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5 years ago

Dear Carriers: You Should Follow the Net Neutrality Model

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A week ago I wrote a long rant about the wireless carrier business model after the news that a few carriers were plotting a walled-garden-style rival to Google and Yahoo. Well, it looks like I'm not alone in that hope, BoingBoing.net points us to a great new paper from Colubmia University's Tim Wu which calls for a new model of wireless service.

Most interesting (from my initial skim, anyway) are the parallels the paper draws between the current state of the wireless industry and the monopolistic practices of AT&T in the mid 20th-century. Seriously, folks, go get the pdf and read it over your lunchbreak sometime.

Over the next decade, regulators will spend increasing time on the conflicts between the private interests of the wireless industry and the public's interest in the best uses of its spectrum. This report examines the practices of the wireless industry with an eye toward understanding their influence on innovation and consumer welfare.

This report finds a mixed picture. The wireless industry, over the last decade, has succeeded in bringing wireless telephony at competitive prices to the American public. Yet at the same time we also find the wireless carriers aggressively controlling product design and innovation in the equipment and application markets, to the detriment of consumers. Their policies, in the wired world, would be considered outrageous, in some cases illegal, and in some cases simply misguided.

Read: SSRN-Wireless Network Neutrality by Tim Wu

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5 years ago

WM6 Standard Screenshot Gallery

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5 years ago

Nokia to offer free GPS nav app for WM5(!)

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Can I get a yowza? Available for download tomorrow, Feb 10th, Nokia is offering a free GPS navigation application called smart2go for Series 60 Nokia phones and, here's the shocker, Windows Mobile 5. The software will apparently work even if you don't have GPS available via a bluetooth puck or built-in. Looks like it's free because Nokia will also be offering optional, premium-brand travel guides, packed with valuable information and important tips."

If you are wondering how to set up GPS on your WM5 device, you'll find a nice set of instructions here.

Nokia today announced that it is making its smart2go mapping and navigation platform, available for free download (www.smart2go.com), enabling millions of people to use the most comprehensive map coverage offered on a mobile device. The platform allows for mapping and routing in over 150 countries and has support for full turn-by-turn satellite navigation in over 30 countries. The application allows people to view where they are on a map, search for points-of-interests (POI) around them and create routes to get them there free of charge. Nokia plans to start offering the smart2go application for free, on Saturday, February 10th, for selected Nokia S60 and Windows Mobile 5.0 devices initially and has plans to roll out support for most of the major mobile OS platforms including Nokia S60, Series 40, PocketPC, Linux and other Windows Mobile devices.

Update 3: it's up now, thanks for the tip, Paul! Now should I be concerned that the are listing the "Treo 650w", which doesn't exist in any world I live in? Nah.. Installing now.

(Thanks to MSMobiles for the tip. As they say, "Next logical step: Nokia mobile phones powered by Windows Mobile!")

Read: Nokia - ShowPressRelease

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5 years ago

LG Prada, Similar to iPhone, except it's better

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LG Prada, Similar to iPhone, except it's better

Not long after the iPhone splash, LG showed off the Prada - apparently it's going to be running Windows Mobile 6. Which means it won't have the incredibly fancy multi-touch-screen features of the iPhone, but it will be able to, oh, edit office docs. Also likely that this may be announced at the 3GSM conference next week, so there's a healthy chance it'll beat the iPhone to market.

Bring it on, Apple!

Today I was sent this article in Business Week that totally made a bulb go off in my head! It looks as if Business Week spilled the beans on the LG iPhone look alike phone that apparently will run Microsoft's new Windows Mobile 6.0 OS.. This phone was also the LG Prada touchscreen device we saw a few weeks ago along with the LG KE850. According to the Business Week article they state

Read: LG's iPhone clone to run Windows Mobile 6 @ Mobility Today

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5 years ago

Windows Mobile 6 Mega-Roundup

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Windows Mobile 6 Mega-Roundup

Sure, I was a little dubious at first that Microsoft would be announcing Windows Mobile 6 earlier than expected. Perhaps part of it was a "French publication" breaking the embargo early that led them to just go ahead and tell everybody to start talking about it. In any case, the internet is all abuzz over it today instead of the February 12th official launch date.

Read on for a massive round-up of reviews, screen shots, and all the WM6 Links you can shake a stick at.

Update: Here's Engadget's photo gallery of WM6 Pro

The Big Pieces

First off, you should know that rather than referring to "Smartphone Edition" or "Pocket-PC Edition", Microsoft cleaned up the naming scheme a bit. Now we have:

  • WM6 Standard for non-touchscreen smartphones.
  • WM6 Professional for touchscreen smartphones.
  • WM6 Classic for non-smartphone Pocket PC Devices (stop snickering, they still exist)

So what are the big changes between WM5 and WM6? Well, not to rain on anybody's parade, but I wouldn't call any of these changes huge. On the other hand, I would call each and every one of them welcome

  • Built-in Windows Update(!) - Will the carriers stand for this? I know that Palm spends months testing the most minor of bugfixes so the carriers won't have a bird.
  • Built-in memory card encryption and the ability to do remote-wipes.
  • HTML-formatted email (I don't want this, but others do).
  • A neater feature is "SmartFilter," which automatically filters your emails as you type just like most contacts applications filter your contacts. SmartFilter also works on your music collection.
  • Better Live Mail (nee Hotmail) integration, including contact integration.
  • 320x320 Screen Resolution support - Palm, I expect a new WM Treo yesterday with this screen resolution.
  • Windows Live goes out of Beta and will be built-in
  • Direct Push now standard (has been for awhile on WM5, but I know some of you are still stuck without it)
  • 3rd party software should still work fine - just in case you were wondering.
  • Microsoft Office Mobile updated - now full edits documents on all editions of WM6!
  • Pocket Internet Explorer to be faster, they're saying 30% faster - let's hope! Also new, "Mobile AJAX standards"
  • Better Vista integration
  • Enhanced Calendar, including a "ribbon."
  • Improved Security
  • Built-in VOIP(!) - no, not really, but they added support for it "under the hood", according to cnet.
  • A ton of smaller tweaks, changes, fixes, improvements, etc.

First-look Roundup:

Geek.com rolls in with some live-shots of the Standard version loaded up on a T-Mobile Dash. - Geek.com Geek News - First Impressions: Windows Mobile 6

I've had the pleasure of testing out a beta version of Windows Mobile 6 for a few weeks and I couldn't be happier with it.

PC Magazine: 4/5 - Windows Mobile 6: Full Review - Review by PC Magazine, plus a big gallery

With Windows Mobile 6, Microsoft set a skilled handyman to work on the creakier joists of their mobile OS, but they stopped well short of a gut renovation. The new OS is really more of an honorable version 5.5 than a true 6 – an accumulation of new, useful features that doesn't disturb the OS's underpinnings or solve some of its deeper problems.

CNet has the usual standard write-up, if you just want the news fix. - Microsoft to unveil Windows Mobile 6 | CNET News.com

One of the changes that is under the hood in Windows Mobile 6, but not expected to be visible to consumers, is support for Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, calling. Microsoft isn't including software to let individuals make such calls, but has added the internal plumbing to allow carriers and device makers to add VoIP support if they wish. "It's an investment we are making for something that today isn't as predominant," O'Rourke said. "I wouldn't be surprised if in the next 12 months we saw some partner announcements" around VoIP.

Modern Nomads gives us the largest review - What will Windows Mobile 6 bring for the highly mobile people? - Modern Nomads

We do not do product announcements, but we do feel compelled to share our experiences with the new version of Windows Mobile: it is a major change in the OS and it can affect the landscape of the mobile device market as we all know it. The question remains if this change is in fact an improvement for you in your daily life. To help you make up your mind, we have written down the experiences we have with this OS. This is a rather lengthy review, so we have added a table of contents to it, to help you find your way easily.

ZDNET has a nice rundown as well, including a large gallery - » Microsoft reveals Window Mobile 6 and we have all the details | The Mobile Gadgeteer | ZDNet.com

I can confirm from personal experience with a beta of Windows Mobile 6 that many of the changes made by Microsoft have been targeted at improving the user experience.

Speaking of galleries, here's a nice one provided by Microsoft to pocketpcthoughts; and another from engadget.

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5 years ago

Symantec Releases Antivirus for WM5

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Symantec Releases Antivirus for WM5

I really, really, really don't want to ever have to install antivirus software on a smartphone. For what little risk is out there right now, it's absolutely not worth the program memory for me to do it. If you're the paranoid type, however, feel free to toss money at Mobile AntiVirus. I won't call you a sucker -- to your face.

Symantec Corp. has announced its Mobile AntiVirus 4.0 for Windows Mobile, developed to work on Pocket PCs and smartphones running on the Windows Mobile 5.0 platform. The software automatically protects mobile devices from threats transmitted via e-mail and multimedia messaging service (MMS), downloaded from memory cards, the cellular network and Wi-Fi, transmitted by Bluetooth or beamed over infrared connections.

Read: Symantec releases Mobile AntiVirus 4.0 for Windows Mobile

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5 years ago

RIM and Samsung Settle "BlackJack" suit

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RIM sued Samsung because they called their new smartphone BlackJack and, you know, people might get it confused with BlackBerry. Now they've settled, apparently. I thought the suit was pretty darn silly myself - nobody gets to use the word "Black" anymore? - but apparently Samsung did not. Sometimes it's easier to just get the lawsuit out of the way rather than fight the good fight. Me, I like a good fight, oh well. The terms of the settlement are confidential (though some folks have noticed that RIM wants to spell "BlackJack" with a lower-cased 'j' now), so who knows what Samsung gave to RIM. Let's hope it wasn't much.

Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM said in a statement that the settlement of the lawsuit it filed in December includes "immediate provisions for the protection of RIM's valuable trademarks," but that the companies had agreed to keep specific terms of the deal confidential.

Read: BlackBerry Maker Reaches Settlement With BlackJack Maker

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5 years ago

WM6 Coming to T-Mobile Devices in Q2

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WM6 Coming to T-Mobile Devices in Q2

Title about says it all, don't it. Also of note in the article, updates to current devices will be up to the carriers. In other words, don't hold your breath that you'll be able to (legally) upgrade your current WM5 device to WM6.

*According to John Starkweather, a group product manager for Microsoft’s mobile and embedded devices division, the latest version of the mobile OS will ship in the United States first on new devices from T-Mobile USA Inc. *

Read: Microsoft: Windows Mobile 6.0 coming to T-Mobile USA in second quarter :: RCR Wireless News

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5 years ago

Dialing 1-800-FLOWERS to get easier?

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Dialing 1-800-FLOWERS to get easier?

Mike Calligaro puts up a fairly long blog posting on what seems to be a fairly short topic - the fact that YATQKMS (Yet Another Thin, QWERTY Keyboard Windows Mobile Smartphone) devices like the Q or the Dash don't have those "ABC", "DEF" etc. buttons on their number pads, so dialing named-800 numbers can be a pain sometimes. ...This isn't a pain I've ever felt personally, but apparently there are some that do.

Instead of just laughing at these oddballs, Calligaro actually goes into some depth about how WM's dialer works and offers a couple solutions (including suggesting you search for a hack). The fun bit, though, is at the very end, where he says that while he can't make promises, Microsoft's WM team wants to.

...of course, using a Pocket-PC Smartphone like the Treo solves the problem neatly - by including a touch-screen dialpad like my Treo's, pictured.

As always, I can’t announce features.  But I will say that the Q is one of the hottest selling Windows Mobile devices ever.  And the general category of QWERTY Smartphones is doing very well.  While we don’t consider the ability to dial personalized phone numbers the most important feature on a phone, we do recognize that it’s an important feature.  So, while I can’t announce features or dates or even promise that anything will be done, I can say that we want to provide a real solution that’s better than the user ones above.

Read: Windows Mobile Team Blog : How do you dial 1-800-FLOWERS?

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5 years ago

Engadget Says WM6 Announced ...really?

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Engadget Says WM6 Announced ...really?

According to Engadget, Microsoft has announced Windows Mobile 6 (I'd pegged that announcement for the 3GSM conference next week). Perhaps they just announced it to Engadget, though, as I'm having a tough time just this second finding any corroboration.

Well, there is this article at InfoWorld which may back up the announcement claim - given that it mentions some of the same features that are listed in the Engadget post. On the other hand, the InfoWorld liberally quotes Rob Enderle - and you Mac fans know that's probably not a good sign.

Ok, I'll quit being grumpy. Windows Moblie 6 (aka Crossbow) does look like it has a few nice incremental upgrades - like full office in the smartphone version and HTML rendering in emails (and a 'calendar ribbon' that might actually keep from stabbing myself in the eye when I try to find an appointment). I'll we wanting it as soon as I can get it.

Microsoft's finally ready to take the wraps off Windows Mobile 6, the long-awaited successor to Windows Mobile 5 (what else?) that's been baking in the oven for a while now as "Crossbow." The platform formerly known as Pocket PC Phone Edition has become Windows Mobile 6 "Professional," while its more pocketable little brother, the Smartphone, has become "Standard" and plain ol' Pocket PCs are "Classic."

Read: Windows Mobile 6 announced - Engadget Mobile

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5 years ago

UTStarcom Promises AKU3 for Verizon XV6700

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If you have been frustrated with the bugginess of your XV6700 but aren't the type to try a hacked version of the latest AKU of Windows Mobile, take heart. Engadget got an email today from a reader who apparently got the details straight from the distributor, UTSTarcom: AKU3 is coming in March or April.

an official email response to one of our readers in a response from UTStarcom, distributor of many things HTC ending in "6700" in relation to WM Smartphones -- "AKU3 will be coming out sometime late March or early April".

Read: AKU3 for Verizon's XV6700 WM5 device 'officially' going to be launched - Engadget Mobile

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5 years ago

Treo 750 now available unlocked ...in Europe

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TreoCentral notes that the Treo 750 is now available generally in Europe, no longer just tied to Vodafone. Good deal, that, I suppose if you really wanted to you could buy one up and ship it here. HSDPA is included too, thanks be to Palm. It should show up at http://eurostore.palm.com/ sometime today.

Hurry up and end your exclusivity with Cingular, Palm. I keep going back to my unlocked 750v, it's a darn great phone and you need to get it in more people's hands.

I was very stoked to read that Palm announced that the Treo 750 will be made generally available across Europe via Palm's online store (http://eurostore.palm.com) and from retail outlets in the coming month, beginning Feb. 6. As you know, the Treo 750 was previously available on Vodafone's 3G/UMTS network since September 2006 in the UK and across much of Western Europe, marketed as the 750v. It looks like that's going to change starting tomorrow.

Read: treocentral.com >> Stories >> Hardware >> Palm Announces Unlocked Treo 750 in Europe

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5 years ago

PN-820 Shows Up On Verizon

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PN-820 Shows Up On Verizon

Pantech out of Korea has made a nice little WM5 Smartphone for Verizon - if by "nice" you mean "inexpensive." For $150 after contract you get a decent WM flip-phone, it's competitive spec-wise with the Cingular 3125 (HTC Startrek). It is not competitive looks-wise, however - I think the ugly stick might have gotten hit with this. I actually shouldn't make fun, it's nice to see that phones with these specs can be made and sold for a small price.

Anyway, it also has full EVDO speeds and a miniSD (not Micro!) expansion slot.

...and a gigantic antenna sticking out of the top.

All Digital (1XRTT/1XEV-DO)
Microsoft® Windows Mobile™ 5.0 OS for Smartphone
128MB RA/64MB Flash
View email attachments
Text, Picture and Video Messaging capable
1.3 Megapixel Camera w/Flash
miniSD™ removable memory port
Advanced Voice Command capability
Calendar
Speed Dialing
Dual LCD Display: Internal - 2.20"; External - 1.07"
Speakerphone
Picture Caller ID

Read: Verizon Wireless PN-820 Smartphone

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5 years ago

Editorial: The Mobile Data Business Model is Broken

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A new rumor, that a group of companies wants to create a walled-garden-style search engine for mobile devices, is just the latest in a long string of abuses heaped upon the consumer by mobile carriers. Read on for a good old fashioned rant about the state of mobile data services in the US.

Let's take a look at the latest travesty to come across my newsreader: "Mobile giants plot secret rival to Google."

Europe's biggest telecoms groups are aiming to create a mobile phone search engine that could challenge Yahoo! and Google, the US giants.Vodafone, France Telecom, Telefonica, Deutsche Telekom, Hutchison Whampoa, Telecom Italia and one American network, Cingular, are among the companies that will come together for secret, high-level talks at the mobile industry's biggest annual trade show in Barcelona next week.

Here we go again. At next week's 3GSM conference a cabal of telcoms are planning on figuring out a way to make you pay for mobile searches by erecting walled-garden-style searches for your phone. It's not enough, apparently, for them to try to nickel and dime us for Ringtones, SMS, music services, etc. Frankly, I'm getting sick and tired of this sort of garbage.

The upshot, basically, is that these companies are unhappy that we're using sites like Google and Yahoo on our phones for free (forgetting about data costs for the moment). The very idea of getting free access to content that's unfettered and open is apparently anathema to these companies.

I wish I could say that my indignation in the above paragraphs is as powerful as it seems. Sadly, like most US consumers, I'm just plain beaten-down by our mobile carriers. It's not difficult to come up with a list of outrages that they visit upon us -- outrages which most consumers accept as par for the course:

  • Increasing the price of text messages. This despite the fact that the infrastructure to send them is not only already built, but is mature. As ars technica put it, "Only in the world of mobile phones can you expect to find companies trying to charge 20 cents for less than 1Kb of data."
  • Cingular and Helio create for-pay services just to use MySpace. More on this in a bit, but for now let's just point out that this is a manufactured need, if MySpace would just clean up their flash-ad-addicted act, using MySpace from a regular old browser would be fine.
  • Creating network-specific music services that, in effect, ask you to pay for your music twice.
  • Having byzantine, kafkaesque, and ever-changing cost structures.
  • Let's not even discuss the 'subsidize your phone with a 2-year contract' business plan, I don't want to punch my monitor.
  • Literally breaking devices by turning off functionality like OBEX Bluetooth built-into phones (I'm looking at you, Verizon).
  • One Word: Ringtones.

Let's stick with ringtones for a second. Most feature-phone users don't blink twice at paying $2 or so for a cute little ringtone. Why do people pay for these? Simplicity, mostly. The carriers have created a service that's relatively easy to use and doesn't require much technical skill. So what's the problem with that? The "technical skill" part. Creating ringtones from your own music library and loading them onto your phone should be a simple, painless process. Yet I challenge you to find 1 person in 10 who has done this, or even knows how to do it with their phone. Purchasing ringtones is a manufactured market.

Why do we pay for ringtones? Is it the licensing fee? It shouldn't be. In this author's opinion a short ringtone falls pretty safely into the Fair Use category of copyright law. No, we pay because the technology to easily load ringtones onto your phone is obfuscated either by deliberately breaking your phone's ability to load them or (more charitably) by spending time on creating the service instead of spending time enabling the consumer.

At this year's CES, I attended a panel of executives from various carriers and device manufacturers - the topic was finding ways to increase and expanded data services offered by carriers. During this panel there was a general consensus that ringtone services were far and away the biggest success in this field. The carriers are very happy with the ringtone business model, so happy they want to apply it to other areas--like using a search engine on your mobile device.

Here's where things get sticky for the carriers, however. Because we already have perfectly good search engines available to us on our phones - search engines we don't need to pay to use. Mobile carriers are desperate to find ways to manufacture a market out of this situation, to wit:

A UK executive at one of the companies involved said: "There is a big play in mobile search that we need to be part of, and we are exploring those options at a very high level."

The term here is "walled garden", and if you haven't guessed by now I'm against them. So are most consumers - at least when it comes to the internet as we typically think of it. Many internet users are fighting tooth and nail to keep the internet open - to maintain net neutrality; yet many of these same users often don't think twice about paying two bucks for a ringtone, or 15 cents for a text message, or a subscription service for maps and directions from telenav, and so on. Somehow, these carriers have managed to pull the wool over our eyes.

We need to disrupt this business model, break out of these manufactured markets. Sadly, I don't know how just yet. Perhaps when WiMax covers more areas we'll be able to just switch over to some sort of Skype-like system that can work anywhere there's an internet connection. I wish I had the answer. Instead, all I have is an anecdote:

I'm reminded of the situation many users (myself included!) were in 5 or 10 years ago. We were paying a premium to use AOL. AOL was, for many folks, the internet. I still remember when the scales fell from my eyes and I realized I didn't need AOL, I could just get myself a connection to the internet directly, so to speak. After that, I looked down on those 'AOL Newbies" who blindly paid extra every month for practically non-existent services, not recognizing that there were plenty of free alternatives elsewhere.

When it comes to mobile data services, we are all AOL Newbies. I only hope that technology advances enough in the near future for me to have the scales dropped from my eyes once again.

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5 years ago

Rumor: ZunePhone (Not to be WM)

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Rumor: ZunePhone (Not to be WM)

CrunchGear has some inside info, apparently Microsoft has decided that they're going to go ahead and make a phone version of the Zune media player. I expect that the following will apply: ZunePhone is to iPhone as Zune is to iPod. In other words: decent enough but it won't achieve mass appeal. It's a bit off-topic for this site as the ZunePhone is not going to run Windows Mobile (Which is funny to me - Microsoft's newer divisions like the Xbox and Zune folks seem to not like WinCE much, I hear they tried it for both and then gave up fairly quickly). In any case, expect it to sync up well with the Xbox 360, but don't expect it to be a full-fledged smartphone. Think media phone. Also think that that they'll have a lot of catching up do to.

Frankly, Microsoft has a history of letting stuff leak out to try to either take the wind out of competitors sails or (in this case, I bet) at least make sure that when somebody writes a story about a competitor, they get a brief mention. As in: "The iPhone is really cool, but Microsoft is rumored to be working on a competitor" instead of "The iPhone is really cool."

We’ve just received a sound tip that Microsoft is working on its very own phone to be branded under the Zune moniker. Our tipsters inform us that Microsoft execs are in meetings today hammering out details of the device and developing strategies and timescales for its release.

Read: CrunchGear » Blog Archive » Source: Microsoft Zune Phone In the Works

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