posted 1 day ago on ars technica
Digital download service GOG has decided not to sell controversial shooter Hatred, according to the developers at Destructive Creations. "Hatred will not be available on GOG.com, even though gamers widely expected this to happen, because of GOG’s refusal to distribute the game," the developer said in a press release. Destructive went into slightly more detail in a Facebook reply regarding GOG's decision, saying that the service expressed interest in distributing the game and "even tested it, and said that the game is good, but 'we can't.' That's the whole story." Later in the same thread, Destructive says, "we really wanted to be on GOG, but shit happens." A GOG representative told Ars today it had no comment on the game or on its general listing guidelines. Representatives from Destructive were not immediately available for comment. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Online geek-y retailer ThinkGeek and its parent company Geeknet Inc. are in the process of being acquired by Hot Topic, a popular mall-based retailer best known for selling vampire T-shirts and other faux-goth-pop accoutrements. According to a press release issued this morning, Hot Topic will be picking up all of Geeknet’s outstanding shares of common stock for $17.50 per share, and the company will also be fronting about $37 million in cash. The total value of the transaction will be $122 million. Geeknet CEO Kathryn McCarthy said in the press release that the move would enable Geeknet and ThinkGeek to bring its products to the attention of new consumers, as well as to "expand [its] product offerings to keep up with industry and customer demands." Geeknet’s shareholders appear to be onboard with the purchase, with the press release noting that a contingent of shareholders holding about 21 percent of the company’s common stock have agreed to go along with the offer. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Jony Ive's role at Apple is changing again. When Scott Forstall was pushed aside in 2012, Ive was promoted to oversee both hardware and software design at the company. Now he's being promoted again, according to a profile by Stephen Fry in The Telegraph. As Apple's Chief Design Officer, Ive will still oversee hardware and software design, but he'll hand off day-to-day management to Richard Howarth and Alan Dye, respectively. 9to5Mac also has an internal memo from CEO Tim Cook: Design is one of the most important ways we communicate with our customers, and our reputation for world-class design differentiates Apple from every other company in the world. As Chief Design Officer, Jony will remain responsible for all of our design, focusing entirely on current design projects, new ideas, and future initiatives. On July 1, he will hand off his day-to-day managerial responsibilities of ID and UI to Richard Howarth, our new vice president of Industrial Design, and Alan Dye, our new vice president of User Interface Design. Richard, Alan, and Jony have been working together as colleagues and friends for many years. Richard has been a member of the Design team for two decades, and in that time he has been a key contributor to the design of each generation of iPhone, Mac, and practically every other Apple product. Alan started at Apple nine years ago on the Marcom team, and helped Jony build the UI team which collaborated with ID, Software Engineering and countless other groups on groundbreaking projects like iOS 7, iOS 8 and Apple Watch. It's not clear what Ive's new role means for his future at Apple—he will apparently be able to "travel more," both to oversee the design of Apple's retail stores and (as others believe) to spend more time in his native UK to raise his kids—but this move has evidently been in the works for some time. Apple "introduced" Howarth and Dye to the public by way of Jony Ive- and design-focused profiles in the New Yorker and Wired, respectively, and Apple's PR machine does nothing by accident. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Charter Communications has struck a deal to buy its larger rival Time Warner Cable (TWC) for $56.7 billion, a partnership that would make it the nation's second largest broadband provider after Comcast, the companies announced today. Charter also announced a related deal to buy Bright House Networks, a smaller cable company. The merged company would leapfrog AT&T into second place with 19.4 million Internet subscribers. Comcast has 22.4 million while AT&T has 16.1 million. The post-merger Charter would have 17.3 million pay-TV customers, behind Comcast and DirecTV, as well as 9.4 million phone customers. Overall, Charter would serve 23.9 million customers in 41 states after the proposed merger. Charter Charter today is the fourth biggest cable company after Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Cox. Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Google I/O 2015 is almost here, but at Google I/O 2014, Google announced a little in-car project called "Android Auto." Today, the service finally hits its first actual car—the 2015 Hyundai Sonata. Android Auto is a lot like Apple's CarPlay. Tether a smartphone to your compatible car and "cast" a specialized car-ready interface to the vehicle's dashboard touchscreen. The OS and apps all run on the smartphone, allowing for easy upgrading over the life of the car. Android Auto brings Google Maps, Google Now, Google voice search, text by voice, and lots of music and messaging apps to your car dashboard. Android Auto was previewed at I/O 2014, and the app officially launched in March along with (grossly overpriced) aftermarket radios from Pioneer. Hyundai is the first to actually integrate the system in a car. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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One of the abiding mysteries of physics is how to make the transition between quantum and classical objects. With very few exceptions, we live in a world that is clearly and obviously classical in nature. Quantum mechanics often defies our everyday expectations, which poses a problem. Why is the classical world classical when it is constructed by objects that really don't behave like classical objects? There are now several ideas about how this transition occurs, and each makes some distinctive predictions. Unfortunately, the experiments necessary to test these predictions are really difficult since you may need to observe the cumulative effect of many small changes. But a new paper, published in Physical Review Letters, shows that these experiments may finally be possible. What might a quantum to classical transition look like? If you can get a cloud of atoms cold enough, then the wave-like nature of the individual atoms expands until they overlap and all the atoms start behaving like quantum objects. So for instance, a Bose Einstein condensate (BEC) of atoms will stay together rather than diffuse because the atoms all behave collectively like a single quantum object. Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Who are you and what is your position? My name is Libby Schaaf. I am the mayor of my hometown, Oakland, California. I just took office this January. I am very passionate about my city. I’m passionate about civil rights, civil liberties and technology. I’m passionate about all these things, and I really want to use technology responsibly, for good, and I can use everyone’s help in figuring out the way to do that. Read 33 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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It seems that student privacy is trendy right now—at least among elected officials. Congressional aides are scrambling to write bills that one-up each other in showcasing how tough they are on protecting youth. We’ve got Congressmen Polis and Messer (with Senator Blumenthal expected to propose a similar bill in the Senate). Kline and Scott have a discussion draft of their bill out while Markey and Hatch have reintroduced the bill they introduced a year ago. And then there’s Senator Vitter’s proposed bill. And let’s not even talk about the myriad of state-level legislation. Most of these bills are responding in some way or another to a 1974 piece of legislation called the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which restricted what schools could and could not do with student data. Needless to say, lawmakers in 1974 weren’t imagining the world of technology that we live with today. On top of that, legislative and bureaucratic dynamics have made it difficult for the Department of Education to address failures at the school level without going nuclear and just defunding a school outright. Many schools lack security measures (because they lack technical sophistication), and they’re entering into all sorts of contracts with vendors that give advocates heartburn. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Weather feels inherently musical. The light percussion of rain eases many to sleep; the deep bass of thunder demands attention. “The weather by itself is kind of an acoustic experience every day,” says Mr. Quintron, New Orleans’ new age musical Wonka. Over his career, Quintron has built a reputation as a DIY-synthesizer creator. Some of his instruments—like the Drum Buddy beat machine—have been picked up by musicians as big as Wilco and Fred Armisen. But his latest creation sits squarely in “one of a kind” territory, even if the basic concept existed forever. Quintron performs with the Weather Warlock at St. Maurice Church in New Orleans Now on tour, meet the Weather Warlock. Its sound combines the trance-iness of monastic chant, the pulsing of electronica, and bizarre voicings reminiscent of The Flaming Lips. Quintron says he always had the idea, long wanting to create a weather-controlled drone synthesizer. But the musician only dedicated himself to it fully when illness (later revealed to be lymphoma) required him to cancel tours in favor of rest and treatment in 2013. The experience strongly influenced what the Weather Warlock grew into. Hosted through weatherfortheblind.org, the synth streams constantly so that anyone who could benefit from drone musical healing may access it around the globe. (The site's name references a circadian rhythm sleep disorder suffered by many visually impaired persons.) Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Earlier this week, Apple released a new iPhone Dock. Back in the day, the third generation iPod came with a dock, and nearly two years ago Apple released iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C docks. Those old docks had a 30-pin or Lightning connector, respectively, as well as a 3.5mm line out connector. As I like to use my iPhone on my nightstand as a clock while it charges (Analog Digital Clock for the win!), I took a knife to my 5S Dock and managed to make it fit an iPhone 6. But I ended up using the dock fairly rarely because docking requires getting my iPhone out of its case—which I use religiously with the iPhone 6. A quick hands-on video showing the new dock in action. (video link) The new dock is sightly different from the old ones. Rather than having a recessed area that fits and supports the device the dock is specifically made for, the new iPhone Dock supports all iPhones and iPods with a lightning connector running iOS 8. It does this by having a flat top with a little mound on it that holds the lightning connector. So the iPhone is only supported through its lightning port. As a result, it wobbles a bit side-to-side when touched. Fortunately, that doesn't seem to affect the electronic connection between the phone and the dock. The iPhone sits fairly stable in the front/back direction. Still, I'm glad I get to use the dock with an iPhone 6 that's still under warranty. The great thing about this design, apart from being both future- and past-proof (a rarity in Cupertino!), is that it lets the iPhone dock while it's in Apple's silicone case. There's actually room for slightly bigger cases. An interesting change from the previous docks is that the line out port is now a headphone out port. When you put the iPhone in the dock and there's nothing connected to the headphone out port of the dock, the iPhone uses its speaker, which comes through loud and clear. Remember, the iPhone's headphone out port is at the bottom, so you can't use it while the phone is docked. The microphone also works normally. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Antarctica’s glaciers have been making headlines during the past year, and not in a good way. Whether it’s a massive ice shelf facing imminent risk of collapse, glaciers in the West Antarctic past the point of no return, or new threats to East Antarctic ice, it’s all been rather gloomy. And now I’m afraid there’s more bad news: a new study published in the journal Science, led by a team of my colleagues and I from the University of Bristol, has observed a sudden increase of ice loss in a previously stable part of Antarctica. The Antarctic Peninsula extends 1300km into the Southern Ocean. Its northern half is the continent’s mildest region and the effects of a warming climate are clear there. We already knew for instance that the glaciers of the Northern Antarctic Peninsula were in trouble following the disintegration of some of its ice shelves, most famously Larsen A and B. Further to the west, the massive glaciers feeding into the Amundsen Sea have been shedding ice into the ocean at an alarming rate for decades. The southern Antarctic Peninsula, which fills the gap between these two regions, had been stable, but has recently became Antarctica’s second largest contributor to sea level rise. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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ars.AD.queue.push(["xrailTop", {sz:"300x250", kws:[], collapse: true}]);In its December 1997 issue, Road & Track published the first US road test of the otherworldly McLaren F1. The issue became one of the most famous in R&T’s history due to the 12+ page review of a car with which the stateside automotive press hadn’t yet had a chance to spend a few days of unchaperoned time. I can still remember the awe I felt learning daily-driver details about the famous 240mph Lamborghini destroyer. The review, done with a privately owned F1 on loan to the magazine, contained superlative after superlative; I remember reading with wide eyes about how the F1’s 627bhp BMW-built V-12 could rocket the car from 60 miles per hour to 160 miles per hour in the time it took to pour a glass of water. "Surely," I thought as I read and re-read the review with the fervor that only a teenage boy could have for the hottest of hot cars, "I’ll go my whole life and never get the chance to drive anything even remotely that fast." Turns out I was wrong—I had to wait 18 years. Read 63 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Erik Sorto, 34, has been paralysed from the neck down for the past 13 years. However, thanks to a ground-breaking clinical trial, he has been able to smoothly drink a bottle of beer using a robotic arm controlled with a brain implant. He isn't the first patient to control an arm with a neural prosthetic device. But this represents the first time the implant was placed in a region of the brain thought to control the intention to perform movements, rather than the ensuing mechanics of movement. This difference created surprisingly natural movements and has the potential to work for multiple robotic limbs. Through illness or injury, millions of individuals have lost the ability to sense and move their bodies. In recent years, a handful of studies have shown that it is possible to record brain activity from such individuals and use this information to restore movement capabilities. Signals recorded from primary motor cortex—a part of the brain that is necessary for the control of movement—have been used to direct external devices such as a cursor on a computer screen, and even robotic arms. However, this approach often results in delayed, shaky movement. As research in this area continues to move forward, new possibilities are being explored. The latest study tried a new approach: measuring neurons in a part of the brain called the posterior parietal cortex, which is thought to process the intention to perform actions, Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The sheriff in San Bernardino County—east of Los Angeles County—has deployed a stingray hundreds of times without a warrant, and under questionable judicial authority. In response to a public records request, the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department (SBSD) sent Ars, among other outlets, a rare example of a template for a "pen register and trap and trace order" application. (In the letter, county lawyers claimed this was a warrant application template, when it clearly is not.) The SBSD is the law enforcement agency for the entire county, the 12th-most populous county in the United States, and the fifth-most populous in California. Stingrays, or cell-site simulators, can be used to determine location by spoofing a cell tower, but they can also be used to intercept calls and text messages. Once deployed, the devices intercept data from a target phone as well as information from other phones within the vicinity. For years, federal and local law enforcement have tried to keep their existence a secret while simultaneously upgrading their capabilities. Over the last year, as the devices have become scrutinized, new information about the secretive devices has been revealed. Read 28 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Convicted Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht and no less than 97 of his friends and family members have written to a judge just days prior to sentencing, asking her to impose the most lenient sentence possible. (Ars has posted the letters online along with the court filing of photos of Ulbricht and many family and friends.) Under federal mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines, Ulbricht faces at least 20 years in prison and possibly as long as life behind bars. “Silk Road turned out to be a very naive and costly idea that I deeply regret,” he wrote in his own 1.5 page letter to United States District Judge Katherine Forrest filed on Friday. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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A security researcher said he found a way to game Starbucks gift cards to generate unlimited amounts of money on them. Both he and the coffee chain are grumbling after he used a fraudulent card to make a purchase, then repaid the amount and reported the vulnerability. Egor Homakov of the Sakurity security consultancy found a weakness known as a race condition in the section of the Starbucks website responsible for checking balances and transferring money to gift cards. To test if an exploit would work in the real world, the researcher bought three $5 cards. After a fair amount of experimentation, he managed to transfer the $5 balance from card A to card B, not just once as one would expect, but twice. As a result, Homakov now had a total balance of $20, a net—and fraudulent—gain of $5. The researcher went on to visit a downtown San Francisco Starbucks location to make sure his attack would actually work. He used the two cards to make a $16.70 cent purchase. He went on to deposit an additional $10 from his credit card "to make sure the US justice system will not put us in jail over $1.70," he explained in a blog post. Here's where hurt feelings—and arguably an overreaction on the part of both parties—entered into the story. Homakov wrote: Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 4 days ago on ars technica
It is hard to overstate how much I love the British mobile provider Three and how I wish it would come to the United States. My fellow Americans, let me (again) re-iterate how badly we’re all getting overcharged: Three offers a 30-day prepaid plan with unlimited data, unlimited texts, and 200 minutes of domestic calling, all for £20 ($31). That’s about one-third less than what I pay right now Stateside. Last month, I traveled to the United Kingdom for a reporting trip on the new Welsh drone startup behind the Zano handheld drone. Before I left California, I had my new Ars UK colleague Sebastian Anthony go to a Three shop, buy a SIM, and send it to me in the mail (or post, whatever). He didn’t have to register it or show an ID. When I landed at Heathrow, I could just pop it in, and boom, I was off and running. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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A San Diego, California court has ruled that a tech entrepreneur will not be allowed to access his license plate reader (LPR) records from a regional government agency. Earlier this month, Superior Court Judge Katherine Bacal handed down a six-page decision to Michael Robertson, finding that he does not have the right, under the California Public Records Act (CPRA), to access records of his own license plate as scanned by members of the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG). Judge Bacal found that the LPR records were exempt from the CPRA, under a provision of the law that protects “records of investigation,” and under a catch-all section if releasing such records is not in the public interest. As she wrote in the Statement of Decision: Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Last weekend we published a short wishlist of things we’d like to see in iOS 9. Some of it was fairly basic, some of it was more involved. Some wishes were new, and others have been around for years. Some things seemed like a safe bet, and others were more farfetched. But software is never done, and hey, we can dream. Many of you had desires beyond what we asked about, and we’ve gathered some of the most interesting and frequently requested features here. Like our original list, your requests are a mix of plausible and implausible, simple and complex. But all of them would be interesting additions that would make iOS more useful. A Spotlight API Spotlight got better in iOS 8, but let's let third-parties do more with it. Andrew Cunningham Spotlight in iOS is a powerful search tool, and iOS 8 made it more useful by including search results from multiple external sources. But while it can search for third-party apps and show data from within first-party apps (individual notes, calendar appointments, or Mail messages, for example), Spotlight can’t pull data from within third-party apps. Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The chaos in the early Solar System was fiendish. Even after the planets had coalesced, there was more than enough rubble left behind to cause frequent and violent impacts that would have rocked the Earth’s youthful crust. After a phase of intense bombardment between about 4.1 and 3.8 billion years ago, things on the asteroid collision scene calmed down. Relatively speaking… We don’t know exactly when life first developed on Earth, but we know it was present by 3.4 billion years ago. We don’t know if life was present to suffer from the earlier period of bombardment, but we know it was around for any impacts that followed. So what kinds of extraterrestrial punches did life take after 3.4 billion years ago? A new study by Stanford’s Donald Lowe and Louisiana State University’s Gary Byerly examines a fascinating record of major impacts in South African rocks around 3.3 billion years old. Eight impact layers have been identified in these rocks, each containing sand-sized blobs of rock that solidified after the impact vaporized bedrock. The layers also show signs that they were hit by tsunamis shortly afterward. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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SAN FRANSCISO—At a Kickstarter launch party in a swanky downtown hotel, employees and friends of year-old company Fove milled about, ready to talk to anyone and everyone about their contributions to a new virtual reality headset. VR headsets are old news at this point—Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, Sony’s Project Morpheus have all run the press gamut a few times over. But Fove wants to leapfrog the traditional players by coming to the starting line with something that none of those incumbents have (at least thus far): an eye-tracking system. Fove says the eye-tracking system will eventually allow for foveated rendering—a cutting-edge way of reducing the processing demands of VR headsets by generating a high-resolution image only for the immediate area that a player is looking at, allowing peripheral areas to be rendered with less definition. Fove just met its Kickstarter goal of $250,000, which it will use to produce an SDK headset with a 5.8 inch display with 2560x1440 resolution, and a 0.8 pound weight. What sets it apart, though, are the infrared sensors that bounce IR light off the user's retinas, to measure the distance between the eyes and the direction they're each pointing. Kickstarter backers have been able to secure development headsets for between $300 and $400, and Fove aims to ship by Spring 2016. The development platform will integrate content from Unity, Unreal Engine, and eventually Cryengine. Read 18 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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In the early hours of Saturday morning, the United States Senate halted the advance of a compromise bill that aims to end metadata collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Given that the USA Freedom Act cannot seemingly advance in the Senate, there is a very strong possibility that the relevant portions of the law will expire as of the stroke of midnight on June 1, 2015. The Senate voted 57-42 to reject the measure, and also immediately rejected a 60-day extension of the existing law on a 54-45 vote. The bill, which previously passed the House of Representatives just over a week ago, has the support of the White House. Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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A Hawaii-based company called Total Recall Technologies (TRT) is suing Facebook-owned Oculus Rift and its founder Palmer Luckey, saying that Luckey used confidential information he learned from the company in 2011 to build his own head-mounted display. In a complaint filed in the Northern California US District Court (PDF), TRT says that its two partners, Ron Igra and Thomas Seidl, developed and patented a method to take video of a real-world scene and display it in a head-mounted display using an “ultra-wide field of view.” Seidl met Luckey in 2010 in connection with his work on developing head-mounted displays, and contacted him in 2011 to build a prototype for TRT. “At all relevant times, the information provided to Luckey by TRT was confidential, and TRT expected the information to remain confidential,” the complaint says. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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An American staffer at the United States Embassy in London has been accused of running a sextortion scheme—amazingly, primarily from his heavily monitored, government-owned work computer. Despite this, the embassy’s network security protocol apparently failed to flag the man’s behavior. The suspect, Michael C. Ford, was arrested at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on May 17 as he was flying back to London with his wife and son. The criminal complaint against him was unsealed the following day. On Thursday, a federal judge in Atlanta set Ford’s bond at $50,000, despite the impassioned pleas by prosecutors for no bond at all, and ordered him to remain under house arrest in his own home in nearby Dunwoody, Georgia. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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This week has been laser week at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, with two very different laser-based programs hitting major milestones: an inexpensive array of lasers on a single chip that can be used as sensors on drones and robots and a killer laser system that could blow up missiles, shells, and possibly vehicles and people. Yesterday, DARPA announced the successful test of a single-chip laser detection and ranging system that makes it possible to build inexpensive, lightweight short-range "phased array" LADAR that could be mounted on small unmanned aircraft, robots, and vehicles. The technology could bring low-cost, solid-state, high-resolution 3D scanning to a host of devices in the near future. Called SWEEPER (Short-range Wide-field-of-view Extremely agile Electronically steered Photonic EmitteR), the sensor technology embeds thousands of laser-emitting dots microns apart on a silicon chip—creating a "phased array" optical scanning system that can scan rapidly across a 51-degree arc without the need for mechanical rotation. In the latest test, the system was able to scan back and forth across that entire arc more than 100,000 times per second. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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