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2006/7 Programme

Come back to this page from time to time to check for amendments to the programme and more details on some of the sessions as they become available.


Programme Summary

Thursday 21 September 2006 add this event to my diaryThe disappearance of cash - advances in payment technology
...meeting report
Thursday 26 October 2006 add this event to my diaryClimate Prediction and Digital Preservation: Predicting the Future and Preserving the Past
...meeting report
Thursday 16 November 2006 add this event to my diaryExtending existing applications for secure mobile use - how tough can that be
...meeting report
Thursday 7 December 2006 add this event to my diaryChristmas Lecture: The Machine That Enjoys Christmas - Whither Machine Consciousness?
...meeting report
Thursday 18 January 2007 add this event to my diaryViruses and Malware, How many more threats are there
...meeting report
Thursday 22 February 2007 add this event to my diaryTowards secure distributed healthcare research and delivery
...meeting report
Thursday 22 March 2007 add this event to my diaryVisit to Unipart Advanced Logistics Centre
...visit report
Thursday 26 April 2007 add this event to my diaryRuby on Rails
Joint with BCS OSSG and Internet SG
...meeting report
Thursday 25 May 2007 add this event to my diaryRoad user charging and Branch AGM
Attendance

Unless stated otherwise, all our meetings and events are open to the public without charge. Except for special events or rare meetings which are expected to be heavily oversubscribed, there is no need to book: just turn up on the night.

When booking is required, it will be made clear on this page and on the monthly emails which we send to people on our mailing list.

We hope that you will enjoy the range of topics to be covered. If there are other subjects you'd like to hear about, it's never too soon to start thinking about next year. Just drop us a note using the contact form.

Following our usual practice, we will send email reminders to each branch member of record between one and two weeks before each meeting.
Any unavoidable changes to the programme will be advertised on this page and notified to members by email.

We reviewed the wording of our meeting reminders in the light of the EU Directive on Electronic Communications (which came into force in the UK on 11 December 2003) and now include a clear explanation of why individuals are receiving the message and how to unsubscribe.

Programme details are posted to branch members in mid-August. If, after allowing for postal delays, you didn't receive yours, please let us know using the contact form.


Programme Detail


The disappearance of cash - advances in payment technology

Date 21 September 2006
Time 19:30 (Tea and Coffee from 19:00)
Location Computing Lab, Wolfson Building, Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3QG ..Directions and Map
Calendar Entry Download iCal Calendar entrythis iCal file: depending on your browser settings, your calendar may launch automatically, otherwise double click to add the meeting to your Outlook diary. Procedure may differ for other Calendar tools.
Meeting Summary On the reports page
Speaker Tim Lambertstock, Technology Strategy Manager, Voca

Tim joined Voca (then BACS) in 1999 to lead the development of the vision and architecture for a major programme to upgrade the BACS payment service. The first phase BACSTEL-IP - went live in late 2002 and migration of customers from BACSTEL was completed at the end of 2005 with the core mainframe systems shut down in July 2006. For the last three years, he has been mostly involved in developing new products and services that leverage Voca's trusted but bank-neutral market position and technology. This has included work on innovative payment methods, the financial supply chain and security. Prior to joining Voca, Tim spent over 20 years in various IT strategy and management roles. He is a member of the BCS and sits on the Oxfordshire Branch Committee.

Abstract: The ever increasing use of cards and electronic payments has done little to reduce the use of cash, particularly for low-value payments. This talk will discuss how some recent and forthcoming advances in technology could change this. Topics covered will include contactless and mobile payments enabled by near field communications (NFC) and the UK faster payments scheme aimed at internet bank payments.

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Description: Low-value payments usually refers to retail transactions which would normally be made in cash, typically for amounts less than £10. The recent agreement on standards for near field communications (NFC) technology - a specific type of RFID - may revolutionise the way in which such payments are made. NFC chips can be embedded in credit, debit and pre-pay payment cards as well as mobile phones and can communicate with readers in shops, vending machines and entrance gates. This talk will describe the current state of deployment of this technology and the impact that it may have on consumer behaviour. This talk will also look at the way in which the UK Faster Payments service, that will be introduced during 2007, has been used to overcome limitations in legacy bank systems to enable Internet bank customers and businneses to be able to make immediate payments.

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Climate Prediction and Digital Preservation: Predicting the Future and Preserving the Past

Date Thursday 26 October 2006
Time 19:00 (Tea and Coffee from 18:15)
Note earlier start than usual
Location

Pickavance Lecture Theatre, Building R22, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Chilton, Didcot, Oxon, OX11 OQX
..Directions and Map

As it's a large site, you should allow some time to find the lecture theatre.

Security: There is no charge for this meeting but we need to know the names of people who will be coming.
Please use the contact us form to tell us that you will be coming. You will need to bring some form of identification.
If you are attending the event at the Daresbury lab, please go to the Chester & North Wales branch website and follow the instructions there.

Once on site, the Pickavance Lecture Theatre is in Road 13, just off Road 6 which you can see in this detailed view from Google maps.

The JSOC website has a site map showing the roads, but the neighbouring buildings and car parks are now different, presumably affected by the huge Diamond project construction just behind Building R22.
If you have the time, Google Earth has a great view of the lecture theatre and the Diamond Project which you can find if you search for Chilton, Oxfordshire and zoom in.

Meeting poster meeting postermeeting poster(88KB)
Calendar Entry Download iCal Calendar entrythis iCal file (updated October 2006): depending on your browser settings, your calendar may launch automatically, otherwise double click to add the meeting to your Outlook diary. Procedure may differ for other Calendar tools.
Meeting Summary On the reports page
Speakers Keith Norman & Peter Lloyd, Tessella Support Services
Meeting Poster

Abstract: Two of the biggest problems facing society could be Global Warming and Loss of Digital Data. This presentation will address some of the issues involved, and potential solutions.

This is a Joint Session with Chester & North Wales branch, with presentations given at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and Daresbury Laboratory, brought together using a video conference link. The presentations will be given by senior consultants from Tessella, who use a blend of scientific, engineering and IT skills to solve the most complex technical and business problems.

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One presentation will review the climateprediction.net project; the world's largest experiment to try to produce a forecast of the climate in the 21st century. To do this, people around the world give time on their computers - time when they have their computers switched on, but are not using them to their full capacity.
Keith Norman will look at the background to the experiment, and how software is helping scientists to understand the global climate.

The second presentation will consider some of the issues surrounding Digital Preservation: ensuring that the digital information we create and store today will continue to be accessible for as long as we may need it. Industry commentators have raised the prospect of a 'digital dark age' stretching from the late 20th to the early 21st century, as huge amounts of digital information are at risk of being lost.
Mark Claxton will discuss the problems and some of the solutions based on experience assisting a number of clients throughout the world.
Further background on Digital Preservation is summarised at Preserving Access to Digital Information.

Press release

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Extending existing applications for secure mobile use - how tough can that be?

Date Thursday 16 November 2006
Time 19:30 (Tea and Coffee from 19:00)
Location Computing Lab, Wolfson Building, Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3QG ..Directions and Map
Calendar Entry Download iCal Calendar entrythis iCal file: depending on your browser settings, your calendar may launch automatically, otherwise double click to add the meeting to your Outlook diary. Procedure may differ for other Calendar tools.
Meeting Summary On the reports page
Speaker Stef Coetzee, Senior VP International, NetMotion Wireless

Stef has a breadth of experience in the value, and inherent challenges of exchanging business critical information with mobile workers and on-line consumers.

Stef has, since the early 1990s, been helping corporate customers in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, the USA and Australia plan and deploy mobile and wireless data architectures. Stef started in IT in the 1970s with Anglo American/de Beers as a systems programmer working on operating systems, database, telecommunications and online database systems.

He relocated from his native Africa to Europe, where he planned, designed and established the technology infrastructure for Dun & Bradstreet's European Information Centre, reaching out to 35,000 online customers across Europe. He became Group Director Information Services and subsequently reorganised the Systems Development organization, reengineering processes to align the IT organization more closely with business operations and strategy.

In 1992 Stef 'crossed the floor' and in the role of Senior Vice President established the international operation for XcelleNet, a US company whose RemoteWare and Afaria products focus on systems management for remote and mobile workers (now part of iAnywhere).

After XcelleNet was acquired, he founded Wheatstone Consulting, continuing to support the growth of the mobile data industry; helping suppliers expand to the UK and Europe as well as offering enterprise IT mobile data support. During this time Stef helped set up and was Director of the Mobile Management Forum, a consortium of 62 government and global blue chip organisations focussed on driving the definition of a Secure Mobile Architecture.

For the last year he has been working to expand the reach of NetMotion Mobility XE to global markets. (Mobility XE has been voted the best-in-class mobile.)

Life gets turbulent for users when coupling the need for a VPN with wanting to use wireless connections. Stef's talk focuses on the technology challenges facing IT when taking into account the demands of wireless, such as application performance and reliability, network coverage issues, limited network speeds, traversing multiple networks - and making those corporate bean-counters happy.

Industry analyst research reflects that mobile working is a key priority for European enterprises this year. Large enterprise firms are planning to spend the most on mobile data services, including email, remote access/mobile VPN technology and field force automation applications. Trying to use an application developed to run in a wired LAN environment on a wireless network has causes many mobile projects to stall. Stef's talk will focus on how to provide enterprise class security for mobile and wireless connections, whilst taking into account the demands of wireless, such as application performance & reliability, network coverage issues and limited network speeds, traversing multiple networks and still meeting the corporate demand for cost benefits and positive ROI on the project.

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Significant gains are being promised to businesses by extending the reach of an enterprise and providing wireless access to applications that were previously available only via internal LAN access or occasional dial-up by mobile field workers, telecommuters, and business partners. However, as with most technology advances, remote access via wireless networks also creates substantial security risks for those who are unprepared - whether using wide area wireless (provided by wireless carriers such as Orange, O2, Vodafone or T-Mobile) and/or wireless LANs (either installed and operated by an enterprise or in hot-spots).

When enterprises add mobile access via wireless networks (Wireless LAN or Wireless WAN (Wide-Area Networks) to their remote access methods, user authentication and data security become significantly more complex and challenging than they are on wired or tethered networks. Data traversing a wireless environment is vulnerable to corruption, eavesdropping, and unauthorized access. Traditional VPN (Virtual Private Network) technologies such as IPSec and SSL may seem to solve the security problems, but they are not designed to work over wireless networks. They are slow and crash frequently - if they work at all.

This talk takes a look at the issues against a backdrop of industry trends and business drivers. It explores traditional approaches to offering secure remote access solutions and evaluates them against the criteria for a mobile, secure, remote access solution that provides strong encryption and industrial-strength security specifically for mobile workers using wireless networks. It will look at the balance between a user-transparent solution that does not deomand user training, distraction or intervention together with the facilities required to lower IT support and management costs. It will conclude with a shopping-list of required features needed to offer a mobile VPN that is optimised for WWAN, WLAN or any other IP-based network mobile workers use for remote access, including home networks, dial-up, and public and private hotspots.

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BCS Oxfordshire Branch Christmas Lecture 2006: The Machine That Enjoys Christmas: Whither Machine Consciousness?

Date Thursday 7 December 2006
Time 19:30 (Tea and Coffee from 19:00)
Mulled wine and mince pies will be served at the Lamb and Flag after the meeting.
Location Computing Lab, Wolfson Building, Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3QG ..Directions and Map
Calendar Entry Download iCal Calendar entrythis iCal file: depending on your browser settings, your calendar may launch automatically, otherwise double click to add the meeting to your Outlook diary. Procedure may differ for other Calendar tools.
Meeting Summary On the reports page
Speaker Igor Aleksander FREng, Professor of Neural System Engineering, Imperial College

Igor Aleksander has been researching Artificial Intelligence for over 30 years. He is currently working on neural models of the brain that might explain what it is to be conscious. He has published over 200 papers and 13 books (including the most recent: "The World In My Mind, My Mind In The World" - Imprint Academic). In the year 2000 he was awarded the Outstanding Achievement Medal for Informatics by the Institution of Electrical Engineers.

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Born in Zagreb, Yugoslavia, educated in Italy and South Africa, Igor Aleksander came to the UK in the late 50s. He first joined STC as a graduate engineer and then entered the academic world as Lecturer (at Queen Mary College, London, 1961), Reader in Electronics (University of Kent, 1968), Professor of Electronics (Brunel University, 1974), Professor of the Management of Information Technology (Imperial College, 1984), Head of Electrical Engineering and Gabor Professor of Neural Systems Engineering (Imperial College, 1988), Pro-Rector (External Relations) (Imperial College, 1997). He is now Emeritus Professor.

He has researched Artificial Intelligence, Neural Networks and IT Management. His recent work lies in the area of Artificial Visual Awareness which arises from a collaboration with the California Institute of Technology. He has published over 200 papers in these fields and 13 books including "Impossible minds: my neurons my consciousness" published by Imperial College Press 1996 "How to Build a Mind: Machines with Imagination" Weidenfeld and Nicolson (May 2000) and "The World in My Mind ..." Imprint Academic Press (2005).

In the 1980s he was responsible for the design of the world's first neural pattern recognition system (the WISARD, commercialised by CRS, Wokingham), and in 1991 he and his students designed the MAGNUS neurocomputational system (now commercialised by NTS as Neural Representation Modeller). He has consulted for many computer manufacturers and IT providers. In 1988 he was elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Engineering. In the year 2000 he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Medal for Informatics by the Institution of Electrical Engineers. He is currently prominent in the emerging field of "Machine Models of Consciousness".

Professor Igor Aleksander was the General Chair of the second International Symposium on Brain-Inspired Cognitive Systems at Molyvos, Lesvos Island in Greece, 10-13th October 2006.

Igor and Helen Morton took part in a Royal Society exchange mission to Beijing, China, on "Advances in Human-Like Computation", October 19th - Nov 2nd, 2006; under a grant from the Royal Academy of Engineering they were invited Keynote Speakers at the International Workshop on Models of Brain and Mind: Physical, Computational and Psychological Approaches, at the Saha Institute for Nuclear Physics in Calcutta, November 21st to 28th 2006.

He likes talking to general audiences about his work and sometimes appears in BBC TV and radio programmes, e.g. Horizon, The Late Show, Tomorrow's World, Equinox, Newsnight, Wide World, Eureka, The Big Bang, The Afternoon Shift, Start the Week, Inspiration, Desert Island Discs, In Our Time, The Network, Letter to the Future. He enjoys tennis, jazz and classical music, plays the drums, likes cooking and not doing very much in Greek and French villages.

See also Wikipedia

Booking In some previous years, we have asked anyone planning to attend the Christmas lecture to fill in a form to request a (free) ticket. This was to help us get the catering right for the mulled wine and mince pies, and to prevent overcrowding. However for 2006 we have decided to estimate numbers based on previous years so we aren't asking people to register. Just turn up on the night and enjoy!

Professor Aleksander will look at progress in AI and the way in which some recent efforts have turned towards computational models of consciousness. He will demonstrate some of his own work on visual consciousness based on brain modelling. This includes a consideration of emotions - so the machine might indeed enjoy Christmas!

Artificial Intelligence is over 40 years old. It has resulted in some smart computation but has revealed very little about the operation of the brain. In recent years AI researchers have attempted to put this right and have specifically concentrated on modelling the brain to try to reveal what mechanisms are essential for human and animal consciousness. In our own work we have discovered that several mechanisms are involved in making us conscious. These computational mechanisms create a 'self' in a perceived world, ensure internal states as a basis for imagination, attend to important features of our world, plan and exhibit life-preserving emotions. This leads to a clarification of many issues surrounding consciousness. Are animals conscious? What is the unconscious? What is free will? Because emotions are present in these computational models, it may well be that a machine will be built that enjoys Christmas.

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Viruses and Malware, How many more threats are there?

Date Thursday 18 January 2007
Time 19:30 (Tea and Coffee from 19:00)
Location Computing Lab, Wolfson Building, Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3QG ..Directions and Map
Calendar Entry Download iCal Calendar entrythis iCal file: depending on your browser settings, your calendar may launch automatically, otherwise double click to add the meeting to your Outlook diary. Procedure may differ for other Calendar tools.
Meeting Summary On the reports page
Speaker Stuart Taylor, Manager SophosLabsTM UK.

Stuart has spent the last 9 years working in the labs at Sophos Plc. During his time there, he has seen the virus threat grow from a handful of new viruses each month to approaching 5000 new threats each month. Stuart has been at the forefront of the fight against an ever increasing range of threats which has necessitated growing SophosLabs from a few people in the UK to a 24 x 7 operation over 3 continents.

Prior to joining Sophos Plc Stuart graduated from Aston University in Birmingham with a degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. He has worked as a software engineer, mainly working with embedded processors, in industries such as fork lift truck automation, defence, air traffic control systems and in the music industry, writing software for mixing console for recording studios.

In the last ten years the number of threats has increased ten fold with approximately 5,000 new threats being seen every month. The presentation covers the rapid rise in the number of threats and the changing nature of those threats. It will discuss the issues faced by both vendors and consumers in protecting themselves against this global problem. The presentation will look at some of the myths surrounding protection and explore the reality of providing a rapid response against the unknown threat.

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Towards secure distributed healthcare research and delivery

Date Thursday 22 February 2007
Time 19:30 (Tea and Coffee from 19:00)
Location Computing Lab, Wolfson Building, Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3QG ..Directions and Map
Calendar Entry Download iCal Calendar entrythis iCal file: depending on your browser settings, your calendar may launch automatically, otherwise double click to add the meeting to your Outlook diary. Procedure may differ for other Calendar tools.
Meeting Summary On the reports page
Speaker Dr Andrew Simpson, Oxford University Computing Laboratory

Over the past few years, members of the Software Engineering group at Oxford have been involved in a number of e-Science projects.
In particular, they have been leading the development of distributed infrastructures to support large-scale research. Examples of such projects include climateprediction.net, CancerGrid, Integrative Biology, and e-DiaMoND.

The talk will first provide an overview of the activities of the Software Engineering group before describing the DTI-funded project GIMI (Generic Infrastructure for Medical Informatics).
The primary focus of GIMI is the development of dynamic authorisation techniques for the facilitation of secure aggregation of medical data from disparate sources.

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Visit to Unipart Advanced Logistics Centre

Date Thursday 22 March 2007
Time 19:00 for 19:30.
Location Unipart Logistics, Unipart House, Garsington Rd, Cowley, Oxford OX4 2PG ..Directions and Map
Calendar Entry Download iCal Calendar entrythis iCal file: depending on your browser settings, your calendar may launch automatically, otherwise double click to add the meeting to your Outlook diary. Procedure may differ for other Calendar tools.
Meeting Summary On the reports page

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) has attracted huge interest as a technology, particularly within logistics, but suitable applications and the cost-benefit are only starting to become clear. We have been given the rare opportunity of a hosted tour of the facility that Unipart has set-up in Oxford to test the impact and benefits of RFID deployment in terms of strategy, people and process.

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Description: Unipart Logistics has set up a dedicated centre to improving business process through the use of RFID technology. The 100,000 sq ft facility, called the Advanced Logistics Centre (ALC), developed and perfected over five years, is a 3D, large-scale model that replicates the end-to-end supply chain, linking raw material supplier to the final customer. The ALC encompasses all supply chain business steps and processes, IT functionality, and IT infrastructure. This enables the business community to simulate new, advanced logistics processes and technology in a real-world but risk-free environment, to test the impact and benefits of RFID deployment in terms of strategy, people and process. Underpinned by SAP's RFID platform, the system uses Intermec's RFID readers and printers. The ALC simulates a real-life environment, complete with raw materials, picking systems, pallets and supermarket shelves complete with real goods, to create a physical representation of the cost benefits of RFID technology throughout the supply chain.

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Ruby on Rails

Joint with BCS Open Source and Internet Specialist Groups.

Date Thursday 26 April 2007
Time 19:30 (Cheese and Wine buffet from 19:00 courtesy of the Open Source Specialist Group)
Location Computing Lab, Wolfson Building, Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3QG ..Directions and Map
Joint meeting This is a joint meeting with the BCS Open Source and Internet Specialist Groups.
Calendar Entry Download iCal Calendar entrythis iCal file: depending on your browser settings, your calendar may launch automatically, otherwise double click to add the meeting to your Outlook diary. Procedure may differ for other Calendar tools.
Speaker

Jonathan Conway is one of the three Directors at New Bamboo Web Development Ltd - a Ruby on Rails consultancy based in London.

After being a staunch Java purist for several years, Jonathan stumbled upon Ruby on Rails in August 2004 and was immediately impressed by the simplicity and productivity gains offered by this new web development framework.

Before being enamored with Ruby on Rails, Jonathan had worked on several diverse projects ranging from online financial portals, real-time trading applications for Java enabled mobile devices and even rich user interfaces utilising Javascript and the DOM years before it became the "in thing".

Currently Jonathan is working hard with a number of startups to help put the United Kingdom firmly on Web 2.0 map.

Ruby on Rails is the new darling of the web's digerati and has taken the web development world by storm. It can be found to power a large proportion of the latest and greatest of the Web 2.0 world, but why is this?

The talk will cover the following topics:

  • A brief overview of Ruby on Rails
  • REST in Rails
  • Javascript-less Javascript with RJS
  • Beautiful testing with Rails

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Road user charging and Branch AGM

Date Thursday 24 May 2007
Time 19:30 (Cheese and Wine buffet from 19:00)
Location Computing Lab, Wolfson Building, Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3QG ..Directions and Map
Joint meeting This event is being organised in collaboration with the Oxford Internet Institute
Attendance and booking This meeting follows our normal practice of being open to members and non-members of the BCS, free of charge. There is no need to book. Just turn up on the night.
Calendar Entry Download iCal Calendar entrythis iCal file: depending on your browser settings, your calendar may launch automatically, otherwise double click to add the meeting to your Outlook diary. Procedure may differ for other Calendar tools.
Speaker Derek Turner, CBE Highways Agency National Traffic Director

Derek was Transport for London's Managing Director of Street Management and the chief architect of the Congestion Charge. He was Chairman of the Institution of Civil Engineers Transport Board from 1999. In June 2003, he was awarded the CBE for his services to transport in London.

After the business of the Annual General Meeting, preceded as usual by a light cheese and wine buffet, Derek Turner will talk about the technical and management challenges of the Transport for London Congestion Charge project.

With the Financial Times reporting in August 2006 that ministers expect powers to be introduced in the next parliamentary session to permit road-tolling across the UK, this should be a highly topical talk.

The congestion charging scheme was first introduced on 17 February 2003 after 75 years of policy work on road use pricing. Once it was implemented, it took less than 2 weeks for the programme to settle down; the fear factor therefore evaporated due to the rapid stabilization.

The team showed that "Enthusiasm" and a "can-do attitude" combined with the use of proven and effective, rather than leading edge, technology can deliver an "impossible" project on time. They created a successful public-private partnership, harnessing the strengths of both. The provision of many different ways for people to register and pay was important: the most used being SMS via mobile phones, while payment over the counter is also popular and encourages people to use small shops, often run by ethnic minorities. The team also learned that it was important to present the project to the public and the politicians as part of an overall scheme; the public information campaign proved very valuable.

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