Search Results: "enrico"

17 January 2021

Enrico Zini: OpenStreetMap maps links

Some interesting renderings of OpenStreetMap data: If you want to print out local maps, MyOSMatic is a service to generate maps of cities using OpenStreetMap data. The generated maps are available in PNG, PDF and SVG formats and are ready to be printed. On a terminal? Sure: MapSCII is a Braille & ASCII world map renderer for the console: telnet mapscii.me and explore the map with the mouse, keyboard arrows, and a and z to zoom, c to switch to block character mode, q to quit. Alternatively you can fly over it, and you might have to dodge the rare map editing bug, or have fun landing on it: A typo created a 212-story monolith in Microsoft Flight Simulator

10 January 2021

Enrico Zini: Viewing OpenStreetMap

weeklyOSM posts lots of interesting links. Here are some beautiful views of OpenStreetMap edits and renderings:

3 January 2021

Enrico Zini: COVID-19 vaccines

COVID-19 vaccination has started, and this site tracks progress in Italy. This site, world-wide. Reverse Engineering the source code of the BioNTech/Pfizer SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine has a pretty good description of the BioNTech/Pfizer SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine, codon by codon, broken down in a way that I managed to follow. From the same author, DNA seen through the eyes of a coder

1 November 2020

Enrico Zini: Gender and pop culture links

Growing up framed as a somewhat nerdy male, I was exposed to a horrible mainstream narrative for relationships. I really like how these two links take some of it apart and make its serious problems visible: The narrative for mainstream-desirable males also needs questioning: And since I posted a link about unreasonable expectations towards male bodies:

29 October 2020

Ulrike Uhlig: Better handling emergencies

We all know these situations when we receive an email asking Can you check the design of X, I need a reply by tonight. Or an instant message: My website went down, can you check? Another email: I canceled a plan at the hosting company, can you restore my website as fast as possible? A phone call: The TLS certificate didn t get updated, and now we can t access service Y. Yet another email: Our super important medical advice website is suddenly being censored in country Z, can you help? Everyone knows those messages that have URGENT in capital letters in the email subject. It might be that some of them really are urgent. Others are the written signs of someone having a hard time properly planning their own work and passing their delays on to someone who comes later in the creation or production chain. And others again come from people who are overworked and try to delegate some of their tasks to a friendly soul who is likely to help.

How emergencies create more emergencies In the past, my first reflex when I received an urgent request was to start rushing into solutions. This happened partly out of empathy, partly because I like to be challenged into solving problems, and I m fairly good at that. This has proven to be unsustainable, and here is why.

Emergencies create unplanned work The first issue is that emergencies create a lot of unplanned work. Which in turn means not getting other, scheduled, things done. This can create a backlog, end up in working late, or working on weekends.

Emergencies can create a permanent state of exception Unplanned work can also create a lot of frustration, out of the feeling of not getting the things done that one planned to do. We might even get a feeling of being nonautonomous (in German I would say fremdbestimmt, which roughly translates to being directed by others ). On the long term, this can generate unsustainable situations: higher work loads, and burnout. When working in a team of several people, A might have to take over the work of B because B has not enough capacities. Then A gets overloaded in turn, and C and D have to take over A s work. Suddenly the team is stuck in a permanent state of exception. This state of exception will produce more backlog. The team might start to deprioritize social issues over getting technical things done. They might not be able to recruit new people anymore because they have no capacity left to onboard newcomers.

One emergency can result in a variety of emergencies for many people The second issue produced by urgent requests is that if I cannot solve the initial emergency by myself, I might try to involve colleagues, other people who are skilled in the area, or people who work in another relevant organization to help with this. Suddenly, the initial emergency has become my emergency as well as the emergency of a whole bunch of other people.

A sidenote about working with friends This might be less of an issue in a classical work setup than in a situation in which a bunch of freelancers work together, or in setups in which work and friendships are intertwined. This is a problem, because the boundaries between friend and worker role, and the expectations that go along with these roles, can get easily confused. If a colleague asks me to help with task X, I might say no; if a friend asks, I might be less likely to say no.

What I learnt about handling emergencies I came up with some guidelines that help me to better handle emergencies.

Plan for unplanned work It doesn t matter and it doesn t help to distinguish if urgent requests are legitimate or if they come from people who have not done their homework on time. What matters is to make one s weekly todo list sustainable. After reading Making work visible by Domenica de Grandis, I understood the need to add free slots for unplanned work into one s weekly schedule. Slots for unplanned work can take up to 25% of the total work time!

Take time to make plans Now that there are some free slots to handle emergencies, one can take some time to think when an urgent request comes in. A German saying proposes to wait and have some tea ( abwarten und Tee trinken ). I think this is actually really good advice, and works for any non-obvious problem. Sit down and let the situation sink in. Have a tea, take a shower, go for a walk. It s never that urgent. Really, never. If possible, one can talk about the issue with another person, rubberduck style. Then one can make a plan on how to address the emergency properly, it could be that the solution is easier than at first thought.

Affirming boundaries: Saying no Is the emergency that I m asked to solve really my problem? Or is someone trying to involve me because they know I m likely to help? Take a deep breath and think about it. No? It s not my job, not my role? I have no time for this right now? I don t want to do it? Maybe I m not even paid for it? A colleague is pushing my boundaries to get some task on their own todo list done? Then I might want to say no. I can t help with this. or I can help you in two weeks. I don t need to give a reason. No. is a sentence. And: Saying no doesn t make me an arse.

Affirming boundaries: Clearly defining one s role Clearly defining one s role is something that is often overlooked. In many discussions I have with friends it appears that this is a major cause of overwork and underpayment. Lots of people are skilled, intelligent, and curious, and easily get challenged into putting on their super hero dress. But they re certainly not the only person that can help even if an urgent request makes them think that at first. To clearly define our role, we need to make clear which part of the job is our work, and which part needs to be done by other people. We should stop trying to accomodate people and their requests to the detriment of our own sanity. You re a language interpreter and are being asked to mediate a bi-lingual conflict between the people you are interpreting for? It s not your job. You re the graphic designer for a poster, but the text you ve been given is not good enough? Send back a recommendation to change the text; don t do these changes yourself: it s not your job. But you can and want to do this yourself and it would make your client s life easier? Then ask them to get paid for the extra time, and make sure to renegotiate your deadline!

Affirming boundaries: Defining expectations Along with our role, we need to define expectations: in which timeframe am I willing to do the job? Under which contract, which agreement, which conditions? For which payment? People who work in a salary office job generally do have a work contract in which their role and the expectations that come with this role are clearly defined. Nevertheless, I hear from friends that their superiors regularly try to make them do tasks that are not part of their role definition. So, here too, role and expectations sometimes need to be renegotiated, and the boundaries of these roles need to be clearly affirmed.

Random conclusive thoughts If you ve read until here, you might have experienced similar things. Or, on the contrary, maybe you re already good at communicating your boundaries and people around you have learnt to respect them? Congratulations. In any case, for improving one s own approach to such requests, it can be useful to find out which inner dynamics are at play when we interact with other people. Additionally, it can be useful to understand the differences between Asker and Guesser culture:
when an Asker meets a Guesser, unpleasantness results. An Asker won t think it s rude to request two weeks in your spare room, but a Guess culture person will hear it as presumptuous and resent the agony involved in saying no. Your boss, asking for a project to be finished early, may be an overdemanding boor or just an Asker, who s assuming you might decline. If you re a Guesser, you ll hear it as an expectation.
Askers should also be aware that there might be Guessers in their team. It can help to define clear guidelines about making requests (when do I expect an answer, under which budget/contract/responsibility does the request fall, what other task can be put aside to handle the urgent task?) Last, but not least, Making work visible has a lot of other proposals on how to visibilize and then deal with unplanned work.

23 October 2020

Enrico Zini: Hetzner build machine

This is part of a series of posts on compiling a custom version of Qt5 in order to develop for both amd64 and a Raspberry Pi. Building Qt5 takes a long time. The build server I was using had CPUs and RAM, but was very slow on I/O. I was very frustrated by that, and I started evaluating alternatives. I ended up setting up scripts to automatically provision a throwaway cloud server at Hetzner. Initial setup I got an API key from my customer's Hetzner account. I installed hcloud-cli, currently only in testing and unstable:
apt install hcloud-cli
Then I configured hcloud with the API key:
hcloud context create
Spin up I wrote a quick and dirty script to spin up a new machine, which grew a bit with little tweaks:
#!/bin/sh
# Create the server
hcloud server create --name buildqt --ssh-key   --start-after-create \
                     --type cpx51 --image debian-10 --datacenter  
# Query server IP
IP="$(hcloud server describe buildqt -o json   jq -r .public_net.ipv4.ip)"
# Update ansible host file
echo "buildqt ansible_user=root ansible_host=$IP" > hosts
# Remove old host key
ssh-keygen -f ~/.ssh/known_hosts -R "$IP"
# Update login script
echo "#!/bin/sh" > login
echo "ssh root@$IP" >> login
chmod 0755 login
I picked a datacenter in the same location as where we have other servers, to get quicker data transfers. I like that CLI tools have JSON output that I can cleanly pick at with jq. Sadly, my ISP doesn't do IPv6 yet. Since the server just got regenerated, I remove a possibly cached host key. Provisioning the machine One git server I need is behind HTTP authentication. Here's a quick hack to pass the relevant .netrc credentials to ansible before provisioning:
#!/usr/bin/python3
import subprocess
import netrc
import tempfile
import json
login, account, password = netrc.netrc().authenticators(" ")
with tempfile.NamedTemporaryFile(mode="wt", suffix=".json") as fd:
    json.dump( 
        "repo_user": login,
        "repo_password": password,
     , fd)
    fd.flush()
    subprocess.run([
        "ansible-playbook",
        "-i", "hosts",
        "-l", "buildqt",
        "--extra-vars", f"@ fd.name ",
        "provision.yml",
        ], check=True)
And here's the ansible playbook:
#!/usr/bin/env ansible-playbook
- name: Install and configure buildqt
  hosts: all
  tasks:
   - name: Update apt cache
     apt:
        update_cache: yes
        cache_valid_time: 86400
   - name: Create build user
     user:
        name: build
        comment: QT5 Build User
        shell: /bin/bash
   - name: Create sources directory
     become: yes
     become_user: build
     file:
        path: ~/sources
        state: directory
        mode: 0755
   - name: Download sources
     become: yes
     become_user: build
     get_url:
        url: "https:// / item "
        dest: "~/sources/ item "
        mode: 0644
     with_items:
      - "qt-everywhere-src-5.15.1.tar.xz"
      - "qt-creator-enterprise-src-4.13.2.tar.gz"
   - name: Populate home directory
     become: yes
     become_user: build
     copy:
        src: build
        dest: ~/
        mode: preserve
   - name: Write .netrc
     become: yes
     become_user: build
     copy:
        dest: ~/.netrc
        mode: 0600
        content:  
           machine  
           login  repo_user 
           password  repo_password 
   - name: Write .screenrc
     become: yes
     become_user: build
     copy:
        dest: ~/.screenrc
        mode: 0644
        content:  
           hardstatus alwayslastline
           hardstatus string '% = cw %-Lw% = KW %50>%n%f* %t% = cw %+Lw%< % = kK %-=%D %Y-%m-%d %c% - '
           startup_message off
           defutf8 on
           defscrollback 10240
   - name: Install base packages
     apt:
        name: git,mc,ncdu,neovim,eatmydata,devscripts,equivs,screen
        state: present
   - name: Clone git repo
     become: yes
     become_user: build
     git:
        repo: https:// @ / .git
        dest: ~/ 
   - name: Copy Qt license
     become: yes
     become_user: build
     copy:
        src: qt-license.txt
        dest: ~/.qt-license
        mode: 0600
Now everything is ready for a 16 core, 32Gb ram build on SSD storage. Tear down When done:
#!/bin/sh
hcloud server delete buildqt
The whole spin up plus provisioning takes around a minute, so I can do it when I start a work day, and take it down at the end. The build machine wasn't that expensive to begin with, and this way it will even be billed by the hour. A first try on a CPX51 machine has just built the full Qt5 Everywhere Enterprise including QtWebEngine and all its frills, for amd64, in under 1 hour and 40 minutes.

4 October 2020

Enrico Zini: Science links

Weather: We can only forecast the weather a few days into the future. Nuclear: I had no idea Thorium-based nuclear power was a thing. Fluid dynamics applied to traffic: Traffic Flow and Phantom Jams. Psychology, economics, and a history of culturally biased experiment results: We aren t the world.

27 September 2020

Enrico Zini: Coup d' tat in recent Italian history

Italy during the cold war has always been in too strategic a position, and with too strong a left wing movement, not to get the CIA involved. Here are a few stories of coup d' tat and other kinds of efforts to manipulate Italian politics:

20 September 2020

Enrico Zini: Relationships links

The Bouletcorp Love & Dragons is a strip I like about fairytale relationships. There are a lot of mainstream expectations about relationships. These links challenge a few of them: More about emotional work, some more links to follow a previous links post:

13 September 2020

Enrico Zini: Travel links

A few interesting places to visit. Traveling could be complicated, and internet searches could be interesting enough. For example, churches: Or fascinating urbanistic projects, for which it's worth to look up photos: Or nature, like Get Lost in Mega-Tunnels Dug by South American Megafauna

6 September 2020

Enrico Zini: Learning resources links

Cognitive bias cheat sheet has another elegant infographic summarising cognitive biases. On this subject, you might want to also check out 15 Insane Things That Correlate With Each Other. Get started Learning Music (Beta) has a nice interactive introduction to music making. If you leave in a block of flats and decide to learn music making, please use headphones when experimenting. Our neighbour, sadly, didn't. You can also learn photography with Photography for Beginners (The Ultimate Guide in 2020) and somewhat related, Understanding Aspect Ratios: A Comprehensive Guide

30 August 2020

Enrico Zini: Miscellaneous news

A fascinating apparent paradox that kind of makes sense: Czech nudists reprimanded by police for not wearing face-masks. Besides being careful about masks when naked at the lake, be careful about your laptop being confused for a pizza: German nudist chases wild boar that stole laptop. Talking about pigs: Pig starts farm fire by excreting pedometer. Now that traveling is complicated, you might enjoy A Brief History of Children Sent Through the Mail, or learning about Narco-submarines. Meanwhile, in a time of intense biotechnological research, Scientists rename human genes to stop Microsoft Excel from misreading them as dates. Finally, for a good, cheaper, and more readily available alternative to a trip to the pharmacy, learn about Hypoalgesic effect of swearing.

24 August 2020

Ulrike Uhlig: Code reviews: from nitpicking to cooperation

After we gave our talk at DebConf 20, Doing things together, there were 5 minutes left for the live Q&A. Pollo asked a question that I think is interesting and deserves a longer answer: How can we still have a good code review process without making it a "you need to be perfect" scenario? I often find picky code reviews help me write better code. I find it useful to first disentangle what code reviews are good for, how we do them, why we do them that way, and how we can potentially improve processes. What are code reviews good for? Code review and peer review are great methods for cooperation aiming at: Looking at this list, the last point seems to be more like a nice side effect of all the other points. :) How do code reviews happen in our communities? It seems to be a common assumption that code reviews are and have to be picky and perfectionist. To me, this does not actually seem to be a necessity to accomplish the above mentioned goals. We might want to work with precision a quality which is different from perfection. Perfection can hardly be a goal: perfection does not exist. Perfectionist dynamics can lead to failing to call something "good enough" or "done". Sometimes, a disproportionate amount of time is invested in writing (several) code reviews for minor issues. In some cases, strong perfectionist dynamics of a reviewer can create a feeling of never being good enough along with a loss of self esteem for otherwise skilled code authors. When do we cross the line? When going from cooperation, precision, and learning to write better code, to nitpicking, we are crossing a line: nitpicking means to pedantically search for others' faults. For example, I once got one of my Git commits at work criticized merely for its commit message that was said to be "ugly" because I "use[d] the same word twice" in it. When we are nitpicking, we might not give feedback in an appreciative, cooperative way, we become fault finders instead. From there it's a short way to operating on the level of blame. Are you nitpicking to help or are you nitpicking to prove something? Motivations matter. How can we improve code reviewing? When we did something wrong, we can do better next time. When we are told that we are wrong, the underlying assumption is that we cannot change (See Bren Brown, The difference between blame and shame). We can learn to go beyond blame. Negative feedback rarely leads to improvement if the environment in which it happens lacks general appreciation and confirmation. We can learn to give helpful feedback. It might be harder to create an appreciative environment in which negative feedback is a possibility for growth. One can think of it like of a relationship: in a healthy relationship we can tell each other when something does not work and work it out because we regularly experience that we respect, value, and support each other. To be able to work precisely, we need guidelines, tools, and time. It's not possible to work with precision if we are in a hurry, burnt out, or working under a permanent state of exception. The same is true for receiving picky feedback. On DebConf's IRC channel, after our talk, marvil07 said: On picky code reviews, something that I find useful is automation on code reviews; i.e. when a bot is stating a list of indentation/style errors it feels less personal, and also saves time to humans to provide more insightful changes. Indeed, we can set up routines that do automatic fault checking (linting). We can set up coding guidelines. We can define what we call "done" or "good enough". We can negotiate with each other how we would like code to be reviewed. For example, one could agree that a particularly perfectionist reviewer should point out only functional faults. They can spare their time and refrain from writing lengthy reviews about minor esthetic issues that have never made it into a guideline. If necessary, author and reviewer can talk about what can be improved on the long term during a retrospective. Or, on the contrary, one could explicitly ask for a particularly detailed review including all sorts of esthetic issues to learn the best practices of a team applied to one's own code. In summary: let's not lose sight of what code reviews are good for, let's have a clear definition of "done", let's not confuse precision with perfection, let's create appreciative work environments, and negotiate with each other how reviews are made. I'm sure you will come up with more ideas. Please do not hesitate to share them!

23 August 2020

Enrico Zini: Doing things /together/

Here are the slides of mine and Ulrike's talk Doing things /together/.
Our thoughts about cooperation aspects of doing things together. Sometimes in Debian we do work together with others, and sometimes we are a number of people who work alone, and happen to all upload their work in the same place. In times when we have needed to take important decisions together, this distinction has become crucial, and some of us might have found that we were not as good at cooperation as we would have thought. This talk is intended for everyone who is part of a larger community. We will show concepts and tools that we think could help understand and shape cooperation.
Video of the talk: The slides have extensive notes: you can use View Notes in LibreOffice Impress to see them. Here are the Inkscape sources for the graphs: Here are links to resources quoted in the talk: In the Q&A, pollo asked:
How can we still have a good code review process without making it a "you need to be perfect" scenario? I often find picky code reviews help me write better code.
Ulrike wrote a more detailed answer: Code reviews: from nitpicking to cooperation

16 August 2020

Enrico Zini: Historical links

Saint Guinefort was a dog who lived in France in the 13th century, worshipped through history as a saint until less than a century ago. The recurrence is soon, on the 22th of August. Many think middle ages were about superstition, and generally a bad period. Black Death, COVID, and Why We Keep Telling the Myth of a Renaissance Golden Age and Bad Middle Ages tells a different, fascinating story. Another fascinating middle age story is that of Christine de Pizan, author of The Book of the City of Ladies. This is a very good lecture about her (in Italian): Come pensava una donna nel Medioevo? 2 - Christine de Pizan. You can read some of her books at the Memory of the World library. If you understand Italian, Alessandro Barbero gives fascinating lectures. You can find them index in a timeline, or in a map. Still from around the middle ages, we get playing cards: see Playing Cards Around the World and Through the Ages. If you want to go have a look in person, and you overshoot with your time machine, here's a convenient route planner for antique Roman roads. View all historical links that I have shared.

2 August 2020

Enrico Zini: Toxic positivity links

That which we do not bring to consciousness appears in our lives as fate. Carl Jung
Emotional support of others can take the form of surface-level consolation. But compassion means being willing to listen and feel, even when it's uncomfortable.
Ultimately, the driving force behind the power of positive thinking meme is the word power. But what about those whose bodies are not powerful? What about those who are vulnerable? What about those who are tired, isolated, and struggling? What about those who are ill? What about those who lack
I have often been dismissive or unhelpful when someone close to me was dealing with painful circumstances, having learned to accentuate the positive. In the more recent past, I have recognized these behavioral patterns as part of what some mental health professionals term, toxic positivity.
Toxic positivity is the overgeneralization of a happy, optimistic state resulting in the denial & invalidation of the authentic human emotional experience.

Enrico Zini: Libreoffice presentation tips

Snap guides Dragging from the rulers does not always create snap guides. If it doesn't, click on the slide background, "Snap guides", "Insert snap guide". In my case, after the first snap guide was manually inserted, it was possible to drag new one from the rulers. Master slides How to edit a master slide Change styles in master slide Do not change properties of text by selecting placeholder text in the Master View. Instead, open the Styles and formatting sidebar, and edit the styles in there. This means the style changes are applied to pages in all layouts, not just the "Title, Content" layout that is the only one editable in the "Master View". How to duplicate a master slide There seems to be no feature implemented for this, but you can do it, if you insist: It's needed enough that someone made a wikihow: https://www.wikihow.com/Copy-a-LibreOffice-Impress-Master-Slide. How to change the master slide for a layout that is not "Title, Content" I could not find a way to do it, but read on for a workaround. I found an ask.libreoffice.org question that went unanswered. I asked on #libreoffice on IRC and got no answer:
Hello. I'm doing the layout for a presentation in impress, and I can edit all sorts of aspects of the master slide. It seems that I can only edit the "Title, Content" layout of the master slide, though. I'd like to edit, for example, the "Title only" layout so that the title appears in a different place than the top of the page. Is it possible to edit specific layouts in a master page? In the master slide editor it seems impossible to select a layout, for example. Alternatively I tried creating multiple master slides, but then if I want to create a master slide for a title page, there's no way to remove the outline box, or the title box.
My work around has been to create multiple master slides, one for each layout. For a title layout, I moved the outline box into a corner, and one has to remove it manually after create a new slide. There seems to be no way of changing the position of elements not found in the "Title, Content" layout, like "Subtitle". On the other hand, given that one's working with an entirely different master slide, one can abuse the outline box as a subtitle. Note that if you later decide to change a style element for all the slides, you'll need to go propagate the change to the "Styles and Formatting" menu of all master slides you're using.

Enrico Zini: Gender, inclusive communities, and dragonflies

From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragonfly#Sex_ratios:
Sex ratios The sex ratio of male to female dragonflies varies both temporally and spatially. Adult dragonflies have a high male-biased ratio at breeding habitats. The male-bias ratio has contributed partially to the females using different habitats to avoid male harassment. As seen in Hine's emerald dragonfly (Somatochlora hineana), male populations use wetland habitats, while females use dry meadows and marginal breeding habitats, only migrating to the wetlands to lay their eggs or to find mating partners. Unwanted mating is energetically costly for females because it affects the amount of time that they are able to spend foraging.

29 July 2020

Enrico Zini: Building and packaging a sysroot

This is part of a series of posts on compiling a custom version of Qt5 in order to develop for both amd64 and a Raspberry Pi. After having had some success with a sysroot in having a Qt5 cross-build environment that includes QtWebEngine, the next step is packaging the sysroot so it can be available both to build the cross-build environment, and to do cross-development with it. The result is this Debian source package which takes a Raspberry Pi OS disk image, provisions it in-place, extracts its contents, and packages them. Yes. You may want to reread the last paragraph. It works directly in the disk image to avoid a nasty filesystem issue on emulated 32bit Linux over a 64bit mounted filesystem. This feels like the most surreal Debian package I've ever created, and this saga looks like one of the hairiest yaks I've ever shaved. Integrating this monster codebase, full of bundled code and hacks, into a streamlined production and deployment system has been for me a full stack nightmare, and I have a renewed and growing respect for the people in the Qt/KDE team in Debian, who manage to stay on top of this mess, so that it all just works when we need it.

26 July 2020

Enrico Zini: Consent links

Teaching consent is ongoing, but it starts when children are very young. It involves both teaching children to pay attention to and respect others' consent (or lack thereof) and teaching children that they should expect their own bodies and their own space to be respected---even by their parents and other relatives. And if children of two or four can be expected to read the nonverbal cues and expressions of children not yet old enough to talk in order to assess whether there is consent, what excuse do full grown adults have?
Small children have no sense of shame or disgust or fear of their bodies. A body is what it is. It does what it does.
About commonly accepted violation of children boundaries
Personal boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave towards them and how they will respond when someone passes those limits.[1] They are built out of a mix of conclusions, beliefs, opinions, attitudes, past experiences and social learning.[2][3] This concept or life skill has been widely referenced in self-help books and used in the counseling profession since the mid-1980s.[4]

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