31 May 1999 - Monday
Interview 18:21 pm - Kan
Gamers' Crypt whipped up an interview with Nels Bruckner from Dynamix on Tribes 2.

With titles such as Quake 3 Arena and Unreal Tournament coming out months before Tribes 2 is even tentatively scheduled for completion, what measures is Dynamix taking to ensure that Tribes 2 isn't obsolete before it hits the shelves?

We don't look at Q3A or UT as being big competition to Tribes 2. Team Fortress is much more of a direct competitor. I think the best way for us to compete with all those titles though is just to get the project that we are working on out, on time, with the features that we want. If we can do that, we shouldn't have to worry too much about what other people are doing.

OpenLinux 2.2 17:25 pm - Kan
CPUReview just did their OpenLinux 2.2 review. Though I've never tried OpenLinux personally before, it looks great.

During the boot process, OpenLinux correctly detected my ATAPI CDROM drive, ethernet card, and correctly noted that I did not have any SCSI or PCMCIA controllers. Caldera definitely went overboard with the amount of animation on the Lizard startup screen; but I have to admit that Lizard is a nice installation tool.

Yingzong Sez 14:10 pm - Yingzong
Just one of those times when you're just posting irrelevant stuff 'cos your fellow editor has gobbled up all the news already. Hope this won't spoil your interests in computer news and reviews! Anyhow, my good buddy Shirley just mailed me about her depressing day at work. Hey, cheer up munchkin, I'll be your clown to liven up your day anytime! And yeah, all you others who're happy today... don't be; 'cos my buddy's depressed. And may the Frown be with you.

Guillemot Maxi Gamer Xentor 32 Review 14:00 pm - Yingzong
Anand has just reviewed yet another Ultra TNT2 card. Seems that he wasn't too impressed with it. Watch out for his Diamond Viper V770 Ultra and his ASUS V3800 TNT2 reviews which should be coming out soon. Of course, you can always checkout this cool page you're on from time to time for updates. Here's the news in brief :

Considering that the card is guaranteed at 175/183, don't expect to be able to up the memory frequency too far above 183MHz (there's a reason Guillemot dropped the spec from 195 down to 183MHz), and you'll get diminishing returns as the core speed approaches and passes the 183MHz mark, provided it'll even hit that far. Another interesting thing AnandTech noticed, the spec sheet for the Xentor 32 only lists it as an AGP 2X compliant part, if this is an indication that the Xentor 32 is not AGP 4X compliant (like most other TNT2 boards), then the verdict is definitely a pass on this one, if not, then Guillemot had better amend their spec sheet before they scare away too many customers. If Guillemot fixes the problems AnandTech experience by the time they begin shipping the Xentor 32, then it may turn out to be a very viable option, until then, leave Guillemot off your wish list.

Benwin BW2000 12:37 pm - Kan
Our pals over at 3DsoundSurge just posted their Benwin BW2000 speakers review. They look high quality and features the flat panel speakers technology licenced from NXT.

An electronic “exciter”, mathematically positioned on the on the back of a flat surface sends electrical currents through the flat panel. By changing and regulating each electronic tap, the exciter creates different volumes and frequencies that vibrate through the panel. The resulting vibrations are heard as sound.    The exciter sends multiple taps along multiple paths resulting in overlapping sound waves. The image below is a snapshot of panel motion, after excitation with an impulse.

Spectra 5400 and 5400PE 09:20 am - Kan
Thanks to VE for the link. Over at P3D, they have a Canopus Spectra 5400 and 5400PE preview.

We also know that both the 5400 and 5400 PE will have support for Canopus' currently shipping VideoPORT 600, which should extend the addon's lifespan for quite some time. Also, both will support the SSH Type-B addon, providing BNC connectors.

Memory Guide Part 4: Memory Timings 09:13 am - Kan
SharkyExtreme posted Part 4 of the Memory Guide installation series. Don't know what are those CAS and latency settings? Read it to find out more!

There are several timings that are of interest. They include tAA (address access time), tRAC (row access time), and tCAC (column access time). The address access time is important during page mode, because this is the time from the column address being applied until data is valid. Row access time is important because this is the time required for the first (or only) data access. The column access time is the amount of time necessary to read the data from the sense amp (after /CAS is low) and place it on the output lines.

Hercules Dynamite TNT2 Ultra 06:18 am - Kan
Anand reviewed the Hercules Dynamite TNT2 Ultra. Touted as the most overclockable TNT2 out there, let's see how good it performs with the rest.

The Dynamite TNT2 Ultra, as the name implies is based on an "Ultra" version of the TNT2 chipset, which according to NVIDIA, indicates that the core clock speed and the memory clock speed should be no less than 150MHz and 183MHz respectively. While the 150/183MHz clock configuration is considerably higher than the 90/110MHz configuration of the original TNT, it still doesn't live up to the hype that benchmarks of the first pre-release TNT2 Ultra cards inspired. Regardless of the factors that went into NVIDIA's decision to lower the core clock speed from 175+ down to 150MHz, the bottom line is that had manufacturers stuck to NVIDIA's 150MHz clock speed they would've most definitely lost quite a few supporters with their inability to deliver a more competitive product.

30 May 1999 - Sunday
New version of Powerstrip (2.50) out 22:45 pm - Yingzong
Overclockers rejoice! The first official release of Powerstrip is out! This time, with support for the NVIDIA Vanta/TNT2, Voodoo3, Savage4 and Rage128 under Windows 95/98 and NT. Say it with me:

V - O - O - D - O - O - 3...

T - N - T - 2....

S - A - V - A - G - E - 4...

Now that you're in zombie mode, you can bramble your way to 3DFiles for your very own Powerstrip 2.5...

Results of Poll #15 22:08 pm - Kan
Here are our results for Poll #15. Looks like the PSX2 will kick some arses. Talking about ass, our next poll is "Who has the nicest butt". Hmm, who do you think will win? Anyway, voice your opinions over at our Forum now!

SoundFX NT 21:08 pm - Kan
Philipp from NT Game Palace sent note on a new version of SoundFX NT which is actually a Soundblaster 16 emulator for Windows NT DOS box.

The new release (1.07) adds support for the standard games port  providing 4 analogue & 4 digital inputs. Ideal for flight sims  requiring yoke, throttle, rudder pedals and POV hat.

This release is only available for registered users. A demo is not available.

Home NIC for both PCs and Macs 19:15 pm - Yingzong
Read this interesting piece of news from CNN about a new networking PCI card from Farallon that will work for both PCs and Macs. It's about networking PCs to Macs through phone lines. Supposed to be the first and only in the world. Sweeet... wonder if it works for Singapore. Here's a piece of the news :

Intel, Diamond Multimedia, and other companies also offer home networking products that support HomePNA, but none are "ambidextrous" and work for either Mac or PC. A hybrid CD-ROM that comes with the HomeLine cards provides networking software for both systems. Because the disc is a hybrid, a Mac will read and install the Mac version of the software, while a PC can read and install the PC version.

The HomeLine starter kit consists of two HomeLine PCI cards, software, and cabling for connection to the phone line. It also ships with "Surf Doubler software" that lets two simultaneous users connect to the Internet on a single connection, says Ken Alan, HomeLine product manager.

Video Card O/C Guide & FAQ 18:45 pm - Yingzong
Tweak3D has just posted a Guide cum FAQ for overclocking them video cards. It's quite a thorough and informative piece of work. For those of you who have only a vague idea of what overclocking is, this is a recommended read. For those hardcore overclockers, you might think that it's another run-of-the-mill O/C FAQ but it's honestly rather well-written. Here's a clip :

Q: Why would someone overclock a video card, especially when it is a very fast one?

A: There isn't a simple answer to this question, but I have a few reasons for overclocking a video card:

It's like a video card upgrade, except it's free.

It's a very simple process. A game running at 24 frames per second could be bumped up to 30 frames per second which would be a lot more "playable".

You may develop a cool nickname like "Tweak Monkey" if you overclock enough hardware.

Cambridge Soundworks 17:00 pm - Kan
Thanks to Dimension-X, Stratics Network did a review on the Cambridge Soundworks speakers.

The satellites are small, shielded, covered by metal grills and stand on metal “feet”. The stands are not as impressive as Boston Acoustic’s design, as it didn’t afford any solid grip on our table surface and allowed the speakers to be moved or rotated with surprising ease, which became an inconvenience as our tests continued. The speakers are connected to the subwoofer via standard speaker wire, but we were dismayed by the cheap quality of the clips on the speakers and subwoofer: the wires were amazingly easy to pull right out from their clips. The subwoofer was of excellent quality, weighed a ton for its size, and was solid as a rock. Despite its diminutive size, it pumped out some damn good bass.

Motherboard Reviews 16:58 pm - Kan
Two new motherboard reviews over at AnandTech. They are the Gainward 6IZB i440ZX microATX Socket370 motherboard and the Microstar MSI-6182 Slot-1 810 motherboard. The Microstar features 6 PCI slots and 1 AGP slot and that's no ISA slot in it. Looks pretty impresssive.

The MS-6182 makes use of the 810-DC100 GMCH (Graphics and Memory Controller Hub) with a 4MB 100MHz display cache on the board itself. The two 2MB SDRAM chips are manufactured by Goldstar (LGS) and easily make it up to 133MHz, an overclocked setting provided for by the Award BIOS setup part of the board's 802AB FWH (Firmware Hub). The board features no ISA slots, a feature which will become extremely popular with most 810 boards, removing the need for an ISA bridge extension, therefore leaving the left hand of the 6182's PCB essentially unpopulated by anything other than the last 3 PCI slots. Of the 6 PCI slots, 4 of them are capable of accepting any full-length PCI cards, the other two are potentially obstructed by the front panel LED connectors and the on-board PC speaker (the latter may or may not be an obstruction depending on the PCI card).

Hard Drive and Case Cooling Guide 16:56 pm - Kan
FiringSquad put up their 3rd installation on the cooling guide. This time, the guys touch on Hard Drive and Case Cooling. Hard disks are getting so hot nowadays (especially those 10,000 rpm) that it's necessary to cool'em.

Additionally, SCSI drives are of some concern, as some of them are quite hot as well. Finally, systems that have multiple hard drives and CD-ROMs mounted near each other are a concern. Since the mounting for hard drives and CD-ROMs is usually done vertically, when you have more drives the heat rises up to the next unit above it. As a result, hard drive coolers have been created to address these issues.

News Update down at Tom's 14:00 pm - Yingzong
Tom's Hardware has just posted a couple of news flashes for the benefit of the online community. For those of you into economics, it has articles on market takeover plans, bankruptcies, futuristic simulations, and increased productivity! The works man. Okay, I'm kidding, but it's kinda close. Savour the juice here dudes :

Intel Corp. is planning to develop an all-in-one PC-on-a-chip, which is targeted for release late next year. The as-yet unannounced "Timna" chip will be manufactured in .18-micron technology and will include a Pentium-II class processor, a graphics controller, 128KB of L2 cache, and a Direct Rambus memory controller. Already, Intel's plans are causing speculation that the chip maker will use the Timna processor to enter the graphics and memory market. If Timna succeeds, it could drive Rambus DRAMs into the mainstream.

Hard Drive Tweaking Guide 12:35 pm - Kan
Ben from WickedPC sent note on their new article Hard Drive Tweaking Guide. Incidentally, you can improve your system performance by using a software called Cacheman which optimizes your disk cache buffers in Windows.

The next step into making your hard drive faster is to set it up properly in the BIOS. With computers, terms tend to get mixed up quite a bit. If you don't know how to get into your BIOS, skip this step. It's not something you want to play with if you don't know what you're doing. Once you are in the BIOS, you'll want to make sure that the hard drive is set to PIO Mode 4, or Auto. After that, you'll want to search for an option to disable "IDE Busmastering". You don't want busmastering enabled in your BIOS, as it will slow you down quite a bit.

3D Blaster Riva TNT2 Ultra 10:23 am - Kan
GA-Source posted their review on the Creative 3D Blaster Riva TNT2 Ultra card.

One of the things that a major manufacturer can differentiate themselves with is their drivers. Creative's Blaster Control allows you to do is have a virtual desktop larger than the current on screen resolution, which is a handy feature that not all manufacturers include. The Blaster Control also lets you adjust monitor position and size, color settings and a full range of Direct 3D and OpenGL tweaks. One tweak that is missing is a clock speed adjustment. Creative already has released a beta version of a clock adjustment utility. It allows you to overclock the TNT/2 Ultra up to a maximum of 166mhz core, 200mhz memory (from a default of 150/183).

Yingzong Sez 10:05 am - Yingzong
For those of you who still don't know, an entire reel of the Phantom Menace was stolen from a US cinema last week. Won't be long before we see our friendly neighbourhood tattoo uncles selling high quality bootleg copies of the flim. Guess the QC back at Piracy Inc. isn't satisfied with just copying films behind some quiet corner of the theatre now, huh?

TennMax Stealth V3 Fighter 10:02 am - Kan
Tweak3D posted a review on TennMax Stealth V3 Fighter. Very good quality fans which allows you to overclock your Voodoo3 3000 to a whopping 198 MHz.

After adding the Stealth V3 Fighter, I was able to overclock up to 198 MHz before the card failed. At 190 MHz, the card was rock solid. I got it up to 195 but only a few tests would run before the PC would lock up. Even at 195, the card was still cooler than the overclocked Voodoo3 with only a heatsink. I tested the Voodoo3 at 166 MHz to represent the default setting, 178 MHz to represent the overclocked Voodoo3 with only a heatsink, and 190 MHz to represent the Voodoo3 with Stealth V3 Fighter cooler. Note - I believe it's far more dangerous to run the card at 178 without any active cooling (fan) than it is to run the card at 190 with a Stealth V3 Fighter.

Low Cost Performance 09:59 am - Kan
Spotted something new over at Avault. Their new article: The Hardware Game - Low Cost Performance touches on how to piece together a great machine at a low price.

The rest of the components matter somewhat less. The SR440BX requires at least a 145W power supply, and will fit in a microATX case. We specified a 40X CD-ROM because that's as far as we know the lowest price point in current production that's readily available, and is less expensive than DVD. If you can find a decent one that's not as fast, it should still be fine.

Contest 09:55 am - Kan
CPRExtreme sent note on their contest in which you simply enter your email address to download Desert Fighters Alpha release and you will be automatically entered into the lucky draw. Prizes include 4 3DFX Voodoo3 AGP cards, 100 Desert Fighter T-Shirts and 3 Intensor chairs!

Download the Desert Fighters demo - Enter to WIN one of 3 Intensor chairs, 4 3DFX Voodoo3 AGP cards and 100 Desert Fighter T-shirts! Winners will be chosen at random from valid email addresses. All entrants will receive a follow up email from Desert Fighters. By entering you affirm you are over 13 years old and agree to receive an email from us. If you do not want to enter or receive email, type "no" in the e-mail field. Minimum requirements: Windows 95/98/NT4.0, Pentium 200, 32MB RAM, 50MB Hard Drive Space, SVGA 256 colors, Mouse, Joystick, DirectX 3.0 or higher. Online Connectivity: Internet via 28.8 Modem or better.

Intel Anypoint Review 09:45 am - Kan
Over at AGN Hardware, the guys posted their review on the Intel Anypoint kit which allows you to hook up your PCs with your home's phonelines.

Like the Bestdata phoneline kit that I reviewed a few months ago, the Anypoint home networking system uses your home phoneline as a LAN cable to hook up other computers. For testing I pulled out the Dell Inspiron Laptop of mine and drug it’s 10 pounds of mass into the kitchen to hook up to the phone line hanging on the wall. After 5 minutes setup time of hooking up, installing and plugging into the wall, I was ready to plug into that massive 1Mbit of bandwidth powering through my phone line. Ok so I admit that I am a little sarcastic, the problem is once you have used a 100baseT network connection in your house, jumping down to 1Mbit seems like you are making a trip back to the Stone Age.

 

29 May 1999 - Saturday
3D Blaster TNT2 Interview 23:30 pm - Yingzong
TNT2.NET has just posted their interview with Jim Carlton, Senior Brand Manager (Graphics and Video) of Creative Labs about their upcoming 3DBlaster TNT2 Ultra video board. With an incredibly low retail price and the promise of a Glide compatible wrapper by Creative, it looks like a potential hit for the budget hardcore gamer. Here's a lookie on the interview here :

What’s this we hear about Glide compatibility through a wrapper? Will there be any perormance hit from this?

We can’t really measure the performance yet because the wrapper is just in beta. We’ve been working mostly on stability, not really on performance. On a couple games we’ve looked at it and we’re seeing in the range of 5% [performance hit]. We expect that to be in that range, maybe a little bit less. It’s extremely playable. You’re not getting your framerate cut in half.

It’s compatible with most Glide games too?

Well, what we did – we looked into it and saw that there are only 22 Glide-only games. No OGL, no D3D patch – you can only run them on Glide under Windows. Those are our target games. We’ve been testing with Unreal – it runs okay, but the games that we’re going to go after supporting are the 22 Glide only games, so you’ll use your D3D or your OpenGL version instead of the Glide version when there’s multiple choices available.

Temporary Editor Introduction 22:00 pm - Yingzong
Hi! I'll be your temporary editor while Wilfred is busy "tuanging" overseas. That lucky bastard... he'll be back soon after a satisfying trip in the land of big boobs and beer. As for now, cheers and keep visiting us!

Cooling Guide: Video Cooling 13:00 pm - Kan
Hop over to FiringSquad where the guys posted Part 2 of the Cooling Guide. This time, they touched on video cooling for your graphics cards.

We don't think anyone can dispute the fact that video cards are running hotter than ever. With the exception of some of the just-released video chipsets, video cards are very hot, and trying to see how hot by touching the chip might result in a burned finger! Many video card manufacturers are incorporating heatsinks and fans on their cards, or just heatsinks alone. The video manufacturers have recognized the extreme heat that is produced after many hours of intense video usage (gaming), and we should as well. Fortunately for us, companies that produce cooling solutions for CPUs are turning their eyes towards the video world as well. As a result, we are being offered new solutions for video card cooling.

E3 Part 2 12:45 pm - Kan
Over at VoodooMag, the guys posted Part 2 of the E3 held few weeks ago. Read what the guys have to say on E3.

Microsoft is going after the sports sim market in a big way. Football fans will drool when they check out NFL Fever 2000. The graphics are amazing, with up to 15,000 polygons per character! At one point the person giving the demo zoomed in on the Quarterback's hands, fingers and even his fingernails! Character animations were great too, with the receivers looking towards the QB right before the snap. The play-book interface bares more than a passing resemblance to NFL Blitz, but that's where the comparison ends. This game is much more of a sim than that button masher, but novices should be able step up and play without too many problems.

Boston Acoustics 12:42 pm - Kan
SystemLogic sent note on their latest review on the Boston Acoustics speakers. And yes, they are giving the speakers free in a contest where you need to answer two questions.

The speakers are pretty small, and I think that makes the speakers better looking, but the design itself is basic.  The subwoofer looks neat just because it has a bunch of different plugs and knobs on the front, which can get to be a pain because of wires getting in the way.  The speakers plastic is good because it is thick, also not the cheap stuff, this improves audio quality a lot.

Midtown Madness 10:37 am - Kan
This game gonna be in my favourite list soon. Avault reviewed Midtown Madness and it's indeed pure MADNESS fun! Now, to find myself a copy...

The 50-plus races included are varied enough that sometimes you'll swear you've moved to a different city. Chicago takes on a decidedly different feel when real-time weather effects, such as rain and snow, come into play, as well as morning, noon, dusk and nighttime racing.

Neon 250 PowerVRSG 09:20 am - Kan
Extreme Hardware had an interview with Videologic's David Harold on their latest card, the Neon 250 PowerVRSG.

Extreme Hardware: How would you rate the performance of the Neon 250 compared to the original PowerVR? Are there any performance specs you can give us?

David Harold: Roughly five times that of PCX2 (the chip on the Apocalypse 3Dx and Matrox M3d.) PCX2 was 500K poly/s and 30Mpx fill rate. PowerVR 250 is over 4M poly/s and 200 - 500 Mpx fill rate.

Cracking Open the Pentium III 09:15 am - Kan
Over at Gamasutra, there's a new article on Cracking Open the Pentium III. Included in the article are assembly codes to check for the new SIMD instructions etc.

The new Pentium III Streaming SIMD instructions are functionally similar to the instructions AMD added to the K6 with its 3DNow! instruction set, but the Pentium III instructions are implemented substantially differently. Whereas the K6-2 processor is a SIMD device, it only operates on two floating-point numbers at once. On the other hand, the Pentium III operates on four floating-point numbers at once. On the K6-2, the pair of 32-bit floating point values are held within one of the 64-bit MMX registers, which, as everybody knows, are aliased onto the floating-point registers.

New Back Orifice-like Trojan Horse Found 09:12 am - Kan
Now, this is what I call exciting. According to ZDNN, a new trojan house is found. It comes in a email form and poses itself as a screen saver or game update (ha!). Once executed, it will turn the victim's computer into an "open client".

With both programs, a victim is tricked into executing an e-mail attachment which then opens his PC to remote connections via the Internet. Once a victim is infected, a hacker can do anything to a machine that the victim can -- included erasing all files or copying all files.

Such tools represent a dangerous blending of what might once have been considered relatively harmless pranks by virus writers and hackers, Viveros said

Epox EP-S1C Slot1 Converter 09:10 am - Kan
Riva3D posted the Epox EP-S1C Slot1 converter for your Socket370 processors. This one allows you to install 2 Celerons without any modifications to your processors.

There really is not much to explain here, setup was extremely easy. It was only a matter of installing the Socket 370 CPU's onto the Slot 1 adapters and placing them into the S1 slots on the dual mainboard. The bios detected the two processors immediately, as did Windows NT.

Viper 770 Review 09:02 am - Kan
More TNT2 reviews over at The TechZone.

The new Diamond Viper V770 is a mix emotion video card. On one hand it has all the 3D features one can want. 32 megs of ram, large texture support, AGP 2 and 4 times, etc. However, on the other hand, the NVIDIA TNT2 chip this card is based on runs at only 125Mhz core and 150Mhz memory. This makes the V770 not much faster than an overclocked Viper V550. If it were not for the fact that this card could overclock so well, I would have toss it in the trash can.

Guide to 3D Terminology 08:56 am - Kan
SharkyExtreme had another new article on the Guide to 3D Terminology Part 3. Read about anti-aliasing, polygon edge anti-aliasing etc and impress your friends with them! :)

Polygon edge anti-aliasing is what we commonly see when anti-aliasing is switched on in any given Direct3D title. Accelerators such as the RIVA TNT2 support this feature. When using PEAA the accelerator or the driver or the application determines which triangle edges to anti-alias and then renders these edges again with a slight offset and lower opacity to produce a smoothing effect. The end result is a smoother image and no ugly jagged polygon edges.

IBM 22GXP 22GB 08:53 am - Kan
WickedPC just emailed us on the IBM 22GXP review over their site. This is a 22GB hard drive running at 5400 rpm. Hmm, you can probably store a lot of stuffs with 22GB.

IBM has had their Deskstar 22GXP on the market for a short period of time, and surprisingly, it has gone unnoticed. The 22GXP is a 22Gb hard drive, one of the largest IDE hard drives on the market, and also runs at speeds of 7200RPM, and an enormous cache of 2 Megabytes. Its access time averages 9ms. Comparing those specifications to the "pricewatch" or "computer show" priced hard drives, they prove that without even looking at the hard drive it's sure to be a winner. On top of all this, it supports ATA/66, although we won't be doing too much with ATA/66 in this review (more on this later).

Pioneer 6X DVD-ROM 08:50 am - Kan
Review of the Pioneer 6X DVD-ROM over at The Techs. Prices of DVD-ROM drives are getting cheaper now, and it's a good idea to get one of 'em.

Since there is no benchmark for DVD drives I will just have to talk about the speed and quality from personal experience. I also have a Creative Labs Encore 2x DVD-Drive, so I used that drive as a comparison against the Pioneer 6x DVD Drive. The Pioneer drive loaded up the DVD disc about 2.5 times faster than the Creative Labs Encore did. The Pioneer is slot-loaded, compared to the Creative Labs tray-loaded feature. The image quality was about the same on both drives, when using the Creative Labs DxR2 decoder board. The sound was far superior from the Pioneer drive, due to the technology advances between the two generations.

TNT2 Buyers' Guide 08:48 am - Kan
FiringSquad put up another new article on the TNT2 Buyers' Guide.

In general, the standard recommended TNT2 memory speed is 150MHz, which requires 7ns RAM. The recommended memory clock for TNT2 Ultra is 183MHz, or 5.5ns. While there's nothing wrong with using RAM of the recommended speed, sticking to spec does hinder overclockability, as the memory used is not rated to operate any faster. It's far more likely to overclock a vanilla TNT2's memory to 166MHz if its RAM is rated at 6.5ns, or a TNT2 Ultra to 183MHz with 5.5ns memory.

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