Friday, 31 October 2014

09:06 – I’m playing around with a $25 Sony digital voice recorder I just received from Amazon, trying to develop the habit of taking notes with it as an aid to my failing memory. At age 61, developing a new habit is difficult.

I tried doing this 10 or 15 years ago with an Olympus digital voice recorder, but I was never able to get the habit established. That’s because for the first 35 years of my life I could depend absolutely on my memory. I never had a phone/address book, because I never needed one. I never took any notes in school from kindergarten through grad school, because I never needed to. Then one day when I was 35 I had a new experience. I realized that I’d forgotten something. I had to look up a phone number that I should have remembered. That was disturbing to say the least.

Over the last 25 years, it’s gotten worse. The problem is all with short/medium-term memory. I still remember, for example, the phone number of Connie Stewart, a girl I called one time when I was in sixth grade. But I find myself losing track of short-term stuff. For example, as I’m writing I may decide to look something up on Wikipedia. So I start Firefox, which brings up this page. There are new comments, so I read them. I then close the browser, having forgotten not just what I wanted to look up on Wikipedia, but even that I’d intended to look something up on Wikipedia.

But old habits die hard, and my habit of never writing anything down was established over 35 years of my life so it will take a concerted effort to develop the new habit of using the DVR to make notes to myself. I suppose I shouldn’t complain. As bad as I think my memory is now, it’s still probably in the 99.9th percentile, not just for people my age but overall.


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49 Responses to Friday, 31 October 2014

  1. OFD says:

    Welcome to the club.

    I write a lotta stuff down but then forget where I put it or left it.

    I also remember phone numbers and all kinds of arcane and mundane details from fifty years ago but not five seconds ago.

    Oh, and most happy and blessed All Hallows Eve to all.

  2. OFD says:

    From SlashDot this morning:

    “Suspected Ebola carriers in the U.S. …

    Should be “humanely put down”
    Should be locked in military hospitals.
    Should be locked in regular hospitals
    Should be asked nicely to stay home for a bit
    Should go about their lives, if asymptomatic
    Should enjoy rural Maine for a while
    Should probably stay off the subway.
    Should follow some other course.”

  3. bgrigg says:

    I’ve heard it called “Threshold Memory Loss”. We set off with a goal in mind, and when we cross the “threshold”, which can be entering a room, or opening the browser, our brain crosses off the task without actually completing it, leaving us wondering why we’re standing in the kitchen.

    By the way, your glasses aren’t where you thought you left them last, but on the top of your head.

  4. SteveB says:

    Could it also be from doing empirical research back in the 60s and 70s.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2815537/Magic-mushrooms-hyperconnected-brain-Scans-reveal-chemical-triggers-spiritual-experience-rearranging-mind.html

    Amazing how it only took the Brit scientists 45-50 years to discover what many American teenagers could have told them about magic mushrooms back then.

  5. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    No, I never did drugs.

  6. OFD says:

    “No, I never did drugs.”

    Ha, you just forgot you did them.

    Yeah, that threshold memory loss thing sounds plausible; it could also be called “distraction” memory loss; the next thing that gets our attention cancels out whatever we had intended to do.

    “…your glasses aren’t where you thought you left them last, but on the top of your head…”

    Mrs. OFD does this all the time; I can’t, because without my glasses I’m pretty blind. (she has contacts but uses reading glasses).

    Gorgeous fall day so far; the forecast sez high 20s Sunday night and a “chance of snow.” Whatevuh.

  7. Chad says:

    I am always amused at work with the people that take pages upon pages of notes at every meeting and interaction. Their cubicles are littered with dozens of legal pads filled to the rim with notes. However, they don’t use them. They’ll turn around and ask you a question you already answered (and saw them jot down). Their notes get written and then never looked at or referenced again. It’s almost as if they’re taking notes purely for appearances. Like, “Look at me. I’m taking notes. I’m actively listening. You should be impressed.”

    Myself, I rarely take notes at meetings or interactions. Not because I have a sharp memory, but because it’s mostly a futile exercise. I’ll just ask the question I need to ask when they occur to me and they’re relevant. If someone brings up something genuinely important in a meeting that I need to follow up on then I may grab my smartphone and shoot myself an email. Note taking is for the birds. 🙂

  8. Chad says:

    Oh, almost forgot…

    Happy Halloween!
    Happy All Hallows’ Eve!
    Happy Samhain!

    The temps here in the Great Plains near the 41st Parallel will have my daughter and I trick-or-treating in 36°F weather. However, there will be a fire blazing in one of those portable fire pits in our driveway and a fridge full of beer when I get back.

  9. OFD says:

    ” Three reasons I don’t care about election day are: 1. Voting for the lesser of two evils is still evil. 2. “Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods” ~ H.L. Mencken. 3. The only way to vote against crook A and crook B is to not vote.”

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/lrc-blog/three-reasons-you-should-not-care-about-election-day/

    4.) It validates the regime’s thievery and war crimes.

    5.) It makes me look like an idiot.

  10. SteveB says:

    “3. The only way to vote against crook A and crook B is to not vote.”

    Dang it, OFD, that’s why I keep saying Nevada has it licked with “None of the Above” being on every ballot.

    You could add the modifier to prevent endless run-off elections that the single living (more or less) candidate with a majority wins.

    At the very least if they riled enough voters, it’ll make their heinies really pucker if Crook A gets 20%, Crook B gets 19% and Candidate None gets 61%.

    It would have several advantages, not the least being:

    1.) It would be an answer to those who are afraid of “diluting” the vote by voting for third party candidates.

    2) It would put the clowns on notice that no one likes them very much.

    Hell, even if you leave off the living candidate modifier, None of the Above would almost certainly do a better job than the other clowns.

    I mean, look at how back in 2000 Mel Carnahan won the election over John Ashcroft in Missouri. It was not because the voters were unaware that Carnahan had died. The voters were pissed and let it be known.

  11. dkreck says:

    Looks the the Virgin Galatic Spaceship Two crashed in Mojave. Reports of explosion on rocket ignition. One pilot dead. No celebrities on board.

  12. SteveF says:

    When I was of school age I didn’t have to take notes … except that note-taking was required, and notebooks were periodically collected and graded from about third grade all the way up through high school. After all, the process — having your butt in your seat, taking notes — is more important than whether or not you learn the material, right?

    (I was also threatened with automatic failure in several classes in junior high and high school because of things like instrument lessons, which were scheduled during the school day for about half a class period, once a week. If the teacher was a malignant, malicious pile of butt cankers — what are the odds? — I’d be marked as having missed that class. “State law required” attendance at X number of classes per semester, and I’d “missed” so many classes that I automatically failed. Never mind that my test average was generally close to 100% and papers and projects — subjectively graded though they were — were generally in the 90s.)

  13. SteveF says:

    Re Spaceship Two: well, that sucks.

  14. OFD says:

    ” If the teacher was a malignant, malicious pile of butt cankers — what are the odds? —”

    I had a couple of teachers like that; one was kind of evil; she may have been the original model for Cruella da Ville. But she got me totally hooked on history as a result. Thanks, Miss Crosby, for being such a bitch. (4th grade, nine years old, 1962)

  15. MrAtoz says:

    It is too bad Branson wasn’t on SS2 and was the one who died. Reporter following the SS story rips Virgin and Branson on CNN. Branson’s a big mouth now that he’s a billionaire. Can’t wait to see how he handles the tragedy. Reporter states engine couldn’t even get the SS to space. Ground testing should have been more extensive with a new type engine and new type fuel.

  16. Bill says:

    I took very few notes until I hit higher ed. For me, at the university, not taking notes was not an option. Especially in grad classes where the math got VERY heavy. Most of what was covered was not in any texts and god help you if your notes were not at least somewhat decipherable when faced with open book/open notes tests and 40 hr long home work assignments.
    Now, I take very few notes in meetings (I spend more time trying to keep things moving in the right direction) but my desk and walls are littered with post-its, various scraps of paper, etc; with numbers, formulas, warnings, wishes – in my version of shorthand developed over the years of “fast as you can scribble” notes in classes. This all started becoming necessary once I hit 50 or so… I still don’t make many lists – I hate those for some reason.
    I picked up a shopping cart a few weeks ago and someone had left a very neat list titled: “things to buy”. What – do you also have a “things to steal” list and don’t want to mix them up?

  17. ech says:

    The SS2 design uses a hybrid engine: solid fuel (typically rubber or plastic, but I saw a small one that used a salami for LOLs), liquid oxidizer (typically Nitrous Oxide). It has the advantage that you can throttle it, even shut it down, by control of the oxidizer flow.

    They had changed over from a rubber fuel to a plastic fuel, supposedly due to problems with the rubber fuel running rough and having cracking problems that can cause hard starts and thrust surges. It appears to have detonated just after startup after separation from the carrier plane. I’ve seen allegations that they had some schedule pressure and had not done as many ground tests with the new engine as they did with the original one. (They had 3 fatalities at a ground test run of the previous engine, btw.)

    All in all, a bad week for private spaceflight when you add in the Antares failure.

  18. Alan says:

    3. The only way to vote against crook A and crook B is to not vote.

    Vote for the Libertarian candidate.

    1.) It would be an answer to those who are afraid of “diluting” the vote by voting for third party candidates.

    Once enough people get over this ‘fear’ we might shock everyone by actually electing a few of those third party candidates.

    There’s a chance that the Libertarian candidate in the Florida governor’s race might wind up with 10% of the votes.
    http://www.clickorlando.com/news/libertarian-florida-gubernatorial-candidate-nears-doubledigit-percentage-in-polls/29306692

  19. Chuck W says:

    Twenty-one degree windchill and snowing here in the heartland. Meanwhile the UK had the hottest Halloween on record:

    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-29851285

  20. medium wave says:

    Vee know vhere you liff.

    Some are suggesting that this is a Republican dirty trick, but I personally don’t believe that they would have the necessary imagination to think of it, much less the chutzpah to pull it off.

  21. Chuck W says:

    Aside from the fact that 99% of chutzpah belongs to the Dems.

    What are they going to do? make us vote?

    I will be doing my usual — voting Libertarian everywhere there is a candidate; voting for the only candidate who actually came to my door and asked for my vote; and voting against every judge who is an incumbent. Get off the unemployment rolls and go back to working for a living and supporting the rest of us with your taxes, instead of living off the government employment dole. Might also see some other people I need to vote out of office along the way, but probably not.

    They moved my polling place out of the local quiet and friendly Friends Meeting place, so I will be voting in the gymnasium that once belonged to the Tiny Town school system where I spent a year climbing ropes, standing on my head, shooting hoops, and lots of other ridiculous stuff as they tried to identify anybody with talent in some sport that the school could co-opt.

  22. Chuck W says:

    Made another Linux discovery yesterday. That occasional freeze-up of Libre Office? Well, it only happens when I have Firefox open. No Firefox window open — no lock-ups.

    Linux is really a strange animal.

  23. OFD says:

    “There’s a chance that the Libertarian candidate in the Florida governor’s race might wind up with 10% of the votes.”

    O joy, raise the flag and sound the trumpets! Not to be a dick but this is tremendous for a libertarian vote, and possibly reflects the extreme distaste and loathing many folks have now for the regime and its elections and approved candidates. Eventually it will sink back to its usual 1-3%, many of those being certified crackpots. Like me, still writing in Patrick J. Buchanan all these years later.

    “Twenty-one degree windchill and snowing here in the heartland.”

    Damn, son; we must live in the Banana Belt up here. 40s, maybe a slight chance of snow and 28-29 Sunday night.

    “…I personally don’t believe that they would have the necessary imagination to think of it, much less the chutzpah to pull it off.”

    Agreed. Remember, they’re the Stupid Half of the War Party. The Dems are the Evil Half. I was chortling and chuckling, etc., at some of the comments, about how his vote don’t count anyway in MA, and another one about having to give back one’s ObamaPhone or whatever. Comments on a lotta these stories are often priceless and give me faith again in some of my fellow Murkan subjects.

    “They moved my polling place out of the local quiet and friendly Friends Meeting place…”

    We live in the village and could conceivably vote across the street at the Town Hall, but no, the village is paht of the Town, which surrounds the City, and thus we gotta go about four miles to the giant sports/athletic complex just off the interstate to do this thing; I may go, I may not. If I go, I’ll vote the straight NRA-approved ticket unless any of them are “pro-choice” or “pro-war,” so this will narrow things down drastically and allow me to do write-ins.

    “Linux is really a strange animal.”

    And every distro is strange in a different way; maybe that’s why O’Reilly publishing has done all those animal book covers over the years.

    Windows can be pretty strange, too, and also just as, if not more, frustrating.

    I just pulled all the ethernet cables from the router and we’re totally on wireless now; seems to work better. We’ll see over this weekend and then Monday back on the phone again with effing Fairpoint.

    Zero trick-or-treaters here this year. Dunno why. I hid the firearms and explosives and muzzled the golden retriever and shoved the cats up in the attic and took down the barbed wire and “Achtung: Meinen” signs.

  24. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    I like that: “Attention: Think”

  25. SteveB says:

    The first democratic party rep knee breaker that came to my door after a letter like that would be carried away in the meat wagon. Self defense. Letter exhibit 1.

    Gotta love these new and improved Alabama home invasion self defense laws…

  26. OFD says:

    Yeah, what a dolt: the German for mines is of course, mines. I’d seen one of them phony WWII/WWI tin signs somewhere recently.

    “Achtung! Mines!”

    Sure, SteveB, there’s you, me, SteveF, Dr. Bob, most others here, who would not put up with that chit, but can you imagine the ordinary Murkan public nowadays? I dunno, maybe not; peeps are getting pretty sick and tired, and mad and frustrated, with the Current Situation and they hold the State responsible for it. Things should heat up nicely when the Grid goes down and store shelves are empty after three days.

  27. pcb_duffer says:

    [snip] There’s a chance that the Libertarian candidate in the Florida governor’s race might wind up with 10% of the votes. [snip]

    He’s already got this Floridian’s vote. The polls keep proclaiming this to be a close race, but I can’t see it. The D’s, IMHO, are going to have to get a lot of their partisans to the polls, and I just can’t see their being all that enthusiastic about Charlie Christ, late of the Republican party.

    ########

    [snip] I was also threatened with automatic failure in several classes in junior high [snip]
    I came perilously close to that myself, back in the seventh grade. I missed quite a bit of school, thanks to a series of orthopedic surgeries. Then one day the head witch called my parents & me into a meeting, and announced that I’d already missed 29 days of school. ‘Yes’, said my folks, ‘but he’s kept up with all his work and the teachers know what’s going on.’ The unprincipled principal then said ‘But he hasn’t had a tutor.’ My parents said ‘He’s got the highest grade in every class, why would he need a tutor?’ She replied ‘Because if you miss 30 days and haven’t had a tutor, Florida law says you fail automatically.’ To this day I wish they’d waited the extra day, because my pops would probably have burned the school down. Instead he was only red with rage, and I’d seen that many times before. As it was I came to school sick, we scheduled out of town doctor’s appointments for school holidays, etc.

  28. OFD says:

    Very nice. Again, this is what comes of statist robots running our cesspool of a publik skool system all these decades, a corrupted mess inherited from European theorists, and now permeated thoroughly with neo-Marxist claptrap.

    And again, it can’t be “fixed,” only trashed completely. I favor Dr. Bob’s solution here, as in several other matters. Most kids, let’s face it, don’t belong any further than middle school level, tops. A few more could handle genuine high school subjects. A still smaller sample could be sent on to advanced education and training in various areas. We could also close 90% of the existing colleges and universities.

    Gee, what to do with all those teachers, professors, deans, and “administrators?”

    Take a page from the commie playbooks: re-education/labor camps. Put them to work rebuilding the nay-shun’s infrastructure. Fill sandbags along the Mississippi. Re-surface New England streets, roads and highways every spring and summuh. Don’t work? Don’t eat.

  29. SteveF says:

    Just make sure you don’t fill the sandbags and potholes with the liberal arts and social “science” professors. Those individuals are useless for every conceivable purpose, even mulch. Take it from me: mulching a tenured political science prof and fertilizing with it tints the flowers red and makes them lean to the left.

  30. brad says:

    @SteveB: The “none of the above” sounds good, but it would be important to require the winning candidate to have at least 50% of the vote. If “none of the above” wins, the office should remain vacant. I suppose it is too much to hope that this is the case?

    Having an awful memory, I do take notes, but I don’t usually go back and read them. First, the act of putting important points on paper seems to help fix them in my memory. Second, it’s a bit of security – if I do forget something, I can go back and find the info. Once I have accumulated several pages, I’ll flip through them, see if I have forgotten any important tasks, and then discard them.

    I cannot imagine voice-based notes, though, because random-access isn’t going to work. With a page of notes, I can scan around to find what I want, cross off things that are irrelevant, and generally jump around as needed.

    Where I would like a better systems is with pending stuff: potential projects, etc.. My current system is a pile (well, actually, two piles). If something comes in that just has to wait for some external event, I toss it on the pile. Should that external event come to pass, I dig through the pile, find the stuff, and off we go. When the pile threatens to topple over, I did through it, and discard anything that is really old – unless I figure I better keep it “just in case”, then it goes into the second pile on a bookshelf.

    Very disorganized, but how else are you supposed to deal with a random collection of stuff you can’t deal with, don’t want to invest any time into just yet, but can’t throw away? Anyone got a better system?

  31. Miles_Teg says:

    OFD wrote:

    “Zero trick-or-treaters here this year. Dunno why. I hid the firearms and explosives and muzzled the golden retriever and shoved the cats up in the attic and took down the barbed wire and “Achtung: Meinen” signs.”

    I bought stuff for the Trick-or-Treaters. Zero callers, so I’ll get fat eating the chocs I was going to give. And here was I worrying that I’d run out.

    Last Halloween in Canberra I waw deluged, after a number of quiet years. This part of the suburb doesn’t have many young families – perhaps that was the reason.

  32. SteveB says:

    @SteveB: The “none of the above” sounds good, but it would be important to require the winning candidate to have at least 50% of the vote. If “none of the above” wins, the office should remain vacant. I suppose it is too much to hope that this is the case?”

    Brad, you missed the third paragraph in that post. The one that says: “You could add the modifier to prevent endless run-off elections that the single living (more or less) candidate with a majority wins.”

    A bit awkwardly worded due to lack of editing time, but I believe it addresses your objection. Unless your state already requires more than a simple majority, no need to require 51% for a win.

    The (more or less) clause also allows the registrars to assume the candidate is just passed out, not passed on before they pass over him.

  33. SteveB says:

    No Moochers here, either.

    I even went to the trouble to remove the “Warning: Mine Field” signs.

    Either the little buggers were too weak from their kale-laden school lunch to make it out, or they twigged to the fact that I just removed the signs, not the mines.

  34. Miles_Teg says:

    What plugin is recomended for detecting spelling errors in Firefox?

  35. SteveB says:

    Miles, its been a while since I used FireFox. Once they hit version 8 the stability began to suck dead bunnies through a straw* for me and I stopped using it with version 6.

    I seem to recall, though, that back then it just automagically did the squiggly red line thing all by itself without any plugins for forms and the like. You might have had to turn it on in the preferences, but I don’t really recall.

    If you’re talking about trying to find spelling errors on already published pages, I have no idea.

    *tm Jerry Pournelle

  36. SteveB says:

    Seems WalMutt had another major gaffe.

    Bet the real reason they pulled the costume is because the company lawyers said, “Do we really want to be held liable in a wrongful death suit if some amateur ham actor gets killed wearing one of these?”

  37. SteveF says:

    We had a fair number of trick-or-treaters, many more than last year … but only for about an hour. My wife, daughter, and mother-in-law went to some get-together and I didn’t feel like answering the door after they left. (If you like, you may assume that I didn’t trust my self control if another pair of fourteen-year-old girls in slutty nurse and slutty superhero costumes rang the bell, but the actual reason was I wanted to do some writing.) So, anyway, we have maybe seven pounds of candy, mostly chocolates. No problem; I never buy candy that my kids or I won’t eat, and it’ll keep.

  38. Miles_Teg says:

    The box for making errors as I type is ticked but obvious spelling errors are still getting through. I’ll check Firefox on the other PC.

  39. SteveB says:

    The box for making errors as I type is ticked

    You may want to un-check that box and check the box for marking errors.

    Sorry, I couldn’t help myself…Too many episodes of the BOFH over the years.

  40. dkreck says:

    WooHoo! Almost a half inch of rain last night. It’s been over six months

    http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/mesowest/getobext.php?wfo=hnx&sid=KBFL&num=72&raw=0

  41. MrAtoz says:

    WooHoo! Almost a half inch of rain last night. It’s been over six months

    Vegas zero. 🙁

  42. dkreck says:

    Give it time MrA. It was late last night and we’re due for more today. It maybe headed your way.

  43. Chuck W says:

    sgl: Mine pl: Minen

    Mines is an abbreviation in the financial sector for Montanwerte, which is securities that deal with coal and steel.

    Check out LEO.org when in doubt.

    We had a woman friend who was an organizational consultant. For Brad’s question, she maintained everything belongs in a folder, but do not file within the folder unless it is referred to frequently. File only when the day comes that it must be filed to use it effectively; for most folders, that day will never come. No piles in her system.

    I have one pile: bills to be paid. But since there are fewer and fewer of those as online payments take over, it never sees more than a couple pieces a months.

  44. Chuck W says:

    After being sent to a slew of time management courses over the spread of my fulltime work career, I started making lists early on. Not necessarily as a way not to forget, but because those courses demonstrated that the most efficient people, used those visible lists as a basis to revise their priorities through the day. Worked for me, although I make fewer entries these days, since I am not in an office much at all anymore.

    My biggest memory failing has become laying something down for a minute while I do something else, then completely forgetting where I put it. A treasure hunt ensues, and that can be a protracted disruption of my day. Up until a few years ago, I was always able to retrace my steps in my mind, and quickly find the item, but no more. Unless I intentionally decide to memorize my steps, they are a complete blank within seconds after I complete them.

    There are a few things that I do to keep myself out of trouble. Spare set of keys to everything hanging by the back door. If I misplace my keys, I do not have to search for anything, but just grab the spares and go. Treasure hunt can come later.

    Keys, wallet, phone, and other stuff have 2 places they can be: on my person or on my desk.

    At stores, I never, ever set my wallet down. It is a tri-fold, so when I take out a credit card or ID, I fold it the way it does not close all the way, and hold it in my hand until I get the card back. Then it goes back into the wallet and into my pocket. So far, I have made it to retirement age without ever losing my wallet.

    The other thing I had to do for both my wives, who lost wallets more than once, was to record absolutely everything in the wallet with the appropriate telephone number to cancel the cards. Then when they lost it, it was just a matter of getting that list and making phone calls.

  45. OFD says:

    The wives have an excuse for losing wallets, cell phones, etc. that they don’t have pockets or belts. If I had a nickel for every lost wallet, cell phone, charger, etc., and this AM was a typical case in point. Mrs. OFD couldn’t find the power cord for her laptop and went ballistic here. I found her another one that may or may not work but she was becoming late for the plane. Then she couldn’t find her pocketbook and went ballistic again.

    When she calls from Dulles in Mordor later I will once again advise her to have every goddamned thing packed and in the cah the NIGHT BEFORE and ready to go.

    No wonder I’m losing my hair and facial hair is going gray. And I have to take BP meds.

  46. brad says:

    As much as Ms. OFD travels, I’m surprised she doesn’t have a routine for the packing?

    Lost wallets – thankfully, none of us seem prone to that. Well, I lose various things all the time, but like Chuck, it’s just a matter of a treasure hunt through the house. Or asking my wife, who notices when something is where it doesn’t belong…

  47. OFD says:

    She has somewhat of a routine, like packing up the bigger luggage but not so much for small things.

    She uses some of my tools sometimes and then loses them; I had two of those measuring tape gadgets and both were MIA until the other day when she came up with one of them. And meanwhile, I think I found the right power cord for her laptop…on the kitchen counter next to the phone but with other rubbish and mail and junk piled on and around it, per usual. I had given her the cord from our modem/router which connected OK but dunno if it will actually work. Then I plugged in the cord I’d just found to the router and it was up and running again. Still on wireless, here, of course, after three weeks of badgering Fairpoint on the phone.

  48. Chuck W says:

    Greg — if you go to a box where you create text (like the one for comments here), then right-click and choose “Languages”, it opens a page with a zillion dictionary add-ons. Pick and choose to your heart’s content.

    Actually, I am glad you brought this up, because I had both British English and US English selected, but somehow the British version was for South Africa. Just corrected that.

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