Mac News Review

eSATA Disk Mode Coming?, iMac Touch Rumored, 2009 Mac Pro Firmware Update, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2010.01.22

MacBook, PowerBook, iBook, and other portable computing is covered in The 'Book Review. iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV news is covered in The iOS News Review.

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News & Opinion

Apple Updates

Products & Services

Software

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

eSATA Target Disk Mode Coming?

Patently Apple reports on a newly granted Apple patent for a "System and Method for a Host to Access an Internal SATA Storage Device within an Accessible Host using an External Serial ATA Connection."

The description reads in part:

'"Storage devices, such as hard disk drives and optical drives, are widely used to provide mass storage for various computing applications. Computers communicate with the storage devices using one of several interfaces. The Universal Serial Bus (USB), Small Computer Systems Interface (SCSI), Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) 1394, Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (Serial ATA or SATA), and External Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (eSATA), are examples of such interfaces.'

"In accordance with the invention, a system and method for a host to access an internal SATA storage device within an accessible host using an external serial ATA connection are provided. An accessible host includes one or more internal SATA storage devices, an external SATA connector, an internal SATA port controller, an external SATA port controller, and a switching mechanism. The switching mechanism allows the accessible host to access an external storage device when the switching mechanism is in a first configuration. When the switching mechanism is in a second configuration, a host is able to access one or more internal SATA storage devices within the accessible host."

Translated, that sounds like something similar to FireWire Target Disk Mode and suggests another step toward Apple abandoning FireWire and adding eSATA support to Mac computers. On the down side, no Mac has ever had built-in eSATA.

An Apple or a Lemon? Late 2009 iMacs Suffer Yellow Discoloration, Fail to Boot

Daily Tech's Jason Mick blogs:

"The latest illness to afflict Apple's iMac line is yellowed monitors. The new line, first released in November has suffered many quality issues of different kinds.

"And it was all yellow...

"The new iMacs are sleek and sightly. They're filled with high-end hardware. And reportedly, many of them are defective...."

A Quick and Dirty Fix for the 27" iMac Screen Problem

Tech Crunch's MG Siegler says:

"When we last wrote about the problems with the new 27-inch iMac's screen a few weeks ago, there were over 1,600 replies on Apple's support board about the issue. That's 110 pages of replies. And the thread had been viewed some 260,000 times - much, much more than any other thread. I'm fairly certain more than all of the other ones combined, actually. Those numbers now? Try 2,860 replies, 191 pages, and over 400,000 views. Yeah, this problem is not going away."

However, Siegler says he thinks he's stumbled onto "an easy, but janky fix" that doesn't exactly solve the issue, but it does seem to eliminate for a while.

Setting Up and Calibrating Display Profiles

MacFixIt's Topher Kessler says:

"When you set up a new computer or display, the factory settings may be slightly off, giving the computer a slightly washed out look. To get the colors and display to be rich and accurate, I always recommend spending time to calibrate the colors on new monitors, especially when a computer is using multiple monitors (either dual displays on a desktop or an external display attached to a laptop) . . . By using a calibrated color profile you can correct for inherent variations in the display hardware...."

Rumor: Apple to Launch 22" iMac Touch in 2010

Citing a Chinese language Commercial Times article, DigiTimes' Steve Shen says that Apple reportedly plans to launch a 22" touch-enabled all-in-one PC in 2010, in addition to the current non-touch 21.5" and 27" iMacs, outsourcing production of the 22" model to Quanta, with Taiwan-based Sintek Photronic supplying the touchscreen panels.

Rumor: Apple Preps Multitouch Display iMac

The Register's Tony Smith reports:

"Here's an Apple rumour that doesn't centre - for once - on the iPad. The Mac maker will this year release an iMac based around a 22in touch-sensitive display.

"No other details are known, but it's not hard to conceive of a new machine equipped with Intel's latest 'Arrandale' Core processors - the ones with graphics and memory controller modules built into the CPU package."

Why You Should Install a Keylogger, and Which One to Choose

Foliovision says:

"Everyone who works on the web should have a keylogger. Browsers crash often enough when you are writing into a form or browsers have hot keys (especially forward or back) which will reload the page on you at an unexpected time, just when you are in the middle of a very long post.

"The question is not whether to use a keylogger but which keylogger for Mac OS X to choose. If you value your time . . . the keylogger will save your backside at least a few times a month (sometimes in a week) when you think you've lost all your work (usually about a half hour or so). That means a keylogger is worth about 25 hours/year of your time, or nearly a week's work in real productive time per year."

Bento Template Exchange Exceeds 200,000 Downloads

PR: FileMaker, Inc. has announced that more than 200,000 templates have been downloaded from the Bento Template Exchange since its launch on June 16, 2009.

Bento TemplateThe Bento Template Exchange now offers more than 400 templates for Bento, the personal database for Mac. The templates range from Customer Appointments to Medication Record to Lecture Materials to Power Projects to My Job Search and even to The Beer Hunter! Other top templates include Power Projects, a job tracking system for creative agencies; Bills, Bills, Bills, a system for managing monthly bills; Sales Funnel Management, a sales opportunity tracking system; and the Bento 3 Customer and Contact Manager, which also helps users track and close sales opportunities.

The Bento templates - free to browse, download and use - show how Bento can organize virtually any information in business, education and home settings.

Bento Template"We're very pleased that the Bento Template Exchange has proven to be so popular so quickly," said Ryan Rosenberg, vice president of marketing and services, FileMaker, Inc. "Bento excels at helping you organize almost any information, and the Exchange is the best place to see real-world Bento solutions. It makes it clear how you can get started with Bento, and how quickly Bento can help you get organized."

Visitors to the Exchange will find that downloading and using templates is simple and beneficial. The Bento Template Exchange includes clear instructions on how to download and import templates, as well as how to submit Bento templates for sharing. Bento customers are encouraged to share their templates on the Bento Template Exchange to help potential customers imagine their own uses for Bento. Downloaded templates are also usable with Bento for iPhone and iPod touch as well, if they are synched with Bento on the Mac.

The company's products are the FileMaker Pro line - versatile database software for teams and organizations, for Windows, Mac and the Web - and Bento, the personal database for Mac, iPhone and iPod touch. FileMaker, Inc. is a subsidiary of Apple, Inc.

Apple Updates

EFI Firmware Update 1.4 for 2009 Mac Pro

Mac Pro EFI Firmware Update 1.4 addresses the following issues for Mac Pro (Early 2009) computers:

  • Improves compatibility with virtualization products utilizing VT-d
  • Improves storage performance under Windows XP for Boot Camp users
  • Improves system reliability during the boot process

To complete the firmware update process, follow the instructions in the updater application (/Applications/Utilities/MacPro EFI Firmware Update.app). The updater will launch automatically when the installation is complete.

For more information about firmware updates for Intel-based Macs, visit:

https://support.apple.com/kb/HT1557

System Requirements

  • Mac OS X 10.5.8
  • Mac OS X 10.6.2

Products & Services

Newer Technology USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter

Newer Technology USB 2.0 Universal Drive AdapterPR: The "Swiss Army Knife" of disk connectivity turns any bare drive into an external storage solution.

Digital audio and photo files are growing in use and size to where upgrading to a larger hard drive is becoming a regularly performed procedure. The NewerTech USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter makes it easy to transfer data between the old and new drives as well as give the old drive a second life as an external storage solution. It's a complete solution that allows any 2.5", 3.5", or 5.25" hard drive or optical drive* with any standard IDE/ATA/ATAPI 40-pin or SATA interface to be connected via USB to any USB equipped computer for file transfer, backing-up and storing file archives, and accessing data on stored backup drives with Plug & Play ease.

The connection status LEDs provide easy confirmation of a proper connection between a USB 1.1/2.0 equipped computer and an IDE/ATA or SATA drive. Click here to see indicator operation!

Transfer files:

  • Easily access data from internal and external hard drives!
  • Give a second life to switched-out hard drives!
  • Instantly turn any ATA or SATA drive into a convenient external drive!

Newer Technology USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter Compatible DrivesThe NewerTech USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter has been tested with:

  • 2.5" Laptop Drives - all brands
  • 3.5" Desktop Drives - Works with all brands, including Maxtor, Seagate, IBM, Hitachi, Samsung, Western Digital, etc.
  • 5.25" Drives - The adapter supports all existing IDE/ATAPI and SATA devices such as CD-ROM, CD-RW, DVD-ROM drives. *Not compatible with slimline optical drives such as those used in a laptop.
  • Removable Media drives, such as Iomega Zip.
  • Compatible with full height 5.25" optical drives only.

Features:

  • Universal to USB 2.0 Adapter
  • ATA/IDE/SATA/ATAPI
  • Compatible with any 2.5", 3.5", 5.25" IDE or SATA device!
  • Supports IDE & enhanced IDE 3.5" internal IDE hard disk
  • Supports ATA/ATAPI-66 specification 1.0
  • Supports SATA I and SATA II
  • USB 2.0 up to 480 Mbps transfer speed
  • Convenient LEDs inform of an accurate device connection and disk activity
  • Backwards compatible with USB 1.1
  • Plug-and-Play
  • Instruction Manual
  • Clean, ample powered UL listed 2.0 amp external AC adapter provides drive power
  • 1 year warranty

Newer Technology USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter Includes:

  • Cables included with Newer Technology USB 2.0 Universal Drive AdapterUSB UDA adapter
  • Heavy Duty 2.0 Amp AC Power Adapter
  • Power Cable
  • ATA extension cable
  • SATA 2.5" Power Adapter Cable
  • USB 2.0 Connecting Cable
  • SATA-SATA Connecting Cable

Specifications

  • USB 2.0 to ATA connection (2 sided, for 2.5" and 3.5" drives), and a SATA connection
  • Connect any device with an ATA or SATA interface to a Mac® or PC with USB interface
  • Transfer rate approx. 480 Mbps (USB 2.0)
  • Complies with USB 2.0 standards
  • Backwards compatible to USB 1.1 standards
  • Complies with ATA/ATAPI-66 Spe. V1.0
  • Compatible with SATA-I and SATA-II
  • Simple to install
  • Supports IDE and enhanced IDE hard drives
  • Supports ATA/ATAPI CD-ROM/R/RW DVD-ROM and more
  • Heavy Duty, UL listed, 2.0A external 110-240V autoswitching AC adapter provides drive power

Compatibility

  • Macintosh Requirements: Mac OS 9.2 or higher, including Mac OS X
  • Windows Requirements: Windows 2000, XP, or Vista (No drivers required, plug and play!)

OWC Super Saver: $29

Stealth Turntable Rips Vinyl When You're Not Looking

Briefcase USB turntablePR: Share the awesomeness! The integrated USB port, which allows you to plug the turntable directly into your laptop and convert your old-fangled vinyl into newfangled digital audio files perfect for burning on CD or transferring to your iPod or iPhone.

At first glance this turntable appears to be a mysterious black briefcase. Perhaps it contains the secret documents to the Death Star? Maybe it's got $100,000 in cash in unmarked bills inside?

Ports on briefcase USB turntable Pop-open the latches and take a look inside to find a high-quality belt driven turntable. The built in speakers allow self contained playback of all the vinyl you can shake a stick at . . . and that's quite a bit. What's more however is the integrated USB port, which allows you to plug the turntable directly into your laptop and convert your old-fangled vinyl into newfangled digital audio files perfect for burning on CD or transferring to your iPod or iPhone.

Of course what the Briefcase USB Turntable doesn't realize is that by transferring all that vinyl to digital it's simply contributing to its own inevitable obsolescence . . . but we won't mention that.

Product Features

  • Portable high-quality turntable features USB port for converting vinyl records to digital format
  • Includes Audacity Software Suite for recording and editing audio content
  • Belt driven turntable mechanism
  • Plays 3 Speeds - 33-1/3, 45 And 78 RPM Records
  • Plays 7", 10" & 12" Records
  • Fully automatic return tone arm
  • Adjustable tone control
  • Built-in dynamic full range stereo speakers
  • Vinyl-wrapped exterior
  • Chrome snap closure
  • Heavy duty corner guards
  • Dimensions: 18" x 19" x 9"
  • Weight: 7 kg

Price: $99.99

Sale Price: $69.99

ScreenSavrz iMac Display Cover

ScreenSavrz iMac Display CoversPR: ScreenSavrz for iMac protect your display and case from dust, soiling, fingerprints, etc. when not in use. They also clean and polish your screen or case anytime without sprays or wet wipes. And if your display has already taken a hit, simply dampen ScreenSavrz with water and polish away any existing scuffing you might have.

Constructed from RadTech's exclusive, super soft and ultra tough Optex fabric - a non-woven, ultra-thin (0.6mm thick) advanced polishing fabric. ScreenSavrz allow you to safely clean the screen or any surface of your computer or display. ScreenSavrz are so thin, soft and supple they quickly and easily stow practically anywhere.

This lightweight and breathable Optex display protector is convenient, practical and extremely effective. Does not obstruct iMac's ventilation ports.

ScreenSavrz iMac Display CoversFeatures:

  • Ultralight Optex cloth lasts for years - won't fray, frock, run or tear
  • Expressly designed to clean, polish and restore LCD Displays
  • Cleans and restores CDs & DVDs too - never buy another wet wipe
  • Extremely light and supple - stows anywhere - weighs only 25 grams
  • Polish your entire computer - display, case, keyboard and mice, etc.
  • Most effective and economical display screen cleaning solution available
  • Sizes and styles available for all Apple flat panel iMac computers
  • Fits many non-Apple LCD displays too - call us with your display's dimensions
  • Make a splash with stunning colors - or get your own custom logo Learn More

ScreenSavrz for iMac Specs:

  • Material: Optex Super60
  • Sizes - By Model:
    • Aluminum:
      • 20: 49x47cm
      • 24: 57x52cm
    • G5 & Intel:
      • 17: 43x35cm
      • 20: 49x41cm
      • 24: 57x46cm
    • G4:
      • 15: 43x34cm
      • 17: 48x43cm
      • 20: 52x35cm
  • Material Thickness: 0.6mm
  • Weight: 27 - 64g
  • Colors Available:
    • 20/24: Gray, Black, Indigo, Green, Grape, Fuchsia, Shagwire
    • 15-17: Gray, Aqua, Shagwire

Product of USA

From: $19.95

Take an Active Role in Saving on RAM Made by DRAM Manufacturers

PR: Research, bid. and buy online to save on genuine factory made computer, laptop. and server memory upgrades. Add the RAM Modules Apple, Dell, HP, IBM, Sony, Toshiba and Sun install in new computer systems.

In today's economy, upgrading a computer can be vital by saving money and prolonging computer, server or laptop life span. Pro Memory Upgrade delivers higher quality factory made memory upgrades and allows customers to seek the best deal they can while helping to extend the use of systems.

Distribution of memory modules made by actual DRAM makers is step one. When mega-computer maker Apple builds a computer, it uses a particular brand and specification quality. They procure modules from the manufacturers of the DRAM, makers like Samsung, Hynix, Micron and Nanya. Pro Memory Upgrade delivers these same brands and part numbers as the core of their RAM product line. This quality insures stability and enables older computers to maintain usefulness. Step two: Offer shoppers a chance to bargain and save money, by submitting offers and lower bid prices before they check out. This incentive saves users and offers an alternative to buying a new computer. Pro Memory Upgrade is aware of tight competition in the online memory market and wants to allow computer users to find the best deal on the higher quality memory upgrades they offer. Saving can be substantial when purchasing memory upgrades for entire IT departments, government offices, schools and corporate offices. The quality of memory modules sold by Pro Memory Upgrade is on par with the best available in the market.

Pro Memory Upgrade ships a full line of server memory, laptop memory and desktop memory. Memory speeds ranging from DDR, DDR2 and DDR3 are supported. Configure computers that utilize modules types including, Registered, Fully Buffered, SO-DIMM and Unbuffered. Memory product line coverage for top computer makers such as Apple, Dell, HP, Intel, IBM, Sony, Sun and Toshiba. Many orders qualify for free FedEx ground shipping and because of the willingness to make deals with customers, shoppers can get some of the best online prices anywhere.

Pro Memory Upgrade uses a proprietary asset management logic to bring state of art computer memory modules to the retail sales channel. Along with the bid before you buy option shoppers can extend the use of current systems.

Apple Memory Upgrades

Install beyond compatible memory modules for configuration in Mac Book, iMac, Mac Pro and other Apple computers

Pro Memory Upgrade is a buyers guide to module expansion and shows how add memory and configure your Apple computer with more memory. From MacBook Pro SO-DIMM DDR2 memory to matched pair DDR3 ECC Mac Pro RAM kits. iMac Mac mini, Mac Pro, MacBook, MacBook Pro, Power Mac, PowerBook and Xserve. Our RAM options are DRAM manufactured. Quality above other third party compatible Mac RAM upgrades. We recommend installing identical quality chips, the kind found in your Apple system now. Offering original memory that OEMs like Apple install is the best way to insure the maximum RAM performance in your Mac.

Featured Apple Memory

  • 4 GB Apple Mac Pro Workstation (Early 2008) Mac memory upgrade MB193G/A RAM modules. Add more Mac power to your Apple Mac Pro Workstation (Early 2008) with a 4 GB memory 2x 2 GB MB193G. Price: $139.98
  • 2 GB Apple MacBook Pro 15.4" and 17" 2.4 - 2.6 GHz Core 2 Duo Mac memory upgrade MA939G/A RAM modules. Expand Mac computing speed in your Apple MacBook Pro 15.4-17" 2.4 - 2.6 GHz Core 2 Duo. Price: $43.99
  • 8 GB Apple MacBook Pro Early 2009 17" Aluminum Unibody Mac memory upgrade MC016G/A RAM modules. Add more Mac power to your Apple MacBook Pro Early 2009 17" Aluminum Unibody. Price: $439.98
  • 1 GB Apple PowerBook G4, 15" and 17", 1.33 GHz, 1.5 GHz, 1.67 GHz Mac memory upgrade M9284G/A RAM modules. Upgrade your Apple PowerBook G4, 15-Inch, 17", 1.33 GHz, 1.5 GHz, 1.67 GHz. Price: $42.99
  • 2 GB Apple Power Mac G5 Dual Core 2.0 GHz (Early 2005) Mac memory upgrade MA9654G/A RAM modules. Upgrade your Apple Power Mac G5 Dual Core 2.0 GHz (Early 2005) with a 2 GB memory 2x 1 GB M9298G/A. Price: $75.98
  • 2 GB Apple iMac Intel Core 2 Duo (Early 2008) Mac memory upgrade MB412G/A RAM modules. Expand Mac computing speed in your Apple iMac Intel Core 2 Duo (Early 2008) with a 2 GB memory. Price: $44.99
  • 4 GB Apple iMac Intel Core 2 Duo (Mid 2007) Mac memory upgrade MB413G/A RAM modules. Expand Mac computing speed in your Apple iMac Intel Core 2 Duo (Mid 2007) with 4 GB memory. Price: $87.98
  • New 8 GB Apple iMac Intel Core 2 Duo (Early 2009) memory upgrade Small Outline DIMM RAM modules. Expand the desktop computing speed in your new Apple iMac Intel Core 2 Duo (Early 2009). Price: $439.98
  • 8 GB Apple iMac 27" 3.06 GHz memory upgrade SODIMM RAM modules. Add more system power to your Apple iMac 27" 3.06 GHz. Price: $439.98
  • 2 GB Apple iMac 27" 3.06 GHz memory upgrade SODIMM RAM modules. Increase your Apple iMac 27" 3.06 GHz all in one to the max. Price: $41.99

Software

Sesamouse Brings Real Gestures and Touches to Magic Mouse

PR: Calf Trail Software, LLC announces Sesamouse 1.0, a free new utility for extending the gesture capabilities of the Magic Mouse. Sesamouse works by imitating real multitouch trackpad gestures, enabling the user to exercise fine control over pinch and rotate gestures without needing to set up keyboard shortcuts.

Screenshot_of_Sesamouse_showing_touch_circles_for_three_fingers.png

The Magic Mouse hardware is full of potential - so much more than scrolling and swiping. Sesamouse interprets more motions, letting you zoom and rotate in gesture-capable apps like iPhoto and Preview. It even sends information about each finger on the mouse's surface to software that supports advanced multitouch.

Sesamouse also sends the position of each finger as touch information (known to Cocoa developers as a set of NSTouch objects) that can be recognized by more advanced multitouch apps. Users can practice gestures and see how their fingers have been recognized above Sesamouse's own application window.

In a post introducing Sesamouse on their blog, Calf Trail writes, "Since seeing Jef Han's [multitouch demonstration at the 2006 TED conference], it's been obvious that multitouch is a great way to do more stuff with less fuss on the computer." By extending the multitouch capabilities of Apple's Magic Mouse hardware, Calf Trail hopes to open more multitouch benefits to desktop users.

Because Sesamouse does rely on some undocumented system features, Calf Trail is releasing it as a free utility in hopes that it will still benefit both users and developers of multitouch-aware applications. In lieu of donations at this time, Calf Trail is encouraging users to contribute directly to help Haitian small businesses rebuild via a link on the Sesamouse product page.

System Requirements: Requires Mac OS X 10.6

Sesamouse is a free utility. If you like it, please consider a donation to support our efforts donating directly to help small businesses in Haiti rebuild: Haiti Business Recovery Donations.

Screenshot: http://calftrail.com/images/Sesamouse-Screenshot-touches.png

VinylStudio Software to Digitize Records and Tapes

PR: Wondering how you can rescue precious worn or damaged recordings? VinylStudio can help. VinylStudio is software purpose-built to digitize records and tapes.

It can:

  • record your LPs and tapes
  • split them into tracks
  • remove clicks, hiss, hum and more
  • save tracks as MP3 files
  • burn both audio and MP3 CDs and DVDs
  • help organise your music collection

Why Choose VinylStudio?

  • Ease of use: VinylStudio is quick to learn and easy to use. 'Rollovers' provide handy cues for new users, while shortcut keys speed things up as you gain experience.
  • And most operations in VinylStudio can be undone (and redone), making VinylStudio a productive and forgiving working environment. Moved a trackbreak by accident? No problem. Just click undo.

Recording an Album

  • Recording starts when the needle is lowered and stops automatically at the end of the record
  • Record directly to MP3 or WAV format
  • Monitor your recording through your PC's speakers - useful for USB turntables
  • Record 78s on turntables with no 78 RPM speed setting
  • Lookup and edit the track listing while recording is in progress

Lookup Track Listings

  • Track listings can be looked up over the Internet or entered by hand
  • Keyword lookup by artist and album title quickly finds what you are looking for
  • Retrieve album art from the Discogs and Amazon databases (or import it from a file)
  • Most track listings now contain track times, which makes splitting the recording into tracks much easier

Split into Tracks

  • Powerful and efficient track-splitting functions are a snap to use
  • Waveform display quickly identifies track boundaries
  • Or use 'Scan' to search for gaps between tracks
  • Fade tracks in and out
  • Multilevel undo/redo in case you make a mistake

Cleanup Audio

  • A fast and effective declicker, to get the best out of your vinyl
  • Fast! scans a typical LP side in under a minute on a modern PC
  • Eliminate tape hiss and other forms of noise
  • Graphic equaliser
  • Multilevel undo/redo
  • Presets make it easier to recall your favourite settings

Burn CDs

  • Drag-and-drop interface, see your entire collection at a glance
  • Burns both Audio and MP3 CDs and DVDs
  • Append tracks to existing MP3 CDs
  • Writes track listings to audio CDs
  • Burn 'gapless' CDs
  • Fully integrated into the program, no messing around with Nero

Copy MP3 Files to your Player

  • One-click MP3 file generation, one file per track
  • Files are tagged with Artist, Album and Track Title
  • Add tracks to your Windows Media Player library
  • Generate playlists for Windows Media Player
  • Lookup and embed album art in your MP3 files

System Requirements: Any reasonably modern PC or a Mac should do the job, but you do need plenty of hard disk space.

$29.95

Link: VinylStudio

Desktop Mac Deals

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For deals on current and discontinued 'Books, see our 13" MacBook and MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, 13" MacBook Pro, 15" MacBook Pro, 17" MacBook Pro, 12" PowerBook G4, 15" PowerBook G4, 17" PowerBook G4, titanium PowerBook G4, iBook G4, PowerBook G3, and iBook G3 deals.

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