Poor service from IBM: Big Blue shows its true colours

I’m rather annoyed with IBM. A few weeks ago, around the time of Lotusphere, I wanted to find out whether the Lotus 6.5.x client would run on Windows Vista.

I felt this was not an unreasonable thing to ask, given that IBM states on its website it would only support the 7.3.x and later versions on Vista.

I was speaking to Changebase, a company offering a Vista migration tool called Aok that had found users need not upgrade to run the Lotus client on Windows Vista.

It certainly won’t run without tweaks to the installation script according to Aok…but it will work.

So I put this to IBM. I’m sure Computer Weekly readers would like to hear IBM’s experience of running the 6.5.x client on Vista. But, it’s been three weeks and I haven’t heard a thing.

Perhaps IBM is ignoring me because they’d prefer people upgraded to the latest version. Perhaps Big Blue, the company that has been integral to the development of IT in business simply cannot be bothered to answer a legitimate question.

Either way, it is not acceptable. IBM wins a lot of good publicity from its generous support of the open source community. Maybe it has a Jekyll and Hyde personality and beneath all the goodwill, IBM is under-handedly trying to get users to pay for new versions.

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What's the question here? You've already stated you're running an unsupported version, on an OS that you're nearly guaranteed it not to work on.

You read the docs saying "Support for 7.3.x and newer"

If you're hoping to get a reply, I personally wouldn't expect anything other than a 'You're not using a supported version'

Is it too bad? Yes, but these companies don't have the resources to maintain software that's 5 years old. Priority is placed on new and improved software that will run on current OS's.

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I find your comments dramatic and somewhat disrespectful. IBM is a big company, so somebody might have dropped the ball in answering your question. So, why throw a fit? Ask it again!

IBM has a lot of wonderful people that I am sure did not mean to hurt your feelings. But talking about 'Jekyll and Hyde personality ... beneath all the goodwill' is simply rude.

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I understand your frustration but lets be straight about this -if every journo went through IBM tech support to get answers for their articles/stories, where would that leave IBM ? IMHO I think you have to build more personal and better relationships with IBM. Seek out their marketing and product management people or equal peers to you to help you get answers for your story - I'm sure they would be more than happy to assist you. Please, no one likes a crying wolf when really the onus is on you to do your job a bit better. Now, pick up the phone and make those contacts!

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Hi Cliff,

As the other comments have mentioned, what is the underlying problem here? The fact that you do not know your releases? There is No 7.3.x. Notes Releases for 7.x are :

7.0

7.0.1

7.0.2

7.0.3

Where's 7.3.x?

So, for you to not even understand what product is supported, how can you even try to post on a website complaining about software that doesn't even exist? 7.3.x? No wonder no one got back to you. IBM does not support older software on newer platforms because the older software would have to be updated to run on it. And you know what, that is why they support 7.0.3 in Vista. Because it's the updated version of the software. Who would have thought of that? Updated software running on newer platforms. Get a new job Cliff because your job satisfaction is clearly low.

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IBM has done lots of wonderful things and is very good at providing support. Try again. I think somebody just needed some trivial writing material.

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I agree with the other comments: If a vendor tells you a certain product level is not supported on a particular platform, what more do you need to know?

Rather than griping about the company just for the sake of stirring the pot, do your homework and find a real story.

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I don't think that nobody answering that question is a reason to be pissed at a company. No company is providing support to any software that is way behind the one they are promoting and supporting currently. Have you ever tried to get support for windows 98 today? have u seen what happens with your contact if you ever do so?... Try it, I don't think IBM's way to react to your requisite was the best one, but it was certainly not the worst one either.

Tweaking an unsupported software is something that almost no software owning company will help you with...

Bare that in mind, please before contacting any customer service or technical support.

Regards.

Ernest

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I am confused...

Are you actualy a paid author of an established publication? When I read this drivel - I though you were just another random bloger who happens to not know what he is talking about... than I looked at the top of the page -- so your paid to not know what your talking about and blab on about nonsense?

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IBM Domino support #3 - Responsibility and legacy It is not unusual for companies to try to run unsupported software on new platforms. It's not up to me to judge the wisdom of their IT configuration choices or the financial situation that has influenced their decisions.
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I am not sure what the beef is here with this article. You already have the answer, if you didn't it is documented on the IBM website anyone in the Notes.net forum would of answered it fairly quickly.

Running r6.5.x on Vista is an "unsupported configuration". What this means is it will probably run fine but has not been tested by IBM. If any issues occur due to the platform IBM won't fix them.

I doubt that is the main question most people had. More likely questions about R8, as R6.5.x is approx 2-4 years old (depending on version).

There is no 7.3.x version btw.

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This is truly pathetic. With our shop heavily invested in IBM, I came across this headline and thought it'd be of interest. It's clear this loser has a beef because IBM won't kow-tow to trivial demands from a whacko journalist to completely revise their certification paths. Sure, there are always isolated issues with any major OEM. But the way the header and URL show up, it's borderline defamatory!

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Are you simple-minded? If they say they only support version 7.x or later, why did you even bother asking about an earlier version?

Do you have any idea how difficult it is for ANY vendor to support an infinite number of versions of their software, just because a handful of customers are too lazy or too tight-fisted to upgrade? Especially in a Microsoft environment!

Really, I'm no fan of IBM (and especially not the horror that is Lotus Notes) but this is possibly the stupidest thing I've ever seen published in a computer magazine.

"Unravelling IT hype for useful CIO strategy," my left buttock.

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Wow ... just like the other posters have commented, if IBM says it supports 7.0.3 and later on Vista and you ask "Do you support 6.5.x?" ... you are astonished that no-one has gotten back to you quickly? You then say "Perhaps ... this ... Perhaps that ..." ... I say "Perhaps some writer desparate for a splashy headline will string non-coherent thoughts together to achieve that headline" .... perhaps.

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Have you opened a problem with support to ask the question? Of course, the answer will be that no, it's not supported IBM supports version 7 and almost certainly version 8, if 6 happens to run for you, great. But this seems like a silly thing about "IBM's true colours"

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The title of your blog says it all.

... FUD ...

Can't you find something real to write about?

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It appears you have a number of IBMers reading your blog! :o)

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Wow. How convenient to sit in you high tower and take potshots at the leader in technology services.

You make one simple request, to which you already know the answer. You don't get a response to your "duh" question. Then you, due to your position as the owner of the IT FUD blog, totally insult with malice, a company that continues to drive IT into the future.

It must be nice to have your job. Personnally I prefer working towards the future. I still have the 32 disk set of Windows 95 which took 10 hours to install. I've worked on and with computers and networks for almost 30 years.

I'm so glad we have come along with great improvements in Hardware, Software, Services, and Support.

But you are still living in the past my friend.

That, or you are just trying to get your flame Blog noticed....

I'll assume the latter is truer than the former.

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Cliff please tell me who your boss is, I would like to complain about your lack of real content.

very poor indeed.

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Ron

I don't have copies of Windows 95, but I still have the 98 and Me CD-ROMs. At home I like to get the most from existing equipment. That's not nostalgic, it's simply makes economic sense. At work, I have been using the same PC for nearly four years. Some of our readers on Computer Weekly and ComputerWeekly.com are unable to upgrade constantly. Usually it's one or two key applications that drives them to investigate the possibility of upgrading.

I've put my name to this blog posting, unlike some of the people here, hiding their comments to my posting behind private email addresses, who clearly have a vested interest in IBM.

True, IBM is a tech leader. Computer Weekly and ComputerWeekly.com is independent of any IT company, small or larger, irrespective of whether they are an advertiser. Our goal is simply to reflect what our readers are trying to do with IT, the issues they face and how they solve them.

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Your question was answered before you asked it. You're disappointed that some IBM employee didn't drop everything and engage in some speculation on technical matters already decided and publicized by the company? If you're complaining about the lack of response to an unreasonable question from a journalist, how does that relate to how IBM services its customers?

You expect applications to be completely future-proof for all future, bloated operating systems and upgrades. Isn't it Microsoft who is changing the rules and forcing everyone to upgrade?

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Hi, it's Rebecca, deputy web editor, Computer Weekly, here.



This debate rages on, doesn't it! It's even spread to one of our other blogs. So I think it's worth me just making a quick point here about the purpose of our blogs.

All of Computer Weekly's bloggers use their blogs to express their opinions. Their views are their own, not Computer Weekly's, and are also often not shared by our other bloggers!

And that's a good thing. The aims of the blogs are to encourage debate, discussion and comment, to share views. When our staff blog, they're doing a different thing to what they'd do in a news article. In the blog, they're offering their personal view. In news they're bringing you the facts as they've found them. So, Cliff let off a bit of steam in his blog, as he might to a colleague at the next desk. And just as in that kind of environment, there's been plenty of response, some of it rather colourfully expressed! Which is how it works in blogging - stick your head above the parapet and sometimes you'll get shot at. But please do remember, it wasn't a 'news' piece, it was comment. Cliff's a good journalist and he knows the difference. In comment, colour is allowed - on both sides of the argument.



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Oh dear. First they put your company up for sale and now you're the new Max Gogarty. Not a good day, is it?

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Cliff,

The main thing is that IBM didn't cheat on you, they just didn't answer to your "not so reasonable" request.

By the way how did you make that request? To whom? Using what channel?

In your tittle you put very strong words about IBM, but then you don't support your case. Why?

Where you paid to write this?

You know, I did notice that the banner on the top of the page was from HP.

On the other hand, you mislead all your readers by publishing a Title that as nothing to do with the reality.

Yes, You have cheated on your readers.

Who do you think is showing is true colors?!

Regards,

Fernando Sousa

PS - Sorry about the bad english.

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Cliff,

I think you could do everyone a favour by answering some of the questions that have come up. For example: How did you "So I put this to IBM". If you opened a support ticket, you should have received a response and if not, you could escalate this.

If you just sent an e-mail to a random e-mail address, how about following up there instead of this rant?

As many others have said, you already really had your answer from the support Web site: "Due to the broad changes in the Windows Vista release, coupled with the March 2007 release of Notes 6.5.6 (which is the last planned 6.5.x Maintenance Release), support for Windows Vista for Notes 6.5.x is not planned."

All in all: What is your point? You are mad because you didn't get a prompt reply on a question that you already had the answer for?

Disclaimer: I do work for IBM, but this is a personal statement. I would probably not have written this reply if I were not an employee, but even if this had been a rant about Microsoft, I would probably have shaken my head over your post. With your poor reasoning, I now know that I can put little confidence in your articles, regardless of Rebecca's comments about the status of your blog...

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I posted some comments on the second of Cliff's responses -- as the worldwide sales executive for Notes and Domino, I'd be happy to answer questions.

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http://www-1.ibm.com/support/docview.wss?uid=swg21252343

Check out this URL - Its mentioned very clearly that Vista support is there only for 7.0.2, 7.0.3 and 8.0

If they have clearly mentioned the same is not here for a version post which 2 major releases have come, why are you flaring up?

Ver 6.5 was launched in Nov 2003 (More than 4 years old) and is getting Out of support in April 2009. It would not be practical for any vendor to support three versions of their software for an OS which was launched less than a year back.

Please be reasonable when you are making such strong statements

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While I share your concerns as to whether IBM is truly benevolent, citing to myself instances such as those surrounding the world wars, it's still your own fault you use Vista at all. Corporate altercation irrelevant in light of Microsoft connection. Time for a change more fundamental than the superstructure. //de

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Hi - I agree with the comments, however I also understand the frustation one must have - Maybe the person writing the article was frustated about many things with the computer, or what do I know. I hope you call IBM and ask, but I'm also certain on is if IBM has written information on their homepage - there might not be more to ask for, and to expect. Also rememeber that they have 330000 employees placed all over the world. They might not all be familiar with the homepage information that you've read, and there are many helpdesks as well. I hope you got your issue solved.

Best Regards Anja

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How dare they ignore you, Cliff.

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"Deputy Web Editor Distances Themself From Whining Journo Shocker!"

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Some people are going to quick conclusions here.

If you read the original post, the question was not "Is it supported?" but, knowing it is not supported and based on some comments from a 3rd party company, Cliff asks: "Would you help to modify the install script to get Notes 6.x client install on Vista?".

If development of this product line has stopped, support is still given and, if a fix in not required, Cliff should get an answer.

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Cliff, help me to understand... are you just another sucker that bought (and installed) Vista?? And now everybody else is responsible for such a vise move? Tch tch...

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Cliff,

I have worked in R&D for a company with a large customer base.

Do you have any idea what is involved in making legacy software compatible with newer operating systems. Especially Vista. Look at the number of applications that are considered unsupported by their vendors when it come to Vista.

It takes many man months to put the hooks in and is not a cost effective approach.

One thing to keep in mind, if you put a band-aid in place to make something work the way it was not designed you are more than likely going to open up a security hole or at a minimum cause many support nightmares.

Remember there is a reason that a company states their software requirements and phase out non-supported versions.

Notes is a very complex application under the hood. I agree with IBM that you have to stop supporting versions sometime, a product must have a lifecycle or your still stuck supporting something like OS/2 1.3.

Go to Microsoft and see how much support you will get for Windows for workgroups, Win95, Win98...

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Cliff,

I sat at my desk at my house and asked questions to the wall and now one has gotten back to me either? What gives dude? Now I have posted some things in my time but your just barking up the wrong tree. I would start by reading the IBM web site and finding out the information you are looking for. It has to be there somewhere, and why not ask if IBM is going to support Lotus 2, 3,4, & 5 while you are at it. I mean why move ahead with software. Lets keep supporting the same old stuff for as long as we can and this coming from the same place that demands innovation. You can't have both! How about the better question? Why would you run Vista, it's crap!

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To bgates@microsoft.com

I know Vista does not support Notes 6.5 even though it's a common app. But could u please tell how I can tweak Vista so it works anyway?

Thanx /Cliff

There. Send this and you can have a second rant on your blog soon

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@David: If that is in fact the question that Cliff put to IBM, the answer is still self-evident. IBM does not support Notes 6.5.x on Vista and their support organization is not in the business of giving customers free assistance in making their products do things that they never promised it would do and have explicitly stated that they don't support. But IBM's consulting services organization might be glad to work on getting Notes 6.5.x to install on Vista, undoubtedly for a rather substantial fee. Should they be engaged to do that and successfully get it to install, it would not change the fact that the product is not supported on Vista.

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Perhaps they had no idea what you were talking about. What is the 'Lotus client'? There is a Lotus NOTES client, I assume that's what you're talking about, but Lotus client doesn't mean anything.

That may sound pedantic, but how do you expect to be taken seriously if you can't even get the name of the product right?

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"7.3.x and later" means the version 7.3 and NEWER ....NOT BEFORE version 7.3. I think that is where you went wrong, now just admit this and all this will just go away.

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Ha ha Rebecca. Some serious backtracking from you here, clearly! Simply because these articles are labled by you as "blogs" doesn't suddently mean that Computer Weekly can abidicate all responsilibility and claim that their bloggers' "views are their own, not Computer Weekly's". They are Computer Weekly correspondents, writing on the Computer Weekly site, using the power of the Computer Weekly brand to draw punters in (as the headline here did for all of people who have responded, both the IBMers and non-IBMers).

Therefore there is an onus on Computer Weekly to ensure that what is being written is fair and accurate, whether that's about IBM, or Microsoft or Oracle or HP or any other vendor. Unless, of course Rebecca, you're just trying to stir up nonsense to drive more traffic to your site and advertisers? (I note, you include a link to the other blog where the "debate rages on" - where there are only two comments, and one of them's yours!!).

If these were truly independent opinions with merit, Cliff wouldn't have to use the Computer Weekly name to fire them up, which is doing more damage to your brand than anyone elses.

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Sorry to take so long to post on this blog but I have only just spotted it.

Firstly, my disclosure. I work for ChangeBASE, who have developed a tool called AOK to test whether applications will run on a range of platforms, including VISTA and will ‘fix’ most apps to run on the target platform if there are incompatibility issues. Cliff refers to this tool in his initial post.

There have been concerns in the postings whether ‘fixing’ apps is a sensible approach to comatibility problems. As you might expect our view is – in many situations, yes. But it also depends on what we mean by a “fix”.

The way we apply a fix – or the way it can be done manually, is to apply changes the original installation scrip (Microsoft use the MSI format ). We use Microsoft technology for this and create a transform file called an MST. This can then be applied to the original installation routine. Many companies have been doing this manually with applications in the last decade.

What are the benefits of this approach? Well firstly it can mean you can get an application that would not otherwise install correctly, functioning in a new environment. In many cases this just requires a few changes to the original installation script. In the case of the version of Lotus Notes we tested AOK identified c. 50 issues with their installation file that can quickly be fixed via an MST.

For widely sold vendor products you might prefer to upgrade to the latest version of the software instead of applying a fix. However for in house/bespoke applications or legacy systems you may not have this choice and ‘repackaging’ the application may be the only solution. Also a number of vendor products are not yet fully compatible with say VISTA and this approach can obviate this problem.

If you do apply an MST to a vendor application you need to be aware that future updates to the product may create support issues and so you need in house skills to address this.

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Its funny, you upgrade to Vista but do not want to upgrade other software??? Please ask Microsoft for Windows 98 Support and see what happens!!

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A few days ago, I was having a debate about the perceived secondhand value of software. A copy of PhotoShop CS3 is still a perfectly good imaging package. A user should be able to resell the license in order to fund the purchase of a newer edition.

Before Vista MS software used to be backwards compatible - you could run older versions of Office on Windows XP - but try running Office 2000 on Vista. Outlook 2000 simply doesn't work. Now if you have invested in a piece of software - why should yoube forced to upgrade when the OS is updated.

On a slightly different note, last week I switched smartphones from my old XDA Orbit running Windows Mobile 6.0 to the Nokia 6220 Classic running Symbia S60 v3.0. When I first purchased the XDA, I raved about how you could buy loads of quite neat applications like an A to Z map and the CoPilot satellite navigation software for the device.

I knew the software would be incompatible with the Nokia/Symbian phone. But what really annoys me is that I am forced to pay for a full copy of CoPilot 7.0 for Symbian, becuase the company does not offer an upgrade path from CoPIlot 6.0 on Pocket PC.

I expect many people who have fallen in love with the iPhone 3G will face a similar situation in two years time, if they decide to switch to a different smartphone.

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My experience with the IBM staff here in Pakistan has been equally terrible.

Our company unfortunately happens to be a business partner of IBM. We often have to seek their collaboration on questions which our potential buyers/clients ask.

I have found them IBM staff thoroughly unprofessional in all my correspondences with them. As a matter of fact, if you could speak it the crude way, IBM is a terribly greed-stricken company. They will not let a single penny escape from a potential/buyer.

On the other hand, our experience with the Microsoft staff over here has been excellent. They are not always ready for every support, but they very proactively keep you updated on all current issues and potential business markets. And I must praise Microsoft staff, that they are generous in all respects indeed.

As for IBM, we refer to them as the 'rogue' company whenever a talk comes about them over our Lunch Table.

I remember how one of our potential client Banks (which is a renowned Bank over here in Pakistan) needed to have 240 user profiles in IBM Content Manager Ondemand (as they have 240 branches, and wanted to restrict roles such that no two branches could check each others' data). For IBM CMOD, you have to have a minimun of 20 User licences, and each added user license after that costs a great deal. For our client, 240 licenses were not at all cost effective. Our Boss decided to talk the matter out with the IBM staff in Pakistan, but they simply refused to offer any discounts/considerations whatsoever, and we had to lose a very important potential customer.

As far as the IBM Software Portfolio is concerned, I can very safely claim that with such a rogue attitude and poor quality of support and products, IBM Software Portfolio is bound to perish very soon. Not only that their support is poor, the quality of products is also poor and they are extra-ordinarily difficult to implement and deploy.

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You are clearly confused. Instead of approaching this company as an object, something to deal with, approach it for what it is. It is people running a business. Build the relationships with the people, and watch the magic happen!

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Has anyone had any experience using the ThinkPad recovery/pre-boot service partition? Basically, I've had my ThinkPad R40e for 4 years and it's time to reformat the hard drive. But IBM never gave me a disc w/ my OS (which is Windows XP Home) or a disc w/ my drivers. If I run this recovery program, it sounds like it will accomplish what I want (and actually be a easy way to reformat), but all the instructions from IBM and Lenovo are vague, so I just want to make sure that my system will be usable if I do this. I don't have any hard drive corruption/failure, I just want to reformat to improve speed and performance.

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If you have an external drive, you can create an image of the disc using programs like Macrium, reformat your ThinkPad's hard disc, then run Macrium Reflect to create the image (http://www.macrium.com/).

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