Rebuilding Blocks: Mobile Factory Turns Disaster Debris into Modular Bricks

26 Sep

[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Houses & Residential. ]


In the wake of intentional demolition or unexpected disasters, the Mobile Factory system can be shipped inside just two cargo containers and begin to turn rubble from ruins into building blocks for reconstruction.

Developed in The Netherlands, the technology filters concrete from other rubble, which is then cast into interlocking blocks (like LEGO bricks) that require no joinery to form stable walls. These units can be stacked without specialized training or equipment, making it possible for communities to rebuild efficiently and cheaply.

The resulting structures are earthquake-resistant, held together in part by bamboo rods threaded through voids in a certain subset of the wall blocks (which can also be used to thread in utilities, including plumbing and electrical lines).


Since the system fits into a pair of shipping containers, it can easily be transported from site to site, building blocks close to where they will be used and reducing transit time and costs. The reversibility of this construction approach also means that temporary buildings can be erected quickly in the wake of a disaster. In turn, these can be disassembled or adapted easily in the weeks, months and years following an emergency situation.

Consider the 2010 earthquake in Haiti that left hundreds of thousands dead and millions homeless. Over five years later and the country is still littered with 25 million tons of construction debris, which technologies like this can help turn into affordable housing. Indeed, the Mobile Factory organization is looking into expanding their work in Haiti, Peru and other countries in need of this tech.


“In disasters, you have piles and piles of rubble and the rubble is waste. If you are rich, you buy more bricks and rebuild your home,” said one of the organization’s founders. “But what happens if you are poor? In disasters it is the poorest people who live in the weakest houses and they lose their homes first. I thought, what if you recycled the rubble to build back better homes for poor people?”

Beyond wars and tsunamis in nations further afield, there are potential urban applications in densely-built places like the Europe and the United States: cities like Baltimore and Detroit spend vast amounts of money demolishing buildings (and in some cases: entire blocks), then clear the rubble and put it in landfills. This technology suggests an alternative: reusing on or close to the demolition site, reducing material and energy waste as well post-demolition transportation costs.

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Creative Live’s Photo Week starts tomorrow

26 Sep

Now that Photokina is over and we are impatiently waiting for the latest cameras and gear to ship, it’s a perfect time to hone up on our photography skills. Luckily, our friends at Creative Live are hosting their annual Photo Week this week, September 26 – 29.

Photo Week 2016 is four days of photo education, brought to you through 24 live classes taught by top photographers and educators. It is geared toward people who are comfortable with the basics of photography and are looking to expand their knowledge base into more advanced techniques.

Some of the classes we are really looking forward to include Brandon Stanton (the photographer behind the popular photo blog Humans of New York) discussing how his experiences have shaped his work as a storyteller, Vincent Laforet sharing ideas for how to move your business from stills to video, Jared Platt giving tips on a whole range of post-processing topics, and Chase Jarvis opening up about his experiences in the photo industry.

As with all Creative Live classes, you can watch the live classes online for free. If watching the live class won’t fit into your schedule, you can purchase on-demand access so that you can watch it on your own time. The price for the entire week (including all 24 classes) is normally US $ 499, but they are offering it for US $ 199 for a limited time.

But there’s more! DPReview readers can use the discount code ‘DPR10‘ to receive 10% off of any Creative Live class through December 31, 2016.

Check out the Photo Week schedule to see what’s available. What looks interesting to you?

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Wet Look: 12 More Cool Creative Water Tanks & Towers

26 Sep

[ By Steve in Art. ]


Due to their sizes and shapes, water tanks and towers lend themselves to artistic embellishment as these dozen creative examples refreshingly illustrate.



A waterpark? In the middle of MY Mojave Desert? It’s more likely than you think… or at least it was, before the Lake Dolores Waterpark (later the Rock-A-Hoola Waterpark and then the Discovery Waterpark) circled the drain for the final time in 2004. The water used to “power” the park(s) came from underground springs fed by the Mojave Aquifer and was stored in an enormous water tower shaped like – and painted to resemble – a Coca-Cola can.


While much of the park has been vandalized and scavenged for metal, the water tank can blame its current tattered & faded state on the Mojave’s blistering desert sun. Kudos to Flickr user Hans Proppe (shadowplay) and Imgur user loganbush for snapping the eerie and evocative images above.

Leggo My Necco



The circa-1927 New England Confectionery Company (NECCO, for short) building in Cambridge, MA is now occupied by offices of Swiss-based pharmaceutical firm Novartis, who graciously repainted the iconic Necco-wafer water tower in 1997. Flickr user Jill Robidoux (jylcat) snapped the tank on January 1st of 2003 and it’s a good thing she did: Novartis de-necco’d the tank in 2004 by painting it over in a boring-by-comparison pharma theme.

Behind The 8-Ball



The giant 8-ball water tower in Tipton, Missouri came and went like a Fast Eddie Felson pool shot in the dark… and then it came back again, this time to stay. According to the Jefferson City News Tribune, in 1968 the water tower was creatively dressed in a billiard-ball theme by its owners, the Fischer Pool Table company. The water tower was ceded to the city and painted all-white after Fischer closed in 1977 but Tiptonians wanted their landmark back so in 1999, the tower was restored to its previous 8-ball livery. Minnesota Fats is likely looking down and smiling.

Cone Job


The only paint on the Grand Central Water Tower in Johannesburg, South Africa, is the aqua blue corporate corporate logo near the top… anything else would be superfluous. The curious conical tower was built in 1997 and stands 40m (131.2 ft) tall, assuming it hasn’t already tipped over.

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Wet Look 12 More Cool Creative Water Tanks Towers

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MIOPS displays its MIOPS Mobile smart camera remote

25 Sep

The makers of the MIOPS smart trigger have returned to Kickstarter looking to fund their latest project, the MIOPS Mobile and are showing a prototype at their Photokina booth. The Mobile connects your DSLR and smartphone via a Bluetooth LE connection and uses your mobile device’s built-in sensors to offer a range of creative capture modes. The camera can be triggered by vibration, sound, motion, a predefined travel distance or a combination of all those events. Advanced timelapse modes are included as well and all parameters and modes are controlled via an iOS or Android smartphone app. 

Remote shutter control is on board as well – functions include Cable Release, Press&Hold, Press&Lock, Timed Release, Self Timer and Timed Release with Self Timer. The system is compatible with 350 camera models from most major manufacturers and the battery provides power for approximately 24 hours of use with one charge. Firmware is updated automatically over the air. More information including a video can be found on the MIOPS Mobile Kickstarter page. The funding goal has already been reached but you can still secure a unit with a $ 79 pledge. Shipping is planned for April 2017.

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2017 Sony World Photography Awards accepting entries

25 Sep

2017 Sony World Photography Award entries

The Dinagyang Festival is a religious and cultural festival in Iloio City, Philippines held on the fourth Sunday of January

© Raniel Jose Castan?eda, Philippines, Entry, Open, Culture, 2017 Sony World Photography Awards

The 2017 Sony World Photography Awards are open for business and accepting entries in four main competitions: Professional, Open, Youth and Student Focus. The Open competition includes 10 separate categories including Architecture, Street Photography and Wildlife, and Open competition entries are automatically submitted to an applicable National award.

If you’re looking for some inspiration, you can find how one DPR regular took home a World Photo National prize last year, and flip through a selection of early entries here. Submissions will be accepted for the Open and National competitions until January 5, 2017.

2017 Sony World Photography Award entries

Bear Apartment Six. © Alexandra Cearns, Australia, Entry, Open, Enhanced, 2017 Sony World Photography Awards

Little bears can be very busy and the cub residents of Free the Bears Fund’s enclosure number six in Cambodia are no exception. ‘Bear Apartment Six’ is a composite print made up of 16 photographs taken by photographer Alex Cearns. The single images have been meticulously pieced together to form a visually enthralling scene of bustling bear activity, indicative of an apartment building. Photographed over 90 consecutive minutes in June 2016, three sun bear cubs are the stars of the show as they climb in and out of their den entrance. Cheeky, joyful and adorable, sometimes they’re solo and sometimes they’re with their bear buddies. Each bear was rescued from the illegal wildlife trade when they were only a few months old, and will now be in the care of Free The Bears for the rest of their lives.

We have 2 year old Bearzilla, seized from people keeping him as a pet in Phnom Penh; Pooh, aged just under 2 years, surrendered by developers building a hydro dam in the Stung Treng Provence; and 15 month old Soriya Sundance, handed over by a Government Official who obtained her from ethnic minority hunters in the Mondulkiri Province.

2017 Sony World Photography Award entries

Manta. © Daniel Hunter, UK, Entry, Open, Wildlife, 2017 Sony World Photography Awards

A manta ray swimming in the Indian ocean, Indonesia.

2017 Sony World Photography Award entries

The Midnight Blossom. © Ellie Victoria Gale, UK, Entry, Open, Enhanced, 2017 Sony World Photography Awards

Part of the series ‘The Flower Keepers’, a personal series exploring my imagination and thoughts, creating whimsical characters in a world filled with flowers.

2017 Sony World Photography Award entries

Paper Mill. © Jassen Todorov, US, Entry, Open, Architecture, 2017 Sony World Photography Awards

Waste from a paper mill is agitated by aerators, producing steam and foam, which are pushed by the wind. Clearwater Paper Reservoire, Lewiston, Idaho. Aerial Image (shot from a plane at 1,500 feet).

2017 Sony World Photography Award entries

The Majestic Dance. © Satvik Bhatt, India, Entry, Open, Wildlife, 2017 Sony World Photography Awards

This picture was taken in the forest area of Jaipur, Rajasthan (India). Rajasthan has a huge population of the National Bird and they are found in most areas (both urban and rural). This picture was taken during rain season, in which it’s a common sight to see the Peacocks dancing.

2017 Sony World Photography Award entries

Equilibrium. © Jose? Mari?a Pe?rez, Argentina, Entry, Open, Enhanced, 2017 Sony World Photography Awards

Digital edition

2017 Sony World Photography Award entries

Politechnika Warszawska. © Lorenzo Linthout, Italy, Entry, Open, Architecture, 2017 Sony World Photography Awards

The Warsaw University of Technology (Polish: Politechnika Warszawska; literally, “Warsaw Polytechnic”) is one of the leading institutes of technology in Poland and one of the largest in Central Europe.

2017 Sony World Photography Award entries

Soar in the blue. © Zuorong Li, China, Entry, Open, Motion, 2017 Sony World Photography Awards

There was a diving practice, after that, the swimming coach was swimming in the pool, and I was standing in the 5m diving platform, waiting for the right moment, although the light was quiet dim, I still managed to get this shot.

2017 Sony World Photography Award entries

Disciplinant. © ?? ?, China, Entry, Open, Culture, 2017 Sony World Photography Awards

On 8.23.2016, I was traveling to Sertar County (a county of Sichuan Province, China), and visited the Serthar Buddhist Institute here, Lamaism’s piety and the grand scene shocked me. I have never before feel my heart be so pure. When I wanted to take a photo there was a Lamaism walking by – so I got this photo.

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Photokina 2016: Hands-on with Hasselblad X1D

25 Sep

Photokina 2016: Hands-on with Hasselblad X1D

The star of Hasselblad’s booth at Photokina is the X1D – a compact, mirrorless medium-format camera with a 50MP sensor. Announced earlier this year, the X1D has yet to to start shipping, and the Swedish company’s booth was thronged with photographers eager to get their hands on the new camera.

Photokina 2016: Hands-on with Hasselblad X1D

Weighing just 750g without a lens, one of the main selling points of the X1D is its small size and weight compared to traditional medium-format digital products. The X1D (and Fujifilm’s just-announced GFX 50S) dispenses with a conventional mirror box, which allows the camera to be slimmer, and much lighter than DSLRs with equivalent-sized sensors.

Photokina 2016: Hands-on with Hasselblad X1D

The X1D is beautifully designed, with relatively few external controls. It’s a bit strange to see a mid-range DSLR-style exposure mode dial on a $ 10,000 camera, but in use, it’s very convenient. A neat ‘pop up to use, pop down to lock’ design means that the dial can be kept flush with the camera’s top-plate until you need to change exposure mode. 

Photokina 2016: Hands-on with Hasselblad X1D

We’re seeing more and more cameras being designed with a smartphone style ‘app tile’ interface, and the X1D makes good use of its large, 920k-dot rear touch-screen. The screen is nice and responsive, but this kind of resolution is low compared to the screens found on (for example) the Nikon D5 and D500, which boast 2.3 million dots and look sharper.

Photokina 2016: Hands-on with Hasselblad X1D

The X1D’s relatively low-resolution rear screen is partially mitigated by its excellent 2.36-million dot electronic viewfinder. This view also gives you a good idea of just how slim the X1D is, despite its large sensor. The hotshoe is compatible with Nikon flashguns. 

Photokina 2016: Hands-on with Hasselblad X1D

Here’s that large 50MP sensor, in all its glory. Hasselblad is calling this new lens-mount ‘XCD’ and as well as a new range of XCD lenses, the company is also offering an H lens adapter, which extends support to Hasselblad’s existing H lens system with full autofocus operation.

Photokina 2016: Hands-on with Hasselblad X1D

The X1D is a luxurious, pricey piece of equipment but as we’d expect from Hasselblad, its standard of construction and finish is exemplary. We’re looking forward to testing a shipping sample as soon as one becomes available. 

Photokina 2016: Hands-on with Hasselblad X1D

Hasselblad is also showing off an upcoming lens. The XCD 30mm F3.5 offers the same field of view as a 24mm on full-frame, and can focus down to 0.4M. No pricing or availability information has yet been given. 

Photokina 2016: Hands-on with Hasselblad X1D

If there’s one thing Hasselblad likes to do, it’s make special limited editions. This is the 4116 edition of the X1D, in matte black. We actually prefer the way this one looks, compared to the more traditional two-tone finish but at $ 12,995 with a 45mm lens, it’s a bit rich for our blood.

Photokina 2016: Hands-on with Hasselblad X1D

It does look nice though…

Photokina 2016: Hands-on with Hasselblad X1D

As well as the X1D, Hasselblad is also showing off a concept camera – the 75MP V1D 4116 Concept. There’s no word on whether or not this concept will ever become a reality, but it’s certainly a very attractive mockup.

Photokina 2016: Hands-on with Hasselblad X1D

The V1D 4116 Concept is built around a (presumably hypothetical) 75MP square-format sensor, and like the classic Hasselblad SLRs of old, it features a modular design.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (


Top 5 Nik Collection Filters to Improve Your Landscape Photos

25 Sep

One of the best image editing programs available right now happens to be free. The Nik Collection by Google is a desktop photo editing software that was recently declared free of charge earlier this year. Today, the Nik Collection makes available over 55 filters that do everything from old camera and film simulation, to image sharpening, noise reduction, and basic retouching and correcting of photos. Of these many filters, there are 5 within the Color Efex Pro 4 toolset  that are particularly useful for landscape photos. This article will highlight these essential filters and why they are so valuable.

Nik Collection Color Efex Pro free photo editing software

Note that all tools and filters within the Nik Collection contain certain points that can be individually controlled to apply the filter effect as little, or as much, as you desire. You can also add the effects of several different filters, so be sure to play around with as many as possible to achieve the look you’re after.

#1 – Pro Contrast Filter

Have a photo that needs higher levels of contrast without sacrificing detail? The Nik Pro Contrast filter tackles this problem with three filter settings that you can tinker with.

  1. Correct Color Cast reduces any inherent color cast in an image, such as the orange hue the sunrise casts onto the water below.
  2. Correct Contrast offers general contrast adjustment.
  3. Dynamic Contrast delivers the most pop by boosting contrast in flat areas of the photo. The latter feature is also demonstrated in the Polarization After photo below.
Nik - Pro Contrast 1


Nik - Pro Contrast 2

After – with the Pro Contrast filter applied

Nik - Pro Contrast

#2 – Polarization Filter

For landscape photographers, the circular polarizer is a must-have glass filter that enhances blue skies and reduces water glare. It is often said that the effects of a polarizer can’t be replicated in post-production. But Color Efex Pro 4 offers a pretty impressive Polarization effect that can be applied to any photo, even if it was taken without a glass circular polarizer.

There are two Polarization filter settings that can be tweaked: Rotate, which simulates the effect of physically rotating the glass filter in front of your lens, and Strength, which controls how much of the filter effect is applied.

Nik - Polarizer 1


Nik - Polarizer 2

After – with Polarization and Pro Contrast filters applied.

Nik - Polarizer

#3 – Skylight Filter

This handy filter simulates a glass warming filter by removing any blue color cast and applying a warming effect to your photo. Control the strength of the filter to determine how much warmth is added.

Nik - Skylight 1


Nik - Skylight 2

After – with Skylight filter applied

Nik - Skylight

#4 – Graduated Neutral Density Filter

Similar to the glass circular polarizer, the graduated neutral density filter is a staple among landscape photographers as it helps lighten or darken just a portion of an image. Think about a landscape with perfectly balanced land and blown out sky. That is a job for the graduated neutral density filter.

There are five different settings to play with for this filter. Upper and Lower Tonality let you adjust the brightness of the top and bottom portions of the image, Vertical Shift controls the placement of the filter’s horizon, while Rotation adjusts the angle of the horizon filter. Finally, Blend helps integrate the filter effect in a more natural way.

Nik - ND Grad 1


Nik - ND Grad 2

After – with Graduated Neutral Density filter applied.

Nik - ND Grad

#5 – Reflector Efex

Nik - Reflector FX 1


The reflector is a favorite photographer’s tool that has also been simulated by a Color Efex Pro 4 filter. Use this filter to control light in your image and open up shadows.

The Method setting allows you to choose from Gold (warm), Soft Gold (milder warm), and Silver (neutral) lighting colors. Light Intensity controls the amount of reflector light added, Light Falloff controls the abruptness of the lighting effect falloff, while Position controls where the falloff starts. Finally, Source Direction lets you choose where the reflector effect begins.

Nik - Reflector FX 2

After – with Reflector Efex Soft Gold filter applied.

Nik - Reflector FX

Over to you

There you have it! Five handy filters within the Nik Collection’s Color Efex Pro. It’s again worth noting that there are many more filters within the software, and each can add as subtle or dramatic an effect as you desire. At the very least, this photo editing software is available for free, so it’s worth trying out if you haven’t already.

What are your most used filters within the Nik Collection for your landscape photos? Let me know in the comments below.

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Photokina 2016: 360 and VR Capture Roundup Video

25 Sep

In hall nine, which encompasses Photokina 2016’s ‘Futurezone,’ there are dozens of 360 and VR capture devices on display for attendees to ogle. There’s also plenty of people wearing VR headsets and appearing vaguely zombified to ogle, as well. So whether you think VR and 360 capture represent a future that’s dazzlingly bright or frighteningly dim, companies all over the world are jumping in with their own capture solutions. Heck, even Nikon’s joining the VR race. 

Thankfully, DPReview contributor Lars Rehm has been making the rounds and has selected a handful of the most interesting devices on display in the Futurezone. Check them out in our roundup video.

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Unnatural Wonders: Magical Surrealist Artwork Worthy of Dalí & Escher

25 Sep

[ By WebUrbanist in Art & Drawing & Digital. ]


In the same magic-realist vein as artistic giants like Salvador Dalí, M.C. Escher and Renê Margritte, Rob Gonsalves crafts elaborate and interconnected scenes that shift subtly to form remarkable illusions of dizzying depth and scale.


The 55-year-old Canadian of Portuguese descent takes settings that look ordinary at first glance, then layers and intersects them to form fantastic fictional realities. Many of his pieces tackle overlap, blurring the boundaries of natural and built environments, man-made and organic phenomena.


Trees falling from the tree on a street form a canopy for a second, semi-secret world below. Books slowly turn into steps as they make their way around a domed library. Bricks become rooftops as children walk along a path. Skyscrapers morph into trees, blending nature and cities.


After college, Gonsalves worked as an architect and painted trompe-l’œil murals and theater sets on the side. As the popularity of his artistic works grew, he turned to painting as a profession.



“Although Gonsalves’ work is often categorized as surrealistic, it differs because the images are deliberately planned and result from conscious thought. Ideas are largely generated by the external world and involve recognizable human activities, using carefully planned illusionist devices. Gonsalves injects a sense of magic into realistic scenes. As a result, the term “Magic Realism” describes his work accurately. His work is an attempt to represent human beings’ desire to believe the impossible, to be open to possibility.”

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Pushing your Composition to the Edge

25 Sep

The world is filled with photographs. I did a bit of research and found the following statistic. Researchers estimate that the average individual is now exposed to approximately 250 different images per day. It’s no secret that we are now inundated with visual stimulus. Everyone owns a camera and everyone is shooting images. In 1857 Francis Frith took photographs of the pyramids and the Sphinx. The general public was mesmerized by images of a faraway and exotic location. Today, if I search “Images of the Pyramids” I get 7 million results; everyone knows what the pyramids look like. This whole phenomenon translates into a challenge for photographers. How do you shoot something different and unique when the world uploads 1.8 billion photographs a day?

Image 7

There is no easy answer. I don’t know how many times I have heard someone say, “That’s a beautiful image of the shoreline. You are a really great photographer but take a look at this. I shot the same thing last year on vacation.” Some photographers may become frustrated with this occurrence, but perhaps we should look upon this as a challenge. What can you do to make your photographs more unique?

Live on the edge – of composition

We all want people to view our images and say, “That’s amazing! I’ve never seen that before!” It’s going to be tough but it’s worth a try. It’s time to push your composition skills to their limits. Consider using techniques or viewpoints that are a little unconventional. Try pushing the main subject of your composition towards the edge of your frame. Let’s consider this photograph of a kayaker.

Image 1

In this version, the image is composed using the rule of thirds. The scene has a pretty unique atmosphere as the sun struggles to break through the morning mist. Shouldn’t that be enough to make the viewer stop and take notice? It’s a beautiful image and it was a fantastic morning. I know people will love this image. But what if it was recomposed to push the kayaker to the edge of the frame? Does this make the image even more appealing? Consider the difference.

Image 2

This second image is cropped way down to illustrate a point. What did you look at first? Hopefully, your answer is the red light on the left of the frame and then your eye moved over the image to discover the kayaker. This technique is called “the delay” which means that the viewer is delayed by other details before focusing on the main subject. This means that the viewer notices the details in a much slower and more deliberate manner. You might even create the emotion of surprise when your viewer discovers the full extent of your composition. That’s a good thing. Creating emotions within the viewer ensures they will remember your image.

When the rule of thirds is not the best choice

Let’s take a look at another image. In this case the main subject, the flower bud, has been pushed right to the edge of the frame.

Image 3 Image 4

By placing the main subject closer to the edge of the frame you can create more tension within your image (above left). The image is certainly more dynamic and interesting than this conventional version which focuses on placing the flower bud along the rule of thirds (above right).

In this shot of the boxer and his trainer I was disappointed and considered it a failure because it didn’t follow any of the rules of composition. The autofocus locked onto the training gloves, not the boxer. But after consultation with the magazine editor, he decided to use it because the angle was so unique. The composition told the story in a different way. Notice the trainer’s nose is just in view in the top corner. The editor loved that element and it sealed his choice.

Image 5

Sometimes you will be surprised by what works.

Finding the right balance

Of course, there are times when this technique doesn’t work and the resulting image just feels unbalanced and awkward. This image of a decaying pier in Lake Huron is a good example of when placing the subject close to the edge unbalances the shot.

Image 6

There’s just too much visual weight placed on the right side of the frame and the image is not successful. But that’s okay because at least something was learned about the importance of creating visual balance when pushing the subject matter to the very edge of the frame. Try to balance the weight of the object along the edge with the visual weight of the rest of the space.


Image 9

However, you choose to compose your images the challenge will always be to create something unique that stands out from the crowd. The reality is the crowd of images is only going to get bigger.

Are you up to the challenge? Are you willing to continue experimenting with the methods you use for composing your images? I say push things a little further each time you take a photograph and experiment with how you can use the edge of the image to create interest in your work.

Please share your compose on the edge images and thoughts in the comments below.

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