MIS-LEADERS (continued) And then there was "Cheryl, the Insider"

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread


Does anyone have Information On Houston Utility Prepardness for Y2K?

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
Hello, I am new to this forum and I have a few questions. I live in Houston, TX and I curious about what the city and utilities are doing to prepare for Y2K. I sent a question to the power company, but of course I got no response. My brother in law works in television, and has attended several Y2K meetings with local officials. He said that HL&P (Houston Lighting and Power) had to be forced into even sending a representative! That's kind of scary. They had nothing to say on the issue, and refused to answer direct questions. I have been told that our wonderful Mayor, Lee Brown, decided to take a wait and see aproach to Y2K problems. I guess I'm asking if anyone has some information on this area. I don't know what to believe anymore. This city has a massive amount of refineries and chemical plants. If nothing or very little has been done to correct y2k problems in their control and monitoring systems, I'm leaving town. Can anyone help? Please!

-- George R. Bolin (rbolin01@hotmail.com), August 01, 1999



There's some information about Y2K efforts at Houston's chemical plants, and Houston's power company, on the following thread:


"Thank God, I live in Texas"

-- Linkmeister (link@librarian.edu), August 01, 1999.

<I have been told that our wonderful Mayor, Lee Brown, decided to take a wait and see aproach to Y2K problems.>

The problem actually started with Bob Lanier, our former mayor. Lee Brown inherited a lot of problems. I adore Bob Lanier. Even attended several social functions at his previous home on River Oaks Blvd. But he was way behind on Y2K issue.

HERE'S WHY I LEFT HOUSTON: I have some friends who are MAJOR independent oil-producers with holdings throughout the world. Last year I put some technical info together for oil industry to share with these friends - gratis. NO INTEREST WHATSOEVER. One of the guys has a private oil company $600MM and his brother went public last year with another company now listed on NASDAQ. They and their friends are doing "da nada" re Y2K. Fix on Failure.

Wish I could convey a Texas twang ... "Don't you worry. My boy and I saw something on 60 Minutes about that Year 2000 stuff. Bill Gates is going to take care of it."

Another friend who's president of an int'l independent oil company (he previously owned mucho rigs) ... "Don't tell me about the problems. Tell me how I can make money from this Year 2000 stuff."

Another friend who had a Houston-based oil equipment manufacturing plant ... when I sent him information and spoke with him ... "It's not my problem anymore. Last week I sold the company for $45 million cash to an Austrian."

Last time I spoke with these Houston friends was about 6 months ago. I've since sold my home and have moved to Oregon. [Used to live in Memorial.]

My "ex" sold his company for $25MM to a company listed on NYSE, which is comprised of about 12 companies acquired over past 6 years. It took me 6 months to convince him they had a problem - and he's an engineer! He then went on a personal campaign to alert the NYSE listed company that bought his. They laughed at him. He made sure he had his recommendations in writing. Then just gave up.

I was a lunch partner with guy heading Y2K for Shell. I played the dumb female role to get info. He told me that they couldn't test and remediate rigs unless they were shut down - too many safety hazards. "Of course we could shut down to test and remediate, and don't have to worry about safety risks. Only have to worry about money."

Now I've seen where he's quoted (he was president of trade organization) about embedded "chips" not being a big problem. He could safely talk about "chips" cause that is relatively accurate. Embedded systems are the problem. About 100-150 embedded systems on a rig, comprised of about 10,000 embedded "chips". All it takes is one stupid little chip - at a key point - to create havoc.

A friend who inspects Penzoil facilities told me most refineries aren't gonna make it. Pipelines are going to be another big problem.

Another friend who's daughter is in middle-management for an oil firm, forwarded me a note from the daughter. Apparently the oil company told management team that there will be problems and that employees should start making preparations. But, individual level of preparations was best left for them to decide. Company gave no guidance.

Last spring ('98) I met a guy who was plant manager of a large gas transmission plant in Beaumont. He oversaw the construction of the facility about 11 years previously. He was told by the CEO of a $10 million engineering firm that they contract with, that their facility had no Y2K problems. I gave him some technical information and a list of problem areas to look into. They ran some tests. Lo and behold. Y2K problems. CEO of engineering firm initially didn't believe him until they ran their own tests. Y2K problems. Plant manager called and thanked me for saving their company. [I'm not an engineer.] Took me to dinner as a "thank you".

At Embedded Systems & Process Control conference last spring ( '98), head of Y2K for a Pfizer research facility was sitting next to me. He had an IT background. He was there trying to learn about embedded systems.

I had dinner with head of Y2K for AMOCO. Nice guy. Same IT background. Told me embedded systems had been new to him. Took a long time to grasp. Still was learning. Lucky he had some electrical engineers who understood.

At same conference there were 2 people from City of Houston. Both with wastewater treatment. During a break I got together with these guys. According to them, at that point in time - they were the only department working on embedded systems issues - and, even then, had just started.

In March of this year ('99) Houston was looking for someone to oversee Y2K program for Houston infrastructure. I saw the job specifications.

For five years I developed customized software applications for my ex's company (Houston-based). He sold his company to someone listed on NYSE. I did same for them for 2 more years.

BTW: The company designed & manufactured some of those little black boxes that are on plant floors. The ones filled with embedded systems. Boxes that were soldered shut. His company had 85% of the automotive market. Medical market was growing rapidly.

Way back when ... As we transferred files from Lotus to the database, I questioned what a lot of these items were that were listed in the Bill of Materials.

Like "RTC" ... Real Time Clock. Cute little things in those little black plastic boxes of theirs. I have one, so I can show people what they look like.

Purchasing agent (delightful, hard-working lady with high-school degree and no technical experience), would order automatically off of index cards. Eventually did the same off of Bill of Material database.

As orders came in, she went into the back-room and dump the new order of RTC's into a cardboard box, along with what else was there. If one of the BIG black boxes were returned, for whatever reason - and not re-sold, they took it apart ... and put the old parts back into those cardboard boxes. What happened is you had a bunch of RTC's in one cardboard box. RTC's that were ordered over a 1-2 yr period.

This is how I understood just how bad this whole embedded system thing was.

My ex was a Rice graduate engineer. It took me 6 months to convince him about the problem at the company. Even though he sold the company, he was still on the board. When I explained he could run into personal liability ... he learned real fast. He went to the CEO of the NYSE company and explained their problem and where it might be in other companies they owned. They did nothing. Laughed at him. He's no longer on the board. Put warnings in writing to protect himself from liability. Sold most of his stock.

November '97 I met with the technology editor of TIME Magazine to explain the "embedded systems" problem. I wanted engineers & CEO's to understand where vulnerabilities were. All to no avail. When "embedded systems" then became more prevalent in media - he chose not to write anything anymore cause it was no longer a "scoop".

Two years ago I thought this problem could be solved. I don't anymore. I gave up "trying to educate and save the world". I'm tired of being laughed at. My energy is better spent elsewhere.

Probably the strongest emotion I have with this whole Y2K mess, is an overwhelming sense of sadness. I also feel anger, because we should NOT be at the point we are. We should be further ahead. If I was capable of understanding this in the Fall of '97, and knew where to find the technical information to help others ... why in the h*ll haven't those in key decision-making positions been able to??? Greed and ego is what I personally attribute this to.

You've probably already seen this article, "Y2K petrochemical warnings sounded Houston-area plants race computer-driven clock to prevent disaster". If not, read it and take it seriously. http://www.chron.com/content/story.html/page1/195526

Good luck to you.

-- Cheryl (Transplant@Oregon.com), August 01, 1999.

Thank you George for the question, so I could here such a wonderful responce from Cheryl!

-- Les (yoyo@tolate.com), August 01, 1999.

Dear Miz Cheryl

Dear lady, I to thank you. This is excately what I have been trying to tell the good people of this forum...And is why, I have said that it will be the embeded systems which do us in.

I became aware last year at about this time that the RTC, ROM,PROM problems had not been addressed as we had been told in start-up engineering, way back in the 70's and 80's...(and yes, the people who calibrated the systems as we brought them on line, where aware enough about them to bring up the subject in our weekly job conferences.

It was my lady, who first told me that they had not been addressed where she had heard it hadn't, I do not know. My first respondse! "Of course there isn't any problem! Honey we knew about this thing way back when! And we where told not to worry about it-that it would be fixed before 2000 came.....Her reply, was to go out and purchase a computer and make me get on the interne. In a short time, I found out that the systems had not been fixed!!! My first respondse was to get MAD! But in a day I began to become scared! On the third day I began to make preps for The End Of The World As We Know It....


-- Shakey (in_a_bunker@forty.feet), August 01, 1999.


Wonderful response!

I am in mid-management in an oil company in Houston (Memorial area) and on the Y2K team. We ain't gonna make it.

I kept hammering the City Council to post Y2K stuff on their web pages here, both for Harris County and the City of Houston. They finally did it in April, I think. Not much there, though. Traffic lights have been tested, and the water treatment system plans to stockpile extra chemicals and have full fuel tanks in case of blackouts. Whoopee. At least now I know that they will fail. Earlier I had some thoughts that they would be serious about the problem.

There have been few reports in the Houston Chronicle about Y2K, but the one Cheryl mentioned was classic.

I'm absolutely not going to be in Houston for rollover. This place is a giant firecracker, with a city government run by idiots.

-- Dog Gone (layinglow@rollover.now), August 01, 1999.

Thanks George for the thread. Thanks Cheryl for the information. I work in Houston and have been following this issue since July '98. Haven't seen any community preparedness,other than the Christian Coalition meeting I went to in Fort Bend Co. in Feb. There was a representative from Reliant Engery (HL&P/Entex). Got the basic "we're working on it" yada, yada, yada. The response my job received from HL&P when asking about electrical disruption was something like, "we can't guarantee eletricity now" I forget the actual wording. I guess what they're saying is that there's always a possibility of disruptions.

I understand that the 1st Baptist Church is having y2k meetings on Wednesdays. This is second hand information, so call and see. Some places for purchasing items for preparations are: *Amish Barn - Old Town Spring 281.651.9209 *Harvest Time Products - 281.807.6581 (Houston)

-- quietly (queitly@preparing.com), August 01, 1999.

How many times is it now that Cheryl Houton has reposted that same tired clip in response to a question about Texas? Needless to say, ata over a year old is pretty outdated. But thats just fine, the mantra of the day is prep prep prep.

-- Paul Davis (davisp1953@yahoo.com), August 02, 1999.

Paul Davis:

George Bolin said he was new to this forum. He asked, I guess I'm asking if anyone has some information on this area. I don't know what to believe anymore. This city has a massive amount of refineries and chemical plants.>

You may have read this before. He hadn't. Besides, all of my interaction with Houston independent oil-producers has been within past 6 months. Info on my friend who inspects Penzoil facilities is about 5 weeks old. Houston employment specs are 5 months old.

If there was a search option for this forum, I would have gladly just posted a link to my previous post for reference. But, as you know - there isn't.

-- Cheryl (Transplant@Oregon.com), August 02, 1999.

Cheryl, just ignore Paul. He thinks he is the only one who knows anything. He gets my vote for "most self-righteous" poster on the forum. In case you didn't know, he is one of the debunkers who wants to destroy this forum.

-- (sick@of.paul), August 02, 1999.

I just wanted to say thank you to Cheryl for posting the info. about Houston. It was really the kind of information that I was hoping for. I am really new here, but I have to say that by my observations this forum is way too political. Lighten Up! My wife is an elementary school teacher and her kids act better than some of you. If you do not have information to answer a persons questions, BUTT OUT! If you just want to say "The world is ending" to everything, please go crawl into your bomb shelter and unplug you PC. I'm sorry to sound like a bull, but if I wanted to hear nit picking comments, I'll go sit with a bunch of women at the retirement home. I am trying to find information to a very serious question. My family is depending on me because I am the only one who is computer literate. It's sad that so many people with simular interests can't get along better. I hope it changes for the better.

-- George Bolin (rbolin01@hotmail.com), August 02, 1999.

-- cpr (buytexas@swbell.net), August 31, 2000


"David Hall's credentials in Year 2000 embedded systems is tops"

Cheryl Kufta.(AKA: C.K. HOUSTON) "CK" is the one who left the list serve to "help her Church "Prepare" ". Same church had a world famous Expert in to discusss preparations: Gary North.

They even paid him.(fools). cpr

http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/roleigh_martin/new s9712.htm#BM971213B


Roleigh Martin, MA

marti124@tc.umn.edu (email)

Edina, MN 55436

http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/rolei gh_martin

Late Breaking Year 2000 News Items:

December 1997

This page covers late breaking news about the Year 2000 in reverse chronological order. The focus is mostly on news relevant to the Y2k threat to core infrastructures or to the economy. These items are not referred to in the longer written documents posted on other pages at this web site. The date following the title is the date of posting, not the date that the information was released at it's raw source.

NSP Utility Press Release - A Good News/Bad News Item

12/14/1997 (link fixed 2/8/1998): This press release was found on PRNewswire, dated 09:59 a.m. Dec 08, 1997 Eastern: "Northern States Power Awards Compuware And Alydaar Year 2000 Contract." Part of the text reads: "Minneapolis, MN has awarded Compuware (Nasdaq: CPWR) and Alydaar Software Corporation (NASDAQ: ALYD) a Year 2000 compliance contract. The contract calls for Compuware to project manage, provide automated testing tools and partner with Alydaar to remediate about 16 million lines of code.... NSP and its wholly owned utility subsidiary, Northern States Power Company-Wisconsin, operate generation, transmission and distribution facilities providing electricity to about 1.4 million customers in portions of Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota and Michigan, The two companies also distribute natural gas to more than 400,000 customers in Minnesota, Wisconsin , North Dakota and Michigan, and provide a variety of energy-related services throughout their service areas." See for the full press release text. (If the link is bad, go to All Year 2000 PR Newswire Press Releases and search for this release--it's there--then click on it.)

Commentary by Roleigh Martin: There is no mention in this press release about NSP's equipment and the embedded systems Y2k problem. Yet, the world famous Y2k analyst Capers Jones said: "Approximately October of 1997 is the last point at which year 2000 repairs can start with a reasonable probability of finishing before 2000." (See http://www.spr.com/html/year_2000_problem.htm.) I don't things look very promising with our own utility. Nothing was said about using any engineering consulting firm doing work with their embedded systems. A somewhat late start, I'd say! Yet, at least they've released this news which is better than starting even later than this. On the other hand, the news release quotes NSP's Year 2000 Project Director Dale Leatherman so this means that NSP has had something ongoing about the Year 2000 previously. To this date, I've learned nothing about NSP's depth of addressing their embedded systems Y2k equipment issues despite repeated mailings and phone inquiries. Consequently, I consider this press release a good news/bad news item.

Additional Embedded System Y2k Non-Compliant Examples posted to de Jager's Mail List

12/13/1997: After my initial post to de Jager's year2000- discuss list, I made a few more posts in response to a gentleman's plea for embedded system Y2k non-compliant examples. I am repeating these posts in this "Late News" section, however anything redudant to this web site, I am not reprinting. The below is taken from two postings to the mail list, both providing additional examples. Date: Wed, 10 Dec 1997 20:17:59 -0600 To: year2000-discuss@year2000.com From: Roleigh Martin Subject: Re: Embedded Systems: Diatribe and Rant: Corrected link More real life, meaningful examples of a non-Y2k embedded system --these are all core infrastructure embedded systems Y2k examples, and I really appreciate the URL that was posted in this thread -- the below are very good! http://dpweb1.dp.utexas.edu/dpyr2k/yr2k.stories.h tml#embedded Year 2000 Planning at UT Austin: Stories of y2k problems Embedded Systems Problems [snip] Power Plant Failure During a routine shutdown of a 500 MW power plant in England, a date roll-over test was conducted on the control system. 20 seconds after the date was changed, the plant shut down. The shutdown cause was traced to a "smart" flue stack temperature sensor. The sensor was programmed to integrate and average temperature over a specific time period to minimize fluctuation of the output temperature. The program in the firmware on the chip utilized a real-time clock that depended on the actual date to calculate the time differential. Conclusion, there are no programming standards in place that dictate how a programmer obtains time intervals. The result is a great deal of uncertainty as to how each program is written and how time related calculations have been implemented. Source of story: Source: Report on EPRI Year 2000 Embedded Systems Workshop September 10-11, 1997, Scottsdale, Arizona - -Gene Hackmann, Engineer, Luther Keeler, Senior Systems Analyst University of Texas at Austin, Utilities Department [snip] PLC fails at 1-1-99 There have been two verified examples of failure at 1-1-99 for software involved with the Oil and Gas/Transport/Nuclear Industries. One example was found in a PLC (details in BCS book 2 (Shell)) and one in a BR software-based system. There are several reasons for the failures: - add 1 to 99 before execution - 99 used to signify end of something - EPROMs have been destroyed during testing and memory has been overwritten. Source: email from AEA Technology project, David Spinks, Business Development Manager, UK [snip] Sewage Treatment Problem A US sewage treatment plant found that a couple of hundred of its valve control systems were going to release untreated sewage into a river in the year 2000. Source: email from Brian Watts, Chairman of the Australian Computer Society, Perth Branch's Year 2000 SIG ----------------------------------------------------- Date: Wed, 10 Dec 1997 18:44:26 -0600 To: year2000-discuss@year2000.com From: Roleigh Martin Subject: Re: Embedded Systems: Diatribe and Rant: example Here is another good example: |http://www.accsyst.com/writers/hecoy2k.htm |Description of Hawaiian Electric Company Y2K Findings - Energy Management System |To: rcowles-Y2K |Subject: Y2K Notes |From: "Ito, Wendell" |Date: Fri, 31 Oct 97 11:12:00 HST Again, many more examples are shown as links on my web site, or as stories in my 'Late News' at my web site. Rick Cowles has a great web site (which is the source of the above URL). Another good example from Computer Weekly (and linked to at my site page, bibliog.htm): http://www.computerweekly.co.uk/news/8_5_97/0 8598503239/H1.html The heart of embedded systems "Embedded systems turn up in everything from nuclear power stations to washing machines, and they can be vulnerable to the year 2000 date change. Julia Vowler reports on the disasters waiting to happen." [snip] "Yet another worm in the can is that type testing (checking one representative system bought from the same supplier, and assuming it reflects the compliance status of every other such system) may not hold water. Pharmaceutical company Smith Kline Beecham has found that out. "It bought two machines for monitoring and recording the performance of drug production," says Guenier. "When they tested one, it handled January 2000 very well, and they were very happy. But when they tested the other - same machine, identical chips - it didn't." The scary explanation for the anomaly, when the firm checked serial numbers with the manufacturer, was that the chips had come from different makers, one of whom had made them year 2000 compliant, while the other hadn't. Documentation down to this level of detail is often not specified in the world of embedded systems. And these were machines, notes Guenier, that had been made last year. " More examples...straight from a vendor who acknowledges some of their old equipment is non-y2k compliant http://www.yokogawa.co.jp:80/Information/Solution/i nfo-e.html Yokogawa Electric Corporation, March 1997 Yokogawa's Year 2000 Solution to Customers Another real life, meaningful example of a non-Y2k embedded system: >From the web page, http://www.accsyst.com/writers/embedded.htm "As an example of the level of effort required to test embedded logic in a power plant environment, consider this real life Y2K pilot by the Electrical Research Association (ERA) of Great Britain. The boiler control of a National Power (UK) fossil station was reviewed for Y2K impact. This review was limited to inventory, risk assessment, and problem identification. All the dependencies were analyzed, both business and system interactions. SCADA interfaces were considered, as well. It took a team of 5 people three months just to complete the analysis on this single system. This did not include repairs. Scale 1 this to the entire plant. This is what you're up against."

Dave Hall's Reply to The Below Example

12/13/1997: In response to my "great embedded systems failure" posting below, Dave Hall, moderator of the Society for Information Management Y2k Core Infrastructure Topic, made this reply. He is right and I refer readers to the earlier link I made to the embedded systems troubleshooting document put out by GM. In that document, it details the numerous tests that need to be made on each suspect embedded systems device. Date: Thu, 11 Dec 1997 11:07:05 -0600 From: "David C. Hall" Reply-To: dhall@enteract.com To: year2000-discuss@year2000.com Subject: Re: Embedded Systems: Diatribe and Rant: example Not to cause any more consternation, but this is a fine example of why we need to cycle test embedded systems, not just depend upon one test. A couple of people have posted to the SIM Web site (www.year2000.unt.edu, topic 11 page) that they have found a need to do approximately 30 or more tests on EACH system to ensure all logic paths have been checked out. This should not come as a big surprise. Embedded systems are the equivalent of mainframe systems. How any regression tests do you have to do on a mainframe program to ensure all logic paths have been checked out? Same thing with embedded systems. This underscores the rant that we must get busy doing SOMETHING if we are to mitigate the embedded systems disaster looming. Don't worry that you can't possibly fix everything, just fix the critical systems. Dave Hall Opinions are my own and not those of my employer dhall@enteract.com

The Full Posting of a Great Embedded Systems Failure, Originally Made on Year2000-Discuss Mail List and Excerpted on Gary North's Non-Compliant Links Page

12/11/1997, updated 2/8/1998: The below is a posting I made on Peter de Jager's mail list, year2000-discuss@year2000.com, in response to a plea for real-life, meaningful embedded systems Y2k non-compliant examples. Gary North reprinted part of this posting in his link page, http://www.garynorth.com/y2k/detail_.cfm/868.

The thread's title was the result of a great posting by David Hall and the original posting is reprinted at Gary North's web site. I urge everyone to read this posting. David Hall's credentials in Year 2000 embedded systems is tops and his biography is available in the open-to-the-public area at Silicon Investors thanks to Cheryl Kufta.

(If anyone is interested in joining this moderated- list, here is some information about the list. It costs $50 a year to join the list- -the fee pays for the full-time employee fully dedicated to moderating the list. About 50+ messages a day are generated by the list. If you still think you would like to participate in their 30 day trial--no cost--period send an e-mail to amy@year2000.com with subject ***TRIAL*** . You'll receive more information about the mail list in their reply to your email.)

Last, the original posting used the phrase "grid-wide failure." The engineer who sent me the example has sinced asked to reword the phrase to "a portion of the grid." The change has been made inline to the original text below. Date: Tue, 09 Dec 1997 21:58:22 -0600 To: year2000-discuss@year2000.com From: Roleigh Martin
As one can tell from the above posting, somebody deep inside the utility industry relayed the above information to me. If you are connected inside a core-infrastructure industry, please mail or email me good examples. I will keep confidential identifying information that will directly or indirectly reveal the name of your company or your identity upon request or upon my own judgement. I want to avoid entanglements with lawyers and do not see the point of detailing exact company names unless the information is already publicly known through a source other than through me or my web site. To use U.S. mail, contact me by email for my mail address.

The World's Best Utility Y2k Web Site with Great Emphasis on the Embedded Systems Threat

12/07/1997: The Year 2000 Paul Revere Community Alert Campaign on the Y2k Threat to Core Infrastructures web site is now reviewing and linking to noteworthy English-language Utility web sites that show enough of their Y2k plans to reveal that they are aware of the embedded systems threat. For any critic of this web site, if you wondered why utilities do not publicly seem to be worried about embedded systems, and if you thought it was because I--as an outsider--was making more of deal about it than need be--then why is this utility taking the embedded systems threat as seriously as it's taken at this web site?

A Y2k Embedded System Example Where If Not Found, a Terrible Explosion Could Have Occurred

12/02/1997: A recent and dramatic Y2k embedded system example was brought to the attention of the readers of the St. Louis Post Dispatch on 11/19/1997 in a column by Virginia Hick that was only available on the web for a short time. The article writes of an interview with Peter de Jager who was speaking locally on Y2k issues. Hick writes: "De Jager talked recently with an executive of a company that makes a volatile gas -- he would not identify the company more specifically -- who told de Jager how his plant discovered the seriousness of faulty embedded chips. The plant found a chip that failed when the date was moved forward. When the chip failed, it shut off a valve that would have shut down the cooling system. A cooling system shutdown, the executive said, would have caused an explosion. 'That was great news,' de Jager said. 'Because they checked - there will be no explosion. They're replacing the chips.' De Jager worries about the companies that are not checking."

Last Updated 2/08/1998 6:57 PM

Return to Winter 1997/1998 Late News Index

-- cpr (buytexas@swbell.net), August 31, 2000.

Gee, that's enlightening Creep! I take it these are your friends from the asylum?

-- (what@a.retard), August 31, 2000.

DELETE THIS SH##!!! Already. WTH is it anyway? Cpr's porn site?

-- (buytexasBS@moreBS.crap), August 31, 2000.


-- cpr (buytexas@swbell.net), August 31, 2000.

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