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Equipment Discussions >> Cats & Casses

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Ekyprotic
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Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: RodgerHouTex]
      #5948966 - 07/01/13 01:09 AM

agreed..... as regards to the "friends" thing, I think quantity over quality has become symbolic of our society. I think this can be applied to other areas also.

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Ekyprotic
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Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: jimb1001]
      #5948967 - 07/01/13 01:15 AM

I can see a little of both sides here..... groupthink can be a major hindrance to progress, because people tend to become conventional and follow the herd which leaves out the crazy new ideas that actually cause us to leap forward as a civilization. But it's also true that corruption begins at the highest levels (corporations and politicians, not to make this political or anything), and I think that is, pretty much inevitable. It's happened to every society, it rises, it flourishes, it decays, it dies, and then it is replaced...... societies are just like individual people (and reflections of them), just on a much larger scale, they have their time and then they are gone. Sad but true.

cue..... The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, and Isaac Asimov's Foundation series and psychohistory.......

I hope sociology isn't considered politics but I'm sorry for the OT (looks like the convo was headed OT anyway.)


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Starman1
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Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: Ekyprotic]
      #5948975 - 07/01/13 01:33 AM

Gentlepeople,
Let's be careful lest we stray too far from the subject of Meade's status and fate into politics.


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EddWen
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Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: Starman1]
      #5949032 - 07/01/13 02:40 AM

As a seasoned observer of my kids and grand-kids (my oldest grandchild is entering his first year of college), located in various parts of our country, I have an informed opinion about the youth of today. I don’t see sloth or decadence. I see the enthusiasm of youth, and a willingness to do well.

If there is one thing that is different, it is the lack of idle time which might otherwise be spent on hobbies. Somehow they think 60 hour work weeks are normal despite their almost instant business and social electronic interactivity. This new stuff is amazing. I recall when I had to get a TTY for my V.P. of International Sales. I recall asking what was wrong with mail and an occasional expensive phone call ;-)

Nowadays, interaction is almost instantaneous, regardless time zones. Youth will take the opportunities possible with all this stuff to make a world we cannot imagine. Hopefully, they will continue to consider the environment of a good restaurant a special space.


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EddWen
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Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: EddWen]
      #5949034 - 07/01/13 02:43 AM

And, per Don, back to the subject.

Meade is unique as a provider to the amateur astronomy community because they are the only, as far as I know, publically traded company in this business. As such, there is a complete written history of how management approached the market, in addition to all their financial history.

I spent a few hours skimming older 10-Qs and 10-Ks. It was also interesting to read through their latest May 2013 10-K (an audited annual report). In my opinion, from the time they went public, Meade tried its best to grow beyond their established market in amateur astronomy. This was probably a wise choice. They had considerable share of the market, and it was unlikely they would be able to grow their share enough to, say, double their sales and profits.

As we all know, none of their endeavors provided successful growth.

With regard to their current financial situation, I was amazed that their reported inventory was in excess of $7 million. Total sales were $17.4 million, meaning they have 40% of sales sitting on shelves. They have failed to accurately forecast sales and simultaneously failed to control the supply chain. The stuff on the shelves is likely worthless but not written off in order to keep a better looking balance sheet.

Management touts a $1 million investment in R&D. In my opinion, it should be twice that if you need to design product with the complexity needed for advanced hardware and software development. I think the fact that the recent new product launches, late and without sufficient vetting, verifies this.

The company reports 93 employees. At sales of $17.4 million, this is too many employees. In today’s world a profitable company, making this type product, needs to make >$200,000 per employee.

Finally, nobody asked my opinion, but I think both current offers are too high. I would suggest the “Meade” brand did not provide leverage into markets they tried to enter. In today’s world, IP is bypassed quickly by new innovation. Coronado has probably been impacted by Lunt. The company structure needs a complete overhaul. Existing inventory is near worthless.

I concur with Starhawk, better to stand-up a fresh start-up. If you have a good idea to market.

edit: I will add that anyone wanting to build a start-up to pick up Meade's market share should consider that less than 45% of Meade revenues were amateur astronomy sales. They reported a decrease in big-box store scopes to 39% of revenues. Binoculars, spotting scopes, weather stations, digital clocks, etc. produced about 15% of revenues.

Things might work out for Meade under new ownership, but I think it will take considerable luck and skill.


Edited by EddWen (07/01/13 03:01 AM)


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rmollise
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Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: stevenf]
      #5949199 - 07/01/13 07:32 AM

Quote:

You know what else is the problem with these damn kids today? Their frisbees and beatle haircuts. And why won't they stay off my lawn?






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rmollise
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Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5949200 - 07/01/13 07:34 AM

Quote:



Old codgers like myself, we can often think the next generations are flakes. What I do, I think back and remember that what a flake I was, what flakes my friends were... how truly clueless I was. And somehow, like magic, I did grow up.. It happens to everyone...

It's been happening since time immemorial. Wisdom, if I only knew then what I know now... as George Bernard Shaw observed, "Youth is wasted on the Young."

Jon




Well Said.


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orion61

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Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: rmollise]
      #5949381 - 07/01/13 10:14 AM

Quote:

Quote:



Old codgers like myself, we can often think the next generations are flakes. What I do, I think back and remember that what a flake I was, what flakes my friends were... how truly clueless I was. And somehow, like magic, I did grow up.. It happens to everyone...

It's been happening since time immemorial. Wisdom, if I only knew then what I know now... as George Bernard Shaw observed, "Youth is wasted on the Young."

Jon




Yeah like me, the time I decided the counterweight stop on my RV6 was unneeded..
Untill it fell off, and crushed my Pinkie toe.. I had to wear sandles for a good part of my Summer Vacation..till the toenail fell off!!
but back to subject.
I just hope Meade does better than Celestron did, with Tasco!


Well Said.




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Starhawk
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Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: rmollise]
      #5949386 - 07/01/13 10:17 AM

America's youth has been described as degenerate, lazy, self absorbed, and unworthy to carry on the future literally since Yankee Doodle stuck a feather in his cap and called it "Macaroni."

For those of you outside the US, this serves the useful function of informing the next generation their seniors are neither eager for them to follow, nor surprised to see them reject the path their immediate forebears set out on to prove their own independence from the preceding generation. This way, bizarre excesses of any generation in the US are regularly wholeheartedly rejected and a completely new path is broken. As a result, whatever you currently like coming from US culture should be enjoyed immediately because it's going fast. Conversely, anything you don't like will be going fast, as well.

No accurate forecast for what will be attempted next is available. For some reason the previous generation does concur everything will simply fall apart, despite progress in that direction even after an apparent continuous attempt to cause exactly that, starting in the 1770s.

One would almost suspect the dire predictions of youth aren't true. But, treating kids that way certainly cures reverence and traditionalism.

So, on that note, Edd, thank you for reminding everyone what this thread is REALLY for.

-Rich

Edited by Starhawk (07/01/13 10:30 AM)


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Starhawk
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Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: Starhawk]
      #5949416 - 07/01/13 10:38 AM

On the subject at hand, I'd like to direct attention to how Meade was pulled along with a huge stock surge with the dotcom bubble. My own suspicion is that particular influx of cash came with a lot of popular thinking that any growth was good and the very bad outcomes were innocuous. The stock market isn't rational by any way I can understand. Apple posted the largest profit ever in its sector and gets hammered...because the market isn't big enough for it to do that same rise from the past 5 years all over again. I've heard stories about how once upon a time, people actually looked for companies which were a major presence in a stable market as long term investments. Thinking you're somehow going to find that one stock to become a billionaire next week doesn't seem for stable investment behavior.

With that said, as I mentioned, the areas of obsolescence in astronomy equipment aren't subtle. They are quite evident at this point. And while a lot of folks are upset things have moved on, I'm already at the point of thinking whoever gets a modern wireless turn it on and it just works architecture working is going to cause me to be starting this thread in reference to Celestron, 10 years from now.

-Rich


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rmollise
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Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: orion61]
      #5949422 - 07/01/13 10:43 AM

Quote:



Yeah like me, the time I decided the counterweight stop on my RV6 was unneeded..
Untill it fell off, and crushed my Pinkie toe.. I had to wear sandles for a good part of my Summer Vacation..till the toenail fell off!!
but back to subject.
I just hope Meade does better than Celestron did, with Tasco!





Same thing happened to me the summer of '65 with my Palomar Junior. In my defense, there was no such thing as a "toe saver" on those old scopes.

As for Tasco-Celestron? The irony is that Celestron didn't get back on the right path until they were bought by Tasco, that's when the NexStars began hitting the streets.


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bicparker
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Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: Starhawk]
      #5949585 - 07/01/13 12:39 PM

Quote:

On the subject at hand, I'd like to direct attention to how Meade was pulled along with a huge stock surge with the dotcom bubble. My own suspicion is that particular influx of cash came with a lot of popular thinking that any growth was good and the very bad outcomes were innocuous. The stock market isn't rational by any way I can understand. Apple posted the largest profit ever in its sector and gets hammered...because the market isn't big enough for it to do that same rise from the past 5 years all over again. I've heard stories about how once upon a time, people actually looked for companies which were a major presence in a stable market as long term investments. Thinking you're somehow going to find that one stock to become a billionaire next week doesn't seem for stable investment behavior.

With that said, as I mentioned, the areas of obsolescence in astronomy equipment aren't subtle. They are quite evident at this point. And while a lot of folks are upset things have moved on, I'm already at the point of thinking whoever gets a modern wireless turn it on and it just works architecture working is going to cause me to be starting this thread in reference to Celestron, 10 years from now.

-Rich



I've been following Meade stock since they went public in 1997 (i.e., Meade as a public company... I followed Meade as a telescope vendor since their founding when I was a kid!) . By this, I mean I have been reading all of their 10K's, quarterly reports, SEC notifications and disclosures, the stock price, and their fundamentals. I've also spent a lot of time analyzing their performance, their business lines, their segments, and their financial structures. I am only saying this, not to portray myself as having any expertise, but because this is an interesting and winding story that I followed over the year like a novel, wondering where and if it was going to end. Man, what a rollercoaster it has been!

I think Meade is a cautionary tale of the reasons most companies should never consider going public. And it is an object lesson on separating business from emotions.

One thing that I think everyone should consider here is that Meade could have easily been in a very similar scenario to the current one no matter what they did, merely because they were a public company. Around the time of the dot-com bubble burst and afterwards, several things happened specifically with Meade that left them vulnerable:

1. The blue-sky stock speculation on the Terrabeam venture that never came about (the stock tanked after this)
2. The expensive patent suit with Celestron that cost them over $15 million in hard cash, that they really could not afford to spend. This was a Pyrrhic victory of an enormous magnitude (the year after the settlement, they recognized ~$130,000 in cross license revenue from the settlement... after that, Celestron switched technologies and that was pretty much all they received).
3. The stock price of Meade went way below their book value.
4. The back-dated options charges from the SEC.
5. The qualified audit opinions resulting from the options and other cash flow problems (not including the latest qualified opinion... they had other qualified opinions before this).

If Meade had not been a public company, many of these items would have never occurred or could have otherwise been avoided. Some of the other items would probably would not have played out as they did, and with such disclosure. But they are a public company and all of these items impacted their business, forcing them to respond to their shareholder and the market at large, in addition to their customer base.

I'm not letting management off for their actions by describing these things. I am only trying to show what complex pressures come to bear on a publicly held company and how it can be difficult even if management was doing all of the right things (remember, the right things involve a fiduciary responsibility to protect the shareholders' interests, not just satisfying the customer base... this is one reason I included item #2. Meade had to defend their IP or the resulting shareholder response would have been just as deadly).

With respect to the emotions... it is clear that there are several in the amateur astronomy community who would prefer to see JOC/ES prevail in the current round of deal making. Such a deal clearly has the potential for bringing some of the strengths of Meade back into our community. Unfortunately, this game is being played in a sandbox that doesn't have room for sentiment. And most of the people playing it are not us (the amateur astronomy community). It is nothing personal, just business.

I am personally hoping that JOC/ES does prevail in all of this. But I recognize that an all cash tender offer priced well above their offering is going to be extremely difficult to refuse.


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csrlice12
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Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: jimb1001]
      #5949673 - 07/01/13 01:29 PM

"Young people don't kill civilizations, old people with too much money do."

Truth is both do....but sometimes, what results is better then what came before.....


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Starman1
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Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: Starhawk]
      #5949742 - 07/01/13 01:56 PM

Quote:

I've heard stories about how once upon a time, people actually looked for companies which were a major presence in a stable market as long term investments.......

With that said, as I mentioned, the areas of obsolescence in astronomy equipment aren't subtle. They are quite evident at this point. And while a lot of folks are upset things have moved on, I'm already at the point of thinking whoever gets a modern wireless turn it on and it just works architecture working is going to cause me to be starting this thread in reference to Celestron, 10 years from now.

-Rich



Truth.
Phone apps have killed the Celestron Sky Scout (most recently).
And being unwilling or unable to innovate definitely helped kill Parks Optical.
But, unlike Parks, Meade did try to innovate and just didn't do it well.

There are a lot of cautionary posts in this long thread that relate to how any new company must relate to technological changes in the electronics industry in order to stay relevant.

Your last paragraph is a finger shaking in the face of the telescope industry.
RS232 connectors in 2013? Even HDMI is getting dated.


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csrlice12
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Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: Starman1]
      #5949790 - 07/01/13 02:27 PM

"I'm already at the point of thinking whoever gets a modern wireless turn it on and it just works architecture working is going to cause me to be starting this thread in reference to Celestron, 10 years from now."

Yep, take it outside, plop it down, turn it on, tell it M8 or Lagoon Nebula and let it go. All wireless, no external computer needed. Oh, and AP capeable. Put it under $500 with a 30lb mount load.....wanna make money????????? Really, with the computerization we have today, this should be a "Duh" moment.........


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McUH
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Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: Starman1]
      #5949849 - 07/01/13 02:57 PM

I don't think it is just "herd mentality" or people preferring quantity over quality. I was choosing cassegrain in 8"-11" recently, considered several - Vixen, Intes Micro, Celestron, Meade. For me CAT is most comfortable scope to use in this aperture. So why Celestron and not Meade? Aside from better ecosystem, deciding factor for me was weight. C9 ota is below 10kg, but the aperture daemon was whispering - if you can handle 9.25", you definitely can 10". And Meade has 10" - but the OTA is heavier than C11 . That kind of contradicts advantage of SCT compactness. On top of it I think Edge is better than ACF, so the only way Meade could compete in my eyes is price, but even that was quite high, often higher than Celestron.

Lets see eyepieces - Meade 5000 SWA's are sold for 220 eur or more in Europe. No doubt they are high quality eyepieces, but this price is far from reality, you can get comparable or even better for much less.

It seems to me that Meade, while having products of high quality, is not flexible enough, and maybe they did not plan their product portfolio well. But I do hope for their resurrection, it is good to have more options.

Quote:


If we want amateur astronomy to continue, Meade's demise wouldn't help, but light pollution is the real problem.



This could very well be true. I was interested in astronomy as a child, did read Encyclopaedia of Astronomy, but never was in any club nor owned any real scope. But I have seen some rural skies. Much later, when I had a job and could afford a scope, it crossed my mind few times, but never did I do it, because I thought, since I don't see that many stars (orange/red border compared to my rural memories), scope would be useless - what help would it be to magnify something that is not there in the first place? What an ignorance on my part that was ! I was cured when I looked through a friend's scope one year ago, even closer towards city centre...


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cn register 5
scholastic sledgehammer


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Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: csrlice12]
      #5949855 - 07/01/13 03:01 PM

Why don't you do it since it's so easy? You should easily be able to get this going in time to make your fortune in the Christmas sales.

Alternatively look up the Dunning-Kruger effect.

Chris


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cn register 5
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Reged: 12/26/12

Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: Starman1]
      #5949874 - 07/01/13 03:15 PM

The thing to be aware of with the desire for the latest interfacing innovation is that the pace at which this sort of thing changes is far greater than the rate at which the equipment changes.

Do you replace your astronomical equipment as often as you replace your mobile phone or laptop?

Cutting edge interfaces come and go quite rapidly, does anyone remember firewire? if you jump the wrong way you can be out on a limb very rapidly.

The cost of development is more or less independent of the number you sell. If you are going to sell millions of devices a month - as the mobile phone manufacturers do - you can justify spending millions developing a new product every year or less. If you are making scopes or mounts and selling them in the thousands you can't do this - not unless people are prepared to spend thousands more on their scopes and mounts - and replace them when the software is out of date.

The two rock solid, stable, interfaces are RS232 and Ethernet TCP/IP. Staying with these makes a lot of sense.

Chris


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amicus sidera
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Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: cn register 5]
      #5950011 - 07/01/13 04:33 PM

Quote:

The two rock solid, stable, interfaces are RS232 and Ethernet TCP/IP. Staying with these makes a lot of sense.




Two interfaces that are even more stable than these are eye on chart and hand on telescope ; however, I can't see the majority, or even a modest minority ever going back to that. The next big thing will almost certainly be wireless interfaces... if Meade could come up with a non-buggy system for that (and patent it), they'd be sitting mighty pretty.

Fred


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Hilmi
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Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: cn register 5]
      #5950019 - 07/01/13 04:40 PM

Connection interfaces are well documented and the electronics to implement them are available at relatively low cost. It does not cost millions research to move to a modern connection interface. it just takes a bit of reading documentation and adapting already existing technology. In some instances, there is a license fee to be paid, but the fees are usually trivial when compared to the cost of other components in a multi-thousand dollar retail price product.

How come some other manufacturers have managed to put 2 serial ports, ethernet, USB in, USB out and pass through power on their mount controllers? And this was mostly designed by one person who does this part time.

If he can do it? Why couldn't the other manufacturers do it?

I can't help but wonder if Meade had focused on making asto-imaging more accessible by maybe working on refining the drive mechanism of already existing mounts, then introducing modern connectivity to make it simpler to interface with a PC and continued developing the DSI line (taking it a step further by providing powered USB ports on the fork so that cabling the camera would also be simple) if maybe such low cost initiatives would have left them in a better position today. The fork mounts aren't so bad a platform if further refined. I remember visiting my brothers University and they had a fork mounted telescope and it was bigger than I was. They did real science on it too.

They could have focused on re-enforcing the structure of the fork mount while reducing weight and allowing the OTA to be changed out. They did fork mounts well, they could have just refined them. If the Italians can make a fork mount that is a serious competitor to GEM, I don't see why Meade Couldn't have done so.

Also,

How much money did they throw into that Giant telescope that took them years to build (Meade Max)? Did they ever get any return on that investment? New patents? Sales to cover the research and design cost? etc...? Looks to me like a pet project rather than a commercial venture.

How about we count the number of sales they have turned down because they refuse to sell internationally so they can protect vendors in other countries? Only thing is, those vendors had no interest in selling their products in certain parts of the world, the result was the customers went for other brands. Same goes for international repairs.

Should the company survive, the current management needs to be fired, the entire bunch of them. They should then focus on one or two new products to perfection (like the LX850 and LX80) and have another team focus on refining their already existing line of successful scopes. They should also re-introduce the DSI line of cameras as loss leaders. These cameras could do with some refinement too. Dump all the other low profitability junk and focus on quality control. Bring in a Lean6Sigma expert to streamline manufacturing and reduce cost. Payment of the consultant should be tied to gains resulting from his initiatives. So for example a base rate plus bonuses for specific measurable milestones.

They would also need to go on a painful cost cutting excersize including cutting ineffective advertising campaigns. Focus should be on innovative advertisement such as experimenting with social media.

It wouldn't hurt to support Hyperstar, it's not too late to beg for forgiveness.

Solar observing also needs to be promoted better. how about throwing in a PST as part of the package with the larger scopes? The PST will naturally be charged to the customer, but at cost price. I am sure that cost price is not that high when compared to the price of large mount and scope package. This could drive those users into Solar observing and tempt them to buy the larger more profitable Coronado scopes.

There are so many things that can be done to turn around the company, but it would all require somebody to save it from Bankruptcy and inject enough cash to keep it afloat till it gets back on it's feet. Good luck to them.


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