Nick Whittome - The Naked MVP

Microsoft MVP, Superhero, Crocodile Wrestler. Owner of NTES and G7eleven


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My mother used to say….

If you have nothing good to say, then say nothing at all.

This has been true for anything other 140 characters for me for some time.    I really have not had anything good about the subjects you might expect from me and therefore have kept quiet.  But then, I rarely listened to my mother..

Microsoft have essentially killed the two products I loved, Small Business Server and Microsoft Flight Simulator.   Part of the offshoot of the new Cloud Microsoft.  

We do have some good to come of this, the first being that Windows Server Essentials features are now part of the core set of Windows Server.    This is something that I am seeing a lot of companies make use of, even though its not without certain flaws, its certainly better than maintaining two sets of passwords with Office 365 if you do not have ADFS on your site.   I will write some more about these features and flaws over the coming year.

As for Microsoft Game Studios, well….   I can only hope that the latest culling of staff is an attempt by Satya Nadella to get rid of the middle management and build from the ground up a games department that is actually allowed to grow and be creative….     Seriously though, 3 times in 5 years that department have been hacked to the ground and I just cannot fathom the business decisions behind it, no matter how I try.

Now, today…     the end of Windows XP.     Finally.

Something I have wanted for a while is a real reason to tell my friends and customer why putting up with a slow crappy machine running Windows XP is not the way to go anymore.    Yes, Windows XP was a wonderful piece of software.   But for the love of God, let it go!    If I have to listen to one more person complain about giving up their Windows XP machine, I may have to physically lift that PC and put it through some kind of awesome metal shredding machine while dancing and whooping ;)

Why you should join me in the shredding celebration

Windows 8 is better, especially now that Windows 8.1, update 1 is here.

What the hell is Windows 8.1 Update 1 I hear you scream!.    Well, in a nutshell, this is the update that Microsoft have released that essentially makes Windows 8.x the keyboard and point and click mouse friendly version.   I really wanted them to call it “Windows 8.1 ClickyMouse” but they ignored my emails.

You can minimise apps now, you can click to search, you can click to shutdown.   Revolutionary stuff eh. <<  Need for sarcasm font.

Read more about Windows 8.1 Update 1

If you have Windows Server 2012, and HyperV, install this now

Products which belong to Essentials and Small Business Server family might crash if virtualized on Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V host in the event that the host crashes or loses power. The active directory instance may become corrupted and might result in blue screen/bug check with error:

c00002e2 Directory Services could not start because of the following error:  %hs  Error Status: 0x%x.  Please shutdown this system and reboot into Directory Services Restore Mode, check the event log for more detailed information.

This issue occurs because the Hyper-V virtual IDE controller erroneously reports success if an operating system on the guest requests to disable the disk cache. This might result in an application issuing I/O operations that it believes are persisted to disk that are actually being allowed to reside in the disk cache, which would not be persisted across power failures of the Hyper-V host.

Update Rollup KB2855336 should be installed on Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V host.


More Office365 Midsize would be sold if…..

…Microsoft stopped advertising like this:


You see, the problem is that you cannot in fact mix these two plans.    Even though they are displayed side by side on the Microsoft website.    If you actually read the details, you can see that the M plans, like the P plans, cannot be mixed with E plans.

The problem here is that most of the “Midsize” businesses I deal with actually DO require a mix of the Midsize and the Hosted Exchange Online Plan 1.    They need to introduce a M Exchange Online equivalent, even if it is slightly more expensive that can be mixed with the M plan.

Right now, this is not pushing us and our customers towards the E1, E2, E3 mix, but is simply pushing us towards alternative products. 

Please fix this Microsoft, and quickly!

Windows Server for Small and Medium Business MVP

Well, that is a mouthful, but its the new official MVP expertise title for me....

Read into that what you will.....


Windows Server Essentials 2012 R2 Preview

This is the best write-up I have seen on Windows Server Essentials 2012 R2 from Paul Thurrott.    The guy is a machine for churning out great articles quickly!

For me, the greatest thing coming with R2 is the fact that Essentials is now a role.   So many clients we have will make use of this!

Office 365 DNS issues today

We wrote this up for the NTES blog today.   Office 365, wave 15, are having DNS woes this morning...


Windows Server Essentials Rollup 2

EDIT: For some reason this post didn't show last month!  Fixed!

Microsoft have released the Windows Server Essentials 2012 Update Rollup 2.    I highly recommend installing this update!    The link to the list of issues resolved in this update is here:

Major issues that are resolved by this update

Issue 1

Assume that you have the Microsoft Office 365 Integration feature enabled on a Windows Server 2012 Essentials-based computer. After you install update 2781267, and then restart the server, the Office 365 integration service crashes.

For more information, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

2781267 Update Rollup 1 for Windows Server 2012 Essentials is available

Issue 2

Assume that you install update 2781267 on a Windows Server 2012 Essentials-based computer. When you change the user access level or folder permissions in the User Properties dialog box, a warning dialog box might appear, and the operation fails.

Issue 3

After you install update 2781267, you cannot enable Office 365 by using the following Windows PowerShell cmdlet:


Major improvement that is added by this update


Adds support for the Port Bonjour feature of Mac connector to Windows Server 2012 Essentials.



Office 365 Wave 15 stopped an Outlook 2007 client connecting

....but that isn't the whole story.

There must have been a problem with this XP Machine for a while, but the Wave 15 upgrade made it stand out.   

The problems seemed to stem from a missing certificate which meant that the chain was broken.  I was getting "The Issuer of this certificate could not be found" on the cert both in Outlook and Webmail / IE.   In the chain, I found MSIT Machine Auth CA 2 and Microsoft Internet Authority mentioned.  

The fix itself was simple in the end, but it did take a lot of searching.   Which is why I am putting this here for others.

Download the latest Root Certificate and install in the Trusted Root Certificate Store on your machine.

Link to cert

But in my home, I don't want to join the Windows Server 2012 Essentials Domain

So, you have a work laptop, or a nicely running non-domain based home network.  But alas, you have no home server options anymore...

You are left with the option of installing a Windows Server 2012 Essentials machine (which whilst expensive, really is a great home server option).    The problem is, you don't want the machines in your home in a domain, you want them to remain totally independant for many a reason.

Here is a nugget of information that you will love then.    When you run the Connect computer wizard (http://nameofserver/connect) you can avoid the domain join bit by simply running this command in an elevated command prompt beforehand:

reg add "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows Server\ClientDeployment" /v SkipDomainJoin /t REG_DWORD /d 1

....then, run the wizard and you will get all the good backup and home features without the domain join.



A time consuming issue caused by the SBS 2011 to Windows Server 2012 Essentials Migration procedure

Overnight and today I have been working on Migrating from Windows SBS 2011 Standard server to Windows Server 2012 Essentials with Office 365 Hosted services.   The whole process appeared to be going pretty well until this morning when I noticed that Outlook 2010 could not connect to any of our existing internal mailboxes.   (Though the ones that were already connected and logged in, remained in).

Obviously, I required access to these mailboxes so that I could perform a manual export of the old mailboxes and import this data to the Office 365 cloud services.    Not having this mailbox access was really bad, and started delaying the migration dramatically.

Anyway, what then ensued was a few hours of trying to find the issue.   The strange thing was that Outlook Web Access on our SBS 2011 box continued to function, but outlook clients simply would not connect.    I looked at DNS, Encryption settings, Internal CAS URL's and all that other normal stuff, but nothing worked.

Then it struck me....       I wondered if the server was no longer a Global Catalog. (The SBS2011 Box).

Sure enough, the Windows Server 2012 Essentials migration process had somewhere along the way turned off the Global Catalog without telling me on my old SBS2011 server.    Not a problem UNLESS you have a reboot at some point!  (I did).    What then happened is that the Microsoft Exchange Address Book Service (something that until today I though unimportant) would not startup unless the server remained as a Global Catalog.   I reenabled the SBS2011 machine as a Global Catalog, waited the 5 or so minutes for it to kick up, then started the Microsoft Exchange Address Book service.

The Outlook Clients then connected....

Gaaaaaah!   There is 5 hours I wont get back.   Hopefully you wont lose them yourself because you read this.

Windows Server 2012 Essentials - RTM - Give it a go....

Well, its finally here.   Windows Server 2012 Essentials.

"Hi, I’m Sinead O'Donovan, Director of Program Management on the Windows Server Essentials team.

Windows Server 2012 Essentials is a significant milestone in our efforts to help cloud-enable small businesses and home offices. It is designed to help you protect business data, to allow highly secure access to the information you need from virtually anywhere by using almost any device, and to offer the flexibility to choose which applications and services you want to run on-premises and in the cloud—we have even made it easier than ever before to run Essentials itself in a hosted environment. Excitement about the release of Windows Server 2012 Essentials has been growing. In 8 weeks of public previews, we’ve had more than 23,000 downloads—far surpassing pre-release downloads of past versions.

Today I am pleased to tell you that Windows Server 2012 Essentials has reached the release to manufacturing (RTM) milestone. We are delivering the product to our hardware and ecosystem partners, and it will be generally available in all channels on November 1, with OEM partners shipping server systems by the end of the year.

I would like to encourage you to try Windows Server 2012 Essentials for yourself by visiting the Evaluation Center today to download a trial copy—and if you’re an MSDN or TechNet subscriber, you can download Essentials from those sites as well.

Let me share some quick product highlights with you:

  • Enable a dynamic, modern work style with access from your devices by using Remote Web Access (RWA), and take advantage of Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 devices for a superior experience with rich modern “My Server” apps.
  • Enjoy peace of mind knowing that your data is well-protected by complementing your on-site backups with Windows Azure Online Backup, as well as utilizing integrated support for the new Windows 8 File History feature.
  • Choose the email and collaboration option that’s right for you, whether that’s in the cloud with Office 365 or a hosted service provider, or running on a local server.
  • Quickly and easily respond to increasing data capacity needs with support for Storage Spaces, which allows you to create elastic, resilient storage for your files and folders.
  • Run the line-of-business applications that you depend on by leveraging our greatly improved application compatibility, now with a single logo certification for all Windows Server 2012 editions.
  • Purchase with confidence knowing that your technology investment can easily grow to Windows Server 2012 Standard if the needs of your business grow.
  • Deploy today with full support for 19 languages, all releasing simultaneously.

We have seen some great initial press reviews of Windows Server 2012 Essentials, too. For example:

The right tool for the job… Server Essentials makes client backups so simple that not doing them borders on criminal. Combined with the Microsoft Online Backup service [Windows Azure Online Backup] (and possibly with replication based on Hyper-V), the backup features make for a much more disaster-resistant small network. And the integration with Office 365 and Exchange (but mostly with Office 365) greatly reduces the complexity of user administration.”
- Ars Technica,
A server for the rest of us: hands-on with Windows Server 2012 Essentials

“…ideal for a small business or a home office.”
- ZDNet,
Windows Server 2012 Essentials: Beta preview

You can find more information on the Windows Server 2012 Essentials product page, and discover deeper technical information on the Windows Server 2012 Essentials TechCenter. If you are a Microsoft Partner, be sure to visit the Microsoft Partner Network and take advantage of the training opportunities we have available, including the upcoming Disti Bootcamps. And, of course, we would like to continue the great dialog we’ve started with you during the previews, so please continue to share your experiences and provide us with your feedback in the Windows Server 2012 Essentials Forum.

Thank you,
Sinead O'Donovan"


Windows 8, Windows Update, SBS2011 and WSUS

Wow!, what a load of hassle just to get some updates onto my Windows 8 RTM machine.


I was getting this error, amongst others, on the Windows 8 Client.   Error 80246003.    The Update Fix tool did nothing, and many forum posts pointed me to removing the SoftwareDistribution folder (don't do that!) or running through this article (don't do this either).

There are other blogposts, like this that explain fixes, none of which worked for me.

On looking through the logs, I found a line that mentioned that the update services was having problems downloading the EULA txt file from the WSUS server on SBS2011.   I am not sure why this would effect the online directly with Microsoft update, but it does.

So, after a little more research, I found this article from Microsoft.   It appears to be an update for WSUS that fixes this issue.   I downloaded and installed the x64 version on my SBS2011 Standard machine and sure enough…  it didn't work…

Then I read the smallprint of the article:

If you have Windows 8 or Windows Server 2012 clients that synchronized with WSUS 3SP2 before you applied this update, wait for the update to be applied to the WSUS servers, and then follow these steps:

Net stop wuauserv
rd /s %windir%\softwaredistribution\

Net start wuauserv

OK, I tried this as well…   and that didnt work…    WTF?

The bottom line

The only way (currently) I can get the Windows 8 machines on my SBS2011 network to update, is to modify the group policy on the server and tell them to update directly from Windows Update.

I then had to run the command above again on the Windows 8 clients.

If I find another way, I will post it here!


Cannot print in A3 from a HP Printer

For the past couple of days, I have been struggling with a HP printer on Windows 7 that refused, no matter the settings, to print in A3 size from Adobe PDF Reader.  

The fix was difficult to find, but easy to implement, here is how:

Go to Printers, Get into the properties of the print. 
Click on Advanced tab
Click on the Print Processor button
Set Print processor to winprint, and Default data type to RAW

Moving past 25 Users with Windows Server 2012 Essentials

OK, I have to admit that I obviously completely missed the memo on this.    Trust me, if I have then so have a ton of you....

Windows Server Essentials 2012 will allow you to migrate past 25 users and keep (almost) all of the toolsets you need.   Taken directly from the Official SBS Blog:

Hi, I’m Cristian Molina, Lead Program Manager on the Windows Server Essentials team, and today I want to share with you more information around our growth story for moving past 25 users in Windows Server 2012 Essentials (Essentials).

One of the major pieces of feedback about the previous version, Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials, was that after a customer had grown beyond the 25-user limit, they had to migrate to Windows Server Standard. After the migration, key Windows SBS-specific features that they had come to depend on (such as client backup, Remote Web Access, and the Dashboard) were no longer available. We wanted to address this issue in Windows Server 2012 Essentials, so now we enable customers to do an in-place license transition to Windows Server 2012 Standard.

The process for performing the transition is documented on the TechNet page, Transition from Windows Server 2012 Essentials to Windows Server 2012 Standard. Customers need to purchase a copy of Windows Server 2012 Standard, and because Essentials does not have any client access licenses (CALs), they will also need to purchase the appropriate number of Windows Server 2012 CALs for their environment (these can be either Per User or Per Device CALs, but Per User CALs are more common). For example, if an organization with 26 users is performing the transition, they will need 26 Windows Server 2012 Per User CALs to be license-compliant.

After you have transitioned to Windows Server 2012 Standard, the Windows Server 2012 Essentials limits are removed, including restrictions on user accounts, number of devices, the Hyper-V role, and Active Directory. Instead, you will be subject to the limits and restrictions of Windows Server 2012 Standard. The Essentials features will still be there with the exception of the media features, which no longer work due to technical limitations. The removal of media functionality means that media features in other parts of the Essentials experience will be removed (for example, the ability to access media via Remote Web Access, media settings in the Dashboard).

After an in-place license transition to Windows Server 2012 Standard, the Windows Server 2012 Essentials features can support up to 75 user accounts and 75 devices. Note that there are no restrictions placed on the number of users and devices that can be added to a Windows Server 2012 Standard environment. For the Essentials features to function properly, the Windows Server 2012 roles and the features they depend on must not be removed or reconfigured, such as the Active Directory Domain Services role, the Web Server role, or others. Our goal is for Essentials features to work after the in-place transition for up to 75 user accounts and 75 devices. We used this goal to help scope our testing effort as well as our support statement. Customers can, of course, make any number of changes to their systems, but we had to strike a balance here of enabling customers to grow while also having a stable and supported system.

In the event that you grow beyond 75 user accounts or 75 devices, or you want to move to a different solution for specific pieces of Windows Server 2012 Essentials functionality, the Essentials features can then be turned off, which is also documented on the TechNet page. After the Essentials features are turned off, it is not possible to turn them back on.


Windows Server 2012 Essentials enables customers to grow beyond 25 users by doing an in-place license transition to Windows Server 2012 Standard. After making this transition, you will be able to continue using Essentials features with the exception of media features. Essentials features are supported for up to 75 users and 75 devices. If you grow beyond 75 or want to change the configuration of the server, we recommend that you turn off Essentials features.

If you haven’t already, please download the beta and give us feedback via the Windows Server 2012 Beta Essentials forum. We’d love to hear from you!


Are you missing shared folders from your friends on the SkyDrive iPhone app?


SkyDrive is a pretty awesome file sharing and sync tool available for free from Microsoft.  

With Windows 8 around the corner, this and the new mail service are going to be more and more popular.   Anyway, I recently replaced Dropbox and Sugarsync with Skydrive mainly because I am sure that this service from Microsoft is better and will be far more popular with the masses ongoing….

But I had one problem, related to people Sharing their SkyDrive account with me.   No matter what, when they shared it would show up on the web app –  but not on the iphone app.

If you too are missing folders in the “Shared with me” section of the SkyDrive iPhone app, then you might want to take a look at this thread on the Microsoft Answers forum.   As you can see, for me the fix strangely enough was to change my Microsoft Account from the domain to the domain and relogon.

Weird…   but a workaround fix all the same!


EDIT:  Microsoft have informed me on the thread that this is not a fix, but on the three tests I have done it has fixed it each time.   Take from that what you will :)


Are there any good news stories anymore.....

Well, I was mid draft of a really long blog post about the quite astonishing announcement from the Small Business Server team, when yesterday I got the legs taken out from under me again by this announcement from the Microsoft Game Studios.

What a Disaster

Seriously, the two key products that I have loved and specialised in over the past 15 Years? (more for Flight Sim) are to be gone.   In the case of Flight…  gone again….  

The really sad part is that, from what I can see is that in both cases it is a direct result of Microsoft simply ignoring its customers and ploughing on regardless.   Many MVP's, end users, even internal staff of Microsoft have –  i know –  been hounding Microsoft about its mistakes with these products in recent releases and they have simply fallen on with deaf ears.    Its really, REALLY, sad.

I am not so worried about Microsoft Flight Simulator and Microsoft Flight.   The reality is that FSX is a product that is still pretty good to this day, and with the fact that third party developers have a platform to work on that is not changing they are doing some pretty amazing things.   Check out what PMDG are doing for a small example of great development work!

When it comes to Small Business Server and its regression into the new Windows Server 2012 product range…  this worries me more.   While I have no problem at all with the push Microsoft are making to cloud services, I do have real issue when they do it without much thought of the small businesses out there that want the wizards of SBS, but are over 25 users.    Microsoft need to standardise the toolset that is available in SBS (now Windows Server 2012 Essentials) and make it available all the way up the product line if a client wants to grow past Essentials limitations on users or devices.

EDIT: I take the above back.   Contrary to what I was led to believe, there is a migration path that keeps (most) of the toolset).   Read here

I also have real issue with Microsoft simply “brushing off” the requirements of small businesses worldwide that DO need an internal mail solution.   Not everyone can get high speed broadband worldwide (unbelievable I know) and those people will simply now look for a non-Microsoft alternative…. which brings me on to my next point…

I have never before seen quite so much push in the community for people to look for Microsoft alternatives.   Its already clear that out of about every 5 desktops we sell now, 2 are Apple.    I am also seeing customers requesting linux or simply NAS storage solutions again, which is a worrying trend…  (not for me…   but for Microsoft).


My renewal cycle for the MVP program of which I have been an awardee for 10 years, is coming up.   I hope that Microsoft will be keeping the SBS MVP product grouping for one more year while the dust settles….    from there we shall see what happens.    But the sad part is that I somehow now wonder…

Does any of the feedback us MVP's give back matter anymore Microsoft?



Joshua Howard - Microsoft Flight Team Lead - AVSIM Interview

Worth pointing out to my readers that are interested in Microsoft Flight this excellent and frank interview that Tom Allensworth had with Joshua Howard, the Team lead of Microsoft Flight.

Well worth the read.

A case of the Wizards not working........

SBS Essentials 2011 is a great product, and one that we are selling a lot more of to our client base.  

Normally migrations from SBS2003 to SBS2011 Essentials are relatively painless, but I had a case recently where after the migration was partially complete, we could not use the SBS2011 Essentials Add user wizard, which kept failing with this message:

Cannot create the user account.  Please restart the Add a User Account Wizard, and then try again








You may also notice that the Server folders move wizard fails to function, reporting that it cannot stop the storage service

If you are seeing these symptoms, then you may well have done the right thing and followed the online documentation which at time of writing is incorrect.   Currently Microsoft tell you to at step 5 transfer the Global Catalog, and then change the DNS server to the loopback address of

This is absolutely wrong and should not be changed until after step 9 where you have demoted the old domain controller.

Without going into the nitty gritty of the whole thing, essentially the SBSe Console service relies on the Active Directory DC, and if you do change it to the loopback before demoting the old server you will end up with the error above and various other issues.

So, for the moment, until the documentation is changed, make sure not to make this mistake…… which just cost me over 5 hours on the phone

(Posting this while tired, so excuse any spelling mistakes etc)


Microsoft Flight - Alaska DLC Announced








Well, here is something that I saw at the MVP summit but was under NDA on, which was just lifted for this Flight Announcement a moment ago!

Microsoft Flight have announced the very very excellent Alaska downloadable content pack that will be available for Microsoft Flight sometime in the future.   I have to say that what I saw of this at the Game Studios simply amazed me, and it will amaze you too!   The content is over 1.2 Million square miles of amazing scenery, with new missions and new aircraft!!!

Anyway, I thought it would be a good thing to post it here because as of writing this news is not yet on the site, but is over on their facebook fanpage which you really should sign up to to get quick and current news from the team.










































MVP Summit 2012 - In summary....

MVP 2012

Its been a while!   I skipped the last two summits, and as I approach the end of this one I wonder why I allowed that to happen.  In this short week I am always amazed as to just how much my brain can absorb the drink knowledge that is available!

This year's highlights for me so far have been, in no particular order:

The launch of the Windows 8 Community Preview around the globe, and learning about the amazing new features that are coming as part of the desktop and server operating system.   Bill Laing's blog summarises well

Of course, I cannot say what that means for SBS, I am under a NDA that means that Microsoft are allowed to take me out with their evil laser beam machine (yeah they have one in building 43).

I feel pretty, oh so pretty, I feel pretty, and witty and gay....Tim Barrett, has been the perfect manwife for me this week.    I had to pair up with someone and thankfully I picked someone with a sense of humour that can only be surpassed by my own ;)     This week Tim spent much of his time cooking and cleaning for our room, while I beat him.    He also seems to always be available with camera right at the moment I chose to do something silly, and push it straight up to the twitter cloud.  @timbarrett and @nickwhittome if you are interested in our shenanigans.

Screen Shot 2012-03-02 at 08.04.30The Microsoft Flight Team also launched while I was here, and it was great to get over to the studios to see the amazing things they are doing.    It was also great to finally meet Jon Masterson, aka Scruffyduck of whom I have known for years but never actually met!  Of course, reliable Adrian Woods –  tech art lead for flight was his usual friendly self, and someone that I have not managed to see in over 4 years!

Most importantly (sorry guys) I also met the new Community PM for Microsoft Flight, Jessica Price.   Someone who is doing some amazing things on the Flight team!   Jessica was a breath of fresh air for me, someone who is obviously passionate about community and community efforts.   I will leave my thoughts on Flight to another post, but in summary, its just going to get better and better and better!  Go and download it for FREE here if you don't believe me…

Kevin Beares –  Not too much to say here, other than I forget how much I miss our meet up's and brain storming sessions over copious amounts of alcohol, where we solve most worldly and Microsoft matters.

The SBS MVP's –  Each and every time I find myself in a room with these people, I always feel like the dumbest person in the room.   Its all about surrounding yourself with clever people right?    On a sidenote, there are certain SBS MVP's that couldn't make it this year for various reasons, I miss you guys and hopefully we will catchup by other methods.

WILSON!!Qwest Field / CenturyLink Field last night for our closing party was pretty amazing.   I can only compare it Thomond Park Stadium in Limerick, but bigger…. much much bigger.   

It was quite an experience to get onto the field after much of the other MVP's had left, stand their and kick a dropkick!   Kevin Beares (being so out of shape) had real trouble keeping up with my nimble sidestepping and moves.  All good fun! 

In summary this was a fun yet technically fulfilling week, which I do not intend missing if I am lucky enough to be renewed for the 11th year in October.   That said, there is nothing quite like the thoughts of getting home to see my wife and twin kids, who I have been away from for the first time ever (the kids that is, the wife likes me to leave as much as possible).

Nick –  The Naked MVP –  Whittome

Nakedness verified, and rather disappointing.


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