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Author Topic: I build High Quality Very Secure Expandable Computers, Contact me asap.  (Read 3720 times)

FranCo Free

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Please Read the Whole Story

HP Pavilion 20 All-in-One PC, Model #20-b314

“Phone Home” Problem: TPM Chip

I worked on an off-the-shelf All-in-One, 2013 model, machine from a major manufacturer that was originally purchased with Windows 8 installed.  The operating system had been upgraded to Windows 10.  However, the hardware was configured in such a way that it allowed Windows 8 to be upgraded to Windows 10 only once.

I had to do a wipe and reload because the operating system was so corrupted.  When I tried to get back the Windows 10 upgrade, the machine informed me that if I wanted another Windows 10 upgrade, I would have to buy another Windows license at a cost of at least $100. 

Because of the small capacity of the machine, it wasn't worth buying another Windows license.  A viable option was to load Linux operating system for free.  I tried unsuccessfully to load Linux.  Between the Windows operating system and the manufacturer of the machine, hardware was set up to disallow installation of the Linux operating system.  There is a partition of about 512 MB on the original hard drive that I could not delete or reformat.

I installed another hard drive, which had been cleaned, scrubbed, and reformatted to a single simple volume.  During the process of installing the Linux operating system, the All-in-One firmware/BIOS formed another 512 MB partition on this clean hard drive.  Again, the partition would not allow Linux to be installed.  I cannot delete the partition.

I did some research, and the formation of the partition by the All-in-One BIOS seems to be a form of cloud app policy.  Cloud app policies can range from minimal to highly restrictive.  Before the operating system will load, it goes out somewhere and asks administrative permission to load it on this machine (phone home problem).  And, of course, it says “no”.  Again, I cannot erase, reformat, deactivate, or delete the partition.  In my opinion, that hard drive has basically been “bricked”.

I can only assume that Microsoft had made an agreement with the manufacturer of the All-in-One that the machine would be configured to restrict the operating system to Windows only.

My questions to the community:
Can someone explain in technical terms how and why the firmware/BIOS formed the partition on the hard drive that prevented me from installing Linux, and that I cannot remove?  Is there any way that partition can be deleted?  Can something be done to prevent the firmware/BIOS from putting that extra partition on the hard drive?  Are there any workarounds for these questions?

In the community's opinion, is this an isolated incident, or can we expect more of this sort of activity by Microsoft Windows in the future?
« Last Edit: March 07, 2016, 08:03:10 am by FranCo Free »
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SkippyBob

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Re: Computer Freedom and Liberity and Big Brother !!!
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2016, 01:20:21 pm »

Greetings!

I bought an HP laptop recently, thinking I would format the drive and install Linux (and forgetting how much I detest HP).
It turns out there is a "bug" in HP's UEFI implementation (at least for that laptop model) that ignores the user's boot order
preferences if it sees a valid UEFI partition on the hard disk.  So, no ability for me to even boot a Linux CD in order to
wipe the disk.  Much as I despise Microsoft, I suspect these sorts of problems belong more to HP.  I haven't returned the
laptop because, some day when "I have more time", I am going to rip that thing apart and force it to be useful out of spite.

Will your All-in-One boot from a live Linux CD?  If it doesn't with the hard drive installed, will it do it with the hard drive
removed?

As for the "bricked" drive, you mention that it was formatted to be a single partition.  Was it partitioned to be a single volume,
then formatted with a filesystem, or just partitioned to a single volume, then left unformatted?  Anyway, if you have a machine
more under your control, I would think just repartitioning the drive would get rid of the new partition.  I would probably
zap it with zeros first under Linux with dd, just because it would feel good.
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FranCo Free

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Re: Computer Freedom and Liberity and Big Brother !!!
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2016, 06:17:15 pm »

Hello to; SkippyBob
 
I got around that by Building my own desktops for me and my wife and what follows is my opinion on the lay of the land !!

1.   Large corporations, like big box stores, can sell computers so cheaply off-the-shelf because companies and organizations come to computer manufacturers to sell their bloatware and have it installed by the manufacturers prior to selling the computers to the retail stores.

Sometimes big retail stores, like Best Buy and Walmart, can also be paid large sums of money by the bloatware developers for having their bloatware installed on computers that will be shipped to and sold by these retail stores.

Big box retailers buy computers by the train or truck load.  If a computer manufacturer wants to attract and keep the big box store’s business, it has to play ball in order to keep the customer happy.  Competition is tight out there.

2.   Where does the bloatware development company get its money?
Bloatware is actually spyware or junkware.  For example, say you buy a laptop from Best Buy, but you don’t have their geek squad clean it out and remove the bloatware before you take the machine home.  When you start up the machine, you’ll begin to see pop-up ads and redirects to other websites.  Information about you is being sold by the car load to the companies that paid the bloatware developer.  (Personally, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if at the end of the day, some security suite software developers, like McAfee or Norton, are being paid to allow certain codes to get through their software.)

When you are considering the price of a computer, you should look at more than the sticker price.  You must also add in the cost of having the store’s geek squad remove the bloatware/spyware/junkware from the machine before it goes out the door.  Even after the bloatware has been removed, “seeds” are still left in the machine.

3.   Computer manufacturers buy parts and components, like power supplies, by the train or truck load.  Basically, computer manufacturers put their parts and components needs out for bid to the lowest bidder – the company who can provide the cheapest parts or components that can do the job.

The parts manufacturer draws up a spec sheet for the part in order to win the bid.  It’s like that for every part in the computer, even the case.  You, as the customer in the big box store, are not getting top quality for your money.  The computers are built so that there’s hardly any expandability for installing upgrades.  That means you have to buy a new machine every time there’s an upgrade in technology, which is about every 5-10 years.

Microsoft Windows now automatically installs updates to your computer without your permission; you cannot opt out.

4.   In contrast, my computers are built with premium parts and components inside a case that’s expandable, that allows for upgrades for decades to come.  The hardware (motherboard, BIOS) in an off-the-shelf computer with a Windows operating system make can a permanent partition on the hard drive that prevents another operating system from being loaded onto the machine.  Hardware in these off-the-shelf computers seeks permission (“phones home”) before it opens an operating system.  In computers such as the All-in-One, Microsoft allows only one Windows upgrade without your having to buy a new Windows license.

5.   My machines are also more powerful than the comparable off-the-shelf models.  I build my computers knowing you’re going to require more computing power in the future.  The computers in the big box stores are not well-suited to multi-tasking.  My computers can easily multi-task.

6.   I install Microsoft Windows 10 as the operating system, which I purchase directly from Microsoft in the OEM version.  OEM means that there’s no bloatware included.  The computer manufacturers also buy the same Windows 10 operating system, but they add bloatware before it’s sold to the retail stores.  My custom-built machines contain no bloatware.  In a custom-built machine, you can choose the apps and programs you really want and need.

7.   Plus, with my custom-built computer, you will have the disk for the OEM version of the operating system, which contains no bloatware, for the life of the operating system.  You can use this disk to recover the operating system in case of a computer crash.

8.   I also give the customer the option of having a Linux operating system, instead of Microsoft Windows.  Linux is free and does not have the inherent “bug” problem that Windows has.

9.   There’s a lot of reputable, high quality, open-source freeware available from .org companies and small businesses, which have been developed with high quality, freedom from hackers and spyware, and future expandability as top priority.  I install open-source, secure freeware because high quality, freedom from hackers and spyware, and future expandability are my goals for the computers that I build.

I have only touched on security in this article.  I discuss it in depth in another article.

10.   Today there’s a big push for users to store their documents and access apps on the Cloud.  If you rely on a smartphone, tablet, or smart TV as your main computing source, you get Cloud computing.  And there are inherent risks to using the Cloud.  Do you want to trust your personal information and important data to some network on the Cloud?  Do you want to lose more personal computing independence?  FranCo Free
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FranCo Free

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Re: Computer Freedom and Liberity and Big Brother !!!
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2016, 10:40:23 am »

 
(Do You Have a TPM Chip in Your Computer? )
From a Tec. Article

TC – Treacherous Computing?

Generally, there are good arguments that these features can be used to improve the security of computer systems. Trusted Computing offers a lot of features which can be used to protect the personal computer against malicious software and users.

But according to a lot of technical analysis, most researchers have fundamental critics on the main design considerations. The new infrastructure will offer only minor protection against worms and viruses, although TCG is telling something completely different. Furthermore, some of these features can already be established by todays smart card supported systems, so where is the need for TCG 1.1?
 
We recognize that hardware enhancements might be one way to improve computer security. But treating computer owners as adversaries is not progress in computer security.

The interoperability, competition, owner control, and similar problems inherent in the TCG and NCSCB approach are serious enough that we recommend against adoption of these trusted computing technologies until these problems have been addressed.
 
Fortunately, we believe these problems are not insurmountable, and we look forward to working with the industry to resolve them."
Source: Electronic Frontier Foundation, bold emphasis by Pitsche
 
There are a lot of drawbacks to this kind of security implementation:
 
The concept prevents even the device owner from certain operations.
 
Remote Attestation is a good feature to remotely detect tampering of the computer, as long as this 'somebody' is the owner of the platform. But if this Remote Attestation is used by third parties, serious privacy and market domination issues arise.
 
There are certainly legitimate reasons for Sealing. But the main use case seems to be consumer-unfriendly new 'business cases' for content dealers which involve locking down content to a single platform, based on connecting content to a specific device without any migration options.
Additionally, the market domination of Microsoft, obscurities regarding the needed trust infrastructure and a heap of patents have lead to critical evaluations from cryptographers, privacy organizations and European institutions.
 
Because of this pressure the Trusted Computing Group has modifed its proposal. The recent specification is "TCG 1.2".

I 'am working to deable this TPM Chip Stay Truned In ;


Global surveillance


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_surveillance



Global surveillance refers to the mass surveillance of entire populations across national borders.[1] Its roots can be traced back to the middle of the 20th century, when the UKUSA Agreement was jointly enacted by the United Kingdom and the United States, which later expanded to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand to create the Five Eyes alliance. The alliance developed cooperation arrangements with several "third-party" nations. Eventually, this resulted in the establishment of a global surveillance network, code-named "ECHELON", in 1971.[2][3]
Its existence, however, was not widely acknowledged by governments and the mainstream media until the global surveillance disclosures by Edward Snowden triggered a debate about the right to privacy in the digital age.[4]


ECHELON, originally a secret government code name, is a surveillance program

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ECHELON
« Last Edit: March 03, 2016, 08:15:32 am by FranCo Free »
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FranCo Free

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Re: Computer Freedom and Liberity and Big Brother !!!
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2016, 12:11:07 pm »

http://civilliberty.about.com/od/waronterror/tp/Surveillance-History.htm

End Of The American Dream


The American Dream Is Becoming A Nightmare And Life As We Know It Is About To Change
Are you ready for Big Brother 2.0?  If you think that the hundreds of ways that the government watches, monitors, tracks and controls us now are bad, just wait until you see what is coming.  We live in an age when paranoia is running wild.  As technology continues to develop at an exponential pace, governments all over the globe are going to discover a multitude of new ways to spy on us and control our behavior.  In a world where everyone is a “potential terrorist”, we are told that things like liberty, freedom and privacy are “luxuries” that we can no longer afford.  We are assured that if we just allow the government to watch all of us and investigate all of us that somehow that will keep us all safe.  But it isn’t just the government that is watching us.  Now we are being taught to spy on one another and to report any trace of “suspicious activity” to the government immediately.  The entire civilized world is being transformed into one giant prison grid, and many of the new technologies that are now being introduced are going to make things even worse.
The following are 10 new ways that the government will be spying on you and controlling your behavior….


http://endoftheamericandream.com/archives/the-un-wants-complete-control-over-the-internet-and-that-would-mean-unprecedented-censorship-taxes-and-surveillance

The UN Wants Complete Control Over The Internet And That Would Mean Unprecedented Censorship, Taxes And Surveillance

By Michael Snyder, on May 31st, 2012 ---  How can we fight back; See below

http://nh.craigslist.org/cps/5457389912.html



Affordable IT Support for Personal and Home Office System



CYBER KNIGHT SECURITY SHIEL
D


General Tech Support (Windows Only) for Personal/Home Office Equipment and Network.

Cyber Knight's mission is to provide affordable system security, computer maintenance, education and trouble-shooting service.

* Equipment Recycler (No CRT Monitors).

* Cyber Knight Security Shield configured from a bouquet of open-source software (no need for expensive anti-virus suites).

Specialized Customer Services:

1. Creation of Recovery Disks.

2. Data Recovery (if data can be recovered).

3. Wipe and Reload Process with Recovery Disk.

3a. Option if no recovery disk is available:
May replace hard drive. Replace operating system with Windows 10 Home OEM, which
includes a physical recovery disk. (OEM is superior to off-the-shelf retail version of Windows.)

4. Basic Tune-up - Tutorial for customer to use maintenance tools available to them to keep
machine running well and avoid expensive repairs. Security is the key issue.

5. Search and Installation of Critical System Drivers.

6. Spyware and Virus Search and Removal - Badly infected machines may require wipe and
reload.

7. System Troubleshooting (for hardware, software and/or settings issues).

8. Laptop and Desktop Repair (PCs only).

9. Custom Builder - Machines personalized per customer's specifications.

10. Remote Access (when practical). Much less expensive than physical service call.

11. Linux Operating System Installer.

12. Pick-up and delivery, within 60-mile radius of Claremont, at rate of $0.25/mile.

* Call between 9:00 am -- 5:00 pm. No text messages.

* Appointments must be kept. Otherwise, 24-hr notice to change appointment.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2016, 07:09:27 am by FranCo Free »
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FranCo Free

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Re: Computer Freedom and Liberity and Big Brother !!!
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2016, 12:26:22 pm »

The Fourth Amendment

Text of Amendment:


"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
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Luck

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Re: Computer Freedom and Liberity and Big Brother !!!
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2016, 10:21:09 am »

I think you should change the title of this thread so readers will know from the title that you build secure expandable computers.

Also, you should offer classes to teach others how to do the same thing.

Also, you should explain how to make electronics secure from EM pulses from nuclear explosions and solar coronal mass ejections.

Also, we may need an alternative internet. Is that feasible?
« Last Edit: March 02, 2016, 10:25:13 am by Luck »
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Luck

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Re: Computer Freedom and Liberity and Big Brother !!!
« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2016, 01:21:53 pm »

By the way, could you list your prices here for the various kinds of computers that you build?
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FranCo Free

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Re: Computer Freedom and Liberity and Big Brother !!!
« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2016, 03:06:20 pm »

I highly value input from the folks who read my posts/threads.

 Reply; to Luck!!

I would like to get the title right.  In your opinion, what would be a good title for this thread?

Re classes and seminars:  That's a possibility.  I could give seminars on more than computer construction and security.  I spend 25+ yrs in different trades, including electrical/mechanical.  Troubleshooting was my specialty.  I would determine what was wrong with a system and then I fixed it.  I also spent some time working in a welding shop.  I have a basic understanding of welding and carpentry.  That's why my venture into computing fits me well.

Is there a better place for me to post, other than the Friendly Forum?

Re prices:  The price of a custom-built computer is contingent upon what the computer will be used for, that is, how much power will be required; and also upon which operating system will be installed (Microsoft Windows or Linux).  Personally, I prefer Linux.  People are already accustomed to paying the cost of security suites (such as, McAfee, Norton, etc.) and for the Windows Office Suite.  Funds saved from not having to purchase security suites or Windows Office Suite will be reallocated directly to the cost of the machine itself.  Over a 5-yr period, the machine should have paid for itself.  I anticipate that the life expectancy of this machine will be a minimum of 15 yrs, depending on future big technology changes.
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Luck

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Re: Computer Freedom and Liberity and Big Brother !!!
« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2016, 02:35:32 pm »

A better title for this thread would probably be something like:
I build High Quality Very Secure Expandable Computers, Contact me asap.

I think you should mention some sample prices that you would charge.

The best places to contact potential Free Stater customers may be local meetings, major events like PorcFest and Liberty Forum and Live Free or Die Rally. Hand out biz cards there or hire someone to hand them out for you. And talk to people there. Wear a sign that says See me about your High Quality, Very Secure, Expandable Computer needs. If they're not too expensive you could add the word Affordable.

You could hire Dave Ridley to interview you about your FSP interest and your business. He writes in the General Discussion part of this forum. And he has a Youtube channel etc.

Ian Freeman & Mark ? have a radio show in Keene called Free Talk Live. I think their website has a list of ads for their sponsors. So you could try advertising there. You can also call in to their show. Here's their link: https://www.freetalklive.com . I see there's an advertiser there who says proXPN Hide your IP.

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FranCo Free

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Re: I build High Quality Very Secure Expandable Computers, Contact me asap.
« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2016, 11:01:42 am »

Liberty and Independence - Custom-Built Computer Line

Note to Luck; On the FSP web page, there is a place to list porcupine-friendly businesses.  Do you know how I would arrange to be listed there?

Note 1:  The specifications below are very basic.  There's a lot more to the story; some things have been addressed in previous posts.

When you consider the price of the basic machines below, take into account the reallocation of funds.

Note 2:  In the basic price below, please remember to take into account that you won't have to buy a security suite every year.  I recently had a discussion with a knowledgeable friend about Windows 365, which is a rented office suite.  Windows seems to be going down the road to where you will have to rent everything.  This fits into the concept of Cloud computing, where everything will be metered.  Metered settings already exist in Windows 10.

Note 3:  Why is Linux the better choice?  Why is Linux less expensive?

1.  Linux is open-source.  It includes Libre Office Suite.  It has no product key.
2.  Linux will need only the very basic anti-virus protection.  Linux does not have the inherent “bug” and/or virus problem that Windows has.
3.  Linux is not going to be metered.
4.  Linux does not have a constant disk management/maintenance problem.  Windows is very fragile.  You must run Windows disk management programs at least once a week to keep it operating well.



I. Liberty Custom-Built Computer Line


Basic machine consists of:
Tower alone. No peripherals.
Quad-Core Intel i5 processor
16 MB RAM
Full-size ATX board (upper mid-range)
DVD Drive
Multi-tasking capability
Case has space for five internal drive bays and three external drive bays.
Six USB ports, HDMI port, and DVI port on back of tower
Two USB ports on front panel
Operating System Options:
Windows 10 Home OEM version and recovery disk (OEM superior to retail version; no bloatware)
Linux Mint and recovery disk
Cost of Basic Liberty Platform:
Basic Liberty machine with Windows 10 Home OEM = $850
Basic Liberty machine with Linux Mint = $750

II. Independence Custom-Built Computer Line

Basic machine consists of:
Tower alone. No peripherals.
Dual-Core Pentium processor
8 GB RAM
Micro-ATX board
DVD Drive
Ports and drive bays same as in Liberty Line
Operating System Options: Same as for Liberty Line
Cost of Basic Independence Platform:
Basic Independence machine with Windows 10 Home OEM and disk = $750
Basic Independence machine with Linux Mint and disk = $650

The above are basic platforms. I will also build to your specifications and needs at extra cost.
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Luck

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Re: I build High Quality Very Secure Expandable Computers, Contact me asap.
« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2016, 12:50:06 am »

Hi FranCo. Here's the contact form for the FSP site: https://freestateproject.org/contact
I don't know if they have a phone # listed on the site. If not, you may be able to contact FSP on their Facebook page fairly quickly. The FSP pres seems to post there, so maybe you can contact her there.

In your previous message, I think what people would be most impressed with is what you have said about the junk that's included in most computers and how Microsoft and others are trying to force computer users to be herded into being their customers paying high prices for services. You have some of that info in the previous post, but I think it needs to stand out. It looks like it's in small print almost, but it should be in larger bold print, some of it in colored text.

The list of what you put into your computers should also include a list of what you remove that will help protect customers from the robber barons like Microsoft, so we'll have more freedom. You should also show how much money customers save by not having to buy antivirus and other costs that you save them from.

I have an Acer laptop, Aspire One. Do you build laptops in a similar way as other computers? Some of the keys on my laptop keyboard stopped working, so I got a separate keyboard that I plug into it. I don't like the touch pad either, so I plug in a mouse also. If you do laptops, what would be your minimum price? Would you rebuild a customer's laptop? Or would you buy laptops in bulk and rebuild those?

By the way, you should try to make it easier for customers to contact you. Don't you have a website? That should be prominent in your message.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2016, 12:52:07 am by Luck »
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FranCo Free

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Re: I build High Quality Very Secure Expandable Computers, Contact me asap.
« Reply #12 on: March 12, 2016, 11:26:10 am »

Hello, Luck

Thank you very much for your input; it's been very helpful.  I really appreciate your taking the time to comment on my posts.  I've been very busy lately working on a big project, but in 4-5 days I'll put together the information you suggested.

Regarding laptops.  Yes, I do work on laptops, but there's a limit to how much can be done.  Some laptop parts are standardized, but most are specialized.  For example, the other day I swapped out the mother board on an old laptop.  In order to change out a mother board on a laptop, you have to completely disassemble it.  The rule of thumb is that the thinner the device, the more challenging and labor intensive it is to take it apart and put it back together.  The price of rebuilding a laptop depends on the complexity of the laptop and the cost of the parts (which can be very expensive).

I'm going to make the contacts you suggested and I'll repost my results.  I do plan to have my own website, but right now it's not in my budget.

Best wishes,
FranCo 
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Luck

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Re: I build High Quality Very Secure Expandable Computers, Contact me asap.
« Reply #13 on: March 12, 2016, 01:51:09 pm »

Why not put up a free website, like at Webs.com?
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