Re/Discovering Cebu, one story at a time

3rd Geeks on a Beach summit set in Boracay in August

Tech startups, technoprenuers, businessmen and designers from all over the world will meet again in Boracay Island this August for the third installment of Geeks on a Beach (GOAB) organized…

Tech startups, technoprenuers, businessmen and designers from all over the world will meet again in Boracay Island this August for the third installment of Geeks on a Beach (GOAB) organized by Techtalks.ph in collaboration with partners.

“Also known as the International Summit for Tech, Startups and Design, GOAB 3 eyes to create productive discussions on building products that make a difference and enhancing​ the lives of everyday people with less hype but more action,” said Tina Amper, TechTalks.ph founder.

Banking on the successes of its past two events, GOAB will be held on August 20 and 21, 2015 with more innovative minds, funding opportunities, and fun, fun, fun.

Amper said she already received confirmation from 17 tech champions who will be speaking before an expected 600 to 1,000 participants from across the globe.

Geeks On A Beach 3

(Image credit: GeeeksOnABeach.com)

Speakers

Some of the speakers include IdeaSpace president Earl Valencia, Monk’s Hill Ventures managing director Kuo-Yi Lim, Kickstart Ventures president Minette Navarrete, Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, SMART Communications developer evangelist Paul Pajo, Department of Science and Technology-Information and Communications Office (DOST-ICTO) deputy executive director Mon Ibrahim, and 500 Startups Managing partner Khailee Ng.

“GOAB will be maintained as an honest-to-goodness, no holds-barred conference where people exchange their share of truths about startups, technology, and design—minus the long sleeves, coat and tie,” said​ David Overton, founder and CEO of Sym.ph and chief geek for GOAB.

Two days are set aside exclusively for the main event, but all geeks are welcome to join the week-long run of workshops, training sessions, networking opportunities, pitching events, and product demonstrations.

Providing a backdrop to the conference is the postcard-sized tropical paradise Boracay Island, voted by Travel+Leisure Magazine at its Best Overall Island of 2012. The island is famous for its powdery fine white sand beaches and coastlines.

geeks-on-a-beach-3-discount

Partners

Organizers TechTalks.ph and the DOST-ICTO have partnered once again with Sym.ph, Happy Garaje, and PRWorks Vis-Min, with major sponsorships by SMART DevNet, IdeaSpace, Microsoft, and Monk’s Hill Ventures.

DOST-ICTO continues to team-up with TechTalks.ph to encourage Filipino startups to get mentoring and funding in the country instead of going abroad.

​GOAB is open to anyone who is interested in the tech and startup industries in the Philippines – including those looking for tech and entrepreneurship learning events, business and investment opportunities, outsourcing partnerships, and connection with leaders in startups or “innovation driven enterprises” (IDE) in the Philippines as well as Southeast Asia.

​Interested participants are invited to view event details or register at www.GeeksOnABeach.com. Early bird discount is up to 45% off and is valid until May 15 only. Those interested to be sponsors are invited to contact GOAB at [email protected].

TechTalks.ph, organizer of numerous startup gatherings in the country including GOAB and Startup Weekend, is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating, supporting, and empowering Filipinos tech entrepreneurs and promoting the Philippine tech sector to the world.

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Internet vital to businesses, groups told in ‘Panalo Ang May Alam’ Communities launch

Online promotions and word of mouth referrals through social networks helped a community in Aloguinsan build its eco-tourism project into what it is now: a sustainable project that has become a benchmark for other places embarking on a similar program.

Online promotions and word of mouth referrals through social networks helped a community in Aloguinsan build its eco-tourism project into what it is now: a sustainable project that has become a benchmark for other places embarking on a similar program.

Jomelyn Manigos, vice president of the Bojo Aloguinsan Ecotourism Association (BAETA), stressed the importance of the Internet in spreading word on businesses like theirs during the launch of the “Panalo Ang May Alam” Communities by Talk ‘N Text and Smart Communications, Inc. in Boljoon, Cebu.

Manigos said marketing is about providing information and the Internet is where people get information from nowadays. She said BAETA was able to grow largely because of word of mouth through social networks. She also cited the importance of the Internet in educating people. The group has a Facebook page where people can contact them to book tours.

Panalo Ang May Alam launch

CONNECTIVITY, RETAILER PACKAGES. Representatives from partner communities in Aloguinsan, Boljoon, Samboan and Santander receive connectivity and retailer packages from Smart and Talk ‘N Text. The packages include a laptop, a pocket Wi-Fi, printer, and Android phones.

Award-winning eco-tourism program

Many now know about Aloguinsan and their tours because of the Internet, Manigos told MyCebu.ph in an interview.

BAETA is the group behind the award-winning eco-tourism program centered on the Bojo River. The group was organized by the local government in collaboration with Boboi Costas of Grassroots Travel.

During the event on Tuesday in the Boljoon Sports Complex, Smart and Talk ‘N Text introduced Internet.org to members of partner communities from Aloguinsan, Boljoon, Samboan, and Santander.

Boljoon Mayor Merlou Derama said people now understand the importance of social media and the Internet and their use in boosting tourism.

Connecting to mobile Internet

Representatives from Smart and Talk ‘N Text demonstrated to those present how to connect to the Internet using feature phones and smartphones. They also walked them through connecting for free via the Internet.org program, which is being implemented in partnership with Facebook.

Internet.org is a program that offers free Internet access to a group of websites that provide important information. In the Philippines, Smart, Talk ‘N Text, and Sun subscribers can get free access to 24 websites, among them Accuweather, ESPN, Inquirer.net, Interaksyon, JobStreet.com, OLX.ph, Philstar.com, Rappler, Spin.ph, Wattpad, wikiHow, and Wikipedia.

“A groundbreaking app, the Internet.org provides Filipinos with free access to an initial list of 24 informative and useful websites, including Facebook and Messenger, so that more are able to benefit from the wealth of information available through the mobile Internet,” Smart said in a press statement.

The launch on Tuesday is the first in the country, company officials said during the event.

‘Panalo ang may alam’

The program’s rallying call “Panalo ang may alam” (loose translation: knowledge wins) stresses the importance of information in a global knowledge economy.

“These communities are admirable for their own panalo or winning stories, and we see them achieving more as they learn to harness the power of free online information and services through TNT and the Internet.org app by Facebook,” TNT marketing head Cherish Canizares-Tupaz said in a press statement.

Even in the purchase of airtime load, more people are buying for Internet connectivity, said Glenn Loayon, Smart Communications retail sales manager for the region. He said this shows Filipinos are increasingly going online.

He said the event was “just the start” and that Smart and Talk ‘N Text would engage with the communities in helping them do business. He cited as example one of the company’s retailers who is now a millionaire after 10 years of selling airtime load.

Panalo Ang May Alam launch

PANALO ANG MAY ALAM LAUNCH. Smart and Talk ‘N Text officials and representatives from various communities in Cebu mark the launch of “Panalo Ang May Alam” Communities in Boljoon with a groufie or group selfie.

Business training

Apart from lessons on going online, the program also covers “business training specially designed according to their needs,” Smart said.

The partner communities were also given connectivity and retailer packages to help them in their respective programs. The packages include a laptop, a pocket Wi-Fi, printer, and Android phones.

“Through this unique program, TNT hopes to assist deserving communities in creating new opportunities and reaping the many real-life benefits of mobile Internet. For example, they can easily promote their products and services on Facebook and coordinate with peers through Messenger,” said Canizares-Tupaz in the Smart statement.

TNT launched Internet.org with Facebook last month, which is the first in the Philippines and Southeast Asia, the company said. Facebook director for global operator partnerships Markku Makelainen said during the launch that Internet.org is a tool to “address the barriers that prevent people from connecting and joining the knowledge economy.”

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Smart, Sun to bring Google’s Android One smartphones to Philippines

After introducing free mobile internet access, Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) is set to bring Google’s Android One smartphones to the country, strengthening further its bid to get more and more Filipinos to experience and harness the benefits of the Internet by making available an array of cutting-edge, yet affordable mobile devices.

After introducing free mobile internet access, Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) is set to bring Google’s Android One smartphones to the country, strengthening further its bid to get more and more Filipinos to experience and harness the benefits of the Internet by making available an array of cutting-edge, yet affordable mobile devices.

“We believe the Internet should be experienced by as many users as possible, which is why we have launched digital inclusion initiatives like our free Internet offer that have encouraged more people to go online. This partnership with Google for Android One will surely accelerate our ‘Internet for All’ initiative that paves the way for more Filipinos to experience the best of the Internet using their mobile phones,” said Charles A. Lim, EVP and Wireless Consumer Division Head at Smart and Sun Cellular.

“As the telecom operator to exclusively offer the first Android device in the Philippines back in 2009, Smart has always been at the forefront of this initiative, and we’re scaling it even further with our Android One offers,” Lim said.

Caesar Sengupta, Google Vice President of Product Management, said, “Data connections have been a serious barrier to getting the Internet into more people’s hands. We are thrilled about Smart’s plan to reduce costs on app updates and downloads for people with Android One phones — a key step to making extraordinary smartphone technology more accessible and affordable.”

Google Android One Cherry Mobile MyPhone

INITIAL OFFER. For its initial offering, Smart has partnered with Cherry Mobile and MyPhone to bring the Android One experience to both Smart and Sun subscribers nationwide.

Attractive, affordable offers

Android One, Google’s global initiative to bring high-quality smartphones to as many people as possible, aims bring affordable and high-quality smartphones to users in the Philippines through partnerships with phone manufacturers and telecom operators like Smart.

For its initial offering, Smart has partnered with Cherry Mobile and MyPhone to bring the Android One experience to both Smart and Sun subscribers nationwide, with attractive postpaid plans and prepaid SIM bundles that come packed with free mobile data for Google Play app downloads and the latest Android OS updates.

Smart and Sun brands will be offering the Cherry Mobile One phone through attractively priced postpaid plans, which will also include free data allowance for Android OS updates and Google Play downloads for the first six months of the subscription. This will allow subscribers to enjoy Google’s app updates without the worry of additional data charges.

Smart Prepaid will also offer free data allowance for Android OS updates, Google Play downloads, and Google search for those who will purchase the MyPhone Uno phone in their retail outlets nationwide.

Every Android One phone sold in the Philippines will come with the latest Android “Lollipop” mobile operating system pre-installed, and will receive timely Android OS updates once Google releases them to users worldwide. Android “Lollipop” brings a suite of enhancements to Google’s mobile operating system, including a new design language called “Material Design,” notification improvements, a battery saver feature, and multiple-user capability that allows for separate user accounts for friends or family members, among many others.

Additionally, Android One phone users will be able to download paid apps on Google Play and make in-app purchases using their prepaid loads or charge it to their postpaid accounts. They would simply have to click “Enable Smart Communications billing” when they make a Google Play transaction so they can enjoy their favorite apps and games even without a credit card.

Digital inclusion

“From the very beginning, Smart had the singular objective of bringing the mobile phone into the hands of each and every Filipino. That has been our dream from the start, and this year we’re partnering with Google to bring not just devices but also fast and reliable mobile Internet connection to more users across the country,” Lim added.

Known for its groundbreaking innovations in the telecoms industry, Smart has pioneered several digital inclusion efforts over the years that have sought to allow more users to connect and access information with the help of mobile technology.

Aside from offering the first Android phone in the country, Smart has also introduced the Smart Amazing Phone, one of the first smartphones launched in the world that allowed users to access the Internet and features that used to be only available through laptops and desktop computers. In 2011, Smart also unveiled the Netphone during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which debuted a line of Android-compliant, path-breaking smartphones designed for emerging markets. It is also the world’s first smartphone backed by an operator-managed platform.

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There’s a new Outlook for mobile and you should install it on your iPhone or iPad

The best Gmail client on iOS was built by Microsoft, several reviewers said on the first release of Outlook, months after the tech company bought Acompli, the mobile email client it is now based on.

The best Gmail client on iOS was built by Microsoft, several reviewers said on the first release of Outlook, months after the tech company bought Acompli, the mobile email client it is now based on. It’s a “powerful productivity app,” Walt Mossberg said in his review on Outlook in Re/Code. Another reviewer said he deleted Gmail on his iPhone a few minutes after installing and trying Outlook. It was that better than the Google client, he said.

After reading tech writers rave about the app, I installed it on the iPad mini. Like the reviewer who deleted Gmail on his iPhone, I also deleted mine, along with my previous mail app of choice: Mailbox. I found Outlook more responsive than Mailbox on the iPad Mini.

But it is in the integration of email, calendar, files and contacts where Outlook stands out.

Outlook calendar integration

CALENDAR INTEGRATION. The Outlook app works seamlessly with Google Calendar, providing a convenient pane that displays your agenda and schedules.

Calendar integration

You can manage your calendar events or browse through your agenda without leaving Outlook. You can add a calendar event with the typical range of options: designate alerts, invitees and even the calendar it will be added to (including your Google calendars). It even has provision for notes on the event. The feature is a full-fledged calendar system at par with other stand-alone calendar apps.

In my experience, it worked seamlessly with Google Calendar, which then takes care of making sure the event is added to all my devices and shared to the appropriate group of co-workers in the Sun.Star Cebu business section, in our startup and in the other projects I’m involved in.

A tip: if you don’t find your events displayed on the calendar pane, tap on the left hamburger menu (the three lines) and turn on the display of calendars you want to view.

What’s exciting about this robust implementation of calendaring in the Outlook email client is its potential future deeper integration with Sunrise, a great multi-platform calendaring app and service that was recently bought by Microsoft. It will also be great if Outlook can integrate with tasks and project management services and apps in future versions.

Outlook also allows you to view the files in your Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox and Box accounts. From there, you can then choose to attach the files to a new email. In writing a new email, you can also attach files from these online file storage accounts.

Outlook iOS

GREAT EMAIL APP ON THE IOS. With its features, Outlook presents a strong case for being your main email app on the iPhone and iPad. (Screens taken from App Store listing)

Attaching files from online drives

Mailbox, my previous email app of choice, allowed attaching files but only from Dropbox, which eventually bought it. I did not bother using this feature because all my files are in Google Drive. With more services options, Outlook’s implementation is so much better.

The People tab in the Outlook app allows you to go through your contacts and when you tap on a name, view the emails you exchange with that person.

Another area where Outlook shines is its wider compatibility with various email systems and providers: Google (including Google Apps for Work), Outlook.com, Yahoo! iCloud, IMAP and Exchange. Many email apps do not work with Exchange servers but Outlook does.

Outlook has an Android version but it is still a preview release and I did not bother installing it after reading user comments. For Android, Mailbox is still my app of choice. While Inbox by Gmail is a great Android email app, it only works with Gmail and not with custom domains enrolled with Google Apps for Work.

I’ve been using the Outlook app on the iPad Mini for two weeks now and the initial reviews are right: it is the best email app in iOS.

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Asus Zenfone 5 Lite: big-screen smartphone for the budget-conscious

BUILDING on the success of Zenfone 5, Asus recently released a cheaper version of the handset in time for end-of-the-year upgrading – the Asus Zenfone 5 Lite.

MaxBlogBUILDING on the success of Zenfone 5, Asus recently released a cheaper version of the handset in time for end-of-the-year upgrading – the Asus Zenfone 5 Lite.

The Zenfone 5 Lite has a dual core Intel Atom 1.2 Ghz processor with 1GB RAM and an 8GB internal memory that is expandable via microSD up to 64GB. The phone comes with a 5-inch qHD display of 960×540. It has an eight-megapixel rear camera with auto focus and LED flash. It comes with a .3-megapixel selfie or front camera.

The phone has with a non-removable 2,500 mAh Li-Polymer battery that should, in regular use, take you through a working day. The Zenfone 5 Lite is dual SIM and has HSPA+ connectivity.

The Zenfone 5 Lite comes with Android 4.4 or Kitkat with Asus ZenUI, the company’s custom Android skin.

Asus Zenfone 5 Lite

BUDGET SMARTPHONE. The Asus Zenfone 5 Lite is a good option for those wanting to upgrade to a smartphone on a budget.

Budget smartphone

I used the phone for a couple of weeks in December as test and found it a good enough device for those looking to upgrade to a smartphone but are on a budget.

The test unit was the white version and it looked good, even in comparison to other higher end devices. The phone is designed well and looks to have excellent finish. It also feels well-built and tough.

The phone was responsive enough to use although it doesn’t stand out compared with other units within and below its price range that I tested at about the same time. Starmobile’s UP Mini and UP Lite, both of which are cheaper, are more responsive and smoother. The Starmobile phones have quad-core processors although Intel, in its previous presentations on their processors, take pains to insist it’s not just about the number of cores but also about their quality.

Asus Zenfone 5 Lite

POWERED BY INTEL. The Asus Zenfone 5 Lite is powered by an Intel Atom dual-core processor.

Sleek Asus ZenUI interface

I used the Zenfone 5 Lite as main work phone for more than a week and found the experience okay. My go-to apps — Mailbox, Google Keep, Evernote, Trello and Slack – worked well enough as to go through a regular workday. Save for one incident of the keyboard freezing, I did not encounter any major hiccup while I was using the device.

Asus ZenUI is also a sleek interface that’s easy on the eyes. My current favorite Android launcher is CM Launcher but ZenUI isn’t too shabby either. It’s actually quite good. My favorite feature is the “What’s Next” component, which helps you keep track of and reminds you of your schedules. I also liked the way it presents the caller screen, with its sleek design.

The phone’s camera is also good enough for its price range. Eight megapixels is pretty standard for most mid-level phone cameras nowadays.

Asus Zenfone 5 Lite promo

The Zenfone 5 Lite retails for P5,595. If you buy it from any of the Thinking Tools branches in Cebu – On Junquera Extension, in Ayala Center Cebu and in the Cyberzone in SM City Cebu – you will get a free 8GB microSD card and OTG cable for free. (NOTE: Please check with the store ahead because this promo information was given in December)

For its price and build quality, the Asus Zenfone 5 Lite is a good budget option for those seeking to upgrade to a smartphone with a big enough screen, a good finish, sleek design and the brand backing of a major global company.

AsusZenfone 5 Lite unboxing

UNBOXING. The Asus Zenfone 5 Lite out of the box.

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REVIEW: Huawei Mate7 is a good, powerful big phone

WHEN you first hold the Huawei Mate7 in your hand, what is immediately apparent is how sleek its design is. At 7.9 mm thin, the Mate7 is a well-built device with top-of-the-line specifications worthy of a flagship device.

MaxBlogWHEN you first hold the Huawei Mate7 in your hand, what is immediately apparent is how sleek its design is. At 7.9 mm thin, the Mate7 is a well-built device with top-of-the-line specifications worthy of a flagship device.

I tested the phone for a few days this week and found the device a great option for those who prefer their phones with larger screens.

The Mate7’s 6-inch screen is bright and sharp. While it’s not quad HD, the difference isn’t by much, at least as far as I can see. I use an LG G3, which is a quad HD phone, and I didn’t see any glaring difference with the Mate 7’s display.

The phone packs a powerful octa-core CPU that’s more than up to the task of running any app or game. In my few days of using the device, I found it very responsive and quite zippy. I loved using it for work – managing emails with Mailbox, taking down and organizing notes using Google Keep and Evernote, working with interns in our startup via Slack, writing and editing using Google Docs, reading articles and keeping up with news updates via apps Flipboard, Pocket and Zite.

Huawei Mate7

PHABLET. The Mate7 has a 6-inch display, about the right size to use your phone as your main portable computer. (Photo by Max Limpag)

Powerful octa-core processor

I also used the phone to watch a couple of episodes of my favorite TV series The Newsroom, Person of Interest, Forever and The Flash and found the experience even better than watching these shows on the G3, primarily because of the larger screen and the more responsive performance of the Mate 7.

And what a processor it is. According to the company website, “boasting octa-core architecture, Mate7 has an intelligent Huawei Kirin 925 processor made up of four large A15 1.8 GHz and four small A7 1.3 GHz chipsets which are activated in different configurations depending on the power needs of a specific app or function so the smartphone can be smarter with power management.”

The phone saves up to 50 percent of battery life by using smaller A7 cores to run standard apps, which the company said consumers use “at least 80% of the time.” The phone uses the bigger A15 processors for high-demand use such as in gaming.

That explains why the phone was such a joy to use when I tried out a few games in it.

Huawei Ascend Mate7

UNBOXING THE ASCEND MATE7. The Huawei Ascend Mate7 is a great phablet with long battery life

Great battery life

The Mate7 has a 4100 mAh non-user removable lithium polymer battery – a beast considering its svelte frame. I got the device about half-way charged on a Monday and it still had power even by Wednesday night, after more than a day of heavy use taking photos – often trying its rapid-fire multiple shots capability by pressing continuously on the shutter button – watching TV shows, listening to music and podcasts and trying out a few games.

I gave it a full charge Wednesday night and used the phone for reading, checking emails and keeping up with news on Thursday and then doing a factory reset on Friday before returning the device and it still had more than 85 percent battery charge. Like I said, a beast.

The phone comes with an ultra power saving feature that the company said “is designed to intelligently shut down the most battery draining features as your phone starts to lose power, meaning that you get extra life with the last 10 percent of your battery.”

Emotion UI

The phone comes with Huawei’s EMUI or Emotion UI and it looks good. I’ve long used Nova Launcher and when I tried EMUI for the first time with the Mate 7, I found it visually refreshing and actually liked the experience of using that interface with the phone. I tried out a few of its themes and the selection was good.

The phone comes with Android 4.4 or Kitkat, the penultimate version as of this year.

Fingerprint scanner

The Mate7 comes with a fingerprint scanner located just below its camera lens. The company said the phone is “possibly the market’s first six-inch smartphone with instant single-touch fingerprint access to put an end to password fatigue.”

“It enables users to unlock the phone at least 80 percent faster than devices that use a slower sweeping recognition option,” Huawei said in its website.

I tried it on the test unit and it does live up to the company’s promise. The phone took only one touch to unlock the device using my fingerprint – a pretty nifty feature that saves you a lot of time (multiply the time it takes to enter your PIN by the number of times you check your phone in a day and you’d get a peek into how much time the system saves for you – time you can then on the latest viral mobile game).

Huawei Mate7

THIN FRAME. The Mate7 is just 7.9mm thin and looks very sleek.

Camera

The Mate7 comes with a 13-megapixel camera with autofocus and LED flash. It’s front camera is 5 megapixels. I used it to take a few test photos and liked the results, especially those taken in low light condition. It’s at par with my favorite cameraphone, the LG G3. The phone can do 1080p video recording and playback.

Storage

The phone comes with 16GB built-in memory that is expandable through a microSD card up to 128GB.

Connectivity

The company says the Ascend Mate7 uses a “dual antenna optimized to provide fewer dropped calls and smooth 4G LTE navigation.” It said the the device is compatible “with a wide range of network spectrums worldwide . . . and uses smart antenna switching to intelligently detect the strongest signal, choosing the ideal source for emission or reception of data.” The company said the device uses Cat6 4G LTE technology with a download rate of up to 300 Mbps within a compatible network.

The test unit I used was the amber gold model and it looked really good.

The package comes with a good quality folio case.

The Huawei Mate7 retails for P27,890 in regular phone stores and in retailers like Thinking Tools, which lent the unit used for this review.

For its price, the Huawei Ascend Mate7 is a great phablet that should be on top of your list if you’re planning to upgrade your phone this year.

Huawei Mate7 Test Photo

TEST PHOTO. A test photo taken with the Huawei Mate7 of the wooden robot on top of my computer in the Sun.Star Cebu central newsroom. Click on the photo to view the full size. I did not edit the photo and merely compressed it to save on file size using the TinyJPG service.

Huwaei Mate 7 specs

RAM: 3 GB
ROM: 16 GB
Display: 6 inches FHD Screen,1080p (1920 x 1080), 368PPI, 16M colors
CPU: Hisilicon Kirin 925 4×1.8GHz + 4×1.3GHz + 1x230MHz
OS: Android 4.4/Huawei Emotion UI 3.0
Camera: Rear: 13 megapixels, 4128 x 3096 pixels, autofocus with LED flash, 1080p at 30fps; Front: 5 megapixels, 720p
Battery: 4100mAh
Height: 157.0mm
Width: 81.0mm
Thickness: 7.9mm
Weight: 185g (including the battery)

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