Monday, January 16, 2006

A year of Google blogging

This is the 201st post to be published on the Google Blog in 2005. In closing out the first full year of our company-wide effort to share news and views, we thought you might be interested in a few factoids. Since we've had Google Analytics running on this blog since June, some of these numbers reflect only half a year. In that time, 4.3 million unique visitors have generated 8.7 million pageviews. Readers have come from all over the world, not just English-speaking countries:

During the year, we've published 38 how-to tips, announced 77 new products and services, and addressed policy questions and legal matters 17 times. We've featured 11 guest bloggers. Forty posts have illuminated something about day to day life at Google; 19 have offered some international perspective.


Creative Zen Vision spacer

Needless to say, the traffic going to the venue was extra-terrible! Good thing I brought along the Creative Zen Vision I was reviewing. Watching a few episodes of “Everybody Loves Raymond” on it entertained us enough to not notice the extra-long travel time.

Portable media devices that play video are nothing new. For years, manufacturers have been trying to convince us that we should take our videos wherever we needed to be. Several gadgets have come out with this aim but it was only when Apple launched its 5th generation iPod (a.k.a. iPod Video) that consumers started paying more attention to these gadgets.

Creative is a company which has long been known for its pc sound cards and, more recently, mp3 players. The Zen Vision is its latest attempt to keep pace with its rivals in the portable media player arena.


Levi's iPod-compatible jeans

Attempting to merge fashion with the latest in tech gadgets, jeans giant Levi's has introduced iPod-compatible jeans. The RedWire DLX jeans are not due out until Autumn this year though. It has a joystick remote control built into the watch pocket allowing owners to navigate through their iPod's contents and change the volume without having the take the device out of their pockets. A separate pocket will hold the iPod and also conceal the bulge from it.

It also features a built in retractable headphone unit to prevent tangled wires. The company also said a red conductive ribbon will keep wearers connected while allowing them to remove the iPod from their pockets to view the screen. "The Levi's RedWire DLX jean is the latest extension of the Levi's brand leadership position, by merging fashion and technology that provides consumers with the most innovative way to enhance their portable digital music lifestyle." obert Hanson, Li's US brand president, said in a statement.op as the most popular.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Xbox 360 game units sold in US

Microsoft sold 600,000 of its new Xbox 360 video game consoles in the United States since its November launch. The Xbox 360 debuted to much fanfare on November 22 in North America. Since then it has been in short supply. Analysts, video game publishers and retailers have said shipments during the key holiday season fell short of expectations. Microsoft to target of selling between 4.5 million and 5.5 million Xbox 360 consoles during the current business year.



Saturday, January 14, 2006


The recent announcement of the AOL partnership has been the source of a lot of rumors and misconceptions. We'd like to clear some of those up.

Biased results? No way. Providing great search is the core of what we do. Business partnerships will never compromise the integrity or objectivity of our search results. If a partner's page ranks high, it's because they have a good answer to your search, not because of their business relationship with us.

Indexing more of AOL's content. Our goal is to organize all of the world's information. When we say "all the world's information," this includes AOL's. We're going to work with the webmasters at AOL -- just as we work with webmasters all over the world -- to help them understand how the Google crawler works (with regard to robots.txt, how to use redirects, non-html content, etc.) so we don't inadvertently overlook their content.

AOL will receive a credit towards advertising purchased through Google's ad program. You might wonder if this will affect the ad auction. It won't. We don't offer preferential treatment on advertising (in either the auction or the display) to any of our partners.




We feel proud around here. Our eldest, Google Earth for the PC, is officially leaving beta status today, and we couldn't be more pleased. For those of you who downloaded early, upgrade to the latest and discover Google Earth all over again.

Google earth is very useful to everybody, i like the google earth very much.


Tuesday, January 10, 2006


We've been waiting for some bright spark to come up with this achingly cool idea. The second these MP3 S-6 Headphones arrived, we ripped open the packaging, and without bothering to look at the instructions, plugged them into a USB port, dragged and dropped a good heavy bass track into them, popped them on, and reeled in wonder. The joy of wireless and truly portable sound! The sound these MP3 Headphones produces is excellent, with great bass, and enough volume to blow your head off. Buttons on the ear-pieces let you skip back and forth through your tracks and adjust the volume. Not only will they play MP3, WMA and WAV files, but they also house a digital voice recorder.

Available in 256MB and 512MB, they can hold up to 16 hours of music (512MB); they've got a 10 hour playback battery life from a full charge, and weigh in at just 78g. After years of getting entangled in wires whilst listening to music, it's complete and utter heaven to be able to wander free with all your favourite tunes wrapped round your head - now you can groove without fear of strangling yourself.

Skip-free music
256MB or 512MB internal memory
256 stores up to 8 hours' WMA digital music, and up to 4 hours of MP3
512 stores up to 16 hours of WMA and 8 hours of MP3
Up to 10 hours' continual playback between charges
Weighs 78g
Voice recorder using ADPCM file format
USB 2.0 for high speed file transfe
Can be used as USB flash drive
Rechargeable 3.6v Lithium battery
Size: 4 x 2.8 x 1.7cm


Imagine you're packing for a trip and there's just enough room left in the case for that hardback book you've been slogging through for months. Take some advice from us, ditch the reading - and stow this little beauty instead.

No much larger than the average Forsythesque saga (and considerably slimmer at just 3.3cm deep), this deeply desirable Travel DVD Player gives you a personal widescreen cinema to enjoy anywhere you go. The display is utterly fab, a high-resolution 7" TFT LCD in 16:9 widescreen format with enhanced side-viewing angles. The player works with loads of disc formats: DVD of course, plus VCD, SVCD, audio CD/MP3, picture CDs (JPEG) so you can also use it to bore people rigid with your digital photography, and it will read CD-R and CD-RW.

It delivers big 24-bit sound via headphones or the internal speakers - and Dolby Digital output lets you link it up to a home theatre sound system (not quite so portable). Multi-speed, repeat, search by time, last memory playback and even a 4x zoom function mean that this Travel DVD player is up there with any of the far more expensive ones, that just happen to have a swanky brand badge on them. Capable of genuine worldwide use, the player runs off an integral rechargeable power pack. Includes 110/120/220V charger/adapter, an in-car adaptor to keep back-seat drivers quiet, a compact battery pack, and has a dinky and super slim multifunction IR remote control. Whether you've got a long car journey and need to keep your backseat drivers entertained, or you want to catch up on a few movies on holiday, the TDP8 is visual heaven at a wonderful price.


The original Robosapien was invented by NASA scientist, Mark Tilden who worked on the robot that went to Mars. Whether this is good for us, or very bad for Mars, it's too early to tell. Nevertheless, Robosapien took the world (if not Mars) by storm, and now the next generation Robosapien V2 has arrived. He's bigger, brighter, faster - kind of like Steve Austin but with more facial expressions. Pumped up on android steroids, Robosapien V2 is a mighty 2ft (60cm) tall and towers over his earliest incarnation, but of course not only is he butcher (not a real butcher, it would be inadvisable to let him lose with sharp objects), he's had a massive brain implant. He now has a multi-sensory, interactive humanoid personality (unlike Steve Austin), and is now capable of autonomous behaviour - reacting to things he sees, sounds he hears, (as well as people and objects), which is a lot more interaction than you get from some people round here. So he's big, and he's clever, but what we really love about the big lunk is his newfound agility.

Robosapien V2Version 1 was very 'B' Movie robotic, but Robosapien V2 is like a yoga instructor (sort of) in comparison. He can bend down, sit and lie down, get up (this is really a very clever first in robotics), wave his arms around, and his hands even have articulated fingers and precision gripping - way cool. Not only is he agile, he's also programmed to avoids obstacles and table edges, and he can even track moving objects!

As well as reacting to your voice, being able to follow an object and pick it up (here Fido!), moving around like a proper robot (he puts 3PO's waddling about to shame) and having a two axis turning head and animated LED eyes, he also reacts with other Robonetics, like the Robopet and Roboraptor. All in all Robosapien V2 is king of the robots, and the most gargantuan leap forward in Robotic technology imaginable.

Humanoid body movement, including bending, sitting and standing, lying down and getting up, waving, martial arts etc.
True bi-pedal walking with multiple gaits.
Precision gripping, articulated fingers.
Realistic 2-axis turning head with animated LED eyes.
Interactive sensors.
Reactive movement - will get up if knocked down.
Speech: responds verbally to environmental stimuli and to controller commands.
Colour vision system: recognizes colours and skin tones: interacts with objects and people.
IR vision: detects and avoids obstacles and table edges: tracks moving objects.


For a gadget everyone will goggle at, you can't get much better than the TV Watch. This remarkably lightweight little number is quite astounding. The key to this miniature marvel is its 1.5" wide high-resolution TFT (Thin Film Transistor) colour screen. Weighing in at a paltry 45g, it can either slot into a neat cradle on its wristband, or slide into a re-charging docking station which is powered either by batteries, or you can plug it into the mains. The TV antenna has been very cleverly inserted into the headphones, just plug 'em in and tune in to your favourite programme. Blisteringly simple to use, the TV Watch will play for an hour on a full charge, and three hours when used with its mini docking station, which can be powered by the mains or batteries - so when you're out and about you'll never run out of juice, and never miss your favourite TV ep! It's quite possibly the most head-turning (or should that be tuning?) gadget we've ever seen.

There are different PAL systems to choose from when tuning in your TV Wristwatch, you must ensure that it is on PAL 1 to get any reception within the UK. Please read the manual for further information. Reception can be adversely affected or prevented if you're too far from broadcast stations, or if you're too near buildings, mountains, underground areas, and other locations that may block the signal. As a result, video and audio may not be clear. Reception can vary depending on location, and in common with other portable devices suffers from a lower resolution than static devices.


Monday, January 09, 2006


Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates often likes to use the giant Consumer Electronics Show to unveil high-concept gadgets running Windows software.

Gates stepped to the podium in Las Vegas Wednesday night with a higher calling: to pitch Windows itself.

His challenge: to foment buyer anticipation for new PCs equipped with Windows Vista — the latest, most powerful version of the world's most widely used computer operating system. Vista is expected to hit stores late this year.

"2005 was a big year (for Microsoft). 2006 will be an even bigger year, with Vista coming out and Office 12 and the realization of the Media Center PC as a mainstream product," Gates said.

"Windows is Microsoft's most important product, and this is a very big release," Gates told USA TODAY earlier in an interview. "People will see a lot of things that they haven't seen before in terms of media, photos, user interface."

Vista is the linchpin to Microsoft's strategy for breathing life back into its growth rate in a rapidly evolving tech sector — and for reviving investor enthusiasm. Gates hopes to entice consumers to buy powerful new Vista PCs to use as the hub for integrating digital music, movies and video games in their homes as it fends off competition from Google, Apple and others.

From 1995 through 2000, Microsoft revenue, driven by sales of Windows and Office, grew on average 28% a year as consumers and businesses bought new computers and software to keep up with advances in power and sophistication.

But from 2001 to 2005, annual sales growth dropped to about half that. In its last fiscal year, which ended in June, revenue grew just 8% from the previous year.

Not surprisingly, Microsoft shares, which traded around $50 in 1999, have languished below $30 for much of the new millennium. It has become much more difficult for Microsoft to make the case for continual upgrading.

"Lagging sales may be due, at least in part, to many or even most users having all the computing power they need," says Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT Research.

Another major factor: Microsoft took five years — the longest stretch in its history — to deliver this Windows upgrade. The main reason: Security woes blindsided it, as hackers and crime groups joined forces to exploit security gaps intrinsic to any Windows PC connected to the Internet. As a wave of Internet-based scams hit, Microsoft scrambled to make security improvements, pulling resources away from Vista's development. With Vista, Microsoft asserts that security is well in hand.

"Security is pretty simple," says Gates. "It's something that because of the innovation in Vista you'll spend a lot less time involved with it, thinking about it, you just won't have to do as much because the software is taking care of that."

But those improvements came at a steep price.

In August 2004, to avoid further delays, the company announced Vista's much-touted graphics and communications engines — Avalon and Indigo, respectively — would be scaled back. Avalon was to smooth the integration of audio and video files; Indigo could make computer-to-computer linkups easier.

Worse, Vista would not include a breakthrough filing system, called WinFS, until later. WinFS was conceived to make it easier to work with and search for files stored in disparate formats, solving a profound Windows bottleneck.

The vacillation left in the lurch hundreds of third-party software developers toiling to create cutting-edge programs to run on Vista, says Paul DeGroot, tech industry analyst at Directions on Microsoft. "Vista is, I hope, the last time that Microsoft labors so long, misses so many ship dates, and revises so many features midstream," DeGroot says.



The Consumer Electronics Show that concluded Sunday in Las Vegas is noted for celebrity appearances: Tom Cruise, Robin Williams and Stevie Wonder were among big names on hand. But the real stars are new products, some more unconventional than others and some from lesser-known brands. A sampling:

Southern California newcomer ED Digital unveiled what it claims will be the first high-definition networked LCD televisions capable of making nice with Microsoft Windows Media Connect technology.

Sold under the Digitrex brand, the TVs have built-in Wi-Fi and an Ethernet port. You could be sitting in the living room taking in movies, home videos, pictures and music on the TV, even though all the content resides on a Windows XP-based computer elsewhere in the house.

The Digitrex TV is PlaysForSure-ready, meaning it can handle songs you've downloaded through such Microsoft-sanctioned subscription services as Napster, as well as high-definition movies fetched from the likes of CinemaNow.



In the blinking, singing, swirling, pulsing, glowing, frantic madness that was the International Consumer Electronics Show, chaos reigned.

But even in this vortex — in which over 140,000 people fight each other for information, breathing room and taxis — a few things were clear.

Digital technology, combined with high-speed access to the Internet and plummeting prices for both, has reached a critical mass. From cellphones to TVs to paperless books, computers and the rapid flow of data are combining to drive a multibillion-dollar industry and change the way people live, play and work.

The phenomenal success of consumer electronics in 2005 — global sales were almost $126 billion (U.S.) last year, and another $135.4 billion is forecast this year by the Consumer Elec tronics Association — has raised the intensity level at this annual, massive trade show, which sprawls across 1.6 million square feet at not one, but two convention centers.

The buzz is about digital music and video, as illustrated by the fact that the giants of online technology — Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, a triumvirate known in the industry as GYM — announced such initiatives here.

Google is the latest to leap into the fray, on Friday announcing in a speech by co-founder Larry Page that it would start offering video from many sources for sale on its site, with the creators setting their own prices.

Yahoo announced its Yahoo Go service, which will direct video to cellphones, computers and connected TVs. Users will be able to post their own content to Yahoo's services, such as the Flickr photo-sharing site, then view them on a TV or a cellphone.

During Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates' keynote speech, he and MTV Networks Music Group president Van Toffler unveiled Urge, a personalized music service that will be part of Windows Media Player 11.

Users will be able to tailor music offerings to their tastes, pay for an "all you can eat" option and provide feedback about the service and its music via blogs and forums.

But it is the devices that are the focus of this show, and the gadgetry almost universally here has some kind of network or Internet aspect to it.

Among the standouts:

Sony Reader: Although e-books have yet to take off, Sony plans on introducing a new model in the U.S. later this year that incorporates what is known as "digital ink" technology. It's a black-and-white LCD screen that has the clean, crisp look of printed paper.

ROKR E2: The Motorola ROKR: aka the Apple iTunes cellphone — was met with indifference and even scorn when it was released last year, as it only holds 25 songs. But Motorola has reworked the concept, The new ROKR E2 is lighter and smaller but holds a lot more songs — up to 500 in its two-gigabyte memory.

Dell XPS 600 Renegade: Hoping to win over hard-core gamers, Dell introduced a new version of its XPS 600 desktop PC that features a hand-painted, flame-red case.

The unit comes with an Intel Pentium 4 processor that's pushed past its rated speed to 4.28 gigahertz. Dell will guarantee the system at that speed — usually, such overclocking will void a PC's warranty.

A limited-edition product, each case will be hand-painted by airbrush artist Michael Lavellee, best known for working with hot rods and motorcycles.


Sunday, January 08, 2006


Media companies and celebrities stole the show at the annual consumer electronics convention this week.

Actors Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks and pop star Justin Timberlake rubbed shoulders with the top executives from Yahoo, Sony and Microsoft.

Their appearances matched a litany of deals by Time Warner‘s AOL, General Electric‘s NBC Universal, Viacom‘s MTV at the Las Vegas convention, where media companies were once sidelined.

Media companies, have "always been observers in Las Vegas," said Leo Hindery, managing partner of InterMedia Partners, a private equity firm specializing in media, and former CEO of cable operator AT&T Broadband, referring to programmers‘ outside status at the gadget show.

This year, media‘s "credentials are just as important as Google‘s and the guys who make the devices," Hindery added.

The groundswell of activity is a response to the fragmentation of consumer viewing habits and the proliferation of high speed Internet access, now in more than 60 percent of U.S. homes, by some measure, top media executives have said.

Media, once ensconced in the living room, is now cropping up in cars, the gym, the commute to work and just about any nook where viewers can slip out a cell phone or portable media player, analysts have said.

Programmers have wearily eyed the impact of not meeting consumer demand for flexibility about when and what to watch, while juggling concerns over piracy.

Consider what happened to the music industry, which dragged its heels for years before offering legal alternatives online. U.S. music album sales slid 7 percent this year compared to 2004, to an eight-year low, according to Nielsen SoundScan data.

Sony Corp (NYSE:SNE - news).‘s chief executive Sir Howard Stringer summed up the tension. "Content and technology are strange bedfellows. We are joined together."

Few companies know better the disastrous effect of failing to balance entertainment and technology.

Sony owns a movie studio, is an investor in a music joint venture, and controls an empire of electronics, computer and video games companies.

But it has been criticized for ceding the portable music market that it forged with the ubiquitous Walkman to Apple Computer Inc.‘s iPod.

"Sometimes we misunderstand each other, but after all, isn‘t that the definition of a marriage?" Stringer said. Earlier in his presentation, he clutched the new Walkman, now built into the Sony Ericsson cell phone.

Programmers responded in force this week.

"We want to have our content on as many platforms as possible, be it cable, video-on-demand, in video games, or online, over broadband and wireless," Tom Freston, CEO of the Viacom Inc. told Reuters in a phone interview. "We want to be able to (reach) our users in many places."

Pop star Justin Timberlake joined Microsoft Corp. chairman Bill Gates Bill Gates on stage to launch MTV‘s new digital music and video service, Urge. Timberlake regaled a packed room with a song entitled "Artistry and Technology" set to the tune of "Ebony and Ivory."

Chip giant Intel Corp. trotted out several deals to promote its upcoming Viiv (sounds like "five") technology including ones with NBC Universal for clips of the next Olympic games, and Time Warner Inc.‘s AOL, and a deal with Yahoo.

"People don‘t buy technology, they buy content...You have got to have content that is married to (technology)," said Chase Carey, CEO of DirecTV, which signed a deal with Microsoft.

Hanks, director Ron Howard and "The Da Vinci Code" author Dan Brown joined Sony‘s Stringer to promote high definition cinema equipment and Sony‘s lauded electronic book reader.

Cruise joined Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOO - news)CEO Terry Semel to demonstrate the company‘s new services that link its Web products to TVs and phones.


Friday, January 06, 2006


The soaring iPod economy is expanding to video with the first wave of new gadgets aimed at consumers eager to watch their favorite television shows and movies on the portable devices.

A raft of companies offering accessories such as leather carrying cases and speakers have already struck gold in a lucrative secondary market dependent on Apple Computer Inc.'s (AAPL.O: Quote, Profile, Research) ubiquitous iPods.

Now many see video fueling the next boom for a mushrooming market some analysts are pegging at a $1 billion, where start-up and well-established companies are in a race to find the next can't-miss, add-on item for the portable devices.

"There is absolutely no question video is the next big accessory category," said Jeremy Horwitz, editor-in-chief of iLounge, an independent online magazine devoted to the iPod and iTunes. "2006 is when companies are going to bring their new stuff to the table."

At least 30 million iPods have been sold since late 2001, giving Apple about 75 percent of the U.S. market for portable music players, and spawning an iPod economy driven by consumers who typically spend about half the price of the actual device on accessories, said Richard Doherty, research director at Envisioneering Group.

Designer cases, adapters for listening to the iPod in the car, audio recording plug-ins and protective shells are just a few products that boost the features and functions of the devices.

And following Apple's recent jump into video, analysts say consumers will start seeing an increasing number of accessories that cater to the iPod faithful who want to watch content using their machines.

One of the first of these new products comes from a California company started by former Apple executives who have found a way to turn most iPods into portable video recorders.

The iSee 360i allows users to slip their iPods into a slightly bigger box, which contains a 3.6-inch screen, and download video directly from computers, televisions, satellite, or any other analog source.

Advanced Technology Office introduced the iSee -- its first product -- this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where analysts say video is the next big trend in the iPod accessory market.

John Scott, the company's chief executive officer, said the iSee has a larger screen than Apple's own device, provides a longer-lasting battery and offers better resolution when connecting the machine to a television.

The iSee is expected to hit retailers' shelves early this year and sell for $249.

"The reason we went after this is that the iPod is a very well defined vertical market with about 35- to 40 million people who have MP3 players they really love," Scott said. "We tried to figure out how to add video around the iPod so you can carry it as one unit."

Some of the other new products introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show include Rochester, New York-based Icuiti's DV920 video eyewear headset that sells for $549 and displays video in front of both eyes.

EMagin's Eyebud allows users to watch movies from a tiny screen that sits in front of one eye. Eyebud models will be available later this year at introductory prices of $799 and $599, the company said.

The latest accessories came after Apple in October introduced its eagerly-awaited video iPod and unveiled a deal with Walt Disney Co. (DIS.N: Quote, Profile, Research) to sell television shows like "Desperate Housewives."

And while the stream of video-related products might just be a trickle at the moment, some in the technology industry are predicting that a slew of gadgets will soon hit the market.

"Thirty million iPod owners. That is what intrigued us," said Dave Pederson, a vice president at Zoran Corp., which makes the chips used in the iSee video player.



LAS VEGAS — In the self-proclaimed Entertainment Capital of the World, tech companies are starring this week: Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL have huge tents begging attendees at the Consumer Electronics Show to come in and be wowed. Perennial exhibitors such as Panasonic, Samsung and LG were on hand.

Yamaha, also a regular, displayed a beautiful, shiny, red piano in the center of its booth. Price: a cool $80,000. The instrument is a limited edition, autographed, Elton John "Red Piano," named after the show in which he performs at Caesars Palace here. It's an updated player piano of sorts — a Disklavier. John has recorded five songs, including Candle in the Wind and Tiny Dancer, that can be played in your living room, through the piano, at the flick of a switch. It even has speakers, and John croons — just for you.

Other entertaining hot stuff at the show:

Video camcorder sales took a surprisingly big tumble last year, according to a year-end fact sheet from the Consumer Electronics Association.

U.S. sales fell to 4.5 million units in 2005, from 5.5 million units in 2004, and the CEA projects flat sales in 2006. Meanwhile, digital camera sales jumped to 24.6 million in 2005, from 18.8 million in 2004. It appears that more and more consumers are opting instead to shoot video on "still" digital cameras, where video quality has been getting better and better. CEA projects sales of 26.1 million digital cameras for 2006.

There's finally a way to save your home movies and transfer them to video iPods and Sony PlayStation portables. Home-video editing software maker Pinnacle Systems introduced a downloadable software update that allows users of its Studio 10 program to save homemade productions to iPod and PSP formats.


Thursday, January 05, 2006


Eastman Kodak Company has introduced the world's first dual-lens digital still camera, the Kodak Easyshare V570 zoom digital camera.

Using proprietary Kodak Retina Dual Lens technology, the V570 wraps an ultra-wide angle lens (23 mm) and an optical zoom lens (39 - 117 mm) into a package less than an inch thick.

The innovative Easyshare V570 camera's ultra-wide angle lens coupled with its optical zoom lens produces a total 5X optical zoom range, providing more options to help today's picture takers capture the perfect shot - group photos, scenic landscapes, dramatic portraits, and close-ups.

Mary Hadley, general manager - digital cameras, Consumer Digital Imaging Group, Kodak, said, "Today's picture takers expect high-performance features in an attractive package. Kodak is first to give them a coveted, but previously unavailable ultra-wide angle lens in a pocket-size camera. Capturing high quality photos with maximum ease-of-use are at the top of people's lists when buying a new digital camera. By delivering on these needs in a completely new way, the Easyshare V570 camera pushes the boundaries of innovative design for ultra-compact cameras."

In addition to its dual lens design, the 5-megapixels V570 camera boasts a variety of features like in-camera panorama stitching, which automatically combines three pictures into a panorama photograph. Using the ultra-wide view in panorama scene mode, people can take in a 180-degree vista with just three shots - an industry exclusive.

Advanced video performance makes it easier for users to shoot all types of action with an ultra-wide angle. The Easyshare V570 camera records TV-quality video, up to 30 frames per second (fps) using advanced MPEG-4 compression. Built-in image stabilization technology reduces on-screen shaking from unintentional hand and camera movement. The camera also offers an optical zoom feature for video including auto focus.

The V570 has a 2.5-inch, high-resolution LCD screen, color science image processing chip for image quality, automatic red-eye reduction, on-camera cropping, picture blur alert and auto picture rotation.

Features also include twenty-two scene modes plus three color modes; photo frame dock 2, which provides one-touch picture transfer to a connected computer; 32 MB of internal memory; and an SD card slot for additional storage.



General Features:
64 MB RAM/128 MB Flash
Bluetooth Enabled
Flash Camera (1.3M Pixel) w 8x digital zoom
Display - 240x320 (65K Colors)
E-mail and Internet Access
QWERTY Keyboard
Removable Memory Slot - MiniSD
6.5 oz.
5.20H x 2.32W x 0.93D inches

MS Windows Mobile 5.0 Features:

Microsoft Activesync
Microsoft Media Player
Microsoft Office Excel Mobile
Microsoft Pocket Internet Explorer
Microsoft Office Outlook Mobile
Microsoft Office Word Mobile
Microsoft Office Powerpoint Mobile

Network & Usage Features:

1XEVDO (Broadband Internet)
Up to 300 Minutes Usage Time
Up to 200 Hours Stand by Time



GPS technology is normally associated with satellite navigation systems.

But others are looking at innovative ways of tapping into the potential of GPS.

Celestron has taken its background in making telescopes, to come up with a handheld gizmo that can identify thousands of objects in the sky.

The SkyScout uses GPS technology to work out the location of celestial objects that can be seen with the naked eye and find out what it is you are looking out.

"It is like a planetarium except that you are actually looking at the stars," said Celestron's Jennifer Adams.

The unit has a built-in database with some 6,000 entries. But it can be updated via its USB port or the SD memory card slot.

"Say there is a new comet discovered, you can download the information from our website," she said.

The product has been in development for three years and is expected to hit the shops in the US in March.



In professional video game contests, where thousands of dollars are up for grabs, having the right equipment is crucial.

For hardcore PC gamers, the level of control offered by a computer mouse can mean the difference between success and failure.

"Gamers are our hardest critics," said Logitech's Kate Brinks.

"People who buy our mice take them apart to take parts out or put in extra weight, and this voids the warranty."

Logitech has tried to address some of these concerns by developing a mouse with its own weight-tuning internal system.

The G5 laser mouse comes with 16 miniature weights, eight weighing 1.7 grams and eight weighing 4.5 grams.

Eight of these can be placed inside the mouse to customise the weight and balance.

Logitech hopes this will satisfy gamers who are looking for a mouse that feels exactly as they like.


Tuesday, January 03, 2006


Sony's Aibo robot dog behaves like a puppy when it is first activated. But it "learns" new behaviour as it spends more time with its human owner.

The RoboCup football championship features robots playing the beautiful game with different leagues for different robot types. A special ball is used which contains sensors that "talk to" sensors in the robot.

At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the USA, scientists have designed a robot called Kismet that can have realistic conversations with people.

Kismet is capable of seven different facial expressions and can vary the tone of its voice. It also adjusts its gaze and the angle of its head to look at the person it is speaking to.

A robotic head built by a Scottish company can judge how pretty a woman is. It works by examining faces to determine how feminine or masculine they are. It doesn't work on men because their attractiveness is not based as much on looks, supposedly.



The Apple iPod Nano is one of the faster players we've used in terms of navigation speed. Generally, MP3 players, especially hard drive-based players, pause for buffering every few songs; it's the norm, even on iPods. Selecting or forwarding through songs or browsing the music library is mostly instantaneous. Photo thumbnails can take a second to load, but again, browsing through photos is quick and painless. Data transfers to the USB 2.0-enabled Nano are swift, at about 5.3MB per second. In general, the sync relationship with iTunes on both the Mac and Windows side has been flawless; our experience with Windows hasn't always been good, but so far, our Nano-iTunes pairing is seamless.

As far as sound is concerned, the Nano gets loud but not overly so when using the included decent-sounding earbuds. The overall sound quality is excellent, with imperceptible hiss, though we've heard a bit better in terms of brightness and bass from the likes of Cowon and Sony. Surprisingly, the iPod's multitude of equalizer settings can make a difference for the positive, whereas we've characterized the EQs as being weak in the past. Reportedly, the Nano uses the same sound chip as the Mini.

It would have been difficult to guess the battery life of the iPod Nano before it was stated by Steve Jobs. It's a flash-based player, so it consumes less power than a hard drive-based model, and we initially figured it was good for 18 hours; it has a color screen, so maybe lower that to 16. Apple rates the iPod Nano for 14 hours, on the lower side for flash-based players, though the iPod Shuffle lasted only 12 hours in CNET Labs' tests. We regularly see flash models with rechargeable cells last into the late teens or early 20s, whereas alkaline-powered players can last more than 40 hours. CNET Labs was able to get 15 hours, 21 minutes in our standard drain test, an unspectacular but solid number. A note about recharging: Out of the box, the Nano charges over USB, and it takes 1.5 hours to charge 80 percent of the battery's capacity or 3 hours for full charge, which is considerably faster than the iPod Shuffle or the standard iPod.

Apple's done it again. By virtue of a sweet design backed by forward-thinking tech (the first 4GB flash player; a photo-friendly color screen), Apple will keep its ball rolling swiftly into the holiday season. The Nano's capacity will turn off many experienced MP3 fans, but we have a feeling that newbies will flock to the next big thing and help maintain Apple's 74 percent U.S. market share for all digital audio players.


Mini Alcohol Breathalyser

Look at your dad at the annual family xmas party. There’s a man who’s had a little more than he should have. Look, he’s pretending to be a gorilla. Hilarious. Car keys, please dad. Thanks.

Now while most of us have the good sense to stay away from the booze when we’re expected to drive, others use it as a unique way of avoiding getting behind the wheel of an evening. Here’s the plan: you drive to the pub.

Consume copious amounts of booze and if that’s not enough to convince everyone you really shouldn’t be driving, then break out the Alcohol Tester and show them just how sozzled you really are. Hey presto! Instant driving avoidance.

The Alcohol Tester, we should stress is not recognised by the long arm of the law, so if you’re going to use it to try and explain to the traffic police who’ve been following your weaving vehicle for over 2 miles that you’re well within the legal limit, then don’t, because they won’t have any of it, we can assure you. If, however, you want to test your mate’s claim that he’s consumed 18 pints of Stella and can still stand upright, then this is the perfect gizmo for you.

Team alcohol with a hot, sunny day and the Alcohol Tester becomes doubly useful, since it’s also home to a UV sunburn indicator, which will tell you when to cover up as you sink another large G&T. Probably the best gadget in the world…


Rimax Virtual Vision Glasses 3.0
Goggle box

There’s really only one drawback with flatscreen TVs: the price. A 36-inch LCD will empty your bank account faster than a masked villain with a sawn-off and a bad attitude. Ok, so they might look tasty hanging on your wall and there’s no denying the ‘wow’ factor it gives your living room.

There is another way, though, and one that does away with pesky interruptions during your favourite films. ‘So, err, how much was it then?’ and ‘I’m thinking of getting a plasma, although the wife wants a new car’ will be a thing of the past once you strap these puppies on.

The Virtual Vision 3.0 glasses strap to your skull and deliver the equivalent view of a 36-inch TV direct to your quivering eye sockets. It sounds like witchcraft but we assure you it isn’t.

The Visions, you see, have an internal LCD screen, so not only do you get your very own personal cinema, you also have the best picture quality money can buy into the bargain. ‘And what of sound?’, we hear you ask.

Well, the fiendishly clever Vision 3.0s have that licked too, thanks to a set of stereo earphones that sit snugly in your ears while you’re wearing the glasses. Perfect. And there’ll be no accusations of Feng Shui abuse, either, since the glasses can be stowed neatly in a drawer or some such. Flatscreen TVs? Pah, who needs ‘em…


Sanyo VPC-HD1 hi-def SD recording camera

Sanyo has just unloaded the VPC-HD1, which looks to be the first camcorder to record high definition video to an SD card (and something which should also make it one of the smallest high-def cameras available). The $800 camera measures 3.1-in. x 4.7 in. x 1.4 in and weighs only 8.3 ounces with the battery, but despite its size, the VPC-HD1 still packs a 10x optical zoom lens.

The camera can record 720p video at 30 frames per second and uses real-time MPEG-4 compression -- still pics come in at a nice 5.1 megapixels. It also has a handful of manual controls, including focus, aperture, exposure compensation, shutter speed, ND filter toggle, and manual white balance control. Look for it in March.


Monday, January 02, 2006


China is expected to need more than 100,000 robots by 2015 with the growing level of its industrial automation, according to sources with an on-going international machine manufacturing fair.

They will mainly be used in the production of automobiles, engineering machinery, electric machines and electronic products. Robot production line will eventually replace single robotic machines.

Since China began making robots in 1972, the number of producers has grown to more than 200, but most of the robots in use was imported. Currently there are 3,500 robots in operation in China, about 80 percent are imported from 40 countries including Japan, the United States and Russia.

China's big demand for industrial robots has attracted a growing number of foreign producers. A Chinese company has begun joint research and development with a Russian partner.


Flat-screen marvels to show at CES Wide-angle digital camera

From big-screen flat-panel televisions that can simultaneously display four high-definition videos to a small dual-lens digital camera for wide-angle photography, this week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas will not be short on new gadgets.

However, the promise of the digital living room, with easy-to-use electronic gizmos for the mass audience, still remains elusive, analysts say.

That's despite the progress in products and services that will be unveiled this week by high-tech companies from all over the world, they say.

In fact, rather than painting grandiose visions of what the future may hold, high-tech companies at the four-day event will probably showcase individual products that are here now, said Ross Rubin, an analyst at the market research company the NPD Group.

"I think this year, it's a bit of a retreat in some way," he said. "Now, the attention is focusing back a little bit on individual (devices) and building up the flexibility of those products as well as the entertainment value or quality of those products."

Analyst Tim Bajarin says that shift in focus to individual devices is also part of a broader change in how tech companies view consumers.

Instead of creating new interconnected gadgets just for the digital home, tech companies now see the opportunities to sell technology that moves with customers anywhere they go, through cell phones, handheld computers, laptops, PCs and TVs.

"They not only want to own the living room, but to actually own the connected consumer,'' said Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies Inc. of Campbell.

This year's show, which opens Thursday and is expected to draw more than 130,000 people from about 110 countries, is now the single most important trade show for the $108 billion global consumer electronics industry. About 44,000 buyers are expected to walk the 1.6 million square feet of showroom floor, which will include 2,500 exhibitors.

Marketing event

But the show has become more than just a place to strike business deals. With about 4,000 journalists and 1,500 financial analysts also scrutinizing their wares, CES also has become an important marketing tool for many companies.

With digitalization of home entertainment content such as music, movies and TV shows, the reach of CES has definitely gone beyond traditional consumer electronics giants such as Sony, Samsung and Panasonic.

Now, the titans of the PC industry such as Microsoft, Intel Corp. and Hewlett-Packard are also trying to tap into the consumer electronics market.

This year's lineup of keynote speakers includes Microsoft's Bill Gates, Sony's new chief executive officer, Howard Stringer, and Intel CEO Paul Otellini.

The Internet is also likely to play a prominent role in this year's show, with Terry Semel and Larry Page, chief executives of Yahoo and Google, scheduled to take center stage on Friday as keynote speakers.

"In the 28 years that I've been attending CES, this is the first one that's had such diversity of consumer electronics, PC and content industries," said Richard Doherty, an analyst at the technology analyst company Envisioneering Group.

One of the key themes at this year's CES will be downloading videos from the Internet and being able to watch them on a number of different devices, including portable media players like Apple Computer's video iPod, Doherty said.

The idea is not new, but the concept has gained momentum in the past couple of months, with Hollywood making a number of deals to make popular TV shows available online.

The list includes Apple's deals with Disney and NBC Universal to make some of their shows available through the Cupertino company's iTunes Music Store. Time Warner has decided to make some older shows available through America Online, and CBS and Comcast have also struck a deal to make certain shows available as video on demand.

This week, Sling Media, a San Mateo startup whose Slingbox allows users to watch their television on a PC from anywhere in the world with an Internet connection, will take another step in that direction.

TV on cell phones, handhelds

The company will announce this week that it will start selling a software application that will allow Slingbox users to access their television using a cell phone or a handheld computer.

"It takes us closer to our overall goal, which is to turn every display that a consumer interfaces with into not only TV or some video source but turn it into the TV that you love the most, which is your living-room TV," said Blake Krikorian, CEO of Sling Media.

The new mobile software application will be available in the first quarter, but the price hasn't been set yet, he said.

The new software will be compatible with devices such as Dell's Axiom and HP's iPaq handhelds, which use the Windows Mobile operating system and have the ability to connect to the Internet using a Wi-Fi wireless network.

Retrofitting older device

Meanwhile, Bajarin predicts that "one of the hottest products'' that will be introduced at the show is a device that retrofits an older iPod Mini or regular iPod with black-and-white screens with a larger full-color screen capable of displaying videos and photos.

Citing confidentiality agreements, Bajarin said he could not disclose the name of the product or its maker.

Other electronic gizmos that will be shown off this week include Kodak's Easyshare V570 digital camera, which has two lenses that work together to mimic a wide-angle lens camera. The new compact 5-megapixel camera allows the photographer to capture a bigger chunk of the subject without having to stand farther back. It will be priced at $399 when it hits store shelves later this month, the company said.

Last year, Samsung's prototype 102-inch flat-panel plasma display grabbed much attention from the attendees. This year, Samsung is already touting that it will be exhibiting the world's largest flat-panel liquid crystal display, with an 82-inch screen.

One company will claim its flat-panel television will have one of the highest resolutions. Westinghouse is expected to unveil a 56-inch LCD that contains 8 million pixels. That's enough resolution to display four high-definition videos at the same time, said Rey Roque, vice president of marketing.

"This will have 23 times higher picture quality than images from standard DVDs," he said.

Also, at 56 inches, it will be among the largest LCD displays to be available this year, Roque said.

The price is not set yet, but it will be ready for sale in the second half of the year, he said.

In fact, Bajarin said, the show should herald the start of another trend that will carry through 2006. The prices of 42- and 46-inch LCD-TV monitors should drop to the $3,000 mark, which for the first time would make big-screen LCD monitors a cost-competitive alternative to plasma screen TVs.

While individual devices will probably be impressive, the bigger hurdle is making them easy to use and compatible with each other, said Doherty.

"Digital living room is here, but you have to have a master's degree in engineering to make it work, or be a professional home theater system installer," he said. "And this year, the industry will be looking to some of the top executives to say it's getting better."


Super VGA Box with TV Tuner

Watch TV or films and play console games on your PC monitor – whilst still being able to use your PC!

If you get tangled up with a zillion different cables every time you want to use your console with your TV, this is for you. The Super VGA Box allows you to use your PC monitor as a TV or to play console games on, all without disconnecting or reconnecting any cables. It's simple to use, and won't affect your PC's functionality either. You don't even have to stop working on your PC while you enjoy your favourite show!

The Super VGA Box with TV Tuner acts as a central ‘hub' for all your cables, eliminating the need to swap them round when you want to use different machines. It features AV and S-Video inputs and can display up to a maximum resolution of 1280 x 1024 @ 75Hz (for full list of compatible resolutions see specifications).

But the Super VGA Box does more than save you from getting tangled up with cables, or buying a second telly. Its Picture in Picture display function means your PC doesn't become an extra TV; it actually allows you to watch TV whilst working on your PC! Now that's what we call multi-tasking.

For a simple solution to your multimedia problems, the Super VGA Box is perfect.


12-hour Digital Voice Recorder w/ Wireless Remote

This is the next generation in voice-recorder technology. In fact, this is the next generation in SPY technology. The big difference is that this one does things you won't find on most other high-end recorders on the market. It gives you an incredible 12 hours of recording time. It gives you FM radio. And best of all it gives you the first remote microphone. Just set it in a hidden area and leave the room. The voice recorder does the rest. Come back later and hear every last secret without anyone knowing. You can even hook it up to a phone and record conversations (not legal in some states).

Adapter for phone tapping is included. Need to e-mail a recorded message right away to someone important? Just plug it into your computer and you'll be able send files within seconds. Also includes rechargeable battery. It doesn't get any better than this: A voice recorder that does all this at a cost that is far less than most other basic models. Also includes two audio cables, USB cable, earphones, phone jack, software and strap.


Sunday, January 01, 2006


The ever-popular earbuds used with many iPods and other MP3 players may be more stylish than the bigger and bulkier earmuff-type headphones, but they may also be more damaging to one's hearing, according to a Northwestern professor.

"No one really knows for sure" the levels at which iPod users listen to music, but "what we do know is that young people like their music loud and seldom worry about any decline in hearing ability," Dean Garstecki, chairman of Northwestern's communication sciences and disorders department, told Reuters Health.

The earbuds commonly used by iPod listeners are placed directly into the ear and can boost the audio signal by as many as nine decibels - comparable to the difference in sound intensity between an alarm clock and a lawn mower, Garstecki said. Yet, the earbuds do not always fit snugly in the ear, but often allow background noise to seep in, which causes listeners to crank up the volume.

In turning up the volume to drown out background noise, however, people "don't realise they may be causing some damage" to their hearing, Garstecki said.

This danger is not confined to MP3 users, such as iPod owners. Earbuds are also used with compact disc players and Walkmans. Audiologists have cautioned about the potential risk of hearing loss associated with such devices since the 1980s. The longer battery life and the greater music storage capacity of MP3 players, in comparison to Walkmans and compact discs, however, encourage longer periods of uninterrupted music listening.

"It's the combination of high intensity and long duration that creates the unique problem with the iPod," Garstecki said.

Various researchers have reported an increased risk of hearing loss associated with headphone use in the general population. Despite this, an MTV survey conducted earlier this year revealed that most teens and young adults do not think hearing loss from loud music is a big problem, even though over half of those surveyed said they experienced ringing in their ears after concerts.

When told that the loud music may lead to lifelong hearing loss, however, most of the survey participants said they would consider protective measures in the future.

Eliminating iPod earbuds in favour of larger earmuff-style headphones as one of those protective measures may be an unattractive option for many style-conscious music lovers. Instead, Garstecki recommends adherence to the 60 percent/30 minute rule. Listeners should set their iPods and other MP3 players to sound levels that are no more than 60 percent of the maximum volume - i.e. just over halfway between "off" and "maximum" volume - and use their earbuds for no more than 30 minutes a day.

Those who use muff-style headphones at 60 percent volume can increase the duration to an hour a day, and those who listen at volumes significantly lower than 60 percent of the maximum can use their music players for many more hours. Also, newer, more snug-fitting earbuds are "likely to be safer" if they prevent users from turning up the volume to eliminate background noise, Garstecki said.

Noise-cancelling headphones are another option for those who desire to listen to music for an extended period of time. These devices, while a bit more costly and more visible than earbuds, partially or fully eliminate background noise so that users do not have to crank up the volume of their music for that purpose.



Nokia expects good growth in third generation (3G) mobile handset sales next year with global volumes set to double, Chief Financial Officer Rick Simonson said on Friday.

"We expect the devices to double in volume in 06," Simonson said in an interview with CNBC, when asked about the outlook for 3G handsets, which enable fast data connections and more sophisticated functions like video calls.

U.S.-based rival Motorola Inc.'s mobile devices head Ron Garriques said in an interview published earlier this week that he expected increasing sales of 3G phones in 2006, but did not see it as a breakthrough year for the 3G market.

Simonson also repeated the Finnish company's forecast for handset sales volumes overall to grow by more than 10 percent in 2006.

"You're looking at approaching 900 million plus units next year," he told CNBC.

Nokia has forecast global mobile phone sales from all handset makers to total 780 million units for 2005.



Samsung Electronics, the world's largest maker of flat screens, said it was set to start up its newest mass production line for liquid crystal display TV panels, three months ahead of schedule.

The start-up of a second "seventh-generation" line puts it ahead of rival LG.Philips LCD Co. Ltd, the world's number two flat screen maker, which is set to begin mass-producing LCD panels for large-size TVs at its own seventh-generation line in the first quarter of 2006.

Analysts are concerned the LCD industry could face overcapacity in 2006, as heavyweights like Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and LG.Philips LCD, both based in South Korea, ramp up output.

Samsung's new production line, Line 7-2, will initially produce 45,000 substrates, from each of which eight 40-inch panels can be produced, per month. The company plans to boost production in the second half to the line's full capacity of 90,000 substrates per month.

Total investment in the second line would reach 4.13 trillion won (US$4.09 billion), Samsung said.

Samsung, also the world's biggest maker of memory chips, already runs Line 7-1 jointly with Sony Corp, which currently produces 60,000 substrates per month.

Its LCD sales in 2005 topped $10 billion, Samsung said, without elaborating.


Poll finds Americans on high-tech gadgets

Personal computers, cell phones and high-speed Internet are considered essential to getting by for millions of Americans who are showing early signs of addiction to the next wave of high-tech toys, an AP-Ipsos poll found.

The latest wave includes MP3 players like iPods - popular with everyone from the kid next door to President Bush - high-definition television and digital video recorders like TiVo.

Some people freely admit to being high-tech junkies.

“The Internet connection is my lifeline,” said Jennifer Strother, a mother of two young children who lives in Smithfield, Va. “It's the connection to friends, e-mail - especially for stay-at-home moms. I'm hungry for adult conversation and any news that isn't ‘Dora the Explorer' or 'Blue's Clues.'”

One of her favorite gadgets is TiVo, which allows her to record programming for her husband and herself as well as her children's favorites.

The bill for being thoroughly plugged in to entertainment and communications runs more than $200 a month for a third of the households in this country. Four in 10 spend between $100 and $150 a month, according to the poll of 1,006 adults taken Dec. 13-15.

William Grantmyre spends more than $500 a month on communications, entertainment and the Internet at his two homes, one in Cary, N.C., and one at the beach. The attorney says he has no choice.

“TVs, cable or DirecTV, cellular phones, high-speed Internet,” Grantmyre said. “All of those things are pretty essential in today's world.”

Almost half of personal computer owners say they can't imagine life without their computers. About as many cell phone owners say the same thing about their portable phones.

The intense loyalty to high-speed Internet is a sign that people are getting hooked on newer technology. Almost four in 10 people with high-speed Internet say they consider it essential. About two in 10 feel that way about their DVD players, digital cable and CD players.

“Our culture is about distraction, numbing oneself,” said David Greenfield, a Connecticut psychologist who specializes in high-tech issues. “There is no self-reflection, no sitting still. It's absolutely exhausting.”

The number of people owning high-tech gizmos continues to grow.

High-tech items mentioned most often as sought-after gifts this holiday season were DVD players, MP3 players, cell phones and video-game consoles.

Penny Entsminger of Milton, Fla., was buying plenty of electronic gadgets for her children.

“I already bought quite a few, including computer games like Xbox and other things,” she said. Why the emphasis on electronic goods? “Because that's what kids want,” Entsminger said. “It's something they asked for.”

Interest in high-tech gadgets tailed off a bit a couple of years ago, but appears to be making a strong comeback, industry watchers say.

“There is more interest in these products,” said Stephen Baker, an analyst of the high-tech market. “Pricing is more reasonable. They're getting smaller, more mobile.”

Gadgets from an earlier wave of technology, including DVD players, CD players and cell phones, are now in most homes. But the next wave hasn't saturated the market yet.

About four in 10 have video-game consoles like the Xbox. About a fourth have MP3 players like the iPod. One household in seven has satellite radio, the poll found.

The appeal of different high-tech products differs from group to group. Those 65 and over were less likely to have those items, and were less likely to consider them essential.

“For the most part, the appeal of these devices is very generational,” said Rob Enderle, a California-based high-tech analyst. “In many cases, as you move up in age, it becomes increasingly a male audience.”

Men were more likely than women to have personal computers, Internet access and MP3 players. Those who make more than $50,000 a year were more likely to have Internet access, digital video recorders and MP3 players than those who made less.

For so many people to consider high-tech gadgetry essential to modern life is no surprise to Greenfield, the psychologist who specializes in Internet addiction.

“Part of the reason is the hype, the commercial selling of it,” he said. “Some people feel the products will improve the quality of their lives. But do we really need to be connected in every way, shape or form?”


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