Louis: Hello and welcome to the Site Point podcast. We’re back with the panel show this week to discuss some new stories and events from around the world of web design and development. With me on the show today are Patrick and Steven. Hi guys.
Stephan: Yep, how are you?
Patrick: Hey, how’s it going?
Louis: Kevin Dees could not make it this week but we will carry on in his absence.
Patrick: Yes, Kevin was actually showing me around Minecraft the other day.
Louis: Oh, all right. Are you dead to the world now?
Patrick: He got lost. I threw you guys right off the bat with that one. Yeah we did a screen share on Skype and he was showing me his server he had set up for Minecraft. It’s pretty cool. My little brother’s playing it on his iPod, and it’s like a pretty neat thing. It reminded me of some things that I played in the past. I’m not an old man per se.
Louis: You’re such an old man Patrick.
Patrick: But I am older than Kevin. And it reminded me of Runescape in some elements. Even Sim City to some extent. But it’s a pretty cool game. I don’t know if you guys have played around with it at all.
Louis: Yeah, I did very briefly. I only played locally, not on a server and at that, only for a few hours. I kind of put it aside and never got back to it. But it was definitely interesting and it’s captivated a lot of people’s imaginations, so it’s an interesting development in gaming. I like the fact that it’s just a purely open world kind of thing and really focuses on letting you just build whatever you want to build.
Patrick: You know it’s funny, to give you an inside into my mindset. One of the questions I’m asking him when he starts showing me and he’s on this server he has with a friend and I’m well can the other person destroy what you built? He’s like yeah. That’s like one of my first questions. And he’s like, yeah they can but that’s why I have my own server with my friend. We built things and we built all these little traps and stuff, and yeah it’s pretty cool. But that’s my mindset. It’s wait a minute, can this person come to what I just built and change it? So, I’m very protective.
Louis: All right, on that note. I don’t have a segue, unfortunately Kevin, the master of the segues isn’t with us so I think we’ll just have to jump willy nilly from story to story.
Patrick: It’s time to mine some stories.
Louis: What’s that?
Stephan: It’s time to mine some stories.
Louis: Oh, oh
Patrick: Oh, Oh. Yeah, not good, not good.
Louis: That was a little rough.
Stephan: You know like you mine data and you mine databases.
Louis: Oh, oh.
Stephan: Do we have database news this week?
Louis: There we go. You did it.
Stephan: Hold your applause
Louis: Well as Patrick hinted, my story this week is the release of Post ReSQueL 9.2. Now I know Patrick probably has never had a reason to use Post ReSQueL but Steven have you used it before?
Patrick: Yeah, I used it actually at my last job. I liked it a lot.
Louis: Yeah, I’ve just had the occasion to really Digg into it for the first time quite recently. I had used it before on a Drupal project some years ago, but never really actually paid much attention to the database and really never did anything that wouldn’t have been possible with MySQL. But on our latest projects we’ve been doing a couple of little experiments that are hosted on Heroku and Heroku’s sort of default database servers are Post ReSQueL databases, so decided to have a play around. At one point I was trying to denormalize out some lines of data and come up with a way of storing it on the database. I’m like, what would be great is if I could put a whole series of numbers in one field of the database, because otherwise I need this massive set of relational tables that are 50 columns wide. And one of my coworkers was like you can use an array type in Post ReSQ, there’s an array type. I’m like oh that looks interesting. It was exactly what was required for the job at hand.
So that’s kind of one of the reasons I was really excited to see that there’s a new version that includes some new data types including, most interestingly to me, a range data type; which lets you define sort of a range. Let me explain what’s meant by that. So in one column I can say that it stores a range of dates for example. It could also be a range of integers or a range of timestamps or decimals. But let’s say I decide that I want to store the range from, let’s go with some dates that are current so it’ll make sense. So from Monday the 3rd of September at 10:00 am to Wednesday the 5th of September at 11:00 am, and that’s just a range stored in one field of the database. Then you have the ability to query on that. To queary, oh you know, join in comments where the time created is in that range. Which is a really nice piece of flexibility and I mean, it’s not useful for every project but when you need a specific data type, trying to mess around and fake it by having a separate one for start date and end date and then have to use a bunch of operators is a little clunky. Yes some really cool stuff. Also a lot of performance improvements as well.
Stephan: Yeah, I was just looking at this range thing that you brought up. It actually allows unbounded ranges too so it can go out to infinity. That’s kind of cool.
Louis: All right.
Stephan: That’s pretty neat. Or you can start from, you can have it so that you have a higher range. So, let’s say it’s next week, next week’s date but then you want everything from before that you can leave the lower range’s value blank. Which is kind of neat, so like from the beginning of time give me everything. It’s kind of cool.
Louis: Yeah, this is from the documentation, the operators that are available for playing with ranges and it includes things like finding whether the ranges are adjacent to each other, whether they extend entirely to the left or entirely to the right, whether they overlap, whether an element is contained within the range, whether another range is contained within the range. So, if your project has a need for this kind of stuff, I can say from my limited recent experience, that being able to have a data type that really accurately reflects what you’re trying to do is much, much more convenient than trying to fake it with a bunch of other relational tables.
Stephan: Yeah, this is cool, especially if they’ve done some improvements to get the speed up a little bit. Because I think, it’s been my biggest experience with not using Post ReSQuel. That people that I’ve talked to are, well it’s just slower. We can use my sequel for what we’re doing and it’s faster, the selects are faster. So if they can get the performance to that type of level, that speed, then I think more people are going to use this because this is much more powerful than anything that MySQL’s got, and especially with all the Oracle stuff going on right now.
Louis: Yeah. I can give you a one word argument against using MySQL and that argument is Oracle.
Stephan: Exactly, so this is huge. I’m actually thinking about doing a couple projects coming up in the next couple weeks so I might just have to pick Post ReSQueL up and do it.
Louis: Yeah, it’s been a lot of fun. It’ll be cool to see once it gets out into the wild a bit and people can really provide more real world evaluations of the speed. Because just in numbers in the announcement post seem pretty impressive from a performance standpoint. Some of the things they’re mentioning here is that it is capable of handling up to 350,000 read queries per second, which apparently is a 4x improvement in speed and a 5x improvement in the number of writes per second. So if those numbers are actually born out by real world use, than that could definitely address that issue if people have been experiencing that.
Stephan: Yeah and it looks like they’ve done some scaling stuff as well and it can actually now do cascading replication which is pretty cool if you need to scale your servers for load, the slaves can now replicate themselves.
Louis: Oh right
Stephan: Which is great.
Louis: Does that go on infinitely? Can i just, can I construct, I’m sorry this is such a
Louis: An irrelevant comment but yeah can I just create an infinite chain of replicating slaves?
Stephan: As long as you’ve got the servers to back it up yeah, I don’t see why not.
Louis: Awesome. No it’s just all replication all the way down.
Stephan: This is great news though. I think it really helps Post ReSQ’s case to getting out into more of the smaller markets since it is open source. I think that’ s really been the holdouts. It’s been the word press and things because people know how to set up a MySQL database because it’s so simple.
Stephan: I think that this is a huge start to trying to get that out there. Maybe us talking about it will get some more people using it, hopefully
Louis: Yeah. Definitely and it is interesting to know how MySQL has been so much of a default for so long. Even from early PHP development into rails and everything. It’s just sort of, it’s there and it’s automatic and it’s easy. But setting up Post ReSQueL is not particularly tricky. The way it uses users by default everything is scoped to within a specific system user so it’s a little tricky to get a hang of, but once you get a hang of it there’s a lot of power in there and people should definitely check it out if they haven’t.
Stephan: Yeah and a lot of shared hosts actually have Post ReSQueL but they don’t announce it so.
Stephan: If you have a shared host and want to use it just contact your host, they should be able to set you up.
Patrick: Actually you guys mentioned the Oracle issue of MySQL and that made me want to ask, is Post ReSQuel, is it your preferred MySQL alternative? I know there are some others out there, MariaDB isn’t floated around quite a bit because of Monty’s affiliation with it but is Post ReSQueL your preferred alternative?
Q:In my case definitely. Like I said I hadn’t have much experience with it until recently but the experience that I have had has been extremely positive. It’s widespread enough that it was easy for me to find an adapter for active records so I didn’t have to do any monkey patching myself to get it working with rails. Like I said, it’s got a lot more features and a lot more data types than MySQL, and when you need one of those features it can make your life a lot easier. So yeah, I’ve been very impressed.
A:Yeah, I think it really depends what you’re trying to do Patrick. If you’re looking for a lightweight database to just host some blog posts or something, I think MariaDB is probably the best lightweight out there right now, because it’s basically just a drop in replacement for MySQL, right. That’s the way I’ve read it. But I think, if you’re trying to do something that’s larger, that needs a lot of scalability, that needs, like Louie said, that needs more of the data types then definitely Post ReSQuel. That’s what I go to.
Patrick: Excellent. Good answers.
Stephan: That’s actually why I used it at my last job, was because we were doing a lot of heavy duty financial type queries and Post ReSQueL has a lot of that built in which is useful, and it doesn’t cost as much as Oracle.
Louis: Sounds good
Patrick: We talked recently on this show about Betaworks buying the, I guess the assets, the skeleton of Digg, because there were multiple parties that took different pieces, but when it comes to the Digg brand that was acquired by a company named Betaworks and they said that at that time that they would allow people to download their Digg archives and I found through a Site Point podcast listener, Chris Trynkiewicz(SP) that they had done so and they’ve made it pretty easy to use. Digg.com/archive. I know probably a lot of our listeners used to use Digg, and now you can just enter your email address, your user name and they will send you an archive of your Digg activity, your submissions, your Diggs,your comments, your saved articles. And they have partnered with a couple companies that they say will help you work with your data, KITT, which is a free service and then Pinboard which is a pay service, neither of which I use. But, yeah I think this is interesting for a couple of reasons. I think it’s a reasonable model I guess in some way to follow for sites like this that get acquired and don’t necessarily want to follow the same path and just allow people to download their data. I think that’s a pretty good thing. It’s something that should be modeled so, I think this is a pretty good move and I don’t know that there’s a lot to discuss there but I just like the move by Betaworks.
Louis: Yeah, I’m very impressed. I think especially partnering with a few of the other, I don’t want to say competitors, but a few of the other options out there for sort of, storing links and stories, and providing you a way to just easily pull your data out of Digg and put it into there is great. Also just showing some kind of commitment to obviously the amount of work and the amount of time that people had spent building up all of their submissions and information in Digg.
Patrick: Yeah, and they’ve also, I don’t know if you guys have taken a look at the new Digg.com homepage, it’s kind of a popular stories around the web sort of thing. I haven’t really played too much with it, you can submit a link. I don’t know how open it is opposed to how the old Digg was. But it seemed like they have numbers that are tied to Facebook, Twitter and Dig. Like the top story right now has 4 Digs, 240 Tweets and 131 Facebook likes so maybe pulling into some of that social web data, but hey it’s good to see the brand move on and for them to try something new.
Q:Yeah it certainly looks good. It definitely looks more interesting to me than Digg did towards the end, where it was very cluttered and had all kinds of sort of junky stories. These look like a set of fairly serious stories.
Patrick: You mean like 7 ways to groom you man-stash.
Patrick: You mean like that sort of stuff?
Louis: Are you looking at the same page as I am. Oh are you talking about the old Digg.
Patrick: No, I’m talking about the old Dig. You said junky story so I don’t know.
Louis: Well yeah, exactly
Patrick: That was sort of an example, one that came to mind.
Louis: Yeah, I mean that’s pretty much what Digg was all about towards the end anyway.
Patrick: No, I’m looking at the new Digg because it’s tailored to me and my manliness. No, I’m sorry, I was talking about the old Dig.
Louis: It’s just occurred to me, sorry on a totally separate note, it’s just occurred to me that I didn’t think about it at all when Digg disappeared because I hadn’t used it forever, but then when I came to this Digg archive and it said enter email address and user name I was like, oh what’s my user name on Digg, and then it occurred to me that Digg was the only site where I couldn’t get the RSSaddict user name, where it was already taken when I got there. So that’s it, now I own it, 100%.
Patrick: Wow. Victory. Hey,victory delayed is still victory, apparently.
Louis: Yeah, it took some time. It’s a terrible user name though, I don’t know why I stick with it.
Patrick: It’s very descriptive of you. You’re a RSS Addict.
Patrick: Actually, you know, let’s pause for just a second; because I was trying to see if I could get my Digg archive and I already submitted the request awhile ago but then it wouldn’t go. So I was just seeing what it sent exactly. Let me see if it’s being held up in spamming, Google.
Louis: Your Digg archive request. Download your archive.
Patrick: Yes, it was in spammed. Good job Google. Well played.
Louis: So looking at it here, you can import it into KITT. You can, with Pinboard that doesn’t just import it directly via the web but you can download the file then create a Pinboard account and then go to Pinboard and import it. And you can download a JSON file of all of your stuff or a CSV file which would have to be individually either your Diggs, your submits, your comments or your saves. But you can get it as RAW, JSON or CSV. So you can get it in a really raw format if you want to have direct access to it if you want to play with it yourself. Or, you know, somehow set it up in your own website then you’re free to do so, which is great. Like I was saying, I think this approach to data owner-shipping, especially in a post acquisition I think every website should always provide you with an ability to export your stuff but to do so even after sort of they’ve gone away is a really nice gesture to users, and I think something that a lot more websites should take heed of.
Patrick: Yeah I just got my email and I looked at it and it takes you to this page where you can just go ahead and immediately import through just a link to those two services and you can also download it, like you said to JSON and then CSV files. So I have my Digg history. It’s like in the movie The Jerk with Steve Martin, the new phone books are here. My Digg history is here. It’s like really, I’m not even sure what I would want to do with it but I’m just going to go ahead and download it and let it burn a hole in my hard drive until I die.
Louis: That’s certainly one way of putting it. Yeah, I mean obviously in the case of Dig, I personally didn’t use it that much and I don’t think there’s much in there that I would be super interested in but there are definitely other things where if Twitter was going away tomorrow I would absolutely want a copy of all my Tweets. Just because I’ve posted so much stuff and there’s a lot of history in there.
Louis: So there are things definitely that I think would have value and the ability to have those export tools is a very, very good one.
Stephan: Let’s talk a little bit about Paypal. They have a new president and based on some recent correspondence with him and some high profile internet personalities, things are looking better at Paypal I would say. Something that happened recently is Elliot J Stocks who I believe is a Site Point author.
Stephan: Had his funds frozen on Paypal. And he wrote good riddance, he wrote a blog post, Good Riddance Paypal, and kind of gave a spiel of what had happened and about 24 hours after he posted it he received a phone call telling him that he could access his funds and so the new president, David Marcus, wrote a note on, I guess the Paypal blog and it was in response to what Elliot J Stocks had experienced. Just kind of like a, hey look we’re changing the way we do business. We’re changing our culture internally and if we’re bad at something, we’re going to own up to it and he wants to make the company great again. So it’s a good start to what was really a terrible story of having funds frozen and so I wanted to get your guys take on this because I think it’s good news for Paypal, I think it’s good news for the money transaction business on the Internet.
Patrick: I mean, so you always hear those Paypal horror stories, right? And I don’t know if you guys have any or not, but I myself don’t, and I’ve used Paypal for many years and paid for, I don’t know, a thousand ebay items, I’m probably afraid to say. I’ve taken payments for different things I’ve sold like advertising on my websites, and I haven’t had any kind of major horror stories. But, of course, we all know someone who has and we all know the websites that are out there. So Paypal has kind of, they have sort of an iffy name, I think it’s fair to say, especially in certain circles of merchants and of certain industries like events for example. It’s not a new thing, it’s been going on for awhile. So I think some people have this built in dislike of Paypal and I found this story interesting. His response to Stocks, which was at Hacker News and then his response to Andy McMillan of the Build Conference, and it’s refreshing. I think it’s a good approach, I think it’s a good example of good communication in these circumstances. Of course as he says, kind of beating us to our own point, is that the emails, the messages don’t really mean anything, action does. And he’s going to take these stories and use them to change things internally. Now will that happen, I don’t know. But I was fascinated by the story and also his very public and seemingly very candid responses.
Louis: Yeah, that’s certainly interesting. As you said you hear so much about people’s experiences with Paypal and in a lot of cases it’s just really hard situations involving either charities or events; where things just fall apart because Paypal puts a freeze on an account incorrectly. As far as I’m concerned, I appreciate this openness and as you said the candid way that he’s gone about these communications, but if I was going to start a new project tomorrow I think I would still definitely look for an alternative first and definitely wait to see how these changes actually are implemented in the organization, right. You have to kind of wait and see whether he can actually change the culture to a sufficient degree that people start having good experiences and really talking up good experiences with Paypal.
Stephan: Yeah, I think that’s fair to say. Actually my one biggest issue with Paypal ever was a dispute on an item I bought on Ebay. It was a magazine I bought and I wanted it because it had an image I might want to frame on it or something and in the picture it didn’t have a mailing label on it, when I got it it did. So I wasn’t happy about that and the seller wouldn’t do anything about it so I reached out to Paypal because it wasn’t as described, and they wouldn’t give me my money back. But I contacted my credit card and they gave me my money back. So in the end, all’s well that ends well. But that’s my horror story.
Patrick: Quite horrible
Stephan: It’s one of those cases where time will tell what this really means for Paypal.
B:Yeah and this David Marcus, he’s the president of Paypal. According to his LinkedIn profile, he’s been there since April and previously he was the founder of a company called Zong, which is a mobile payment provider that was acquired by Ebay and Paypal so that’s sort of his in to that company you could say. Then also an adviser to a company called Punchd, which was acquired by Google. So, kind of a serial entrepreneur type I guess. It’s interesting when those sorts of types end up at established companies that are owned by bigger companies. So maybe something will change or maybe he’ll get stifled during the process but it will be interesting to watch nonetheless. And this time I’m the buttoner so. Have you ever seen that clip about thescene buttoner, what’s his name, on CSI Miami. Ever scene that YouTube clip? Jim Carey making fun of
Patrick: Yeah, Caruso. And how he buttons the scene, that’s what he calls it, because he puts his glasses and he walks away and the music plays
Stephan: Yeah, right.
Patrick: We need our own music like that, yeah, after we end a story, that’s it, it’s buttoned, next.
Louis: Good times. But I think that is all of the stories that we had for this week. Did you want to dive into some host spotlights?
Patrick: Let’s do it. I’ll go first. I found this product recently, it’s not a new product but it was recently discovered. And as the saying goes, if I haven’t seen it, it’s new to me. This is the case.
Louis: That’s not a saying that was a marketing slogan
Patrick: Yeah, well it was also on Family Guy. Yeah it’s a saying now. It’s very deep. But well, it’s called the Hyperkin SUPABOY Portable Pocket SNES controller. What this beautiful thing is it’s a portable player for Super Nintendo games, and it doesn’t just stop there though. It’s not just something you hold in your hand with a screen. It’s got controller ports on it and AV out. So you could plug this into your TV and plug real controllers into it and play Super Nintendo games through this handheld device, it doesn’t stop there either. It’s also compatible with Super Famicom games. And wait there’s more.
Louis: What are you Ron Popeil now?
Patrick: And wait there’s more. It’s even compatible with peripherals like the super scope and the super multitap, of which I had one. So yeah, I just thought it was really fun and I love things like this, so that’s my spotlight. It’s $79.99. So not cheap but not enormously expensive either and you can get it from Amazon and it ships directly from Amazon and this company Hyperkin makes weird monster mutant gaming consoles that play NES, SNES and Genesis games, all at the same time so they are doing some interesting things with retro gaming.
Stephan: Only Patrick
Patrick: That’s Patrick.
Stephan: I’ll go next
Patrick: OK, Steven.
Stephan: I have something that’s completely unrelated to web development or gaming. It’s kind of like a video narrated tour of New York’s A train. And the only reason this is relevant to me, at least is, I actually rode their A train just recently. I had to go out to JFK airport. The A train goes out to JFK airport. So I thought it was kind of an interesting ride. You see a lot of people especially during rush hour going home from Manhattan through Brooklyn and it was kind of funny to watch this and listen to this and see the photographs of the history of the train and kind of what I experienced on the train. It was a lot of fun and it kind of matched what I experienced so it’s cool to watch. It’s 5 minutes, 6 minutes long, so if you have time just watch it. It’s an interesting look at a train in New York that’s been around for a really long time. And it’s a 30 mile long train ride. It’s one of those neat little tidbits of info that you know you don’t see anywhere else.
Louis: Cool. We’ll definitely check that out. So my spotlight for this week. This might be a first in the history of the SitePoint podcast and it’s a little unconventional but my spotlight this week is a book. Like an actual book with pages that you read.
Patrick: Published by SitePoint
Louis: No, not published by SitePoint. Come on, man.
Patrick: I’m just kidding.
Louis: Yes so this is a book called “Year Zero” by Rob Reid. I just finished reading it this week and I thought listeners might appreciate it. It’s a pretty goofy science fiction comedy type of book. Rob Reid, the author, was the founder of Listen.com., which eventually created the Rhapsody digital music service. And he’s written a book. It’s his first novel. I guess in the same style as The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy in that it’s just very goofy science fiction. The basic premise of the book is that they’re aliens out there. They’ve been monitoring our species and they’ve become really enamored with human music to the extent that their obsessed with it and they listen to human music all the time. And then they suddenly realize that as a by-product of the copyright law that prevails on Earth they owe humanity all of the wealth in the galaxy because they’ve been listening to our music illegally for decades. And all the adventures that come out of that. Interesting concept, a lot of cheeky parody of music and copyrights and stuff like that, so I thought listeners might enjoy this one. There’s a trailer of the book on YouTube, which I will send.
Patrick: Very cool. There’s also some sort of video on the Amazon page too I noticed. So, video everywhere that’s a very interesting concept, pretty funny. I think there’s opportunity there for laughter. So thanks for sharing. I like books. I don’t know if I ever spotlighted one or not. I’ve written two, so I kind of like the idea of books. No, I was actually talking about this with someone recently about how they by a lot of ebooks but they keep all their books. I’m ind of, I don’t know how you feel about it. Did you ebook this or did you get the print?
Patrick: OK. Is that how you do all your reading?
Louis: Yep. Print is dead to me.
Stephan: Print is dead.
Patrick: Sure it is. But I like the idea of paper books. I like having paper books. I like reading paper books. But yeah, obviously if you can get 50 million books on your reading device than it’s insanely convenient.
Louis: It’s a couple of things. It’s almost..
Patrick: Don’t say the dead tree thing.
Louis: No, no, whatever. It takes, don’t get me started.
Patrick: You wish there weren’t leaves to blow around.
Louis: Exactly. I guess part of it is just ease of acquisition. If I’m watching
Louis: TV and some guys getting interviewed about his book and he seems smart, right.
Patrick: If he’s fooled you, yes.
Louis: Exactly. But I can just bring up my phone or whatever and buy the book and start reading it in 5 minutes which is huge to me.
Louis: And also the books are less expensive. So I find myself less concerned if something, if there’s a new release out that I really want to read, spending $30 or $40 on the hardback is probably not hard to justify, but if the ebook is $10 than yeah, easy, done, I’ll read it. Anyway
Patrick: Very good.
Louis: And also I’ve been moving around a lot the last few years. I’ve lived in, I think 4 different cities in the last 10 years, and then moved a lot within Melbourne. I just hate the idea, and I’ve told people, I keep using the same joke, you’re sitting there with your moving truck outside and you’re looking at all your stuff in boxes and all of the boxes of books are in one corner, right? And all of those boxes of books collectively take up about 8 square feet and weigh 500 lbs, and you think to yourself, that’s probably like a GB of data.
Patrick: That’s a very good point
Louis: And then you spend the next 4 hours sweating and carrying these things upstairs and, yeah, anyway. At one point it just got to me and I left them all back home in Canada, and I’ve been ebook-ing ever since.
Patrick: Very good.
Louis: So that’s all for the show this week. Let’s quickly go around the table.
Patrick: I am Patrick O’Keefe of the iFroggy network I blog at managingcommunities.com on Twitter at @ifroggy I-F-R-O-G-G-Y
Stephan: I’m Steven Segraves, you can find me on Twitter at @ssegraves and I blog occasionally at badice.com
Louis: And I’m Lou Cimino, you can find me on Twitter at @RSSaddict. You can find Site Point on Twitter at @Sitpointdotcom. Sitepoint D-O-T-C-O-M. You can find the podcast on the web at sitepoint.com/podcast. All our episodes are there. You can leave a comment and you can find our RSS feed as well. You can find us on iTunes of course, and you can email us, email@example.com. Thanks for listening and I believe Patrick, you’ve got an interview scheduled for next week.
Louis: Don’t want to give too much away but stay tuned next week, Patrick will be bringing you an in depth interview, and then we’ll be back with the panel show the week after that. Thanks for listening everybody and bye for now.
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