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life &Social Nets &the net 16 Mar 2009 04:17 pm

MediaCamp Athens ’09

We vs Me - The defining statement

We vs Me - The defining statement
credit to peter michel heilmann

It’s been 2 months since I lasted blogged and I apologise for that. Tonight has been special in that I have had the privilege of attending MediaCamp Athens ’09.

I took a lot of photo’s, some quite good, others not too good. They’re on Flickr so take a look if you like.

For the most part I have enjoyed the event (and although there have been one or two negative points upon which I’ll expand on below) first: a few notes on what was presented on this second day and what I enjoyed “consuming”

Morning demo sessions I followed were Udrive,,, greekstartups. All good but was exceptional. Better than Google. Real potential here. I loved the bit about placing advertising in a 3D live rotating view. The execution of this will be tough though, someone mentioned that advertising might appear on the Acropolis, imagine that!

The round-table Social Networks “A model for analysts” provided some heated discussion. As far as I understood, we have the potential to become less social by using social networks. (fair point if you consider we might have less physical contact if we’re constantly tweeting.

Joomla dominated today while apparently Drupal dominated yesterday. The uptake of Joomla seems fantastic. Greek company is well placed to provide services.

Vicky Kolovou and I held a discussion on TeachKidsTech – interest was good and we’re going to have a followup meeting in a couple of weeks. Join the Facebook group Teach Kids Technology if you’re interested.

And now for some comment.

The Web Startup/New Media/Social Network community or family in Greece is growing. This is a relatively young family and it is growing fast. Naturally, as families grow, the children develop and mature. They get opinions, they prefer more independence and don’t really like sharing toys. There are growing pains, jealousies and intrigues that develop too. Sometimes there are bullies about.

There is clear evidence of this happening in this family. It’s natural and there is nothing to worry about. Evolution and natural selection will occur.

Evolution is a wonderful thing. In the meantime, let’s spread the love people. Try not to be a blue meanie. The events that provide value will endure. They will survive. We should try not to stand in the wings and criticise, if we see something we don’t like, let’s lend a hand to fix it. I spoke to one person last night who felt it could have been better, but he stayed to the end, and contributed from the beginning. If you’re irked by a naturally obnoxious self promoting person or someone you feel constantly talks total crap (and there are some of those around believe me(perhaps I may be one of them)). Let the system phase them out. It will happen. Don’t worry.

I must say well done to the organisers (all of them) for their hard work in setting all this up. It was very well run. The sponsorships came through, the event was fun. Some opinions were questionable and there are more “experts” than letters in this post but you’ve got to take the good with the bad. I’ll be there next year – for sure.

Did you attend? What did you think?

Technology &the net 05 Nov 2008 11:21 am

Supporting WikiPedia

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge.

— Jimmy Wales, Founder of Wikipedia

I use wikipedia a lot. Today, I donated a small sum in support of this great service. If you use this service, please join me. Click on the Support Wikipedia image and make your contribution so that wikipedia can continue to be excellent.

From Wikimedia foundation : “Your generosity helps ensure that the Wikimedia Foundation continues to make human knowledge free and accessible to the world. The Wikimedia Foundation operates some of the largest and most popular collaboratively edited reference projects in the world, including Wikipedia, one of the world’s top ten most popular websites. Our work is important: we are grateful you have joined with us to help make it happen.”

the net &work 16 Oct 2008 03:00 pm

OpenCoffee Athens featuring Jason Calacanis

George and his crowd scored a real hit with the latest OpenCoffee. I witnessed one of the most inspiring talks ever. Direct, to the point. Jason was superb.

In summary:

  • Entrepeneurship is like going into battle. It’s tough and not everyone is cut out for it.
  • There are two types of people, those that are entrepreneurs and those that wish they were.
  • The only thing that stops us from starting up our own company is fear.
  • Everyone wants to be their own boss
  • The route to success is often via failure, there are always lessons in failure
  • You need to step up. Swing the bat and keep on swinging.
  • You will not hit a home run each time, but when you do it will be great
  • Share Knowledge: Give everything and you will receive much more in return
    Within the next month:
    someone to start an EC2 meetup
    someone to start a design meetup
    someone to start a Google App Engine meetup
    Next year:
    At least 5 Greek startups to present at TechCrunch50

    I’m happy to help on any of the above. Email me and we can get started. Though I’m no designer.

    Blogger Breakfast
    I was very privileged to attend a blogger breakfast the next morning that Jason kindly hosted where, Besides the opportunity to meet fellow Greek bloggers, we had the chance to bounce some ideas off each other. Thanks guys, Thanks Jason. We hope to see you back in a year!

    Books &Social Nets &Technology &the net 11 Sep 2008 11:53 pm

    Mygazines is a real winner and a game changer

    The perception we have regarding cost of magazines is that the cover price is the cost of the content within the magazine. The truth is that the cover price of a magazine these days reflects little more than the cost of printing and distribution. Few magazines actually make money from the cover price, they make money from selling advertising.

    I detest having to pay for a magazine that is 80% advertising. Add to this the hassle of us having to go to the newsstand to purchase the mag and we have a very expensive product, much more expensive than is apparent. So here’s a model that covers all the bases. Free shareable magazines. All my favourite titles are here as well as some I would find very difficult to find at any local newsagent.

    Advertisers can still advertise, adverts will still be seen. The internet and my browser takes care of the cost of distribution and the content creation is transferred solely to the advertiser. I pay for nothing but electricity and bandwidth. My end of the bargain is that I have to be exposed to the ads and if I like something, I might buy it.

    I have all the choices in the world conveniently delivered to my browser. It’s social in that my friends can suggest content that might be interesting to me and I can in turn suggest stuff to my friends.

    This is a great model and it’s truly a game changer. What do you think?

    Projects &the net &work 05 Aug 2008 11:33 pm

    Scratching your own itch

    I’m currently reading Getting Real from 37 Signals and wanted to share some phrases from it. Here’s a first

    “Build software for yourself

    A great way to build software is to start out by solving your own problems. You’ll be the target audience and you’ll know what’s important and what’s not. That gives you a great head start on delivering a breakout product.”


    “When you solve your own problem, you create a tool that you’re passionate about. And passion is key. Passion means you’ll truly use it and care about it. And that’s the best way to get others to feel passionate about it too.”

    the net 01 Jul 2008 08:30 am

    More Direct Democracy

    more_democracy.jpgThere’s no doubt that the internet and the social networks it helped create have done two things: brought people closer and brought about much more democracy.
    A new political party in Australia called Senator Online is taking this to new extremes, it will allow each member to vote on each and every bill that is tabled at parliament. The majority vote by members is what the party representative will vote in parliament. Now that’s direct democracy !!

    With lobbies, special interest groups, back room dealing and partisan voting marring the popular will, this new alternative will be hard to compete with. The party will have no political agenda as such but will act purely according to the will of its members, helping members decide how to vote by offering impartial online information on the pros and cons of each issue. Some might think that such direct democracy could easily take a negative route. What would prevent members from voting against a tax bill, could they strip away rights of minority groups?

    Senator On-Line
    (abr. SOL) is a registered Australian political party that contested the 2007 Federal election. It is running ten candidates for the Australian Senate.Unlike other political parties, Senator On-Line does not have any policies of its own. Instead it will conduct an online poll for every bill that passes before the Senate. Anyone on the Australian electoral roll who is not a member of another political party will be allowed to register to vote in these polls and will be allowed one vote per bill. The senators will then be required to vote in accordance with the clear majority (70% and more than 100,000 votes). If there is no clear majority the senators will abstain from voting.

    The FAQ’s on the party website tries to answer these questions: To prevent a malevolent majority from overthrowing the country, Senator Online will only be represented in the upper house, The Senate. Here, the powers are limited to approving or rejecting bills. It is the Australian lower house, the House of Representatives that proposes and debates bills.

    Web based democracy is new and untested and it is very likely that, as did social networks, direct democracy groups will evolve in unexpected ways and will have profound effects on how politics is done. Special interest groups, lobbyists etc will no longer try and influence legislators but will likely focus on the masses. But the masses are exactly that, MASSES and influencing them is a going to be a lot harder.

    life &Technology &the net 22 Jun 2008 10:12 pm

    Psst … Something wonderful is happening … pass it on

    Take 4 minutes to view this great video.

    Now if that has whet your appetite, take a look at this: Charles Leadbeater at TED talks

    Technology I use &the net 20 Jun 2008 11:22 pm

    Teach the machine

    Here’s a great video about Web 2.0, the social / semantic web (4 minutes)

    the net 16 Jun 2008 09:25 pm

    What is twitter

    I’ve recently started using twitter as a microblogging service and for status updates. One really cool feature is the free sms feature for those following you. Can you imagine the creative ways this can be used? Think updating a family member about how late you’ll be or getting a direct message to bring home some milk or updating a customer about the status of a service call.

    Take a look at the video below and feel free to follow me using twitter name smessinis

    shameful &Technology &Technology I use &the net 05 Jun 2008 02:08 pm

    Coincidentally, Zografou City Council website finally live TODAY

    zographou.JPGI say coincidentally because, I went by their offices today and complained about their site not being available for the past year or so. I’ve recently moved to Zografou and have often needed to talk to someone at the council for various things. Naturally, being a geek, I would look to their website to provide a telephone number but there has not been a website live for over a year.

    So, today I went to the council offices to make an inquiry about something and right near the entrance I notice a sign pointing to the I.T. Dept. Naturally, I walk in. “Could you kindly tell me what the council website address is please”, I ask. I notice some bare stares from the three geeks in the room. One brave soul comes up for air from his session of bejeweled and says “Oh I think it’s” seeking confirmation from his cohorts. I respond like any unknowing citizen would. “Are you sure, because I don’t think it is. Could you show me?”

    More blank stares, then a hint of terror. They now know I know there is no site at that address but he perseveres, fingers to the keyboard – DNS error. Not Found.

    “See, thats what I get too” I say innocently. Another geek comes up for air. Google to the rescue. A couple of seconds later he calls out, “Found it!”

    “Oh good I say”, what’s the address. “” – before I can say anything the third geek jumps in. “We need to make that address known !!”

    “No,” I say, “You need to fix the Nameserver entry to point to your domain”, Cat’s out the bag. They realise I’m a geek too.

    The traditional “We’re not responsible for the site, we’re only temporary, I’m only on Stage (work experience) employment” conversation ensues to which I respond. “You’re geeks like me and even if it has been given to a contractor, a bad or non-existent website is a bad representation of you as geeks. So fix it or call someone to fix it.” You’ll have to talk to our manager, she’s not here now but we can give you the name of the person in charge of the contract.”

    I go about the rest of my business and a few minutes later, I’m back in their offices, the manager has returned. She’s been told about my little complaint and immediately tells me to take my complaint to the mayor’s office. “Superb!! I’ll see the mayor, I have some other things to tell him too.” I say and off to the mayors office I go.

    The mayor was busy. But I made my point and coincidentally, the site is live. Literally 2 hours later. It looks like it was built by Atcom They’re a great company – It’s a good site. I like it. I just hope they feed it before it dies.

    Technology I use &the net 30 May 2008 06:26 pm

    too many tweets

    image-thumb.pngToo many tweets again today. I’m beginning to realise the benefits of this platform. Twitter is fast becoming defacto goodness for all. Guys, it seems youcant handle the load more often than not. Either sell to Google who can handle the load or take the platform peer-to-peer and let everyone share the burden.

    Projects &the net &work 19 Mar 2008 04:02 pm

    A website is like a baby. It needs love, care and feeding

    A friend asked if I would help with setting up of a new website. My first response: Does your organisation have the commitment and resource available to follow the process through? Can you or someone here look after this new child of yours? One that needs love, care and feeding? If not, then it’s best not to bother at all. A site that is not fresh, active or healthy is a waste of time and is doing far worse to your reputation than the good you think setting up the webiste might initially do. Think hard about it. If you can follow through and support its potential growth to the full then let’s go ahead, otherwise forget it.

    the net 18 Dec 2007 01:44 am

    Facebook- Cool and Not so Cool

    Facebook has brought me back in touch with many high school buddies I had long lost touch with but it can be such a damn waste of time. Take a look at the video below, really true, really funny.

    the net 06 Dec 2007 12:33 am

    I wish !! Mesh Networks – Cell phones and Cars

    When are our cellphones going to have mesh network capability? Imagine thousands of cellphones connecting to eachother, sharing connections, perhaps bridging to a home aDSL / cable / Wireless connection and sharing it on. It will kill the ISP’s. Cell phones should be relay devices. Check out these links along similar lines Brad Templeton’s entry on SMS mesh network and also this article from CNET SMS Relay – An Idea For Fault Tolerant Communications and also this article on Mesh-Networking Cellphones
    Autonet produces a wifi/GPRS-3G device that turns you car into a wireless hotspot. Nice but I don’t think the traffic police would take too kindly to me browsing the net while driving. It’s great for receiving podcasts though.

    Books &the net 13 Aug 2007 05:42 pm

    Flattening the Amazon

    In this flat world we live in, you would think that would get it.

    What I mean is that if Amazon knows where I live (and they do), they can keep all my profile info and credit card details across all sites (and they do), why can’t they  put my orders via the  closest  location  geographically?  I buy a lot of books based on recommendations from other sites who earn  commissions via Amazon Associates. These sites are mainly in the US. It makes no sense for me to buy from the US site because shipping is really high so I prefer to buy via It would probably make even more sense to buy from the French or German sites. What I’d love to see is when I place an order for a book or other item from, they process my order via the closest geographic location, thereby charging me less shipping but still giving the poor devil that recommended the book to me his commission.

    Heres an interesting comparison:

    Purchasing The World is Flat by Thomas Freidman from will cost €6.00 in shipping while buying the same book from will cost €7.36 in shipping (£4.98 @ 1 GBP = 1.47764 EUR)

    Makes sense since Germany is a little closer to Greece so why can’t Amazon ship from Germany when I order from the English or American site?

    the net 31 May 2007 09:48 pm

    Mahalo is all the rage

    Jason launched the Mahalo search engine today – it looks really great. The front page looks like it’s a zeitgeist of sorts and it’s kindof funny to note what’s on peoples minds (seems like it’s showing more US minds though, the results would be starkly different if more International users were visiting and poking around) – take a look – for example under food, people seem to be searching for (in order of importance it seems)

    Coffee, Cake, Pizza, Beer, Cheesesteaks, Organic Food
    (you guys need to eat better)
    and under HEALTH (at least one STD listed)
    Yoga, Asthma, Colorectal Cancer, HPV, Depression
    (no comment)

    The front page really makes interesting reading. Love the interface, the whole thing is a neat new concept on search and is bound to catch on quickly (if the quality of results they promise materializes) or at least be a fad for a while.
    Good luck Jason, it’s great work.

    shameful &the net 17 May 2007 01:32 pm

    Shameful – Vivodi is a Joke – Don’t go there

    selfishI applied for CableTV on the 15th of March – given current rumors I can expect to be connected around 4 months from now. Any complaints are futile. The irony is that I’m posting from a shared wireless connection I’m on through Vivodi. Am I being selfish? Perhaps.

    Let me counter with this. Vivodi charge me over Eu1/min when I call their customer support line. This is provided by a third party company. It may be Teleperformance but I stand corrected. They have absolutely no idea or intention to help me with any query. I foolishly wait over 15min on hold each time I call them only to be told the same thing time and time again: that they have no idea what the hold up is and when they expect to deliver the product I bought.
    Rumor has it they are making a huge profit from their Customer Support lines at over Eu1/minute.

    Now who is selfish.

    [update 24 May 2007] Received a call from CS this evening informing me of a “slight delay” in my application and that Vivodi are doing everything in their power to resolve the problem. I replied with “Are you kidding me, it’s 60days or so since I applied – what do I need to do to cancel, Enough with you.”

    Projects &Technology &the net 11 May 2007 03:51 pm

    Everyone in Customer Support should do a stint in a ladies shoe shop at one time or another

    Today I read Lior Arussy’s little book called The Experience!: How to Wow Your Customers and Create a Passionate Workplace It’s a fun short read that everyone in customer support should read. I found it quite entertaining. A colleague, seeing me with the book asked what it was about so I answered “Customer Relationships.” Her immediate reaction was “Hmm, Everyone in Customer Support should do a stint in a ladies shoe shop at one time or another” A great quote Anne, thanks for letting me use it here although it’s not only about difficult customers on the whole, nor is it about customers who expect the unrealistic. When a paying customer calls Customer Support the chances are that there is a genuine grievance that needs to be addressed and someone needs to own that problem in order to solve it effectively. My rant here really is about the atrocious customer support the Greek ISP’s have been giving their customers of late, passing a caller from one agent to another, not providing a satisfactory solution in a timely manner and generally passing the buck.

    you suck

    You guys suck and until you start taking ownership of the problems you will continue to suck.

    What is ironic here is that you’re all the same so we the consumers can’t leave you and go to your competition, they suck just as bad.

    [Update] Just this afternoon I had a call from a CS rep from HOL about an aDSL line I’m assisting someone put in. Apparently the customer can’t have aDSL “because his telephone line is on an optic fiber” !!!

    Stavros : “What !?! did you just say”

    HOL CSR: “Did you not hear me? His phone line is on an optic cable”

    At this point Stavros engages in educating the HOL CSR about the final mile.
    Her response : “Phone lines are not my problem – OTE obviously can’t provide you with aDSL”

    I reply :”Two months ago you told me that aDSL was available on this line and that your company could provide”

    HOL: “It’s not my problem I have done all I can”

    Stav: “Here is the problem, you sell to me on top of OTE’s lines, you and OTE have a communication problem and you both need to take ownership of that problem and stop transferring it to the consumer, or, you can just say from the outset that you have small tiny text in the contract that you can hide behind and that you might not be able to provide after all”

    The conversation continues without a solution. I will revert tomorrow.

    Bottom line – YOU SUCK

    the net 25 Apr 2007 02:40 pm

    Funny thing about Vivodi

    Vivodi is currently giving higher preference to callers enquiring about new connections than tech support for existing customers.

    Dial 13880 –

    press 3 for tech support, wait 10min to talk to clueless agent


    press 8 to talk to sales agent, wait 5 seconds – agent available and happy to take your sales call.


    Technology I use &the net 08 Sep 2006 06:46 pm

    Re-Streaming streams

    logo.pngMore and more staff are streaming audio (music and news) into their offices, sucking up bandwidth and Quality of Service from others. One idea (N!) was to try and bring in one copy of a stream and then run a streaming server from within the network where users can connect to. Then, we won’t need to bring down multiple copies of BBC or CNN or whatever at +32Kbps each time for each user.

    After some research this evening/morning, I came up with Peercast which seems to do the trick, allowing multiple “Re-Broadcasts” or  “Streaming Relays”. I’m going to suggest we run a couple of experiments with it next week to see how it holds up and if QoS gets any better while using it.

    Projects &the net 27 Apr 2006 12:30 pm

    Can’t wait for this :IMDb Web API

    imdbNow that I’m playing with Web Services like Amazon ECS etc. I can’t wait for IMDb, another Amazon owned company to start offering web services. Then I’ll start a video collections project.

    NewsAgent &the net 26 Apr 2006 04:23 pm

    NewsAgent – I Killed the Spambots

    NewsAgent - I Killed the SpambotsIt was getting ridiculous,

    apologies to those writers who were getting spammed.  The bots are Dead Dead Dead and need to get clever before they can spam us again. I’ve added a captcha function now so it isn’t so easy anymore.

    Resources used:

    gudlyf’s AuthImage code implemented by:

    Whoo Captcha for b2evolution, explained

    Projects &the net 21 Apr 2006 01:48 am

    My Booklists project is coming along nicely

    The booklists project took a bit of a boost last night and some of it is up (See the sidebar). When I look at the data I’m struck by a number of things.

    1) I’m paying too much for books locally. Amazon US has them at nearly 40% cheaper.

    2) I have as many books as I originally estimated. Must be close to 2000.

    3) You can tell a lot about a person by looking at their booklists (kind of scary) – perhaps I’ll add a function to allow some book titles not be public.

    4) I am certainly not as intelligent as I should be ! My Booklist suggests otherwise. I wish. Perhaps I buy these books to convince myself I am !!


    I hope to have it up and running in public pretty soon at a my new domain

    the net 13 Apr 2006 04:08 am

    Google Calendar Lives !!

    One more time, Google does better what MS couldn’t – Just think how great it is to simply type “Lunch with John tomorrow at 10am” and G-Cal recognises your text simply makes an entry for Lunch tomorrow. Neat ! RSS too Brilliant.

    the net 12 Mar 2006 09:37 am

    Podcasts I Listen To


    1) This Week in Tech

    2) Security Now with Steve Gibson

    3) Inside The Net

    4) BBC Radio 4’s “In Our Time”

    …More to follow


    Technology I use &the net 07 Jan 2006 12:46 pm

    Weekend Linux – Rails (Blood, Sweat & Tears)

    Last week I began playing with RubyOnRails

    Although there is a single click install package called InstantRails that I have been using, I prefer something more robust.
    So, this weekend, feeling rather masochistic, I decided to do a fresh Ubuntu install with Apache, PHP, mySQL, phpMyAdmin, Ruby, Rails, SSH, FTP.
    Now my previous experience with linux has been simply to put in the Linux CD and wait for the pretty windows but this time I decided to forego the prettyness of Gnome and do it totally in shell. Well, it’s been a long day but it’s finally running !!! See? Here’s proof !!
    putty rubonrails
    Resources I used : Starter guide Ubuntu 5.10 ISP setup
    Claudios’ How to install Ruby on Rails on Ubuntu 5.10
    phpMyAdmin Docs

    Technology &the net 23 Dec 2005 01:52 pm

    Blogging as a Social Tool – Gnomedex 5


    There’s a lot of cool videos over at Chris Pirillo’s blog from his latest event Gnomedex 5. One I thought was particularly appropriate to mention was Blogging as a Social Tool – check it out.

    Technology &the net 08 Dec 2005 10:24 am

    GPR$ Rip Off


    Am I cheap or am I simply not a fool?

    Is it me or are blackberries just not selling in Greece? I’ve had one for about 6 months but never turned it on. My feelings towards the daylight robbery that is GPRS bandwidth are well known. A Vodafone rep recently came in to the office to try convince me convince my users to subscribe to Blackberry service. His pitch was really pathetic. No mention of the benefits of using such a service nor any mention of communication / productivity gains, full time availability etc.

    No, his sell was basically this: “Get in on the deal now because we’re barely keeping up with demand. We’ve got thousands of requests a day and almost can’t manage. We’re surprised you haven’t subscribed yet”

    I remember thinking then, “Gimme a break ! Who is this joker !” – My response -“GPRS costs too much – how can you expect me to justify such costly bandwidth rates when compared to ADSL or even dial up. Sure mobility is a factor but is it worth 1000%? Bring down the prices and we’ll subscribe. Until then we’ll stay wired.” –

    Sales rep, duly sent packing.

    When i pay 8 bucks to host a website and they give me a 250 Gb transfer rate/month and compare that to 30bucks a month for 10mb on Vodafone GPRS – can u help but feel ripped off ? No thanks – Den tha Paro !!

    A few months on and just I don’t see those thousands of subscribers tapping away at their Blackberries on the streets of Athens. So much for the demand they couldn’t keep up with. Maybe it’s me wearing a blackberry user filter lens.

    Technology I use &the net 20 Nov 2005 02:40 pm

    Finally, Real Ubuntu CD’s !!!


    Ubuntu has gotta be the coolest Linux out there. The 30min install has everything a PC will need, Firefox as the default browser and some cool server stuff too. It’s free, and supported by Spaceman Mark Shuttleworth. Of course I’ve downloaded ubuntu !! A couple of times in fact. I’ve burned quite a few CD’s too. Still, there’s nothing like an original CD so a couple of weeks ago I ordered 5 (the minimum) just to check it out. Suprise, suprise. Yesterday a small parcel came from Switzerland containing my 5. Super excited, I gave away the 4 immediately to non-linuxers, pushing them to try it, then did a fresh install of 5.10 and immediately proceeded to order 40 more. I have absolutely no doubt I’ll get them. Hey, they’re free and I’m going to give them away at the F.I.T. meetup which will happen sometime in January. I will probably order more before then anyway.

    Full of Myself &the net 15 Nov 2005 01:17 pm

    The Quest for Google Glory (Part II)

    Search term “Stavros Messinis” (me!!) is No. 1 on Google.

    obective 1 – COMPLETE
    it now points to this weblog

    obective 2 – IN PROGRESS
    search term Stavros to be about me – currently it points to
    Promoting independence and access in our communities for persons with disabilities and Deaf people

    Actually I hope I don’t unseat you guys. Seems to me what you’re doing is so much more important.

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