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Ghost in the Shell – Review

Written by Rano Iskandar on . Posted in movies, Social News

 

 

Ghost in the shell. I’ve never seen the anime or even read the graphic novel to be honest. So my expectations were never that high to begin with. However, when I listened to those who are familiar with the anime (Ghost in the Shell), most of them were underwhelmed with the movie adaptation.

The obvious hoo-ha about the anime is the casting of Scarlett Johansson as the lead, Major. as many labelled the movie as being whitewashed. Social media were getting on the studio’s faces as they rallied against the idea of Scarlett playing the cyborg Major. For me, it’s an okay move and it didn’t affect my judgment. Furthermore, Scarlett is one of my favourite actor since Lost in Translation.

Now what do I think about the overall movie experience? I have to say this is one tricky anime to adapt to the big screen. I was impressed with some of the action sequences but I wasn’t overwhelmed. Let’s just say that the producers were playing it safe to begin with and there was nothing new or spectacular that I will remember about Ghost in the Shell. Yea, there wasn’t any ground breaking scenes that will make you go “awwwww…” I was only impressed to an extent and more drawn to the visuals than anything else.

There were definitely some plot holes and the exposition could have been tighter and well explained. There were some unnecessary scenes which didn’t really add anything to the movie. Scarlett was suited for the role if you ask me but she wasn’t good enough to save the show to my expectations.

If I were to say entertaining, yes. If I were to say, wasteful, yes and no. This is a good popcorn movie with plentiful of potential. The audience are getting smarter and more demanding. So I hope future producers will think twice if they were to do a sci-fi movie and such. Even more demanding if it’s based on the popular anime or graphic novel.

I doubt Ghost in the Shell will get a sequel after the flop in the opening weekend. The movie costs more than USD 200 million dollars due to high production cost and delays. The opening only made less than USD 20 million in the US which is off their expected target and so far only USD 60 million was earned worldwide and I believe it won’t even make USD 200 million worldwide.

Having said all the woes they are facing especially by Paramount, I still enjoyed Ghost in the Shell.

Verdict: 7/10.

A Hyundai or an Hermès?

Written by Rano Iskandar on . Posted in travel, lifestyle, Social News

 


Awang Aji Putih, Head of Asia Sales of Royal Brunei Airlines and Mr. Aldrin Arumugam, General Manager of Singapore Airlines doing the honours for the 4 lucky winners
 

A pre-selection for 4 lucky winners were held at Pan Bright Travel Service, Bandar Seri Begawan branch office earlier this week.

One of the 4 winners will have a choice of driving away either a Hyundai ‘Accent’ car OR bring home an exclusive Hermès ‘Birkin’ bag at the Grand Draw which will be held on the 07 April 2017. The other 3 prizes are return economy class ticket from Brunei to London & Melbourne, courtesy of Royal Brunei Airlines and a return ticket to Tokyo, courtesy of Singapore Airlines.

Pan Bright Travel Service General Manager, Mr. Johnnie Cheong said, “We would like to wish the 4 lucky winners all the best in the Grand Draw on Friday, 7th April. This is the 3rd year that we have organized this lucky draw promotion. We also take this opportunity to thank all of our valued customers for their continuous support.”

The 4 lucky coupons were selected by Awang Aji Putih, Head of Asia Sales of Royal Brunei Airlines and Mr. Aldrin Arumugam, General Manager of Singapore Airlines. Members of the media and the management of Pan Bright Travel were also present to witness the pre-selection draw.

This lucky draw promotion ran from 01 September 2016 to the 31 March 2017.

Mattias Ekström wins World RX season opener

Written by Rano Iskandar on . Posted in Audi Sports, automative, Social News

 


Mattias Ekström of Audi and EKS won the season opener at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya of the 2017 FIA World Rallycross Championship
 

The 2017 FIA World Rallycross Championship could not have been off to a better start from Audi and EKS’s point of view. The season opener at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya saw Mattias Ekström triumph. In the final, the reigning world champion relegated Timo Scheider (D) and Andreas Bakkerud (N) to positions two and three. This victory immediately puts Ekström back at top of the drivers’ standings. In the teams’ classification, team world champions EKS are in the top spot tied on points with Team PSRX Volkswagen Sweden.

The start to the season’s first race weekend had ups and downs in store for Ekström and his teammates, Toomas Heikkinen (FIN) and Reinis Nitišs (LV). “Saturday was incredibly difficult,” says Ekström. “The weather situation kept changing – sun, rain, sun, rain … In rallycross with its many single races, that’s extremely complicated – at one time you have an advantage and others a disadvantage.” Ekström caught a rain shower in his second race and at the end of day one was only in position eleven of the overall classification. Heikkinen had better luck. The Finn did the best job of coping with the changeable conditions and was leading after day one.

On Sunday, the prerequisites changed. In bright sunshine and on a dry track, Ekström was able to fully use the strengths of his 560-HP Audi S1 EKS RX quattro and at the end of the four qualifying sessions was trailing Timo Scheider in second place. For the semi-finals of the twelve best drivers, Heikkinen (P7) and Nitišs (P10) qualified as well. However, both EKS campaigners were eliminated in the penultimate session. Ekström on the other hand dominated the action, took the top spot after having started from pole position and in the final prevailed with a lights-to-flag victory as well. “All in all, it was a terrific weekend,” says Ekström. “I won at Barcelona in 2016, and now I did it again. My whole team did a fantastic job and we scored important points for both classifications.”

EKS will be traveling from Barcelona some 1,000 kilometers to Montalegre in Portugal to prepare for round 2 of the World Rallycross Championship on April 21–23. Ekström still has a score to settle with the shortest track on the calendar. Last year, following a collision in the semi-final, the 38-year-old had to bury his hopes for victory early.

2017 FIA World RX – round 1, Barcelona – results of final

1 Mattias Ekström (S) 4m 32.260s
2 Timo Scheider (D) +0.362s
3 Andreas Bakkerud (N) +1.868s
4 Petter Solberg (N) +2.625s
5 Timmy Hansen (S) +3.251s
6 Johan Kristoffersson (S) +3.976s

Drivers’ standings, 2017 FIA World RX (after 1 of 12 rounds)

1 Mattias Ekström (S) 29 points
2 Timo Scheider (D) 26 points
3 Andreas Bakkerud (N) 22 points
4 Johan Kristoffersson (S) 21 points
5 Petter Solberg (N) 19 points
6 Timmy Hansen (S) 17 points

National Savings Day 2017 roadshow

Written by Rano Iskandar on . Posted in education, Social News

Press release: Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam (AMBD) in collaboration with the Ministry of Education (MOE), Ministry of Religious Affairs (MORA), Radio Television Brunei (RTB), the Employee Trust Fund (TAP), as well as related agencies and financial institutions, held its first National Savings Day 2017 roadshow at Chung Hwa Middle School, Bandar Seri Begawan on Tuesday, 7 Rejab 1438 corresponding to 4 April 2017.

The Guest of Honour for the event was Yang Berhormat Awang Ong Tiong Oh, Member of the Legislative Council who is also the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Chung Hwa Middle School. Also present during at the roadshow were senior officers from AMBD, as well as senior officers from Ministry of Education, Ministry of Religious Affairs, Brunei and Muara District Office, and Chung Hwa Middle School.

With the theme “Financially Literate Generation”, the roadshow is hoped to increase awareness of the importance of savings, financial independence and to make individuals and households, in particular students, to be more financially-savvy in the future. This is in line with AMBD’s efforts to develop a financially literate generation and also Brunei Vision 2035’s objectives towards achieving a dynamic and sustainable economy, as well as highly-skilled population.

100 students from secondary schools in the Brunei-Muara District were invited to participate in interactive financial-related games and activities organized by AMBD, TAP, Baiduri Bank, Junior Achievement and Great Eastern. The games and activities gave introduction on financial management and also local currency.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next roadshow will be on Thursday, 6 April in Brunei-Muara District, followed by roadshows in Belait District, Tutong District and Temburong District on Monday 10 April, Thursday 13 April and Tuesday, 18 April respectively.

Other events planned in conjunction with the National Savings Day 2017 are the Financial Fun Fair, which will be held at the Jerudong Park Colonnade on Sunday, 30 April 2017 from 2pm to 10pm, which will feature a host of family fun-filled programs and interactive activities; and a Financial Showcase on Saturday, 20 May 2017 from 2pm to 8pm at the Airport Mall.

For more information on National Savings Day 2017, members of the public can visit AMBD’s website at www.ambd.gov.bn/nsd2017; download AMBD App from the App Store or Google Playstore; or follow AMBD on Instagram at @autoriti_monetari. Images courtesy of @tap_brunei @baiduribank

Coldplay lived up to the hype

Written by Rano Iskandar on . Posted in lifestyle, Social News

 


The balloons hit during the “Adventure of a Lifetime” song
 


Amazing lighting and atmosphere. Thank you, Coldplay
 

My oh my… It has been a while since I attended a concert. My last was Pitbull gig in Singapore. Yea that was fun and he was a great entertainer during his 2013 Global Warming Tour and merely a 5,000 crowd attendance. I heard that he will be back again in Singapore of Climate Change tour this coming May.

Fast forward to 2017, Coldplay’s A Head Full of Dreams tour was my next concert. Yea, I missed out Guns N’ Roses gig in Singapore last February but i heard mixed reviews due to the logistics, the venue as well as the sound system.

It was totally opposite for Coldplay’s A Head Full of Dreams tour held at the enormous Singapore National Stadium last weekend. I was worried if there was no shelter but I didn’t know that stadium has a retractable roof and it worked to great effect.

Jolene Law and I were fortunate enough to attend the first ever gig by Coldplay for the year 2017 and of course, the few familiar faces from Brunei who made it for Coldplay. The attraction was just tremendous. Coldplay first gig was back in Singapore, 2006 at the Indoor Stadium for a 10,000 audience. Then back in 2009 with Coldplay’s Viva La Vida Tour with 12,000 fans and now (in 2017), it’s a different story with 100,000 fans altogether for two shows. What a huge jump and I can tell you why.

 

 


People queueing in as early as 6pm
 


The merchandise was selling like hotcakes. Each t-shirt costs around $50
 


Hello Sue, I hope you were awed with Coldplay.
 

 


One of the guys who were selling spare tickets and also merchandise. Apparently he sold them t-shirts for $20 each
 


The tickets are barcoded. Well, you just have to print them and enter. But once you go in, you can’t go out.
 


Jaymee was also one of those who flew from Brunei 😀
 


Hello Jolene and I hope you enjoyed your belated birthday gift. See you next time in Singapore.
 


We were totally impressed with the Coldplay experience
 


The strong 50,000 crowd after the concert ended.
 

Now there are a few reasons why Coldplay is the most electrifying concert that I’ve attended so far. It’s more than just a concert. It’s the whole wham bam experience.

1. Chris Martin is a great connector. The lead vocalist and the main person behind Coldplay was able to engage the audience with his movement on the stage and also during transitions between songs. Of course, the crowd was quite responsive and some were even in tears. He even joked about the humidity in Singapore as you can see his sweat dripping when he was passionately hitting the notes on the keyboard (Yea, we saw it on the gigantic screen lol). Chris was so uplifting from start to finish and the star of the show.

2. The LED wrist band. One thing was fans and not-so-big fans looking forward to Coldplay is the technicolour experience that you will enjoy from a Coldplay concert. The theme “A Head Full of Dreams” was fitting enough for fans to enjoy a euphoric feeling as we became awed with the random bright luminous colours from the electronically controlled wristband. The colours of the light will be in tuned with the songs and my favourite one would be the yellow/green moment.

3. The props and stage design. Yea, we might be seated at a restricted view as highlighted on the tickets. But we didn’t feel restricted at all. Ironically I loved the view as I was able to see the overall experience such as the confetti, the balloons and the laser light effects. The only setback would be the angle of the gigantic screen due to our seating position. But I ain’t complaining since it didn’t really bother me as much. The pyros, the confetti and the colourful balloons created a whole new experience as a concert goer. Those who paid more were privileged to experience the shower of confetti.

4. The sound. This has always been a big issue in other gigs such as Madonna and Guns N Roses. The acoustic was at its best (and I probably believed that there was a lot of planning in this). Speakers were not just on the main stage area but also around the arena. I missed the first song but I could hear it clearly with the vocal and music outside the arena. So imagine being one of concert goers inside the arena. Every single note from the musicians was noticeable among the 50,000 strong crowd and once you reach that almost perfect acoustic and sound, it will bring more energy to the crowd.

5. The crowd participation. Of course, with the help of the electronically coloured wrist band, it will make the audience waved their hands with the flow of the music. The fans can really make a difference to a concert experience and that night, it was one of the best I’ve been too. They were singing even though they don’t remember the whole lyrics (like me). Some were even so emotional because it felt so surreal. I had my moments of screaming because I felt quite high in energy. Coldplay + the crowd were a win-win situation and that made it ever more rewarding and fulfilling.

Overall, it was the best concert experience to date and it’s no surprise if tickets were sold out in other cities. The best moment for me was “A Sky Full of Stars” and “Up & Up”. I’m hoping to get another gig of theirs in the future. Even replaying the videos I shot still gives me the goosebumps. For now, I can say my dream has been fulfilled. Thank, Coldplay and Singapore. Verdict: 10/10

 

Good luck, Audi

Written by Rano Iskandar on . Posted in automative

 


Reinis Nitišs (Audi S1 EKS RX quattro #15) in the FIA World Rallycross Championship

The fourth season of the FIA World Rallycross Championship is coming up. Twelve events on three continents are on the calendar this year, kicked off by the round at Barcelona on April 1 and 2, which marks a premiere in several respects. It will be the first race in which EKS receives factory support from Audi. The reigning world champion will be fielding three Audi S1 EKS RX quattro cars for the first time. Plus, Barcelona will be the venue of the season opener for the first time.

Mattias Ekström is looking forward to the race at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya with confidence. “Last week, we did another three-day test in France and are entering the season superbly prepared,” says the Swede, who is both a driver and the team boss at EKS. “I’m very happy with the development work that was done in winter and our aim for this season is clear: we’d like to win the drivers’ and teams’ titles in the FIA World Rallycross Championship again this year.”

The rallycross track at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is located in the stadium section of the circuit and includes two super-fast corners included in Formula 1 races as well – albeit in the opposite direction. It is one of the few tracks with very fast initial corners on tarmac, plus many flat-out sections. “Thinking about last year puts a grin on my face,” says Ekström. At Barcelona, the Swede celebrated his fourth victory of the season in 2016 and laid the foundation for his subsequent world championship win. The basis for the success has been the 560 hp Audi S1 EKS RX quattro, which was technically modified once again for this season.

The FIA World Rallycross Championship will be broadcast live in 180 countries. Each Sunday of the total of twelve events the channels are going to air a two-hour show with interviews, background reports and the highlights of all four qualifying sessions, plus live footage of the semi-finals and final. Coverage of the season opener at Barcelona will start on Sunday, April 2, at 14:00 CEST. A list of all TV channels is available at www.fiaworldrallycross.com/tv_listings. In selected markets a live stream of World RX will be available online at www.fiaworldrallycross.com/live. Images courtesy of AUDI AG.

 

 


Mattias Ekström (Audi S1 EKS RX quattro #1) in the FIA World Rallycross Championship
 


Toomas Heikkinen (Audi S1 EKS RX quattro #57) in the FIA World Rallycross Championship
 

Star Lodge Roast & Ribs Mezza Buffet Dinner

Written by Rano Iskandar on . Posted in lifestyle, food, Social News

 

 


Check out the grilled meat
 

The Star Lodge Roast & Ribs Mezza Buffet Dinner started last weekend and continues this every weekend (Friday & Saturday evening). If you’re a meat lover, then look no further. Drop by Star Lodge and check out their sumptuous dishes.

I had the chance to dine and the choices were quite decent and with variety as they served not just meat but other savouries as well. My favourite would always be the lamb.. Yes, I’m a sucker for lamb but I can’t have too much of it or my body gets kinda heaty or even I might get dizzy *lol* But man, the lamb is a good inclusion in the Roast & Ribs weekend buffet. Make sure you eat with the skin too 😀

So do expect dishes such as slow roast smoked coffee ribs, glazed beef briskets, roasted chicken and other selected dishes along the buffet line.

I’m sure it will be a big hit this weekend because of school holidays and it’s also pay day time.

If you have any comments, you can drop an email to grazestars@gmail.com and you can also follow their IG @starz.lounge @starlodgebrunei

 

Roast & Ribs
Mezza Buffet Dinner
Every Friday & Saturday
6:30pm to 9:30pm
Adult $26 | Child $13
Call 2611618 | 8613329

 


My dinner dates last weekend.
 


Baked fish with Puttanesca Sauce
 


Balinese Bebek Betutu
 

 


The chef behind the menu of Roast & Ribs Mezza Buffet Dinner
 


Roast chicken. I didn’t get to try this but will do on my next visit.
 


Caramelized herbed roots vegetables
 


The ribs is quite tasty
 


My favourite dish of the lot… Skin and meat.. Yummy
 

 


A good mixture of veges to compliment the meat
 


More beef 😀
 


Choices of soup!!!
 


Sandwich perhaps?
 


Fillings for the sandwich
 

 


At the appetiser area and plenty more to choose from
 


The dessert corner
 


Ok, the final shot of the lamb… Love it..
 

Milestone for Hengyi

Written by Rano Iskandar on . Posted in Business, Social News

 


Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdul Rahman Bin Haji Ibrahim, Minister at Prime Minister’s Office and Minister Of Finance II exchanging documents with Mr Qiu Jian Lin, Chairman of Hengyi Company
 

Hengyi Industries Sdn Bhd (Hengyi) yesterday reached another milestone in its progress to develop an Integrated Oil Refinery and Aromatics plant at Pulau Muara Besar with the signing of the Implementation Agreement for this project between the Energy and Industry Department, Prime Minister’s Office (EIDPMO) as regulator, Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) as facilitator and Hengyi as project proponent respectively.

The Hengyi company Chairman, Mr Qiu Jian Lin also announced the Final Investment Decision (“FID”) for Phase 1 of this project value at USD 3.445 billion. Present as the Guest of Honour was Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdul Rahman Bin Haji Ibrahim, Minister at Prime Minister’s Office and Minister Of Finance II, senior government officials and industry partners. The Implementation Agreement outlines amongst others, the execution requirements of the project including Hengyi’s obligations in terms of employment and business opportunities to the country and its people.

During the peak construction phase, 10,000 workforce is required in which no less than 5,000 job opportunities will be opened to locals. During the operation phase, Hengyi will employ 971 permanent workforce and over 75% locals during its operation. This is part of Hengyi’s commitment to support local jobs, local content and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the country. Further, the Implementation Agreement highlights Hengyi’s obligation on health, safety and environment (HSE) requirements for the protection of Hengyi’s employees, contractors and the community.

The Hengyi plant will process annually approximately 8 million tonnes (175,000 barrels per day) of crude and condensate and produce approximately 1.5 million tonnes of paraxylene, 500,000 tonnes of benzene as well as refined products such as gasoline, jet fuel and diesel. The plant will ensure Brunei Darussalam’s self-sufficiency in refined products and boost spinoffs for further high value-added downstream industries.

My thoughts: It’s good to see more Foreign Direct Investment coming in to Brunei. It’s a good sign for the country that we can have more source of revenue than relying merely on oil and gas. I believe this project has been pending for quite some time as it’s never easy to deal with multi billion project. Many talks and agreements will need to go through between the shareholders and relevant agencies to make sure it’s a win-win situation.

So this is a big milestone for Hengyi Industries in Brunei Darussalam after a long delay. I do hope all the sub contracting companies involved in this project will open doors for more employment in Brunei Darussalam. Do also watch out for Hengyi Industries website for career opportunities.

 

 

 

 

Under the Stars

Written by Rano Iskandar on . Posted in lifestyle, Social News

 

 

 

Baiduri Bank as usual carried out its initiative for this year’s ‘Earth Hour 2017 Under the Stars’ at the Royal Wharf (Waterfront) last weekend.

Baiduri Bank had a market vendor concept and also a place to dine outdoor (under the stars) starting from 4pm onwards. I was glad that the rain came earlier and the event went smoothly for the organisers and also the public who came to support the event.

The lights went off, right on the dot at 8:30pm for an hour and relied on candles that spelt ‘60+’ to signify the Earth Hour initiative.

Speaking on the importance of Earth Hour and the bank’s contribution to the global movement, Pierre Imhof, CEO of Baiduri Bank said, “As in previous years, we will yet again do what we can to contribute to this global cause. As part of our CSR initiatives, Earth Hour is one of the ways we can participate.

“Aimed at further developing our local economy, the ‘Under the Stars’ event has brought together many local Bruneian vendors under one roof.

“The event acted as a platform to engage the local community in a social environment. We hope that the initiatives we take in supporting the cause will encourage others to do the same,” he added.

Baiduri Bank has been participating in the Earth Hour campaign for the past seven years. Keep up the commitment and initiative.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pelicana Chicken

Written by Rano Iskandar on . Posted in lifestyle, food

 


Have you tried Pelicana Chicken outlet in Brunei?
 


I tried the Peli Platter from Pelicana Chicken – This is enough to serve four pax. They also have the bigger platter for 6 pax.
 

I headed over to Pelicana last year as I’m a sucker for chicken wings and Pelicana caught my attention. For your information, Pelicana is a Korean franchise that is known for their fried chicken with seasoning. The brand has been very strong not just in Korea but in international waters. Just imagine there are over 3,000 outlets of Pelicana alone. So it’s good to see Pelicana to have its presence in Brunei Darussalam as all of us are already accustomed to food & beverage franchises.

The first outlet so far is at Setia Kenangan II, Kiulap and there will be opening another one this year. I’ve already visited the outlet a few times because of its consistency and I love seasoned fried chicken. I simply can eat wings all day *yum yum*

So let me share you a bit on what Pelicana are pretty known for – well for one thing, it’s their fried chicken being marinated with different selection of delicious sauces from Korea. Yes, the ingredients are imported to make sure there is an authentic taste of Korean flavour in a fast food concept.

It may seem like a fast-food joint but the preparation shows other wise. Their fried chicken are prepared fresh from the kitchen and the quality is still pretty decent.

The Brunei outlet offers up to six selection of speciality sauces that ranges from Original Crunchy, Charcoal BBQ Peli, the Super Hot Spicy Peli and the popular coated Cheese and Cheese flavour (always popular among the locals).

Pelicana Chicken also have their own selection of side dishes that diners can order to feast with their delicious fried chicken. Musaengchae (seasoned radish) and Miyeok Muchim (seaweed salad) is the two side dishes that really goes well with the fried chicken.

On my last visit with Kurapak and Khaliq, we had a feast where we ordered a platter which is value for money. Three of us couldn’t finish it that we had to take away the food.

I also had the pleasure to speak to Sharon Choo, the owner of Pelicana Chicken, and she’s happy with the response from the public as they are quite accustomed to the taste of Korean flavoured fried chicken.

You can follow their instagram account @pelicanachickenbn and Facebook for updates. It’s a new generated account so do bear with them.

 

 


The bird’s eye view of the Peli Platter 1
 


Looks good indeed
 


This is the charcoal BBQ Yangnyeom – spicy much but this is very tasty
 

 


I caught Khaliq off guard as he tried the spicy one. He still loved it 😀
 


There’s a small private room on the 1st floor
 


The first outlet has two floors. This is the upper floor. I think I was the first customer there then as I came as it opened. Super hungry 😀
 


Good seatings upstairs too
 


My favourite seating area on the upper floor
 

 


… and my second last meal at the particular seating was with Jolene back in January. See you this weekend 😀
 


They also serve burgers
 


The Clear Chicken Mee hoon “Kalguksu” 😀
 


This is the rice served at Pelicana
 


Interesting taste from the Korean product served at Pelicana
 

 


The Cheesy flavour is one of the hot sellers at Pelicana and I can understand why
 

 

 

Contact RA

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Contact: +6738677773

About RA

A blogger since 2002, using platforms from blogspot, joomla and now currently wordpress. A readership that stands on average of 20,000 visits per month. Also on active on social media platform on IG, Facebook and Snapchat (@ranoadidas)

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