Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Quad Core MacBook Pro at MacWorld?

Just one week ahead of Macworld, Intel quietly slips a low-cost quad-core processor into its mobile line-up. Is this the powerplant for Apple’s new unibody 17 inch MacBook Pro?

Apple’s mid-October refresh of its notebook line left a curious gap at the top end of the card, with the 17 inch MacBook Pro missing the make-over of its 15 inch cousin and the 13.3 inch MacBook.

That could be about to change next week, with the possibility that the Jobs-free keynote at Apple’s last Macworld show could be used to launch the company’s most powerful laptop ever.

There’s no doubt that the 17 inch MacBook Pro will soon boast the same sleek ‘unibody’ chassis as its siblings. In a company with Apple’s design and marketing ethic, it couldn’t be any other way.

So why the delay? There’s a fair chance that Apple sets its pace against Intel’s roadmap and the arrival of a low-cost quad-core mobile processor. That CPU broke ground overnight, in the ‘dead zone’ lull between Christmas and New Year, sneaking onto one of the regular updates of Intel’s CPU price list.

Branded as the Core 2 Extreme Q9000, the chip partners four 2GHz cores with 6MB of Level 2 cache for US$348. That price is one third the US$1,038 ticket for the QX9300 2.53GHz superslab and well under half that of the next-down Q9100 2.26GHz, which lists at US$851.

Both of those processors have twice the L2 cache of the Q9000, but they all share the same 45nm Penryn-class architecture and a 1GHz front side bus, compared to the 800MHz bus (also with 6MB of cache) of the T8300 and T8500 processors used in the 15 inch MacBook Pro.

With this budget-priced four-core engine Apple could still deliver its most muscle-bound laptop and avoid the risk of sticker shock of breaking the US$3,000 barrier in an increasingly dollar-sensitive market, given that the 17 inch MacBook already sells at US$2,799.

However, while Intel chose not to trumpet its newest CPU, Acer was quick off the mark to announce the Q9000 would drive a new “extreme gaming” notebook with an 18.4-inch screen and Nvidia GeForce 9700M GT graphics. The system will start at US$1,799, but there’s been no word on intended local availability.
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30GB Zunes Fails around the world

It seems that a random bug is affecting a bunch, if not every, 30GB Zunes. Real early this morning, a bunch of Zune 30s just stopped working. No official word from Redmond on this one yet but we might have a gadget Y2K going on here. Fan boards and support forums all have the same mantra saying that at 2:00 AM this morning, the Zune 30s reset on their own and doesn’t fully reboot. We’re sure Microsoft will get flooded with angry Zune owners as soon as the phone lines open up for the last time in 2008. More as we get it., ZuneBoards, ZuneScene, Gizmodo

Josh's Verdict: Thank god I have an iPod :)

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OQO bringing Atom-powered Model 2+ UMPC to CES

If it feels like forever to you since OQO's Model 02 hit the market, your instincts are pretty darn good. But if you were overly optimistic that the Atom-powered prototype it showed off back in August (pictured) would eventually become a reality, you -- sir or madam -- take today's golden crown. In a recent Digital Experience! email blasted out to media members worldwide (full blurb is after the break), we're very clearly told that OQO will be on hand to demonstrate its new Model 2+. Said UMPC will pack a 1.86GHz Intel Atom CPU, a touchscreen OLED display, 2GB of RAM and global 3G connectivity. OQO even goes so far as to say that it will offer performance "up to twice as fast as its predecessor." Did our heart just skip a beat over a UMPC? Why, yes it did!
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PlayStation 3 used to hack SSL

Between the juvenile delinquent hordes of PlayStation Home and some lackluster holiday figures, the PlayStation has been sort of a bummer lately, for reasons that have nothing to do with its raison d'etre -- gaming. That doesn't mean that the machine is anything less than a powerhouse -- as was made clear today when a group of hackers announced that they'd beaten SSL, using a cluster of 200 PS3s. By exploiting a flaw in the MD5 cryptographic algorithm (used in certain digital signatures and certificates), the group managed to create a rogue Certification Authority (CA) which allows them to create their own SSL certificates -- meaning those authenticated web sites you're visiting could be counterfeit, and you'd have no way of knowing. Sure, this is all pretty obscure stuff, and the kids who managed the hack said it would take others at least six months to replicate the procedure, but eventually vendors are going to have to upgrade all their CAs to use a more robust algorithm. It is assumed that the Wii could perform the operation just as well, if the hackers had enough room to spread out all their Balance Boards. Read

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HP Firebird gaming towers with VoodooDNA to start at $1,799

It'd be a gross understatement to say that we weren't remarkably excited about the HP Firebird 803 when we caught wind of it last week, but now you can safely say that our emotions have settled down after hearing the price. Granted, the $1,799 starting figure for the Firebird 802 isn't totally unexpected -- after all, the Blackbird 002 went for upwards of three large -- but we still see the sticker as a touch high given the weaker innards and the lack of upgrade options. Those of you who vehemently disagree can certainly hand over your wallet starting on January 9th, or you can wait for the boxes to hit unnamed retail outlets in February. Read
New to Josh's Blog? Make sure you follow my RSS feed so you don't miss anymore great stuff! Fails, Twitter To Fix Private Messages

Say goodbye to the fun of reading private Twitter messages sent improperly and gathered on DMFail. Sometime today, Twitter says in an email, they’ll change the way private messages are sent so that you can use either [D + username + message] OR [DM + username + message].
It’s a subtle feature change, but one that will avoid embarrassment for people who’ve accidentally made their private messages public.

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Xbox 360 + PS3 case = PS360

Xbox 360 + PS3 case + many Dremel bits = PS360
Apparently impressed by the stunning success (and $157 winning bid) of his earlier Wii64, the modder who goes by the name n8bog is back with another brute-force console hybrid, this time shoving an entire Xbox 360 into a disused PS3 case. We wouldn't say it's a perfect fit, as there's been a rather large hole cut into the front to allow access to the tray, and that HDD just laying on top of the DVD-ROM looks a bit precarious, but if you have a hankerin' for something Microsoft but prefer the look of something Sony (or just really like gratuitous neon) all this can be yours at a starting bid of just $100. Any takers? Read
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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Second case maker points to "iPhone nano"

With just days to go before the annual Macworld trade show, a second case maker has added references to an iPhone nano to its website.
Well-known case designer Vaja has joined XSKN with an update to its web catalog implying that it plans to deliver protective garments for an Apple-developed iPhone nano in the near future.
The single reference to the product links customers to a web form where they can "sign up for the upcoming release" of its "iPhone nano cases."
As MacRumors points out, it's unlikely that case makers are privy to advanced information on future Apple products, and hence Vaja may simply be attempting to jump in on the recent hype surrounding the matter.
That said, case makers with contacts at Apple's off-shore manufacturing facilities may be able to obtain specifications for the company's future handheld products through unconventional means.
XSKN is one example of a case maker that was recognized earlier this year (1, 2) when it began selling protective holders for both the iPhone 3G and fourth-generation iPod nano before the specifications for those products were made public by Apple.

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Contract-free iPhones on sale in France for $1100

Following a recent ruling by local regulators, French consumers can now purchase an iPhone 3G without signing a service contract with Apple-sanctioned wireless carrier Orange, assuming they're willing to digest a considerable markup.

MacNN notes that French retailer FNAC is now selling a contract-free version of the black 8GB iPhone for €799 ($1,123), while black or white 16GB models are fetching €899 ($1,263).

That's more than five times the €149 in-contract cost for the 8GB model announced by Orange back in July, and considerably more than similar contract-free offerings in Belgium priced at €529 and €619.

The iPhones on sale at FNAC are believed to be the result of a ruling earlier this month by the French competition counsel, which ordered Apple to immediately cease its exclusive relationship with France Telecom's Orange and allow other local carriers to offer the iPhone to their subscribers.

The counsel's ruling came following a September complaint from France's third largest mobile operator, Bouygues Telecom, which alleged the deal between Apple and its larger rival violated local freedom of competition and pricing laws.

France Telecom has appealed the decision, which is said to be a temporary measure instated by the counsel while it continues to investigate the merits of Bouygues' claims.

Josh's Verdict: Suckers :) Here in Hong Kong, we'll been LEGALLY able to buy Fully Unlocked iPhone 3G's, directly from Apple for ages. Don't believe me? Visit the iPhone 3G page in the Apple Store Hong Kong here. Picture:

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HP released an iPhone app!

How would you like to be able to shoot photos on your iPhone, and then immediately print them on your HP printer?

HP has a new product called iPrint Photo (click opens iTunes) available in the App Store that makes it very simple to print your iPhone pictures. The free download opens to a list of photo albums that looks very similar to the list in the Photos app on the iPhone. Tapping on a photo brings up a Print Photo page with a large Print button on it (see photo at right). If you only have one networked printer available, just tapping the Print button sends a 4x6 inch (10x15 cm) print job to that printer.

If more than one HP inkjet printer is on your local Wi-Fi network, tapping on a printer search icon brings up a Chooser-like list of printers that you can select one from. This is an excellent free app -- it took no setup and I was able to print a picture immediately after downloading the software from the app store.

Between this software and HP's announcement of their Mac-compatible media server, it looks like HP is starting to play nice with Apple!

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LG to debut world's slimmest LED-backlit LCD TV at CES

Not content with just making soap opera hair look like watery strands of gold, LG is also planning to trump last year's round of ultrathin LCD TVs by bringing the planet's slimmest LED-backlit LCD TV to Las Vegas. Expected to garner fingerprints from every nationality at CES 2009, the LH95 will check in at just 24.8-millimeters thick (0.976-inches) and boast a 2,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio and the outfit's 240Hz TrueMotion Drive dejudder technology. No word on a price or release date (or panel size, oddly enough), but hopefully we'll find out more in just under a fortnight. Read

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Core i7 Overclocking Guide

Oh sure, we've seen just how far Intel's most potent Core i7 chip can be pushed under the most extreme conditions, but honestly, how's that helping you? In short, it's not. To that end, HotHardware has whipped up a useful, easy-to-digest guide on overclocking the Core i7 920, complete with benchmarks, recommendations and tips for dealing with excess heat without hooking up a liquid nitrogen tank. Interested to see how to crank a stock 920 to a level that outpaces the pricey 3.2GHz Core i7 Extreme Edition? Read

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Acer Aspire 8930G: Core 2 Quad Mobile!

Acer's just updated their 8930G gaming line, adding the 8930-7665 to its arsenal. This 18.4-inch beast boasts Intel's new (and surprisingly affordable) Core 2 Quad Mobile Q9000 CPU, 4GB of DDR3 RAM, a 500GB 7200 SATA hard drive, and NVIDIA GeForce 9700M GT graphics with 512MB of dedicated video memory. Other than that, it's identical to previous 8930G models. Sure, it's a little extreme, but hey -- why not? It's available now, if you're willing to drop $1800. Read

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Sony teases the VAIO P's keyboard and tracking nub

Sure, that Photoshopped image of the VAIO P we got on Sunday wasn't the real deal, but it looks like it might have some relation to reality -- Sony's got a teaser up for a "VAIO New Mobile" that includes some brief shots of a very swank-looking keyboard and tracking nub. We'll be honest -- we're totally stoked to check this thing out at CES. Counting the days! Read

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OpenMoko's Android-running Neo FreeRunner spotted

The handset itself is hardly anything new, and we had a pretty good indication that Android was heading its way, but there's still nothing like a few good 'ol fashioned blurrycam shots to make a plan really come together. From the looks of it, the handset doesn't appear to have gone under any major changes for its new Google-fied incarnation, with it still packing the same 2.8-inch VGA display, 400MHz Samsung 2442 processor, GSM and GPRS connectivity as before, plus the usual built-in WiFi, Bluetooth, and AGPS, among other standard fare. Still not word on a price or release date, unfortunately, but according to the folks at iMAndroid, that is "just around the corner." Read

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MSI U115 Hybrid SSD / HDD netbook unleashed

MSI's officially launched the U115 Hybrid netbook we saw not too long ago, which can operate both SSD and HDD drives at the same time. The 10-inch (1024 x 600 resolution) laptop primarily uses the SSD, reserving the HDD for storage, and boasts an "Eco Mode" button which will temporarily disconnect the HDD to save power. The hybrid functions should provide both a faster OS and longer battery life -- but we'll wait till the test results are in to form our opinions. If you've forgotten, spec-wise the U115's got a 1.60GHz Intel Atom CPU, up to 2GB of DDR2 RAM, plus 8GB SSD / 80GB HDD, 16GB SSD / 120GB HDD, and 32GB SSD / 160GB HDD storage options, and a 2 megapixel webcam. No word on pricing or release date for this bad boy yet. We'll keep our eyes peeled. Read

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Microsoft patent: pay-as-you-go PC's?

 Heavily subsidized computers are hardly a new idea, as evidenced by the number of carriers now offering "free" netbooks, but a recently revealed patent application indicates that Microsoft might be thinking about taking the idea a few steps further. Apparently, the company is at least toying around with the idea of offering a computer with "scalable performance level components" and selectable software, which sounds somewhat similar to the "managed PC" that Microsoft developed with Korea's KT telecom a few years back. That would effectively let users only pay for the features that they used, with some added graphics performance or storage space simply a few bucks an hour away, as helpfully illustrated above. To prevent folks from "unlocking" the PC, each computer would also come equipped with a security module and metering agent that locks the PC to a particular supplier, and presumably offers up a whole host of other restrictions. Of course, this is a Microsoft patent application and, as we've seen, that hardly assures an actual product.

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IXtreme 1.5 unlocks your Xbox 360 drive

We love a good hacker vs. hardware battle, and while Microsoft has thus far done a reasonably good job of keeping miscreants from diddling with the details of the Xbox 360's firmware, applying patches and dropping ban hammers on those who don't comply, as of this morning it seems to be losing the arms race. Team Jungle has released version 1.5 of its IXtreme firmware, allowing for (relatively) easy cracking and unlocking of Xbox 360 consoles containing LiteOn, BenQ, and Samsung DVD drives (i.e. the majority of them). That leaves only Hitachi owners out in the cold, but if that's you don't fret: your version is just a few weeks away. Happy homebrewing! Read

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Asus S121 spyshots

We really don't have much to go on at this point beyond the photos, but this is apparently ASUS' new S121. It looks uncannily like the sleek n' slim 10.2-inch Eee PC S101, but this model's supposedly going to be 12.1-inches. And by the looks of the spyshots below, no Eee branding at all. There aren't any other details regarding specs, pricing or availability yet, but we'll let you know when we do, because we love sharing our discoveries. We really, really do. Check out some more photographic evidence after the break. Read

Josh's Verdict: Sweet! Reminds me of the Asus N10: The netbook without any Eee branding. But this is a 12inch.. so technically it's not a netbook anyways..(But is the Dell Mini 12 a netbook then?)


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Monday, December 29, 2008

HP MediaSmart Server: Now Mac friendly

It's been a long, long while since we've heard the words HP MediaSmart, and in fact, the last mention that was made wasn't exactly positive. HP's looking to put the past away and forge ahead with two new ones in the line: the Mac-friendly ex485 and ex487. Both devices are (of course) based on Microsoft's Windows Home Server platform, and just like their predecessors, these are meant to automatically backup machines around the home and act as a network-accessible repository for all things media. The pair features HP's Media Collector (used to schedule, copy and centralize digital files from networked PCs) and also acts as an iTunes server and an external backup device for Macs running Leopard and using Apple's Time Machine software. As for specs, you'll find a 2GHz Celeron CPU in each with 2GB of DDR2 RAM, gigabit Ethernet, four USB 2.0 ports, one eSATA jack and four internal HDD bays. The February-bound duo can be pre-ordered on January 5th for $599 (ex485; 750GB) / $749 (ex487; 1.5TB), and each can be scaled up to 9TB. Full release:

HP Launches New Home Server for PCs and Macs

HP MediaSmart Server centralizes digital media and files for backup, remote access, sharing and uploading to social media sites

PALO ALTO, Calif., Dec. 29, 2008 – HP today launched a home server designed for use with both Windows and Mac computers.

Based on the Microsoft Windows® Home Server platform, the HP MediaSmart Server ex485/ex487 is a central repository for automatically backing up and accessing digital music, videos, photos and documents from multiple computers on a home network.(1)

The MediaSmart Server automatically organizes files across all PCs, streams media across a home network and the Internet,(2) and publishes photos to popular social networking and photo sharing sites.

"A growing number of digital-savvy households have both Windows and Mac computers, with hundreds and sometimes thousands of media files and documents scattered across these devices," said Jason Zajac, vice president of strategy, Worldwide Attach Group, HP. "The HP MediaSmart Server protects, stores and organizes this content from anywhere on a network so consumers can access and share it any place they are connected."

"HP continues to innovate on the Windows Home Server platform giving consumers even more options to enjoy and protect their precious memories and valuable data," said Charlie Kindel, general manager, Windows Server Solutions, Microsoft. "We believe consumers will embrace the new MediaSmart Server as one of the most exciting computing products for the home."

MediaSmart Server ex485/ex487 features include:

· HP Media Collector: conveniently schedules the MediaSmart Server to copy and centralize digital files and libraries from networked PCs

· Media Streaming: remotely streams photos and music to any Internet-connected PC or Mac

· Server for iTunes: centralizes iTunes music libraries on the server for playback to any networked Mac or PC running iTunes

· HP Photo Publisher: easily upload photos to Facebook®, PicasaTM Web Albums and Snapfish(3)

· HP Photo Viewer: allows easy sharing of photos with friends and family

· PC Hard Drive Backup: backs up networked PCs via the Windows Home Server backup feature

· Mac Hard Drive Backup: backs up Macs running Leopard using Apple Time Machine software

· Server Backup: duplicates designated shared folders to a separate hard disk drive

· Online Backup: duplicates designated folders to Amazon's S3 online backup service for an additional layer of protection

· Smart Power Management: can schedule times for server to go to "sleep" and "wake up," saving on energy costs

· Processor: Intel® Celeron®, 2.0 GHz 64-bit. Two gigabytes (GB) of 800-MHz DDR2 DRAM now standard on MediaSmart Server

· Expandability: additional drives can be added for up to 9 terabytes (TB)

"Customers are always looking for the right mix of features and ease-of-use when choosing digital home products," said Danielle Levitas, group vice president, consumer, broadband and digital marketplace at IDC. "HP's focus and investment in software allows it to deliver a home server with compelling features for Mac and PC users while offering a great customer experience that helps simplify the complexity of the connected home. This unique offering will help expand the home server market."

Pricing and availability

Manufacturer's suggested retail price for the HP MediaSmart Server ex485 with 750 GB of hard disk storage is $599 while the HP MediaSmart Server ex487 with 1.5 TB is $749.(4)

The HP MediaSmart Server can be pre-ordered beginning on Jan. 5, 2009, from,,, and; it is expected to ship in February.

The first 200 consumers who visit HP Home & Home Office ( or call +1 888 271 2982 between Jan. 5 - 11, 2009, to reserve a MediaSmart Server and use coupon code "AC5674" will receive a $50 savings off their purchase.(5)

More information is available at

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ASUS R50A UMPC reviewed

ASUS's R50A UMPC has been sort of lost in the company's flood of Eee PCs, and maybe for good reason -- the crew at UMPC Portal just reviewed the $2,000 handheld and came away unimpressed. Although the software package overall was described as "atrocious" and the lack of a keyboard was annoying, the biggest problems were all essentially related to running Vista on the 1.33GHz Atom Z520 CPU with 1GB RAM -- you can delete bloatware and use a bigger stylus, but you can't fix "pretty bad" performance on the lowest possible graphics settings. Ruh roh: Sony's upcoming VAIO P supposedly has a similar 1.33GHz Intel chip in it and runs Vista. Here's hoping Sony's got something a little more impressive up its sleeve for us than what ASUS managed to put together here -- otherwise the full R50A review at the read link might be discouragingly prophetic. Read

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Windows 7 Beta 1 ISO leaked on bittorrent

Apparently you won't even have to wait until January to get your hands on the Windows 7 Beta release. That's right, there's already been an ISO file leaked to several torrent trackers.

The ISO appears to contain the Windows 7 M1 build (7000) highlighted by Paul Thurrott on SuperSite. So far the new build seems to perform slightly better than 6801, and memory usage has been improved. A number of previously hidden features - like the iconized task bar - are also now active.

Before comments start asking why there's no link to the file, it's because this is something that we're not supposed to have yet. If you want to get your hands on it, check your favorite torrent search site. Also keep in mind that this is a leak, and there's always the possibility that the ISO has been tampered with.
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Xbox Pro "Jasper" Units now shipping

So yeah, finding an Xbox 360 Jasper in Arcade form isn't all that difficult these days, but we certainly haven't seen a glut of Pro models shipping out with the supposedly cooler, smoother and altogether more melancholy Jasper hardware within. A lucky soul over at PDAToday has acquired one such unit, and while he may just be incredibly fortunate, we'd say it's about time you to-be Pro owners start looking out for a few telltale signs. As you can see in the closeups in the read link, there here FDOU team Pro -- which was ordered from Amazon on December 22nd -- boasts a 12.1 amp rating and the unmistakable Jasper power port. Of note, it did come bundled with a Falcon revision (175-watt) power supply just like in my guide, though we suspect Microsoft is just clearing out excess inventory given that the older PSU won't damage the Jasper machines. Any others out there run into any holiday luck? Let us know!


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Leaked Snow Leopard image potentially indicates a 32 / 64-bit divide

Apple's said it's taking a break from adding flashy features to OS X to focus on the foundations and stability of the system with Snow Leopard, and this latest leaked screenshot might indicate that those foundations are moving to 64 bits -- it shows System Preferences saying it needs to restart in 32-bit mode to open the Network panel. That's certainly interesting, given the rumors that Apple's dropping support for non-Intel machines and maybe even 32-bit Intel processors with this release, but it could also just mean that whoever took this screenshot doesn't have a 64-bit-friendly version of that preference pane installed. (We're guessing the latter, since there are a lot of 32-bit only Core Duo Intel Macs out there.) Restarting apps to change modes seems pretty clunky, though -- shades of System 7 and the 32-bit Enabler, for the olds -- so we're hoping Apple's got a more elegant solution in the works. Macworld's just around the corner, we're sure we'll hear more from Steve Phil soon.

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Sunday, December 28, 2008 Intro Video is the best EVER!

Not another boring Web 2.0 service. Or another Twitter tool as a fact.

But what makes TwitterSplit different is.. well.. there Introduction Video to their service!!
Watch it below:

Anyways, what is TwitterSplit? They focus on that: people clicking on your links in your tweets, but don't follow you. This service captures those "clickers" by adding an iframe (i know, their annoying and gay) to the top part of the linked page. An example is shown below:

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