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Stu Savory
Eunoia, who is a grumpy, overeducated, facetious, multilingual ex-pat Scot, blatantly opinionated, old (1944-vintage), amateur cryptologist, computer consultant, atheist, flying instructor, bulldog-lover, Beetle-driver, textbook-writer, long-distance biker, geocacher and blogger living in the foothills south of the northern German plains. Not too shy to reveal his true name or even whereabouts, he blogs his opinions, and humour and rants irregularly. Stubbornly he clings to his beliefs, e.g. that Faith does not give answers, it only prevents you doing any goddamn questioning. You are as atheist as he is. When you understand why you don't believe in all the other gods, you will know why he does not believe in yours :-) Oh, and he also has a neat English Bulldog bitch 'Frieda'.

And her big son 'Kosmo'.

Geocaching Stats

Some of my bikes

My Crypto Pages

My Maths Pages

Nota bene : Cuius rei demonstrationem mirabelem sane detexi hanc marginis exiguitas non caparet.

Nearby village Totem Pole (Meerhof Woods)

Site now moved to my new provider; Domain remains

If you find any dead links or pages or pictures missing, please report their URL to which is now the only valid email for this site.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Clear Skies :-)

The skies were so crystal clear just before dawn this morning that we could see Jupiter and its 4 Galilean moons easily. A cheap 15x monocular (my spotting scope for the rifle range) gave a spectacular view*. The slight haze around Jupiter is scattering from water in Earth's atmosphere.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Papal juxtaposition fail ;-)

I was in the UK for the duration of the papal visit to Germany, so it's nice to know that the press reported his visit with proper attention to detail ;-)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I do despair...

Sometimes I really DO despair about the ability of my fellow human beings to think things through logically AT ALL! :-(

So here's a rant with a couple of examples which illustrate my point.

First, let's talk about the person responsible for street sign infrastructure here. I refer you to the photo shown here on the left. That person obviously knows about the convention that blind persons wear a yellow armband with three large black dots. This is so that sighted people can identify the blind persons and help them should they need it. Presumably, what passes for a brain in the designer's case merely summarised "blind - yellow - three dots". So here we have a button to summon the pedestrian crossing signal at a traffic light. Notice it is carefully colour coded yellow (for the blind users to see?) and has the three black dots on it to signify it is for use by the blind. Who, exactly, is supposed to see those three dots? Notice also that the pedestrian crossing button does NOT have any labelling in Braille :-( Notice also that the yellow button is at 45° to the intersection, so you can't tell if it is for the street to the left of the button or the street to the right :-(

Let's give the infrastructure designer the benefit of the doubt and assume the signal button not only switches a 'pedestrians-cross-now' lamp green (for the sighted) but also sounds a buzzer for the blind to know when they can cross safely. Apparently, said buzzer is not working, because there is a sticker on the traffic light post (carefully colour coded yellow for the blind) which says 'defekt' (German for 'defective'). Who, pray, is supposed to read it? The blind? They could wait forever at the crossing, waiting for a non-sounding buzzer. Here is my acoustic message for the 'blind-button' designer!

The next picture is a screenshot captured from TV, showing 'The last night of the Proms'. In the UK this is traditionally a very patriotic evening, where the song 'Rule Britannia' will be sung loudly (also by the audience), as will 'Land of Hope and Glory', accompanied by much patriotic waving of flags. So just how ignorant is the person waving the flag at lower left of this picture, the flag being upside down!!! :-( Presumably they bought this cheap paper flag - not being patriotic enough to own a real cloth flag - without checking orientation (it's probably a cheap chinese import, I suspect). Yes, I often DO despair!

Comments (4) :
Mary Ellen (USA) wrote "Sorry, Stuart, but you made me laugh! At the intersection by my former place of employment, the world's only university for the deaf, there is a similar crossing button for (presumably many deaf) people to push when they want to cross the 4-lane freeway that passes for florida avenue ne. I'm sure you're ready for the punchline?? the warning and the directions to cross ARE SPOKEN! Very loudly, too, I might add. The little machine beeps heartily as the seconds drop off the time allotted for beetling across the street. I guess the visual clue is the countdown of seconds on the traffic light itself. Points for that to somebody, but a different somebody from the person who designed the crossing gizmo. Don't despair, though. you live OVER THERE! You can thank your stars you are not living OVER HERE, where things are going to heck in a handbasket faster than you can say runforyourlife!! :-(" That's hilarious, Mary; thanks for the anecdote.
Charles asked "Don't get me wrong or anything. I am a red-blooded American flag-waver and all that (sort of), but I really love the Union Jack. I love it because it is so, well, symmetrical - and beautiful (red, white and blue and all that, as you know). I must however confess my igonorance here. Being that your flag is so symmetrically designed and all, how on earth can you tell that it is "upside down" as you wrote? I can't. Please be patient with me and explain - and carry on with your posts!" Hi Charles, The Union Flag is NOT symmetrical. Look at the white part of the diagonals. On one side of the red diagonal the white bit is broad and on the other the white bit is narrow. The broad white diagonal must be on top next to the pole (assumed on the left if the flag is not on a pole). BTW, it is only called a Union JACK when the Union flag is flown from a Jack (a naval flagpole, usually on the stern of a Brit ship).
Charles then replied : "Oh, time for new glasses (do you think I ever noticed that?). It still looks cool, though. That with the jack is news to me too. Thanks." De nada. Few people (even some Brits) know that, kindergarten in the UK doesn't teach it any more, the pretty girl on my plane tonight told me.
James (UK) opined "It's an effect of having only surface knowledge rather than a deep understanding. Feynman once wrote about the Manhatten project that military staff had been told to store drums of sub-critical amounts of fissile material (I guess UF6) as far apart as possible and so put them in the corners of the rooms, failing to realise that the corner of each room is adjacent to three corners of other rooms through thin walls! " Oops, no wonder the drums of UF6 got so warm! :-(
Demeur just wrote "After reading you post on the silly crossing sign I came upon this article. If this isn't a statement about human nature and how we avoid conflict then I don't know what is! " Reminds me of the 'Turbo' feature in Opera. Might work for 56k lines but on my DSL it seems to have NO effect :-(

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Pirate Party victory

In sunday's election to the Berlin city council (called the Senat) the Pirate Party got over 8% of the vote, giving them 15 seats on the Senat.


As I write (monday evening), today was International 'Talk like a Pirate Day'.

BTW, why does the P(i)rate Party have a superflous "i" in their name? ;-)

Comments (1) :
Schorsch (D) suggests that "As delegates inevitably desert the Pirate party, the natural progression will be :- Pirate Party, Prate Party, Prat Party, Rat Party, and @party ;-)" Aaargh, nice one, Schorsch :-)

Monday, September 19, 2011

No through road to space?

Back in the year 2000 I had the honour of meeting two of the Russian cosmonauts who had spent a considerable amount of time aboard the Mir space station. And now it is possible for tourists to visit the cosmodrome near Baikonur, I was daydreaming with the idea of paying them a visit there. Rather than flying there, I envisaged boarding my long distance motorcycle (a Yamaha FJR1300) and riding there, to expand the adventure a little. So the first thing I did was to plot the great circle between our local airfields, a few miles west of me to a few south of the cosmodrome :-

As you can see, it crosses Poland, White Russia, and a big bit of Russia on the way to Baikonur in Khazakstan, some 2465 miles door to door. So this was the roughly the route I was expecting to ride, maybe slightly more south through the Ukraine instead of White Russia if the roads were better.

So imagine my surprise when I surfed to Google Maps and asked its route planner for the road distance. Nigh on 5180 road miles, over TWICE the Great Circle distance! Google Maps was sending me via a huge diversion!

Not only that, it was routing me via war zones and countries for which I have no visa. Studying my maps in more detail, it seemed to me there was a through road route via Volgograd, certainly the E40 autobahn (M04) would take me all the way to Krasnodon. And running that part of the route on Google Maps route planner confirmed this :-

It turns out that although GoogleMaps will show (some of) the roads through Russia so that you could track a route yourself optically, the route planner doesn't know about (many) roads through Russia, leaving you to your own devices on the eastern border of the Ukraine :-(

Wanna get into space, e.g. to the ISS? You have to go via Baikonur since the USA has no Shuttles any more. But as far as the Google Map route planner is concerned it's No Through Road :-(

Trip plan shelved ;-)

Comments (1) :
Shiela (Oz? actually NZ) wrote scathingly "You must be bored to tears to write crap like that :-(" No, YOU must be bored to tears to READ (s)crap like that ;-)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

P-51 Mustang crashes in Reno Air Race:-(

Y esterday (local time) in Reno, Nevada there was a bad accident at the Reno Air Races. Non-embeddable YouTube video here. See 0:43...

Looks to me like nothing broke off the aircraft, a much modified P-51 Mustang. An internal failure then (but no smoke trailing the plane?), because you can see he rolled it level (lessening the g-load) then traded kinetic energy (speed) for potential energy (altitude), which is what you do to give yourself time to look for a place in the desert to put it down more or less gently. But then it flips over on its back and dives in nose first. Pilot was octagenarian, but with lots of hours on the much modified P-51 Mustang. I'm an ex-flying-instructor myself, aged 67 now, but I can't pull enough G any more for aerobatics or racing.

Several spectators(2/3?) (and the pilot) died and up to 75 spectators injured whom I wish a rapid recovery. Air racing is dangerous; there is a crash almost every year in Reno, but less often involving spectators.

Update : In this picture a part of the horizontal stabilizer (the left elevator trim tab) appears to be missing and there is some non-engine (=display?) smoke from the rear belly as the Mustang goes inverted (but no aileron has been applied?). Asymmetrical elevator MAY(?) have rolled the aircraft. Because the plane had been shortened by 10 feet, the forces on the elevator (& trim tabs) would have to be higher because of reduced leverage. That and the high Gees in the turns MAY(?) have overloaded a hinge???? Just a guess from a guy who wasn't even there; we shall have to wait for the accident report.
Update 2 : The info that the plane had been shortened may be a press error, there is nothing mentioned on the Galloping Ghost website.

Comments (2) :
Tim (USA) links to T-28 crash in West Virginia airshow.
Doug Alder (Canada) sent this CBC pre-impact photo.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Good for a laugh? ;-)

Next week, I am off to Oxford, UK, for a university re-union. As you probably know from The Boat Race, there is a strong traditional rivalry between Oxford and Cambridge universities. As you may know, Oxford (the dark blues) won the Boat Race this year, beating Cambridge (the light blues) by four lengths. This is part of the traditional rivalry between the universities. So I thought I'd irritate the Oxford undergrads by wearing a light blue (Cambridge) T-shirt on my visit to Oxford. However, their irritation should turn into laughter when they get close enough to read the writing ;-)

For the incognoscenti, Cantab means Cambridge, it is short for Cantabrigiensis (an adjective derived from Cantabrigia, the Latinised form of Cambridge). Oxford would be abbreviated as "Oxon".

Something to think about? At some point the Oxford undergrads may realise I could just as well have written MA (Oxon) on a dark blue T-shirt, and that I am really knocking the value of "soft" degrees; "You want fries with that?"

I'll let you know what reactions it gets in Oxford ;-)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I see the Supernova! :-)

Once upon a time in a galaxy far,far away (21 million light years, to be exact) a white dwarf died a calamitous death (carbon fusion ignition, the collapse all over within a few seconds).

White dwarves are small stars composed mostly of electron-degenerate matter whose masses are not high enough for them to become neutron stars. When they pick up enough mass ( >= 1.4 solar masses) - typically by mass transfer from a companion star - they explode as supernovae.

During the last 40 of my 67 years I have only seen four supernovae; they are comparatively rare. In 1972 I saw SN1972E in Centaurus and in 1987 I saw SN1987A in the Larger Magellanic Cloud which reached an apparent magnitude of about +3 (= really bright). Then SN1993J was the brightest supernova on the northern hemisphere since 1954. This year is only my fourth :-)

If a supernova occurred within 3,000 lightyears of earth it would effect us. Indeed one within 26 lightyears would destroy half of our protective ozone layer. Currently our nearest supernova candidate is IK Pegasi (HR 8210), located at a distance of 150 light-years. Several other large stars within the Milky Way have been suggested as possible supernovae within the next million years. These include Rho Cassiopeiae, Eta Carinae, RS Ophiuchi, U Scorpii, VY Canis Majoris, Antares, Spica and Betelgeuse. Betelgeuse has shrunk 15% since 1993 at an increasing rate and already has 6 'shells' of ejected matter. It is only 640 light years away and so is bound to effect us when it blows.

To see this extragalactic supernova [SN2011fe = PTF11kly] you should look at Ursa Major, in a constallation also known as the Plough. Imagine the last two stars of the plough's handle as being the base endpoints of an equilateral triangle, then you can find the supernova at its apex. I used a 3 inch aperture 15x monocular, but anything over a 2 inch aperture would suffice (e.g. hunting binoculars). The magnification is irrelevant, you are only going to see a point anyway, but the binoculars/telescope act as a light multiplier. We were lucky to have a partially clear night sky.

If you get a chance during the next few nights, go take a rare look yourselves!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

90% worthless ;-)

As expected, Sarah Palin is at least 90% off ;-) That's cheaper than $-toilet paper! For comparison, you can go to and buy a roll of toilet paper preprinted with US $100 notes on each sheet, for a mere €3.50 (˜$4.77) ;-)

FWIW, 'America by heart' (Palin's book title) is an anagram of 'Macabre hair, yet', which might have been a more suitable title and sold better ;-)

Comments (3) :
May (USA) noted "It is also an anagram of 'May hire cabaret' " Hey, that's neat. I missed that one; but remember, Wasilla is an 'Anal Parish' ;-)
Brian (UK) has the latest news : Palin 'Took Cocaine And Cheated On Husband'. OK :-)
Mary Jane (USA) has a photo It's not just Palin that's worthless ;-) Chimp too! BTW, "Decision Points" anagrams into "Coins, pot, inside". Just sayin' ;-)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Stand On Sink Off Zanzibar* :-(

Nearly 200 people have been drowned when a ferry boat sank in the swift currents off Zanzibar :-( The boat - carrying about 800 people - was dangerously overloaded with passengers (max. 600 allowed) AND cargo and was listing even when it left port!

Notice to Tea-Party fans : this is what happens when profit-maximization takes precedence over safety and there is no government enforcement of safety rules for private enterprises. Afaik, it's not even a proper passenger ferry, but more like a third-hand light cargo ship bought cheaply from Greece???

When will they ever learn?

Meanwhile, a few of us are remembering the 911 of ten years ago.

PS: But for the treaty of 1890 the sinking might have happened off Heligoland.

Comments (1) :
Pergelator (USA) wrote resignedly "Seems like I hear about an overloaded ferry sinking somewhere in the world at least once a year." Sad, but true. And FWIW, Google has 58,800+ hits for 'Overloaded ferry sinks' :-(

Friday, September 9, 2011

50 things to do before you die ;-)

CNN has a list of 50 experiences to try before you die, the thrill seeker's bucket list. So I thought I'd check to see how many few I've done so far (I'm 67):-

  • #1, fly a jet fighter. Yup, and on my own too :-)
  • #9, Bungee jump (but not as high as CNN's).
  • #15, Office Chair Racing (not really fun, rather childish actually).
  • #19, Nürburgring lap (no taxi, under 9 minutes on my own street bike).
  • #25, Ride the London Eye. Good views but rather passive :-(
  • #30, Paraglide over Neuschwanstein Castle. Or in my case hang-glide.
  • #33, Cheese-rolling, UK. Cuts and bruises are fun??? Not really.
  • #34, Hang glide, United States. I flew hang-gliders for years :-)
That's a mere 8 from their list of 50. So maybe I AM a boring wimp? ;-)

But their list excludes some other foolhardy adrenalin-rush stunts. Here is a photo of yours truly taken in august 1994, a good 10-12,000 feet above sea level (those are the clouds below me in the photo), in free fall and as the careful observer may note, without a parachute. You just need a trustworthy friend to bring you one on the way down. Beat that, you CNN pseuds! ;-)

Let's hear how YOU did on the CNN list of 50.

Comments (2) :
Doug Alder commented "Ha you beat me - if you're a boring old Wimp I must be a boring old geezer - haven't done any of them :)" OTOH, Doug, you live in Canada; surely THAT must count for something ? ;-)
Jane (UK) opines "You must be bloody mad!" No comment ;-)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The poetry of maths :-)

12 + 144 + 20
+ 3 * sqrt(4)
/ 7
+ 5 * 11
= 92 + (rem=0)

Can you hear the limerick? :-)

Comments (2) :
Evelyn (USA) aka Cop Car, wrote "Hi, Stu--Last May, the equation was given on Tom and Ray Magliozzi's Car Talk radio program in the USA as a puzzle for the listeners to figure out. (They did supply the last line of the limerick.) On the Car Talk website they give the puzzle and the answer." Yes, it's an old chesnut, I merely recited it for y'all on the audio track :-)
Brian (UK) comments "I much prefer your other limerick on algebra recitation" Thanks, there have been almost 4000 hits on that video. That limerick (of logs and cosine), Is no invention of mine, I merely recite. The algebra - right - Was written Betsy Devine :-)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Matrjoschka goes Geocaching :-)

Otherwise (& wrongly) known as Babuschka (= 'Grandmother') are Russian dolls which get progressively smaller and nest one within one another recursively, shown unpacked in the photo.

The caches one finds when geocaching are often just plain 35mm film plastic cans or clear petlings. Boring! So just to make things more interesting for the cachers who find my next cache, the logbook (actually a paper strip) will replace the tiniest doll inside this Matrjoschka :-)

If you'd like to get a Matrjoschka for yourself, I got mine via from Dimitrij Nazarenus, Kaltmoserstrasse 1, D-82362 Weilheim, in Germany. Dimitrij's email address is info (at) lederzumbasteln (dot) de.

It cost me 21.45€ + 3€ P&P. If you want more than the nesting-level seven (as shown here), you will find the prices start to rise non-linearly :-(

Friday, September 2, 2011

Blog Us Interruptus forthcoming?

Some time this month this website may have a hiatus (temporary interruption of service) :-( Our existing provider is shutting down the server (and domain) we've used for the last decade. The 'new' provider will provide hosting under my domain and we have to arrange to transfer all that content, so the content may disappear for a while during the transferral. Bear with us.

What does this mean for you, dear blogreaders?

If you have saved any bookmarks or blogroll URLs which are in the form "" please delete them and replace them with bookmarks and blogroll URLs of the form ""

The URL for this blog - until now available in both forms - will thus only be "", it'll just be on a different server and the mapping onto "" will be removed.

I will warn you again when the hiatus is about to occur.

In the meantime, here's looking at you :-)

Comments (3) :
Chip Camden asks "Hi Stu, Got the message about your hosting. What will be the new URL for the feed? Good luck with the move!" The RSS feed will be as far as I can predict :-)
Diane (USA) asks "When should we change our Bookmarks?" You can edit your bookmarks to the format I suggested at any time this month. If you merely want to save the URL of the server, wait until after the hiatus. I'll tell you when it's OK to do that.
Derek (UK) correctly predicts "That'll lose you your Google #1 ratings :-(" Yes, that's a sad fact, but we'll have to live with it. After a while Google will find out that our top ratings are for Tests for Divisibility, for Chiffriergeräte, for Bulldog Blog and various other first-page results we had. It may take a while, during which we will lose all the searching readers who came here via Google :-(

Thursday, September 1, 2011

In Memoriam : Tony Sale

With sadness I report the death of Tony Sale at age 80, the brilliant UK IT engineer who led the rebuild of Colossus, the first modern computer.

I met Tony several times, most recently at Bletchley Park (BP), Britain's WW2 code-breaking museum. Tony was for a while a scientific officer at MI5. He rose to become principal scientific officer of the UK intelligence agency. After retirement, he initiated and ran the 14-year project that saw the re-creation of the pioneering Colossus computer. Colossus was used to break the Vernam codes of Hitler's high command, codes which were much harder to break than Enigma. Colossus was designed in 1943 especially to calculate the Kappa functions of the code, with one channel being on high-speed paper tape and the other in internal memory. Colossus used several thousand valves (vacuum tubes) and was the first electronic computer (the contemporary Zuse machine used relays, much too slow for the task). Tony wrote an explanatory leaflet about Colossus and its restoration - shown below - which you can order from Bletchley Park.

Comments (6) :
Cop Car (USA) wrote "Hi, Stu--Thanks for spreading the sad news about Tony Sale. Your post is quite informative. I had to shift mental gears at, 'Colossus used several thousand valves....'. In a micro-second I realized that you folks from the UK use 'valve' where we Yanks use 'vacuum tube'. Ah, yes, that was so long ago. Few valves are used these days." Thanks for the tip, lass; I've modified my text accordingly to include 'vacuum tubes' :-)
Derek (UK) corrects me "Only 1500 valves, actually." You are right!
Barbara (also UK) asks "Tell us more about Colossus. How does it compare speedwise to a modern PC?" Colossus is not a stored-programm machine. It has dedicated HW and is switch-programmed like the later ENIAC. Basically it is doing an autocorrelation (in hardware, in 1943!). Remember the Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) was not invented until 1965. One version of the array is scanned from paper tape moving at about 35 mph(sic!). The sprocket holes are read too and act as the system clock. Inter-sprocket-hole time is 200 microseconds. So the gate delay time is just 1.2 microseconds, during which Colossus does 100 Boolean operations on each of 5 tape channels and across a 5 character matrix. This high parallelism makes it about as fast as a 1Ghz PC doing it in SW (nearly 70 years later though!).
Chuck asks "Do you have an ISBN number for that broschure?" 0947712364.
Auntie (UK) tells us : Bletchley Park will remember Tony Sale at Armed Forces Weekend.
John (USA) corrects me "Actually ENIAC didn't appear until 1946. 1943 merely saw the contract for ENIAC being signed." That's correct :-)

23 Recent Writings
FWIW : 23 is the number of the Illuminati, folks ;-)
Clear Skies
Papal juxtaposition fail
ST(F)U T-shirt ;-)
I DO despair :-(
Pirate Party victory
No through road :-(
Reno Air Race crash :-(
Good for a laugh?
Supernova seen! :-)
90% worthless ;-)
Sink off Zanzibar :-(
CNN's 50 things...
The poetry of maths
Blog Us Interruptus?
In Memoriam Tony Sale
Notting Hill Carnival
So nearly nuked :-(
One Time Pads
Spy Stash found!
East Coast Earthquake
Sonofabitch ;-)
Red Arrow down :-(
Writing Styles Analysis
Dumb things Bikers do

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Jan Feb Mar Apr
May Jun Jul Aug
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Jan Feb Mar Apr
May Jun Jul Aug
Sep Oct Nov Dec
Archive 2009:
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May Jun Jul Aug
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Archives 2002-2008 offline to save server file-space.
Ain Bulldog Blog
Balloon Juice
Cheese Aisle
Cocktail Party Physics
Cosmic Variance
Decrepit Old Fool
Dilligaf II
Doug Alder
Dr Grumpy
Earth-Bound Misfit
En Tequila Es Verdad
Fail Blog
Finding life hard?
Greg Laden
Inspector Gadget
Kees Kennis
Making Light
Monkey Muck
Mostly Cajun
Noded (JR)
Not Always Right
Observing Hermann
One Good Move
Rants from t'Rookery
Stupid Evil Bastard
The Magistrate's Blog
Too many tribbles
Xtreme English
Yellowdog Grannie

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This Blog's Status is
Blog Dewey Decimal Classification : 153
FWIW, 153 is a triangular number, meaning that you can arrange 153 items into an equilateral triangle (with 17 items on a side). It is also one of the six known truncated triangular numbers, because 1 and 15 are triangular numbers as well. It is a hexagonal number, meaning that you can distribute 153 points evenly at the corners and along the sides of a hexagon. It is the smallest 3-narcissistic number. This means it’s the sum of the cubes of its digits. It is the sum of the first five positive factorials. Yup, this is a 153-type blog. QED ;-)

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