameras and selfies will bite them back), and create a hardcore group of violent excons for 2024. 

     

    The erosion of credibility of the democratic process is what makes dicatorships possible. It is one more step in the wrong direction. The fact that DC and Capitol police, with apparently one single exception, are unwilling to shoot white people will also make things worse.

     

    We will continue with our slo-mo drift to dystopia after the ad break.

    • Sad 1
  14. Yes, there is a similar vibe, but with a clear feeling of hurry that is not present in the Witcher 3. At first I felt it had a resemblance to Sleeping Dogs, that I liked a lot, but here what is missing is a faction and reputation system, as it was missing in the Witcher 3. I have been hitting a lot the Tyger Claws, but they are still civil to me and offer also gigs.

     

    I had a fatal crash two thirds into the game (after the Oda fight). It is a reported but apparently rare event, so I doubt it will be patched soon. Even backtracking a couple of hours did not help, so I started a new character with all I had learned. Much easier when you know what you can and cannot do. Doing also a lot of gigs, with the pleasant surprise that they are linked and some give you alternate options in dialogue in the main quest. At street cred 10 and saving for a new deck (available at 11).

     

    I usually always play in the same way. Caught up in the game I usually answer to events in the same way, so the replay factor of games like this is not very high. I will never avoid the wake, for instance (the cool gift is just the icing in the cake), and it is still my favorite event in the game. 

     

    There is a silly streak running through some equipment, however, that may be offputting. I confess I may sacifice a few armor points if the piece is hideous or ridiculous, such as when my best leg armor were extremely cut off shorts, or a minitop for the chest. I have some that I really like together, including a glitzy disco outfit, so I upgrade them all I can. The only time I have seen people react to your outfit is when you are naked, and it is not a big deal (though quite suicidal after the prologue). 

    • Like 1
  15. After a quite dark denouement to the story of the doll (that had me executing several unconscious gangers) we get a glorious view of a veve, some Haitian creole and the need to find a netrunning gang called the Voodoo Boyz. It will have to wait as the ninja wants me to hack a parade float. 

     

    And more dark, angry, long haired Keanu. He made a couple of interesting suggestions, however.

     

    Still very absorbing, but some mechanics clash, such as building bullets out of ashtrays and playing cards. Unless I have a hidden nanoforge... But then why single out ashtrays?

     

    Several strong women characters but no Molly analogue so far. Though the original Rogue in 2013 was quite Mollyesque, now she is pushing 80 and a fixer rather than a razorgirl.

     

    I have been using shock from the beginning. It is even better against drones and highly metaled guys. But the opposition will send people looking for you, and if they catch you linked to a terminal it is a quick kill. It also raises the alarm, once they start seeing bodies, so it may hamper some missions. But I agree, it, combined with contagion, are my weapons of choice, together with a silenced pistol. With a better deck I also have loaded overheat, to have something to do while shock is in cooldown. In one case I did a round using up my RAM, and then ambushed the couple of guys that came looking for me. Add a second round of hacks and the opposition is over, Opposition netrunners can do the same back to you, so I crash cameras if I am not undetected. 

     

     

    • Like 1
  16. According to the official webpage, Xbox, PS4-5, PC and Stadia. I do not know if you could play on a mac through Stadia, but it runs quite well in a five year old laptop.

     

    At a certain point you can get a bit fed up with Keanu/Johnny, but then his appeareances are well measured, so far. Not to be spoilerish, but he is your own personal ghost, and you even play him for a short while. And he has recorded quite long conversations.

     

    The first Act was quite violent (at least as I played it) but now that I am settling in, yesterday I only choked two people unconscious in three hours play time. All the rest some talking and intimidation, and some creative hacking. And running around Japantown. I miss my bike. I have not done almost any sidequests, as staying alive seems more important, and events keep moving quite fast.

     

    Right now I am at 20% advance, 10% Keanu, 5% mindbreak.

     

    Some winks to Gibson, of course. But as expected, the vibe is much more Blade Runner 2049 and less original Blade Runner. Caught up in a doll story that seems straight out of Burning Chrome, but my fallen ninja bodyguard "friend" keeps distracting me with his whining requests...

    • Like 1
  17. Absorbed in Cyberpunk 2077. A bit surprised that my five year old laptop (that I bought partly to play Witcher Wild Hunt) can handle it at medium. Some weird mechanics, less smooth than Witcher 3, I still value highly that I spent three hours in the wake and farewell to a dead friend, just talking , reminiscing and drinking. Now cruising the city on a bike while Keanu Reeves berates me and I wait for several people to get back to me. I could just wait or sleep for five seconds, but I enjoy the cruising. 

     

    It is cool that lots of detail of the RPGs Cyberpunk 2013 and 2020. Specially Rogue, a fixation for many teens.

     

    latest?cb=20200410114202&path-prefix=es

    • Like 1
  18. The semi-lockdown that soon will become a full lockdown is good for computer games. I have spent the week playing the Outer Planets, an Obsidian game with a short plot, a Fallout NV feeling and a Borderlands setting. Short and sweet, though a bit too short for me, and the fake sandbox is obvious. Quite good visually and I really cared for some of the stories. Much darker than it seems. 

     

    The previous week I had been playing the original Fallout throwback Wasteland 3, much shorter than 2 and without the feeling of freedom. Nice visually and well balanced, the decisions matter but you cannot shake the feeling of being on rails with several exchange points to decide the end result. 

     

    Now replaying the Shadowrun series, Xcom type skirmishes joined by a linear plot. 

     

    Too much linearity, both in games and in my own mental preferences. I suppose it is a reaction to the uncertainty outside. 

     

     

  19. Good to see you, Colin, even if there is not much to tell.

     

    The Brussels meeting, as expected is now fully virtual. I am doing some traveling, but only inside Spain, and by car, avoiding public transport for long distances. A real setback for sustainability, but the risk otherwise is too high. 

     

    Tomorrow we go to our favorite restaurant for my birthday. The tables were already at a safe distance before COVID, but we will miss the banter of the sommelier. Spendng what we can to help them survive this period, it is not the kind of place you can get take-away. 

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