Friday, October 30, 2020
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MSI responds to claims it was price hiking RTX 3080 cards on eBay

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MSI has been put under scrutiny today following accusations that the company had enlisted eBay seller, Starlit Partner, a sales subsidiary working under MSI, to sell the RTX 30-series cards at well above asking price. 

First brought to light by Mark of Average Tech Reviews, is seems the cards, which should\’ve been retailing for $759.00, were being sold by Starlit Partner for $1359—that\’s a 79% price hike. There has been a whole lot of internet sleuthing going down on reddit since the initial listing, but the question remains: how could something like this go undetected by the company? 

An official statement is now in circulation, in which MSI explains that an investigation into the matter turned up an error which had allowed Starlit Partner access to inventory \”they were not permitted to handle.\”

Starlit Partner, founded in 2016, is a supplier of refurbished GPUs, alongside other components, accessories, and more across eBay and Amazon. 

The company is directly linked with MSI, with Starlit even being based over at the MSI headquarters. According to Gamers Nexus, however, the eBay team appears to consist of just one person. 

But, before you grab your torch and pitchfork, remember: it’s easy to demonise an individual, but at the end of the day, it often comes down to a managerial issue and MSI is now answering to this. 

For its part MSI has assured the public there will be a \”stricter policy to avoid situations like this\” in future. It is also asking Starlit Partner to offer those who have been sold the unreasonably priced cards two options—\”return the product and receive a full refund, or a partial refund of the amount paid over MSI\’s MSRP.\”

(Image credit: MSI/Starlit Partner)

There has been a lot of controversy after Nvidia\’s RTX 30-series launch, with dodgy resellers buying everything they could get their hands on at release and auctioning them off at exorbitant figures. And this is yet another middle finger to the average PC hardware consumer. 

We just want awesome graphics so we can lockdown in leisure. Is that too much to ask? One thing’s for sure, both companies are likely to be under close observation from here on.

Times are hard all around with the RTX 30-series stock being so scarce, but don\’t panic! We’re keeping an eye on RTX 3080 stock for you to make it just that little bit easier.

Intel Rocket Lake CPUs confirmed to launch before March 31, 2021

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Intel has just confirmed that it\’s 11th Gen desktop processors, code-named Rocket Lake, will be launching into orbit in the first quarter of 2021. That means we\’ll get new Intel gaming CPUs before the end of March to take on the expected might of the new AMD Ryzen 5000-series processors being announced this week.

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(Image credit: Future)

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So yeah, the timing of Intel\’s announcement, tacked onto the end of a Medium blog post by Intel\’s John Bonini is surely not coincidental for its publishing on the eve of a big AMD unveiling. Bonini is the head of Intel\’s Client Group Desktop, Workstation, and Gaming, and has one of the longer titles in the company.

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The sneak peak at Rocket Lake also notes that it will be the first Intel desktop platform to support PCI Express 4.0 connectivity. While AMD\’s RX 5000-series graphics cards, and now Nvidia\’s RTX 30-series GPUs, support PCIe 4.0 it doesn\’t really make a huge difference to gaming performance. But having a platform which supports the new level in storage will be a big plus for Intel\’s next-gen gaming setups.

The blog post is titled: Intel’s Commitment to Gaming, and a Sneak Peek at Intel Technology to Come, and so Bonini specifically references Rocket Lake as a chip that will be \”another fantastic processor for gaming\”.

But, aside from announcing the 11th Gen desktop release window and its PCIe 4.0 support, that\’s all the sneak peak says, though I would expect we\’ll hear more soon. Especially given how much the gaming CPU landscape could be about to change with the launch of the next-gen AMD Zen 3 processors.

Intel Rocket Lake is going to be another 14nm chip, but is expected to be launched with a different CPU Core architecture at its heart. Whether that\’s a backport of the 10nm Willow Cove or Sunny Cove designs we\’re still not entirely sure about, it might even be a hybrid of the two advanced architectures.

(Image credit: Intel)

But either way, it should ensure an increase in terms of instructions-per-clock (IPC) compared with the current Comet Lake chips. That could well be key as the new Zen 3-based AMD Ryzen 5000-series CPUs are said to sport far higher IPC than the Zen 2 processors of the last generation… and that could mean the red team might overtake Intel\’s historic lead in gaming performance for the first time in a loooooong time.

If you bought into the Comet Lake lineup recently, or had your hopes pinned on picking up an Intel CPU over Amazon Prime Day or Black Friday, then Rocket Lake might make you think again. Though it has to be said that the Z490 motherboard platform should be capable of supporting the 11th Gen Intel chips, and some even have pseudo PCIe 4.0 support baked into them too.

This announcement though may well give you second thoughts about picking up a Core i9 10900K or Core i7 10700K, even if the impending AMD Ryzen 5000-series hadn\’t already done that.

An early 2021 release of the Rocket Lake processors also would tie-in with the launch of the 10nm Alder Lake CPUs late next year too. Those are potentially more exciting processors, with Intel\’s first 16-core, 32-thread chips hitting the desktop with a revolutionary, controversial, and brave new architectural design. 

Star Trek Online: House Shattered continues the Year of Klingon

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Star Trek Online offers some major fantasy fulfilment for those of us who\’ll never quite get over being born in the wrong timeline to join Starfleet. Now nearing the close of its tenth year, the officially licensed MMO has just received a significant new update.

House Shattered, the game\’s twenty-first season continues Season 20\’s \’House Divided storyline and the wider Klingon Civil War story arc that in turn is all part of the \’Year of Klingon\’, which aims to overhaul and improve the klingon-themed content in the game. The latest update includes a new mission, Partisans, which sees players on the run after being accused of a crime they didn\’t commit and desperate to clear their name. If delicate political machinations with a hefty dose of cloak-and-dagger intrigue in space is your sort of thing, this is definitely one to check out.

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Fans of the various Star Trek television series may recognise some familiar voices in the update. Star Trek: Discovery\’s Rekha Sharma voices Captain Adet\’pa (having previously reprised her TV role as Ellen Landry for the game\’s Rise of Discovery update), while Robert O\’Reilly (The Next Generation\’s Chancellor Gowron) plays General Aakar—just try not to fixate too much on the fact that they\’re both playing totally different characters here than they do on TV. Meanwhile, Deep Space Nine\’s J. G. Hertzler actually does reprise his TV role as General Martok for the game.

The update also introduces a new operation, Synth Wave, inspired by the android revolution and invasion of Mars seen recently on TV\’s Star Trek: Picard. There\’s also a new upgrade system that will let players add a new device, console, and trait slots to their T-5U T-6 ships. And speaking of ships, there\’s a brand new one too: a Constitution-class Mirror Warship is now available, so now you too can bring glory to Empress Philippa Georgiou Augustus Iaponius Centarius of the Terrans. Unfortunately, you\’ll have to open up loot boxes to get your hands on it. Finally, to round things off, a few new weapons from Star Trek: Enterprise are being added to the Lobi store.

In short, there\’s a lot to get stuck into, and with this many branches of the franchise being represented in the new update, there\’s sure to be something of interest to just about everyone. Star Trek Online is free to play, and you can download via both Steam and the Epic Games Store. 

Destiny 2: Beyond Light exotics trailer features a gun that shoots bullets from an alternate timeline

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Now that we\’re just over a month out from Destiny 2: Beyond Light, the next expansion for Bungie\’s compelling if oft-frustrating shooter, a new trailer has appeared to whet your appetite. Where the previous trailer focused on the new patrol zone of Europa, this one highlights one of the most important aspects of any new Destiny 2 release: new guns.

Four exotic weapons have been revealed for Beyond Light, along with a couple of armour pieces for each of the three classes. And there\’s some pretty wild stuff. For instance, Destiny 1\’s version of the No Time To Explain pulse rifle had a perk that returned precision hits back to the magazine. That\’s fine and all, but the new version being added to Beyond Light can open a portal that fires bullets from an alternate timeline.

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Here\’s all of Beyond Light\’s exotic weapons:

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No Time To Explain

No Time To Explain (Image credit: Bungie)

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Cloudstrike

Cloudstrike (Image credit: Bungie)

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The Lament

The Lament (Image credit: Bungie)

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Salvation\'s Grip

Salvation\’s Grip (Image credit: Bungie)

  • No Time To Explain (Pulse Rifle): \”Precision hits and hits against enemies affected by Stasis will return to the magazine. Stack this effect to summon a portal which will fire bullets from an alternate timeline of the weapon.\”
  • Cloudstrike (Sniper Rifle): \”Precision final blows will generate lightning bolts at the target location. Rapid precision shots will summon an entire storm at the point of impact.\”
  • The Lament (Sword): \”A mortal blade, a stalwart shield. Block with The Lament to rev the blade, then shred through shielded enemies. At its peak, damaging an enemy will heal the wielder.\”
  • Salvation\’s Grip (Grenade Launcher): \”Redemption is within your grasp. Each fired projectile will create Stasis crystals that will freeze nearby targets. Charge to increase the amount of crystals created and the freeze radius.\”

Some fun perks, then, although these guns will all be competing against previous Exotics for a place in your loadout. Will they do enough to kick Izanagi\’s Burden, Anarchy and Divinity out of your kit?

It\’s also worth noting that, in the trailer, The Lament is specifically called out as shredding the shields of Barrier Champions. That suggests two things: 1) a lot of wipes in Grandmaster Nightfalls as your fireteam attempts to run at a Champion with a sword, and 2) that Bungie isn\’t planning to address the issue that only a small number of exotics will intrinsically counter Champion abilities. 

That\’s potentially disappointing, as it\’s one of the bigger roadblocks to build diversity in the current end-game. That said, this season did see the introduction of an armour based mod that lets any pulse rifle counter Unstoppable Champions. Hopefully more of that is planned for future seasons, as it helps bring exotics back into the PvE meta.

As for the gear, it\’s the usual mix of ability buffs and alterations. I like the idea of Titan\’s having a specific ability based around revives, giving them more utility for heroic moments that can save your fireteam from a wipe. And as a Warlock main, I\’ll happily take an exotic that has the potential to make top-tree Dawnblade even stronger in Crucible.

Here\’s all of Beyond Light\’s exotic gear:

Image 1 of 6

Icefall Mantle

Icefall Mantle (Image credit: Bungie)

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Precious Scars

Precious Scars (Image credit: Bungie)

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Mask of Bakris

Mask of Bakris (Image credit: Bungie)

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Arthrys\'s Embrace

Arthrys\’s Embrace (Image credit: Bungie)

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Dawn Chorus

Dawn Chorus (Image credit: Bungie)

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Necrotic Grip

Necrotic Grip (Image credit: Bungie)
  • Icefall Mantle (Titan Gauntlets): \”Stand tall against the oncoming hordes with this reinforced armor that replaces the Titan’s Barricade with Overshield, absorbing damage from incoming fire.\”
  • Precious Scars (Titan Helmet): \”Prove your strength, even when coming back from the brink. Upon revives, the Titan gains an Overshield aura that protects the wearer and nearby allies.\”
  • Mask of Bakris (Hunter Helmet): \”Don the Mask to replace the Hunter’s Dodge ability with a longer range Shift ability that also temporarily cloaks the wearer during use.\”
  • Arthrys\’s Embrace (Hunter Gauntlets): \”The Hunter’s weighted knife gains a second ricochet; rapid precision hits gain a damage bonus and can temporarily stagger enemies.\”
  • Dawn Chorus (Warlock Helmet): \”Feel that sweet burn. The Warlock’s Daybreak projectiles deal extra damage and cause enemies to burn on contact. Gain melee energy each time a burn damages a target.\”
  • Necrotic Grip (Warlock Gauntlets): \”A deadly caress, compounded. Melee attacks corrupt enemies with increasing damage over time. Defeating a corrupted combatant spreads the corruption to nearby targets and restores melee energy.\”

You\’ll be able to start chasing these goodies when Beyond Light launches on November 10. In the meantime, the Festival of the Lost event has just kicked off in game.

Watch this GTA Online prankster posing as a bloodthirsty valet to surprise players

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so I spent an entire day pretending to be a casino valet from r/gtaonline

Casinos aren\’t the safest of places, least of all in GTA Online. Granted, it\’s not like they\’re the most perilous, but I\’d say they\’re at least in the top half. You could get got by someone you\’ve hustled, have a bottle of booze smashed over your head by an angry drunk, or even caught in the crossfire as it gets raided in a daring heist. But the last person you\’d expect to do you in is the guy you chuck your car keys at on your way in.

But it turns out that some GTA Online players have met this rather unlikely end recently, courtesy of an especially inventive prankster. LuxLie666 posted their chaotic exploits to Reddit as they decided to become a valet for the day—well, one that takes their job description as more of a creative suggestion than a contractual obligation. By which I mean shooting, stabbing, and baseball bat-ing every unsuspecting player that\’s just strolling peacefully in for a quiet flutter.

They start by, err, relieving the regular valet of their duties at the Diamond Casino & Resort, at gunpoint. Next, they need to fool others into thinking they\’re just a regular NPC. They do that by selecting \’Ghost Organization\’ from the \’CEO Abilities\’ menu for $12,000 so their nickname and radar blip disappears. Naturally, the red sweater-vest and bow tie helps them blend in as they stand gleefully behind their wooden lectern, ready to start \’work\’.

Then, with the plan neatly hatched and punters turning up in their flashy supercars and the odd helicopter—that person tries to fly under concourse, it doesn\’t go well—hilarity ensues. The first \”customer,\” as LuxLie666 puts it, barely has time to react as the knife uppercut slashes them up the midriff, leaving them flopping unceremoniously to the floor. The second has a bit more luck as the baseball bat misses its first swing, giving them the chance to hop onto the roof of their car and scrabble to find out what on Earth has got into this vicious valet. It\’s glorious, and somewhat reminiscent of a pretty slapdash Hitman run.

Anyway, you can watch the three minutes of joyous japery in the video above. If you\’re in the mood for a bet, and you can actually get in the door in one piece, check out our GTA Diamond Casino guide to maximise your winnings.

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Steam\’s new chat filter lets you customise what words you see

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A new feature has been added to Steam that allows users to tweak their Steam Chat settings to obscure profanity or specific words. The option, which was initially developed for use within certain online multiplayer games on Steam, has now become a feature of the platform itself too.

The functions of the new feature go pretty deep: while there\’s a pre-loaded list of words that Steam considers worth censoring, you can curate your own list of words and phrases you\’d rather not be exposed to—or that you do want to see. The feature doesn\’t remove comments, but it obscures the offending words with \’***\’ or \’♥♥♥\’ instead. There\’s also the option to view profanity and not slurs (which is an excellent choice for people like me, with the heart of a mermaid and the mouth of a sailor), as well as to make certain language visible when it comes from friends but not when it\’s typed by a stranger—with Steam emphasising the rights of marginalised groups to choose to reclaim derogatory language for themselves as the reasoning behind the decision. You can also turn all censoring off, if you prefer.

While some Steam users have welcomed the news that they can now opt out of seeing words or phrases which are particularly upsetting to them, others have expressed concern that Valve are putting too much onus on users to tackle offensive behaviour themselves rather than having in-house moderators deal with it. There\’s also the issue that just because you didn\’t literally see the curse or slur in question, it doesn\’t mean you don\’t know full well what was said. In other words, the filter is a good tool for making players feel more comfortable and in control while using Steam, but it isn\’t a replacement for other measures against harassment.

If you want to start tweaking Steam Chat now—or if you\’d prefer to switch it off entirely—you can edit your settings and customise your filters by going to Community Content Preferences under the Account > Preferences tab on Steam.

The first Baldur\’s Gate 3 patch is live

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Update: And just like that, the first Baldur\’s Gate 3 update is live on Steam, and will follow on GOG soon and Stadia \”a little later.\” Larian said it\’s still working on some issues, but this should take care of a number of immediate problems that have been reported.

\”As a general message, if you’re having difficulty getting the game running, or are experiencing crashes, switch the game to DX11 mode (in the launcher, click the gear), and make sure you have the most up to date graphics drivers,\” Larian said. \”We also recommend in some cases disabling the Steam / Discord overlays, if you experience slowdowns while activated.\”

The full list of fixes is below:

  • Fixed a crash related to using rush-type actions
  • Fixed a crash related to the target camera
  • Fixed a crash in character creation
  • Fixed a crash during dialogs
  • Fixed overlapping items inside the inventory views
  • Fixed \”Pickup\” and \”Pickup And Add To Wares\” inside containers
  • Fixed a player assignment issue when someone would leave from a full multiplayer party. The leftover character can now be assigned correctly.
  • Fixed an issue with summons showing up as regular companions
  • Fixed an issue where players could not ready up when other players joined the lobby
  • Fixed being able to move immovable objects

Original story:

We suggested yesterday that unless you\’re really committed to jumping into Baldur\’s Gate 3 as soon as possible, you hold off on it for now, in part (a large part) because of all the bugs and roughness. It\’s Early Access, and it shows—even Larian warned that \”there are still plenty of issues and it will take us time to fix them.\”

The good news for intrepid early adventurers is that the first hotfix is on the way: Larian said on Steam that it is currently investigating issues with multiplayer and has a fix in the works. It also suggested a few workarounds for other issues, including switching the game from Vulkan to DX11 (which we\’ve found can help with stuttering and pauses), and strongly recommended that players do not exit the tutorial level by activating the transponder at the Nautiloid helm while the PC is downed in combat, because doing so will crash the game.

Other suggestions: Don\’t save multiplayer games during cinematics, don\’t listen in to conversations in co-op that have ended (I\’m not even sure how you would do that), and \”save with caution in multiplayer\”: It\’s prone to crashing if the host saves the game directly after combat.

\”This is the start of the Early Access journey and we are hugely appreciative of those who have so far provided feedback. Please continue to do so,\” Larian said. \”Several of the issues mentioned are in the progress of being fixed and we’ll try to release a hotfix as soon as possible. This feedback from so many people is extremely important to us, and we appreciate your patience. We hope you’re having fun!\”

Despite the issues and our recommendation to wait, Fraser said in his Baldur\’s Gate 3 Early Access review that \”it\’s very promising and seems to be heading in the right direction,\” which at this stage is about all your can ask for. We\’ve also got some thoughts on how it compares to the first two games in the series.

A library employee allegedly stole $1.3 million in printer toner

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Not all heists are glamourous, action-packed affairs resulting in velvet bags full of diamonds, priceless paintings sold to shady collectors, or men in ski masks rappelling down the side of a skyscraper. Sometimes they\’re quiet operations that last for years and involve printer toner, videogames, and at least one robotic vacuum cleaner.

Case in point: An employee of the Austin Public Library has been indicted by a grand jury for stealing printer toner from the library and selling it online for profit. A huge profit. Between 2007 and 2019, the employee, Randall Whited, who was in charge of purchasing supplies for the library, allegedly ordered $1.5 million worth of printer toner for the library, most of which he stored in his garage so he could sell it online.

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\”Based on our analysis of purchases and actual APL toner needs, it appears Whited stole more than $1.3 million worth of toner,\” the 72-page report released by Austin city auditors says.

The auditors say the library\’s expected toner purchases for that 12-year span should have only been about $150,000.

The auditors were tipped off to the long-term printer toner heist in March of 2019, at which point they began reviewing receipts, purchasing documents, and even video footage, which appears to show Whited moving boxes of toner from the library into his personal vehicle. Whited was indicted in September and and has a hearing this month on theft charges.

The report also claims that Whited used 10 library credit cards to make other purchases for his personal use, spending around $18,000 to buy VR headsets and gear, videogames, drones, and robotic vacuum cleaners—the last of which would probably be good to have around when your house is filled with printer toner. That stuff gets everywhere.

Via CNN.

Steam Game Festival: Autumn Edition features hundreds of demos and developer streams

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If you\’re looking for some new stuff to try this weekend, the Steam Game Festival: Autumn Edition would be a good place to direct your attention. The online event kicked off today with demos from \”hundreds\” of games, all of them slated to launch within the next six months.

There are, by my count, 120 \”featured\” demos listed on the festival page alone, some we\’ve heard of and others that aren\’t familiar. That\’s a lot to sort through in less than a week, so to help get you started, here\’s a handful that I think look promising:

  • Cake Bash
  • The Survivalists
  • Ponpu
  • Faith
  • Partisans 1941
  • Superliminal
  • Garden Story
  • Minute of Islands
  • Strobophagia
  • Raj: An Ancient Epic
  • The Falconeer
  • Chinatown Detective Agency
  • Unbound: Worlds Apart
  • Gloomwood

There are a lot more to play with than just those—the \”featured\” section is a good start, but the full Steam demo page currently lists 1142 results—but If that\’s not enough to keep you occupied, the event also links to previous developer spotlights, live gameplay streams, interviews, and other online stuff to enjoy, the full schedule for which you can find here. The Steam Game Festival: Autumn Edition is live now and runs until October 13.

Rainbow Six Siege\’s big Tachanka rework arrives on a test server tomorrow

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It\’s been a long time coming, but the rework of Tachanka, Rainbow Six Siege\’s most infamously awful fighter (seriously, we\’ve been talking about this guy since early 2018), is just about here. Ubisoft said that the big changes that are being made to the Big Russian Boy, which will give him significantly increased mobility and area denial capability, will be available to players on a test server tomorrow.

Tachanka\’s DP27 light machine gun (who brings an LMG to a hostage rescue, anyway?) is no longer bound to a tripod but will instead serve as his primary weapon, meaning that he\’s no longer stuck in a single location. The gun is otherwise unchanged: It\’s got a low rate of fire and garbage optics, but it can chew holes through soft walls and hatches like nobody\’s business.

A possibly even more impactful change is the addition of a new gadget, the Shumikha incendiary grenade launcher. It looks like it will take some practice to master its bouncy ways, but its ability to set things (and people) on fire without requiring line of sight could be a game-changer, especially when used in concert with the hole-punching capabilities of the DP27. The launcher holds up to five grenades at a time and can fire them in rapid succession, but it reloads slowly, so Tachanka players will want to be careful about when and where they start popping off.

Speaking of being careful, Tachanka is also being given the Withstand ability, which will let him stand back up on his own when he\’s downed—probably a good idea for a guy who\’s going to be bouncing explosive fireballs off the walls.

The new and improved Tachanka will arrive on the Rainbow Six Siege PC test server on October 8, and will go live on all platforms at some point during Operation Shadow Legacy, which is currently underway. Full details are up at ubisoft.com. 

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