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Brexit survival

Posted by admin on October 23, 2016 in Finance, Random |

One of the problems with Brexit is that it’s never happened before. No one knows what will happen, nor will they be able to predict correctly what will happen. They can only assume.

I myself have never been one to worry over things like this, although I do still have my own concerns because living in the North East of UK there’s one main employer here and I’m directly connected to them. So if the proverbial shit hits the fan, and they go under. How do I plan on Brexit survival if I lose my job?

Well. I can’t see I’m stacking myself for a zombie apocalypse, but the main priority is saving money and thinking long term solutions. Americans are known for their zombie apocalypse planning and end of the world scenarios for hoarding etc but everyone thinks that it’s a load of shit.

Well, the difference is in the UK, we are in an era where bad times have a very real possibility of coming. Brexit isn’t just a rumour, it’s already taken place. If everything goes to shit, there will be a lot of people unemployed, job competition will be fierce and the market will be saturated with desperate people who will do anything to survive. I probably shouldn’t post this article, but I don’t really give a fuck either since I like to prepare myself should the worst come to the worst. There’s always a bit of a mad streak hidden away in me anyway and I have plenty of frying pans around me 🙂

If nothing happens in a couple of years, you’ve got extra money to spend and a plentiful supply of food built up and some new skills. These are a couple of the things I’m planning

  • Food storage
  • Gardening

One of the main expenditures with a household budget is Food. A normal average households spends on average £200 per month from their salary… I live alone but usually average around £100 for everything (food, washing, etc) – I’m fairly simple anyway. So given that since the whole “Brexit” debate, nothing will really start showing up in the next 2 years or so that gives me 24 months of being able to overspend on tins. Doesn’t have to be excessive, but even adding another £10 per month onto my shopping gives me enough shopping to last at least 3 months and not worry about food supplies

If I had a chest freezer I’d focus on meats, I simply don’t have one yet. Although it might be something for long term solutions since meats are where you get most of your Proteins from.

Now, there’s no point going excessive. I have quite a large house though living by myself, so at the very least, I can afford to stash away a decent hoard of food in cupboards to take up some space. Make more room for food and keep a good supply going.

The food cupboard isn’t entirely because of Brexit. I’ve always wanted one in general, it’s just made me think a lot because of Brexit. There’s no harm in having a large food pantry where you can walk in and collect food when the weather has gone to shit and everyone is snowed under. You can calmly collect and keep going with everything.

I’ll be building up the essentials, tinned veggies, tinned meats, pasta, flours and oils. They all have a decent shelf life anyway. I figure an extra £4-500 worth of food over 2 years will be a decent 6 months to keep me going if the shit hits the fan and if there’s nothing to worry about. I’ve got extra food for a while without worrying or when I hit a bad payday with no overtime at work

Now, again the 2nd part of my theory is gardening. Gardening itself, is stress reduction and sustainable. For a rather cheap expense you get a long term solutions. You get free food just for a small amount of work and it helps calm you

Those are two things I’ll be taking up and blogging about long term when I start working on it

 

UPDATE:

As of 27/10 a post was made that Nissan have confirmed they will be building the new X-Trail and next model of Qashqai at Sunderland plant. This means for the immediate future jobs are safe.

 

As for this post, I’m still going to do my pantry and gardening, simply because I’ve always wanted one to start with. So keep an eye out for future posts 🙂

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100% Beef – Belly Buster Burgers

Posted by admin on August 31, 2016 in Food & Drink (inc. Cooking) |

Decided to post a recipe for one of the beef burgers I like to cook that I made up which I call my 100% Beef – Belly Buster Burger. Nothing but a few simple ingredients and 100% Beef Mince. These are about 1″ thick, because I like wholesome burgers and don’t have a proper burger press, although they would do nice inside of a meatball for spaghetti bolognese too

Belly buster

Belly buster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Eggs (Normal supermarket sizes)
  • 750G of Low-Fat Beef Mince (I use Asda’s less than 20% fat version)
  • 2 TBSP Oregano
  • 1 TBSP Sesame Seeds
  • 1 TBSP Tomato Sauce (Heinz)
  • 1 TBSP Worcester Sauce (Lea & Perrins)
  • 1 Garlic Clove (Finely chopped)
  • 1 Onion (Finely chopped)
  • 2 Leek Stalks (Finely chopped)
  • 1/2 – 1 Cup of Breadcrumbs (I used Paxo Golden)
Take a bite from my 100% beef, belly buster burger perfect for BBQ's ;o)

Take a bite from my 100% beef, belly buster burger perfect for BBQ’s ;o)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

METHOD

  1. Empty the Beef Mince packet into the bowl remove the thin paper
  2. Add the finely chopped onion and leeks
  3. Add all the other ingredients
  4. Mix everything together with your hands insuring it’s evenly mixed
    1. If you find the mixture is a little “wet”, add a few more breadcrumbs
    2. The mixture should be moist, but shouldn’t leave residue on hands
  5. Add to a Grill (Medium Temp) or BBQ and cook for desired time until desired consistency reached. I like mine brown all the way through, and it takes about 15 mins. Normally I just cut them with a knife and check before I serve them
  6. Serve in a white bun, add whatever garnish. Normally I use a few pieces of lettuce, and some grated or sliced red Leicester cheese as it brings out the flavouring. I then add some tomato sauce

These burgers are about 1″ thick. You can make them thinner if desired.The recipe will make approx 6 x 1″ thick burgers. If you’d like to make the burgers a bit more juicier, you can add in a mixture of pork mince. This makes them juicier

Enjoy!

Views – 589

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How I built a working iPod for £25 from spares

Posted by admin on June 9, 2016 in IT |

I recently decided to go back to the gym again, one of the things I wanted to do was get another iPod Nano 4th Generation music player. I can use my phone, but personally I always liked the nano that I had, I found them comfortable to use and they seemed to suit me for the gym

Problem was I sold my previous one, I didn’t want to spend the money to buy a brand new one or second hand one. I like repairs so thought why not carry out a repair on one.So off I went on eBay and found 3 broken iPod Nano 4th Generation 8GB models for £9.99 – can’t complain at that, should be able to salvage the components

Broken iPods

A selection of the iPods I purchased for repairs

 

The iPods I purchased for repair had 3 issues (from left to right)

  1. The first one the click wheel wouldn’t respond. The device worked, but nothing happened after power up. Click wheel wouldn’t respond to any input.
  2. The second iPod had a problem with connecting to the computer, it just wouldn’t switch on
  3. The third iPod worked fine, it just had a problem with the screen being very dim and wouldn’t increase in brightness

Reading this I thought I may be able to at least salvage one of them, the cases on them were all scratched, but as it was for the gym I wasn’t particularly bothered. One of them had a good case, but this was also a problem with the screen.

 

My first train of thought was the following repairs;

  • iPod 1 – Faulty click wheel, cable, dirty click wheel, or O/S restore
  • iPod 2 – Possible port damage, O/S damage or physical damage
  • iPod 3 – Damaged LCD, damaged digitizer, damaged logic board

Now that I had decided what I was going to do, I set about a plan of action. The 3rd iPod was hopefully the one I was going to use, merely because it was in the best condition, but I still wanted to try and repair at least one of them to have a go and see what I’ve got to work with

Broken iPod 1 Repair

I first powered up the iPod to confirm the fault, indeed, it powers up. Screen was fine, seemed to load the operating system fine, but no luck nothing else. I tried cleaning up the click wheel to make sure no grease had got under it. Carried out a system restore but none of this worked still the same problem. Issue now is either hardware related, or cable related. Kept it for spares, since I knew the iPod had a working screen

Broken iPod 2 Repair

I first needed to find out what was busted on this. I tried to connect to the computer as initially I thought it was a USB issue, I received no connection. I couldn’t go any further to test with this because the battery had no charge, so decided to dismantle it. Turns out the battery was damaged as it had swelled in size, so it’s possible this can be repaired. I couldn’t go any further with this because the lower data cable connecting the battery to the board snapped on removal as the battery made it a tight fit and I ended up cracking the screen on removal…..bugger… 1 down two to go.

I had spares from the first iPod, I swapped the logic board and battery over to the iPod which wouldn’t charge up or switch on. It came to life, but had the same issues as the first. The problem followed me so it meant the logic board was damaged as I was using a different clicker wheel this time. This may be a possible repair in future, but I wanted to see what I could do with the 3rd one.

Broken iPod 3 Repair

OK, first iPod knackered needs a new board. Second iPod, busted battery, cracked LCD (now no longer working) and connector cable. I have a 3rd one that’s working, great. Swap the screen over, still dim…. well that’s a problem. If you have a dim screen on an LCD, normally you replace the digitizer. All the power controls and assemblies are built into the screens and the logic board circuitry.

I had swapped the screen over, and had the same problem. That means the battery was OK, but the board was gone…. board from iPod 1 was a nono, board from iPod 2 required repair with soldering iron so what was my options

I ended up having to fork out some money, and kept an eye out on eBay because I needed either a good battery and board, or a good board. As this was all pot luck I kept my eyes open

 

iPod Nano 4th Generation, successfully repaired

Success, I found an eBay seller who was selling what was listed as a working board and battery. After some back and forth emails I took the risk and purchased them with the spares they came with for £16.99

 

I received them a couple of days later, swapped over the units working screen and replaced the logic board. Then came the moment of truth….

I powered it up, it worked! It connected to iTunes and said it needed a restore but then I received a low battery warning message. Damn it, usually low battery means it’s knackered. I figured it was working, so went to bed and left it on charge.

Lady luck was shining down on me, the battery really was just low, once connected to iTunes I restored it and now have a working iPod for the gym again.

OK I could have probably found one for the same price, but as I will also be repairing iPods for my business it makes good practice for me to understand how they work and the problems that you can encounter when working on them. Plus I like to tinker about with electronics.

This concludes my article on How I built a working iPod for £25 from spares

Fixed iPod

A repaired iPod built up for £25

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Server Migration

Posted by admin on May 30, 2016 in IT |

Apologies for any downtime caused on this site, I recently decided to change web hosts because quite frankly I’m sick of my old one. I had constant never ending problems and in the end I carried out a Server Migration to a different webhost

As you can tell by this post, the server migration was carried out. Eventually! I had so many problems to sort out and still do. Everything about my old configuration was completely muddled on with by my old host to get it working, as such the server migration wasn’t a straight forward process.

The account restore didn’t work, I had to manually download the databases because they had to be restored. Had to alter the database names, had to manually edit the server names in the configuration files and carry out a db restore. Also had an issue with the .htaccess

I’m happy now, I’ve found a new host, in the name of Tech-Hosts. I love them so much I migrated to them with my personal site as well, highly recommend you check them out

Views – 694

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VW Golf Oil Warning Light

Posted by admin on May 12, 2016 in Automotive |

OK, one of the problems about being an owner of VW family cars, is you get lazy (or at least I did). I neglected to check my oil since the last change, because my cars have never used a drop of them. It always pays to do maintenance and regularly check your car fluids.

Today whilst driving to work I received the VW Golf Oil Warning Light (Yellow one), needless to say my arse was looser than someone who’d just been buggered by an elephant. I was crapping myself. If the light was flashing, it would mean sensor. Given that I don’t check my oil often, I was confident it was the level anyway

For information, here’s a quote directly from the above source:

Engine oil warning light Volkswagen

Engine oil warning light Volkswagen

Red warning lights mean you should stop the car as soon as it’s safe.
Yellow warning lights mean that action is required.
Green warning lights are for information only.

I knew I’d get to work and I’d just top it up at work, there are two warning lights on the VW Golf Oil and most other car systems. Generally speaking, the warning lights are:

  • Yellow (low oil level, it’s at the absolute minimum) – Fill urgently, ideally stop
  • Red (low oil pressure, this is dangerous) – Stop immediately, your engine will seize

Both situations are dangerous, I drove about 10 miles with the yellow light on, OK, I shouldn’t have, but I need to get to work, and knew I still had some oil in the car and driving that many miles wouldn’t cause it to fail.

I did however do some remedial actions, my car has never used oil. I do however drive my car really hard at times. I’ve always used the FULL rev range on my car so it gets the good old Italian tune up regularly to keep it healthy. The downside is it burns oil faster. That and I think I have a leaking intercooler which won’t help

Anyway, generally, the harder you drive your car, the faster the oil gets burnt. Basically hotter engine, faster spinning engine means more lubrication. So I took the safer option, I drove to work in 6th gear @ 50mph. Revs were around 1500rpm, which was really low, so didn’t put the engine under load much

Once I arrived at work, I went to top up Oil…… open boot, ermmm, hang on, didn’t I put the oil in the Garage at home one day?…. Oh, shit

I did check my oil when I got to work, and the dipstick wasn’t even reading at minimum…. by the way. Volkswagens dipsticks are REALLY badly designed on the VW Golf MK5. You get this crappy BLACK plastic with two balls on (for minimum and maximum). Yeah, it’s good in theory. You can read the oil level at any temp, however you have two problems here

  1. Oil is BLACK, dipstick is BLACK….. go figure
  2. Those little balls, yeah they stick out. Which means they SCRAP the oil tube coming up. So screws up your reading

If you are reading this VW, go back to the OLD style dipsticks. A metal based ones with little dotted ends, they’re SOOO much easier to read (I’m even thinking of modding my old Passat one). Even making the balls smaller would help

Anyway, long story short. I got my car home safely. Although I was expecting to receive the low oil warning light when coming home I didn’t… I didn’t want to chance it though. So repeated my driving conditions to keep the pressures low and reduce the chance of my engine committing a suicidial Harikari – if you’re reading this my little VW, I wubs you. Don’t break on me :O(

So, I filled up my car with about 3 litres of Mobil1 5w/30 ESP when I got home since it’s my preferred choice of Oil. Will do me until I buy some new drums, and chucked an old Castol Edge 5w/30 oil in the boot. I don’t like it, but it meets VW 505.00 standard (although the MK5 Golf is 505.01, or even 505.02 – I can’t remember) and end of the day, some oil is better than no oil. A car will still drive with shitty oil, it’s just not the optimum design for the engine

So as a future note, it always pays attention to those 2 mins. Avoid getting the VW Golf Oil Warning Light like I did, and save yourself some money in the long run from a potential rebuild

Views – 5699

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Ford UK – Bad customer service

Posted by admin on May 2, 2016 in Automotive |

I don’t own a Ford, but decided to write this article after speaking with someone I know who owns a Ford being let down with bad customer service.

With regards to vehicle repairs under warranty. I decided to make this post to see what everyone else thinks, or if someone else has a story to tell

Background:
Basically, someone I know purchased a car from a Ford dealership (2nd hand). The vehicle was sitting in the yard before they purchased it for an unknown amount of time. The person I know has taken it back to Ford a total of 4 times and is being mugged off each time that there is nothing wrong with it.

Symptoms:
The person kept reporting that when they were driving the ABS was kicking in at low speeds and making a noise (ie braking normally on a motorway or roundabouts). Also there was a horrible burnt smell when stopping. Ford techs were adamant nothing was wrong but changed the Front Brake pads and discs. I believe his car is a Ford Fiesta

Diagnosis:
Now, to me after about 5 minutes of conversation. I diagnosed it was a seized brake caliper on the car, and to me this needs to be fixed under the warranty but the Ford UK dealership it was purchased from are adamant nothing is wrong with the car and that the “noise” he was hearing was because of the sensor being on the front left of the car so it will trigger whenever it hits a pothole. Generally the symptoms of a seized brake caliper on the car are ….

  1. Vehicle pulls to one side when braking
  2. Horrible smell (similar to burnt clutch)
  3. Excessive heat being produced from wheel. Generally when you pull over after a normal drive, most consumer brake discs are cool to touch. A brake caliper that is seizing however will be generating more heat. So if you walk around the car and move your hands over the alloys, you should be able to feel heat being emanated from the brake disc that has the seized caliper

I did all this diagnosis in the space of a 10-15 minute conversation. To me the above reason sounds absolute rubbish. End of the day, the fact that he said there was a smell when he was getting out AND the car has had NEW brake pads and discs would immediately tell me something is wrong with the piston on the caliper. It doesn’t take much to work out.

I’m a computer geek (and amateur DIY car mechanic) and can still diagnose a faulty issue with the brakes. The fact is, the car was sitting in the compound where he bought the car from. They should have done a FULL brake fluid flush when servicing the car before he purchased it. Brake fluid is in the region of £5. The problem with brake fluid is that overtime it breaks down and water inside it starts to cause rust build up. This is why the brake pistons stuck and don’t retract because of this build up. So it’s normally either a full brake fluid flush + rebuilt caliper, or if the caliper is REALLY bad a replacement caliper.

All the mechanics are fobbing him off, he did go back after speaking to me but they keep sending him away saying nothing is wrong. I’ve suggested he goes to trading standards. This is safety issue. Firstly a seized brake caliper will affect braking performance on the car and cause excessive brake wear. Most importantly, if the caliper is seized, there is potential that the brake caliper can cause excessive build up and actually bind onto the disc itself. Imagine driving along the road at 70mph, then the brake caliper sticks and locks your wheel……?

Overall, in my experience this is a poor experience from a Ford dealership, and the whole reason why I don’t let any dealerships work on my car. At least when I’m working on it, I only have myself to blame. I also know what parts are being replaced on my car, and they are quality items. The other reason is servicing cost, but considering this vehicle was under warranty it shouldn’t have mattered in the long run.

Pretty shameful customer service from Ford UK, especially when I was considering going to Ford for my next car aswell.

 

Have a story to tell? Let me know in the comments

Views – 576

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Car Service

Posted by admin on February 14, 2016 in Automotive |

Decided it was time to treat my car to an annual car service. My oil gets changed every year or every 6000 miles depending on how hard I’ve been driving it. Whilst my car is on a fixed interval service, it still works like flexible servicing. So my car actually monitors the way I drive and gives me a dash warning when a service is due.

My car now has 84,000 on the clock so is about 2000 over due than normal, so decided to give it a fresh overhaul.

Items ordered :

  • Pagid Front Brakes (288mm x 25mm – discs) & Pads
  • Pagid Rear Brakes (255 x 15mm – discs) & Pads
  • 4 x Bosch Glow Plugs
  • Crossland Air Filter
  • Crossland Pollen Filter
  • VW OEM Oil Filter, Sump Plug & Washer
  • 5 Litres Mobil1 5W/30 ESP Oil
  • Bosch Aerotwin Front Wipers
  • Bosch Aerotwin Rear Wiper

I didn’t bother with the Fuel Filter since I use Shell diesel around 80-90% of the time I fill up my car. I don’t believe in supermarket fuel and my filter was only changed around 15K ago.

 

Problems encountered

  • Seized caliper piston on brake (NSF)
    • I actually didn’t know it was seized at first, it was tough to get in but I changed it. When going for a drive there was a horrible burnt clutch smell. The piston was stuck so it was burning the pad on my disc. In the end I got a replacement (which didn’t fit, my fault!) with no where open on a Sunday my brother had to recon the piston best he could. Piston was removed, sanded down and reinstalled. Brakes were bled. I know this method doesn’t work for long, but it will give me enough time to order a new brake caliper as a backup for when it goes wrong
  • “Seized” rear pistons on calipers – I was pissed off at this because they were new. Turns out I needed to clamp the flexi hose and open the bleed nipple completely, they wound back… few!
  • Snapped brake pad wear sensor (this needs doing) don’t want to turn it off, I know it can be fixed but I’m going to get a new sensor and wire a new one in

Views – 746

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Windows 10 Upgrade

Posted by admin on February 14, 2016 in IT |

OK, OK, my computer has finally been bugging me long enough about carrying out the Windows 10 Upgrade. My past experience with Windows is painful, I always lose files, or had to back up things and reinstall applications. So I decided to bite the proverbial bullet, I was sick of hearing Windows 7 moan on at me about the upgrade being available. I decided the hell with it, and carried out the upgrade after backup of all my files

The result…. pleasantly surprised, the upgrade went smooth. I checked the compatibility report first and backed up everything I could lose before hand. Luckily, nothing went amiss and everything was reinstalled. All my internet shortcuts, desktop shortcuts, installed applications. Nothing failed.

Props to Microsoft, my Windows 10 Upgrade was flawless and you have redeemed yourself. For I did not lose any files, nor did I have to reinstall any applications or find anything new.

OK, there is a down point, I have a new interface, which I sort of don’t like. I was used to Windows 7, but that’s just a change. I really don’t like the sounds, and the Cortana search. Hey, I consider myself a power user though, I’m no amateur when it comes to PCs. So overall my experience with the upgrade was a positive one.

Just learning the new features now, I’ll be updating this blog if I find anything amiss.

Views – 497

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Cracked Windows Install

Posted by admin on January 11, 2016 in IT, TYNEWEARTECH LTD |

One thing which is becoming apparent to me since owning a business, when reading all the posts people are making who run their own businesses, is how many people seem to offer legitimate Windows installations for cheap prices or blatantly offering cracked Windows installations.

If you are running a business, not only is it unethical, but you are running the risk of serious issues if uncovered. That’s why I will only use genuine copies of Windows when reinstalling software, or making sure I have a valid COA key. IF there is no genuine key then I won’t carry out a cracked Windows Install. I’ll simply advise the customer to purchase a genuine COA key / Install of the software.

If they refuse, they’re business is turned down

Views – 499

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PS-77CS Shredder

Posted by admin on December 27, 2015 in IT |

After around 7 or 8 years of some tough abuse and shredding my Fellowes PS-77CS Shredder has finally given up the ghost and failed on me.

The machine is getting power, but it doesn’t run the shredder motor. There are signs of power going to the device, because it detects win the bin is open and lights up the red light to say it’s open. The light goes off when you push in the Micro switch so this tells me the sensor circuit was working fine and the problem was more electrical as opposed to mechanical.

I did some dismantling of the actual equipment. Fairly simple, lift it up and remove about 10 screws. Open the lid then disconnect the wire attaching the motor to the PCB. I did a quick look around the circuit and couldn’t find any specific issues.

I finally identified the problem, I went to remove the PCB so I could look up the schematics and when removing it the transformer was literally hanging on a couple of threads of copper wire. So it came off easy enough (picture below)

DB-0812D Transformer

The busted transformer which failed. Also seems to be a common problem – not supposed to come off the circuit legs like that. It’s meant to be attached.

I decided to remove it, as it was evident to me the transformer is what caused the problem. For those who don’t know, a transformer receives an incoming voltage in a circuit and then alters it for the output side (either by increasing or decreasing it). In this case, it’s receiving an input voltage of ~220v and outputting it into ~15.6v from what I can find online (these are the specs). I’ve wrote them below if anyone finds them useful.

Input Voltage : 220V
Output Voltage : 15.6V / 15.6V
Dimensions???? : 8*11
No Idea???? : 3+4

Now, when researching online, it seems these transformers are commonly fitted to the Fellowes shredder models and seem to be the weak point of them. The point of failure is usually when the shredder falls over or gets banged about a bit. The transformer / PCB are mounted upside down in the shredder motor. So if the unit falls over it can damage it. Essentially it’s dangling on it’s own internals.

A common fix suggested by one user seems to be fitting an M2730 transformer, which is slightly bigger then hot glue it in place so it doesn’t damage it if it falls. I looked up this product and unfortunately it’s a discontinued product. So I may try places like eBay or Farnells/CPC in the UK to try and source one.

In the meantime I have emailed Customer Support at Fellowes to see if they stock spares. I’m more than happy to fit the equipment myself to get it up and working again. Failing that I’ll source one online if they cannot supply. The equipment by Fellowes is amazing. It’s stood up to some tough abuse from myself, but I’d rather not pay £100 for a new shredder if I can fix it myself for around £20

I’ll update this post as I go, hope some of you find it useful and helps you on your quest with your Fellows PS-77CS Shredder or others.

PS : If your from Fellowes, I’ll happily receive a new shredder from you if you offer me one. I wouldn’t complain 🙂

 

Views – 1019

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