11 April 2014

Free For All Friday No. 282

It's Friday, the weekend is just around the corner. And as usual you are free to discuss anything Filofax or any other brand of ring bound planner related topics.

Have a great weekend.

31 comments:

  1. Yay, I'm first. But seriously, does anyone else have a Glenroyal binder and love it as much as I do?

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    1. I've had my eye on the Glenroyal binders for a couple of years but haven't taken the plunge! What color do you have? They all look great.

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    2. They have a range of colour. Green, reds, blue and tans (light and dark) The leather is divine. I have gillios as well, but I keep going back to the Glenroyal.

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    3. My replies keep cutting off, anyway, I have the dark London colour. It is a rich tan and I love it.

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    4. I also have the dark London Tan binder, and love it! Just now it's been crowded out by a Smythson binder that I picked up in their Christmas Sale.

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  2. I about to start a new job and want to get an A5 Filo to help me stay organised at work. I want something simple and not too bulky.
    At the moment I'm torn between an A5 Domino or a Clipbook, but I'm not sure which would be better.
    A clipbook is slimline and cheaper, but the Domino has inside pockets to tuck papers into and can be closed with the elastic.

    Does anyone have any thoughts to help me out?

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    1. Kentish - I think you may end up disappointed by the Clipbook if you're looking for an organiser rather than just a notebook. It's very basic and has no provision for pockets or closure system (other than the sheet of clear plastic it arrives in). The A5 Domino is very different as it has pockets, pen loop and a closure. It's not compact or slimline but isn't overly expensive. The A5 Flex is much more compact, has lots of pockets, but has no rings. It can be closed with two pen loops. Alas, we still don't have a genuine slimline A5, despite campaigning for one for years (no not the puffed up Adelphi or Boston!)

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    2. I would agree with Tim. I have a load of A5 dominos and they are great. Big rings, but still stay fairly lightweight, with the cover being thin yet sturdy. From your name, I'm guessing you're based in Kent, and WHSmith (online) have them discounted at the moment (£25.90 for black and £22.20 for red).

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    3. As much as I like the clipbook in principle how ever on the part that this will be an on the go planner I think the domino would be preferable in this scenario... and the price that Amanda suggests is correct... however if it's just going to sit on a desk and never leave then go clipbook... but that's just me...

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  3. I was checking in at the Davy Crockett Ranch at Disneyland Paris this past Tuesday and the lady in front of me had an A5 red Domino. It was well loved with worn corners. I currently use the Maldens but my first Filofax was a pocket Domino. I like the light weight and have been looking at the new hot pink Dominos. She also had her IPad mini sitting on top in a red cover too.

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  4. Hi :-) I'm just getting back into the habit of carrying and maintaining a manual personal organiser again (it's often much more quick to use the old school methods than my almost-all-singing-and-dancing smart phone ;-)); however, I appear to have hit a stumbling block. While I can automate, to a certain extent, the extraction and printing of my address book from Google to paper (a somewhat convoluted process), the creation of a horizontal page-per-week diary/planner is evading me. I'd like to be able to work on it using OpenOffice Writer, but there don't appear to be any templates for this available to use Personal Size paper, or even A4 sheets. Are there any hints, tips, or even better, ready-to-go solutions, that anyone may know of, please?

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    1. Philofaxy just 'ate' my very long repl to this, so this is a short 'test'. Please ignore.

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    2. Hi Roger

      Firstly, congrats on returning to the paper-based 'fold'! I'm sure you've made the right decision - it's so much quicker than picking away at a gadget, not to mention that a paper system won't run out of battery or mysteriously 'eat' your data.

      You don't say whether you're using A5 or Personal size, but assuming the latter, do you mean something like this?

      http://www.filofax.co.uk/week-on-two-pages-horizontal-diary-with-appointments-1.html

      If so, unless you have unlimited time to spend I'd be inclined to pay the £7.50 and be done with it.

      I'd be interested to know more about your Google-to-paper extraction, as I'm contemplating the same thing. If you'd prefer to go off-list I'm davidpopely (at) googlemail (dot) com

      Shortly off to London for a mini-meetup over dinner with the mighty and excellent Paul Burke and Cloudberry Lynn. Much anticipated, but I may not be able to respond again here today, and as I'm collecting Lovely Daughter and her partner and bringing them back to darkest Somerset for a weekend of quietude, it might even be Sunday before I'm back at the table here. However, I'll be watching!

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  5. Hiya David -

    OK, longish reply, apologies in advance...

    Yes, sorry, personal duplex binder is the way I went; I liked the idea of a twin-ring personal sized binder, so got a TAM Personal Exercise Organiser (from Cadet Direct online) - it's similar to the one that was reviewed on here from KitMonster, but has stiffened covers, and a velcro securing strip on the front cover. I'm using a pair of Filofax Blank Index divider page sets, which are very nice - and you can change the titles easily, which is rather handy to say the least :-)

    On data extraction from Google. No worries, it's initially a fairly straightforward thing, and others might benefit from it, so here goes...

    Google allows you to export the address and calendar data as CSV (comma delimited text) files. They can be a pain to work with, but at least you can extract the data.

    Now, while the diary file is something of a cast iron pig to work with (I've not yet figured out how the heck I'm going to deal with it, it's a flamin' MASSIVE file and comes out as a spreadsheet of football pitch size dimensions on the screen!), the contacts file (helpfully called "contacts.csv"!) is relatively easy, albeit slightly convoluted, to work with.

    I'm in the process of converting the CSV file into a straight flat text file for use in OpenOffice Writer, using Search & Replace, in the following order:
    * Every comma into tabs (accomplished with ease)
    * Every carriage return (which is end of a contact entry set in the original CSV file) into a hard page break (NOT yet accomplished, see below), and then
    * Every tab from the original search & replace, into a carriage return.

    This *should* result in a page per contact, with every entry on a fresh line. Unfortunately, OO Writer hasn't been cooperating to well - MS Word was sooooo much more flexible and comprehensive in it's S&R facility, but now it's been priced through the roof, I've gone for the freebie Open Source solution, hence OpenOffice ;-)

    So, once I've got a solution in place for the data conversion (CSV -> manipulatable text), I plan on writing a Blant entry (that's my blog with attitude!) on it.

    Obviously, once the data is extracted, it's a simple enough exercixe to format it within Open Office Writer as one sees fit.

    Regards the filofax pre-printed diary versus print it yourself; I'm a bus driver, and keep my work schedule on my google calender at the moment (I work a rotating 11-week cycle of shifts). It would be exceedingly nice to be able to stick it in the organiser as well, so that I can, at a mere glance, be able to know when I have days off, leave from work, and so on, rather than mess about with a smart phone for several minutes to do what can be done in seconds with the binder. Hence the diary data extraction.

    The problem with developing a horizontal, personal page diary on the computer is the position of alternate page rings - vertical pages are a doddle; there are templates for that. But I really prefer horizontal for a diary. Colour me odd for that ;-) And that's where the problem comes in - mirrorring of page settings work fine for vertical pages, but not for horizontal, where the ring binders positions alernate from top to bottom, instead of left to right. It completely threw OO Writer for six, with all the margins all over the place.

    So, I'm trying to figure out how to fix this issue - I think it'll have something to do with manipulating the style system in OOw, but again, this is something that I'll write up (eventually once solved) in the to-be-written Blant entry mentioned above.

    Again, apologies for the length of reply, hope the day and/or weekend go well for you and the assembled company!

    Cheers,

    Roger

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    1. Hi Roger

      Have just deposited Lovely Daughter back at Crewkerne station for onward transmission to London, so am now re-entering the real world!

      Thanks so much for the reply - very interesting stuff. Do your garage use a shared Google calendar for shifts etc? Otherwise, why not just enter them straight into a paper system? indeed, it wouldn't take that long to do so (in pencil!) anyway. I only ever use pencil in my diary, as meetings seem to change so often.

      Back from London on Friday after my mini-meetup with Paul Burke and Cloudberry Lynn, I now find myself with a Grand Haul of Swag (expected) which I had a brief chance to go through this morning in the early hours before the house sprang to life.

      I've been through the stuff and what I have is a half-workable system for Personal, A5 *and* Time Manager....the two A5 professional divider sets I was given, when combined, make a full set, with one or two 'tatty' sheets, and I shall probably email Filofax to see if they still sell any of the full sets at all (God help me), and buy one if they do. Otherwise, it' a case of deciding whether I want to deploy the *beautiful* A5 Bridle (it's *monstrously* heavy!), and, if I do, what diary layout I would go for. Paul also brought me a South African DPP diary which is quite 'clever' as it's designed in such a way as to usable from mid-year, and then for the unused part to be used at the beginning of *next* year, up until 2016. It's really quite ingenious, and I must confess to being tempted. I might email the company or check online to see what the cost would be for the same insert next year. Very poor paper quality, but as I only ever use pencil in my diary, that's no big deal.Or I could 'trade up' to a Wo2P or even a DPP printed on Conqueror!

      TM-wise, I would need either a calendar set, or enough undated weekly/daily sheets to last the rest of the year, plus an 18 month diary. Plus a set of sectional dividers, because the front sheet (as always) has split along the line of the punched holes. This is a perennial problem with the TM dividers. I'm going to see what the cost of the various options would be, but I know the TM calendar set is over £40 including VAT and postage. Not sure if I want that outlay at the moment.

      That leaves the Hampstead Personal in which I'm firmly settled, and using the Davinci/Tomoe River paper which is sheer delight, and of which I've already gone ahead and ordered 400 sheets. I must confess, this has really changed the way I look at the potential of the Personal, page size obviously notwithstanding.

      I've decided not to rush to a decision on all of this, but to 'let the dust settle' before hopefully getting to a settled view by September time, when it will be re-ordering time.

      A true time management system (a la TMI) in Personal size would truly be the Holy Grail for me. I think I've solved a fair few problems over the past couple of years by using GTD as a backbone to my system, but something more top-down and proactive, again a la Time Manager, would be perfect. Again, it would need custom dividers (in plastic for durability) and a backgound 'philosophy', which is the big appeal of TMI and Time/System, but if it could be done.......I'm going to get my thinking cap on, but I think the divider problem will be the sticking point.

      Roger, I'm *definitely* going to have a crack at exporting Google contacts to CSV and then reformatting for Personal/A5.....thanks for the tip!

      Best wishes as always

      David

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    2. Hiya David -

      LONG reply in two parts follows...

      Glad you had a good visit there, in both cases :-)

      OK, on mammoth tasks first... yep, you guessed it, I'm on about Google CSV files; Big surprise, it turns out there's a wrinkle. Nay, a whole (censored) raft of wrinkles...

      I did some more work on it, and found after my eyes threatened to fall out, that it was FAR easier to import the file smack dab into OpenOffice Calc (or Excel, if you use MS Office), and manipulate the data there, before reformatting it in a flat text file.

      The reason is, that for some strange bleeping reason, Google sticks commas in where they aren't really required, by splitting addresses into separate fields for such fields as house number & road, town, city, etc, which really complicates matters. Likewise, it does the same for business addresses, so if a contact has both home and biz addresses, you get LOADS more fields per entry for EVERY record in the file. In addition, it adds all manner of fields that you may use only once on a given record (or not at all in this case), and not on any other record, thus more fields per record throughout.

      So, over the years of using Nokia phone contacts, Google contacts, and other contact systems that have all been merged and then uploaded to Google, I'm left with shedloads of different fields, as follows...

      First Name,Middle Name,Last Name,Title,Suffix,Initials,Web Page,Gender,Birthday,Anniversary,Location,Language,Internet Free Busy,Notes,E-mail Address,E-mail 2 Address,E-mail 3 Address,Primary Phone,Home Phone,Home Phone 2,Mobile Phone,Pager,Home Fax,Home Address,Home Street,Home Street 2,Home Street 3,Home Address PO Box,Home City,Home State,Home Postal Code,Home Country,Spouse,Children,Manager's Name,Assistant's Name,Referred By,Company Main Phone,Business Phone,Business Phone 2,Business Fax,Assistant's Phone,Company,Job Title,Department,Office Location,Organizational ID Number,Profession,Account,Business Address,Business Street,Business Street 2,Business Street 3,Business Address PO Box,Business City,Business State,Business Postal Code,Business Country,Other Phone,Other Fax,Other Address,Other Street,Other Street 2,Other Street 3,Other Address PO Box,Other City,Other State,Other Postal Code,Other Country,Callback,Car Phone,ISDN,Radio Phone,TTY/TDD Phone,Telex,User 1,User 2,User 3,User 4,Keywords,Mileage,Hobby,Billing Information,Directory Server,Sensitivity,Priority,Private,Categories

      This, straight off the top of the CSV file as it came from Google. I have NO ding-dong idea of where half of those headers come from, either. It was, though, nice of them to add the header field...

      Think I'll go have my nervous breakdown now... (can you hear the frustrated screaming over there?!)...

      End part one of the reply, part two follows in a moment...

      Cheers,

      Roger

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    3. Hiya David,

      Part two...

      So, anyhow, after a LOT of paring down, I've deleted well over half of the records as either being out of date, redundant duplicates, or people/businesses/organisations that I only ever contacted once, and have thus got it to a slightly more manageable number of fields, ready to be properly formatted down to a page per record.

      All I have to do now is actually sit down and do that later on today.

      I think my backside has callouses...

      Ahem.

      Other matters...

      No, not even thought of suggesting that to the depot allocations guy; Not sure how it might be made to work, either; from what I understand of the systems we use, it may not even be possible due to system (software) incompatibilities. I'll have a chat with both him and the union guy, as there may also be data protection issues involved that no-one hitherto thought of. I know that another company nearby has individual driver accounts that they can log onto to check their availability, so I'll also talk to them as to how their companies managed it. Cheers for the thought :-)

      I'm not at all sure I understand this Time Management concept; I somehow think it's something that (at least for me) needs to be explained in person, rather than on paper - and no, unfortunately, I'm working over the may meet-up weekend, sadly (already checked) :-(.

      One of the good things about living in the time we do is that we can, if with some level of work at times, generate our own inserts as needed and/or required, using our computers and a half-way decent printer; in this respect, we've got the 1980s and -90s beaten hands down, as we're not subject to the whims of other peoples ideas of what our diary formats, planners, and suchlike, should look like: If we don't like something, we can make our own!

      As to dividers. Have you thought of using these? http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B002CMGY9K/ref=oh_details_o01_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

      Looks like Filofax aren't making them at the moment, but I manage to get a pair (one off evilbay, the other from Amazon) of these packs, and they're absolutely perfect for my needs; the plastic tabs acept folded card (or paper) to allow you to customise the tab to something more accetable, like coloured titles, highlighted colour titles, coloured tabs with different coloured text, and so on, and you could even, I suppose, add symbols to them. I've an OpenOffice Writer file that I can send you with the right size tab formats, if you want?

      As to organisers (binders) to use; yeah, it's a problem allright, lol. Hence my decision to use a duplex binder. Besides, I loved the idea of the duplex binder the moment I saw a TAM binder when I was in the T.A. ;-)

      Interested to know your thoughts on the above,

      Cheers,

      Roger

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    4. Hi Roger

      I'd always assumed it would be easier to manipulate the CSV file in either Excel or OO Write - they are designed for that purpose. Doing such an exercise, even though possibly time-consuming, would enable me to 'weed' my address book (something which is very much overdue), and then get a copy into my Filofax format (size) of choice, which at the moment is Personal. I'll give this a go ths week, time permitting. I have a London business trip Wednesday/Thursday, which necessarily entails 5 hours of train time (far more than two full batteries-worth of laptop), so I could maybe give it a go then.

      Divider-wise, I use a ten-part numbered set which I think emanate from Japan. You can find details of my set-up in a guest post elsewhere on this site - I won't alienate/bore the assembled readers with a repeat performance! Suffice to say I'm a pretty hardcore GTD user, although sometimes I stray.......

      The A5 divider set I'm referring to is the much-neglected Filofax 'Time Management' set (sometimes known as the 'Professional' set. FF seem to have doen a very good job of burying the TM inserts and accessories further and further down in the bowels of their website over the past couple of years something which I can only confess my bemusement at, since it represents their major USP so far as *real* time management interested parties are concerned. But what do I know?

      Whereabouts are you? If you're anywhere near either London or in the SW, maybe we could meet up at some point.

      Best wishes as always

      David

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    5. David -

      Having "done the weeding", I know exactly what you mean there!

      Regards your train trip, I found a couple of years back that FGW at least tend to put power points in the carriages for customers use; they're either located at or under the tables, or between the seats on the rear central chair leg of seat pairs. They can be a right so-and-so to get to for the less flexible amongst us, but they should be there. Check the rail company's web site - there may be information on there as to availability, but I'd imagine the intercity trains tend to have them as standard these days.

      Re Wed/Thurs - interesting. If you have a free bit of time in your visit, I happen to be (1) based in south London, and can easily get to central London with no real problems at all (TfL staff travel passes are marvellous things!) and (2) on leave over this next fortnight, and I'm free for up to late afternoon on Wednesday (Land Rover club meeting in the early evening), and completely free on Thursday morning. I'm then unavailable, as time is then fully taken up by the other half, as these things tend to be :-)

      Il'l have a dekko at your guest post, thanks. Sorry, USP? I hear that and think Universal Service Pistol (blame my T.A. background)!

      Cheers,

      Roger

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    6. So as not to clutter the list with personal correspondence, drop me a line at davidpopely (at) googlemail (dot) come and we'll sort something out for Wednesday/Thursday. Whereabouts in S London are you, and which garage? I used to live in Lewisham, Catford garage was just down the road.....Might be able to meet you closer to your base.....

      USP = Unique Selling Proposition/Point!

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    7. David -

      Good point. Email on the way shortly :-)

      Cheers,

      Roger

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    8. OK, well an update for everyone on the address book side of the data extraction from Google...

      As mentioned earlier, Google make the contacts listing available as a CSV download. This is a comma delimited spreadsheet format, with more columns than than a mad librarian could come up with, so importing it into the spreadsheet of your choice, and then merging / deleting / combining the data to suit is the only option for paring down the data and duplicate entries you will have encountered.

      Unfortunately, the next step is, as I've found, not possible to automate or ease - formatting the resulting data for inclusion on the printed page.

      It took me, off and on, the better part of a fortnight to get this done to what I would call a final version; this included populating a personal-size template document in OpenOffice Writer with the data, and then formatting is to suit. Mind-numbing wasn't really the phrase for this, but at least it's done (with backups on the cloud, just in case!).

      Anyhow, once I get home (I'm away in the Home Counties with my other half this (long) weekend, I'll print 'em off onto pre-punched personal sized paper, and see how I get along with it :-)

      As to the calendar data, this has proved to be an altogether more difficult issue.

      Google exports this (spits it out) as an iCal file, rather than a spreadsheet (would have been a damn sight easier to work with, lemme tell you), thus the normal ways of dealing and working with this data are not possible, so another methodology has to be put to use, and this is where I have no skill sets whatsoever: Instead, my better half, a programmer by trade, is working on a couple of possible solutions involving the "Google API". I'll update you all on the progress of this as and when - watch this space!

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  6. Have you thought about buying an annual fold out page to record your shifts, holidays, sick leave etc?? I find mine very handy and use highlighters for holidays and pen in other appointments.. Philofaxy also do a version, easily printable if your shifts change!!! Sorry if this is not quite what you need, just a thought. xxxx

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    1. Hiya, Butanben :-)

      I considered those, but there's so little space in each box of a fold-out planner sheet that it would be like trying to fit a quart into a pint pot in so many respects; they're good for simple bars across swaths of dates to denote such things as leave, rest days, and similar, but not so much for daily events as the shift number, time on/off, paid hours, and such like that I'd prefer to see, hence the diary approach.

      What can I say, I'm a bit of a detail freak ;-)

      As a follow-up to my earlier comments above, I've come to the conclusion that I'm going to have to put the horizontal planner idea on hold for the time being, pending more research and trial and error in setting up a workable template; the issues with alternating top and bottom margins for hole spacing are such that Open Office Writer doesn't seem to be able to handle it (one would have thought that alternating headers and footers would do the job, but apparently not), so vertical is currently the viable option, which is annoying as heck, as you might imagine when you can't get things working the way you want them to. Not really toys out of the pram annoying, but annoying none the less.

      Right, breakfast is calling, so offski for the moment. Have a great weekend all :-)

      Regards

      Cheers,

      Roger

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  7. Hi everyone. Recently returned to a personal size Filofax, having had my diary on a google calendar on my phone for a while. I'm fed up of taking phone calls asking if I can do a date, only to have to put the caller on loudspeaker (not always ideal in a loud environment) or constantly switch from looking at the screen to talking with it at my ear!

    Anyway, since I'm now using my red Domino, I have a blue personal Apex sitting empty. One option is to sell it, but just wondering how people usually go about swapping binders? Is there a good online place to list it?

    Thanks!

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    1. Check out Adspot at the top of the page. People do both selling and swapping there.

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  9. Also, anyone know what's happened to DIYPlanner.com? Seems completely unresponsive, as if there's a server problem - been like this for maybe a week?

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  10. I wanted to mention a simple way to carry two pens in a planner with one pen loop. First I bought a large adhesive pen loop that I attached to a pocket folder. The pen loop with the pen in it was too heavy and did not stay in place on the folder well. Then I tried to clip a pen to a binder clip after seeing someone do this. My pens did not stay on the binder clip securely. So I clipped both pens to one pen loop and they stay in place. It was simple and I don't know why I did not think of this before.

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  11. Nice tip :-) Also, if the binder isn't too heavily loaded (always a bit of a problem here!), I've found in the past - and currently on my duplex binder, that carrying one pen in the pen loop, and the other, if it's got a big enough clip and ring set, inside the rings, clipped to the top ring itself, a handy way of carrying two pens/pencils as well. Hope this helps :-)

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    1. Hi Roger. Thanks for your tip. I think I have seen some people clip the pen inside the binder rings as you said. I will try that method. So far I am clipping both pens on the pen loop in my compact Luxe and it works well. When I close my binder the pens do not touch the dividers because the loop is on the outside. As you said it depends on how stuffed your planner is though.

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