It’s all useful stuff!

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It never ceases to amaze me that sometimes it is as if there is no news at all and then there is more than you want! Ummm, what shall I write about first – I know, something simple.

Movenote is a simple little app that gives you the opportunity to put not only voice-overs on your PowerPoint but face-overs too. The video at the end of the short post here provides an example for you.

I really like this next one. Learn how to speak and cook Italian with MIT! There are links to lots more free learning on this OpenCulture site too.

Not quite sure how this next piece of technology will make things more secure but anything that gets rid of the dreaded PASSWORD gets my vote. This article from the famous Forbes journal explains how Google intends to get rid of passwords. Keep your eyes open for it, it could be our salvation ๐Ÿ™‚

Another thing I hate as much as passwords are cables. They are everywhere, all over the desk, under your feet, arrgh! Wireless technology has helped a little but we need more – like this idea from Apple. I do hope they hurry up with this, I can’t wait.

This article from Technology Review is just mind-blowing. At last the age of technology is about to provide something amazingly useful, wonderful, fantastic! When someone says, “we are going to cure the ills of the world” you never quite believe them – may be this time they really mean it.

I was very pleased when I read this article. For me the quote from Paul Kagame at the end of the article is what Digital Literacy is all about. These are such good actions, I do hope he does not let anyone down.

I can’t wait to try this new technology from Intel, it looks such fun. The more serious applications of this, “perceptual computing” are endless – coming from a health background I can see how this is going to improve online healthcare enormously.

You might think I have moved a long way from Digital Literacy but all of this is what being literate is about. Knowing what is happening in the world and being prepared to make use of that knowledge is what being literate enables us to do. And we can have some fun too – here is a 12 days of Christmas list from ALISS, some of it is a bit gruesome but there are funny and interesting pieces too ๐Ÿ™‚

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Brain fodder

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Here are just a few items to keep you from falling asleep over your breakfast ๐Ÿ™‚

This article was written for teachers but you should take a look at the ideas it has for using Twitter in the classroom (lecture hall, etc). Do you agree with the suggested ideas, is this how you would like to see Twitter used, are there other ways you would like Twitter to be used as part of your academic studies? Post a comment and let me know, or take your ideas to your lecturers.

If you use Evernote you might like to try using LiveMinutes with it instead of using Google Docs to collaboratively produce documents.

Do take a look at Doodlecast Pro, this is a great App for adding interest and improving explanations in your presentations. There is a smashing little video on how to use Doodlecast in this article from Educational Technology and Mobile Learning.

I’ve just given you more to look at and think about and we just get more and more turn up on our desktops everyday. This is a really interesting article about how all this clutter affects our thinking and how to manage this clutter that is created in our busy days.

Some of you might be fascinated by this article about the symbols we use everyday, it might also help you to remember what they stand for.

This one is for those of you who are really interested in technology. Here is a little tiny, very cheap, easy to assemble computer kit. I can’t wait for mine to arrive ๐Ÿ™‚

And the next big thing is …

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The rate of change we are seeing these days is similar to that seen in the industrial revolution. The changes are not just about how we use banking services or how we communicate with friends and employers. The changes affect fundamental aspects of our lives such as how we learn or how we are treated when we are ill. To be able to take advantage of these changes we have to be aware of what they are, so I thought I’d tell you about a few things I’ve been reading about.

I enjoyed reading this article that appeared in the Telegraph about how and why digital literacy is being (or is not being) embedded in UK compulsory schooling. Hearing about what some people, like Don Wettrick in the USA, (No 9 in the list) and the Play-i robots are doing in classes is really exciting. I do wonder just how many children get these sorts of opportunities, will it just be the lucky few?

Healthcare doesn’t miss out on all these new inventions either. Sandra Winkler, an occupational health researcher in Nova Southeastern University in Florida, has received a $1 million dollar grant to investigate the use of Second Lifeยฎ to support amputees in leading more functionally effective lives. In another instance of technology enhanced healthcare is an operation performed using Google Glass. Two surgeons, in hospitals more than two hours apart from each other, performed a shoulder replacement. This enables inexperienced surgeons to have the support of experts as if they were standing right next to them.

In academia we see yet more potential changes. This article is asking if Google Help with replace librarians?

For a few tips before I finish you might find these helpful. You can help keep yourself safe online by controlling who has access to where you are – this article tells you how to do that. Next, a list of apps you might find useful. Finally, a discussion from LSE on copyright, open access and moral rights.

How to have Employability

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Employability – the knack we all need to have, how to get employed and stay employed. Ok, it’s not the most important thing in life but it’s pretty high up on the list of “must haves”. Besides the basics of knowing your subject and being able to apply that knowledge, there are other things that make a potential employer offer you a job – and these days, it all starts way before the interview.

As I have mentioned in the handout on Employability in SAM, increasingly employers are searching the Internet to find information about potential employees – 68% of employers say they have hired someone because of what they found on their social network – 61% of employers have rejected an applicant after finding information about them on their social networks. The social networks employers most commonly screen are: 76% Facebook, 53% Twitter, 48% LinkedIn. If you are hoping to get a first class job, you need a good degree and a good online identity.

You want to avoid the type of experience shown on this video – this type of “youthful indiscretion” should have been dealt with. If you cannot remove or publicly apologise for your behaviour you should at least try to drown it with lots of examples of your good behaviour. This sort of problem is not as common as people think, it is more usual to find that people either have no, or very little, presence in social media. Often people use social media for connecting with friends and family but do not think about how to use it to help them get a job. Let’s rectify that.

Aimee Bateman is quite well-known for helping people develop their online persona, here she is at University of Westminster during their, “Get the Digital Edge” week. You might also like to look at Aimee’s own web site. The University of Westminster videos are a little difficult to see but the content is very useful. This video is about reputation, the person talking is Andrew Rigby who helps companies manage their reputation. Reputation management is really no different for individuals so do make notes about his tips.

First steps

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As I said in the last post, I’m going to start from the beginning. In Digital Literacy there are many beginnings but I feel that the best place to start in this instance is with your Digital Footprint. I know that many of you are probably tired of hearing that phrase but as you are a member of the University community, those of you who know all about Digital Footprints can help those in our community who are not so familiar with it.

To start with here is a video about your Digital Dossier, e.g. the compilation of all the tracks your Digital Footprints have made. Although this video was first posted in 2008, I think it is quite good at explaining just how we make (or others make for us) Digital Footprints, understanding how it happens is even more important today than it was in 2008. Digital Footprints are not something to be scared about but we do need to be aware of them. We need to know how to make attractive footprints that we can be pleased that people look at.

A blog from America called Your Digital Footprint is rather interesting too. As far as Digital Literacy is concerned many countries in the world are all experiencing the same sort of thing so don’t dismiss this just because it is American.

Try searching for yourself online, you can do a Google Search or you might find a PeekYou search turns something up.

Start thinking about how you are going to manage your Digital Footprint from now on. Write down a plan of what you think you ought to do and then see how it compares to what you read about on the blog in the coming weeks – hopefully we will be able to give you some good tips ๐Ÿ™‚

Mostly fun :)

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All the examinations, furious writing, presentations and grading are drawing to a close. Soon everyone’s thoughts will be turning to how to get one last thing into the suitcase for the holidays. Before then though I have a few more goodies for you ๐Ÿ™‚

To begin with here is a chance to win a ยฃ5K grant from Jisc. Jisc are looking for students who have good ideas about how to use technology to improve student life – so get in touch with them!

If you are still trying to get yourself, your ideas, resources, notes organised then look at this article about Evernote. Yes I know I’ve mentioned it before and that you have probably tried it before but, as the article says, may be you just haven’t been doing it right ๐Ÿ™‚

Do you want to produce your own podcasts? Why not try PodOmatic – it’s free and you can add your podcasts to a community of like-minded people. May be you just want to see what other people have done? Have a look, there are lots of topic headings, you are bound to find something interesting.

LearnDash have some really useful tips and tools for teachers but I’m sure loads of students will find them useful too. In this particular article there is a list of 19 fun tools. My favourites are Trello which can help you organise a project or group activity and Screenleap which enables you to share your screen with a friend – both of which are free!

For those of you who have an iPad. Do watch this video on how to visually record and share your notes. There are four apps evaluated, all of which are really useful but have different price tags. This method of note taking is great, even if you don’t have an iPad, and it is well described by Rachel Smith.

Finally here are two funnies for you. The first is a truly amazing wedding photo the other is a video warning about the perils of time-travel ๐Ÿ™‚

From cringing to ridiculous :)

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Here I am back again after my break, keen to bring you all sorts of exciting things – well interesting things at least ๐Ÿ™‚

You might laugh or cringe over these videos from the EU about a family called the Clikkers. These videos are part of the EU programme to inform people about digital literacies, they are quite good really but probably aimed at a slightly younger age group than the one here at the University.

We all need to learn more about our digital footprints.This slide show and it’s accompanying Word document provide some useful advice and handy urls to help us find out more about these footprints. We all have them and, as this other video points out, we have them from before we are born. This next video demonstrates how it can all go horribly wrong!

Usually when things go horribly wrong it’s because people have not had a chance to develop good digital literacy skills; this article from the BBC is a good case in point. Everyone in our society needs to develop these new skills, if you do not have them you lose out. The digital revolution has left some people stranded with old skills, those of us who do have digital literacy skills need to help those who don’t. Right, that’s enough preaching now for something completely different ๐Ÿ™‚

People often wonder not just what avatars are and why we use them. This e-book, “The use of avatars” has loads of information about avatars and how they are used. Do you have any avatars? What do you use them for?

Have a look at the Oxford University, Internet Institute. There are loads of podcasts and videos here about modern technologies related to the Internet. Subjects include things like, “Facebook: The Strength of Weak Ties”, “The Changing Business of Software” and “The Life Story of a Pioneer: From Hi-tech to Philanthropy” and lots, lots more.

Now some things for a little bit of fun ๐Ÿ™‚ First Padlet, you might remember this as Wallwisher. It is a great way of sharing and planning with friends online. Go and have a look and try it out. Next is something called Blubox, if you take loads of pictures and want to scrunch them up so they fit in a smaller space Blubox is for you. Blubox is a photo compressor which claims to compress your photos by 90% whilst maintaining the resolution. Have a go and let me know if it works as well as it claims – I have loads of photos I need to compress! Finally, I bring you bomomo – I don’t think it does anything useful, it just makes pretty pictures but it is good fun ๐Ÿ™‚

Publish and be damned?

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I try very hard to keep this blog fairly light but there are times when I just have to speak out and this is one of them.

There is so much going on about Open Access, publishing, copyright, etc that I felt I must write something about it all. Lots of us get very cross about everything involved with publishing – it’s not surprising. For some academics it is part of their livelihood, for others it is about getting their research recognised in the “correct” way, for most other people it is something really annoying that gets in the way of getting their job done and for some it is an ethical issue that strikes at the core of their beliefs. So not a small issue for any of us. As the title to the blog today implies, this post is all about getting published.

As most of you know I’m a follower of The Thesis Whisperer, otherwise known as Dr Inger Mewburn. Inger has guests on the blog who write some very interesting posts, I have found this current post (To Posh to Promote) and the comments that follow fascinating. Evelyn Tsitas, the author, is known for being outspoken – which isn’t a bad thing. I would love to read her PhD thesis as it’s on werewolves, vampires and the nature of being human (wow I would like to have written on that). Inger’s own post on the PhD2Published blog is also critical of those who will not/cannot engage with modern technologies to promote themselves and their ideas. I agree a lot with most of what Evelyn and Inger say but I think we should give far stronger support to a call for universities to help, people to develop modern communication skills. People should have the opportunity to experience all sorts of communication in university whether it is blogging, micro-blogging, streaming video or 3D communication environments.

Another of my favourite blogs is from the LSE (London School of Economics). I nearly always find their posts to be extremely good reads, as I have this time. This post, The politics of the public eye, by Melonie Fullick, a PhD student at York University, Canada, is excellent. One of the reasons that people do not blog or use other modern communication media is because they are frightened that “bad things” will happen. Melonie’s post acknowledges this fear, discusses it and argues for the support that a good online, social network give. Melonie also identifies the elephant in the room – the question of what universities and academics are here for – aren’t we the ones who are supposed to, ask the difficult questions, be controversial, open up issues for discussion?

Now, to get away from being quite so serious here are a few things I think you will like to look at. First a video from the Open Access publishers BioMed Central. If you are not sure what all this Open Access and research stuff is about this video will help you understand it – a very good summary of OA from the RCUK supported by Springer. Next on my list of interesting things is a little promotion for Snagit. I find this little programme really useful, I use it all the time for all sorts of stuff – have a go. After you have tried out Snagit you can read these two articles from JISC Inform – great stuff, easy to read, very interesting. There is this piece on Learning in Adverse Weather (I just love that title lol), then some future gazing with, Coming soon… Can you see yourself using any of the things they mention? If you haven’t heard of the Khan Academy you should have done. This is their YouTube channel – see if you can find a session here that is useful to you, I bet you will. Finally a slide show for you about Maximising the potential of your network. Most of the slides are self-explanatory so, even though it does not have a voice over, this is one slide show I don’t mind promoting.

Have a lovely Easter ๐Ÿ™‚

Media and pretty robots :)

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I am meeting with some research students later on today and that rather has me thinking about research type things. So first I’m going to write about some social media and research, some of it might be more interesting to researchers but there’s lots here for everyone else too ๐Ÿ™‚

I started thinking about social media first of all and that brought me to this site where there is an infographic about how people in HE use social media as part of learning. Have a look, do you use social media like this or do you do something more? Here are two pieces from the BishopBlog, the first is how not to get a research proposal accepted and the second is on how to bury your research. Really good stuff and well written too. The final article is a discussion on the LSE blog about why blogging is important for academics. Sit down with a cup of coffee for this one it’s a bit long but very worth reading.

No for the fun stuff. The first thing I looked at was an article on Google Glasses. There is a great video at the beginning of this article which you must watch. My first reaction was, “why is it just the women doing the shopping”? Just look at the comments following the article – very good ๐Ÿ™‚ As most of you who are regular readers of this blog will know I love robots Asimo, dear pretty little Nao and now this very life-like one from Kokoro – fantastic! Are any of you robot makers? If you are send me a picture of your robot and I’ll put it on the site ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve decided that I’m going to try out Issuu, I’ll let you know how I get on ๐Ÿ™‚

Open(ing) and closing

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Wow, it’s March already! That caught me unawares, the last time I looked it was February and still winter – now it’s spring ๐Ÿ™‚

Unfortunately Twitter have decided that they are going to kill off TweetDeck. Outrage! I hear you cry – yes indeed. TweetDeck is far better than Twitter’s own interface and, unlike many programmes that offer the same facilities, it is free. However, come the end of May TweetDeck, and all of its apps, will be gone. The best I can suggest in its place is Hootsuite (I used this before I used TweetDeck), I expect it will be the one I will use. This post by Kevin Allen gives you lots of advice about the alternatives available to you. Don’t let your networks disappear – take a look and make up your own minds before May when TweetDeck will start to be shut down.

If you are interested in all sorts of, free, online courses then take a look at this post about 700 of them ๐Ÿ™‚ There are some really good lectures, by well-known speakers listed here. Some are old recordings but still very useful. You are bound to find something helpful.

Open Learning Week starts on Sunday March 10th through to March 17th. All you educationalists out there are sure to be interested in one of the webinars. As this is an international thing you might want to check that the webinar is in a language you speak ๐Ÿ™‚

Not only is it spring but all sorts of new things are on the horizon. Just look at Leap Motion on the video in this article from Huffington Post. I can’t wait to try one of these ๐Ÿ™‚

The complex and the simple

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What do I have for you all today? To start with here is an article from the University of East Anglia (UEA) INTO Partnership. Tim Powell-Jones has introduced the use of iPads to the International Business Diploma programme, he is really pleased with the results. Have a read and see if you think iPads would be useful as part of your course.

Paul Williams suggested this next piece from the Guardian to me. I must admit that, like Paul, I get very frustrated by the whole ebook/ejournal divide and Digital Rights Management (DRM), there really should be a better way of dealing with ebooks by now. I’m not too sure that I agree with Jefferson Pooley that we should make everything into Portable Document Format (pdf) it’s really difficult to read. On a semi-serious note I don’t even agree with his statement that, “[M]odern academics don’t read supine, snacking on grapes”. I thought modern academics read anywhere. I suppose part of the problem with pdf is that publishers insist on using stupidly old-fashioned layouts and font-faces. With all the clever digital stuff we do now we really should have a better option. Wolfram brought out Computable Document Format (CDF) ages ago, why do we not see more of that for ebooks.

Now for something completely different ๐Ÿ™‚ This is a site from the Government of South Australia, it has loads of really useful stuff for those people who would like some basic questions answered. This link is to their information about Skype. Do take a look and encourage other people to make use of it too ๐Ÿ™‚

What can’t you do online?

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I’ve found quite a hotchpotch of things for you all today. In fact I didn’t find the first item, that came via Paul Williams.

This Prezi is from Royal Holloway, University of London. A great resource for research students and undergrads alike. I’m sure you will like it and the funny video near the end ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m guess by now that everyone knows what Creative Commons Licenses are. The CC organisation gets involved in all sorts of things like the Open Data Hackathon earlier in February and the EasyBib Webinar on Thursday 21st. On the site the time says 4pm ET, for us that means 21:00 hrs (9pm). Even if you don’t join in do go and listen to everyone talking about the Open movement.

And now for something completely different ๐Ÿ™‚ If any of you are interested in Web Analytics, for example finding out more about your own footprint in Twitter or you want to do some research about networking/social media, you might like to have a look at some of these programmes. Some of them are aimed at commercial sites but that is no reason why they cannot prove useful to people in HE. Some are free – check them out:

    • TwitSprout will collect information and create diagrams from Twitter and Facebook
    • Netlytic will find and automatically analysis and discovery social networks from electronic communication such as emails, forums, blogs and chats.
    • followerwonk will find out all about your own Twitter account
  • There are lots more but I think the above will give you some insight into the sort of thing that can be done ๐Ÿ™‚

    Finally something which I think is charming. It shows just how comfortable we are all becoming with technology, the children in this post are not just Digitally Literate they are Digitally Fluent ๐Ÿ™‚

    Why technology?

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    Why technology – why want it, why use it, why create it? Technology basically means just anything man-made, now-a-days it tends to mean the most modern man-made things. I’ve found a few things to share with you that, for me, answer the questions I just posed at the beginning of this paragraph.

    This article in the Wall Street Journal by Katherine Rosman is a good example. Katherine writes about an online company called Craftsy, this company sells education in all sorts of crafts. You can learn about “Advanced Fondant Techniques,” “Explorations in Brioche Knitting,” “Mastering Lace Shawls”, “Handcrafted Sugar Flowers” and “Stupendous Stitching” and all for only $20-50. People like to learn, they like to learn how to do things, even very much more expensive courses are successful online. Do read the article it’s fascinating – may be you’ll sign up for one of the classes ๐Ÿ™‚ All joking aside though, this article answers so many questions that we might ask about modern technologies – people are using technology to save money, to make money, to have fun, to replace classes that cancelled due to the current financial climate, to help them deal with loneliness and frustration, in fact for all sorts of reasons.

    This next example is particularly interesting for me as it is about how to get helpful information to people quickly – rather like the University’s QuileR site (see the link in our blog roll). The post in the Fast Company blog is actually about how to help the “average” computer user to know how to use their computers more efficiently and, at the end of the post, there are links to some great videos from Google about how to do things. Technology provides not only the means to help people but to do it 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Great reasons for using modern technologies.

    I really like the Retronaut site, they have a wonderful collection of images and do some very clever things with them – things that we just would not be able to do without these modern technologies. The Retronaut site provides us with insights that would not normally be available to us. The images of the WWI soldiers on the particular page I’ve linked to are also an example of things we would not normally have seen.

    This page from Edinburgh University of Undergraduate students’ advice to first year students is another example of something we would never have seen before. The ordinary person just did not get an opportunity to make their voices heard. In the past we would never have heard from individual Undergraduates like this, in fact you probably wouldn’t have heard from Undergraduates at all ๐Ÿ™‚ I rather thought that some students here would like to have a go at this sort of thing. If you do, just get in touch with me and I’ll arrange it all.

    Socio-Edu Media?

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    As most of you know I also run the University Scoop.it site called Calling All Lecturers (it’s open to everyone, it’s just more focused on education). This morning I’ve been having a look at some of the other scoop.it sites that I follow and found some things that I’d like to share with you.

    Susan Bainbridge’s scoop.it The 21st Century is always very interesting. From there I picked up on the use of Pinterest in the classroom and I wondered if any of you use Pinterest for your academic work at all. Do you use it to keep track of stuff you find on the web so you can share it with others? Do you create your own things (infographics, mindmaps) about your studies and Pin them? This infographic was on AvatarGeneration where I then found the next item I want to share.

    This is probably not as reliable as Gartner but this infographic is a vision of the future of educational technology – all of you are using some of the things mentioned. Do you think this view of the future is possible or is it just pie in the sky?

    ok, enough of the heavy stuff ๐Ÿ™‚ let’s see what else I can find.

    Now this really looks good, they claim that DisplayNote is, “more than just your normal remote desktop application” I wonder if it is real or a scam? DisplayNote an app that could really be of use in a lecture hall or conference – has anyone tried it yet? Students can save presentations to their own devices and make their own notes on them. Students can also send private messages to one another and the lecturer on the same system. No more need for lecturers to print handouts – I’m must have try! I think it is only in Beta version at the moment but they claim that this App can be used by any platform to present and receive from a mobile device – I can’t wait to use it ๐Ÿ™‚ Do go and look at their video (link above) and their “About” page.

    That will have to be all for now but I’ll find something else to bring you soon ๐Ÿ™‚

    Some good reads with a cup of cocoa :)

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    What ghastly weather! Now is the time when you should be tucked up with a good book, a mug of cocoa and a roaring fire. Not quite what I have at this very moment but I do have lots of goodies for you to read on your iPad or hot PC ๐Ÿ™‚

    The first App I have for you is sweet – Piktochart provides you with everything you need to make your own infographics and it’s really, really simple, hurrah! I like simple and I like it even better when it is either free or has a good financial offer for those in education and Piktochart has both – good yeh?

    The next thingy I have is for those of you who are a little more experienced with computers and have a web site of your own. Google Chart Tools is in the Google Developers area of their site. Take a look then, copy the code, paste it into your web site and, if you want, run the data from your database. Presto you have your own data chart on your own web site and it changes as your data changes!

    Now I usually try to find three or four things to put on the blog for you so what else is there that might tickle your fancy on this nasty, cold, wet night.

    Oh yes, Introduction to Blogging. I rather like this as I think it will save me time when people say, why on earth should I blog. This little infographic very neatly explains just why blogging is useful and how it develops into something special. It does all that without making any real effort – nice ๐Ÿ™‚

    Now for something a little more serious. If you or a friend have any problems with reading or writing using modern technologies have a look at this web page. This web site has a really long title but it is all about supporting Universal Access. All the Apps mentioned are for iPad or iPhone and most of them are free or are very, very cheap. I’ve looked at them and some I think can be useful, others not so much. There is also a link to a page with the same type of Apps but for PCs and Macs, just in case you do not have a mobile device.

    As a final and very serious note, if you are interested in the wider issue of Universal Access, you might like to look at this site too.

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