Category Archives: Internet

Oh Korean Internets!

Assiniboine

As much as I love that Korea has the fastest and most ubiquitous Internet access in the world, it is ironic how so much of Korea is doing the Internet wrong. Let me illustrate that with my past experience with ordering stuff through Amazon to be sent to the country.

First off, for some odd regulation, Amazon cannot send anything to Korea that are not books, DVDs, or CDs. Already, that sours the experience. Then a few years back, it became a new regulation for people to have a Uni-Pass ID to be able to order anything from Amazon. So I went and tried to get a Uni-Pass ID.

First off, in order to get a Uni-Pass ID or certificate, I have to register as a receiver of goods through customs. Now, one would assume that this would be foreigner-friendly and would have English on the custom’s Website. It doesn’t. Everything is in Korean. Not only that, I have to download and install a security software in order to go forward.

Registering my name, address and postal code proved to be a minor challenge. Seoul has recently changed its postal code system as well as its address system. This is something that mystifies even the Korean population as many don’t even know their own address under the current system.

I manage to successfully register at customs, but NO, I still don’t have my Uni-Pass ID. That’s another application I have to go through. One would assume that the only reason a person would register at customs was to get the ID, but I guess that would be too simple and obvious. In any case, I had to download another security program in order apply for my ID. Like the first program, this one didn’t have English, but worse, the Korean text on the menus won’t even show up properly on a machine running English Windows. I had to get help from a coworker who’s familiar with it.

Everything went well, including authenticating my phone and my carrier information, until BAM! It won’t let me get any further. I repeated the process a couple more times and still it won’t let me go further. And then I realized I was using Google Chrome. Korea is still very much wedded to Internet Explorer in 2017, including Active-X, so I had to repeat the process using Internet Explorer and then it finally worked. I got my ID.

Went to Amazon, ordered my books, and hopefully it will arrive soon. Hopefully! Some foreigners report that despite going through the whole process, their packages end up getting stuck at the postal office. When they call and inquire about it, the postal service workers ask them for their alien card number, something which all foreigners have here. Now, if that’s all that they needed, why make people go through the whole Uni-Pass process?! It’s just another system of which they can track my activities which the government already does with my passport and alien card number. What’s the point of all of this?!

The Korean Internet experience is great if you’re not doing any transactions with Korean sites or institutions. If you are, get ready to install a bunch of software you don’t need, do your business using Internet Explorer, and have an hour or two handy. It’s the most ironic situation for a country that’s so hip to the whole Internet.

Oh and if you ever want pornography, use a VPN to access sites. The Korean government has hired Christian watchdog groups to police Internet content, making many sites inaccessible without a VPN. Ironically, this means only members of these Christian watchdog groups ever get to enjoy pornography freely (and an unhealthy amount of it, if that’s what they’ve been tasked to devote their time on).

Update: If you want to modify or distribute modified games, you could face fines of up to $50,000 in South Korea. I guess this is to cut down on massive cheating on online games, which I would argue there are worse problems out there that needs legislators’ attention. If anything, I think this is just to protect the integrity of e-sports and companies profiting off of e-sports, because really, how is anyone supposed to police this? And what kind of legislator sits there and wonders about modifying games? That’s a big leap from stodgy legislators raging over violence in video games.

If I happen to modify an old copy of Super Mario, will that get me fined and how are they supposed to catch me? And what about say those Jamma carts with pre-loaded games? A lot of those have, by definition, unlicensed modified games. Are those technically illegal now? And what about trainer programs that aren’t really designed for online use? Again, pretty dumb Internet in South Korea.

 

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No Facebook, No.

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A good friend of mine contacted me on Facebook and showed me our Facebook anniversary notification. Apparently, we have been Facebook friends for ten years, and it showed some highlights and some stats regarding our interaction on the platform. It’s a good attempt from Facebook to get people to start using their platform again, although it’s a bit too obvious. I’ve long abandoned my Facebook page. I only use it to keep in touch with family members via the messenger app. I don’t think seeing my history with the platform would really entice me to go back to using it as much as I used to.

I just finished listening to the latest ‘The Hidden Brain’ episode (Schadenfacebook). It explores what I already read about years ago and what I’ve come to belief for a long time now, the more I use social networking platform, the more depressed I become. The show basically says that Facebook gets its users to curate their life, create a show for their friends and family to see. It creates or amplifies this need to appear happy, or at least happier than your friends. Also, the fear of missing out and constantly checking on the experiences of your friends diminishes your own current experiences. You could be traveling in some exotic locale, but the joy from the experience is dulled should you see that your friends on Facebook or doing something else together, even if it’s something as mundane as meeting up for coffee. Instead of enjoying your current experience, your mind is somewhere else, either wishing to be a part of your friends’ experience, or thinking of ways to one-up their experience with your own post.

Basically, Facebook is bad news. It gets you depressed. It turns you into a smaller person. The more depressed you are, the more active you become at the site. And the thing is, you end up competing with people who are probably just as depressed as you are.

Amazingly, one of the most cynical companies whose product is basically preying on people’s ego and making people less fulfilled in the process is one of the richest companies in the world. Good job, Mark!

Facebook started out great. I get to see some friends from back home. I get to reconnect with some people who I’ve long lost touch with. But I also get to see some old romances and basically enjoy how bad their life has become or how their looks have deteriorated since I left them. It is basically a tool that helps me with my ego, telling me that I’ve made the right decisions in life. And while I can only say that about my own experience, I’m pretty sure that’s what motivates many people on the site too. They might as well call the site LookAtHowBadMyExIsDoingTheseDays.com. So yeah, jealousy, depression, unnecessary competitiveness, ego… it’s like Facebook was designed by the devil himself.

So yeah, while I love that friend of mine who recently contacted me (I love him like a brother), I won’t be coming back. Nice try, Facebook. I’m depressed enough as it is.

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On Chelsea Manning, Whistleblowers, and Circuses

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President Obama just commuted Chelsea Manning’s sentence and she’ll be out in spring. This is good. What she did was heroic and she exposed a crime which the United States was committing. She was sentenced excessively compared to many whistleblowers before her, this despite essentially admitting to all charges and facing the consequences head on in a plea bargain without any real bargaining. As for Snowden and Assange, I tend to be more on the side of the United States when it comes to explaining the difference between Manning and the likes of Snowden and Assange. Chelsea Manning faced the consequences of her actions. As much as I appreciate what Snowden did, he eventually escaped to Russia. What he did was courageous, and he was definitely facing a world of torture if he stayed in the United States, but he didn’t really face the consequence of his actions. It would be very hard for the US Justice Department to pardon someone who flagrantly escaped justice. Maybe it’s the cruel Roman Catholic in me, but it’s very hard to make a saint out of someone, when they didn’t suffer martyrdom.

And as for Assange, he is currently not facing any charges from the United States. He is hiding in an embassy from rape charges. They could very well be drummed-up charges designed to silence the founder of Wikileaks or perhaps influence the media outlet, but the recent actions of Wikileaks already has me and other people suspecting that government powers have already influenced Wikileaks. (Notice how Hillary Clinton’s e-mails have essentially stopped leaking after the election?) His recent reneging of his offer to go to the US and face any charges once Chelsea Manning was set free also shows what type of character Assange is. I’m with Christopher Hitchens on Assange, he is an “unscrupulous megalomaniac with a political agenda.” Sure, some of the information from Wikileaks has been very important for freedom of the press, but for Wikileaks to somehow positions itself above all scrutiny and somehow act as the bastion of all truth-telling, it makes it all the more useful tool for political manipulation be it from Assange or other forces.

And really, God help the people victimized by powerful men, regardless of political affiliation. If the rape allegations against Assange happen to be true, imagine being one of the victims seeing Assange’s face on television. I have a problem with people facing accusations and later dealing with the stigma of being a rapist. This is why I never bought in to the Mattress Girl and her campaign. But I also have a problem with people skirting the justice system and not settling the matter at hand.

Anyway, I’m sure with Trump and his supporters warming up to Wikileaks and the Russians, Snowden and Assange have a better chance of getting pardons in a couple of days. That is, as long as Wikileaks doesn’t release any harmful information against the Trump administration. But if Wikileaks didn’t challenge the government and release any information on the Trump administration within four years, would they still be Wikileaks?

The Ringling Bros. Circus is closing down after over a century of being in business. This is all good news. It’s a bit sad that the circus is basically going extinct and along with it, many skills and artistic acts, but such is life. We’ve also moved on from vaudeville and burlesque acts. Many people are celebrating it because of the circus’ history of abusing animals, but I’m happier with the fact that with the circus dying, this means fewer children will be learning to be circus performers instead of focusing on their education. I know this is not really the case with the Ringling Bros., but I once saw a Chinese circus, and as amazing as many of the acts were, it was really depressing the number of children or young adults performing in the show. These kids should be at home studying, instead of risking their necks for a few dollars.

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Park Geun Hye Got Her

monster

The whole Korean impeachment thing has swallowed my wife whole. It’s everything she watches on TV outside of the occasional Korean drama. She follows it all the time on the Web and has even talked to me about the most unsteady conspiracy theories. There are even whispers about the President having AIDS, to which I say it should not be an issue because having AIDS does not affect one’s ability at their profession unless they are a sex worker. Concerns about this not only expose people’s ignorance but also their prejudice against people with the disease. It has made normally rational people irrational. Park Geun Hye has become the reason for all of the ills in the country. My wife even tried to drag me into an anti-government rally over the weekend. It consumed my weekend! And it will probably consume my wife for months to come long after the president is driven out of office.

The thing is, I used to be like her until I got tired of it. I still enjoy watching people yell at each other over politics. I still argue with people occasionally on Twitter about it. But I no longer see the point of the endless back and forth of talking points on the likes of Bill Maher’s show, MSNBC, and worst of all, CNN. You learn something about politics, but after a while, it’s just the same talking points against another talking point. It’s just the thrill of getting the last word in, saying it better than your political opponent. It gets very tiring. And as much as the Park Geun-Hye thing is a concern for my wife since she is Korean, following it religiously for every bit of development, even the scraps of conspiracy theories, does not make the process of impeaching her any faster. It doesn’t fix things that are broken. It just aggravates her to no end.

I remember writing a few months back that politics is my professional wrestling. It’s the endless drama I watch. I follow Canadian politics, but it’s not as absurd as American and now Korean politics. The thing is, just like professional wrestling back then, I try not to get too worked up when The Rock gets his title stolen by Triple H. I can simply walk away from it. Some people need to learn to walk away from politics now and then and not get worked into a frenzy. Listen to yourself before you start sounding like a talking point, or worse, a conspiracy theorist.

As corny as it may sound, instead of following things religiously, people should act. You want Park Geun Hye out? Then protest, support opposing parties, donate to groups, etc. Don’t just follow every bit of news, fake news, and non-news on the Internet as if that will help change anything. You don’t like Trump? Support the cause he’s bound to hurt. Same thing with Trudeau. Mostly a decent Prime Minister but his pipeline stance is not really to my liking. Support anything green.

I say these things now, but tonight, I’m meeting my wife and her friends for dinner. I’m sure politics will be talked about endlessly. And to preserve my sanity, I will reflexively reach out to my phone and look at my Twitter… where I will definitely find more politics.

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Killing Catholics

Rat_King

The problem with Twitter is that it’s a vortex that gets you sucked in to arguments where you’re trying to convince people who have no interest in being convinced. This happened to me last night for the better part of an hour, arguing about the Philippines and their outrageous leader, President Duterte. The last time I visited the Philippines was 2011. Back then, like many people, the country’s problem with poverty is quite apparent. But the problem is not only that. At the time, I also noted that the country had a tendency to elect leaders based on populist appeal, with several people banking either on their celebrity appeal or regional political dynasties. I also noticed that there is not much concern about the separation of church and state, and thus some, if not the majority of people, don’t mind if religiously-inspired policies affect them negatively. So last night, I ended up arguing based on the Filipino Catholic background, the pretense of doing the purge for law and order, and the two-tiered justice system when it comes to Filipinos and their worship of celebrities.

I always found it very ironic that the only Catholic country in the Philippines would openly insult the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, the representative of Christ in the planet. By condoning the extrajudicial killings, the president and his followers are going against the very teaching of Jesus Christ. Love thy neighbors, thou shalt not kill, etc. I’m not a theological expert, but I always thought that one of the foundations of the Catholic Church is the concept of forgiveness. And while many of the president’s supporters are quick to defend him and forgive him for his brashness and errors as a leader, they don’t extend that same spirit of forgiveness to victims of the killings. It would seem that the country is not as religious as many people would have you believe. After all, why would the country elect and give high approval ratings to a person who promised to kill several people and so far has made good on that promise. Duterte on his campaign had two major political goals: A) kill thousands of drug dealers and users and B) reform the country into federalism in order to spread the country’s wealth and resources among its different regions. So far, he’s only killed people. Killing people is not only against the Catholic Church, it also won’t put food on people’s plate.

Now, the president claims that he is doing things for law and order. He even mused about instating martial law to quell lawlessness. Forgetting the abuse of the Marcos regime and the horrors of martial law, his supporters say that martial law wouldn’t be a bad idea; after all, it is well within his rights in the Philippine constitution as the leader of the country. Looking at the Philippine constitution, it is well within his rights. Article VII, Section 18 states that he may take command of all armed forces and suspend habeas corpus to prevent or suppress lawless violence. That’s well and good. But the last time I checked, the Philippines is still quite orderly. There is no lawless violence. In fact, it is the president who is encouraging lawlessness with statements like, “Please feel free to call us, the police or do it yourself if you have the fun… you have my support. Shoot him (the accused) and I’ll give you a medal.” Article III, Section 1 of the Philippine Bill of Rights states that “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.” Yet, people conveniently shrug when people get shot without spending their time in court, examining evidence of their guilt, or facing their accusers. There is nothing lawful about this anti-drug campaign. And as for people saying that the murder are done by phantom “killers” and not by the government or the police, and that the president regrets such extrajudicial killings, let me quote that again, “Please feel free to call us, the police or do it yourself if you have the fun… you have my support. Shoot him (the accused) and I’ll give you a medal.”

When arguing these things, I got accused of being prejudiced against the Philippines, of seeing the country as some sort of backwards banana republic and not a sophisticated metropolitan society. The problem with prejudice is that it also applies to the poor and those with drug history. The killings only seem to apply to the poor. Doing a quick search on Google, it’s not that difficult to find Filipino celebrities with histories of drug abuse. I doubt if they would be affected by this anti-drug campaign. No one is gunning for them. Drug use is often brought on by poverty. And the prejudice against the poor leads to the rather nonchalant local attitude towards the killings. Crimes against the pretty people on this page (https://kami.com.ph/29157-filipino-celebrities-involved-illegal-drugs.html) would elicit national outrage, but there’s not so much outrage when the victims are poor, young drug users and their families have to deal with the aftermath.

The most inane argument I get is that I’m not a true Filipino; I’m not in the country and thus have no say in such things. I am not familiar with their problems. True, but I am also unfamiliar with the problems of impoverished family members of drug users. While my opinions might insult Duterte’s supporters, the unfortunate consequence of supporting Duterte is the murder of people. Their opinions and support kills people. One does not need to be a Filipino citizen to realize this. You don’t need to be in the Philippines to see the hypocrisy in regards to Duterte versus religion, the law, and prejudice. The thing is, I actually have high hopes for the country. There are even some things that I agree with Duterte about (his stance on contraception and birth control for one. And I actually think federalism would benefit the country. ). But this zeal for a strong man worries me. Civilization and law evolved as such. First there was the literal strong man in very primitive groups. This was the man who could physically implement his personal view of law and order in his small community. Then came more democratic tribes; this was when communities established rules and mores, and power was not centralized into one figure. Perhaps there was a council of elders and influential members of the community. Later on, law and order became more complex, and we now have the many checks and balances of current systems in different countries. This devolution to needing a strongman leader is a sign of a more basic urge, a return to a primitive way of looking at things, a need for simplistic solutions to more sophisticated, nuanced problems. This is not the Philippines moving forward.

Of course, with Twitter and the Internet, I find myself arguing against unmovable converts. The same goes with Trump supporters and proponents of Brexit. Ironic that in a platform which allows for the free access to different opinions, we all tend to gravitate to information and “facts” which reflect our own opinions. Perhaps, at the risk of sounding arrogant, this is Duterte’s supporters and the Dunning-Kruger effect.

And speaking of the Dunning-Kruger effect, but I believe true Canadians are immune to the Dunning-Kruger effect. It’s not that Canadians are smarter than the average person, but compared to our southern neighbors, we’re not as adamant with our opinions. We tend to be more pliable. Just as Catholics have an enduring place in their hearts for guilt, Canadians have an enduring place in their hearts for self-doubt. It is the part of us that says, “I believe this, but maybe I’m wrong.” So with that in mind, maybe I’m wrong about the Philippines. But for now, it looks like a total disaster.

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Bye Facebook

brother

Listen, Facebook. We have to talk. I can’t do this to myself anymore, and you can’t just keep trying to get into my life either. I know you’re scared. You don’t want to be Myspace, or god forbid, Friendster. But you don’t have to get into every aspect of everything. Not everything has to be a social network experience. Stop trying too hard. Stop trying to be everything. You don’t have to get into the news business, media streaming business, etc. The Occulus Rift sounds good. But isn’t virtual reality the exact opposite of social networking? You sound confused.

Why can’t you just be the site where guys stalk their exes? That’s good enough. I’m sure you’ll last long enough doing that. Look at what you’re doing to Microsoft. They’re trying to get into the social networking game and integrate LinkedIn to Microsoft Office. People are annoyed enough with LinkedIn. They don’t want it popping up every time they want to type something on Word Processor. Can’t people just use spellcheck without getting the latest job updates at Adobe?

And now they’re trying to meld the X-Box experience with the PC. They sound just as confused as you.

So yeah, sorry Facebook. I’m leaving you to my old relatives who can’t help but post several stories on their wall each day. I have no need for your “Tasty” recipes. You don’t have to remind me what I posted seven years ago. They’re not milestones. You don’t want my opinions on surveys either. I’m sure you can live without it. You don’t have to cater news for me nor remind me of birthdays and anniversaries. Those all just lead to shallow Facebook wall greetings anyway.

Friends can just keep on one-upping each other with their “awesome lives.” As for me, I’m out. I’m done.

Find me on Twitter, where everyone is bitter and constantly insisting that they’re right. Everyone’s a troll and they can direct message world leaders, celebrities and products. Yesterday, I was sending angry messages to Mt. Rushmore and Volkswagen. It’s a never ending argument where nothing gets resolved. It seems more like the platform for me.

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Good Times in New Internets

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GoDaddy decided to retire my old Web site’s template, so I had to go with another design. I think the slideshow is a little better and makes for a more organized look, but visitors can’t zoom and see details of the small drawings. Unfortunately, I can’t import all of my old Web site’s contents including old Weekly entries, so if anyone’s really interested (unlikely), they can just go to my other blog site.

While I don’t mind the new overall look, the site is still a bit wonky on mobile devices. Hopefully, I’ll get it all sorted out in the next couple of days.

I just realized that as I write this, I post a link to my WordPress blog, which has a link to the new site, this site which happens to be talking about the WordPress blog, both of which are reflected on Medium, which rarely gets any hits but also links back to the Web site, which again, has links to other sites.

And that is how Internet  news  media works!

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Slacktivism as News

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I grew a mustache for Movember once. I didn’t donate money towards cancer research nor did I get my prostate examined. I grew a mustache. That was my bit for help the cause against cancer. By growing a mustache, I was informing people about the need for cancer research and preventative measures… except I didn’t really personally donated money nor make any precautions. Deservedly, I got criticized for it, but isn’t it any different than many of the causes we see on the media these days?

The problem with Internet media is that it’s quite easy to produce, easy to consume, and that many news outlets rely on sensationalistic click-baiting, or what I think is more appropriate, guilt-baiting.

Now, I don’t mind a good cause. But recently, there’s been a lot of energy put on causes that in my opinion don’t really amount to anything in the most practical sense. An issue is manufactured out of a bigger and more real problem and slacktivism is encouraged. They come in all degrees of seriousness, but sometimes they’re so insignificant that it’s no longer amusing. As an example, let’s look at Eli Keel’s article on Salon, It’s time for Marvel to make Magneto black. Yes, this was on a news site.

In the article, he writes that what makes the comic book villain Magneto great is that he is based in a real-world historic tragedy. And now that Marvel is rebooting all of their characters, it’s time to make the character black in order to reference the Civil Rights Movement (ignoring the fact that the whole humans vs. mutants theme in the X-Men books is an allegory to the Civil Rights Movement). Since the election of their first black president, the US has been undergoing quite the surge in racial tensions, especially recently with the way police officers have been policing black communities. But is this really a battle one has to fight in the comic books? Should the tragedy of the Holocaust be replaced by the Civil Rights fight? I don’t think so. I don’t think great black leaders would waste time campaigning to change the motivations of comic book super villains (make Magneto a civil rights bad guy?!). There has got to be a better way to address civil rights issues, and it’s not in changing comic book characters. Sure, comic books have championed many social issues before, and in many ways they have influenced young minds and made them better people, but if you’re going to fight for civil rights, don’t campaign a company to change their characters. It is probably the least you can do for the cause. In fact, you might even alienate people who A)love the character and would not want it changed and B) are annoyed that you are fighting the civil rights fight by barking at comic book creators instead of doing something yourself. Instead of asking people to create a solution, how about making a solution?

And this is what annoys me about many of the Internet causes. It gives people the illusion of actually doing something positive without actually doing something to help the cause. For one, I see too many articles talking about rape culture, perpetuating the belief that we are living in an environment where rape is encouraged/celebrated. Really? But aren’t rapists jailed? When and where do we exactly celebrate the brutalization of women? Not in the United States. But from the way the articles are written, you would be forgiven to think that a third of all women are victims, and that society is high-fiving itself for making it so. And what do the articles ask in return for such dire message? Share the article. Click like. Spread the message and you’ve done your part.

If rape is such a trend in society, then shouldn’t we be more proactive about it? Why are we sharing links? Why aren’t we writing to our congressmen or campaigning at their doorsteps? Why aren’t we locking up all men? Why are we making Youtube videos debating whether video games are training young men to become rapists? Why are we marching half-naked? Whose minds are we actually changing? Either we don’t understand the meaning of “culture” in “rape culture” or our modern day approach to sweeping social problems is the most lackadaisical.

I guess the biggest example of the flash of the pan, guilt clicking, share this or you’re an asshole story is KONY 2012. The campaign to get rid of Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, was so viral that I kept seeing it shared on Facebook for weeks. Now while Jason Russell, the campaign’s creator suffered a bit of a meltdown, but the cause itself was worthwhile, after all, Joseph Kony is a horrible guerilla leader. But after all the Facebook shares, television media coverage and street campaigns, Joseph Kony still walks the planet. It made us all feel good liking the stories and sharing it to our friends. It made us all feel worldly, well-rounded, and conscientious. But it didn’t really do a damned thing. Jason Russell was criticized for being a bit narcissistic, appointing himself a savior of Ugandan children. Truly, the whole thing was an exercise in narcissism. We all felt good for “doing” something good, and now we’ve forgotten about those poor children. And I don’t want to be a pessimist, but I believe that even if Magneto became black and everyone on the Internet agreed that there is indeed rape culture aimed against women, ten years from now, we’ll still be having issues regarding race and sexual violence.

Of course, there are many examples of stories that guilt the public, become viral, and actually do something significant. The water bucket challenge was a huge success which allowed the MDA to raise a significant amount of money without that horrible Jerry Lewis. Good for MDA! But with every video of people actually donating money after getting water dumped on their heads, there are others which didn’t really amount to anything, except maybe a few views, a couple of likes, and some comments.

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