New Eco-Gadget Saves Upto 80% of Pool Running Costs

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WITH ELECTRICITY BILLS BEING DISTRIBUTED across Southern Spain today, thousands of expatriates will receive an unwelcome reminder of the high cost of electricity in the country. A private swimming pool is considered by many to be a necessary luxury in the hot Spanish summers, but the cost of running a pool in Spain can be astronomical.

With the cost of electricity in Spain amongst the highest in Europe, even the wealthiest expatriate’s cannot afford to disregard their power usage. Only Denmark, Germany, Italy and Ireland pay more for their electricity and budget concious consumers across Spain are increasingly looking toward new technologies to save them money, and reduce the cost of their electricity bills.

A private swimming pool is one of the most common luxury additions to any home in Southern Spain, but the cost of pool ownership doesn’t stop once you’ve paid for the installation. The cost of filtering the water through a pool pump brings an often unexpected long term financial liability that lasts a lifetime.

Electricity-prices-europeBut new technology is about to become available in Spain that can reduce the cost of running a swimming pool pump by up to 80%. Long term savings can run in to thousands of Euros, and as with most of the best new money saving gadgets these days, the idea behind the solution is a very simple one.

Developed here in Spain, the Eco Pool Saver is an elegantly uncomplicated device that moderates the supply of electricity to the pool pump. With 30 programmable speeds, it can be programmed to reduce the amount of power used by the pool pump while still providing water flow and filtration.

Put simply, the Eco Pool Saver is the most advanced and efficient variable speed controller that can be used with up to 95% of single speed domestic pool pumps, and brings immediate measurable savings in energy consumption that pays for the cost of installation in months rather than years.

The revolutionary money-saver is being introduced to Spain by established solar heating specialists Solar Directa in Murcia, who offer professional fitting of the device across the Costa Blanca, Costa Calida, and throughout the Murcia region.

Solar Directa have been providing solar installations across Southern Spain since 2004 and the owner, Keith Owen, is keen to promote the equipment’s plus points. “With the high cost of electricity in Spain, it seems like madness not to invest in the latest money saving technology”, he said. “The cost of installation is minimal compared to the thousands of Euros that can be saved over a lifetime of pool ownership”.

Keith also highlighted the benefits of reduced wear and tear on the pool pump itself, and the pool plumbing connected to it. “Simply adding a timer to your pool pump will reduce it’s lifespan quite considerably. The Eco Pool Saver avoids all those abrupt starts and stops, and keeps the water flowing through the filter resulting in a cleaner, healthier pool”.

The Eco Pool Saver is being distributed exclusively in Spain by Solar Directa, and more information is available from their website or contact them via Facebook.

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1980’s Computer System Still Used by Spain’s DGT

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OUR LIVES ARE BRIMMING WITH SHINY NEW GADGETS and apps. We take pictures and message friends with our latest generation smartphones and work on our glossy new laptops. But the world around us is still filled with the technologies of yesteryear including this 1988 computer system still in use with Spain’s DGT.

They might be fossils of the early computer age but they sometimes still have a role to play in our every day lives rather than just being on display in some museum. I encountered one such fossil last week when I went to renew my Spanish driver’s licence in Alicante.

I couldn’t help but take a picture of it; that’s what we do these days, after all. The worker who was assisting me with the test came back in the room as I took the picture and laughed. I told her I was surprised by how old the system was (the software was dated 1988). She said that it was indeed old, but that it still worked well.

The computer you see in the picture was connected to two levers, which I had to control with my hands. The point of the test was to see if I could keep two tiny black lines within the confines of two swirling white lines – very basic representations of cars driving down roads – to test my hand-eye coordination and my reaction time. Like the machine, the graphics are incredibly outdated.

As it turns out, this is a system that is still commonly used across Spain. The manufacturer, a company called General ASDE, still markets an updated version of the system on its website. The screenshots on the site are not entirely clear, but it seems like this version is dated 1999 – not as old as the one I used, but still ages ago in internet and technology years.

The assistant told me that these systems are “pretty antique” but are still “commonly used” as they have not been recently upgraded and no other system has been approved to replace it. They aren’t cheap either. A brochure dated June 2014 lists the ASDE Driver Test computer system, the latest model with a modern flat screen monitor, at €3,076 (approximately £2,200).

I ended up easily passing the test, and I have to say that despite its antiquated look the system does its’ job. Perhaps there’s no need for new, shiny machines when the old ones are still up to the task.

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Stray Spanish Dog Emigrates from Spain to the UK

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WITH IMMIGRATION A STRONG POLITICAL issue in the UK at the moment, it should come as no surprise that canny canines are on the move too. A nurse from Wales fell in love with a stray dog whilst on holiday and made arrangements for her to start a new life in the UK.

A holidaymaker had her heart touched by a lovable stray dog in Spain took it back to her home in Wales. Nurse Janice John, 59, and husband Steve were in a cafe when they spotted the Spanish Podenco pooch in a starving state on the streets. They began feeding the wide-eye dog and decided they couldn’t leave her behind. So they arranged for her to emigrate from Grenada in Southern Spain to start a new life in Llanelli.

Now the dog, renamed Cassie, is loving her life as part of her new family. Janice said “Cassie is such a beautiful dog. She is a little bundle of joy and happiness from head to toe. Some friends thought I was crazy doing what I did but I just couldn’t forget her”.

“We were sitting in a cafe when she came up to us. She was clearly starving and all the ribs of her spine were showing, she was covered in tics and fleas. It was so sad. I fed her every single day we were on holiday and I just couldn’t forget her when I got home because I felt I had a real connection with her. I knew I had to find her”.

Janice joined the Valle Verde Animal Rescue group on Facebook and finally they managed to locate the dog. Janice said “They told me they would see if they could find her – I didn’t even have a picture of her so could only describe what she looked like. It was a miracle when they sent me a photograph of her. I recognised her straight away”.

Podenco dogs are hunting dogs are often abandoned or killed at the end of the season. They are sometimes thrown into rivers, ravines or wells or abandoned in remote places if they have performed badly.

Cassie, aged about nine months, was driven the thousands of miles to the UK by the charity For The Love of Dogs and Cats – a charity helping animals in Spain. “I decided I would adopt her – she just stole my heart” Janice told us.

“When she saw me I think she recognised me. She was trembling from head to toe and was so tiny. I gave her a big cuddle”.

“Soon after we first brought her home I noticed our fruit bowl was empty. I looked in her basket and there were three nectarines and two bananas in her bed. She was stashing them as all she had known was scavenging from tables. Now she is very happy and loves her food – she has dog biscuits and wet food twice a day. Sometimes I will give her a slice of cheese as a treat”.

“She is getting along famously too with our other dogs – three Bassett Hounds; Alfie, Winnie and Florence. She really is a bundle of joy and I am so glad we rescued her. She is a wonderful dog and we are lucky to have her”. Cassie is enjoying her new life in Llanelli.

CAN YOU HELP A DOG FIND A HOME?
For The Love of Dogs and Cats deliver homeless animals all over Europe, with twice monthly deliveries of happiness to the UK. If you can help a dog find a new family with you or your loved ones, please visit their website today.

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Costa Blanca Woman Fined for Facebook Photo Posting

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AN UNNAMED WOMAN FROM ALICANTE has been ordered to pay an €800 (£570) fine for posting a picture on her personal Facebook page of a Spanish police vehicle illegally parked in a parking bay reserved for disabled people, under Spain’s controversial new “gagging law”.

We reported just last week that the first known individual to fall foul of Spain’s controversial new so-called “gagging law” spoke out against what he saw as the repression of free speech after he received a fine for describing his local police force as “slackers” on Facebook. Facebook users in Spain are urged to take extra care with their postings and be aware of the requirements and responsibilities regarding the new Spanish legislation.

This weekend an unnamed woman, a resident of Petrer in Alicante on Spains’ Costa Blanca, posted the photo on her Facebook page with the comment “Park where you bloody well please and you won’t even be fined”. The local police tracked her down within 48 hours and fined her.

The Citizens Security Law, popularly known as the gagging law and which came into force on 1st July, prohibits “the unauthorised use of images of police officers that might jeopardise their or their familys’ safety or that of protected facilities or police operations”.

Amnesty International condemned the law, saying that photographing police was vital in cases when excessive force had been used. Fines under this section of the law range from €600 to €30,000.

Fernando Portillo, a spokesman for the local police in Alicante, said the officers had parked in the disabled bay because they had been called to deal with an incident of vandalism in a nearby park. A rapid response is essential if they are to catch the offenders “in flagranti”, he told local media, adding that in an emergency the police park where they can.

Asked how the photo had put the police at risk, he said the officers felt the woman had impugned their honour by posting the picture on Facebook and referred the incident to the town hall authorities. “We would have preferred a different solution but they have the legal right to impose a fine” Portillo said.

Last month two couples in Córdoba were reportedly fined €300 (£208) each for consuming alcohol in a public place, although they claimed to have had only soft drinks and a pizza. The gagging law also prohibits demonstrations in the vicinity of parliament or the senate, trying to prevent an eviction or actions of passive resistance such as sit-down protests in the street. Prosecuted offenders face astronomical fines of up to €600,000 (£417,000).

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Project Titan – Letter Reveals Apple Driverless Car Clues

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A LETTER INTERCEPTED BY THE GUARDIAN newspaper confirms existing theories that Apple are developing their own driverless car to compete with technology giant, Google. But under Apples’ notoriously secretive industrial camouflage, public knowledge of Project Titan is scarce.

The persistent rumours about Apple building some kind of car have felt at times like they were powered purely by Apple fans desperate for something new and exciting. So far we’ve only had theories and mock designs, rather than any actual evidence something was happening.

But now we have something firm: The Guardian newspaper has intercepted correspondence between Apple engineer Frank Fearon and officials from a car testing facility GoMentum Station.

“We would … like to get an understanding of timing and availability for the space, and how we would need to coordinate around other parties who would be using [it],” the newspaper quotes Fearon as writing. The note was sent in May this year.

GoMentum Station is in Concord, a city a good 30 minutes’ drive north west from San Francisco. Formerly a US military naval weapons station, it’s a highly secure facility specifically set up to test driverless car technology with 20 miles or so of road which re-creates some real-world scenarios. This video from Honda gives you a good insight into the industrial technological facility.

Apple is believed to be working on its automotive project at a facility in Sunnyvale, California. Sources revealed that “Project Titan” development is underway inside a top-secret building codenamed “SG5”.

Apple is believed to be hiding its offices under the guise of a shell corporation, SixtyEight Research, that purports to be a market research company. Documents uncovered by AppleInsider revealed company identified as “SixtyEight LLC” paid to import a 1957 Fiat Multipla 600, and Apple chief designer, British-born Jony Ive, is known to have an affinity for classic Fiats.

So what does the latest information reveal about Apples’ vehicular ambitions? Not much, but it does at least offer, for the first time, some concrete evidence that plans are in motion. Until now, we had only known that Apple hired a couple of car industry experts into its ranks, apparently working on something called “Project Titan” although this has never been confirmed by Apple.

So the letters from Fearon – himself an autonomous vehicle expert – to GoMentum Station at least lends some credibility to the rumours. “We are hoping to see a presentation on the … testing grounds with a layout, photos, and a description of how the various areas of the grounds could be used” the letter reads.

GoMentum are, naturally, under a strict non-disclosure agreement about the project, but they did confirm to the Guardian that Apple are “interested”. And why wouldn’t they be? Apples’ vice-president Jeff Williams said earlier in the year that the car is the “ultimate mobile device”, a space you would assume Apple would be desperate to be in.

The question is the extent of what they are building. Are they, as some have said, intending on creating an entire Apple-made car? Or are they perhaps content with providing sophisticated software for already-established car makers to use in their vehicles?

Car makers are understandably keeping a close eye on things. Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne told the BBC earlier this year that Apples’ pursuit of the car market would be highly disruptive. Whatever the approach, it’s safe to say we won’t find out much more until Apple is absolutely ready. GoMentum, in keeping with its military roots, has armed guards stationed at the facility 24 hours a day.

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Penalty for Facebook User in Spain: The New Gag Law

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CONTROVERSIAL NEW SPANISH LEGISLATION now in force means Facebook users could face fines unless they are careful about what they put online, as local Spanish man Eduardo Díaz described his local police force as “slackers” on Facebook and a few hours later, they turned up on his doorstep and fined him.

The first known individual to fall foul of Spain’s controversial new so-called “gag law” has spoken out against what he sees as the repression of free speech after he received a fine for describing his local police force as “slackers” on Facebook.

Eduardo Díaz, a 27-year-old salesman from Tenerife, told the newspaper El Mundo that the comment he posted on his mayor’s Facebook page about the decision to provide the local police force with a new and larger headquarters was “just a criticism, not an insult. I get the impression that they are trying to silence the voice of critical citizens”.

Spain’s Citizen Safety Law (Ley de Seguridad Ciudadana) came into effect on July 1st after the conservative Popular Party government used its parliamentary majority to pass the legislation in the face of harsh criticism from other parties and civil society groups. The law allows for stiff penalties of up to €600,000 (£424,000) for a variety of public order offences, such as unlicensed demonstrations outside a parliament building, inciting an unauthorised protest online and importantly for Mr Díaz, showing disrespect to the police.

In his Facebook comment, Mr Díaz criticised the use of public resources on a brand new police station in the town of Güímar, stating that the local force was a “pack of slackers”. But local police officers wasted no time in reacting, ringing Mr Díaz’s doorbell just hours later to present him with notification of a fine which will be set at between €100 and €600.

“I do not agree with insulting the police and would never show them disrespect. But as a citizen who pays his taxes, I believe that I have the right to express my opinion over a government decision”, said Mr Díaz, who added that he will continue to criticise the authorities on social media.

In addition the Citizen Safety Law imposes penalties on “the unauthorized use of images or personal or professional information” about police officers “that could endanger their personal safety or that of their families, of protected facilities or endanger the success of a police operation”. Amnesty International has complained about this, noting that journalists and other individuals private recordings have occasionally helped report the use of excessive force by the police.

The new law has been widely criticised across Spain, being labelled as draconian and repressive, and in Madrid a Romanian woman was handed a €600 fine under the new legislation for “an act of sexual provocation in a public place” after Spanish government agents caught her allegedly soliciting “in a state of undress” in an industrial estate on the outskirts of the capital.

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Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux Finally Get Married

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JENNIFER ANISTON IS ONE OF THE MOST influencial female fashion icons of the new millenium. Her brand of bubbly, charismatic humour, combined with her unmistakable hair design and fashion sense made her a globally recognised leader of high street fashion trends. Jennifer has not been so lucky in love, so it’s wonderful to see that she has finally found her lobster.

On Wednesday evening, Jennifer married American actor, director, and screen-writer, Justin Theroux, in a secret ceremony at their Bel Air mansion, telling invited guests that it was a surpise for Justin’s 44th birthday. Timely, as Justin proposed marriage and they became engaged on his birthday in 2012.

The celebration kicked off in the late afternoon as valets in blue vests greeted VIP guests including Howard Stern, his wife Beth Ostrosky Stern, and photographer Terry Richardson, who all arrived in black cars. Friends costars Courteney Cox and Lisa Kudrow were also in attendance, as was pal Chelsea Handler, Jason Bateman, Emily Blunt and John Krasinski, Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett, Tobey Maguire and Jennifer Meyer, Lake Bell and Scott Campbell, and Jimmy Kimmel, among many others.

Jennifer Aniston’s wedding dress set the tone for her big night: casual and easy in which to dance. She shunned a traditional wedding dress opting instead for flowy, white and summery. Some guests showed up in jeans since they thought they were coming to Justin’s surprise birthday party and the couple made the big reveal once all guests arrived, with Jennifer apologising for misleading everyone.

As for the reception: the couple’s table was family only. Howard Stern and Robert Downey Jr gave toasts, while Sia performed and sang happy birthday to Justin. The party then kicked into high gear with British DJ Samantha Ronson DJ’ing late into the night. The hangover couldn’t have been terrible as the newlyweds were spotted hopping on a private jet Thursday morning to honeymoon in Bora Bora.

The news came unofficially first through celebrity gossip website TMZ and you can find pictures of the party in full swing by following this link. Meantime, we would like to congratulate the happy couple and wish them a lifetime of happiness.

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Spanish Property Owners: Register to Rent or Face Fines

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PRIVATE PROPERTY OWNERS ON THE COSTA BLANCA face fines from Spanish government regulators as a new law requires all owners who rent private property within the Valencian Community, to register their properties with Provincial authorities in a crackdown on illegal renting and tax fraud across Spain.

New legislation now makes it compulsory for all owners of tourist accommodation, including privately rented homes on the Costa Blanca, to register their property in the Spanish General Register for Tourist Businesses, Establishments and Professionals (Registro General de Empresas, Establecimientos y Profesiones Turísticas), or face the possibility of prosecutions and fines for non-compliance.

Spain’s hotel and tourism sectors are insisting that government and Provincial authorities embark on a campaign to root out illegal renters and rental agencies that are openly operating on the Costa Blanca. They maintain that those who are renting apartments and villas illegally, both individuals and agents, are committing tax fraud and they have asked for more local inspectors to carry out checks throughout the Valencian region.

The new legislation states that the task of regulating private property rental to tourists is no longer covered by the State Law of Urban Rentals (LAU), and is instead subject to regional government law, much of which allegedly aims to restrict private tourist rentals in favour of the much more powerful hotel industry.

From 3rd July, private property owners across the Costa Blanca who wish to rent out their apartments or villas to holidaymakers have to apply for a licence, and their property must be registered with the authorities. Most importantly, once registered, a property’s registration number must be included with any and all advertisements for that property.

Failure to comply with the latest legislation can lead to prosecution and fines for the property owner, the advertiser, and any agent employed to manage the property. Fines are set at a minimum of €6,000 and a maximum of €90,000 and penalties for businesses can include enforced suspension of trading.

David Tornos, President of the Tourist Rental Management Association, stated “The passing of this law could deal a death blow to a growing sector that contributes enormously to the economy,” while ASOTUR, the Asociación de Gestores de Viviendas de Uso Turístico, are quoted as saying, “This is an attack on civil liberties, limiting the use of private property and the freedom of tourists to choose how they want to spend their holidays.”

Local administrators recommend that the registration process should start immediately as enforcement of the legislation can begin immediately, and private property owners across the Costa Blanca who currently rent their property are urged to seek the advice and assistance of a lawyer.

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Spanish Costa Blanca Restaurants Face Allergy Checks

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RESTAURANTS IN SPAIN ARE RECEIVING VISITS from Spanish government regulators and local council officials to ensure food retailers are compliant with the new EU allergy regulations (EU 1169/2011). With large penalties at stake what should restaurants and other food businesses do, to ensure compliance with the law?

The new EU law regulating allergen information might be typical EU; long and rather boring. The not so boring bit is the penalties. In the UK non-compliance with this particular piece of legislation is a criminal offence attracting a level 5 penalty on the Standard Scale: that’s up to 6 months at Her Majesty’s Pleasure and/or a fine of between £5,000 and £60,000 depending on whether anyone actually died from ingesting, for example, an undisclosed peanut.

With this in mind, in many ways you could consider that Spanish authorities reportedly offering a “light” penalty of just €15,000 per offence is rather forgiving. The UK started enforcement in April 2015 and Spanish businesses were given until July 1st 2015 by the EU to get their allergy affairs in order. That deadline has passed.

At the moment unannounced inspections from officers of Spain’s AICA (Agencia de Información y Control Alimentario) are offering advice, but the AICA have a recent history of wide-ranging prosecutions (like prosecuting 110 food companies for, amongst other things, “poor filing” just last month, read it here), so it’s only a matter of time before advice turns to enforcement.

On the Costa Blanca in Spain, Spanish AICA inspectors have been visiting food retailers large and small in Ciudad Quesada, La Marina, Torrevieja, Guardamar, Benijofar and Benimar. Given the fact that established restaurants, hotels, care homes, bars, bistros, pubs, and even market traders on Lemon Tree Lane market in Guardamar have all been targeted, people could face prosecution for non-compliance sooner rather than later.

Who The Regulations Apply To
Anyone serving or selling food to the public needs to abide by the legislation: bars, restaurants, bistros, market traders, hoteliers, care homes, hospitals, pubs and gastro-pubs; even companies that sell food at a distance, for instance websites that sell wholefood products and their derivatives online.

Compliance with The Allergy Law in Spain
Menu’s must feature icons next to the product being sold highlighting which, if any, of the 14 major allergens are contained within the food offered for sale. Icons must be a minimum of 5mm in height and width, clear, legible, and follow the standardised European Directive on graphical appearance and colour.

A public advice notice must be clearly displayed either on the premises, or within the menu, (or for reasons of due-diligence preferably both), advising members of the public about the risk of allergy from consuming food items within the establishment. The notice should reference the EU 1169/2011 regulation.

Legally, wording and terminology must be in Spanish, even if the business caters to a wholly English clientele. The public advice notice must feature larger, legible and clear icons and wording that follow the standardised European Directive on graphical appearance and colour. Note that the regulations do not define what size “larger” constitutes, but assume bigger is safer.

Every food retailer is required by law to have at least one menu in the Spanish language for inspection by AICA officers and their local council representatives.

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New EU Food Labeling Requirements for Restaurants

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THE EU FOOD INFORMATION FOR CONSUMERS regulations (1169/2011) require all unpackaged food items to be labelled with allergen information. This could mean restaurant businesses large and small having to reprint their menus at some considerable expense. But with a hefty fine at stake there may be no other choice.

Restaurants and cafes are running out of time to ensure they meet the deadline to comply with the new European food regulations. We are reminding food businesses that new regulations on food labelling are now in effect and companies which fail to comply face a hefty fine.

The EU Regulation No1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers requires that 14 specific allergens are clearly signposted on food packaging, and most manufacturers have already complied.

But many cafes, restaurants and catering businesses may be unaware that the rules also apply to them. Even when they are serving up food they have cooked themselves, as well as food that has been removed from its packaging, staff should be ready to answer questions on ingredients and about which allergens may be present.

Restaurants, cafes and takeaways may not realise that the new rules carry huge implications for any business that serves food to its customers. Menus must be appropriately endorsed with legally compliant and legible allergy information, with each listed dish clearly illustrating the potential allergens contained within the ingredients, using a Europe-wide standardised set of graphical logos.

Business owners and their staff need to be ready to quickly and accurately answer questions on which allergens, such as gluten, eggs, fish and nuts, are present in the dishes on offer. It may be helpful to have a list of ingredients for each menu item at hand to ensure that the information is readily available.

Businesses can at any time be inspected by environmental health authorities and failure to comply with food regulations can carry a fine of up to £5,000 per offence in the UK, with similar penalties across the EU. Companies also leave themselves open to legal action if they serve up food containing allergens to an allergy sufferer who has asked for information about ingredients and has ordered on the basis of incorrect information.

Time to ensure compliance really is running short and any business owner who is unsure about the rules and how they might be applied should make sure they take appropriate advice as soon as possible.

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