Newsbits



InFoFax Volume 7 Number 14
Member Issue. 
To our regular readers Happy Thanks Giving.

Plug & Play      Volume 7     Number 14  Circulation over 1,200

COMDEX - MPEG2 to DVD-Video in fifteen minutes.

As you may remember, the IDMA were guests on the Panasonic booth at this
year's COMDEX.  A gentleman who had been looking at DVD authoring tools, which
cost $40,000 and upwards, came on the booth to see Panasonic's new DVD RAM
drive.
While talking to him about the IDMA, I mentioned that Rick Hallock of MTC was
a guest on the booth with his suite of authoring tools.  (He, was
demonstrating CD Motion for M2)  When I told him, MTC also had a DVD authoring
tool, called "Stream -Weaver" which only costs $3,000, the guy asked for a
demonstration.  Within, 15 minutes we were looking at a DVD Video with two
streams and a menu, working from the hard drive.
Then I noticed that several of the Panasonic 'Tough Notebook' computers had
'Margie' cards installed.  So we burnt a the DVD Video onto a regular CD
Recordable disc and guess what it played, full screen DVD MPEG2 right there on
the booth on a notebook.
Now everyone was excited, from MPEG2 streams to out-put on a note book
computer in about 30 minutes.
Then the fun began.  After all the Panasonic booth at COMDEX is like Aladdin's
cave for a Techno-junky, like me.  Within a very short time, we had one of
their Video cameras, taking live COMDEX footage, feeding into the new Single
chip MPEG encoder, encoding both MPEG 1 and MPEG 2 streams, while saving them
on the new DVD RAM drive.
Next, the MPEG 2 streams were turned into DVD Video on CDR.  and played in the
notebooks, while the MPEG 1 streams were turned into M2 and Video CD 2.0
titles and also recorded on CDR's.  Finally, the visitors to 1998 COMDEX could
see them selves on all three of the platforms being shown on that part of the
Panasonic booth. 

Incidentally,  M2 was a big hit with those that saw it in action during
COMDEX.  The free standing Kiosk created by award winning integrator, DCI,
attracted a lot of attention.  Being able to author, high quality double
resolution Video as good as DVD MPEG2 and record it on CDR is of course a big
advantage.

On behalf of our members I was also looking for a Set-Top box that would play
DVD Video and DVD Video recorded on CDR.  In my opinion this would allow us
'simple' people to have MPEG2 video in our home made presentations just like
the clever folks with their computers.

However, it appears that DVD is doing what CD-i did, pricing it's self out of
our market.  
Just like professional developers shunned the $25,000 entry fee for CD-I they
are now shunning the even higher entry level for DVD.

DVD is great for two sets of people.  

1) The Hollywood film producers who can spend $50,000 on authoring and
thousands on pressing because they are going to sell millions of copies of
each disc.
2) The clever people with fast computers who can, as usual do what ever they
like and still have it remain a total mystery to us 'Simple Folks'.
For those of us who want to be able to put in a disc and have it work, every
time with out fail and never have the player ask us a question, DVD is still
like the Holy Grail.

So, let's start with the following hypothesis.

1) In the right hands, computers are capable of being very clever.
2) Computer Programmers and Multimedia developers are clever people who can
make computer do incredible things.
3) We are the simple people, for whom computers do nothing but ask silly
questions, about Drives, Drivers, Files and then send 'Error' messages,
explaining in words we cannot under stand, why they can't do the simple things
we ask.
In fact, if we could still remember how to add up and didn't need  the spell
checker, doing it by hand would often be quicker.  Basically, like the book
'1984' we have become slaves to the machines, it just took us 14 years longer
than we expected.
4) Platforms such as CD-I allowed the clever people to take the 'Stuff' and
make titles that we the simple people could use to improve our lives.
After all a computer programmer does not have to learn how to operate a train
before they can learn computing, so why should a train driver have to learn
computing before he can be trained as a train driver.

What we are looking for is DVD interactive, right?

I think we are a step nearer, with a product I saw on Action PC's booth.
Panasonic also had it on their booth with one of their DVD Ram drives.  They
have succeeded in making a DVD ROM, or RAM equipped computer in a Set-Top box.
This allows the developer to put all the instructions for Windows, the DVD
drive, etc. on the actual disc.  So, for us 'Simple' folks, we just put in the
disc and guess what it plays, in any similar player, anywhere in the world and
we never see the Windows screen.  Now that is so like CD-I it could well
replace it.  Of course, it will also play DVD-Video and DVD -Video on CDR.  

In fact it could be DVD-Interactive, if we want it to be.

Here's my idea. 
For some time, our members, the Television Based Development community have
been looking for a new platform, that included all the new technology, but has
all the features of CD-i.

These would be:
1) A 'Base Case' player that you could develop for, which you could guarantee
your titles would run on, without the user having to make any inputs, or
answer any 'silly' questions about drives or drivers.  (There would be no
error messages either).
2) Titles would play in anyone of these players, anywhere in the world.
3) The operating system would be totally transparent to the user.
4) The user could not change the program in anyway, the developer did not
intend.
5) All the different types of input/output devices used for CD-i would be
available.
6) The features of CD-I would all be available, Full Screen Video, MPEG2 or
MPEG1, tracking, communication and so on.
7) It must be able to take the titles authored with mainstream tools such as
Director Etc. and have them run as Interactive DVD.

The above is our definition of DVD-Interactive and so far it is not available.

The Action PC Set Top box, can do all these things, we just need to agree on
the specification for the 'Base Case 'player and decide how we author for it.
Then we give it a name and all get stinking rich, how's that for a scheme?

So if you are either a developer or a potential user waiting for DVD
Interactive, send me an e-mail and I will include you in the 'Group'.
Together we will make this happen. 

Two of the new technologies first seen at the IDMA Summit Meeting last
October, in Orlando, were missing from COMDEX.  Much to our surprise,
Microsoft's WEB-DVD which we rate so highly was not shown, neither was
Motorola's Blackbird board, which we also think has many possibilities for our
members.  This just goes to show, how important it is to be at the IDMA
Summit, where the Experts go to be come the Experts.

New Chairman for IDMA.
Richard French of RISE Int'l Inc.Fort Worth was elected Chairman of the IDMA
at the annual meeting during the Summit conference. 

So you do read Plug and Play, at least Ron Gustavson does.

Ron sent me an interesting e-mail, which I reproduce below.  These are his
remarks not mine, but they should, I hope start a dialog with some of our
readers.

Quote:
Now one key is to promote DVD's with little or no video.  Because DVD was
designed to accommodate motion pictures doesn't mean it can't contain just
text, PDFs, JPEGs, and a few WAVs.
If you want to play the results on a video player though, you'll need the
right deck--one that handles CD-R and doesn't destroy them like the first
generation decks.
Also you will need more than ISO MPEG-2 files, you'll need VOBs. These can be
produced with the VOBulator. (about $9000?) Perhaps there are cheaper options
now(?) You'll also need a video manager and title sets. [I wouldn't count on
the industry to make any of this available. They have a vested interest in
authoring platforms and $20,000 licenses. Perhaps the open source movement
will soon find DVD authoring a ripe technology to tackle.]
Now will VOB on CD play in a DVD deck? (I'll have to ask Jim Taylor or someone
about that.) But it is something to head towards.

As you said in the last Plug and Play.
"There's a prize for the first company to make their DVD Video player play DVD
on CDR.   What's the prize? "A huge market."  All of a sudden every kiosk,
every presentation, everyone's daughter's wedding is all on CDR and guess what
it's MPEG2 quality and it plays on a DVD video player. Guess what else, discs
cost a buck each. Wow!

Right on!  I've been discussing these issues on the eBooks mailing list
(http://www.mabooks.com/eBook-List). New eBook device manufacturers are trying
to introduce what amounts to pay-per-view books. Optical disc offers a much
more stable
product than the download of an encrypted file, which can't be viewed apart
from one hardware device. 
Rich multimedia books on disc might present an electronic publishing option
that doesn't destabilize the tangible book itself.
While HTML2 on CD-ROM satisfies my personal needs, a format that could be
played on home entertainment players offers real possibilities to many.
Because MPEG-2/DVD has been deigned the "standard" by the industry, why not
find a way to actually use it, even without the logo?

e-mail address rongus@tiac.net http://www.tiac.net/users/rongus
End quote.

Another reader is from Saudi Arabia, here is their letter.
I hope some of you can help, I also hope some of you may profit from
relationships like this.

From:   sshamrani@hotmail.com (Saeed Shamrani)
To:     paul4cdi@aol.com

Hello, 

Our organization has a multimedia section.  It's main function is to:
1- Produce awareness posters.
2- Create formal presentations to company personnel.
3- Provide document cover pages for twelve internal departments.    
4- Generate an interactive Kiosk depending on the activities of the
organization.
5- Produce documentaries using AVID composer.
Also we are planning to develop the field of CBT in the section to support the
future training in the organization .

We use the PC platform to run the following software : Macromedia Authorware 
and Director , Photoshop , Painter, CorelDraw , Photostyler, Powerpoint 
and Adope Premiere .
To help our employees produce multimedia materials in-house, we are 
looking for the followings :
1- A contacts with Interactive & Multimedia producers as we need assistance
with Multimedia projects that we wish to implement.
2- We are looking for short courses or certified programs ( 2-6 weeks)in the
following areas : Graphic design and production - Video production -
Multimedia technology - Authoring and Interactive design .
3- We are also looking for the possibility of on-job training at any
professional institution (2-5 weeks) to assist our employees to produce high
quality multimedia materials .
4- We are starting building our image library and are looking for resources
for images that are related to the followings subjects : Banking - information
security - computers - Humer .
5- Our future project for the organization is to develop training by
establishing a training room that uses video tapes ,so we are looking  for
resources of educational video tapes in the following subjects : Economy -
Banking Technology - Computers - Information 
secureity - Management .
Kindly, inform your members of our needs and ask them to send all available
information and mail to the following address :

Mr. Saeed  P.O. Box   56342    Riyadh    11554     Saudi Arabia 

Amazon.com Video offering.
On the eve of what is bound to be the Internet's biggest holiday shopping
season ever, Amazon.com has opened two new stores -- its much-anticipated
video store and a holiday gift store. The Amazon.com video store offers more
than 60,000 theatrical and general-interest videos and more than 2,000 DVDs,
all accompanied by Amazon.com's search features and editorial content, which
allow shoppers to find the video they want at prices up to 30% off. This new
focus on DVDs and videos positions it in a highly competitive market with
Reel.com and NetFlix for the niche market of online movie retailers. 

Contact:   Amazon.com   Web site:   http://www.amazon.com

IDMA Member Pioneer, first to market with 6X  DVD-ROM drive

Pioneer New Media Technologies unveiled a 4.7GB DVD-R drive that includes
4.7GB DVD-RW capabilities, at COMDEX.  Pioneer also showed a DVD-ROM drive
offering six times the speed of first generation DVD-ROM technology and which
supports 32X CD-ROM speed. Compatible with single and dual layer DVD, DVD-R,
CD-ROM and CD-R media, Pioneer's new drive offers random seek times of less
than 90 msec and access times of less than 120 msec for DVD-ROM discs.  For
CD-ROM discs, it provides seek times less than 70 msec and access times less
than 80 msec. 
Available in November 1998 through OEM and distribution channels. The
estimated street price is $150 (ATAPI) and $225 (SCSI). 

Contact :www.pioneerusa.com

A digital VCR for the PC.

STB Systems have unveiled DesktopVCR, an MPEG 1 and MPEG 2 video capture board
that gives computer users unprecedented control over PC-based digital video
recording and editing.   It also acts as a hardware DVD decoder. 
The DesktopVCR combines an onboard TV tuner and DVD player with the ability to
support external video and audio sources, and ties them together with STB's
VisualReality software package.
The DesktopVCR puts the ability to edit DVD-quality video in a cost-effective,
easy-to-use format. Consumers can edit video files they have downloaded to
their hard disk, or display and capture footage from the onboard TV Tuner.
Signals from external video sources can be imported for editing via the
DesktopVCR's composite or S video ports. Footage can be saved to a computer's
hard drive or a DVD RAM drive for editing or playback.  DesktopVCR gives users
the ability to add movie-studio quality special effects to their own videos. 

What may be important to our developer members is the fact that the DesktopVCR
has the ability to decode two simultaneous MPEG 2 streams, adding to the
number of special effects that can be applied to the footage. Two videos can
be tiled and viewed simultaneously or one can be layered over the other for
movie quality transitions. 
(Hey, before you know it they will have two planes, just like CD-i) After the
effects are applied, the new video footage can be saved as a single stream and
played back using the DesktopVCR's MPEG 2 decoder. 
DesktopVCR ships with Intel Intercast software, Asymetrix Digital Video
Producer from Asymetrix and Wavetop from Wavephore. The DesktopVCR is expected
to be available in the first quarter of 1999 and sell for around $200. 

Contact:   STB Systems at www.stb.com

Turn any PC into a theater with new DVD drive

AOpen America has revealed a new third-generation 6X DVD drive, the DVD-9632.
With a maximum data transfer rate of 8,310 Kbps, the DVD-9632 runs faster than
top speeds achieved of a 55X CD-ROM drive. This high of a data transfer rate
minimizes the elapse time between the PC and DVD drive, thus giving users
smooth video and audio playback. The DVD-9632 is compatible with all DVD-
family and major CD-family media, including: DVD-ROM, DVD-R, DVD-movie, CD-DA,
CD-ROM/XA, CD-R, CD-RW, CD-I, video CD, and Photo-CD. This gives users the
option to employ a wide array of media with the drive. Utilizing industry
standards, the drive easily installs through ``plug-n-play'' functions in
Windows 95/98 systems. It can be mounted in either a horizontal or vertical
position, making it compatible with most desktop or minitower PCs. 
The DV-9632 is available now in the U.S. and Canada. The estimated street
price for the drive is $199. 

Contact:   AOpen America  www.aopen.com.tw/usa.htm

Philips expands DVD family.

After spending many months it appears, as a reluctant onlooker, Philips
Electronics introduced its first DVD player for professional applications, the
Philips DVD170. 
Straight away this player becomes different, as it is the only one we know of
that has PAL/NTSC capability. With these unprecedented multi-standard video
capabilities and easy connectivity options for a variety of devices including
computers, touch screens and bar code readers, the Philips DVD170 delivers the
features the professional developers need.
The player is equipped with dual laser pickup, that allows for optimized
playback of all popular CD formats: DVD, VideoCD, and AudioCD. Of particular
importance to professional multimedia developers, the DVD170 also will play
CD-R, CD-RW and DVD-R discs critical to the development process and most
business applications. only The DVD format also can support up to eight
language soundtracks and 32 subtitle languages. 
Another important aspect of the system is that it allows you to customize
player preferences.

Protected mode
            For unattended and public use the player can be put into protected
mode. This disables all controls on the players front panel, including the
open tray function, preventing unauthorized disc exchange.  In combination
with autostart functions it makes the system the best choice for POI/POS kiosk
systems.

Lock-out functions.
            As the product appear more and more in specialized environments we
are faced with customer specific requirements. Our experience with these
requirements have resulted in a system allowing for such customization. Such
modifications could include:

 a. Lock functions to disable playing CD-DA discs 
 b. Lock functions to allow only playing the discs provided for by the
company. 

Data Storage
            The Professional DVD player is equipped with non-volatile RAM
(Random Access Memory) for saving application data. The data written to this
area will be available the next time the application is played or can be used
to transfer data from one disc to another.  This data can be retrieved,
modified or loaded through the control interface.
            The DVD application will be able to set, update and react on the
contents of this non-volatile data. It also allows the logging of data at
various places within the application. This data can be retrieved though the
players RS232 serial interface for data processing or statistical analyze.
Ideal for training or POS applications. 

 Control

For external control this DVD player is equipped with a RS232 serial interface
which supports the following functions:

a. Wired controls such as touch screens and control pads. 
                The standard interface with an automatic recognition protocol
will enable various companies to develop all kinds of specialties such as
special purpose controllers, approach detectors, lightpens and many other
devices 
b. Commands to control the playback of the A/V material. During the playback
progress and status information is available continuously to allow full
external control. Information about the disc which is loaded completes this 
c. Through this interface most of the player functions can be controlled. This
include access to the customizing information and saved data in Non Volatile
memory 
This RS232 serial interface allows an external controlling device to really
control what the DVD player shows on the screen. 

Additional products
            To make this DVD player a perfect match for your Professional
needs, a number of standard functions are available together with a number of
optional products.  These products, designed for Professional applications,
will enable you to install a simple to use reliable system.

Point of purchase applications

Point of purchase systems need to have a suitable display and a sturdy
pointing device. For this we have designed:

a. A wired pointing device designed for integration in a kiosk. 
A special pointing device logic board is available as option for full
integration in a kiosk with custom designed buttons and shapes matching your
kiosk design and application 
b.Touch screens available in various sizes. High impact versions of these
products will meet safety requirements of some application areas 

Background Video 
            Background video for shops, waiting rooms and public places often
have A/V material intermixed with commercial messages and for this application
we have designed a communication unit which allows a point to point or a
point-to-multipoint transmission system for the following functions:

a. Disable/enable discs 
b.Control the playback of the Audio/Videomaterial 
A powerful communication system handling a large number of sites
simultaneously at extremely low transmission costs.

Training applications

>From our experiences with educational applications we have implemented
firmware functions enabling the following features:

 a. Restarting the course at the location where you stopped last time 
 b. Creation of a log-file for analyzing the educational progress 
To enhance printed text with A/V materials from a DVD disc, we have developed
a bar code reader. While reading a bar code, the corresponding part on the
disc is directly displayed.

A bar code wizard (a PC program) is available to create your own set of bar
codes to directly access the selected A/V material on any DVD-video or Video-
CD disc. 

External control

For those applications where the DVD player should be controlled by an
external device, we have a created the Philips CD-i 670 player.

With this player you can add the following features:

a. Control the DVD playback according to more sophisticated concepts 
b. 2 DVD players can be controlled simultaneously 
c. Access to all the DVD player non volatile data. This data can be stored on
a high density removable disc for processing on a PC system or transmitted to
a central site using a Public Switched Telephone Network or an Internet
provider 
d. Keyboard input and printer output to the system 
             
Contact:   Philips Electronics  at www.philipsusa.com

Editorial comment.
Sounds like a winner, all it needs to do now is play DVD Video on CDR.
         
Warner Home Video is promoting DVD's  

During the months of November and December, customers purchasing the Microsoft
Windows 98 operating system at participating retail outlets such as Best Buy
will receive a free Warner Home Video DVD movie. Microsoft customers buying
the Windows 98 program will be able to choose from 10 different Warner Home
Video DVD releases including such hit titles as "L.A. Confidential," "Willy
Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," "U.S. Marshals" and "City of Angels."

EMA multimedia forms strategic alliance with IDMA Member HyperLOCK
technologies to deliver fully encrypted "connected" DVD movies

Los Angeles - In a strategic move designed to capture the budding market for
Web-enhanced DVD movie titles, EMA Multimedia, Inc., announced an agreement
with Chicago-based HyperLOCK Technologies, Inc. to develop and market
HyperDVDô-enabled DVD titles.
"We are pleased to be working with HyperLOCK to accelerate the use of
Web-enabled DVDs," said Michael A. Pace, CEO and creative director for EMA
Multimedia, Inc.  "Movie studios are beginning to see the value of adding an
online component to their DVD movie titles, and our alliance with HyperLOCK
positions us as the premier provider of secure DVD hybrids."

"EMA is the proven leader in the DVD movie arena," said Ken Park, vice
president of New Media business development at HyperLOCK.  "This partnership
enables us to marry our state-of-the-art 'encrippling' technologies with EMA's
award-winning DVD authoring expertise, positioning EMA as the leading one-stop
resource for the development of connected DVD movie titles."

HyperLOCK's HyperDVDô technology enables movie studios to embed full-motion
video and audio content into their branded movie Web sites.
This allows even  narrowband consumers to experience instantaneous playback of
exclusive, high-quality multimedia content.  HyperLOCK makes this possible as
the majority of the file is streaming from the user's DVD-ROM drive.  As a
result, the user can unlock movie trailers, exclusive interviews and even
entire movies as an added value to their DVD purchase. 

HyperLOCK's patented "encrippling" technology protects the exclusive content
on the DVD from piracy, thus creating powerful new opportunities for online
pay-per-view, time-released Web programming, and video-on-demand products.
With HyperDVDô technology, movie studios can now leverage the extra real
estate on a DVD to drive users to their branded movie Web sites, while at the
same time creating new revenue streams and greatly enhancing the user
experience.

With 50 million DVD-ROM drives expected in the marketplace by the end of 1999
(as opposed to only five million DVD players), connectivity and the addition
of added-value content quickly becomes an essential element of DVD releases
industry-wide.  Staying ahead of trends in connectivity, EMA has included Web
links and added-value content on HBO's recent DVD release of its acclaimed
13-part series, "From the Earth to the Moon."

"Besides the usual bells and whistles consumers expect from a DVD movie,
studios can now offer bonus features with connected DVDs to create new revenue
streams," Pace said. "For example, the next 'Lethal Weapon' DVD could also
offer the first 'Lethal Weapon' movie as a kind of double feature, which can
be unlocked only via the Web. Taking advantage of HyperDVD's electronic
commerce and video-on-demand applications, the DVD user could 'rent' the extra
movie anytime by paying with a credit card online."

Web-connected DVDs also enable movie studios to repurpose content never before
released on DVD and create high-quality "advertorial" content on their Web
sites to motivate one-click impulse buying.   Two-dimensional banner ads can
be replaced with full-motion television spots, greatly expanding the
advertising models the Web currently offers.

HyperLOCK Technologies, please contact the company at (847) 673-6200 or
visit the Web site at http://www.hyperlock.com

About the Interactive Digital Media Association.

The members of the IDMA are all professional multimedia developers.  
Among these members are experts in every facet of Interactive Digital Media.  
Our member's clients include most of the top corporations, in both Europe and
North America. 
Between them, they hold the key to success in this very competitive market
place.
The members of IDMA specialize in developing for Television Based Platforms,
such as 
WEB-DVD, Interactive-DVD, VideoCD, CD-I and Panasonic's M2 multimedia player.
Successful developing for Television Based Multimedia requires years of
training and experience.  Our members offer both this experience and also
access to their clients, through the relation ships and trust they have built
up over the years.  They have a  proven track record!
If you are a professional developer, in the fields of Training, Marketing or
Kiosks, then you should be a member.  Having the IDMA Logo on your notepaper
makes a statement.
If you supply products and services  such as, Authoring software, Disc
replication, Video encoding or Playback equipment, then your company should be
a Sponsor of the IDMA.  
Our members can be your largest and most experienced sales force.  The best
part, you don't have to pay them.  They will be the ones who recommend the
platform to the client.
Being close to the IDMA, helps make sure it is your product or service, they
recommend.
If you are just determining which products to purchase.  Who's services to
use, the capability of developers and most important the most cost effective
platform to use, then you should consult the IDMA.  The Association has a
library of over 2,000 examples of our member's work.
The IDMA serves as a source of information and help for potential users of
WEB-DVD, Interactive-DVD, DVD-Video, Internet, M2, CD-i, Video CD, Plug & play
CD-ROM, Web TV, Set Top Boxes and other Television-Based Multimedia.
The IDMA represents the largest and most influential group of Multimedia
developers with access to most of the important corporations in North America
and Europe.     
IDMA Mission Statement
The IDMA will provide both a Support Group and an Industry Association for the
next generation of Interactive Digital Media Developers and their clients.
They will provide an unbiased source of information on the various new
Interactive Digital Media platforms, their authoring software, players and
peripherals. 
They will help and assist multimedia developers with the transition from their
present media's to the next generation of Interactive Digital Media.
They will provide potential clients with a source of unbiased advice and
information on which to base their choice of Multimedia platform, enabling
them to select the most appropriate platform for the best results.
They will also encourage the continued convergence of the present media in the
interests of their members.
Types of Memberships
All members will receive a copies of 'Plug & Play,' our E-mail newsletter
which contains information of help and interest to our members.
A listing on the IDMA web-site with direct link to the members own web-sites
or e-mail address 
and a password which will in future give them access to the protected parts of
the web-site.
Members may have information published in 'Plug & Play' free of charge.
The IDMA will provide Booth space for members at several important
Exhibitions.  
A charge is made for this service, on a cost only basis.
Members have access to leading experts on the new Interactive Digital Media's
for information and answers to questions.
Members have access to most leading suppliers through the association and
normally are aware of developments before they become general knowledge.
Corporate members have in addition access to our members through the IDMA
member's mailing list and our database.
Corporate members will be listed as sponsors at shows and conferences, and
they may have their logos on the IDMA web-site.
Cost of Memberships
Cost of Corporate membership is Minimum $1,000 per year.    Full membership is
$250 per year






Thanks Kinetic!

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