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11/06/2008

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Prokofy Neva

Oh. They may be laying off that biz dev department:

http://valleywag.com/5076428/second-life-maker-swings-layoff-ax

OpenWhat

The new homestead product is going to have an avatar limit of 20 and script limits might be coming as well

Crap Mariner

"I thought what this meant was merely that they will blog earlier in their decision process -- or rather, create more simulations of consultation earlier -- not create some sort of "resident panel" (ugh)."

So when it comes to M's idea of involving residents earlier in the discussion of new policies/products, instead of an FIC or an early smell-test/focus group, it's more of a rubber-stamp? Group of prison trusty... Capo?

-ls/cm

Maggie Darwin

"I'm aware of about, oh, three carnivals in Second Life.."

You should get out more, Prok. :-)

Maggie Darwin

"They made the 'new' product, which will be called 'Homestead' ...be essentially what everybody already has now called 'openspace sim'...Then they gave what is actually the new product the name 'openspace' with only 750 prims..."

So the "new" product isn't really new, (although the price is)...your "new" product is the one so many people wished they were buying instead of what was actually offered: an OS region as originally described.

That wished-for "Homestead" product is the one that is truly "new", with a new name and a new price.

"I know I only paid for a Trabant, but when I got out to the lot I found out that Trabant keys will start a Lexus, so that's what I drove off in..."

Khamon

"unless they are Khamon's, which are low-impact -- *waves*" - Prokofy

Particularly low impact now that I've plugged the timer hole and added an option to remove the scripts. One can put out a dozen of them, adjust the preferences, and reduce them to unscripted, flexible prims on the landscape. If you change your mind, you can always rez fresh, scripted copies and select new settings.

"When I read this M letter, I feel he is talking down to people he views almost with pity...We aren't even customers. We are some sort of...fan base." - Prokofy

This is true and well stated. M functions as a one man army doing everything he can to discourage this fan base. This past week he's dismissed premium subscriptions as being 'immaterial to our business' and effectively vilified the newly named Homesteader class. Robin was worried that grandfathering would 'create a class system;' but it only would've perpetuated the current benign class system created by the lab long ago. This new maneuver instantly damages the reputation, and debases the social status, of anyone operating a homestead sim.

It'll be interesting to see how many more tactics M has to employee, and how long it will take, to convince the f4ny0rz that we don't want to be here any longer.

Maggie Darwin

"Immaterial" is an accounting term-of-art, and I can well imagine the premium subscription fees ($US10/head/month) are exactly that compared with land-based revenues.

Yumi Murakami

The reason why sailors complain is that there is no technical reason at all why a sim has to be the size it is. Prims and scripts take up CPU load, but the size of a sim is only governed by the range of coordinate values prims are allowed to have, and increasing that doesn't increase CPU load. The only thing which becomes more complex if sims get bigger is the terraform map, and even that isn't affected very much; if the av limit and object limit stay the same, the number of things that potentially collide with the land - and thus the number of checks necessary - also stays the same.

Moreover, if a yacht is in Sim A and moves into Sim B, there is no reason why two full sims should be needed, since once the yacht is in Sim B, it is no longer in Sim A and thus the CPU resources could be transferred to Sim B. This might seem like "magic" but in fact load balancing is a standard feature that every other modern virtual world or game uses. And no, user content creation doesn't obstruct it - it does require a central repository for content, but as we are all too painfully aware, SL already has one of those (the dreaded asset server).

There is a lot of quiet disgruntlement among many residents that the current tier model provides LL with a perverse incentive not to proceed with implementing these technologies. With proper load balancing, Second Life could probably run on almost half as many servers as it now has (because most sims are empty most of the time)

As far the "I found the Trabant keys will start a Lexus, so that's what I drove off with.." Well, as I posted on the forum, LL has encouraged this kind of thing for years. If you make a 20x20 single prim, or you make a tree out of a single prim, or you make a script which can work in a non-script zone, then the culture is that you sell it and enjoy your brief monopoly while you can - not that you hold back because, even though you could do it, you don't know if you were "supposed to" or not. I have previously, on JIRA and even in Linden Answers, asked the Lindens to give a list of things that we are supposed to and not supposed to do, and they have always refused (and actually posted a message refusing, not just remained silent). So to suddenly apply this policy - and not only that, but to apply it retroactively - is a contradiction to what they've been doing for years.

Ric Mollor

----Quoting Prokofy--------
but let me put it this way: most of my tenants in the cabins there are not riding the roundabouts.
---------------------------

I'm going to make a leap here and assume that you are implying that they are riding sexbeds and other poseballs besides the 'sit on the couch' type.

It's time to stop pretending that SL is about creativity and expressing oneself and acknowledge the greatest accomplishment of the Second Life community.

The users of Second Life have made it the leading platform in the world for avatar based sex.

No other virtual world remotely comes close to the number of sexual variations and unusual practices that are commonplace within SL.

No other virtual world comes close to the abundance of clothing that pushes the the limits of decency and moves SL well past a 'PG' rating.

No other virtual world has the virtually unlimited selection of 'attachments' for the users to select from during intimate moments.

No other virtual world has a userbase as obsessed with protecting their privacy and keeping their real life lives separate from their virtual ones.

The majority of the Openspace drama is about the cost of obtaining privacy.

Real business figured this out quite a while ago and stampeded out the door.

The challenge of Linden Lab is how to dismantle this culture without totally losing it's current customer base.

ichabod Antfarm

Ric,

Your anecdotal evidence that SL is a cesspool of smut conflicts entirely with my anecdotal evidence to the contrary. So, who's narrow, un-scientific viewpoint is the correct one?

Business left (insofar as they did leave) because there is nothing here for them in terms of their bottom line. It wasn't because the girls all wear miniskirts and the boys never wear shirts. It was because the economy of Second Life offered them nothing in return on their investment. Do you think a company making a decent profit in Second Life would leave just because their customers own sex beds?

Prokofy Neva

Maggie, I'd challenge you to produce the SLURLS of sites with carnivals. I'm aware of, besides Coney Island of the Mind, home of Prok's Seafood, the Rezzable Carnival of Doom, a sim that has rides on it from a guy I've purchased stuff from who specializes in fair rides, a game arcade sim that doesn't have rides, and possibly one other sim with rides, popcorn, etc.

There are some sites like River Walk that might have one merry-go-round, but they aren't "carnivals" as their main content is art works.

Few people have the prims and space and script tolerance to devote an entire sim to a carnival with rides because rides simply aren't the popular destinations you imagine. Riding a ride in SL is not that fun. It's more about just creating an atmosphere to hang out and fool around a bit in between your basic function of living in your house, decorating and landscaping and having cybersex.

I'd have to agree with ichabod, having vast, vast experience with tenants, that there are actually a sizeable portion of rentals tenants who aren't interested in cybersex, posebeds, dressing like hos, etc. Of course, there is a sizeable portion who *are* -- maybe even the majority. But in fact there are a lot of people who like making the house, putting out gardens, fooling around with creations, having friends over, and not turning their homes into sex dens. There are also quite a few people with intimate partnerships and partnership spaces on the profile who do not express that intimacy in the form of literal bouncing on pose balls, which they may find silly. They may meet in RL for this or simply not require it as part of their relationship.

This is an unscientific statement, as I have not studied all the houses and polled all the people, but I'm just reporting my sense of it.

Prokofy Neva

Yumi, as usual, your replies are based in utopian thinking, aren't persuasive. Let's start with this claim: "The reason why sailors complain is that there is no technical reason at all why a sim has to be the size it is."

This, is of course, utopian, extremist nonsense. It loses sight completely that this is a shared, managed world that has as its core reality a scarce resource: bandwidth. And of course, the cost of servers and programmers' times.

People managing a world of 32,000 sims on 8000 servers have to make decisions. They can't say "Oh, let's let people configure their sims to hold 45,000 prims and make them any size they want, cuz after all, there's no technical reason not to!" That is the sort of extremist, narrow-minded, literalist thinking for which geeks are famous. One person -- 100 persons -- 1000 persons may go and do this. But they may then create a bottleneck for others, the problems compound.

You have to make choices in management, and standardize the sizes, tier, CPUs etc. And so they are standardized. And so they are what they are. And so they are not likely to change, as all kinds of management, billing, and software decisions depend on them. There is nothing that says you can't sail on two 65,336 sims put together, or even one. It's up to you to decide how much you value sailing, and what you want to spend on it, *just like real life*.

People used to use 3-4 mainland sims for this, but they were in a region that had a curious problem from its birth, around Portage. I bought land there which I could not teleport to for months. There was a problem in the entire new area that the Lindens refused to recognize that I think had something to do with the fact that they did not put in void sims or any type of sims to fill in gaps. You literally couldn't fly their manually, either. It was the damnedness thing. There was someone who had a whole mainland island there who started a sailing club there who was constantly complaining about the region's performance, and I truly do think it was because the Lindens did not set up the entire new continent (as it was at that time) correctly, somehow. When their software improved, when they put in voids, you could then fly there easily. But then the area got larded up with development and became useless for sailing, I guess. Sailing on the mainland is an inherent challenge of course due to ban lines and the loading of all sims. That's why sailors moved to first private islands, then OS sims. But their appetite has grown in the eating, so to speak.

Prokofy Neva

And here's another stupid statement: "Moreover, if a yacht is in Sim A and moves into Sim B, there is no reason why two full sims should be needed, since once the yacht is in Sim B, it is no longer in Sim A and thus the CPU resources could be transferred to Sim B. This might seem like "magic" but in fact load balancing is a standard feature that every other modern virtual world or game uses. And no, user content creation doesn't obstruct it - it does require a central repository for content, but as we are all too painfully aware, SL already has one of those (the dreaded asset server)."

Everything about this is wrong-headed, literalist and stupid.

First, if you have a regatta, or a contest, which is what sailing usually is, one boat may move from A to B and stop using A, but the next boat will then use A. In a world with autonomous beings and not just scheduled events, you'll find that in fact there might be constant use of A when A is left by unknown factors, perhaps merely people viewing the events in sim B which has reached capacity. The avatars looking into B is part of the load.

There's also an enormous religious belief in load balancing...as if the Lindens don't already engage in a form of load-balancing, and as if you could implement this while keeping a centralized asset server making content always available to everyone at all times.

The "always on" problem of assets always demanded is a conundrum. Of course, there are no shortage of math whizzes who say, but wait, let's take all the inventories items you store but never taken out and look at, let's say the original of which the copy is inworld, say, of a house or your first magic wand, and calculate that the chances of you taking that out, based on your non-rezzing for the past 90 days is 0 or 15 percent or whatever, and assign those assets a more deep-stored status that doesn't constantly make them always available on demand.

The problem, again, in an unregimented world with autonomous beings, you can't truly allow for the times when people might suddenly wish to pull out their magic wands or be forced to re-rez their house due to the exigencies of SL itself, where content is constantly lost. You can mathematically create some virtual management system as an abstraction, but real use will constantly upset it and defeat it and people will constantly be howling about how their magic wands won't rez in world.

I really have no faith in the arm-chair generals here. The Lindens aren't stupid, even though they are ideologically driven (which can make you do stupid things). They have some sizeable expertise *really* running the *real* grid, not the hypothesized grid of the arm-chair generals. If they had some easy way to tuck in some algorithm to load-balance, they would. Of course, I believe they are the victim of ideological blinders on the load-balance issue of infohubs, because they refused to put in a serial script on the newbie islands and put in a randomizer, which creates random load overbalances on all those infohubs -- it's really stupid. But they don't care. THey're in love with random math and think it's a beautiful thing to watch, and the gross overload of an infohub, which succeeds only in turning away newbies some days, doesn't bother them, as the love of the math is more important.

On the load balancing of the whole world, they are more motivated by their own technical frustrations and need to boost concurrency and performance to really solve these issues, and I don't doubt the cogitate and argue over them strenuously -- they just don't cc Yumi and all the other arm-chair generals in on this all the time.

I want to remind Yumi and other teeth-gnashers that in fact, the Lindens didn't limit the scripts yet. They haven't acted yet. And I bet that they will not. The ideological imperative to never hate a script or limit it in any way is so ingrained in the tekkie wikis there that they will not act. Nothing short of a force majeure -- a takeover by Microsoft, a mass firing and co-optation of programmers from Blizzard or something -- will fix this problem. The communism of the opensourceniks dictates to them that they endlessly expand, endlessly push technical limitations, never admit anything, never self-restrain, and always demand entitlements, more and more.

The Lindens have merely sold a bill of goods here. They are raising their prices on the product to reflect use. They are promising people that they will put in some restraints "to be determined". I bet six months go by -- and they will still be TBD.

Prokofy Neva

Also, it's terribly communist to look at the whole system of SL, see that half the islands are "empty" and conclude "now we can create a load-balance system that draws always and everywhere on the emptiness of those sims".

The fact is, they can't predict, except by abstract math and not real practice, when people might suddenly log on and want their sim. It's like airline overbooking. So you could slow down whole areas of corporate sims that looked dead for 60 days, but what if they suddenly do a tour, and find out their sims are working at half capacity!!! Can you imagine the howling?

Actually, there is *one* historic precedent for the Lindens limiting scripts which was so big I didn't state it, because it wasn't so much "limiting individual scripts" as doing something else -- creating sim communism.

Sim communism was instituted by Lee Linden, with Philip's approval in 2005. This involved reconfiguring the servers so that instead of providing fantastic FPS when the sim was new, say, 40000 FPS (as it was then denominated), that would eventually "wear off" as the sim filled up with people, objects, and most importantly, scripts, the Lindens decided to set each sim to a standard configuration of 1.00 time dilation and 45 FPS as its "norm". This wasn't the case pre-2005.

The new communist sims did a simple thing. They didn't say you couldn't put out a script. But they forcibly kept the TD at 1 and the FPS at 45, so that what would happen to your script is that it would simply execute at half speed.

What this resulted in was literally doors opening slower, rental boxes not executing, poses stalling -- and lag. But hey, take the 40 avatars off, take off some of the heavy scripts, and ok, your doors will open again.

That sim communism forced people to stop putting out huge script hogs. It used to be the norm to move into a sim like Wetheral, as I once did, on lovely residential waterfront property up and down the coast, and then suddenly find one oldbie script kiddie hog the entire sim's resources, and grind it to a halt with the use of their scripted submarine. I wrote quite a bit of this famously at the time. The subs would come out and start firing, and we'd all be frozen in 2 FPS.

Now what happens is the sim will force the sub to slow down, essentially, so that I can walk around, but at 10 FPS or 15 FPS personally, with a sim FPS still showing 45. It then has converted from a problem of "the Lindens' servers" to "my computer and Internet service."

Lee Linden (I wonder where he is today), God bless them, cooked up sim communism because he got really sick and tired of people constantly complaining about sim performance. He once said to me in exasperation that he found a sim I was concerned about working perfectly fine because it had no avatars in it -- as if I should continue to own and pay for this sim, but not ever put avatars on it!

Wayfinder used to argue voluminously with Lee Linden on these grounds, because Lee refused to acknowledge the hidden sim communism of the shared servers and how that would stall out someone's performance on their island, because they were secret-sharers with another sim elsewhere on the grid.

Sim communism of course comes out of the exact same thinking that Yumi is bringing to this problem -- "Let's look at the system abstractly, as a whole, see that it has empty space, and draw on it equitably." It's called "Spreading the Wealth Around" as Obama put it famously.

And you see what you get when you take strangers and force them into a commune and make them share resources "equitably" and "spread the wealth around," i.e. one person's frugal spending of resources goes to bankroll the spendthrift's maxing out of his sim. That's what communism *is*.

Is there another way out besides sim communism? Yes, it's called "pay per view" and "metering" but that method might limit the Lindens' income and also increase more anger and trouble tickets from people who swear they have non-laggy scripts.

Yumi Murakami

Prok, increasing the size of a region _doesn't_ increase the bandwidth usage. That's exactly my point. All that needs to change is that the numbers being sent need to range from 0 to 1024, rather than 0 to 256. If LL were using integers for coordinates, this WOULD require extra bandwidth - but they aren't, they're using decimals ("floats" in technical language), which means that the existing message formats could accommodate these larger numbers without needing to use any more bandwidth at all. More prims would require more bandwidth, true - but I didn't say more prims. I just said more space. A 15000 sim that was 1024m by 1024m would use only a relatively small amount of extra bandwidth compared that one that is 256m by 256m. (That extra would be sending the larger terraform map, and possibly the land ownership map, but that only needs to be done once.)

Load balancing doesn't mean that things "don't rez". It might mean that they take 30 seconds or so to rez.. but they do that anyway, and at least you'd get a warning ("Your is being retrieved from archive. It may take a few extra seconds to rez."). Likewise, if people suddenly teleport to a sim, the load balancer should be able to handle that, provided there are enough servers. But the number of servers, in that situation, only needs to be determined by the number of concurrent users, not the total landmass.

Melissa Yeuxdoux

It's rather amusing to find a demand for perfect prediction of what an avatar will do next after the whole brouhaha over DRM, especially since unlike DRM, perfection isn't required.

Your computer's OS can't perfectly predict what memory will be referenced next, nor can its CPU perfectly predict which way conditional branches will go, but I dare say that if you turned off virtual memory and branch prediction you'd be very disappointed with the results.

A bot could download its whole inventory and then rapidly randomly attach and detach items to generate the SL equivalent of "thrashing"... real humans won't, and probably can't do it fast enough to cause trouble. Ditto for randomly teleporting.

There may be a stupider analogy than likening load balancing to communism, but I can't think of one offhand, and I hope that LL is working on some form of load balancing. The waste of not doing so is astounding.

Tammy Nowotny

Actually changing the sim size is not as simple as changing the numbers from 0 to 1024. We were having a dicussion about this on the opensim mailing list a few days ago. Right now the 256 by 256 metre sim size is hardwired into the code, but in the future this will likely be fixed.

The limitations of the standard numerical data types used on present-day computers are actually are part of the problem. (Effectively, even though there theoretically are an infinite number of integers, unless we use a kludge, we can only actually use a finite number of integers. And it's not that big a number of integers: SL only uses integers from -2^32 to +2^32, which is slightly less than 4.3 billion integers in all, i.e., less than the number of humans on the planet.) The way the code is set up now, we avatars can place objects with a precision of approximately .1 mm on a 256 m by 256 m sim. A bigger sim would lose some precision.

Ann Otoole

yes the sim size discussion comes up from time to time. There is the fact that the original sl code was not optimally written as object oriented and therefore metadata does not drive it making it so a simple configuration read determines the type of sim to "rez" into host memory. I.e.; sim dimensions should have been a parameter. But they were not.

Now there are lots of scripts out there also hard coded to the 256 style sims that would break if the sim code changed.

You can't change things willy nilly with Secondlife. There are hundreds of thousands of people writing bad code involved. Secondlife is perhaps the largest vat of spaghetti code in the history of mankind. The majority being LSL scripts.

However it can be changed if they set the direction for that. This requires dropping the long standing edict by Rosedale that there will never be a rewrite.

I think there will be a rewrite. That Rosedale statement was one of thise legendary gaffs. Up there near but nothing will never equal or exceed gaff of saying something like "The code is law. The code is God."

Prokofy Neva

Yumi, let me keep trying, because you are willfully obdurate.

1. There isn't some limitlessness to the world -- it would depend on your own technical limitations, and most people don't have the equipment even to see 512 m well.

2. I don't think the effect of everyone maximalizing their ability to extend out the world endlessly will somehow have a neutral effect. I think it's characteristic of nearsighted geeks that they take abstract positions like that, of what it would be like "for me, in a vacuum." But for 30,000 owners and islands, it could be compounded in different ways.

3. As others have explained, they have hardwired these figures of 256, 512, etc. into other aspects of the world, even the billing system, so they can't introduce a feature like this just overnight.

4. If you believe you can do this, why not go do it on your own server in openspaces, and send us a postcard?

5. Load balancing *will indeed* mean slower rezzing, depending on size, etc. Multiple this by "everybody", and you have a nightmare.

6. The idea that the Linden servers "should" be able to handle something is -- risable.

I'm going to have to assume the following things about you:

o you haven't graduated from college yet
o you have never had to work at a practical job, like the 7/11, you know, making subway sandwiches, ordering enough baloney or ham or turkey and slicing it a certain way, and calculating how it fits on bread
o you have never had children, which forces you to manage and multi-task
o you simply have had little practical experience in the world

These factors constantly impel you to make mathematical, abstract, utopian, extremist statements, untethered from real life.

Gigs Taggart

Hell has frozen over, I agree with 100% of this post.

I don't know if you should be proud or scared.

My plan is to do what Anshe is doing, convert my grandfathered openspaces back to grandfathered full regions as much as I can, and then get them off on the secondary market before LL decides to screw things up again by killing the grandfathering.

T_S_Kimball

Morning Prok, Alan_K here. *wave* One of these days I'm actually going to make it to your Friday meetings again, but today may not be it (fun with RL family).

Anyway, I'm no programmer, just a SysAdmin. And from that perspective, I also have a couple problems with the whole 'load-balancing' thing.

First of all, they first need to fix how a sim will rez _in_front_of_you_. Repeat, in front first - not behind, to the left or right. From what I've seen in the beginning of the protocol decode (aka LibSL), that is currently impossible. You *may* be able to kludge something together if the client gets all object metadata on a sim first, and not the full asset listing; Good Luck.

Once that obstacle is overcome, next up is to have the sim process have the ability to 'sleep' when not in use by an avatar. One way this may be possible is by a technique known as threading, but that definitely ends up in re-write territory. Again, good luck.

An alternative to the above is using UNIX technology known as a Grid (the *real* definition of Grid, not what SL is). Linux can do this, sure, but Solaris / OpenSolaris can do it better. The question again becomes 'would LL be willing to part with some or all of its FOSS heritage?' which I think you've nailed pretty well. Sun could possibly say 'we are FOSS!' since it now embraces something akin to the Red Hat model.

This is a *VERY* long road, if its even taken. I personally don't see it happening, yet. It would be really cool if it did, and we'll just have to see.

As for the bandwith thing, yes that is also a problem (and not a small one, nor an easy one). However I think we first need to get some proper data collection on that, since there *is* no data on that presented to us. OpenSim is at least allowing these metrics to be laid bare, and we'll eventually find out if LL does need to place limits on the 'unpaid.' [I'm not willing to decide either way until I see hard data from a server, sorry.]

Prok, you're welcome to contact me by email or in-world to discuss further; I stop by here very rarely, and may not find your reply here.

--Tim Kimball
aka Alan Kiesler

Darien Caldwell

"The way the code is set up now, we avatars can place objects with a precision of approximately .1 mm on a 256 m by 256 m sim. A bigger sim would lose some precision."

And yet we can go vertically to 4096 meters without any problem. That 'issue' really isn't an issue at all.

The fact is nobody wants to put in the work to make it happen, simple as that. There is no technical limitation to prevent sims larger than 256 meters.

Ric Mollor

re: Sim sizes, draw distances, bandwidth, and server capability.

It's hard to let a discussion of synthetic world design to pass by with mentioning the There.com world for contrast.

Some of this may be incorrect as it's derived from tech papers, blog articles, and personal experiences but being a closed system the exact details aren't available.

The world that is emulated is a *round* world. Not a flat plain of stitched together regions.

The client provides a draw distance of 20 km or more. Of course not everything is drawn when it's that far out but the mountains on the horizon are real. Users can jump off a platform 20k in the sky and watch the ground below *smoothly* come up towards them without any obvious steps of resolution.

The size of the regions hosted by the servers are variable while the system is in operation. Possibly automatically to keep crowds of users from creating lag situations.

It seems as if the *entire* world is simulated. Want to fly out over the ocean until you are long out of sight of land? Want to test your navigational skills and fly between islands? Totally possible as the water isn't just a client side illusion.

The performance of the client is completely acceptable with the limited bandwidth of a dial up connection. In fact, other than the lack of voice and streaming media functionality, it is difficult to observe a difference.

Yes, I understand that the There world has less user generated content and currently does not offer server side scripting. Its design is still interesting as it seems to be carefully planned from the start rather then being a tech demo that's been patched and extended time after time beyond it's limits.

Yumi Murakami

Prok, I understand it would be very difficult to change these things now. However it is still LL's responsibility that they made the world the way they did on day 1. Not the sailors'.

Prokofy Neva

Oh, don't be ridiculous Yumi. The sailors in real life don't get to have the size of the waves reduced, or to remove storms, or to have smooth sailing and never capsize. Linden Lab is a Force of Nature. Sailors have always had to deal with forces of nature. This notion that sailors get some sort of special berth or entitlement or treatment because they do some "rich content PG activity" that looks good on the website or splash screen or promo materials is all bullshit. They are a business or a hobby like the rest of SL, and should pay accordingly.

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