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Manage Your Business in One Place With Daylite

eSofware : July 3, 2013 2:06 am : Mac, Windows
Daylite Server Admin, which helps you customise one of your Macs as a server for your Daylite database.

Way back in 2009, when Mac.AppStorm was in its infancy, we reviewed Daylite, a really easy way to manage your business using just one app — and it impressed us. We really loved the range of features, different business areas present within the app and the tight e-mail integration.

Since then, though, a lot has changed with Daylite so let’s take a look at the fourth version to see if it is still as good as we remember it to be.

 

Getting Started

As Daylite is designed to be run across multiple computers, you’ll need to set up one of your Macs as a server so that others can access the company database easily. But don’t worry: Daylite includes a server administration program in the package, so all you need to do is install it and get it up and running (which takes no time at all).

Daylite Server Admin, which helps you customise one of your Macs as a server for your Daylite database.

You can create as many different databases as you like (though it’s best to keep one per company, in my opinion) and through the Server Admin panel (as you can see in the screenshot above), you can manage all the devices accessing your database (including iOS devices, which we’ll come onto in a minute) as well as configure the backup schedule. Your database is normally backed up once a week (in the example above, my database backs up every Sunday at 2 AM) though this can be altered to suit your individual preferences.

As I currently only have one Mac, I’m going to set up Daylite to access my database locally (rather than over a local or wide-area network) however setting it up over a network is really simple — all you have to do is enable server access over the internet by clicking on the relevant option in the Server Admin panel.

Features

Daylite is designed to replace your existing content management system (CMS) in your business through integrating your company’s calendars, contacts, objectives, tasks, notes and so on. Individual features can be accessed via the menu which runs down the left-hand side of the screen and the Home panel gives you a quick overview of what’s going on for the day, including a list of any events planned, tasks due and any upcoming events in the next week.

The main screen of Daylite.

The main screen of Daylite.

The app features an in-built notifications system (which also show up as a badge icon) that alerts you to any important upcoming events, tasks and so on. You can click on Dismiss to get rid of them or More to be taken to that particular notification within Daylite.

Daylite's in-built notifications system alerts you to any tasks or notes that require your attention.

Daylite’s in-built notifications system alerts you to any tasks or notes that require your attention.

You can quickly add an item to any section of Daylite by clicking on the plus button, meaning that you don’t have to navigate to that particular section of the app. I personally found this quick-access toolbar highly useful — Daylite is a complicated app with plenty of features and this made it easy to add something really quickly, rather than flicking to the relevant section.

Calendars and Contacts

The Calendar and Contacts section of Daylite throws back no surprises to the novice user and there’s pretty much everything you’d expect in there from a business-orientated app.

Calendars within Daylite can be shared and any changes are automatically pushed across to all users.

Calendars within Daylite can be shared and any changes are automatically pushed across to all users.

Daylite focuses on collaboration, so with individual appointments, for example, you can see all the tasks assigned to that particular event. In my example above, for my client approval meeting, I have to plan and execute the DVD release event (which is due on July 11th). You can also create multiple calendars and assign them to various staff members (for example, I’ve created a calendar especially for the sales team).

Your business contacts within Daylite.

Your business contacts within Daylite.

Your contacts within Daylite can be sorted into individual groups (I’ve got groups for my clients, my potential sales leads, my suppliers and so on). Just like with calendar events, clicking on an individual contact brings up a list of any activity associated with him or her, allowing you to keep track of everything really easily.

Projects

Project management is a really powerful feature within Daylite. Not only can you add tasks, notes and appointments to individual projects but Daylite will also help you keep track of each stage through the Progress view (shown in the screenshot below).

Managing the progress of a particular project.

Managing the progress of a particular project.

And of course, as everything in Daylite is accessed from one database, any changes made will automatically be pushed to every single user, ensuring that your team (or entire company) stays up to date with all the latest changes. There are plenty of other features within Daylite that come in useful when it comes to managing projects, such as the ability to define individual objectives and tasks and support for sales opportunities. It really does seem that whatever business you’re in, Daylite will work for you in some way or another!

Reports

Of course, accurate reporting is vital to any business and Daylite features this built-in — there’s no external software to use (and no messing around with complicated Excel spreadsheets!) at all. There are a number of …read more

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Microsoft updates mobile OneNote app

eSofware : July 3, 2013 1:34 am : Windows

Microsoft has updated the mobile version of its OneNote note-taking application for iPads, iPhones and Android devices, creating a consistent look for notes across all computers, smartphones and tablets in which they’re viewed.

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Manage Your Windows Old-School Style With WindowMizer

eSofware : July 3, 2013 12:02 am : Windows
I used WindowMizer to group all of my rolled up Windows together.

How many windows do you have open on your Mac right now? How about when you are working? If you consider yourself a Mac power user, you likely work with a large number of windows open at the same time. There are a few ways to make working with droves of windows more manageable including the built in options (mission control and cmd-tab), using multiple monitors (like this guy demoing the new Mavericks multiple display features), or third part solutions. For the past couple of years I used Optimal Layout until recently switching to HyperSwitch — based on Paula’s review — for my window managing needs.

Another third party window management solution recently updated to 2.x: WindowMizer. It replaces the discontinued app WindowShade X as a way to “roll up” your windows similar to a window shade rather than minimize them to the dock. This is actually a previous feature for Macs back in the day, but is it still useful?

 

An Alternative to Minimizing Windows

The history of WindowMizer is actually pretty interesting. Apparently, back in the days of System 7, Apple included the window “roll up” feature in response to the window minimize feature in Windows 95 because there was no dock to minimize to in System 7. Later, Apple incorporated the dock and window minimization features; hence, the roll up feature was discontinued. In the early 2000s, WindowShade X came along to bring the window roll up feature to OS X. Eventually, quite recently actually, WindowShade X was discontinued, and WindowMizer took its place as the alternative to minimizing windows. I never used WindowShade X, but a fair amount of Mac users seem to prefer the roll up feature for managing windows so lets see how well it works.

Working with WindowMizer

Once WindowMizer is up and running on your Mac, there are two main ways to use the app: the mouse and keyboard shortcuts. I’ll review the workflows for both.

On first startup, WindowMizer will ask you to turn off the “Double-click a window’s title bar to minimize” option.

Mouse

Once WindowMizer is active, simply double click the title bar of a window to roll it up. For me, grouping all of the rolled up windows at the top left of the screen was most helpful because when switching to WindowMizer, all of my rolled up windows are in the same area. If you use the cmd modifier key while double clicking a title bar, all of the windows for that app roll up. Add in the alt key with the cmd key to restore or roll up all open windows.

I used WindowMizer to group all of my rolled up Windows together.

In addition to rolling up windows, you can also set double clicking the title bar to make windows transparent. Transparent windows are not my cup of tea, in fact they drive me crazy, so I didn’t explore this function much. However, you can also choose to make the rolled up title bars transparent, which I did find useful.

The title bars are transparent in this shot.

The title bars are transparent in this shot.

Shortcuts

When running, WindowMizer also takes over the cmd-m shortcut key. So when running, pressing cmd-m rolls the window up in place rather than minimizing it. I always hide my dock, and I always use shortcuts, so this is where WindowMizer really shined in my workflow. I came to like having windows rolled up rather than minimized because with my hidden dock, they just disappear. WindowMizer also includes a keyboard shortcut for minimizing all windows in an app: cmd-alt-m. Oh, and in case you were wondering clicking on the minimize button still minimizes the app to the dock.

Other Stuff

So that’s the basics of WindowMizer. Pretty straightforward right? Not quite, there are a few odd cases to note in WindowMizer’s workflow. First, switching to an application does not bring rolled up windows to the front. This is the same behavior as minimizing windows to the dock, but for some reason I expected the rolled up windows to be brought to the front because the windows were being “rolled up” and not “minimized”. I’m sure this is because the roll up feature piggybacks off of the built in minimize feature, but if the developers can change this behavior, it would make the app more useful. Second, you can’t drag items onto a rolled up title bar. Well, technically you can, but nothing will happen. Adding the ability to drag items onto rolled up windows would be another welcome change. Third, I could not get the roll up feature to work in a couple of apps, including CleanMyMac.

A few other WindowMizer features are worth mentioning:

  • You can choose applications for WindowMizer to ignore in the preferences.
  • You can also tell WindowMizer what to do with rolled up windows when quitting the app.
  • There is an action menu for rolled up windows within WindowMizer that allows you to take certain actions on rolled up windows. For example, if you click on a rolled up Ulysses III window, the menu provides options for creating a new sheet and quitting or hiding the app.
Another shot of WindowMizer with more windows rolled up.

Another shot of WindowMizer with more windows rolled up.

Shortcomings

I was surprised at the lack of an option to have WindowMizer live in the menubar. This is the app’s main shortcoming. Being able to click on the menubar, or even better, activate WindowMizer with a global shortcut and have it run completely in the background would definitely make the app more appealing. The app performed pretty well for me and was not a memory hog, but I did get the spinning wheel when performing actions on multiple …read more

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InstaReel for Instagram: Desktop Photo Browsing Made Easy

eSofware : July 2, 2013 11:59 pm : Windows
InstaReel's blue-on-graphite looks pretty good

It would be fair to say that only one photography app can even claim to be king of them all – Instagram. Despite its daft requirement for images to be square, and its quirky filters – to give them a sympathetic description – it has revolutionized the way we share images, and has rapidly risen to be one of the most popular social networks in the world.

What makes these achievements even more remarkable is that this is a mobile-only platform, and for some time, it was an iOS exclusive too. Until Instagram’s surge in popularity, no other network creators had the bare-faced effrontery, let alone the skill and nous, to go mobile only. Facebook‘s recent $1bn acquisition of Instagram only highlights the brilliance of the people behind the app.

Whilst all this mobile stuff is very forward thinking, many of us have wished, over the years, for the ability to play with Instagram on a larger screen – on a computer, in other words. The current web-friendly version of Instagram’s website is the closest we’ve ever got to an official desktop environment, so it is little wonder that independent developers have stood up to fill the gap.

One such developer, FIPLAB, has created InstaReel for Instagram, a $2.99 native Mac Instagram browser. Without image uploading – the critical part of the Instagram experience – though, can InstaReel truly be better than just using your phone? Time to find out…

 

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The Interface

As a desktop client of a mobile platform, InstaReel has its work cut out to find the right design balance. Mostly speaking, though, I think a good job has been done.

InstaReel’s window and ubiquitous controls are a stylish white-on-graphite colour scheme, with blue trim. It may not be a completely “flat” design, but it is at the more minimal, refined end of the UI spectrum. It is also a design which retains much of the Instagram feel about it, utilizing carbon copies of the service’s icons, and retaining a similar layout.

InstaReel’s blue-on-graphite looks pretty good.

By default, InstaReel is one of those annoying apps which disappears every time you click elsewhere, only providing a menu bar icon to retrieve what you were doing. Thankfully, you don’t have to stick with the default. Clicking the anchor icon makes InstaReel always remain on top, and a rummage through the preferences reveals that you can actually make InstaReel operate like any other app – i.e. windows remain visible behind other apps, a dock icon is available, and so on.

You can fix InstaReel's annoying habit of disappearing by utilising the preferences.

You can fix InstaReel’s annoying habit of disappearing by utilising the preferences.

In Action

Of course, Instagram is about image sharing. But in reality, we spend just as much time browsing, commenting and liking our way through other users’ photos as we do posting photos ourselves. It is for these tasks that InstaReel was designed, and in these areas, it does provide a respectable improvement on the touchscreen interface.

The Feed view in InstaReel is one of the more immediately notable enhancements. As you adjust the size of the app’s window, the stream of images first becomes enlarged, and then separates into two columns. This two-by-two layout really speeds up the browsing process – in fact, it is a shame that three- or four-column browsing isn’t available, as this would closely resemble Flickr‘s redesign. Each image can be liked without leaving the stream view, although I, for one, found the heart-shaped icon really quite small to locate with the mouse.

The two-column browsing makes flicking through your stream much speedier.

The two-column browsing makes flicking through your stream much speedier.

Hovering over images in your feed gives you a quick view of the comments which have been attached, and clicking on an image swipes you sideways to the photo view, which closely mimics Instagram’s equivalent page. On the surface, InstaReel doesn’t provide anything new here, but right-click on the photo, and you discover a decent bag of tricks. From the pop-up menu, you can like the photo, copy the photo’s URL, view the image’s Instagram photo page in your browser, or save the image to your hard drive (I’m watching you, copyright dodgers). The final option is to view the image in OSX’s Quick Look. In theory, this is a really nice idea; in practice, I could never get it to locate the image.

A summary of comments can be seen by hovering a photo in InstaReel.

A summary of comments can be seen by hovering a photo in InstaReel.

Away from these niggles, InstaReel is a simple pleasure to use. All the usual tabs are present – Popular, Favourites, Profile and Search – as is a list of your outstanding notifications. Speaking of notifications, InstaReel can (if you so wish) provide you with desktop pop-ups, as folks like and comment on your pictures, and the menu bar icon also turns red to provide further indication.

One of InstaReel's biggest advantages – notifications on desktop.

One of InstaReel’s biggest advantages – notifications on desktop.

Stability

Unfortunately, there is one other issue with this app. Despite the fact that I installed InstaReel via the App Store, and I have been running it on Mountain Lion, stability seems to be an issue. During my testing, InstaReel crashed and burned a number of times, usually while loading a stream of images. A future update could fix this problem, but in the meantime, it did cause me some frustration.

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Moment: The App That Makes You Want to Share More to Facebook

eSofware : July 2, 2013 11:57 pm : Windows
Uploading photos of the little guy via Moment.

Facebook means many things to people—a platform to grow your brand, a place to do business, or a tool to spread advocacy campaigns. To me, it’s where I house portions of my personal life, and so I share hilarious videos of my tot singing Grace Potter’s “Something That I Want” or photos of my kids’ milestones to family and friends.

But because I use Facebook for completely non-professional networking, I don’t always log in and “connect” with these people. If I have a photo or a video worth sharing, I just pull up Facebook, upload it to an album, tag people, and make my exit as soon as it’s done. Call me antisocial, but the busy newsfeed, crowded profile page, overly stacked up sidebar, and noisy (sometimes dumbing) content being shared left and right makes me want to run for the hills.

That is, until I gave Moment a try. It’s a menu bar app that aims to “reinvent the way you post to Facebook” through easy drag and drop. I’ve used it for a while now and I’m impressed with the app so far. It certainly went over and above my expectations of a Facebook-related application with features that I’m very excited to share with you in this review.

A Better Way to Share Moments on Facebook

As shown in the video, the key feature of Moment is being able to drag and drop almost all types of content to post on Facebook. While there are apps like Courier with the same functionality, it sets itself apart by allowing users to post status updates, add captions to photos and videos, and post links of websites and pages.

I’ve tried dragging and dropping photos, videos, links, and highlighted text to Moment, and so far had no problems with how they are displayed on my timeline. My favorite feature is how the app allows me to drag single or a batch of photos to either its menu bar icon or photo tray, and prepares them by giving me options to create a new photo album or select an existing one. I can then slap on a message to go with the photos, add my location, tag people, or change my photos’ privacy settings.

Uploading photos of the little guy via Moment.

Once its done, I just hit the blue Post button to upload. I’d get an audible notification and a link to the uploaded content—otherwise called “moment”—pasted to my clipboard afterwards.

Easy, right? But Moment offers more than just convenience and simplicity. The intuitive design and user experience looks and feels great that I find myself wanting to post more stuff to Facebook with it. It isn’t cluttered with features, messy, or confusing to use. And with just a click of the small “F” button at the bottom right portion of the app, it takes you immediately to your Facebook account via the browser.

Focused Timeline, Preferences, and Other Points of Interest

At this point, I’d like to clarify that Moment is not a Facebook desktop application to browse your newsfeed, comment, or chat with your connections. You have apps like Menutab Pro for Facebook and Social Tab for that.

A focused timeline showing your Facebook notifications.

A focused timeline showing your Facebook notifications.

What Moment does have is a “focused” timeline where you can see all of your notifications, with the ability to click to view the activity in full on the browser. So instead of seeing posts of all kinds dripping from the app, you only see activity that involves and matters to you. This of course would depend on your Notifications settings, which you can edit when logged in to Facebook.

This may or may not work for you depending on how active you are on the network. If your daily activities include posting, commenting, chatting, and sharing to Facebook, you may feel limited by this minimalistic timeline.

Check out the Preferences panel for more options.

Check out the Preferences panel for more options.

You can change Moment’s default settings by clicking on the gear button to open the Preferences panel. You can set a global shortcut to bring Moment in front of your active windows, have it start at login, and disable/enable sound effects.

At the bottom, you can choose to have Moment auto-enhance your posted photos—reducing its size for faster uploads; you can deselect this if you want to retain the original file size—or deselect the Copy posted link to clipboard feature. Finally, if you want to know more about Tapmates, the company behind Moment’s development, you can do so by checking the About tab.

Beautified Facebook Sharing

Share photos, videos, and even text to Facebook.

Share photos, videos, and even text to Facebook.

Moment is an app with a clear and precise focus in mind, built with just the necessary features needed to make sharing content to Facebook easy and seamless. However, in my opinion, the idea that it “reinvents” Facebook sharing isn’t completely there yet, since the ability to drag and drop content has been around and adopted by other apps already.

Furthermore, Moment is currently priced at $3.99 at the Mac App Store. Some may balk at this, considering that you can just log in to Facebook and do all that Moment can do for free. But, if you want a clean, beautiful, and simplified way of sharing your thoughts, moments, and the occasional content nuggets you’d pick up on the web, this a great quality app for the job.

Overall, Moment gets a thumbs-up and a rating of 9/10 for excellent performance, a great feature set, and being able to deliver as promised. There …read more

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This Could Just Become My PC Troubleshooting Tool Of Choice

eSofware : July 2, 2013 11:52 pm : Windows

If you’re a regular reader of these pages then you’ll know that I love utilities which let you monitor the state of a PC. You know the sort of thing: processor utilization, disk space, free RAM, and so on. It’s a great way to ensure that your PC is running smoothly, and it’s also a useful method of troubleshooting a friend or colleague’s PC if they’re having unspecified problems with it.

Which is why I was so pleased to stumble across something recently called Glint. It’s a program which displays real-time data in a simple-to-understand format. You can choose from bars or graphs, as you can see from the screen shots below. You can choose from hundreds of counters to display, and you can pick your own labels for each one if you don’t like the defaults. You can even monitor remote computers across your network.

Here’s the best bit. Glint is tiny (less than 0.5 MB), portable, and free. And it works on everything from Windows 2000 to Windows 8. – Robert Schifreen

http://www.techsupportalert.com/content/could-just-become-my-pc-troubleshooting-tool-choice.htm

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Windows 8.1 isn’t just an OS, it’s a lesson in course correction

eSofware : July 2, 2013 11:46 pm : Windows

PCWorld has already published a hands-on of Windows 8.1. We’ve examined what’s inside the updated system, and we’ve explained what we still hope to see in future revisions. But we haven’t yet presented a final verdict on the new OS, and what Microsoft really accomplished during its Build 2013 developer’s conference.

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How to Use and Sync Android With Your Mac, iPhone, and iPad

eSofware : July 2, 2013 3:27 am : Mac, Windows

Do you love your Mac, but still prefer using an Android phone? Or perhaps do you have an Android tablet but a Mac and iPhone? It’s more common than ever these days to use a number of different operating systems, and thanks to cross-platform apps and cloud syncing services, it’s also easier than ever to get them all to work together.

Our sister site Android.AppStorm has put together a roundup of the best tips and tricks to get your Android devices working great with OS X and iOS. Take a few minutes and jump over there to see how you can get all of your devices working together they way they should anyhow.

Continue Reading on Android.AppStorm…

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NoteSuite — Notes and Todos Combined in a Powerful New App

eSofware : July 2, 2013 3:06 am : Windows
Example of a note in NoteSuite

Watch out Evernote. Look nervously in your rear view mirror. You see that hot sports car quickly gaining on you that seemingly came out of nowhere? That’s NoteSuite.

Okay, maybe Evernote doesn’t need to be that nervous because NoteSuite is only available for iOS and OS X — so it doesn’t compete across platforms. But for Mac and iPad users, this app is the next big thing in note taking, task management, Internet research, and file annotation. In other words, NoteSuite wants to be your Mac’s new productivity powerhouse.

Overview

NoteSuite does a lot things. Covering all its features would make for a too-long, too-dry review, so I am going to focus in on the key features. For extensive apps like this, a good help menu is a must, and luckily this app has a comprehensive help manual that will take you through all the features.

So where does NoteSuite have advantages over the incumbent Evernote? The first thing I noticed using the app across the iPad and the Mac is the unified experience. The UIs are similar, and so is the functionality. The lack of uniformity across platforms was, and to some extent still is, one of my main sources of frustration using Evernote. The second advantage is the lack of subscription fees — all your data is synced over iCloud. Finally, NoteSuite’s innovate integration of todos and notes really sets it apart. In fact, it is a full featured task manager, something Evernote could not come close to claiming.

If you find NoteSuite’s feature set attractive, you may also want to compare it with an app I reviewed a while back called Notebooks. It also combines note taking, task management, and file management.

UI and Design Basics

Overall, the interface is great, it has some quirks, which I will get to, but I really like the way this app looks. It’s modern and fits perfect with OS X, definitely built for the Mac. The notes view and the todo view are presented in separate tabs. The left hand pane — which can be hidden — is where the notes and to dos are listed. Where the UI gets a little bit quirky is with resizing the window — making the window larger makes the text bigger? This is really odd behavior and also happens in full screen mode. You can also interact with the app through the menu bar, but there is a bug right now where some of the functions do not bring the NoteSuite window to the front like they are supposed to.

Example of a note in NoteSuite.

The interface is built around the app’s two main functions: note taking and task management, so lets take a look at both of these in turn.

Note Taking

Taking notes in NoteSuite for Mac is just like taking notes on the iPad app, minus the drawing function. The first thing I noticed is the ability to customize the default font and styles. Styles are a big deal for me because tote taking is so much faster when you don’t have to mess with bolding text or making it bigger to denote headings.

List making is definitely a strong point for NoteSuite. You can make bulleted lists, to dos, and to dos that actually link to the app’s task manager (numbered lists are conspicuously missing). All of these lists are collapsable, a feature missing from a lot of note taking apps. The to do lists that link to the task manager are especially handy. Basically, you can make to dos in your notes, and they automatically go to your task inbox complete with a link. The task in your inbox also links back to your note. That’s just plain awesome.

What about getting notes into the database quickly? NoteSuite has a couple of ways for getting that great idea off your mind and stored away. One option is web clipping. I used the Chrome extension for clipping webpages and had good success using all three clipping options (clip article, clip full page, and clip selection). Notes can also be added directly into the app through email. Adding notes and tasks through email is a little different than Evernote. You have to set up a new email address to forward information to and then NoteSuite will download the emails from that address once you select the Get Mail option in the File menu.

Clipping an article with the NoteSuite extension.

Clipping an article with the NoteSuite extension.

NoteSuite provides a lot of options for organizing your notes including folders, smart folders, sorting options, and tags. If you need to refer to outside files in your notes, you can also link to other documents (unfortunately just Microsoft Office documents right now, no iWorks), not to mention articles in your Instapaper or pocket account. Not much of an organizer? The powerful built in search will help sift through your notes and find the one you need.Similar to Evernote, NoteSuite will even help you find relationships between your notes.

A look at tags in NoteSuite.

A look at tags in NoteSuite.

Overall, the note taking experience is straightforward and enjoyable, but there are some annoyances that need to be taken care of. First, the standard Mac keyboard shortcuts for moving the cursor around and selecting text are completely absent?! I am really baffled that this was left out. I need those shortcuts. Additionally, the powerful organizational features of this app are severely hindered by the lack of ability to select multiple notes at the same time. Its great to have tags and folders, but organizing notes one at a time can be a big time sink. Also, notes cannot be viewed in separate windows, this is a must for users who often compare notes side by side.

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