Author Archives: ward

Gotham trailer

Gotham TV show

Gotham TV show

The much anticipated (by me anyway) Gotham TV show is on its way. Now there is a trailer. I think it looks pretty good and I remain fairly excited. I just worry a bit because without Batman and the Joker and all the rest, it is essentially just another cop drama. I know Bruce Wayne and Catwoman appear in this as children but children suck and I am a bit bored with origin stories.

Still, I remain open minded and the trailer looks pretty cool. So time will tell. Enjoy.

 

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Augmented reality bus stop

This has been doing the rounds on the internet, but in case you missed it I thought I would share because it is bloody genius. I keep meaning to pop down to New Oxford street (it’s in London) and see if it is still there. Personally, I think they could go a lot further and have zombies, Triffids, psychopathic clowns, Daleks, Stormtroopers, Cthulu, Godzilla, the Borg, giant mechanoids, the Blob… well, I could actually go on all day. If I was trying to promote a film or a game I would be all over this augmented reality technology thingy but sadly I am not, so will just gawk at it instead.

Scifiward.com has shiny new look!

The good folks over at the awesome www.scifiward.com have a brilliant new look to their site. (Ok ScifiWard is me.) I thought I would try out a new design there and see how easy the whole process was. Turns out, it was pretty damn simple to achieve and now it looks like a veritable window on the future. I urge you to go and check it out forthwith and post haste!  As I mentioned when I chatted about doing code academy, it is time for this site to have a makeover.

I want to keep things simple so will probably go with a wordpress theme.

I just thought I would warn you all so that if you happen to be clicking to somewhere else on this site, everything may go a bit mental for a minute or two. While I may be brilliant at design and basic coding and most other things a human can do, I can’t work out how to change things on a site before it goes live. The changes may happen before your very eyes… Plus it is more fun this way. So don’t panic! Your computer isn’t broken. Look on in awe as a new site unfolds.

Look in awe at the new site!

Look in awe at the new site!

EDIT: Well I guess doing Scifiward first has paid off as the Word of Ward has now had its facelift and it took about half an hour. Any suggestions please email: thewordofward@gmail.com

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myhotel, Brighton

This isn’t really a hotel review as such – it’s more of an excuse as to why I have been a bit negligent toward the poor old www.thewordofward.co.uk website.

The reason is that I have been busy at work and then busy holidaying. I’m not sure that is a good reason but that is the way it is. While there we stayed at the fantastic Myhotel in Brighton. That isn’t a typo by the way, it is supposed to look like that because it’s all hip and shit.

It was Mrs Wordofward’s birthday and the good thing about Brighton is that it is chock full of cool bars, cafes, restaurants and pubs. All of which we are fans of. I’ve stayed at the Myhotel before in Brighton and it is in a superb location in the hip and cool North Lanes, just a short walk from the hip and cool South Lanes and consequently the not quite so hip and cool waterfront. (I am always disappointed by the pier at Brighton and while there is the odd nice cafe/bar by the beach, if it isn’t a sunny day then the Lanes are the place to be.) In fact, every other male I saw in the Lanes had a beard which shows how hip(ster) it is.

Another great thing about Brighton is that it is less than an hour from London.

Anyway, if you fancy Brighton I recommend the myhotel. It is like living in a hotel in Logan’s Run. Imagine the future as designed by someone from the seventies and you’ll get the idea. There is a great coffeeshop, cool bar – you get a free cocktail and they play retro movies on multiple screens while fish swim in tanks, and a modern Indian fusion restaurant which is also apparently pretty good.

So apologies for a slight lapse. Service has now resumed and fascinating things dealing with science and reviews of stuff and things will soon be forthcoming. In the meantime, here is a photo of our room:

myhotel room.

myhotel room.

 

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Fargo Tv show

Fargo Tv series' cast

Fargo Tv series’ cast

I, like most people, loved the movie ‘Fargo’. There is very little not to like about it. Great script, great cast, great atmosphere, etc. When I heard they were making a Tv show based on Fargo I was a bit baffled as to what that actually meant. I assumed it just meant the occasional murder in a very bleak landscape with lots of black humour.

Well, now there is a trailer and I am actually really looking forward to it. It seems to have a great script, great cast, great atmosphere, etc. Which I now realise is what they probably meant by the ‘world of Fargo’ all along. Martin Freeman is doing damned well for himself these days and fair play to him.  Anyway, here you go:

 

 

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Acapella versions of classic game themes

Everyone loves acapella and playing computer games from the 80s and 90s don’t they? I’m going to assume you answered yes there. I spent most of the 80s and early 90s in game arcades in Hong Kong and certain tunes lodged tenaciously in my brain where they happily beep to this day. Well, finally, a magnificently bearded genius called Smooth McGroove has come along and made acapella versions of these songs – by himself – and posted them on the glorious entertainment hole that is the interweb.

A lot of his songs are pretty obscure but one game theme tune everyone should recognise is Tetris. So let’s start with that:

How brilliant was that? Pretty damned brilliant I assume you are saying. (Ok I’ll stop answering rhetorical questions.)

How about Sonic the Hedgehog? That was pretty classic. Just to remind you listen to a bit of the original (about 20 seconds will do):
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And, to show the contrast, the acapella!

There are a ton more on Mr Smooth McGroove Youtube page (https://www.youtube.com/user/SmoothMcGroove) and as I mentioned, unless you are an older gamer or have a passion for emulators, you are unlikely to know too many of them. But for those lucky few who are in that cool clique, I shall end this entry with Guile’s theme from StreetFighter 2. Ahhh the memories.
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Brilliant explanation of the Big Bang – space stuff on Youtube

Youtube is normally just a repository for videos of adorable kittens falling over, or adorable humans falling over, or adorable blurry UFOs flying over, or adorable viral events that are soon to be over, or… Ok, I’ll stop as I am running out of ideas. Plus we all know there is a lot of other great stuff on there – trailers, clips of Felix Baumgartner falling from space, new fan made Star Trek movies, cool but stupid retro scifi movies like Space Probe Taurus, and so on.

There are also lots of youtube clips that teach you things. You can get totally educated and shit watching exciting animated clips and documentaries. I am currently watching a lot of astronomy related videos on youtube. This was partly inspired by a recent interest in physics (mostly particle physics but it is all related and bloody fascinating), and partly because I am a pretentious prick who likes to sound clever down the pub. There are some great clips out there like this one that explains the Big Bang for beginners:

The people who made this clip have a page called Kurzgesagt and they explain all sorts of things – astronomy, fracking, global warming etc. Click this for Kurzgesagt’s youtube channel. I am only mentioning all this as it is riveting and there are a surprising amount of people with time on their hands and internet connection. Why not learn stuff?

Here's a picture of the big bang purely because it is interesting.

Here’s a picture of the big bang purely because it is interesting.

On a similar note. Watch Carl Sagan’s Cosmos on youtube while you are about it. I watched this as a kid on TV and it sparked a lifelong interest in in astronomy and science. Here is the first episode. Enjoy.

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South Park: The Stick of Truth Game

SPSouth Park: The Stick of Truth video game is almost upon us and I am damned excited. It looks, as they intended, exactly like an episode of South Park and seems to be chock full of jokes, puerile humour, poo gags and heavy lashings of political incorrectness. It was written and voiced by Matt Stone and Trey Parker, so it should be pretty amazing.  The Stick of Truth has already been released to reviewers and the consensus of every one I read was that it is surprisingly good.

The game  was made by Obsidian, who have made a ton of classic RPGs such as Neverwinter Nights and Fallout: New Vegas. So we are in good hands here. You pick your character class – Fighter, Mage, Thief or… Jew – and you are off, wandering around South Park dressed in lame fantasy outfits.

Appetite whetted? Good. Here is a trailer:

Looks fun doesn’t it? If you want a little more South Park: The Stick of Truth trailer action, here is another with a bit of Matt Stone and Trey Parker thrown in at E3.

As far as I can tell, the gameplay is going to be quite standard RPG fare. But done well. So fighting, exploring and looting, with levelling and ability trees and so on. In fact, after watching a few gameplay trailers, it seems to be a turn based fighting system akin to Pokemon or Final Fantasy. Like Final Fantasy battles, you have standard attacks, abilities/magic, items, and the chance to call down powerful beings – except here the beings do funny stuff.

If you are just a fan of South Park, you probably just got bored a bit there where I went all computer game nerdy. If, like me, you like games AND South Park, you can probably see why I am looking forward to this. Not new-Uncharted-game-imminent excited, but excited nonetheless. If you fall into the former camp of just South Park fan, watch the trailer again. If you are in the latter like me, then here is a glimpse of what the gameplay is like. South Park: The Stick of Trutch is due for release on all platforms that matter on the 7th March. Enjoy!

 

 

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Fun with a Theremin

Leon Theremin playing the Theremin

Leon Theremin playing the Theremin

I know what you are thinking: everyone already loves a Theremin so what is the point of this post? Well sadly, you’re wrong you poor deluded fool. It turns out that some people don’t even know what a theremin is! In case you are part of the latter crowd, look to the left. That is Leon Theremin playing his Theremin. Bizarrely the similarity in names was a coincidence. (That was a joke – he patented his invention in 1928.)

I love theremins but perhaps that is because I am a bit of a geek and geeks seem to have been exposed to the sounds of theremins more than other mere humans. Theremins can be heard in The Day the Earth Stood Still (original), Ed Wood, The Thing (from another world), The Big Bang Theory, and so on. Funnily enough they are most famous for providing the theme tunes to original Doctor Who and original Star Trek. Neither is actually true but they do sound pretty fantastic on a theremin as this video clearly demonstrates with the Doctor Who theme:

In popular music, Theremins have been used by a ton of musicians including: Hawkwind, The Rolling Stones, and Led Zeppelin, (to name but three examples of personal favourites). Plus this guy playing Radiohead:

They have been used in classical music too, although that seems pretty rare. There have been a few professional devotees though, such as Clara Rockmore. Here she is playing Tchaikovsky and it’s rather pleasant:

 

In case you are bored at work which, let’s face it, is likely given that you have read this far, I give you (drumroll…) – a desktop Theremin! Well actually, I don’t, but here is a link to one thanks to the good people at www.femurdesign.com:

A THERAMIN FOR YOUR COMPUTER

Literally minutes of fun as you try and play the theme tune to original Star Trek, then a bit of Doctor Who, then… er… back to the web probably. I thought it was pretty fun for a few minutes and thought you might too. Who knows? Maybe this post will spark off a renewed interest Theremin playing. It’s unlikely but I bloody hope so.

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Conwy Castle, Wales

Conwy Castle exterior

Conwy Castle exterior

Apologies for not having written much of late but work was sparse so Mrs Word of Ward and I went a-wondering. I won’t gloat about the places we went (although I might later) as they were mostly sunny and warm. One place that wasn’t either of these, but was still pretty great, was Conwy Castle in North Wales. If you like castles or spectacular decaying edifices, I highly recommend it. It was actually pretty fun to go on a bleak mid-week afternoon in January as well, as we pretty much had the place to ourselves.

A photo of Conwy from a better photographer on a  nicer day.

A photo of Conwy from a better photographer on a nicer day.

Conwy castle was built the late 13th century. As in just before 1300ish, for King Edward 1st. Or King Edward as he was known back then. It was a major base for King Ed as he was conquering the Welsh – although it is probably best not mentioning that when you visit as they have never quite forgiven us horrible English types.

Unlike a lot of tourist attraction castles, the interior doesn’t have too much crap in it like signs or gift shops or anything. The mood is pretty unspoilt and you are allowed to wander around and climb things. Here is another picture but this time of the interior:

Conwy castle interior

Conwy castle interior

Nice eh? You can almost imagine all the lords and ladies and knights and dragons and so on. Here is another that was taken from what would have been a basement. Note that in the distance of both of these pictures you can see Conwy’s turrets – more on that after the picture.

20140129_132740If you don’t mind twisty steep dark staircases, then I highly recommend you climb one of the turrets. The view is bloody spectacular. Here is a both a superb vista and a brilliant example of modern phone’s ability to do a panorama shot.

Panorama from a Conwy turret.

Panorama from a Conwy turret.

Now, here is a shaky video on a windy day from the top, which may or may not load properly.

I said end it all but here are a couple of bonus pictures as you have been so good. I mentioned how there wasn’t too much crap to distract you from the awesomeness of Conwy castle but there are a couple of random touches that I thoroughly enjoyed. I think they ‘re there to give kiddywinks something to find. There are a few of these. My favourites were:

The ghostly head of King Edward!

The ghostly head of King Edward!

and

A pile of armour with a helmet, crown, and spike in a deep pit. For some reason.

A pile of armour with a helmet, crown, and spike in a deep pit. For some reason.

So you can see the kid friendly, slightly spooky vibe they are going for. If you get the chance, I highly recommend Conwy castle. As you can see it’s a good balance of castle, decay, random sights, great views, and a general Game of Thrones type vibe.

Thanks to http://cadw.wales.gov.uk/daysout/conwycastle/?lang=en for the picture. You can also get more info there.

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Felix Baumgartner’s jump from a First Person Point of View

I know the world moves at a quick pace these days, but do you remember that Felix Baumgartner guy who jumped from space to prove that science was cool? It was back in the simpler days of 2012. It was a pretty epic fall and he was wearing several hi-def cameras that must have taken a bugger of a lot of processing as the footage has finally been released. There are some amazing shots and it’s still an incredible feat to watch. Enjoy.

 

A Million Ways to Die in the West

A Million Ways to Die in the West

A Million Ways to Die in the West

I just saw this trailer and thought I would share. It’s the new film by Seth MacFarlane – the fellow who brought you Family Guy and Ted. So expect some bad language. Also a surprising bit of blood. It made me laugh though, so if you are as psychologically damaged as I am you might like it. Enjoy.

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Follow The Word of Ward on Twitter

Just a quick note as I am technically at work right now although I am writing this in my officially sanctioned lunch break. The Word of Ward has been getting a lot of attention recently (not sure why but the figures keep doubling), so to the 1000s of new unique daily visitors who missed it – I am also on twitter: @thewordofward.

For those of you not on Twitter, I apologise for brazenly wasting your time. Frankly though, this seemed a good excuse to remind people to follow me  as I clearly crave incessant attention. I promise to be vaguely interesting.

@thewordofward

Devil Baby prank

I saw this all over the interweb and thought I would share just in case you missed it. I have previously posted a prank that was actually a viral promo for the horror film Carrie. Well here is another one for a horror film called Devil’s Due – which as far as I can tell is like Rosemary’s Baby but without the eeriness or tension. I suspect it will be just full of ‘jumpy’ moments. So this prank is pretty apt. (Please note: I haven’t seen Devil’s Due, it might be brilliant.) Enjoy.

 

Fuerza Bruta

Fuertza Bruta

Fuertza Bruta

I saw this last night at the Roundhouse in Camden (London) and if you want the short version of the review:

It was awesome, go and see it.

Now for a more lengthy version. I had no idea what to expect from Fuerza Bruta as every review I had read struggled to accurately describe what happens. I’m not going to lie – this will probably be the same. But it might at least give you a taster.

Here is a basic rundown of how things happened and what goes on:

At the start of the show we, the milling crowd, were led to the central section of the Roundhouse into what could be described as a circular circus tent that was missing a roof. The audience was immediately herded toward the centre of the room where we waited and sipped drinks and were treated to techno that sounded a bit like a heartbeat. A heartbeat from an increasingly excited person. Then the lights dimmed and Fuerza Bruta began.

_DSC6097.JPGAt first no one knew where to look. Then, people gradually turned in one direction where there was a guy silhouetted in an orange light welcoming us and shouting a bit. Then the lights came on and there was a row of Argentinian drummers. As their drumbeats filled the air a group of shouting people suddenly swung from out of nowhere and skimmed over our heads while at the same time lights started to strobe and the air was filled with confetti. This was what Fuertza Bruta was all about – spectacle, sensation, and an incredibly fun interactive experience.

The show was essentially three acts that were linked by drums, dancing, music and sensory assault. As things changed, the audience was expertly moved and parted to allow sets and machines to be brought among us.

FuerzaBrutaFor the first act, we were split into two groups as a huge treadmill was wheeled in amongst us. Then an unstoppable man began an inexplicable journey. He walks, then runs, with wind and confetti blasting in his face. Suddenly there is a shot, blood appears on his shirt and he stops for second seemingly about to collapse. Then he takes the shirt off, revealing an identical one underneath, and gets going once more. I won’t go into too much detail but there are obstacles such as people, chairs, walls that explode into glitter, staircases and more, as this plucky fellow miraculously pounds ahead with music blaring and strobe lights strobing. Fuertza Bruta means ‘brute force’ and it clearly stemmed from this amazing set piece.

fuerza-bruta-2-816x1024After another few moments of ‘where the hell should I look now’ and a dash of ‘what’s going to happen next’ eyes strayed to the ceiling. Two large rectangular pools made from see though plastic where suspended above us. A light shining through revealed the body of a lithe young lady lying in a shallow pool of water. As the pools were lowered toward us she was joined by other lithe women and a strangely beautiful (and beautifully strange) dance occurs as the ladies writhe and leap and occasionally slam down in an explosion of purple-lit water. At times this occurs inches from the audience’s head and if you are tall enough you can push the plastic bottom of the pool as the performers slide over. It was such an amazing atmosphere and unique spectacle that it felt only a tiniest bit pervy.

1240-3-fuerza-brutaFor Fuerza Bruta’s final act a plastic sheet is pulled across the top of the audience – by the audience themselves – which is then filled with air to create a big plastic dome. Performers then appear on top of this dome and peep through via three holes. At one point they dropped into the audience and grabbed a couple of people, which was a tad disconcerting. Other madness occurs such as tubes with flying people and fans billowing and music and general shenanigans. By this point our senses had been pretty heavily assaulted by wonder and we calmly took it in our stride.It is then all nicely rounded off with the drummers and the whole cast dancing.

The above description is just a taste of what Fuerza Bruta is all about. There is a lot more I haven’t even mentioned. It is a spectacle where art meets performance and if that sounds pretentious then I should also add that it is messy, loud and bloody good fun.

If you are in London, it is on at the Roundhouse (which is an awesome venue anyway and well worth a visit) until the 2nd of March. More info here. It also appears all over the world, but I suspect only in major cities as it needs venues actually capable of holding the show.

In case my feeble description of Fuerza Bruta isn’t enough to wet your insatiable appetite, here are a couple of videos. Enjoy and then book tickets – it’s worth it.

Fuerza Bruta at the Roundhouse ad:

And a generic ad (from the New York show I think):

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Arthur C. Clarke predicts computers and internet in 1974

Arthur C. Clarke predicted a ton of stuff like satellites, fully immersive VR games, sexily voiced computers and space elevators and and so on. (Granted the latter hasn’t actually happened yet but NASA does have team on it, even if it’s taking a while http://science1.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2000/ast07sep_1/).

In this clip from 1974, he predicts small computers will one day exist in everyone’s houses. He predicted that these computers would also one day connect to each other so we can communicate, order plane tickets, buy pointless shite and look at naked people. The guy was a genius. Anyway, see for yourself:

Happy Christmas!

Happy Christmas from the Word of Ward! And from Mrs Word of Ward!

If you don’t celebrate Christmas but have a festival – then Happy Festival!

If you don’t have any festival or holiday or anything then… um… happy 4th day post equinox. I assume you are at work.

Whatever the deal – enjoy!

santa

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eBook Self Promotion

Well folks, it is almost Christmas and in the spirit of giving, buying things online and capitalism generally, I deem it a good moment to plug a book. Buy my book! Thanks.

RIGHT NOW AS I TYPE THIS BOTH MY EBOOKS ARE FREE! If you miss the promotion, I should point out that they are both at the minimum price you can charge for an ebook. Which is pennies. Or cents.

What I would really like from you dear readers is a review or ten. Especially from you lovely non-UK types. Trust me, a review really, really helps. Unless you are mean in which case – move along.

My travel book: Australia, Morocco, and Thailand. Three True Travel Stories is a collection of short travel tales of near peril. At this particular moment it is #1 in Essays and Travelogues on Amazon UK! It cannot be higher. (I have a screenshot to prove it.) And it’s free. So get it and review it. Here is the blurb:

Jason Ward tells three true stories of fairly perilous travel.
While backpacking in his early twenties, he decides to give fruit picking a go. Even without the spiders, snakes, and a plague of locusts, things turn out pretty badly.
A trip into the Atlas Mountains with his girlfriend turns out less than romantic when flash floods threaten to wipe out the town. The only escape option is a van full of Berber tribesmen and a waterlogged road on the edge of a cliff.
After moving to the peaceful paradise of Thailand, Ward goes to a local pub near his Bangkok flat. That evening there is a military coup. In Bangkok. So why can’t he see anything?
These stories are filled with humour and dollops of fear. Recommended for those who enjoy travel stories or just like reading about someone being mildly terrified in foreign countries.

For US readers:

For UK readers:

Thanks you wonderful people. I will soon be back talking about inane stuff as usual.

Stabilised Video of Lunar Buggy on the Moon

I saw this on www.http://sploid.gizmodo.com/ and thought I would share. If you like science and space exploration, you will probably have already seen the original footage of astronauts driving a buggy on the moon. If you haven’t then shame on you, but not to worry – here is the same footage but stabilised. It frankly fills me with wonder that we apelike creatures can achieve this stuff when we put our minds to it. I’m hoping that now China has it’s first moon lander Yutu up there, coupled with developments from companies like Space X, we are on the first of a much needed expansion into space.

Before the video, here is an interesting fact: NASA hired General Motors and Boeing around $40 million US for four of the buggys. Three are still on the moon.

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Danny Boyle’s Frankenstein starring Cumberbatch and Miller

Frankenstein directed by Danny Boyle, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller

Frankenstein directed by Danny Boyle, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller

I saw his the other day at the National Theatre Live screenings. I thought seeing a film of a live play was a bit of a weird idea but it actually turned out to be a superb evening out. Of course it could be down to the fact that the thing we went to see was absolutely incredible: Danny Boyle very ably directs Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller in Frankenstein. I really cannot stress how great this was.

_51401429_frankenstein_464Part of the genius of it was having the actors swap roles on alternate nights. One night Miller was Frankenstein, the next it was Cumberbatch. The night we saw it, Cumberbatch was the monster. (This was possibly due to fact that my wife has a bit of crush on him and he is in a loincloth for most of the opening scene.) The idea is that the actor can effectively riff off each other’s performance, subtly affecting each other’s portrayals. You also get a slightly different experience on the two separate nights. What you end up with are two astounding performances from both actors. Miller and Cumberbatch were both superlative in their respective roles reflecting the similarities, contrasts, and underlying bond between Frankenstein and his ‘monster’.

Another big plus for me is that the play was pretty closely based on Mary Shelley’s original book. I studied Frankenstein for my Literature degree and always thought it was a shame Hollywood usually went for a mute and stupid monster, whereas in the original he was smart and erudite and tortured by the self awareness of how he looked and what he was. He was passionate and lonely and wanted to love whereas Frankenstein was cold and aloof and tended to shun company. There are a lot of themes being explored here and it’s intelligently done.

I’m not sure how long the National Theatre will be doing this but if you get a chance to see it, I thoroughly 100% recommend it. You can’t see it on the internet or buy it (which is weird in this day and age), so go and see Frankenstein at your nearest arty cinema.

Links to performances can be found here: http://ntlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk/productions/16546-frankenstein

Here is a trailer:

Here is another:

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