Why I still hope LL will improve ‘My SL’

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In 2015 Linden Lab announced they would not be developing the “My Second Life” part of the Second Life Website any further.
I think this is a mistake and hope they will change their mind.

I have written about this before but after having FB block my account just recently and it’s been 2 years since LL stopped development, I thought I’d bring it up again.

I think there is a huge need for a social media tool for Second Life residents, a need that the current  “My Second Life” (that name really doesn’t work), can’t fulfill.
So countless of us can be found on Facebook, where we find the tools we need even though we know we risk being spotted and have our accounts deleted.

MSL is more like Twitter than like Facebook I reckon, you see  few posts with pictures or links and that is about it.
I must confess I never use it.

So lets imagine, Linden Lab FINALLY hires me because I am so brilliant and have answers for everything, am witty, polite, gorgeous and modest.
What would I do to improve MSL?

Integrated chat system

I would add the option to chat with other people via MSL, click their name, choose chat, little window opens and you can talk, in private.
I’d also, here it comes, connect this chat option with chat INWORLD.
Can you imagine?
You want to talk to a friend who is inworld in Second Life and just start chatting with them without having to start your SL viewer or even use a computer, as this would easily work from the browser on your phone or tablet.

Community Pages

I’d give every SL group their own page, a little bit like we now have Places Pages for each parcel.
If you have a group in SL, you automatically get a page.
Here you’ll find information, people can chat on the “wall”, share pictures and above all; there is an event’s calendar.
You and group admins with the right permission, can create events for your group (which generally is also related to a sim, club or community in SL) and all members get an invite, a reminder when the event is about to begin and can accept or decline the invite.
This way on your own page you will also see a calendar with all the events you’ve been invited to.

Now why would LL spend money and time on developing MSL pages?
I think that an improved MSL with some of Facebook’s best features added, would be a good tool to make SL even better.
It will make it easier for residents to build and be part of communities, stay up to date on events that are happening, stay in touch with friends and share their adventures.
They can even be active members of their inworld communities when for some reason their computer stops working (someone buy me a new one!) or they can’t be online (damn those pesky RL jobs), they can chat with friends, share pictures of events, invite friends to events, etc.
All those things that make communities work better an makes it more appealing for people to spend time in SL.

Just look at how much many SL users use Facebook and how many communities in SL have groups there.
There clearly is a need for  social media tool with the options FB has but MSL is missing.

On top of that, we could perhaps even connect MSL with the Places Pages!

So please Lindens, take another look at My Second Life and consider adding a few extra tools.
Just a few improvements could be enough for many of us to stop using Facebook, google+, twitter, etc. and start spending way too much time on the SL website.

What do you think MSL needs to become better?

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Strawberry Singh’s Sansar videos

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Since she was allowed into Sansar well known blogger Strawberry Singh has been making videos about her explorations and experiences in this new virtual world.
Because of the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) she couldn’t share these video till today.

In this videos you can see Strawberry try out things in Sansar and see how things changed over the last couple of months.

Make sure you also read her blog about her Sansar experiences by clicking here.

Enjoy!

Linden Lab’s new virtual world Sansar opens to the public in creator Beta

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Today Linden Lab made its new virual world Sansar open to the public, yes you can go to the Sansar website right now, create an account and start exploring.

http://www.sansar.com/

Up to today the Beta testing was only available for those people who were invited after applying for access, mostly talented and experienced builders.
They’ve been working hard and creating experiences for months.

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But now anyone can sign up and join.
This is of course still a Beta, Sansar is not yet what it will one day be.
Especially if you’re used to the crazy amount of freedom and possibilities of Second Life, you may miss those options and the ability to do all those things you’ve been doing for years, at least for a while.
We’ve been spoiled!
But it is early days.

Although I was invited months ago, I could not try Sansar out because my computer is too old and needs replacing but nobody want to buy a kidney and I’m broke.
But from what I’ve seen and heard Sansar looks fantastic and of course it is made to also be used with a VR headset, something that hasn’t always worked out so well in good old Second Life.

So go ahead, create your account and go check things out.
Let me know what you think here in the comments section or on the unofficial Sansar Facebook Page or unofficial Sansar group.

I wish I could join you.
Sorry, until I get a new computer, no virtual schnaps for you guys in Sansar.
At least not proper schnaps, everyone knows I sell the best schnaps in virtual reality.

Below you’ll find the official press release Linden Lab send out and also costs & specs and some LL released screenshots.

As promised, things will be a lot cheaper, at least when it comes to “land”, if we can call it that.
Here we pay per experience and for fast support.
What the limits are and what one experience exactly means, if and how we can compare it with regions in SL, I guess we’ll find out soon enough as people start populating Sansar.

So go in and share pictures, videos and stories.
The Terms & conditions have been updated an the non-disclosure agreement part has been removed so you’re now welcome and encourage to share everything.
For instance to the Sansar flickr group or the Sansar Facebook group.

 

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The official press release;

The Metaverse’s Next Chapter:
Sansar Opens to the Public in Creator Beta

New Platform Simplifies Creating and Publishing Social VR Experiences,
Empowers Creators to Earn Money with a Robust Marketplace

SAN FRANCISCO – July 31, 2017 – SansarTM, the world’s leading social VR platform, today opened its creator beta to the public. Sansar empowers individuals, communities, schools, studios, corporations, brands and others to easily create, share, and ultimately sell immersive 3D social experiences for consumers to enjoy on HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Windows PCs. Developed by Linden Lab®, the company behind the groundbreaking virtual world Second Life®, Sansar is a brand new platform built from the ground up to enable everyone to become a creator.

At opening, Sansar’s Atlas directory already features hundreds of engaging virtual experiences, including multiplayer games, recreations of historic sites and landmarks, art installations, movie theaters, museums, narrative experiences, jungle temples, 360º video domes, sci-fi themed hangouts, and much more. Creators invited to the platform during a limited-access preview have published thousands of amazing public and private experiences, and with the opening of beta today, the world is now invited to join them.

“Sansar democratizes social VR,” said Ebbe Altberg, CEO of Linden Lab. “Until now, complexity and cost has limited who could create and publish in this medium, and Sansar dramatically changes that. It’s been inspiring to see the thousands of virtual creations that have already published with Sansar during our limited preview, and I’m looking forward to the explosion of creativity we’ll see now that we’ve opened the doors in beta.”

Sansar Capabilities

Simplified Creation & Cross-Device Distribution
Intuitive drag-and-drop editing makes it easy to create a scene with assets imported from common 3D modeling tools or purchased from the Sansar Store.

With the push of a button, creations become hosted multi-user experiences that can be enjoyed by consumers using VR head-mounted displays (HMDs) as well as in desktop mode on PCs. Every Sansar experience has a unique link that can be shared via Facebook, Twitter, email, blogs, and with whomever the creator wishes. Each instance of an experience is currently set to allow 35+ concurrent avatars, and automated instancing will enable creators to reach unlimited audiences.

Convincing Social Interactions
With detailed customizable avatars, Sansar provides rich social interactions, without requiring additional hardware like cameras and trackers. A unique integration with Speech Graphics’ technology provides accurate avatar lip-syncing and facial animations, driven in real time as users simply speak into the microphones on their HMDs or audio headsets. With the use of VR hand controllers, users’ hand and arm movements are accurately and realistically mirrored by their avatars, thanks to an integration of IKinema’s powerful RunTime middleware, the world’s leading full-body inverse kinematics (IK) technology.

Robust Marketplace & Earning Opportunities
With Sansar, creators can earn from their virtual creations by selling them in the Sansar Store. In the future, creators will also be able to sell, rent, or charge for access to their experiences. At the opening of beta, the Sansar Store features thousands of items for sale from creators around the world.

A relationship with TurboSquid provides creators with access to hundreds of additional high-quality 3D models in the Store today, with thousands more being added in the coming months. Planned integration with TurboSquid’s StemCell initiative will make it easy for TurboSquid’s community of 3D modelers to immediately upload and sell their creations in the Sansar Store, further augmenting the assets readily available to Sansar creators.

Pricing
Sansar is free to use, with additional capacity and customer support available to creators through paid subscriptions, starting at $9.99/month.

About Linden Lab
Founded in 1999, Linden Lab developed Second Life, the largest-ever virtual world filled entirely by the creations of its users. In 2013, the company expanded its product portfolio with Blocksworld, a lighthearted build-and-play system for kids and grownups alike.

Linden Lab is currently developing Sansar, a new platform that empowers people to create, share, and ultimately sell their own social experiences that are accessible with VR headsets and via PCs. Sansar is free to use and available now in creator beta at Sansar.com.

For more about Linden Lab, its products, and career opportunities please visit LindenLab.com.

 

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Second Life record breakers

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Second Life is 14 years old, that is very old.

Running around the excellent 14th anniversary community celebrations and having just celebrated the 8th anniversary of my 1920s Berlin sim and the 6th anniversary of Berlin’s Eldorado Cabaret, I started thinking about the facts and figures, the numbers and records of our old virtual world.

And to this purpose I thought I’d try and collect a few records.
But I’ll need your help gathering all the data.

What kind of records do we want to collect?
As many as we can.
The oldest still active avatar, longest running club, private region owned by the same person, oldest roleplay sim, oldest shop, best selling item on marketplace ever, oldest item still for sale on marketplace, longest partnered couple, oldest blog, etc, etc.

You name it!
If you think you know of something in Second Life that is breaking some sort of a record, share it in the comments and I’ll make a list out of it.

Just for fun and to give some of these oldtimers something to brag about!

According to Wikipedia, the first and thus oldest avatar in Second Life was Steller Sunshine, it looks like she was last online just a few days ago, so I guess we’ve found the oldest and the oldest still active avatar!

The first region was called “Da Boom”.
It too still exists, if of course this is the same one as the original.

So I guess we have 3 entries on our list already;

  • Oldest avatar; Steller Sunshine
  • Oldest still active avatar; Steller Sunshine
  • Oldest still active region; Da Boom

Let’s see what else we can collect!

And… happy birthday Second Life!

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24 hour day cycles are coming to SL!

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After years of bothering Lindens about it, trying to threaten and blackmail them, hiding in the Linden Lab HQ and jumping out during meetings demanding it, after hiding in Ebbe’s garden and shouting at his house with a megaphone about this (some of these situations may have been made up) it is finally happening;

24 hour day cycles are coming to SL!

And that is a bit of an understatement as the masters of time and weather have decided to tweak it all a bit more and added some other fun toys as well.

For years I’ve tried to mimic the time of day in RL Berlin in my 1920s Berlin sim, but as day cycles had a 4 hour setting, I had to manually turn the sun on or off, twice a day… rather drastically… for years…
Just so I could give visitors to the sim a realistic experience.
One they could always overrule and set to day light on their own viewer if they didn’t like it, but at least the option for realism was there.

So now finally I can stop doing this and program a realistic 24 hour day cycle for my sim based on if it is day or night in RL Berlin.

These changes are officially called The Windlight Extension Project.

So they are planning a day cycle setting that is set between 4 and 168 hours and this can include multiple sky and water settings per day.
This means I can finally create a 24 hour day cycle starting with sunrise, going on to noon, sunset and ending with night.
And this cycle can even be programmed for an entire week!

Some more interesting things that come with this huge pack of improvements;

  • Create your own windlight settings and keep them in your inventory
  • PARCEL BASED environment settings!
    This is a huge one, finally we can set custom day cycles and environment settings separately from the region settings, something we could already sort of do in Firestorm but not without using up precious parcel description space with a line of code.
    This is fantastic for my multi-zoned Time Portal sim as part of the sim is situated in sunny 1930s New York while another part is foggy Victorian London!
    Imagine the time of day and windlight changing when you step through a portal back in time… exciting!
    And it is of course also extra interesting for people who rent out land on their region as they can give their tenants the freedom to set their own windlight.
  • Experience based environment settings, make the setting change per individual depending on what they are experiencing in your sim!

For more (and better) technical details, check out Inara Pey’s blog by clicking here.

This is EXACTLY what I’ve been hoping for, it will give my sim more realism without me having to manually tweak this stuff and turn day into night and the other way around.

Once more big improvements come to Second Life!32615791260_decccf97ec_k.jpg

 

 

Ode to VR, a Second Life Machinima

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Today Amelie Marcoud, 1920s Berlin tenant, released a machinima titled ‘Ode to VR: the future of Virtual Reality’, shot in Second Life.

A wonderful video, not to be missed;

Ode to VR: The Future of Virtual Reality from Amelie Marcoud on Vimeo.

(If embedding failed, try clicking this link)

Official Sansar publicity video released

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Today Linden Lab released a new Sansar video, an official sort of smooth trailer/teaser for the general public.

The narrator speaks English, proper British English, which is always a good idea.
And I’m not just saying that because I’m and anglophile.

She describes Sansar as revolutionary and unlike anything the world has ever seen before, I can almost hear my Second Life avatar slamming her fists on the inside of the computer screen shouting “Hey what about this place then?!”.

Check out the video yourself, I’ll share my thoughts below it.

 

The narrator tells us that Sansar will take VR to the next level and that its unprecedented technology will allow everyone to create their own social VR experience and that that is no longer limited to the professionals.
This is true and the best thing about Sansar and SL, it is very good that they put emphasis on this, it is what will lure VR enthousiasts to Sansar.
It is up to the Sansar team to make sure the new users then are not disappointed when they perhaps don’t have the freedom they expected or that they need to spend money first to buy stuff or go learn blender to make things.
I hope easy inworld building tools come to Sansar but will they be there when Sansar goes public?
Anyway, I’ve written about that before.
The narrator tells us there will be easy tools to help us make these experiences and share them with everybody.
And she tells us we can use Sansar to recreate history, well that is me sold!

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She also talks about all the uses Sansar will have, live events, entertainment, education, etc.
But there is one thing I miss in her story; gaming.
At the moment this is one of the biggest uses for VR and you know many gamers will see this video and decide based on it if they want to try Sansar.
Some of these gamers may have youtube channels with millions of viewers but do you think they spotted something in the video that appeals to them?
Granted there may not be many gaming tools in Sansar yet, but I know that there is a cannon shooting thingy and of course you don’t need special tools for roleplaying.
I would have at least mentioned gaming in the list of possibilities and perhaps show a little bit of gaming madness.
So far the options offered seem perhaps a bit high-brow.

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Anyway, the story is sound and appealing.

The visuals are pretty good too and as someone who has been waiting to get into Sansar for ages it is difficult to see if they are also interesting to outsiders because my absorb every bit of new Sansar footage as a sponge.
But I’ll try.

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As someone who has been a hardcore gamer since Pong, I try and imagine what a regular VR gamer thinks of the footage and most of the visuals are quite impressive.
We get a good look at the avatars and they look pretty good although, it really depends on the angle they are being seen in.
In some of the shots they look better than in others and the girl with the black hair looks better made than the boy with the blue and white shirt.
But compared to SL, they are all perhaps still a bit dull.
I reckon some of us can’t wait to stick wings and tails on them.
The avatars we see are of course the basic starter ones but looking at the avatars in this video it seems not many users have done a lot of customizing yet, which makes me wonder if we’re going to get many avatar customization options when Sansar opens, I know we will get those eventually, of course!
But I think it is important to get them in place for the first day as they are so important.

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The creation tools look good, we know them from SL, same sort of idea, the ring around your prim that you use to rotate, move, etc.
They do make it look easy to move stuff around and well, it will be.
Uploading assets looks easier than it is though, most 3d software will make your brain cry.

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Adding lights, special sounds, scripting, it all sounds and looks pretty easy and if new users can indeed easily use these, we’re onto a winner.
It is when people want to actually build things that it becomes a lot more complicated.

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We see a few people putting on their headsets but we don’t see anyone using Sansar on a regular screen, well besides people who are creating and building.
As corny as it might have looked, having people also explore an experience on a desktop and maybe even a tablet or something mobile, might have calmed the people down who somehow keep thinking you’ll need a headset for Sansar.

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The locations all look rather good, Sansar creators have been real busy lately and it looks like there will already be plenty to explore.

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The video ends with a nice close up of a lady wearing a Sansar T-shirt while talking in sync with the narrator.
This may not seem much but for us in SL it is something we can only dream of and in many other VR experiences this is still something quite impressive.
I wish she blinked though.

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Conclusion; I think it is a pretty good public relations video, something to show off to outsiders and future users.
Of course there are also things I would do differently, but I’ve been to film school and have made films & TV so I say that about everything, it is one of the reasons nobody wants to watch movies with me.

And at the very end we get a Beta release date!
Spring 2017

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Which technically means it could be released at any moment between now and June.
I hope I’ve got my new computer by then!

The most important question is; after seeing this, would you like to try Sansar?
Would you as someone who has been in SL for years, as a gamer, as a developer new to VR, as a random housewife, a school teacher, etc.?

Disclaimer; I am in the Sansar program but my computer is too old and I can’t try it, so my article is still written as that of someone who has not yet been in Sansar, because well, I haven’t.
/me cries.

 

If someone vanishes in Second Life

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If you’ve been in Second Life for a while, sooner or later someone you know and/or care about will vanish from your virtual life.
They don’t say goodbye, they don’t leave a note, they don’t cancel their rent, they don’t clear their land, they simply never log on again.

There can be many different reasons for someone to just vanish like that, it could be something as innocent as being stuck somewhere during a holiday without internet and losing their rental and deciding they don’t want to return, maybe their computer breaks and they cant afford a new one or maybe they have gotten themselves into some drama in SL and decide that simply staying away is the best solution.
But it could also be something rather serious, they may be very unwell or even have died.

People sometimes don’t realise how much they mean to their virtual friends and community and have no idea how worried the people they leave behind may be.
And besides friends who will miss them dearly, there are also landowners, sims, shop managers, club managers etc, who are waiting for them to renew their rent or don’t know what to do with their stuff, upcoming events, etc.

So, after yet another person in SL simply vanished, I decided to write this blog with some tips, hoping it may avoid a few of these painful and confusing situations.

Please make sure there are is more than one way for people in SL to get in touch with you.
Get a facebook/twitter/other social media account and share your email address with a few of your friends, this can be an avatar only email address of course.
But also, if you can, find someone in SL you trust enough with some RL information.
Even if it is just one friend.
Having someone in SL who knows how to get in touch with you in RL can avoid so many problems.
And the more this one person knows, the better.
If you trust them enough, befriend them with your RL social media accounts or even agree with a close RL family member or friend that this SL friend can email them as well or befriend them on Facebook, just in case of emergency.
If something bad happens to you, your RL friends will probably leave messages on your RL facebook wall, telling you to get better or writing how sad they are you died.
If a SL friend sees this, they know enough.
If this is not the case, your RL friend or family member will still know what is going on.

And finally put all this in a tab in your profile.
Yes it will take up one of your very few Picks (let us have more Linden Lab!), but it could be worth it.
It would be even better if Linden Lab gave us an extra tab in our profile that you could use to fill in this information.
Of course you can also choose to use the ‘1st life’ tab for this, but most people like using that space to tell a little bit about themselves in RL.

Here is the tab in my profile, as an example.
At the moment it only has one name in it, my friend who also is connected with me via my RL Facebook account, who knows my RL email address, has my RL sister’s information, etc, etc.
I’ll add a few more friends, but I want to check with them first if they are ok with it.
If anything serious would happen to me, or something stupid like dropping my computer in the sea while sailing, my sister would know about it.
And once my SL friends got worried and contacted my sister, they’ know what had happened.
And if things were really serious, my sister also knows what I want to happen to my sims if I have died in a freak sword fighting tin opener accident during one of my RL time travel adventures.

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Of course it is completely up to you how much you explain about why you can’t be online in SL, sometimes it is nobodies business.
But I think you owe it to your virtual friends and landlords to at least know you’re not dead and if you’re planning on returning.

So folks, please remember that even though you may not realise it or underestimate it, there are people in SL who very likely are desperately trying to figure out why you’ve vanished.
Be a pal, give them a way to find out!

Three years of Ebbe Linden

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Three days ago Ebbe Linden was ‘born’, his avatar was activated shortly after his RL counterpart Ebbe Altberg was appointed the new CEO of Linden Lab after the unexpected news of former CEO Rod Humble leaving just a few weeks earlier after having been the CEO for 3 years.

And not much later he stumbled into my bar in 1920s Berlin to be entertained with 1920s Swedish music, the best Schnaps in VR and pretty frauleins (und herren) making eyes at him.
He looked much younger then.

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A lot has happened in the last 3 years, Second Life has improved significantly, tier (per prim) has gone down, the tech has improved, we’ve experimented with headsets with mixed results, the hamsters in the wheels that keep the LL servers running have been given fresh straw, Lindens have been released back into the wild and we learned about the brand new world they have been building.

Of course some of these things were set in motion before Ebbe joined the club but a lot changed under his watch and an interesting and exciting future awaits us.

Generally it seems that most people in SL are quite happy with our current captain on the bridge and personally I must admit I think he is doing a cracking job and I’m happy it is him in charge at this, I think, very important time for VR.

One thing Ebbe completely messed up… is his profile.
Really Mr. Linden, after 3 years your profile is still empty, you should fill it up with nonsense quotes, ridiculous disclaimers, an up to date profile picture and your favourite picks, you know, like that 1920s Berlin sim….

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Seriously though, what do you think, has Ebbe done a good job?
Are you happy or unhappy with him as CEO?
Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Linden Lab amongst tech companies who filed immigration legal brief opposing Trump

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After a public statement of disapproval regarding Donald Trump’s immigration policies, Linden Lab is now on the list of 127 Tech companies who have signed a legal brief.

The so called amicus brief argues that Trump’s immigration order is illegal and mentions the important contributions immigrants have made to the tech economy.
It also mentions that the policies will make it harder and more expensive to hire new employees from abroad or to do business there because of travel restrictions.
In short, it is bad for business.

Some of the other companies on the list are Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Intel, Twitter, Paypal, Ebay, Tesla and SpaceX.

If I understood correctly, the legal background of an amicus brief is that it is an official way of supporting a lawsuit without being a party to it.
Although of course this might still change if the companies decide to step up their involvement.
But it’s a bit complicated and it has been years since I’ve dated a lawyer.

News was first reported by Bloomberg, you can read their story here.

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