theSync: Everything You Really Need to Know About the New iPad Air

Yep.

You know you want one. Some ultra-thin, ultra-light, retina hotness.

Apple released a new Mini and a fifth generation device they are calling the Air. Should you get one? Will you get one? Let me help you out.

Leaner, Meaner, Slicker

Apple put the iPad on a diet and made it work out producing a thinner, more powerful 5th generation tablet. According to Apple the iPad Air is 20% thinner and 28% lighter than the iPad 4. The iPad was already and attractive and svelte device. The iPad Air makes it even more desirable with sharper corners and a thinner profile. Apple performed a complete refresh of it’s lineup shipping the A7 and M7 motion coprocessor in the Mini and Air.

The Mini Gets Retina

The Mini’s compact screen already looked great compared to it’s older, Retina-enabled cousin. I’m really interested to see how a pixel packed, Mini looks with a Retina display. Honestly, since using my wife’s iPad Mini, I think the Mini has the optimum screen size vs. ease of handling balance compared to the larger display. I’ll be getting a new Retain-enabled iPad regardless, right now, I’m torn between a Mini and the Air.

The Same Damned Shooter is Installed

I’ve been writing about Apple’s lack of movement in the camera department for some time. I’m extremely disappointed that they failed to upgrade the cameras for the iPad refresh. Both devices will ship using the same cameras. A 1.2 mega pixel front facing camera and a 5 megapixel shooter in the back. The rear camera has an f/2.4 f-stop in 5 element groups and that’s really it. Seriously, Apple really needs to step up their camera game in the next generation devices. People aren’t being Ansel Adams with these devices, but I went to a MoDev meetup last week in which an iPad outfitted with an Ollo clip was used for the webcast.

Updated Connecterization, Plus Disappointment

Both devices utilize Apple’s lightning cable connector and ship with iOS 7.0.3. Another omission that’s disappointing is that Apple didn’t included the fingerprint sensor on these devices. It’s seems that engineering had the designs for the new Air in place before getting the new finger technology. Both devices ship with Silver and Space Gray coloring and unfortunately no iBling model in that classy Champagne color.

Weird Pricing

Pricing is a little wonky with the Air and Mini starting at 499 and 399 respectively with the previous model iPads starting at 100 dollars less. When can you get it? All of this light hotness is available on November 1st. Just in time for pay day, but no pre-order. Not having a pre-order shows that we’ve entered a mature phase in the iPads life and either Apple isn’t anticipating a mad rush on release day or that they believe they’ll hit their numbers regardless.

Should You Get One

If you have a Nexus 7 absolutely. If you have the Mini or iPad 3, again, absolutely.

If you have the iPad 4. Uhhhhhhh. It’s hard for me to make the case on size and weight alone. But that 64-bit processor keeps calling my name. Your games, video editing, photo editing, and AutoCadding will be a lot snappier, and if you’re using your iPad to truly be productive in these applications, then upgrading to 64-bits makes a lot of sense. On the other hand, if you have the A6 powered 4, with the same damned camera, the same Retina-resolution, and iOS 7 advantaged hardware, then sure, get the new one just so you can have the latest and greatest But, otherwise, I’d wait for the camera upgrade.

Am I getting one. Yep. I have an iPad 3 and I’m itching to write some new fractal applications.

I’d love to know if you’re trading up for one of the new iPads. Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Thanks for reading, and listening.

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theSync: Getting the Most Out of iOS7

iOS7 shipped last week with over 200 features. Most of which you will never use. I’ve been playing around with iOS7 since it was released to developers in June. There are a lot of features in iOS7, and the most important features have been eased away.

This week on theSync, 5 quick tips to help you get the most out of your shiny, new, flat, hotness.

1. A Spotlight on Spotlight

Many people have wondered what happened to Spotlight, few have found it. You can access the Spotlight by swiping down on the spotlightapplication icon screen. Don’t swipe from the top. Swipe from the middle, or anywhere else. When you swipe from the very top, you’re going to pull down the Notification Sha—, Panel, which is part of our next major tip.


2. Two Control Panels

ios7controlpaneliOS7 provides the Androidy Notification Panel, :), which you access by pulling down from the top of the screen. Now, you also have a Control Panel that you access by swiping up from the bottom of the screen. Use the control panel to set Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, AirDrop, and your player controls. The Control Panel also has a quick icon to turn your phone into a flashlight. I really like the Control Panel. It’s just a common sense way to quickly access toggle functions.


3. Timestamped Messages

SMS and iMessage now show date and times for each text. Just slide your message bubbles to the left and you’ll see the dates and times. Simple enough.


4. Gestures

Gestures have been available on developer configured iPads starting in 6.0. Unfortunately, if you weren’t a developer you had to hack your way into enabling gestures on your device. I installed iOS7 on my iPad3 and gestures just started working right away. In iOS7 you can do a whole lot without using your home button. Use all of your digits and crumple your app to return to the Home screen. Use four fingers and slide left or right to switch apps. Use four fingers and swipe up from the bottom of the screen to dismiss applications. Gestures will impress even the most ardent Android lover because their device doesn’t do this type of awesomeness.


5. Saving Your Battery

iOS7 has bowed down to pressure and opened up app background refresh. Turn this off to extend battery life, also disable AirDrop and BlueTooth is you aren’t using it. This will mean iBeacon and peer-to-peer sharing is disabled. And finally turn off push notifications in Facebook. It’s a battery hog.


6. Dynamic Text

dynamictextOn the radio show last night, UI designer diva, Missy Lattimore at Straight Up Creative called in and talked about the sheer number of UI changes from iOS6. Missy highlighted a few specific points revolving around contrast, icon choices, and keyed in on the text point sizes used in 7. Users have greater control over the size of text now and that feature is accessible in the Settings app. If you’re experiencing eye strain open the Settings app, increase the point size, and enjoy reading the BIG words.


I’d love to hear about your coolest iOS7 tips and tricks. Please share them in the comments.

I’m Will Mapp, thanks for reading, and listening.

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P.S. If you have an Android device, you can now take theSync anywhere with you by installing our new Android app from the Play Store.

theSync: 5 Great Back to School Apps

I feel bad for kids these days. Back in the day, we didn’t start school until the day after Labor Day. Now, they’re missing out on 2 weeks of vacation with a mid-August start.

This week on theSync, 5 Back-to-School apps to keep your kids sharp

1. My Gradebook

My Gradebook is a fully customizable app that tracks your dedicated student’s grades and assignments with the ability to sync your data with DropBox. It’s a great tool for students that want to keep on top of their schedule of activities in addition to their grades. My Gradebook is a value at 99 cents.

2. The Cozi Family Organizer

There’s a mountain of homework, after school practices, recitals, plays, and a crap load of kiddie parties coming up. Cozi helps you make sense of it all and sync with all your iDevice carrying family members. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I’m so busy, the kids are just running around in circles. If you have a busy family and your kids are participating in lots of activities, Cozi is the right app for you.

3. Kick Your Studies into Overdrive

Books are hella expensive, and most college students would rather invest in pizza than hardcopy. Download the Overdrive Media Console and get access to over 18,000 audiobooks and even more textbooks, novels, and papers that can be checked out from your public library. That’s right! This means you have access to materials at virtually no cost. Just remember to check them back in or you’ll be fined.

4. Studious for Android

Listen, I was once in college, and I know that Syllabus day can make or break this semester’s social plans. The key to being a good student and a socialite is getting in control of your schedule. Download Studious for your Android device to lock in project due dates, test schedules, and the 3 weekly parties you’ll attend.

5. Pocket for Android

The amount of research today’s third grader has to conduct is Earth shattering. Get Pocket to organize your research, marshal your thoughts, and building upon your discoveries. Now you can carry videos, articles, web pages, documents, texts, and pictures with you, everywhere in your pocket.

Kids are already back, so I’d love to know how you’re incorporating digital into your back-to-school plans.

Please share your ideas in the comments.

I’m Will Mapp, thanks for listening and you’ve been synced.

theSync: The Business of the App Business

Hi Everyone,

I’m posting this a little late and hasty because this week was the show for BizTechInsider.

We talked about apps last night on the show, and people love calling in about apps and their ideas.

We talked about marketing, Facebook offers, mobile ads, and more.

A link to the show will be up soon, but I’ve presented the highlights here.

Thanks for listening.

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theSync: Mother’s Day Gifts for Your Baby Mama

In about two weeks, it will be Mother’s Day. Last week I suggested 5 gadgets that sure to please your mom. This week on theSync, 5 gadget gifts to please the mother of your children.

1. An iPad Mini

ipadminiI DID NOT recommend getting your mom the Mini and instead suggested the Nook and Kindle HD.  The cool kids still carry iPads and if you didn’t get your baby mama one for Christmas, now’s the time to get her some electronic hotness.  If you’re anti-Apple, the Nexus 7 is a sleek and well built device that she will enjoy.

 

2. An iPhone Lens Kit

You will not believe the number of iPhoneographers out there and if your special lady is a smartphone shutterbug, a lens kit may test-product-page-2933_600.0000001340999139be just the thing to push her creative talents to the next level.  Lens kits ship with a mounting case to give your smartphone optical zoom. Some kits even have fisheye and luma effects.  And there are affordable gifts.  Check out this hotness from Photojojo.

 

3. An Electric Corkscrew

Peugeot-Elis-Rechargeable-Electric-Corkscrew-MC-GadgetGuru-medium-newAll the friends in my circle have kids now, and the one thing their wives have in common is wine.  Filtering out the ‘waaaa’ and shuttling kids to three different camps in a Saturday will drive anyone to drinking.  Some days you just can’t get the cork out fast enough and an electric corkscrew will help her unstopper the mommy juice quicker.

 

 

 

 

4. Storage

As much as we luv’em our smartphone cameras sometimes can’t get the job done.  Many moms carry a number of different sdcardcameras and sometimes the point and shoot just makes sense.  SD Cards are cheap. Get your sweetheart 10 of them so she can have some in the purse, 1 in the wallet, and a couple in her junk drawer.

 

5. A Nike+Sport Band

Admittedly, I’ve never included accessories like this on my gift blogs, but you overhear lots of talk while hanging out with child Nike-Plus-SportBand-MC-GadgetGuru-fbladen couples.  Everyone is trying to lose weight no matter how thin they are.  The Nike+Sport Band may be the gift to encourage her to go the extra mile.  And then go to sleep.

Thanks for listening, and reading.  You’ve been synced.

theSync: Mother’s Day Gifts for Your Mum

Hi Everyone,

Mother’s Day will be here in a couple of weeks, and if you’re like me, finding the perfect gift for mom is hard job. So what do you give the woman that gave life to you? This week on theSync, 5 gadget gifts mom is sure to love.  Now I know what you’re saying, tech gifts are expensive.  Not necessarily.  Nothing on this page costs more than $250.  And since you gave mom roses last Mother’s Day, a card for Valentine’s Day, and perfume for Christmas, you can stand to invest a little more dough in a Mother’s Day gift.

1. Snapperific

snapplogoMy shameless plug. If you have kids, there’s no reason why you should get mom pictures of the grandkids using Snapperific. Order pictures straight from your phone and mail them to her. Snapperific is great for expats and families that live a continent apart from one another. Order high quality pictures from your phone and mom will get them in 5 days.

Hey, it’s my show!

 

2. The Nest Learning Themostat

nest thermoYou all know that one of my all time favorite gifts is the Nest learning thermostat. If your mum’s bum get’s too hot or too cold, Nest will learn her preferences and keep her home nice and cozy. Nest is very stylish and expensive for what it does.

 

3. An AppleTV

Why? Netflix. Get your mom an ATV plus a Netflix account and she can watch Hawaii 5-0 and other old ass shows and movies until the end of time. Netflix may not do well with recent releases but their old catalog is great. The Apple TV is a super affordable gadget at $99 and is easy to setup and use.

4. A Keurig Brewing System

abkeurig-b70Yeah I know. Brewing System. Keurig makes coffee makers in a number of sizes and configurations. Many moms drink coffee and you can choose a system that is as simplistic or sophisticated as your mom’s barista.

 

 

5. A Nook or Kindle HD

Tablets are more or less on the higher end, but they really do make great gifts. Especially if your mom isn’t a computer person, but wants access to the Internet, email, music, and movies. Tablets are very powerful and simple to use gadgets. I got my mother a Nook last Christmas and she really enjoys it. It has enough features for her to be dangerous, but simple so she’s not intimidated.

Those are my 5 gadget gifts for your mom on Mother’s Day. Married guys, stay tuned next week for Mother’s Day gadget gifts for your sweet. It’s time to move beyond earrings and necklaces and get the mother of your children some gifts she can actually use.

Thanks for reading, and listening. You’ve been synced.

theSync: To App or Not to App

Nearly every day, I get calls from people wanting to write the next app. I enjoy helping people achieve their dreams and I enjoy writing apps. But in order to be successful, you need more than a great idea. Since we live in a time in which almost anything is possible, I spend most of my time speaking with customers about the business of their app and not their idea, or the technology we will need to accomplish their goals.

This week on theSync, to app or not to app., that is the question.

First and foremost. There are a million great ideas. Execution is key. No matter what your idea maybe, outline how you’re going to make it happen. If you can’t focus on the idea and execute it, it’s okay, but keep it in the lab until you can give it the concentration and resources it deserves. Half-assed plans, make half-assed products, and your customers will know. It’s not all about money, but it is about execution

Two, your idea may be great, but are people willing to plunk down money or eyeballs for it. Do yourself a solid and figure out if you have an audience for your app, and not an app looking for an audience. We create technology and implement ideas at such an alarming rate that we have lots of products looking for markets. Most individuals and companies wanting to write apps are small businesses. And as small business owners, we don’t have lots of resources to play with. You can be successful with little resources, but only if there’s a market willing to buy.

Three. If you have people waiting in the wings for your app, check out the competition. Yes, there will be competition. Learn what they are doing wrong and how you can do it differently. What will make your app stand out, UI, UX, pricing, delivery service, better customer service; you will have to figure out what you can offer to the market.

Four. Figure out the model. How will people find your app? How will people pay, upfront or freemium? How much should you charge to earn living, avoid, 99 cents. Answering these questions, will help you write most of your business plan, and put you in a better position to execute. These questions will also help you determine if you can earn a living from an app. It is possible, but it’s not easy. People are willing to pay big time money for products that help them solve their most pressing problems. And, there’s nothing wrong with asking people to pay money, there’s also nothing wrong with shipping a free product, but when you do, know what you’re getting into. You will be spending time and/or money building an app, if your app solves your customers’ problems or helps them you deserve to be compensated.

Five. As early as possible, start marketing your new app. Put up a landing page, say that its coming. Ask people what they want, make changes. This is mucho importante. We soft launched Snapperific and it took us some time to gain enough momentum so that the app pays for itself and then makes money. You can drum up demand for you app ahead of time by letting people know what you’re about to release.

Apple UI and OSX guru Michael Jurevitz posted a great series of articles with information helping you market your app. I highly recommend giving it a read.

If you follow these five quick pieces of advice, your next app could be the hottest thing.

I’m Will Mapp, thanks for listening, and reading; you’ve been synced.

theSync: Happy Anniversary

It is Episode 52 which means that we’ve been producing theSync for a year. First, I want to thank each and everyone of you that have subscribed to our RSS feed, and have subscribed to theSync in iTunes. Throughout the year, you guys have made us a Top 500 in Business podcast on podomatic. I didn’t think I’d be in the Top 1 Million!

Thank you!

Here are some big events that have happened in the past year, just off the top of my head.

Apple released 3 iPads in the same year, the iPad3, iPad3-enhanced, and the iPad Mini. I bought my iPad3 in the Spring thinking all I had to do was keep it scratch and ding free until next year when Apple releases another iPad3 with an upgraded processor. It wasn’t enough for me to pull the trigger, but I did get the misses a brand spanking new iPad Mini for Christmas. I have to admit, the device just feels right in your hand. I like the form factor more than the Nexus 7 and it feels better.

Android finally surpasses Apple in smartphone market share. Android cracks the 39.7% barrier becoming the leading smartphone platform in the world. For me, this came as no surprise. Everyone and their grandmother has produced an Android smartphone. I’d wager Apple may have slapped their own UI on top of Android in the confines of Cupertino. We are now revisiting the Mac vs. PC war with an Android vs. PC war.

Courts finally resolve Samsung and Apple’s legal battle resulting in a 400 million dollar settlement. Yeah, I’m not too keen on Apple suing everyone in an IP fight. If they are suing to block other people’s ideas, then they aren’t creating their own.

The coolest thing out of CES was Audi’s autodriving car. This car will get you there, drop you off, and pick your ass up. Why do I think Audi’s car is so cool? Because they stuffed all of the tech in a real car. Not a buggy, or some shell, or a tricked out BMW that’s programmed to run the Top Gear track. A real Audi A7. I can’t have flying cars, but we’re a hair step closer to iRobot.

widgets3D printing gets closer to the mainstream with 500 dollar printers. You may not think so, but I honestly believe 3D printing is a game changer. Whoever rules tech and manufacturing will own the 21st century, and being able to make quick widgets with 3D printers is the next step for building custom products, new tooling, and the final frontier. Years ago, no one imagined high resolution printers at home, or being able to have your own printer in your cube. In all things tech, the components and materials will drop down to near nothing and you too will be printing the parts in your next home improvement project.

The App Store passes 40 billion downloads. Nothing special here either, but it is notable. There is a different culture between Android and iOS users and although there are more devices it’s no surprise that there are more iOS downloads.

The best Free Photo and Video app, Snapperific, was released last June. We hit the top 1000 a couple of times. Easily send great looking pictures to anyone in the world. Check it out.

Samsung releases the Galaxy S3 which is by far the best Android phone on the market. The GS3, is the best Android smart phone on the market no doubt. It has a beautiful screen and solid build quality. It’s been known to make an Apple prospect turn away.  The GS3 is so awesome, I’m geeked to see what Samsung does with the GS4, and I haven’t felt this way about an Android device since the EVO4G.

PCs continue their downward slide continuing the post PC era. We’re definitely in a post-PC era. iDevices out sell Apple’s PCs, and dirt cheap Android tablets make sense for those wanting to get their first computing devices. For many, the killer app is the web browser; and the horsepower, screen sizes, and complexity of PCs are a bit much.

Corning debuts Willow Glass at CES making us all long for our Tony Stark bedrooms. Willow GLass kicks ass. It really does. You hear me complain about glossy buttons and fake surfaces, and thanks to Metro UI and Willow Glass we could finally get to the point in time where we have truly modern interfaces.

The Olympics goes high tech with a super sensitive track and picosecond timers. I’m an Olympics nuts. And last year’s Olympics had a super fast track and new starting blocks accurate to the picosecond.

pebblewatchThis year, Pebble finally releases their Dick Tracy watch. The Pebble, can interface with your smartphone and control the mp3 player controls. You can also treat it as a speaker phone. With an e-ink display, the Pebble is simply awesome.

 

 

 

Microsoft releases Surface with fanfare without the sales. I was really looking forward to Surface. I like Windows 8 and I think Metro is awesome. The devices are well built and should be a great fit for the enterprise crowd with Office and other Windowsey aspects. Long term, I think Surface can outsell Android, especially if the price is right, but at $499, it’s going to be a tough sell.

The Nexus 10 was released with a retina display shattering screen. At 2560×1600 it has more pixels than any other tablet on the market. People will argue about pixel pitch and spacing, but the major numbers are the major numbers.

NASA releases some seriously awesome images from Voyager making me question current day digicam tech. If you aren’t blown away by the digital images thumb200x150_jupiter3transmitted from Voyager, something’s really wrong with you. Yeah the images are scrubbed by NASA super computers, but let’s not forget that this is 1970’s tech. My smartphone camera should be way better in my opinion.

2004_usgov_secgradesThe US still receives a D grade on their IT security report card. Either as misdirection (the likely story) or fact, our government’s IT security posture still sucks. When I’m driving out of town on Rt. 50, the Washington TImes sign will show that some Chinese hacker broke in somewhere or that a DoD server was exploited. Sheesh!

Lastly, my friend and collaborator Mike Foster passed away last year, months after encouraging me to start this journey. Mike listened to my radio show and served as my editor for everything from proposals to editorials. He believed I could make something out of this and so far he’s been right.

Today’s podcast and blog post is dedicated to you my friend.

Tech news happens everyday, let me know what events I’ve missed. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for listening and reading, and you’ve been synced.

theSync: CS101 – Intro to Programming

Last Friday I hung with some great middle schoolers at Salisbury Middle, and the most frequently discussed topic is “how do I get started in programming?”  I have a very traditionalist view on learning how to write computer software.  Perhaps, because I’m old.  Perhaps, because I’ve been programming since I was seven.  Perhaps, because I was taught and mentored by oldheads.  Perhaps, it was those Kernighan and Ritchie videos on VHS; I don’t agree with the current method in which high schoolers and college students are being taught.

So, pardon me as a mount my high horse.

First things first.

As a software designer and developer, I don’t consider myself to be a programmer, but a problem solver.  We wouldn’t be employed if it weren’t for problems, and that’s what we’re ultimately hired to do.  We don’t code for code’s sake, and I always begin talks this way.  We use the software to solve specific problems, we are not code writers.

Second, if you have a penchant for solving problems and tinkering, you can become a great software designer.  If you think you are, therefore you are.

To get started, pick an easy language to learn the basics. BASIC can be downloaded for free and is an easy first choice, it will teach you the fundamentals of program organization and introduces you to simple if/else, loops, and branching with subroutines.  BASIC programs aren’t particularly powerful, but will introduce you to programming concepts.  Also, you can hurt yourself in BASIC.  It’s easy to get unstuck, there aren’t NULL references, exceptions, or pointers that can crash your program.  Also, because most BASIC packages are interpreters, you can know when things go wrong quickly and not feel defeated after writing lines-upon-lines of code only to find it doesn’t compile or run past line 5.

After conquering BASIC, nows the time to level up.  The next language should be Pascal.

Why Pascal?

Pascal is powerful, but retains a lot of simplicity.  True functions and procedures are introduced in Pascal. i.e. Calling a block of code using a specific name and returning a value.  Students are now able to diagram program flow and write functions that perform their designs.  This is now a great time to teach basic engineering practices: keeping functions no longer than a page, properly naming functions after the actions they perform, building simple projects with multiple files, and basic program organization. The concept of compilation is introduced with Pascal, but basic Pascal prevents you from getting lost and stuck.

Finally, Pascal introduces you to the concept of pointers. Pointers are references to a block of memory and are known to get many-a-programmer in trouble.  Pascal’s approach to pointers are very simplistic and you can’t do the insane like you can in C and C++.
Once you’ve grasped the basic concepts of conditions, loops, functions, and pointers, now you can move onto the powerful languages of C and C++ and fifth generation languages such as Java and C#.

How come I don’t suggest people starting out with C++?

Experience on both sides, C++ is the most powerful programming language on the planet, and its most advanced concepts are hard to grasp. I’ve met good problem solvers that gave up on learning software programming because they weren’t able to grasp some of C++’s advanced OO concepts and pointer capabilities.  As with every other skill on the planet, introducing new adepts before they are ready can lead to many talented folks not pursuing the discipline.  I have had discussions with good engineers that say that teaching the old languages is a waste of time, but I fundamentally disagree.  There’s more to software design than knowing OOAD and the syntax of a language.

The simpler languages are great tools to teach design, organization, and logically flow.  It helps engineers avoid the pitfalls of writing spaghetti code and harder to maintain software.  Besides, as a told the middle schoolers.  Once you learn the basics, fundamentals, and concepts of software problem solving, then learn the syntax and grammar of one language;  you can learn all languages and develop in any environment.

I may be controversial, but I believe we will produce better software and better products if people learned the fundamentals first.

Software developers, I’d like to hear your opinions on this and your thoughts, please hit me up on my site at innovationisin.me.

Thanks for listening, and reading; you’ve been synced.


theSync: January in Review

It’s the last week of the first month of the new year.


Here’s your January tech news in review.

  1. We saw some impressive tech at CES, including a cheap 3D printer, willow glass, and Audi’s auto driving A7.
  2. The iPad Mini went global in January and sold out in China.
  3. Meanwhile, across the sea, Japanese customers prefer Android devices over iOS devices.  The Nexus 7 outsells the Mini.
  4. This comes after news of Apple reducing component orders from their suppliers.  This fuels speculation that Apple had a less than stellar holiday quarter.  Low and behold, Apple misses Wall Street earnings estimates by 25 cents per share, leading to a $200 per share decrease in Apple stock.

There you have it fans.

Thanks for listening and reading.

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