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General

Update – Social Isolation

It’s been a while since I’ve done an actual update right? I usually just repost my Quora answers here and don’t really do actual blog posts anymore.

Well, that’s probably because for the past 2 years nothing especially interesting has happened in my life besides depressing things. In Jan 2018, I made a life-altering mistake to take out 3 personal loans to dump into crypto – because I thought it was only a temporary dip – turned out to be a full on crash – I lost 80% of my crypto money – including $80k in profit. that means I had lost in total about $150k in crypto – a fact I verified by looking at my Gemini ballances. In order to pay back the loan, I was forced to renovate + sell my SF apartment. Then I subsequently lost the proceeds / profit of my SF apartment in a massive crypto scam (QuadrigaCX). So I ended up in Vancouver with basically nothing, no money/savings, no job, no friends, and desperate for a place to live. At the time I needed to find a place fast so I looked on craiglist, and found the cheapest place that was stiill in Vancouver and the landlord knew that I was in a desperate situation and took advantage of me. 

I only lived in that Vancouver place for like half the year, since I was traveling in Korea/San Francisco/Toronto other times and moved out early. The place was terrible, it was a one room that I had to share with 5-6 other housemates, the bed was crawling with bugs when I got there, and the landlord was a total asshole. I was so sick of that landlord. He was completely paranoid, he installed a kitchen camera to take videos of people to make sure they are following the house rules which is ridiculous and probably illegal, always blamed me for breaking house rules, fined me several times for things as small as leaving dishes in the sink too long, raised my rent because I ‘used too much electricity’, took all the rent in cash (probably evading taxes I figure), and to top it all off, he took 85% of my security deposit in the end. I should have known. He wrote in the contract that he was entitled to all my security deposit if I broke any house rules – I didn’t read the contract carefully enough as I was desperate at the time – and gave him two months rent ($1800 CAD) for first + last month’s rent. Then in Feb, he asked me to pay the month’s rent and I told him, I thought he just deduct it from my security deposit and he said ‘that’s not how it works’. In retrospect, I should have known he was trying to get more money from me. It doesn’t make sense for him to ask me for more money since that security deposit included the last month’s rent. Anyways like a sucker, I paid him. Later that month I moved to Burnaby as I found a new place – MUCH better – not only living by myself, but now in a nice high rise building with a lovely balcony and view as well – the space is also MUCH bigger – it’s a big studio and the rent was only $500 more. But my landlord kept hounding me. Somehow a piece of garbage I had thrown out before, came back into the house and my landlord of course blamed me for it, so I had to pay $40 in Uber rides just to go back to my old apartment and throw out that piece of garbage. Then later that month I had to give him back the keys as my contract was up. He asked me to also give back the copy of the contract he had gave me for some reason. This was weird – he already had a copy of the contract why would he ask  for mine? Anyways just like a fool – I gave him the keys and contract back and he told me he was keeping the majority of my security deposit because I had ‘broken too many house rules’ which makes NO sense as I was only in the house half the year anyways! and it’s not liike I broke those rules on purpose. What I should have done was kept the keys from him until he gave me back my security deposit – what could he have done? evict me? I was already out of that place. Call the cops? I didnt do anything wrong. I should have stood up for mysellf more. Instead I let my landlord bully me and take all my money – like a sucker. Got scammed right after getting scammed. What a fool I  am.

I also finally got my taxes done – it was really complicated because of the QuadrigaCX scam last year – I ended up writing off a total of $576,000 CAD – I can apply half as capital losses to my capital gains in the future indefinitely. In addition – I finally sold the rest of my crypto holdings for $48k last month – this was when BTC finally went back up over $10k. I took the chance and sold everything. This was much less than what I could have gotten had I sold last summer – I would have made at least $55k-60k had I sold last summer – but I was a fool back then and was waiting for $100k for some reason. This year I wanted to really make amends for some of my previous mistakes I made over the past 2 years. One of those mistakes was holding crypto too long. So anyways, I took a loss of about $72k USD – I had initially invested $150k USD in crypto, but after subtracting everything I got out of crypto during the last 3 years, my total loss was $72k USD (or $96k CAD). That’s additional capital losses I will claim on my next year’s tax return, giving me a total of (($570k + $96k) / 2) = $333k CAD I can apply to capital gains in the future. This is probably enough to cover any capital gains for the next 20 years for me. 

In addition, I also decided to reconcile my relationship with my old friend Ethan – the main reason being that it was difficult to meet a friend who shares similar interests. Yes, I know I wrote a massive blog post about this guy in May 2018 about how much of  a douchebag he was – but I came to realize that I can probably put up with this just to have somebody I can talk to about tech, asia and games – it’s quite difficult to meet a good friend like that actually. So this was another mistake from the past 2 years I mended. 

 Speaking of making friends – yes it has been very difficult to me making friends in Vancouver. Part of the reason is because I work from home, so there’s no coworker ties to introduce me to new friends, which is how I made my best friend Tony in San Francisco. Another reason is the meetups in Vancouver are not as big as the meetups in SF even, and definitely not as big as the ones in Seoul. The last time I went to a meetup was last Oct, and the last time I met up for an actual event with my Vancouver friends was last June. That’s a long time ago. After last Oct, I was consistently busy after then. Nov – I was in San Francisco / took a Bahamas trip with my family. Dec – I was in Toronto / Orillia. Jan – I was in San Francisco, then I had to take a trip with my gf since she visited me in Vancouver, to Banff. Feb – I had to deal with moving all my stuff over to my new Burnaby apartment – took at least 2 rental cars over the course of 2 weekends to do it. And now this month – first I had to take a trip to Arizona  for a company retreat and then – coronavirus pandemic – can’t really go outside or go to any events much. 

So yeah.. quarantined just like everyone else at the moment. It doesn’t affect me all that much since I work from home and  am an introvert so its not too much of a lifestyle change from me – but it does make it even more difficult for me to meet anyone new in Vancouver. In addition, I have no idea when I can visit my gf in Korea. We’ve been trying to do video calls consistently but of course, I need to physically meet her sooner or later. I really hope the COVID-1 9 pandemic will subside soon but who knows – currently it’s affecting everything from our social relationships to the stock market (which I am currently shorting at the moment because I think a recession is inevitable at this point). I haven’t met anyone I know physically in almost a month (last time was my co-workers in Arizona). We’ll see how much longer this can go on, but it really feels like we’re living in a dystopian / post apocalyptic world where everyone outside are essentially infected zombies. 

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General

5 things I don’t like about Korea and USA

As much as I like living in both Korea and America, I have some complaints about both countries. Yes, I know no country is perfect, so here’s my biggest gripes about each.

5 things I don’t like about living in South Korea

1. Racism
I wish Koreans would stop worshipping white people and treating white people different than other foreigners. Black people, Hispanics, and other non-Korean Asians all get treated differently, or “lower” than white people get treated and this is an issue common to most Asian countries I think. Because of Hollywood and history, white people get looked up upon and Koreans think of themselves as “better” than other Asians.

2. Citizenship
Its very difficult for a foreigner to become a Korean citizen. There’s really only a few ways, either marry a Korean national, have Korean heritage but live abroad, invest $5m into the Korean economy, or become a Korean cultural ambassador. So for the majority of us foreigners the only reliable option is to marry a Korean, which I’m not opposed to, but its difficult meeting a girl to marry when you can’t live here permanently. And you have to marry to live here permanently. Working here for any amount of time doesn’t cut it.

3. Online security
Doing anything online, buying tickets for a movie, getting internet, going to naver cafes, online shopping, transferring money to a bank account, getting a cellphone contract etc all requires a Korean resident number (only Korean citizens have that), or requires an Foreigner ID card (only foreigners with a work permit have that). So if you are living in Korea short term like me, good luck getting those things online. Its a major headache and hassle.

4. Work culture
The work culture in Korea is very strict. You have to follow what your boss tells you do and can’t talk back. You can’t leave work until your boss does. You have to go drinking with your boss if he tells you do. Overtime and Weekend work is normal. That’s why I don’t to work for a Korean company. But they have to get with the times and change these rules. Its way too strict and hinders intellectual and career development. Also, you’re encouraged to stay with the same company to show your loyalty. These rules are pretty different than Chinese work culture where there is more freedom of movement.

5. Gender equality
the recent murder of a girl in Gangnam by a guy who hated women prompted some people to talk about gender equality and misogynists in Korea. But unlike in America, where girls complain about sexism in every single thing imaginable, in Korea its very real.

There is a 30% work pay gap between Korean women and men, and that is the highest gap in the OECD. Korean women are pressured to look pretty all the time, and some have to get plastic surgery to find a job. They are discriminated against if they get pregnant while on the job and can be dismissed. In America, people can sue for this, but in Korea women are too afraid of retaliation to even try. In fact, online Korean bloggers even trying to talk about women’s rights get attacked viciously online by Korean males who don’t want women to have more rights.

In the US, there is the benefit of American males who have sympathy for feminists, but the reason why you don’t see many feminists in Korea is because its a patriarchal society, and people are afraid of retaliation and backlash, where Korean men don’t have that much sympathy for the women.

5 things I don’t like about living in USA

1. People love guns too much
I have to talk about this yet again, because recently a popular Youtube singer was murdered out in the open right in front of all her fans. Nowhere else in the world would this happen but in the US.

America has a gun problem. They think more guns is the solution, not the cause. They have 310 million of them and its impossible to take them away. Pro-guns people usually say banning guns won’t keep criminals from killing people, they will find ways to get guns or other weapons.

I don’t disagree with that, but I think the reason how they can get other guns in a city like Chicago for instance, which has a lot of murders but strict gun laws, is because they can always get it from states or cities with more loose gun restrictions. Because in America every state is different, people can just buy guns without a background check from a private gun dealer or gun show in a state with loose gun laws and take them to a state with strong gun laws and shoot people.
The solution is ban guns everywhere like in Canada/Europe/Australia/Korea/Japan/most of the developed world.

As for criminals finding other weapons, well a knife is quite less lethal than a gun. A knife is a short range weapon and multiple stabbings are required, whereas for a gun its long range, and multiple shots can kill multiple people at once. A gun is far more deadly than a knife is, so if a criminal uses a knife, a lot less deaths will happen. The time it takes for a person to stab someone fatally versus a fatal gunshot. You can’t say that stabbing someone is faster. A bullet travels way faster than a hand does. In a mass shooting situation, that happens a lot faster than a mass stabbing situation.

Plus, a lot of these mass shootings happen not from criminals, but from ordinary citizens with mental health problems. They aren’t criminals until they commit the act. Which means, banning guns 100% from every state is the right choice so that common citizens can’t get access to them easily.

Another argument people make for guns is that they need them for self defense (against intruders or the government) or for hunting purposes. My response is, in 2016 why do you need to hunt, since fresh meat is widely available, and why is a gun necessary for self defense when a knife will do? The same people who say that knives are just as deadly as guns (foolishly arguing against my point above) will defend this point in pure contradiction and say that no, knives are not as deadly as guns are. And what chance do you stand against a military that has access to choppers, tanks, bazookas, stealth jets etc. This ain’t the 18th century anymore.

2. People think socialism is evil

We all know that there is a lot of uneducated people in the US, which is how Trump became the Republican nominee for President. 70% of them don’t have a university degree. So unfortunately a lot of them don’t understand exactly what democratic socialism is. They hear socialism, and they equate that to communism which equals Soviet Union/Red China/Cuba/Vietnam for them, and they hate it. They think that Obama or Bernie Sanders are communists. Which is blatantly ridiculous.

Canada/Europe/Korea/Japan/Taiwan/Australia/Scandinavia/etc a great majority of developed countries in the world practice democratic socialism, basically its the idea that the people pay more taxes and in return the government provides more welfare. The US is already like this in some sense because of Medicare/Medicaid/Social Security. The problem is Americans are selfish and don’t want to pay more taxes to help their kids get better education, or themselves to get easier access to healthcare. When they are already paying taxes to help the US military invade other countries. So very ironic.

3. People care more about fetuses / animals than other human beings

the shooting of a gorilla because a family’s 4 year old son went into the cage prompts people to care more about the gorilla than the child. In Hollywood movies, you are more likely to see an adult get killed than a dog or a cat.
Conservatives are fine with lax gun laws that facilitate mass shootings of fully developed human beings but are against abortion, which is a pre-developed human being.
I don’t get it.

4. Politically correct bullshit

When I go to IGN or PC Gamer I don’t expect to see article about body shaming or fat shaming. I expect to see articles about gaming. I don’t want to see 50% of the news coming from formerly respected magazines like Economist and BBC and TIME and websites like Verge or Techcrunch or Engadget constantly post crap about feminist / gender / equality bullshit. I want to see actual news about what they are supposed to talk about! World events! Tech news!

People care too much about being politically correct. calling someone fat will likely result in your getting ostracized for it “body shaming”. Complimenting a girl too much is “sexual harassement” and “objectifying”. You can’t make any comment that can me misconstrued as racist, sexist, stereotyping, etc if you don’t have enough diversity in your company or game or movie, then you get criticized “not enough girls”, “not enough gays”, “not enough blacks”, “not enough transgenders” etc. Everyone is offended by everything. In short, I hate the politically correct “progressive” society that we live in today.

Here’s an example of how much ridiculous politically correct shit get into my newsfeed, this is just in the last 15 days from my Facebook wall:

why do diversity quotas exist again?
more BS articles about the supposed plight of women
Cat calling is now a crime
gender equality emojis
We can’t be having men write womens roles anymore thats a problem
Transgender bathrooms yay
lets combine two of our most inaccurate reported things together, gays and unequal pay gap
Women apparently have been “oppressed” in Hollywood until now!
Canadian anthem should be gender neutral
Womens rights. because no one else cares about gender equality right?
People are angry that an animation has a fat person in it
Fat makes you beautiful
Not allowed to be racist inviting someone to your home
Don’t like a movie because of the characters? you must be sexist
No swimsuits for beauty pageants because a beauty pageant wasn’t about looks? oh right..
Caitlyn Jenner news
feminism in tv shows needs to be highlighted for some reason
somehow single women need to be highlighted because they are single
Apparently having 1 more black kid in the don’t do category makes this saftey poster racist
forcing everyone to be a feminist
Miss Piggy is a feminist
New term “Manosphere” for men who deny women discrimination
every movie has to have a gay character now, even Star Wars
Now we have to throw our racist prejudice onto other countries too
Porn teaches men to objectify women (you don’t say!)
apparently you should be as fat as you want to
Implying that being fat and ugly is better than being slim and attractive
Implying that women are single are better than women who are married
Laws that prevent women from being forced to wear high heels
Articles that imply that women have to dress up more than guys
Remakes using all-female casts
implying that not voting for Hillary Clinton is sexist
A ‘leadership gap’ between men and women
Being against recasting Hermione from Harry Potter as a black person is racist
Schools have sexist dress codes
A strong female superhero that gets assaulted by the main villain is too violent
Financial crisis helped narrow the gender wage gap
Celebrities who think women are better than men
The Sims PC game allows you to be transgender

Now lets look at these sources… CNET, Economist, Eurogamer, BBC, TIME, etc. Wow thats a lot of feminist/diversity agenda being pushed down our throats every day. Now you know why I’m annoyed by this.

ridiculous political BS
ridiculous political BS

5. Gender Equality

I think Gender Equality is BS, and I’m probably the first to go ahead and openly say this. Go ahead mock me and hate on me all you want. I have my reasons. Feminists complain about small trivial things that they think are owed to them and hate on men without thinking about how much opportunity they have in the world compared to other women in the world.

They don’t think about the fact that men and women were born unequal, are biologically unequal, mentally unequal, have done different roles in society for millennia, and should continue to do so because they are good at different tasks. Women are better at taking care of kids, dealing with people etc thats why a lot of women are receptionists, service people, etc Men are better at dealing with physical labor, being scientists/engineers, fighting in battles etc and thats what they have traditionally done. One of the points I love about Korea is that the gender roles are very divided and separated and the guys do what the guys do best and the girls do what the girls do best. And there’s no complaining from either side. And look how much faster Korean life operates as a result! Its more optimal, more efficient that way.

I hate that everything a guy says in western society can be misconstrued as sexist or misogynist by today’s feminists and its just insane to think that. And not only that its a double standard against men. For example, you can have a movie that promotes feminist values and in the same movie you have girls ogling over a buff guy with his shirt off for half the movie. What kind of double standard is that? So girls can say sexist things and objectify men but guys can’t? That’s the definition of gender inequality. The same thing with that X-men article I linked earlier. So feminists want a strong woman to be a superhero and fight the bad guy but cry misogyny when the main villain chokes her? You can’t pick and choose which things are equal for you!

That’s why gender equality is complete BS, at least the way I’ve seen it played out online.

Edit: 6. Stereotypes/Racism

I don’t like how Americans have these stereotypes about non-whites, especially when it comes to mass shootings and mass killings. The recent Orlando shooting was a great example. That guy never said he was a Muslim and automatically all the media outlets reported that he was a Mulism and terrorist and pledged to ISIS because of his name! Despite all his family and friends saying its a hate crime. Just a few weeks later, a Texas mom shoots two of her daughters. I’m going to let you guess, do you think she was labeled a terrorist? Oh of course not, because she was white, so she had mental issues. A week after that, a Palestinian boy killed an American girl in her sleep in Israel. I’m going to let you guess again, do you think he was labeled a terrorist even though the situation is not that different than the other one? Of course! he was labeled a terrorist. Because he was of middle eastern background.

There you go people, now we know how the media reports things. White = mental issues. Middle east background/Muslim = terrorist. Black = gang related violence. This just feeds into peoples stereotypes and hate which is also exactly where Trump is getting his supporters.

On a side note, how about these ISIS attacks eh? There’s been ISIS attacks everywhere, in Istanbul, in Brussels, in Paris, in Tunisia, in Syria, in Iraq, in India, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, in Lebanon, etc but just take a wild guess which attacks got the most media coverage? That’s right! The attacks that happened in Western countries! I know some people might be saying, well of course Western media will report on Western attacks the most, but thats simply not true. In fact, media outlets around the world devoted much more attention to the Brussels/Paris attacks than to any other ISIS related attack. In fact did you know that a tornado happened in Jiangsu, China just a few days ago? No? Well I guess you wouldn’t, because Western media outlets never reported it. On the other hand, Chinese and Korean media outlets very widely reported the Paris attacks and Orlando shootings. In fact, I believe the Paris and Orlando attacks got more coverage in China than their own tornado disaster which killed 99 Chinese! How messed up is that.

Facebook made their famous profile generator tool in support of Paris victims. I’m sure you’ve seen it, since almost everyone on Facebook and social media started changing their profile pictures to support Paris victims. But the Beirut attack that happened around the same time? The Istanbul attack that happened a few days ago? Nope. No Facebook profile generator tool. Not many people on social media even said much about it. On Kakaotalk, a Korean application, I saw many “pray for Paris” messages on there but not a single “pray for Istanbul”, “pray for Baghdad”. Nope. This just reinforces the issue that Western societies seem to get the most coverage out of any society in the world. The world is Western centric, and has been throughout history. In fact, who are the most famous people in history? The most famous scientists, conquerors, discoverers, kings etc? All Westerners right? Newton, Einstein, Shakespeare, Lincoln, Washington, Columbus, we all know these people. Do we know their Asian equivalents? Do we know their Persian equivalents? No, of course not! The great navigator Zheng He is far less known than Columbus. Shen Kuo, a famous Chinese polymath who made many important discoveries long before Europeans did, is far less known than Leonard da Vinci is.

So yes there’s another issue I have with the world, is that its based around Western society.





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Business Tech

Ideas and Improvements for Apple’s Siri

Siri, the personal digital assistant
Siri, the personal digital assistant

Recently I’ve been quite interested in Apple’s Siri, ever since I received my iPhone 4S and watching the WWDC Developer’s conference. At first I thought it was just a novelty, but upon seeing the upcoming features in iOS 6, my interest has been heightened. I’m interested in machine learning, AI, UI design, and aggregating content, as I’ve tried to do before. See: History of speech AI and How Siri works.

Concept and Functionality
Siri is essentially a search / AI engine thats powered by the voice.

The original Siri application relied upon a number of partners, including:
OpenTable, Gayot, CitySearch, BooRah, Yelp, Yahoo Local, ReserveTravel, Localeze for restaurant and business questions and actions;
Eventful, StubHub, and LiveKick for events and concert information;
MovieTickets, Rotten Tomatoes, and the New York Times for movie information and reviews;
Bing Answers and Wolfram Alpha for factual question answering;
Bing, Yahoo, and Google for web search.
Apple integrated it with default iOS functionality, such as contacts, calendars and text messages. It also supports search from Google, Bing, Yahoo, Wolfram Alpha and Wikipedia. Siri also works with Google Maps and Yelp! search in the United States only.

Context specific service searching
What I would like to see is Siri searching certain services depending on what keywords are being said. For example, if I say a query such as “What is the Earth’s circumference?” or “What is the area of a circle?” then it should direct me to Wolfram Alpha because Siri recognizes these queries as mathematical questions.
Asking about the news should take me to the New York Times, CNN or maybe show me some blog posts, tweets, etc.
Famous persons or companies can take me to their wikipedia page, twitter page, facebook page and website.
If I asked a knowledge question such as “Who was Rene Descartes?” or “Who invented basketball?” then it should direct me to a Wikipedia article or Yahoo/Bing Answers page. Location queries should pull up Google (or soon Apple) Maps.
Programming questions should take me to StackOverflow or some related forums.
Food queries will pull up Yelp and OpenTable to make a reservation and read reviews.
Asking about travel should pull up Priceline/Expedia/Kayak and TripAdvisor.
Movie based queries should take me to Fandango and Rottentomatoes, concert tickets to TicketMaster and event tickets to EventBrite.
Job related queries can take me to LinkedIn or Glassdoor.
In short, Siri should link all these Web 2.0 companies (that all have an API) together. Its the ultimate content aggregator.

update:
I think it would be better if you said the name of the service that you want Siri to pull from if there’s multiple sources.
So for example, if I were to say “Java, Wikipedia” – then Siri would pull from Wikipedia. But “Java, Google” would just do a google search,
and “Java, Stack Overflow” would search stack overflow for the keyword. This would make it easy and intuitive for Siri to bring up the correct response.

Integration with web and OS X
How about having Siri come to Macs and PCs? How about having Siri be accessible as a web application running on the cloud? Almost all computers come with microphones, so why not? I see the advantage of making Siri exclusive to iOS but soon I think Apple should make it widely available.

Text input
The main problem with me using Siri is that it looks awkward when I’m talking to it in a public place, or using it at a meeting can be distracting. So Siri should take text input to fix that. I’m sure some Java parser in the backend is translating natural speech into strings anyway, so it shouldn’t be too hard to make a text based option.

Expanding services
Siri should be able to integrate with countless Web 2.0 services. And it should be locale specific. If I’m in China, then Siri should integrate with Baidu, QQ, Sina, etc. If I’m looking for a deal, then Siri can pull up Groupon. Point is, Siri can be the glue that ties all these services together. And maybe pulling up Youtube when I’m looking for a funny cat video or something. Perhaps Siri can learn from users in general, in context, and know what to say in response depending on what other users have said to it (a la Cleverbot).

Social integration and Ad delivery
Siri now provides Apple with the same data as Facebook. It can learn about a user’s behavior, their location, their preferences, their hobbies, etc. Anything about a user can be learnt through Siri, so now Apple can do anything and everything that Facebook can do, including delivering targeted ads. If Siri knows you’ve been going to mexican restaurants lately, maybe it can show you an ad from another mexican restaurant nearby. Or maybe suggest you to buy Star Wars from iTunes or Netflix if you’ve been watching sci-fi movies lately. Or maybe show some ads from ESPN if you’ve been watching or asking about sports alot. Or direct me to the iTunes store for Usher’s new album or concert if I’ve been listening to a lot of his songs. Since Siri knows everything about you, it can be the ultimate ad and content delivery vessel.

Better Multilingual support and Translation
Siri will integrate with over 15 languages with iOS 6, so I would like to see quality recognition for different dialects and accents, particularly for Asian languages. And this would probably require a lot of native speakers and language specialists, but I think if Siri can do this well, then it could also be the best translator (by storing speech patterns and tonal variance). We all know Google Translate sucks for Asian languages, so I’m sure Apple can do it better!

Now that Siri is multilingual and will integrate with car manufacturers soon (potentially replacing navigation), I see lots of potential with it in the future. It has the possibility of overshadowing Google or Facebook, since it both searches by voice, and retains user information. So these are just some of my ideas for future improvements from Siri, but where it goes remains to be seen.


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