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Current issue : #47 | Release date : 1995-04-15 | Editor : Erik Bloodaxe
IntroductionErik Bloodaxe
Phrack LoopbackPhrack Staff
Line NoisePhrack Staff
Line NoisePhrack Staff
The #hack FAQ (Part 1)voyager
The #hack FAQ (Part 2)voyager
The #hack FAQ (Part 3)voyager
The #hack FAQ (Part 4)voyager
DEFCon InformationPhrack Staff
HoHoConNetta Gilboa
HoHoConCount Zero
HoHo Miscellanyvarious
An Overview of Prepaid Calling CardsTreason
The Glenayre GL3000 Paging and Voice Retrieval SystemArmitage
Complete Guide to Hacking Meridian Voice MailSubstance
DBS Primer from American Hacker Magazineunknown
Your New Windows Background (Part 1)The Man
Your New Windows Background (Part 2)Substance
A Guide To British Telecom's Caller ID ServiceDr. B0B
A Day in The Life of a Warez BrokerXxxx Xxxxxxxx
International Scenesvarious
Phrack World NewsDatastream Cowboy
Title : HoHoCon
Author : Netta Gilboa
                              ==Phrack Magazine==

                 Volume Six, Issue Forty-Seven, File 10 of 22

                                  HoHoCon '94
                    December 29, 1994 - January 2, 1995
                       Ramada Inn South, Austin, TX
                 A Review, released to the Net on 1/25/95
                        By Netta "grayarea" Gilboa

   I flew to Austin, TX after spending Christmas with some hacker friends.
I arrived a day early, unsure if the Con was gonna come off and how many
people would show if it did. HoHoCon had almost been cancelled this year
after someone called the original hotel and said a bunch of mean, evil
hackers were gonna descend on the hotel and that several federal agencies
would be sending feds there to monitor it. If you ask me, some kid's mom
said he couldn't go so he decided to try to make sure none of us could
either. Lame. It also taught me that everyone in this community has
enemies. Maybe someone just doesn't like Drunkfux. Supposedly, right after
this phone call the hotel got another, this time from Dateline NBC who
wanted permission to film the Con. Rumor had it the hotel panicked and
cancelled. The truth is that a regular client of theirs offered to pay
higher room rates and the hotel stood to make over $20,000 extra by
getting rid of us and having them there instead. So they used the phone
calls as an excuse. I can only imagine the hassles Drunkfux went
through to find another hotel that was empty on New Year's Eve weekend.

   But Drunkfux came through with flying colors and when I got to the
hotel they told me other people had started to arrive. They gave me a
list of these people to look at, complete with their real names and room
numbers. It's possible they would even have xeroxed the list if I had
asked them to. Uncool. Even more uncool, almost shocking, was that the
hotel had a clipboard on the counter with people's real names, assigned
room number and credit card number complete with expiration date. It was
listed in alphabetical order and I was on the top page in the third spot.
I freaked. I told the woman behind the counter that she must move the
clipboard as some of the people coming specialized in attacking people's
credit and that I would surely be a target given my position on the list
and my all too well-known real name. She said okay but when I returned my
luggage cart, some twenty minutes later, it was still on the counter. I
told her again, nastier this time, to move it. An hour later she still had
not. I then asked to use a phone and was told there was one in my room and
another down the hall. I explained that I wanted to call right from the
counter to cancel my credit card and to call the national offices of Ramada
Inns to have her fired. In a nasty tone she told me she'd move the clipboard.
She did. However, the next day they threw the pages in the trash and, of
course, had the clipboard on the counter again with a new list of the people
due to check in that day. I argued with them again and they moved it. A few
hours later (surprise!) their trash was invaded and they went out and bought
two paper shredders. This was a good investment on their part although it's
a shame it took us to teach them that. If you intend to stay at a Ramada Inn
anywhere in the U.S., I would strongly advise you not to prepay with a credit
card. They can't be trusted with your data. We invite readers who may have
experienced credit card fraud after staying at Ramada Inns (or other hotels)
to contact us. It was a sobering lesson in how vulnerable the average person
is in society.

   I had plans to hook up with Stormbringer and Holy Spirit, two virus
writers I love talking to. Stormbringer had recently retired from virus
writing after hearing from someone in Singapore who got infected with
one of his non-malicious viruses. I had read his retirement text file and
was anxious to talk to him about it. He assured me on the phone all was well
and they agreed to meet me at Mr. Wasabi for sushi and I ate more sushi
than I ever had before in one sitting. Then we walked to a coffee house
and they drove me back to my hotel around 1 a.m.

   I was invited to Novocain and Particle's room so I headed up there and
ran into Veggie, Onkel Ditmeyer, Count Zero, Buckaroo, etc. Onkel showed
me his way cool laptop and I finally got to see what an IBM demo looks
like. These are programs which demonstrate the sound and graphics
capabilities of a computer. He copied a few of them on a disk for me along
with some electronic magazines I had never seen. Onkel is the author of a
well known phreaking program called Bluebeep. We spoke a lot over the
weekend and I found him brilliant, honest, charming and not afraid of
girls who know way less than him. He was one of the coolest people at
HoHoCon this year.

   At 6 a.m. a few of us went downstairs for free breakfast and the
conversation turned to the various women who hang out on #hack. There
was some dissing of one girl who has slept her way around the scene and
in the past had given a number of hackers herpes without telling them
first. Eeks. I tried to get out of the guys I was eating with what she
had that I didn't (besides herpes). I message most of her old lovers on
IRC but none has ever made a pass at me. We talked about the other girls
on IRC, who has slept with whom, and how they got treated afterwards. We
talked about why people might have slept with those particular girls at
the time they did and I suddenly felt both very lucky and better about
myself that the one hacker I had slept with was a decent choice. Quality
might beat quantity. To know for sure, I guess I'd have to ask the girls

   We picked up a bunch of food that was apparently not included in our
free breakfast coupon. The waitress didn't know how to handle it and
neither did we. I offered to put the food back and she finally agreed to
let us eat it. I suggested they put up a sign to warn others and, of
course, they didn't. Later I heard they let us all eat the bacon and other
food for the rest of the Con. I never made it back down there again even
though for American food it was pretty good. I was pretty tired and so
headed off to sleep when we were done chowing down.

   I woke up Friday afternoon when Particle and Novocain knocked on the
door. They had a car and took me to a Chinese restaurant nearby with a
killer buffet. When we got back there were many people in the lobby
listening to a tape of prank phone calls made by Phone Losers of America.
I wanted the tape bad as it seemed highly appropriate for us to review.
I was promised a copy which materialized in under an hour. W0rd! For all
the shit I take for it, there are advantages to being press.

   I felt pretty comfortable with all of the people I was talking to and
since my room was very close to the lobby I invited everyone there and
even left the door open for others to enter my room (which almost
everyone who passed by did). It was kind of odd where they had situated
me. You could watch my door from the counter where people checked in. I
had asked for a smoking room but got dealt non-smoking instead. I
inquired about changing it and was told some crap about all the rooms
being accounted for already. It crossed my mind at the time that maybe
some feds had purposely put me there but I discounted my gut feeling and
remembered most hackers thought I was too paranoid about things. I told
people to go ahead and smoke in my room with no ashtray. They did. All
told about 15 people were in there and one of them pulled out a toy
to show me. It was a box that hooked up to your telephone which allowed
you to change your voice into that of a male, female or child. I had seen
these boxes before in catalogs. They sure work great! I made two calls
with it, one to a friend and one to my ex-husband. I snickered at how
surprised they'd be when they heard my message and later regretted not
telling either or them to save it so I could hear it back. Honestly,
playing with this legal box was every bit as cool as great drugs or sex.
I vowed to buy one. Watch out!

   Talk turned to dinner and people started to leave my room. Particle was
the last one out and he showed me something about how the hotel room locks
worked. Hackers spend hours trying to figure out how things work and
although I had little interest in the subject it was clear Particle was
struck by the technology and not the idea of breaking into someone's
room. I started to organize people who were willing to eat sushi. Just as
we were about to leave Particle and Novocain were gathering everyone into
a room to tell people to chill their behavior. It later turned out that
Particle had played with another lock after I made him stop touching
mine. He had the misfortune to be seen by a member of the Austin Police
Department who wisely agreed not to arrest him in exchange for Particle's
agreeing to talk to people in an attempt to curtail the usual HoHoCon
hotel destruction. I should have attended this talk although I had no
idea at the time why it was being organized. But I was starving and
the people I took to eat sushi were not those who would consider trashing
a hotel. Laughing Gas, Thumper27, Slyme, El_Jefe and I checked out Kyoto
sushi which was good but expensive for what you got. I spent part of dinner
wiping the free space on the hard drive on my laptop. I had never used
this feature before, but had been told about it at the con and it sounded
like something I should start doing regularly to protect other people's
privacy so that erased E-mail and articles were truly erased. It was a
good thing I had sushi to eat to keep me busy as it took a good twenty
minutes to do on a Pentium laptop with a 500+ meg hard drive.

   When we got back to the hotel I ran into Drunkfux who had cut his
hair and dyed it bright red. I hardly recognized him but it looked great.
It was clear by the police presence in the lobby that the Con had
officially started. We were told that signs hung on room doors (I had
put up a copy of one of the magazine covers with a small piece of scotch
tape) would be taken down. This made it much harder for us to find each
other (I'd estimate we had 90% of the hotel's rooms) but so it goes.
Some people were told specifically that they could not use their modems
and for hours on Friday night the phone lines were so busy with modem
usage that there was no way to make an outgoing call or to receive an
expected incoming one. All sorts of security guards appeared. The ones
I spoke with were police officers too. I'd guess there were 1-3 dozen
around at all times and apparently hotel personnel were told they were
all on duty until we left and none of them were able to go home for the
rest of the weekend. I wish I could say this was utterly unwarranted.
But some lamer broke the lock on the door to the hotel's phone system.
And remember that another person had trashed the hotel's garbage and
must have made a mess or been spotted.

   The hot party that night was in Erik Bloodaxe's room. Loki, Ice-9
and Ophie were staying with him and Loki was in charge of the door.
He made sure to keep me out just as he does when he acts like a bully
on IRC. I knew in my heart it was Loki's doing not ErikB's, but that
didn't stop me from getting majorly upset about it anyway. I went
downstairs to be alone and Particle knocked on the door a few minutes
later. I gave him a piece of my mind and then some about how shitty
some of those in the computer underground are. I went on for at least
an hour and drew great comfort from the fact Particle thought I was not
crazy and that things are as awful as they seem sometimes. Finally
he told me that since I kept claiming to love hackers despite all of the
grief, there were dozens of nice ones out there who would be thrilled to
talk to me if I'd only leave my room and go try to have a good time. W0rd.
I took his advice and had a good time in the lobby with the other rejects
from Bloodaxe's party. The conversation was so good it was hard to tear
away to go to sleep. I went to my room at 4:30 a.m., got under the covers,
thought about sleep for 10 seconds. Then I pulled out my laptop and wrote
a speech to deliver to the crowd the next day.

   The two people I had counted on to wake me up didn't show and it was a
stroke of luck that made me jump up at 9:45. The speeches were supposed to
start at 10 a.m. and even though they surely wouldn't start till later I
was selling magazines and was due there pronto to claim my table. It took a
luggage cart to get all those magazines downstairs. I shudder to think what
my life will be like when I have 30 issues to lug around instead of six.
The folks from Fringeware were selling books and T-shirts and someone else
had old Atari game units and cartridges. People came by to say hi and to
buy magazines. I plugged my speech and told people not to dare miss it.

   It was impressive that Drunkfux had gotten so many original speakers
on such short notice. They mostly said what the crowd wanted to hear and
shared thoughts on digital cash, the regulation of the Internet, recent
laws, etc. Damien Thorn showed a video clip to the tune of the current
rock hit "21st Century Digital Boy" which had cellular phones, scanners,
etc. in it. It's part of an upcoming video that looked awesome. Veggie
talked about dealing with the media after an old text file of his was
used to harass a BBS sysop who got more than twice Phiber's jail sentence
just for having a file around.

   Someone sent Erik Bloodaxe to talk to me as part of my speech referred
to him. It was an uncomfortable talk and I was probably correct in feeling
that half the room was watching us and not whoever was speaking. I told
him he could pay me back in print or elsewhere but that I was going to
go ahead with what I planned to say and he surprised me by saying that
what I had written was fine and he even added to it. He also told me
that Loki had gotten too drunk and had been a pain in the ass to room
with the night before. He assured me that although way too many people
had been in his room, and way too many had tried to get in after it was
full, it had not been his intention to keep me out. I felt bad that I
even cared, and that he knew I cared, and that he and I even had to
discuss it. I was unhappy that he had no intention of staying to hear my
speech or the fight with Loki that he knew was coming but didn't
mention to me. We left things with the fact that we'd go out for dinner
or something the next night with Ophie (who also had an early flight)
after the bulk of the Con was over. It occurred to me then it would never
happen because plans are hard to keep at Cons but I mentioned it in my
speech anyway.

   My speech went over very well. It was about what's been going on at
Gray Areas since I spoke at HoHoCon last year. It was also about the
behavior of certain elements of the community and how that behavior has
affected me. And it was a stern warning about some busts that are coming
down. I know a few people got the message. I could tell from the gasps
and laughter at key points. But perhaps the highlight of the speech was
the confrontation between Loki and I when he chose to bully me before
anyone else could ask a question. I answered his accusations and managed
to do a decent job even with no warning. Whatever he hoped to accomplish
clearly wasn't working and from somewhere deep inside of me I found the
courage to ask the entire room to vote on whether or not they really
never wanted to see me on #hack again. The only vote opposed in a room of
about 250-300 people was Loki's. Hours later I regretted not thinking to
ask how many people never wanted to see Loki there again. Four people had
come up to me and told me they would have voted him out. Loki left the
room with his tail between his legs and ran to IRC. By the time I got on
hours later word had spread a story that I picked a fight with him and
he had won. The proof is in the videotape which will be available soon
from Drunkfux. It's highly recommended for both friends and foes of mine.
Drunkfux said demand for this portion of his footage was very high. I
promised to give him better footage and an even better speech next year.

   Later Count Zero wrote this about my speech in Cult of the Dead Cow:
"Grayarea gets up and begins to read off a pre-prepared speech on her
laptop. Her speech is too quick for my alcohol-byproduct-sodden synapses
to register accurately. I keep staring at her dress...bright tie-dye...
mesmerizing...it's actually quite cool. Suddenly, Loki gets up in the
audience and the accusations fly back and forth between them. You kicked
me off IRC. You called my office at work. You are doing this, you are
doing that. Both are getting into this verbal slugfest in a major way.
I feel the bad karma in the room hanging heavy like blue-green cigar
smoke. "Can't we all just get along??" I yell, but no one seems to hear
me. I don't know who is right or wrong (it's probably somewhere in
between...the truth's always gray, right?), so I don't hypothesize. All I
do know is that I'd never want to piss off Grayarea...she's damn strong
on her convictions and won't take shit from anyone. I think she'd look
better up there wearing a big ol' leather jacket with studs...terminator
style. "One tends to assume that people wearing tie-dye gear are quiet,
meek, very soft spoken, non-confrontational types....it is a camouflage
that suits her well," I think. Bahaha! I liked your comments, Count Zero.
And I did hear you yell that.

   After the speeches I sold more magazines thanks to Loki who
inadvertently made way more people interested in me. Bahahaha! Some of
them said they liked or loved my dress, some of them hugged me and some
of them signed up for subscriptions and gave me their data. I then
headed off for dinner at yet another sushi restaurant. Laughing Gas
and Slyme came again along with Mr. Spock who agreed to lose his sushi
virginity to me and jokingly said that way he'd get mentioned in my
review. I thought he was one of the three kewlest people I hung out with
at the Con. I hope I get to spend more time with him at a Con in the
future and I'd even be willing to go try his favorite type of food! The
sushi place we picked was awesome. I was sorry I hadn't found it
sooner. It's almost too bad HoHoCon will be in another city next year.
I also wanna mention the elite, Jak_Flack, who drove us to the restaurant
when cabs were scarce on New Year's Eve. He didn't want any sushi or
any money. He even got lucky and gave a ride to people who probably
would have done the same thing for him under the same circumstances.

   After dinner I did what Drunkfux begged us not to do. I spent New
Year's Eve on IRC. I messaged Mr. Spock, in fact, who was typing from
the other side of the room. I also messaged some hackers I talk to all
the time. Some were lonely and glad to see me. I thought a lot about
loneliness. Some of us prefer to be with computers than people. Some of
us can open up more easily to people on a computer. And some of us need
computers around even when we're with other people. I was typing from an
account at hohocon.org and there were several people in the room having
fun with their "site" as X and Y tried repeatedly (and succeeded) to get
root there. I had never seen root before from the position of the person
protecting it. I should have paid way more attention but I got too caught
up in having conversations. I should also have paid more attention to the
people in the room with me. Loq and Fool were there and they seemed really
kewl but I got too lost in IRC. Oh well, at least I wasn't hopelessly
drunk. And I wasn't kicked or banned once. People were delicate with each
other on IRC. They were often drunk, vulnerable and more likely to reveal
things when conversing. Those who were on were more than willing to talk
to anyone who showed up. People apparently intend to make public the
hohocon.org logs. If they include IRC chats it would be very shallow. I
will never again take the chance and IRC from a Con again. Although I have
mostly come to terms with the fact that I am a semi-public figure and
people will always want to see whatever I type on the Net, but it's not
fair to expose the words of the people I messaged.

   I dragged myself off IRC about 4:30 a.m. and went downstairs to clean
off one of the beds. Novocain and Particle had checked out of their room
and were gonna stay in my room for one night. I was thrilled at the idea
of having company. But when the bed was empty it looked tempting and I
lay down for the 90 minutes till I was due to meet them at the breakfast
buffet. Next thing I knew it was Sunday afternoon. Oops! I wondered where
they had slept. Apparently they hadn't wanted to wake me so they slept
in another room. I felt bad but at least their stuff had been safe which
is all you really care about at a Con. SORRY! Next time, guys, wake me.

   I stumbled into the lobby and joined the conversations that were going
on. A hotel employee asked if we'd mind moving to the conference room and
we agreed. We figured the room was bugged just as the hotel phone lines
had been. But we weren't talking about anything secret and a few of the
hackers answered all of the questions asked by the cop/security guard who
hung out for about half of the time we were in there. It was a very fun
time there on the floor chatting with Voyager, Ophie, Onkel Ditmeyer, lgas,
Deadkat, Drunkfux, etc. There were way more people but I'm drawing a blank
on specifically who. I went upstairs to get more magazines and ran into
Bruce Sterling. He was growing facial hair and looked great. He said he
felt lousy which shows what I know. I hugged him before he said he felt
lousy. We talked about the book he is working on. Then Ophie and I went
off to be interviewed about female hackers and the treatment of women by
hackers. It could have used Cori and Noelle but it made some good points.
We came downstairs and I saw Drunkfux at work videotaping an interview
with the guys from TNO in Colorado. This was priceless footage of them
discussing how a group decides policies and handles politics and how they
have applied political thought to hacking. I was sorry I had missed half
of it and sorry I had spent so much time socializing with them that it
had never occurred to me I didn't know much about their group and I should
have interviewed them too. I hope Drunkfux includes every word of their
interview in the video.

   Ophie brought up the idea of photos and so I grabbed my camera.
Everyone there got into it and I got a whole roll of film of people
hugging and kissing me, looking at porn mags with Ophie and generally
playing around somehow. They came out great. If you want yours passed
around or published, let me know. Until then, they're private.

   Slyme and I headed back to Mr. Wasabi for dinner but to our surprise
it was closed! New Year's day turned out to be a bad day to try to find
places open to serve food. We should have stayed at the hotel. We finally
ended up in a bar which served food, ordered hot chocolate and consoled
ourselves on the lack of sushi. Back at the hotel a bunch of us went
room hopping and tried to determine who was left. My flight was at 7 a.m.
and I had no intention of going to sleep and taking a chance I would miss
it. Several people had flights at 8 and 10 a.m. Others were staying on
for 3 more days to get better airfare rates. I heard ErikB had left with
Ophie and he told me later they had asked the hotel and had been told I
checked out. One room we ended up in had a console copier running. I had
heard about them but never seen one and was told it was okay if I
photographed it. I went downstairs for my camera.

   I hadn't been alone once since arriving in Austin. While this wasn't
always planned, the thought did occur to me that my room might be watched
and that law enforcement might be interested in any of the many people
I was seen talking to. I had mentioned a controversial interview we had
coming up with ILF and although I thought I was being overly paranoid, I
was still nervous I would be questioned about it. But it was 12:30 a.m.
or so and I felt too silly asking for someone to run downstairs with me.
So I went alone. But as I was closing the door and checking it was locked
I saw someone head down the hall towards me and I knew instantly something
was about to be up. Hackers are right when they say you can't fully
understand this until you have lived it. He asked if I was Netta and I
said yes and then he reached towards his pocket. I knew he was going for
either a gun or a badge and there was nothing I could do about either.
It turned out to be a badge and as he got close enough so that I could
see it read "Austin Police Department" I thought to myself "Kewl, it's
not the Secret Service." He asked me to accompany him to a room and,
holding my camera, I did. He told the two "security guards" that we'd be
leaving the door open. I had asked whether he was the guy who had
called me last March and he said no that he was his partner. I wondered
whether I was under investigation or whether they had no one else to ask
for information or whether they just wanted to meet me after talking to
me voice. It didn't occur to me to ask. I thought several times about the
fact I was supposed to be out with Bloodaxe and Ophie and that if I had
made it a point to leave with them this wouldn't be happening. I wondered
who else APD had questioned who had not told anyone. I wondered if they had
even questioned someone about me. I also feared people would come looking
for me and see me in that room and think I was talking to the police
voluntarily. That I had sought them out. God forbid they should think I
was telling the police about the console copier.

   The whole thing only took about 8 minutes and the officer asked me
nothing I had a problem answering. He treated me with respect and didn't
press me to say anything I wasn't comfortable saying. I offered to give
him some of my magazines at the end of the conversation and he walked me
to my room and was clearly planning to wait outside. I invited him in and
he watched me pull issues from three suitcases. It was apparent nothing
illegal had gone on in my room. I'd lay odds it was the cleanest room
there too. The day before, for example, my trash in the bathroom had
been dumped at least three times. None were by me or when I was in the
room. The only thing I couldn't answer, and it was simply from nerves,
was what I had done on New Year's Eve. The answer came out that I didn't
remember and since I stammered it, it must have looked like I had seen or
done something I shouldn't have. But all I did was IRC and eat sushi and
I do that so often I didn't even remember when asked. New Year's Eve had
been almost like any other night.

   Anyway, I got the console copier photo (hint: I could use a detailed
article on how they work to run with it). We then moved on to other rooms
and I ran into Drunkfux and Damien Thorn. I did a long video interview
with Drunkfux, who would have made an excellent journalist. He resisted
the idea of asking me petty questions about who I like and don't like in
the scene and who I'd sleep with if I could. I would have answered
anything he asked in the spirit of the HoHoCon video tradition, but
instead we got into more serious issues and people who think Drunkfux is
shallow or a less-than-serious dude due to his IRC reputation will be most

   Then Damien did an equally long interview and Drunkfux got eleet footage
of me closing my eyes when the talk got too technical. I did almost pass
out as it was 3 a.m. or so and I felt really comfortable being with them
but I snapped to attention just in the nick of time as Drunkfux had the
camera aimed on me and Damien was making a joke. Damien took it in stride
but I think it was the first time anyone had ever had the chance to listen
to his most eleet technical tips and was bored. I hope he knows I love him,
like most hackers, for the person he is and not for the skills or trophies
he has. I was transfixed as he told Drunkfux his beginnings in the computer
underground and his views on laws, ethics, writing, etc. I just don't lust
to know what model of phones he respects most or what gadget he's tested
last. Luckily for you, Drunkfux did the interview, not me, and he did ask
lots on that sort of stuff. After they were done Damien and I went out to
some fast food burger joint. It was dirt cheap and tasted like cardboard.
We had a great chat, as usual, and then went to the airport with Slyme who
had slept the night away and missed everything. My flight was first and
they walked me to the gate and made a fuss over me and it was the perfect

   I can't believe I now have to wait till June (and go to Georgia, of
all places) to see some of you again. Oh well. In the meantime, happy
Valentine's Day to you and whoever you netsex and/or fantasize about.
Happy April Fool's Day in advance too. Just prank someone else this year,
okay? <grin>.

(Sample issues of Gray Areas are $7.00 each (U.S.) and $10.00 each
(foreign) from: Gray Areas, Inc. P.O. Box 808, Broomall, PA 19008.
E-mail addresses are: grayarea@well.sf.ca.us or grayarea@netaxs.com or
grayarea@mindvox.phantom.com. PGP key is below. Use it.)

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