Monthly Archives: February 2015

Infegy Releases Report of “The World’s 50 Most Popular Brands” Based on Analysis of Billions of Online Conversations


Kansas City, MO  – Infegy, a provider of social media intelligence technology for marketing and research professionals, today released a report of “The World’s 50 Most Popular Brands of 2014.” The year-over-year report is based on data compiled through Infegy’s flagship product, Infegy Atlas, a next-generation analytics platform leveraging advanced algorithms to deliver brand and consumer insights in easily digestible stories and headlines.

The fully interactive report analyzed more than 800 brands and drew on billions of online conversations from 2014 and Infegy Atlas’ powerful analysis to determine:

  • The brands the people talk about most
  • Overall positivity and negativity surrounding each brand
  • Levels of positive purchase intent
  • The topics people reference most when talking about brands
  • Rankings based on several metrics including volume and sentiment

A umber of newcomers cracked the top 50, most notably Flappy Bird. Flappy Bird was the only game to hit the list, even though a number of other popular games, including the widely successful Clash of Clans, are tracked. FitBit saw the highest purchase intent at 36 percent, highlighting the emerging trend of wearable tech and how important fitness integration is for these devices.

Google claimed the top spot for the second year in a row thanks to volume of conversations, positive sentiment and overall passion for the brand. No. 6 Disney garnered the most positive brand sentiment, with an overwhelming 86 percent positive conversations. At No. 31 on the list, CNN experienced the most negative brand sentiment, with 52 percent negative, 41 percent positive, and 7 percent mixed feelings.

Though No. 4 Apple’s chatter peaked in September and October, coinciding with the launch of the iPhone 6, total conversations were down 32 percent compared to 2013. Of all brands, Chevrolet saw the biggest change in ranking, dropping 13 spots to No.  46, while Chipotle experienced the biggest increase, moving up 10 places to No. 30.

“As the popularity of online and social brands gains momentum, this report shows how the world is changing and how a new generation is interacting with and responding to brands,” said Justin Graves, CEO and founder of Infegy. “Marketers will need to make adjustments to their campaigns and initiatives in order to strategically reach consumers in a positive and engaging manner.”

To view the report and to see complete details on each of the 50 ranked brands, including gender, sentiment, purchase intent and trends, visit:


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5 Tax-Saving Strategies To Help Your Family This Tax Season

Overlooked Deductions May Cost You Thousands

Millions of Americans face a challenge in meeting their budgets every month – not just financially, but also in their time budgets, says investment advisor Reid Abedeen.

“Knowledge is power and time is often money, but what if you don’t have the time to empower yourself with knowledge? For many households, that often means losing out on thousands of dollars through tax deductions,” says Abedeen, a partner at Safeguard Investment Advisory Group, LLC (

“As a family man myself, I understand what it means to work hard to provide the best possible for my wife and children. Had I not worked in the financial sector for almost two decades, I might not have understood how to best troubleshoot my tax return, I sympathize.”

Abedeen offers the following strategies that may be relevant for your family this tax season.

•  Take tax deductions for capital loss. If your capital losses exceed your capital gains, the excess can be deducted on your tax return and used to reduce other income, such as wages, up to an annual limit of $3,000, or $1,500 if you are married filing separately. However, you may deduct capital losses only on investment property, not on property held for personal use.

•  Fund your retirement to the max. You can contribute up to $5,500 to an IRA in tax-year 2014, or $6,500 if you are age 50 or older. Workers in the 25 percent tax bracket who contributed $5,500 to an IRA would save $1,375 on their 2014 tax bills. You’ll want to check your eligibility and understand the deadline for the 2014 deduction. If you make a deposit between Jan. 1 and April 15, you need to tell the financial institution which year the contribution is for.

•  Advisory fees are tax-deductible.  Don’t feel like spending money to save and make money? There’s a workaround. Before closing the door on the possibility, inquire with a financial expert. Most are happy to give a free initial consultation, and you don’t have to be a millionaire to make it worth your while. 

•  Gift assets to children. You don’t even have to file a gift tax return on an asset that’s valued less than $12,000, which is not taxable. If the fair market value of the gifted asset is more than $12,000 per person per year, but less than $1 million, there is the requirement of filing a gift tax return, but you won’t be taxed. The gift still is not income taxable to the recipient.  

•  Deduct a home-based office when used for your employer. If space in your home is used exclusively and regularly for a trade, you can count that as a deductible. Calculate the square footage of your home office and divide the area of your office by the area of your house. If the percentage is 14 percent, for example, that represents the percentage of your total home expenses that can be allocated toward the home office deduction. For further questions, consult a professional.

“You’ll want to be very vigilant regarding these details of these deductions,” Abedeen says. “For any questions, I seriously recommend consulting a professional.”

About Reid Abedeen

Reid Abedeen is a partner at Safeguard Investment Advisory Group, LLC ( As an investment advisor, Abedeen has helped retirees for nearly two decades with issues such as insurance, long-term care planning, financial services, asset protection and many other areas. He holds California Life-Only and Accident and Health licenses (#0C78700), and holds a Series 65 license, and is registered through the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Abedeen is a family man who owes much of his fulfillment in life to his wife, Smyrna, and his three children, Yusef, Leena and Adam.


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Is Twitter Going To Beat Linkedin At Becoming A Recruitment Powerhouse?


Twitter TWTR +0.72% remains my favourite social network by far. Working out why I like it is sometimes hard, and there are times when it frustrates me beyond belief, but generally I live on it more than almost any other online service. What’s interesting to me, as someone who ranks Linkedin as his least favourite network, is that Twitter seems keen to position itself as a resource for people searching for jobs.

If you’ve ever looked for a job, you’ll probably have tried everything. When I went from a full-time job, to freelance journalism I put hours into my Linkedin profile, and as far as I can tell, it did very little for me. Perhaps you need to be more pushy, and ask people for work more directly. But I’m British, and that’s not how we do things.

Perhaps Twitter has heard this very British problem, because it is just about to launch its first UK job fair. It’s got a live Q&A session with the winner of The Apprentice UK – which I think is of dubious value, even if the man in question now runs a recruitment service – but the UK National Careers Service will also be involved.
According to a Twitter survey, 77 per cent of polled UK Twitter users think the service could help them find a job. That’s a fairly high number, and if so it could prove to be hard news for Linkedin, which has really billed itself as being a place for finding work. In this UK push, Twitter is working with companies like GlaxoSmithKline, Deloitte and Nestle to connect people with jobs. There’s also the inevitable hashtag #YourJob too.

Interestingly, I did actually get work offers through Twitter. Within a month of me announcing my move into freelance writing I had made contact with people who needed some content. These were small jobs, but they were a big help in easing the transition from full-time to freelancing. And because I have a lot of Twitter followers who work in the same industry as me I was able to reach a lot of people very quickly and say “I’ve left my job and I’m available for work”.

The more I think about it too, the more I realise that actually, Twitter is kind of a natural way to find out about work. Even though I’m no longer looking for full-time employment, I still follow the service that aggregates job adverts, and many publishers who I might be interested in working for. That means I get to see new positions pretty quickly, without the need to search recruitment companies or the websites of those employers directly.

There’s also a handy anonymity to things that Linkedin doesn’t really offer. I always remember an old boss telling me you could always tell if someone was looking to move on by their Linkedin activity. That’s not ideal if you’re trying to secure a new position before quitting. I also like the fact that you can build a list in Twitter. Once you’ve got the job, you can ditch it and not have to unfollow dozens of individual accounts.


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Ruckusmaker day

gold-diggerby Seth

About to be celebrated all over the world for the first time, tomorrow is annual Ruckusmaker Day.

Tomorrow would have been Steve Jobs’ 60th birthday. Steve’s contribution wasn’t invention. Technology breakthroughs didn’t came out of his workbench the way they did from Land or Tesla. Instead, his contribution was to have a point of view. To see something and say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. To not only have a point of view, but to change it when the times demanded.

Most of all, to express that point of view, to act on it, to live with it.

There’s a lot to admire about the common-sense advice, “If you don’t have anything worth saying, don’t say anything.”

On the other hand, one reason we often find ourselves with nothing much to say is that we’ve already decided that it’s safer and easier to say nothing.

If you’ve fallen into that trap, then committing to having a point of view and scheduling a time and place to say something is almost certainly going to improve your thinking, your attitude and your trajectory.

A daily blog is one way to achieve this. Not spouting an opinion or retweeting the click of the day. Instead, outlining what you believe and explaining why.

Commit to articulating your point of view on one relevant issue, one news story, one personnel issue. Every day. Online or off, doesn’t matter. Share your taste and your perspective with someone who needs to hear it.

Speak up. Not just tomorrow, but every day.

A worthwhile habit.


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Port of Oakland shuts down as union skips work, federal officials intervene


Ken James / Bloomberg News
Containers at the Port of Oakland, with downtown Oakland in the background. The Port of Oakland shut down operations Thursday as longshore workers attended a union meeting instead of showing up to work amid a protracted labor dispute with shippers.

The Port of Oakland shut down operations Thursday as longshore workers attended a union meeting instead of showing up to work amid a protracted labor dispute with shippers.
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union, based in San Francisco, is holding its monthly meeting on Thursday during normal business hours, leading to the disruption in service, said the Port of Oakland. The union represents 13,600 workers in 29 ports along the West Coast.
The work stoppage will freeze the loading and unloading of containers on 12 vessels, said the port. Import and export activity will also stop.


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28 Retirement Pitfalls – and How to Avoid Them

young handsome man doubting...

By Christina Lavingia

Retirement planning can be incredibly tricky for two reasons: First, there are a wide and varying number of factors that affect your retirement planning, and second, no two people’s retirement needs are the exact same. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to realizing the visions of your golden years, and evenfinancial advisers and experts differ in their advice — so how should you approach this financial hurdle?

The right retirement plan is all about timing and opportunity. In nearly every way you could make a mistake — for example, saving too late — you can also make up ground by availing yourself of all resources at your disposal (say, your employer’s 401(k) matching program). With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of 28 major retirement pitfalls to avoid — and what to do if you end up taking some missteps.

1. Having No Retirement Plan

Starting with the basics here: Not beginning the retirement-planning process is one of the first and biggest mistakes you can make. Consider what you want your future to look like and how much money you can reliably set aside now; then find a deposit product that will get you there. Employers often offer 401(k) plansand pensions (though, for the latter, less so now). You can also open anindividual retirement account without an employer sponsoring the account. These products, which can offer greater returns and more diversification in investment than a traditional deposit account, are a great way to start your retirement savings.

2. Not Taking Your Employer’s Match

If your employer offers to match your 401(k) contributions to a certain percentage and you don’t opt in, you’re essentially leaving free money on the table. Make sure to contribute at least the amount your employer matches to your retirement accounts each month — the bonus is the incentive you’ll have to save more.

3. Incorrect Beneficiary Designations

In the event of your passing, you likely don’t want to leave a financial mess for your family by having your retirement plan beneficiaries and will in conflict. Make sure these designations match your intentions so dividing up your remaining assets will be as simple as possible.

4. High Retirement Account Fees

According to the Center for American Progress, the average worker will lose $70,000 from his 401(k) to fees. The promise of high yields might be tantalizing, but compare these account fees to ones attached to lower-yield options to determine the true value of your investment.

5. Not Checking Your Account’s Performance

Sitting on your laurels doesn’t bode well for a strong retirement. Do you know how well your investments performed last year? Or over the last five years? Unless retirement is imminent, long-term performance should dictate which funds you invest in. Don’t let years pass you by on low-return investments if other safe options yield better rates.

6. Relying on Social Security or a Pension

It’s no secret that the future of the Social Security system is in question. With the baby boomer generation cashing out, no one knows for certain whether the system will still exist by the time millennials retire — and if it does, what it will look like. Companies are freezing pensions en masse; 40 percent of Fortune 1000 companies already have, according to a Towers Watson study.

7. Cashing Out Your 401(k)s Between Jobs

According to PBS’ “Frontline,” 70 percent of workers in their 20s cash out their 401(k)s instead of rolling them over, while 55 percent of those in their 30s do that. That means you’re paying taxes and a 10 percent penalty repeatedly on your savings if you’re under 55.

8. Believing You Will Want to Keep Working

You might love your career and not be able to imagine life without a 9-to-5 gig. However, your ability to keep pace in the workplace will likely wane eventually. Circumstances change, your health might not keep up with you, and you’ll likely be ready to eventually take it easy and retire. Don’t skimp on your saving because you think you can work until you’re 90 and earn more than you do today.

9. Not Capitalizing on Your Tax Deferral

There are a number of tax advantages that apply when you’re saving for retirement. These are meant to be an incentive for saving, so take advantage of them by properly reducing your taxable income and letting these funds grow tax-deferred.

10. Transfer on Death and Payable on Death Designation Mistakes

A factor if you have a trust or estate plan, Fidelity recommends double-checking your “transfer on death” and “payable on death” designations to ensure they match your will, as these designations will affect who gets your retirement account assets when you pass away. “Transfer on death” registration overrides your will, according to Fidelity.

11. Cashing Out Your Pension

Your financial adviser might try to convince you to cash out your pension from a former employer. Unless you really need the money now, this is mostly in the interest of your adviser, who could make tens of thousands in the form of commission, according to Time. Consider the incalculable benefit of a stable check you can depend on before liquidating your pension and assuming you can perfectly plan it out to last.

12. Buying Too Much Company Stock

It’s unlikely that your employer is the next Enron — but you can’t rule out that possibility. Don’t own more than 10 percent of your investments in company stock.

13. Burning Through Your Savings

If you saved a lot for retirement, it might feel like the ultimate payoff to finally stop working and gain access to your funds. However, don’t let all that cash fool you into living the high life early on in retirement. Sure, the first years of retirement might be the best time to travel, do home projects and generally spend money on things you might no longer enjoy later on; however, moderation is key, as you have no idea how long you’ll need those funds to last you.

14. Incorrect Trusts

If your hope is to still have some money left over for your children or beneficiaries to inherit, then you’ll want to pay attention to your trusts. Every situation varies, but designating a trust as the beneficiary of a retirement account could be entirely useless if not drafted appropriately.

15. Retiring Too Early

Your retirement payouts are dictated by your age — if you retire early or retire late. Depending on your designated full retirement age, you could be receiving less benefits (or more, if you wait) each year.

16. Investing Too Conservatively

The Great Recession might have scared you from riskier investments, but if you’re decades from retirement, don’t be too conservative with your funds — especially if your options could give you high returns over a long period of time.

17. Investing Too Aggressively

Again, the theme here is moderation. You don’t want to miss out on the best returns you can get, but you also don’t want to open yourself up to too much risk, especially in the years leading up to retirement.

18. Borrowing From Your 401(k)

This isn’t always a terrible idea, especially if your other loan options come at a higher price; however, in general you’re going to want to avoid borrowing from your 401(k). It will likely set you back far longer than the amount of time it took you to save those funds in the first place, thanks to compounding interest.

19. Putting Your Money in Variable Annuities

In comparison to other mutual fund options, variable annuities can cost 50 to 100 percent more in fees and surrender charges, according to Furthermore, the gains on these accounts are taxed as normal income — not capital gains — upon withdrawal.

20. Starting Your Retirement Savings Too Late

Time is of the essence when it comes to retirement planning. Start even a decade later, and you’ll have to dramatically adjust your monthly contributions to start making up for lost time. Do yourself a favor and save less each paycheck for longer to head for a sizable retirement.

21. Saving Too Much Too Early

If you’re in your 20s and you’re putting north of 10 percent of your income toward retirement, you might want to slow down. Sure, you’re setting yourself up for a comfortable retirement if you start saving aggressively at a young age, but you also don’t want to be behind on your savings for more imminent investments, like a home. Make sure you’re saving an appropriate amount to still reach other goals with minimal debt.

22. Avoiding Stocks

Franklin Templeton found in a 2013 survey that 37 percent of long-term investors think they can avoid stocks altogether. However, you likely won’t see your retirement grow to where you’d like it to be by relying on bonds, certificates of deposit and traditional deposit accounts — especially at today’s rates.

23. Not Planning for Medical Expenses

The mind often outlives the body, and medical care doesn’t come cheap. With higher insurance costs the older we get, it’s important to factor in medical expenses when budgeting for retirement. Opening a health savings account can help ensure you are socking away a designated amount of money toward these costs.

24. Not Calculating How Long Your Retirement Will Be

There’s no way to know how long you’ll live, but it’s always better to err on the side of overplanning. The alternative is you’ll outlive your retirement funds.

25. Unrealistic Expectations for Retirement

Consider the true costs of planning for retirement and be honest: What kind of lifestyle do you want? Draft a budget that’s realistic and face the present reality of what you’ll have to sacrifice to get there.

26. Paying Off Debt Before Saving

When faced with the prospect of saving for the future or paying down debt, many struggle with deciding which takes precedence. However, because time is so crucial when saving for retirement – even if it’s a few decade off – it’s best to devise a strategy that allows you to pay down debt while still making some headway, however minor, toward retirement.

27. Prioritizing Your Child’s Education

It’s no doubt generous to save for a child’s education; however, you should consider the costs and benefits of you versus your child saddling that burden, especially if you’re behind on your retirement savings. There are a number of options your child can take advantage of to pay for part or all of college – and these options should be on the table. Ultimately, if you’re short on retirement savings, you’ll likely have fewer chances than your child will to cover expenses.

28. Carrying Debt With You

By its nature, retirement means transitioning to a fixed-income lifestyle. Carrying debt into retirement will be detrimental to your financial strength and eat away at your savings. Do your best to get all debt paid off before you stop working.


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Promo:  A story about a video startup – In San Francisco 

promoBy Kveto Hecko and Nina Heckova

Unfair bastards!   They gave me a “free” look at the first season (chapter, but it’s all done in character) and now I have to figure out how to get a hold of the next one.  Anyway, book one is available here:

It starts out with a hilarious pseudo-dump on the  L.A. film scene, which to a Northern California boy is music to my ears (we got Lucas and Dolby, meat).  Without going into a spoiler alert, let’s just say that a bunch of talented people get together and circumstances dictate that they get the hell out of dodge, and move to an area with a bit more potential: San Francisco, and simultaneously Silicon Valley.  The business opportunities and the interactions are  spot on, and relevant to the most ardent local.  Good stuff all around.

The tambour of the writing is funny and bright, I can almost hear the Bratislavian

roots of the writers delighting my ears with their accents through the pages.  There is a bit, OK a lot of autobiography in the story line but that is what makes it both endearing and credible.  There are moments that only an L.A. native could know about, and then it takes an Eastern European twist.   Brilliant!

The pages flew by, and of course they left it with a hook…


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10 Best Cities for Love This Valentine’s Day

Anyone who’s seen “Sleepless in Seattle” knows Valentine’s Day on top of the Empire State Building is easier said than done. But what if you’re looking for a date in Washington, DC or Atlanta? Turns out, these are great places to mingle.

To help you find love this Saturday, we looked at cities with more than 250,000 residents and identified those with the highest percentage of eligible bachelors and bachelorettes who could afford a night on the town. Specifically, we ranked the top 10 cities according to:

  • The percentage of singles.
  • The percentage of singles who moved to town in the past year.
  • The median disposable income among single residents (median income minus median rent).
  • The number of restaurants, movie theaters and other date spots per capita.

Based on that data, the 10 best cities for love are:

  1. Washington, DC
  2. Atlanta
  3. Boston
  4. St. Louis
  5. Denver
  6. Pittsburgh
  7. Minneapolis
  8. Nashville
  9. San Francisco
  10. Raleigh

Check out the graphic below for more details about the best places to find love this Valentine’s Day, or visit Zillow Research to learn more about our methodology.



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The hammer comes down on Brian Williams

by Rem Rieder

NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams has been suspended for six months without pay. The suspension comes just a week after he apologized for “misremembering” a military incident while reporting overseas. VPC


NBC News had to do something to stanch the bleeding.

The Brian Williams situation was getting worse and worse, with a steady media pounding for the embattled anchor and new suggestions of past misdeeds surfacing daily, some seemingly serious, some seemingly sketchy.

And so it did, suspending Williams without pay for six months Tuesday night. That’s quite a hit, and quite a humiliation for a journalist at the top of his profession.

But this may well not be the end of the story. In announcing Williams’ punishment, NBC News President Deborah Turness noted that the investigation of the anchor was ongoing. And she said, somewhat ominously, that the investigation was wider than the incident that triggered the scandal: Williams’ now-recanted story about being in a helicopter in Iraq that had been hit by enemy fire and forced down.

“While on Nightly News on Friday, January 30, 2015, Brian misrepresented events which occurred while he was covering the Iraq War in 2003,” Turness wrote in a statement. “It then became clear that on other occasions Brian had done the same while telling that story in other venues. This was wrong and completely inappropriate for someone in Brian’s position.”

Truer words have rarely been spoken than that last line.

And here’s where Williams’ future risks lie. She went on, “In addition, we have concerns about comments that occurred outside NBC News while Brian was talking about his experiences in the field.”

Questions have been raised about Williams talking about his experiences covering Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and while working in the Middle East. In the former, his accounts of seeing a body floating in the French Quarter, which saw little flooding, and encountering menacing gangs in his hotel have been challenged. In the latter, Williams changed his account from having rockets fly in front of his chopper to directly beneath it while covering Israel’s war with Hezbollah in 2006.

One of the discouraging things about this episode is the way people who know better, including a number of Williams’ fellow anchors, have minimized what Williams had done while heaping praise on his character. It’s one thing to be loyal to friends and colleagues. But an anchor simply can’t play fast and loose with the truth, whether on the newscast or on Letterman. An anchor’s primary job, by far, is communicating honestly with the public.

Tough, maybe, but as an anchor you simply are held to a very high standard.

I’m glad that NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke sees the situation more clearly. “By his actions, Brian has jeopardized the trust millions of Americans place in NBC News,” Burke said. “His actions are inexcusable and this suspension is severe and appropriate.”

Burke went on to say that Williams deserves a “second chance.” That’s an assessment about which reasonable people can disagree.

But the future depends on where the investigation headed by Richard Esposito, head of NBC’s investigative team, goes. Not to mention the digging by other news outlets that the chopper incident set in motion. If this was an isolated incident, that’s one thing. If there is a pattern, game over.


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The DoSomething lessons


by Seth –

DoSomething is a stellar success, a fast-growing non-profit that’s engaging with millions of young people around the world. Most organizations can learn something from their recent experiences. Basically, their customers changed. They changed how they consumed media, how they connected with each other and how they acted. If it is happening among teenagers now, it will happen to your audience soon.

Here’s some of what they chose to do:

  1. In a short-attention span, long-tail world, wide might be better than deep. In a typical year, DoSomething would launch 30 projects for their millions of members to take action on. Each project was refined and designed for maximum engagement. Last year, they rethought their process and launched SEVEN TIMES as many projects–more than 200. With the same staff.
  2. Being present in the moment is a great way to engage with people who live in the moment (teenagers). Because they can invent and launch a project in days instead of weeks or months, it’s way more likely that a project will be relevant. More important, they now live almost exclusively in texts, the most urgent permission medium of all.
  3. In a short-attention span world, sometimes you have to go deep, especially when it’s personal. DoSomething has invested a huge amount of effort and money into building a crisis hotline that works by SMS. The data they’ve compiled is stunning, but the lives they’ve saved tell the real story.
  4. Change shouldn’t be made for change’s sake. Change should happen because you care enough to make a difference.

Most organizations go too slow, study things too much and most of all, work to not matter too much, because mattering is a good way to get noticed and getting noticed might get you in trouble. The upside of working in a fast-changing world is that you regularly get a new chance to reshuffle the deck and start mattering. Here’s their new book on a workplace culture that embraces this new posture.

The work non-profits do is too important to be afraid of failure, and their work is too urgent to honor every sacred cow. The same thing might be said for the work each of us do.


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