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How Do Web Performance Issues Impact Your Life Online?Case Details

 

Closed: 24 Dec 2013, 11:59PM PT

The top insight will receive a one-year Watercooler Subscription on Techdirt

We've all seen the digital panic that ensues when a massive service like Gmail or Facebook goes down for even a small portion of users. Smaller versions of the same thing take place every day with services that are less widely adopted but just as important to the people who rely on them. It doesn't even take an outage to cause problems — frequent slowdowns and interruptions can quickly cause a massive productivity traffic jam. With the degree to which we live our lives and do our work online, service problems are much more than a minor inconvenience, and at the wrong moment can be a disaster.

So we want to know: how does this impact the way you use the web? Are you prepared for interruptions in the online apps and services you use most? Have you ever abandoned an app for spotty performance, or adopted one specifically for its reliability? We're looking for everything in the way of insights, anecdotes and ideas about performance issues online.

You can share your responses on the Insight Community. Remember, if you have a Techdirt account, then you're already a member and can head on over to the case page to submit your insights.

One best response chosen by New Relic and the Techdirt editorial team will receive a free one-year Watercooler subscription on Techdirt (regular price $50). The subscription includes access to the Crystal Ball and the Insider Chat, plus five monthly First Word/Last Word credits, and can be applied to your own Techdirt account or gifted to someone else.

The case will be open for four weeks, with the best response announced shortly afterwards. We look forward to your insights!

0 Insights

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How Do You Manage The Performance And Reliability Of Web Apps And Services?Case Details

 

Closed: 27 Nov 2013, 11:59PM PT

The top insight will receive a one-year Watercooler Subscription on Techdirt

For providers of online apps and services, great success equals great responsibility. As users come to rely on something, the consequences of it failing become dire, and the importance of maintenance and performance monitoring grows.

So Techdirt and our sponsor New Relic have a question for all the developers, entrepreneurs, technicians and others out there: how do you tackle this challenge? Not only does a growing user base make it more important to closely track the performance of a web app, it makes it more difficult too. How do you make sure your service is running smoothly? How do you identify major failures or performance issues as they happen? What are the biggest challenges therein, and what tools do you use to overcome them? We're also interested in any feedback you have on New Relic's own performance monitoring tools.

In exchange for your insights, we're offering some perks. Firstly, anyone who signs up for New Relic and installs the service will receive a free Nerd Life t-shirt. The basic account is free and comes with a 14 day trial of the pro service, and there's no commitment or credit card required.

Additionally, one best response chosen by New Relic and the Techdirt editorial team will receive a free one-year Watercooler subscription on Techdirt (regular price $50). The subscription includes access to the Crystal Ball and the Insider Chat, plus five monthly First Word/Last Word credits, and can be applied to your own Techdirt account or gifted to someone else.

The case will be open for four weeks, with the best response announced shortly afterwards. We look forward to your insights!

1 Insight

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Performance Matters: Share Your Insights On Web & Mobile App Hosting For A Chance To WinCase Details

 

Closed: 13 Oct 2013, 11:59PM PT

The top insight will receive a one-year Watercooler Subscription on Techdirt

No matter how useful, unique or fun and online application is, nobody's going to use it if it doesn't perform well. But as these applications scale, it gets harder and harder for developers to keep track of their performance and identify bottlenecks before they become critical. On today's web, noticing a problem only after users have reported it is too late.

New Relic, a powerful application performance monitoring tool, aims to make this challenge easier, and is seeking input from developers and startups involved in the design and operation of web and mobile services. In a series of Insight Community cases, we'll be gathering insights from Techdirt readers, with prizes for the best responses.

This month, we're starting with an open question: what are your experiences with app hosting online? We're interested to know where, how and why various apps for web and mobile are hosted, what works and what doesn't, and what the biggest ongoing challenges are when it comes to deploying a reliable, high-performance app or service. If you try out the New Relic service and share specific insights based on what you discover, even better!

In exchange for your insights, we're offering some perks. Firstly, anyone who signs up for New Relic and installs the service will receive a free Nerd Life t-shirt. The basic account is free and comes with a 14 day trial of the pro service, and there's no commitment or credit card required.

Additionally, one best response chosen by New Relic and the Techdirt editorial team will receive a free one-year Watercooler subscription on Techdirt (regular price $50). The subscription includes access to the Crystal Ball and the Insider Chat, plus five monthly First Word/Last Word credits, and can be applied to your own Techdirt account or gifted to someone else.

The case will be open for four weeks, with the best response announced shortly afterwards. We look forward to your insights!

2 Insights

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Video Contest: Create A PSA Video Showing The Impact Of Technology On CreativityCase Details

 

Closed: 28 Oct 2011, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $1,000 for Insights on this case.

A few weeks ago we wrote about a contest that NBC Universal was putting on, officially through New York City, asking students to make propaganda films, repeating NBC Universal/MPAA talking points about how copyright infringement was damaging NBC Universal.  In going through the fine print on the contest, we noted a few oddities.  First, you were not supposed to actually use facts or data and make a case.  Instead, the rules flat out told you what your position was.  You had to support the claim that "piracy costs jobs."  Think the data shows that the real problem is legacy companies like NBC Universal not adapting to embrace new opportunities?  Too bad.

Even worse, the detailed fine print in the contest (which is pretty difficult to dig out), shows that if you win, you lose the copyright on your video.  Seriously.  It's pretty amazing that a video contest promoting the supposed importance of copyright to creators involves requiring creators to give up their copyrights.  The prize?  A measly $500.

So we're offering a competing contest, here via our Insight Community platform.  We're asking people to create PSA videos showing the impact of technology on creativity today.  We're not asking you to advocate any specific position at all, because unlike that other contest, we're pretty secure in our beliefs and won't melt like the wicked witch of the west should someone submit a PSA that challenges some of them.  We believe that the best videos will be both creative and have a factual basis.

Also, as per our standard Insight Community terms and conditions (and again unlike that other contest), you retain the copyright to whatever you do.  We would recommend a permissive license -- with our favorite being something like the CC0 Public Domain license or the WTFPL license, but it's entirely up to you.  The only condition -- as per our Ts & Cs, is that we're granted a license to make use of the work as well, for the sake of showing it on our sites (Insight Community and Techdirt).

Oh, and while that other contest is offering $500 to the winner, we're offering $1,000.  As a result of our original post, a bunch of you stepped up and offered up about $500 in donations for this contest, and we're matching that with another $500 ourselves.

Finally: in order to enter, you need to:

  1. have an Insight Community account (your Techdirt login will work if you have one, or create one on the Insight Community site),
  2. create your video and upload it somewhere public, such as YouTube or Vimeo,
  3. include your Insight Community username at the end of the video,
  4. add an "insight" entry to this case, in which you link to your own video.

That's it.

 

4 Insights

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Ideas For CwF+RtB PromotionsCase Details

 

Closed: 17 Aug 2009, 11:59PM PT

As you know, we've been running our CwF+RtB experiment for a few weeks now. We're looking to do new promotions and special "this week only" types of offerings, on a regular basis. Two weeks ago, the special offer was a free Techdirt hoodie or free lunch with Mike Masnick, with the purchase of both the Book Club and the Music Club packages. This past week, we tried separating out just Amanda Palmer's signed book and CD for those who didn't want the entire Music Club. We've got plenty of ideas for other promotions, but we thought, why not get some ideas from you? And we'll do it as an Insight Community case, as well, to demonstrate again how the Insight Community works. So, the way this will work is that you get to suggest ideas for promotions within CwF+RtB (or potentially new tiers that go beyond the 1 week promotion), and if we use your idea (this only applies to the first person to suggest that particular idea), you'll get a free Approaching Infinity package, with the book signed by Mike (that doesn't come with the regular package). So, you'd get Mike's signed book plus a free t-shirt. We look forward to your ideas!

19 Insights

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The New World of LogisticsCase Details

 

Closed: 15 Dec 2010, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $100 for Insights on this case.

UPS loves logistics and is looking to start engaging with others who share its passion -- and who have an appreciation for the modern complexities of combining the latest technology with efficient supply chains. The global economy is more interconnected than ever before, and global logistics can make the difference between success and failure. The competitive advantage that integrated global logistics provides can help to improve customer service, to expand into new markets and to improve the bottom line -- and we'd like to hear about your stories.

To start off this conversation, we're interested in hearing about "new logistics" -- such as experiences involving small businesses that have leveraged logistics to take advantage of international markets, or how logistics helped you and your company to better compete with larger companies by creating new opportunities, or simply explanations of what "new logistics" means to you and how it has helped build up your company's operations.

Relevant information to include in your insights:

  • The type of business you're describing and how logistical obstacles are met
  • Summaries of how your logistical challenges were ultimately successfully resolved
  • Examples of modern logistics -- describing the challenges for smaller businesses just starting out
  • Technologies that have advanced (or will improve) logistic operations (eg. RFID, 4G wireless networks, etc)
Based on the responses we receive, we'll follow up with future cases on other topics -- or cases that further delve into viewpoints on related subjects.

 

6 Insights

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Everyone Offers Collaboration Software, But Who Really Needs It?Case Details

 

Closed: 30 Sep 2010, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $200 for Insights on this case.

Enterprise 2.0 has been a catch-all description for the shift towards better collaborative software tools that help groups communicate in real time to increase employee productivity.  As part of this movement, IBM sees a progression away from a world centered on emails using Microsoft Word and Outlook.

Supporting this idea, IBM has a whitepaper entitled: "Collaboration 2.0 -- Taking Collaboration to the Next Level: From the E-mail and Document-centric World of 'Enterprise 1.0' to the People-centric World of Enterprise 2.0".  Register to read it, and IBM would like your feedback on it.

Download the whitepaper here.

Interesting critiques of this whitepaper include, but are not limited to, questions such as:

  • How can this whitepaper target its audience better?
  • What specific business communities would benefit most from employing Collaboration 2.0 tools?
  • How could this whitepaper be improved?  What points could be added? 
  • Given the recent demise of Google Wave, what lessons can be learned for collaboration software providers?

The type of insights we're looking for will generate useful discussions regarding the capabilities of collaboration tools.  You can also tell us about your experiences using collaboration tools (what you like or don't like about them).  Additionally, you can help us out by sharing this whitepaper with others and aggregating feedback on it.  Ultimately, we're interested in creating an interesting collection of opinions (and factoids) for folks who might be evaluating various online collaboration apps.  We may re-print your submissions as blog posts on other websites, and your insightful aphorisms may be quoted in future publications.    

The topic of this Insight Community case is sponsored by IBM. Of course, the content of this case consists entirely of the thoughts and opinions of the author(s) and not of IBM.

14 Insights

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Looking For Feedback On IT Innovation ResourcesCase Details

 

Closed: 30 May 2010, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $200 for Insights on this case.

As you know, we've been running the ITInnovation.com tab within Techdirt since last year, sponsored by Sun (now Oracle) and Intel.  We've had a series of fascinating discussions within blog posts and webinars during that time.  We've also continued to regularly refresh the IT Innovation Resource Center, which includes a rotating list of useful tools and white papers provided either by us or the sponsors of IT Innovation.

We'd like to get some feedback and insight into the quality of these resources and how they might be improved upon.  Listed below are six currently available white papers in the Resource Center.  If you are familiar with these topics (i.e., you work in IT), please review the white papers and write up your insights and comments on the whitepapers: what's good about them, what could be improved, what would make them more useful, etc.  You are free to provide insights on as many of the white papers as you would like, but we ask that you submit insights on each white paper as a separate insight, rather than combining them into a single response.

  • Best Practices for Managing Datacenter Costs via Application and Server Consolidation

    Server sprawl, software licensing fees, and facilities costs are sending datacenter operational expenses through the roof at a time when every penny is being scrutinized. As a result, low utilization rates and wasted power/cooling resources are no longer acceptable, and smart companies are looking to consolidation and virtualization to trim expenses and increase operating efficiency.

  • Why Solid-State Drives Usage Scenarios Are Expanding for the Datacenter

    To accomplish the objectives of making more-efficient use of IT resources, lowering power consumption, and reducing operating expenses, many companies are turning to server consolidation and virtualization efforts—endeavors that increase server CPU utilization and reduce the number of discrete servers in a datacenter.

  • The New Economics of Midsize Enterprise Computing: Oracle’s Sun Systems Based on the Intel® Xeon® Processor 5500 Series

    Midsize companies often face the same competitive pressures as large-scale enterprises. However, they may not possess the resources and staff to invest heavily in complex computing systems. Yet it’s critical for IT organizations within these companies to ensure that they have the strongest, most expandable systems in place, so that their companies have the requisite flexibility to adapt quickly to changing market conditions, roll out new products and services in shorter cycles, and become more effective competitors.

  • New Blades and Networking Solutions Ensure Solid Return on Investment

    Traditionally, when companies need more computing power to deal with expanding amounts of data, they increase the number of servers, the number of compute cores per server, and the memory capacity of each server. Today’s high-powered blade servers save space and help enable significant gains in computing performance, especially when workloads are consolidated efficiently and datacenter resources are utilized most effectively. To accommodate this increase in capacity, however, the network infrastructure carrying the data must also be upgraded.

  • Reassessing Server Costs for Midsize Companies

    Most companies keep their servers for three to five years—a time frame that seems reasonable given current economic conditions. Despite the savings this would seem to imply, however, extending server life in the datacenter in this way may not be the best strategy, even in the toughest economic times.

  • Oracle Solaris Operating System — Optimized for the Intel® Xeon® Processor 5600 and 7500 series

    This document is intended as a technical guide for developers and system administrators that want to understand the precise details of how Oracle® Solaris and the Intel® Xeon® processor 5600 and 7500 series can improve your application solution environment.

     

     

20 Insights

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We're on the hunt for organizations (companies, non-profits, schools, etc) that encourage innovation in a unique or interesting way.  Sure, every company claims to foster innovation, but few truly do.  So we're looking for those rare gems.  Nominate your favorite examples, and tell us why you think your nominee deserves to get some recognition. 

Obviously, innovation itself is a complex concept that isn't easily quantified.  But as we build up a list of examples, we may find common themes and quantifiable criteria that will help to define measures of innovative efforts.  With your help, we may be able to identify the best methodologies for generating innovative ideas.

8 Insights

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Are You Happily Invoicing Your Customers?Case Details

 

Closed: 20 May 2010, 1:46PM PT

Earn up to $250 for Insights on this case.

Our entrepreneurship series - sponsored by AcceptPay from American Express - is compiling interesting resources, valuable tips and useful services that can help out small business owners.  One of the key themes we want to discuss is the process of invoicing -- because what could be more relevant to a small business than getting paid?  Every business (small or large) needs to deal with billing customers and efficiently accepting payments.  For smaller companies, though, invoicing and payment collections can become a more time-consuming process than it should be.

For those of you out there who are already happily invoicing -- what kinds of invoicing software do you use?  What kind of billing solutions have you tried?  What is your opinion of online payment solutions? (full disclosure: AcceptPay is a player in this market.)  How would you evaluate an online payment system for your company?

However, if you've ever encountered invoicing challenges that started to eat into the enjoyment of actually running your business, do you have a happy-ending story for your billing solution?  What would you recommend for other small businesses that might have similar experiences?  What kind of procedures have you developed to make your accounts receivable easier to handle and more reliable?

To other helpful folks who aren't (yet?) entrepreneurs, what types of small companies do you think might benefit from using online payment solutions (that may not already be doing so)?  How would you describe the market for online payment services?  What recommedations have you seen for small business invoicing software?

We're looking for your input on these topics, and the best response will be published on the Entrepreneur's Corner edition of Techdirt, as well as receive a monetary award.  Other high-quality insights may also receive monetary bonuses, depending on the content and how many insights are submitted.

7 Insights

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The Importance Of Skilled Immigrants To The American EconomyCase Details

 

Closed: 27 Oct 2009, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $50 for Insights on this case.

One of the most difficult concepts to grasp, at times, is the difference between a zero-sum game and a non-zero-sum game. This becomes especially evident when discussing skilled immigration in America. There are many who are quite against the idea of giving visas to skilled foreigners to come to the US, believing that these individuals "take away jobs" from Americans. The only problem is that this is not supported by the data. That's because jobs are not a zero-sum game. There is not a set number of jobs that cannot change. And skilled immigrants have a long history of not just coming to the US, but also in creating a significant number of new jobs.

The importance of skilled immigrants in driving new jobs has been known for years, but the trend has only accelerated over the past decade. That older study found that 25% of Silicon Valley companies were founded by immigrants. A more recent Duke study found that this number has spread throughout the US: of tech- or engineering-related companies founded across the US, over 25% were founded by immigrants. In Silicon Valley, the number is now 52.4%. These companies are creating tremendous new job opportunities, not taking them away. Growing jobs is quite important.

Furthermore, it's difficult to see how keeping skilled immigrant labor out of the country helps the US. Those same workers do not disappear. Instead, they join tech companies in their homeland, where they end up competing against US companies. Shouldn't we want the best and smartest individuals working for US companies and helping to create US jobs, rather than the alternative?

Many of the concerns about skilled labor immigration tend to focus on the controversial H-1b program, with most of the complaints pointing to various abuses with the program. But we shouldn't be throwing out a good idea (encouraging skilled labor to come build companies in the US) with the fact that the program itself has been abused at times. If there are abuses, let's fix the abuses, while looking at better ways to encourage immigration from those we want to help us building our economy.

The Innovation Movement is an effort by the Consumer Electronics Association to make more people aware of such issues, and to make sure that Congress actually takes these issues into account, rather than just focusing on the patriotic headline while ignoring the unpatriotic results.

In this Insight Community Conversation, we're looking for thoughtful and well-written discussions on skilled labor immigration, and how to best encourage it. These can be ideas on how to respond to critics of skilled immigration programs, how to improve our current programs (such as the H-1b), or even brand new ideas for how the US could best encourage skilled immigration and enabling the creation of more jobs in the high tech sector. The best results will be used as posts on the Innovation Movement website.

10 Insights

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Help A New Kind of Music Label Revolutionize The IndustryCase Details

 

Closed: 21 Oct 2009, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $500 for Insights on this case.

The music industry has changed significantly in recent years, and technology now allows musicians to distribute their work and interact with fans more easily than ever before. As times have changed, the traditional process of signing with a record label is getting more and more competition. Here we describe one alternative vision for supporting musicians that focuses on the artist and aims to disrupt conventional music publishing. The subsequent task is for the Insight Community to suggest improvements to the plan, give feedback from an artist's point of view, offer advice on implementation, and even respond with possible arguments against this approach.

The Vision of an Un-label

The 4 pillars in the work of a musician are: compose, record, be on stage and on tour. The live show is more than ever a vital component of the career of an artist, but it can not exist without the production of new tracks. For the artist to tour, an album is a prerequisite.

As always, there are costs to produce an album, but the artist should ALWAYS retain ownership of his/her work. Without artist ownership, the genuine involvement of the performer is lost. But if the artist ultimately owns the work, the musician has an honest commitment to promoting every song and a vested interest in connecting with fans. That said, albums still need to be financed at times, and a complete support infrastructure to promote the artist and his/her work is still necessary as well.

For the financing of albums, an artist will sign a temporary exclusive license to his/her music in exchange for initial funding (if necessary) and a share of revenues from tours, shows, physical and digital sales, merchandising, etc. The artist will commit to live performances and interactions with fans through various channels (eg. press, TV, web, etc). The artist will be the brand behind the music, and the new 'Un-label' will provide financing, publicity and management as necessary. The Un-label has incentives to serve the artist since its exclusive license is temporary, and the artist will be free to go elsewhere after the contract is fulfilled.

Key points summary

  • Artists always retain ownership of their work.
  • Artists get worldwide distribution with transparent accounting.
  • Artists get a dedicated partner with aligned incentives.

Supplemental Materials

To further explain this vision, there is an accompanying presentation to discuss this concept:

 

How You Can Help

The idea behind this Un-label is hopefully easy to understand, but how does a business based on this philosophy attract and convince artists? Below are some questions that attempt to focus this discussion on improving this vision. These are not the only questions to answer, but they're a starting point.

  • What kind of educational materials need to be created to help this business compete with the more traditional recording contracts?
  • If you were an artist, how does this proposition sound to you?
  • What are the most attractive portions of this plan for musicians? What are the least attractive parts of this concept?
  • Have you heard of similar businesses? How do you think similar businesses are doing?
  • Are there services that exist that could improve this business? Can you think of potentially good partnerships or collaborations?

Visit the CybearSonic Site (English translation)

22 Insights

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Mandates To Buy American Should Be More Carefully ConsideredCase Details

 

Closed: 23 Sep 2009, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $100 for Insights on this case.

We all know that the economy is in tough shape these days, and (as always happens in such situations) there's often a misguided push to put up trade barriers to try to force people to "Buy American." Of course, time and time again, such trade barriers have proven to actually do tremendous harm to Americans, rather than help them. We're already seeing this with friendly trading partners like Canada threatening to retaliate. That retaliation harms American jobs much more than any jobs "gained" from such protectionist barriers (as pointed out by the non-partisan and highly respected Peterson Institute). On top of that, by adding barriers on goods that Americans want, the end result is only that Americans end up paying *more* for their goods -- not exactly an outcome consumers are likely to appreciate during an economic downturn.

Granted, it's quite easy to understand the patriotic feeling behind a "Buy American" clause -- and we all want to support our country. But the problem is that in not paying attention to the actual impact, and pretending that there are no "unintended consequences," a Buy American clause can be detrimental to America in the long run. That doesn't seem particularly patriotic.

The Innovation Movement is an effort by the Consumer Electronics Association to make more people aware of important policy issues, and to make sure that Congress actually takes relevant data into account, rather than just focusing on the patriotic headline while ignoring the unpatriotic results.

In this Insight Community Conversation, we're looking for thoughtful and well-written discussions on the pros and cons of a "Buy American" clause for US policies. The best results will be used as posts on the Innovation Movement website.

12 Insights

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Navigating The New Business World After This RecessionCase Details

 

Closed: 16 Sep 2009, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $200 for Insights on this case.

The usual economic indicators suggest things aren't getting worse as fast as before, and the more cautious forecasters are offering some less-than-optimistic predictions of a long road ahead for recovery. Several analysts (in reports from McKinsey Quarterly, Harvard Business Review and the like) point out that business has fundamentally changed and that the current downturn is not simply part of a regular business cycle. On the upside, though, the preceding decades have developed an incredible collection of enabling technologies that businesses may have only scratched the surface of -- which have laid the foundations for future long-term economic growth.

In this environment, employees look for real leadership and direction from their corporate executives. So this case sponsor, HP, is looking to inspire forward-looking discussions with essays aimed at executive level managers. We're looking for insightful articles that may help guide executives towards success during uncertain times. What does an executive need to do or need to know to be more effective nowadays? What does the future of business look like? How can an organization thrive under pressure? What innovative technologies or services will help companies stay competitive? What techniques can be used to motivate and promote innovation? How can workflows be optimized to be smarter, more efficient and productive? These are just some example starting topics to give you a general sense of what we're looking for -- we're not expecting point-by-point answers. We encourage unique (and even entertaining) submissions on related topics.

The best insights will be used as posts on an HP website that will be announced later. Please submit essays that are at least 500 words in length.

UPDATE: The sponsor is more accurately "HP Enterprise" -- so the target audience is specifically executives and decision makers (CEOs, CFOs, COOs, etc) at large companies.

13 Insights

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