HTPC "Irman" Newbie question - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 24 Old 06-07-2001, 08:28 AM - Thread Starter
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I will be receiving a new HTPC today or tomorrow from AVS. It’s the HTPC elite 1Ghz model with WinDVD and a Happaug TV tuner card installed.
Can someone give some examples and a brief functionality description of how the Irman would be used with my HTPC. I have visited the evation.com site but am still somewhat unclear on how it works. How would it know and convert (for example) the WinDVD, airboard keystroke codes without first pre-programming a hand held learning type remote.

I was thinking about the Pronto remote but it's pretty expensive. The Irman could possibly be a short or even long term alternative.
Thanks, Don
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post #2 of 24 Old 06-07-2001, 09:11 AM
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The Irman is a piece of hardware that receives IR signals. For it to have any functionality it must be used with a piece of supporting software. The software of choice is the wonderfully powerful freeware written by Ron Bessems called Girder . Girder allows you to automate just about any windows task by creating commands and assigning Girder "Actions" to them. These commands are "Taught" the IR code received by the Irman. Every time Girder sees this code it runs the command associated with it.

In addition to individual commands you can also create very powerful macros.

Girder is a little intimidating when you first start using it but after a little bit of experimenting you'll wonder how you ever did without it. I enthusiastically recommend it!

Regards -- Steve

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post #3 of 24 Old 06-07-2001, 09:33 AM
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Don,

Basically, when you install the Airboard, you'll be doing all your multimedia commands, stop, play, ff, skip, etc. from your KB instead of your mouse. Those IR commands are then taught to your Pronto, if you get one, and it's highly recommended that you do. http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif

I have a G11 with the Dilard program which has it's own pre-assigned KB commands and macros. I can sit down, bring up my Pronto home screen, push "Watch a DVD", and *everything* in my system turns on with user preset timers.

Example:

My G11 turns on, input sets to comp1, PowerStrip sets to 1360 x 768, Lexicon MC1 turns on in DVD mode, volume sets to -15, MC1 triggers Cinepro amp, PowerDVD opens with on screen messages saying "Welcome to the Lays Home Theater" and "Hang On To Your Hats". Finally, a command from the Pronto starts the DVD. This all takes about 60 seconds.

The IRMan mostly does your mapping of Win and PowerDVD to the KB, the Pronto will learn anything IR activated.

Chris

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post #4 of 24 Old 06-07-2001, 09:46 AM
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<FONT face="Comic Sans MS">steve-
i'm a little confused...can i used the infrared remote receiver from my airboard and Girdier - effectively bypassing the need for additional hardware like IRMAN?

i'm trying to figure out how to move the Airboard mouse via teaching it to my HT MX-500 Remote. so far i've been able to teach the MX-500 macros from the Airboard, but have not used Girdier yet.

you guyes are right, i've experimented a little w/Girdier and yes - it's daunting! i guess i have to play w/it a little more.</FONT f>

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post #5 of 24 Old 06-07-2001, 11:43 AM - Thread Starter
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Steve,
You Got me http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/wink.gif now I'm thoroughly confused. Are you saying that if I decide to go the Pronto route, I will still have to get Irman and Girder? I just want to make selecting and playing different devices on the HTPC (by the way it arrived this morning) as painless as possible. I am a tweaker by nature and my G11 and building of the hush box has already got my family wondering when I am just going to sit down and enjoy my projector.

By the way, I down loaded the latest version of ProntEdit a week ago and have been playing with, building and modifying some CCF files. I have a pretty good feel on what the Pronto can do and how it works.

Don
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post #6 of 24 Old 06-07-2001, 12:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by anderdea:
Steve,
You Got me http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/wink.gif now I'm thoroughly confused. Are you saying that if I decide to go the Pronto route, I will still have to get Irman and Girder?
Sorry--let me try again http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif You can get by with the Pronto and the AirBoard if you plan on controlling your HTPC using only keyboard keystrokes. The keystrokes can be sent by the Airboard or taught to/sent by the Pronto. This will work for applications that have keyboard shortcuts. Sending an &lt;Enter&gt; key to PowerDVD for example will result in playback start. Sending a &lt;Space&gt; key will pause, etc.

The keystrokes are received by the application that currently has focus. Since they aren't targeted to any specific window or application, sending keystrokes will ONLY work if the application being controlled has focus.

If the application you're trying to control does not have focus, sending keystrokes using the Airboard or the Pronto (sending learned airboard keys) will send the keystrokes to the wrong application. In short, you'll have to pick up your keyboard and manually select the correct app--not my idea of reliable control.

Additionally, it can be pretty time consuming to teach Pronto how to reliably play back key combos that include modifiers such as &lt;Ctrl&gt;&lt;Shift&gt;a. And, as I indicated earlier, you have a finite number of possible keystokes--not to mention the fact that it isn't always obvious which hotkeys are already assigned globally to other applications.

IMO you have infinitely more control, flexibility, and reliability by adding and Irman ($35) and Girder (FREE!). The Irman can receive ANY IR code, be it a keystroke or a play command from your old vcr remote. With Girder, commands or marcos can be taught to react to specific IR codes. The commands can be targeted to a specific window. Now if you're trying to send PowerDVD a play command but notepad has focus, Girder will send the command to PowerDVD not notepad.

Hopefully, this was less confusing. If not, let me know and I'll give it another shot http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif

Regards -- Steve

[This message has been edited by SteveV (edited 06-07-2001).]
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post #7 of 24 Old 06-07-2001, 05:54 PM
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<FONT face="Comic Sans MS">steve -

thanks for the breakdown w/Girdier and Irman. if i'm keeping it simple (like opening/closing only HT programs like ATI Player or PowerDVD or even mouse control), then keyboard buttons and macros will work fine w/my universal MX-500 remote.

however, you noted that Irman will accept non-keyboard codes. my question is why would i want to have Irman learn my Receiver, DVD, etc., remote control codes? the Irman plugs into the computer but the computer doesn't in turn control those other electronics. or am i missing something

bottom line is that my HTPC is really simple (and i want to keep it that way). i only use windvd, powerdvd, ati, dvd genie, and powerstrip. i have a MX-500 universal learning remote and have taught it macros from the Airboard keyboard a la powerstrip. surprisingly, the Airboard IR receiver ACCEPTS my MX-500 codes. with that in mind, could i not use Girdier to emulate the mouse movement to Airboard keyboard then learn it to my MX-500. that would make it simple since my MX-500 have a mini directional joystick to learn the mouse movment. a question, can Girdier assign macros to open and close programs?

thanks again steve.
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[This message has been edited by bodegabay (edited 06-07-2001).]
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post #8 of 24 Old 06-07-2001, 06:22 PM
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EDIT: bodegabay, After I read this post I realized I had you mixed up with anderdea and assumed you were planning on using a Pronto--sorry http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/redface.gif. As such the RC5 comments probably don't apply in you case. However, if you ever run out of keyboard keys you could use IR codes from other equipment. Your remote probably has the ability to emulate other devices. Need more codes, just pick a device you don't own http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif

Quote:
Originally posted by bodegabay:
...you noted that Irman will accept non-keyboard codes. my question is why would i want to have Irman learn my Receiver, DVD, etc., remote control codes?
You wouldn't. But it's easy to use IR codes for equipment you DON'T own. As you probably know ProntoEdit allows you to assign IR codes to Pronto "buttons". The nice thing is that you can assign RC5 codes which are very small (memory-wise) and are easy to keep track of. For example: RC5 protocol supports up to 32 device numbers and 127 function numbers. A typical Pronto RC5 code assigned to a button would look like RC5 12 2 (where 12 is the device number and 2 is the function number).

Rather than using keyboard IR codes I create a Pronto RC5 codes for all the applications I want to control. For example: I use Device number 12 for PowerDVD.

PowerDVD Off: RC5 12 0
PowerDVD On: RC5 12 1
PwerDVD Play: RC5 12 2
PowerDVD FF: RC5 12 3

and so on and so forth. The advantage is that I can assign a different Device Number to each application and easily keep track of which codes are assined to what. And since the codes are taught to Girder I don't have create funky Pronto Macros using lots of keyboard keystrokes.

I have a Girder macro that runs when it sees a specific RC5 code. For example:

PowerDVD On (RC5 12 1) runs a Girder macro that does the following:

Close DScaler if running
Launch PowerDVD
Wait for PowerDVD to finish loading
Use YxY to set anamorphic picture settings
Hide mouse pointer
Hide PowerDVD control panel
Send a Play command to PowerDvd

Try doing that (reliably) using keyboard keystrokeshttp://www.avsforum.com/ubb/wink.gif

Quote:
...bottom line is that my HTPC is really simple (and i want to keep it that way). i only use windvd, powerdvd, ati, dvd genie, and powerstrip.
That's perfectly fine. http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif

Quote:
...i have a MX-500 universal learning remote and have taught it macros from the Airboard keyboard a la powerstrip. surprisingly, the Airboard IR receiver ACCEPTS my MX-500 codes. with that in mind, could i not use Girdier to emulate the mouse movement to Airboard keyboard then learn it to my MX-500. that would make it simple since my MX-500 have a mini directional joystick to learn the mouse movment. a question, can Girdier assign macros to open and close programs?
Since you're teaching your remote Airboard IR codes the Airboard receiver sees the same codes that it would see if the Airboard was sending the codes. And yes, you could teach your remote the joy-mouse codes as well. As far as Girder macros opening and closing programs--you bet. Just about any thing you can do with a mouse or keyboard, you can automate with Girder. Keep in mind that you can also teach Girder to respond to keystrokes from your Airboard. You could for example create a PowerDVD macro similar to the one above and teach Girder to run it when it sees &lt;Ctrl&gt;1 (or &lt;Alt&gt;P, or &lt;Shift&gt;d, whatever).

Regards -- Steve

[This message has been edited by SteveV (edited 06-07-2001).]
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post #9 of 24 Old 06-07-2001, 10:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by bodegabay:
steve-
i'm a little confused...can i used the infrared remote receiver from my airboard and Girdier - effectively bypassing the need for additional hardware like IRMAN?
Well, yes and no http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/wink.gif If all you're looking to do is teach Girder keyboard keystrokes, the Airboard receiver will work fine--just bear in mind that you'll have a limited number of unique keys available by going this route (there are only so many kb keys and key combos).

To make your system easier to use you could "teach" a programable remote the keybord IR. But keep in mind that Airboard's IR receiver ignores non-keyboard ir codes such as from a tv/vcr/dvd/etc remote.

The Irman however, will allow you to use any remote and teach Girder IR codes from these remotes. The ultimate (but more expensive) solution is to use a Girder/Irman/Pronto setup. This gives you tremendous control and flexibility along with a virtually unlimited number of available IR codes.

My Girder control file has become VERY large and controls virtually every aspect of my HT including video input mode switching. I currently have 163 unique IR codes taught to various Girder Commands and MultiGroups (macros). I've recently replaced my Irman with a Slink-e which now allows me to both receive AND send IR signals (the Irman can't send IR).

Don't give up on Girder because it's daunting--the fact that it's so minimalistic is what makes it so powerful. If the user interface were more user friendly, it would bloat to MS application proportions http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/wink.gif It's very small footprint consumes little in terms of resources which translates to few (if any) HTPC hickups.

Regards -- Steve

[This message has been edited by SteveV (edited 06-07-2001).]
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post #10 of 24 Old 06-07-2001, 11:32 PM
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Quote,
"any thing you can do with a mouse or keyboard, you can automate with Girder."

Great! Steve, how can I do a quick IR command to turn my video cards "twin view" on and off. I've been looking for this final link to my system macro for quite some time. I never knew this was possible until your comment. Thanks.

Chris

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post #11 of 24 Old 06-08-2001, 05:48 AM - Thread Starter
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Steve,
Sorry I didn't respond to your reply sooner, the server was down for a while. Imagine, a computer device inop!!!! http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/wink.gifThanks for the clarification to my question regarding the Pronto, Irman and Girder combo and there uses. I have a somewhat better understanding now on the interaction. I received my HTPC yesterday but a Video cable I needed was omitted. I hope to get the cable and have it up and running this weekend. Will have to use the Airboard for a while, however.

Thanks, Don
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post #12 of 24 Old 06-08-2001, 06:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by CCLAY:
...how can I do a quick IR command to turn my video cards "twin view" on and off...
Chris,

I don't have a twin view so I'm at a bit of a disadvantage. But if you provide some detail regarding what the current steps are I might be able to point you in some direction (hopefully the right one http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/wink.gif) regarding what you'd need to do with Girder to automate the prodedure.

anderdea,

I'm glad the last post helped http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif

Regards -- Steve

[This message has been edited by SteveV (edited 06-08-2001).]
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post #13 of 24 Old 06-08-2001, 11:43 AM
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Hi Steve,

To activate my GeForces' "twin view", I right click desktop, click properties, then settings, then advanced properties, then the "twin view' tab, then "clone", then OK.

I do the same to go back to "standard" mode, hitting standard instead of clone obviously.

I've tried a few different things in the past to hotkey this function to my desktop. Then I could simply learn the KB stroke to my Pronto. I haven't had much luck. Macro Magic was as close as I got. It would record the complete sequence of the task, mouse movement and all, then repeat it when prompted to. The problem was that it wasn't accurate with the mouse movement. Sometimes it would hit the right spot, sometimes it wouldn't. Thanks for your help. http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif

Don, if you have the G11, do you not have Dilard? It has a *great* Pronto-Airboard CCF so that a lot of the work is done already for you. I have a really neat CCF that I modified from the Dilards CCF if you want to take a look at it.

Chris

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post #14 of 24 Old 06-08-2001, 02:05 PM
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Chris,

Right clicking on the desktop and selecting properties actually runs the "Display" Control Panel Applet. You can also run this applet from a command line using the following file name: desk.cpl (more on this later).

Since they are not true applications, applets can be very difficult to control. They are actually run via rundll32.exe which can make targeting very problematic.

There are 2 options that I can think of: The first and better of the 2 is to find what changes are made to the registry when you switch to "Twin view" / "clone" and back to "standard". Girder has a plugin that allows you to write values to registry keys. If you can find which keys are affected, it would be a fairly simple matter to replicate these changes using Girder and the RegSetValue plugin. Of course all the standard disclaimers apply: 1.) "yes, you can screw up your system beyond beleif by doing the wrong things to the registry" and 2.) the classic "this advice is worth what you paid for it" http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/wink.gif

Option number 2 is similar to the Macro Magic procedure but more reliable. Recording and playing back mous clicks will often fail because there's no way to guarantee that Windows opens the display properties window (or any window for that matter) in the same spot consistently. To make this work more reliably you need to create a Girder MultiGroup (macro), name it "twin view" (or whatever) and do the following:

(Note that each step requires adding a seperate Command to the Girder MultiGroup.)

1.) Run the Desk.cpl applet using Girder "Execute" action
2.) Move the window to absolute X=0, Y=0 coordinates. Since you can't target the desk.cpl window you'll have to target the foreground application
3.) Use a Girder Mouse Move action to move the pointer to an absolute X,Y coordinates (since the desk.cpl applet is in a known position the mouse will end up in the correct location). Note that you can enable Girder's "Mouse Pos." and option and Girder will indicate the actual coordinates of the pointer.
4.) Use a Mouse Left-Click action to click the button or tab located at the pointer coordinates in step 3.
5.) Repeat steps 3 and 4 with the appropriate coordinates as need to make the required changes, click OK, etc

The main draw back to this method is that all of the commands are targeted to the "Foreground Window". This becomes a problem if another application steals focus from the display properties applet, not the mention the fact that windows are opening, changing tab views, etc. If you can do it (and if it's possible--I don't know since I don't have a twin view card), the registry setting modifications are very quick, invisible, and reliable.

Hope all this makes sense -- Steve

[This message has been edited by SteveV (edited 06-08-2001).]
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post #15 of 24 Old 06-08-2001, 04:01 PM
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Wow, I take back every negative thought I've had about Girder. http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/biggrin.gif I really didn't know it could do this. It makes very good sense. Thanks Steve.

Both options would probably work. For option 2, I would just have to make sure nothing was on the windows foreground when the macro was activated. That wouldn't be too hard.

With option 1, do you know in which folder to look in Regedit?

Chris

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post #16 of 24 Old 06-08-2001, 10:39 PM
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A question about girder (hope this is not off topic) I have a Logitech/AST remote that i use for controlling WInamp. I got it for quite cheap, and was wondering if Girder will support most PC IR devices? It looks quite similar to the IRMan type devices, and I'm sure it works almost identically.

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post #17 of 24 Old 06-08-2001, 10:41 PM
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Whoops.. Never mind.. I went to their site, and saw it was supported! =&gt;

FYI.. here's the link.
http://www.girder.nl/



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post #18 of 24 Old 06-09-2001, 03:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by CCLAY:
With option 1, do you know in which folder to look in Regedit?
You should try here first:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\\SOFTWARE\\NVIDIA Corporation
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\\SOFTWARE\\NVIDIA Corporation
(This is with NVidia ref. 650/w2k, but the keys should be similar in other versions)

I don't have twinview on this computer, but thats where the changes from the CPApplet seem to be stored.

If you have a rescent copy of Norton Utilities you can have it log changes to the registry and know for sure. BTW, anyone know another program that can do that (that is small)?
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post #19 of 24 Old 06-09-2001, 04:42 AM
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I've used a piece of shareware called fileWATCH2000 with reasonable success. It allows you to save and compare different registry catalogs. In Chris' case, you'd need to create 3 seperate registry catalogs:

1.) a starting point with the video card in standard mode
2.) after the switch to twin view
3.) after the switch from twin view back to standard mode.

Next you would use fileWATCH's compare function to check 1 & 2 then 2 & 3. fileWATCH lists the full registry key path and name and value for each entry that was changed. From here it's a matter of finding the appropriate key(s), copying the key name and value and entering the info in Girder's RegSetValue plugin.

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post #20 of 24 Old 06-09-2001, 12:48 PM
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A note for those hacker types looking for a cheaper remote than the Pronto. RatShack sells a programmable/learning remote for about $30 that is very similar to the one-for-all remotes. This remote has been hacked by various people to be totally programmable via a PC using an easy to build interface. By totally programmable, I mean that new device codes can be added, new protocols can be added, keymaps can be changed, and some really funky stuff can be done to allow one device button to have multiple 'modes', based on a toggle key. This functionality is way beyond that which your could get from a One for All remote, and similar in power to that of the Pronto.
This advanced programming isn't the most intuitive of things to deal with, but if you're willing to put in the effort and time, then it is definately cheaper http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/wink.gif
For more details start hunting around on www.remotecentral.com.

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post #21 of 24 Old 06-09-2001, 03:14 PM
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Does anyone have a better url for girder? The two in this thead don't seem to work. Thanks.
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post #22 of 24 Old 06-09-2001, 03:18 PM
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There's more info on the Radio Shack remote at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jp1 . I have a pronto and the 1994 and I'm quickly converting over to the 1994.
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post #23 of 24 Old 06-09-2001, 05:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by vpl:
Does anyone have a better url for girder? The two in this thead don't seem to work. Thanks.
It's the correct url. Looks like the server is really SLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW tonight.

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post #24 of 24 Old 06-09-2001, 10:59 PM
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Thanks guys,

I'd assume a 1 would be on, 0 would be off?

Chris

My Home Theater is a work in progress.
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