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 Post subject: Training and stuff
PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2014 20:45 
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What-ho, chaps!

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I've been thinking about enrolling on some kind of training course, but I don't know what in. I have a Masters degree in Computer Science(didn't finish the PhD) but I haven't been able to gain employment that I'm satisfied with.

Do training courses still exist? Are they expensive? What could I do? I'm good with problem solving, figures and esoteric crap.

I guess something useful would be learning how to start and run a small business. (Not that I have any intention of doing that at this moment, but knowing what is involved would at least give me the option.)

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 Post subject: Re: Training and stuff
PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2014 21:37 
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MR EXCELLENT FACE

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What could I do?


Who knows?! Wild suggestion: Become a carpenter. Or a joiner. Whichever one makes tables. If you like programming, then perhaps those will invoke the same sense of craftsmanships, only you'll get to physically make something rather than mentally hodgepodging together lots of abstract concepts?

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 Post subject: Re: Training and stuff
PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2014 21:49 
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Have a look at jobs you think you might like to do and what skills they need. Then go get them, tiger. Errm. Or something.

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 Post subject: Re: Training and stuff
PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2014 21:51 
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What-ho, chaps!

Joined: 30th Mar, 2008
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Pod wrote:
Quote:
What could I do?


Who knows?! Wild suggestion: Become a carpenter. Or a joiner. Whichever one makes tables.

A joiner. Tables. Join. Tables. *collapses to the ground, foaming at the mouth from nightmares of database programming...*

But yes. I would love to do something practical like that! Is there much demand for hand-made furniture? Maybe I could become a mechanic or something. Something actually useful.

Quote:
If you like programming, then perhaps those will invoke the same sense of craftsmanships, only you'll get to physically make something rather than mentally hodgepodging together lots of abstract concepts?

Funny you should say that! I've been spending the last four months going to my local 'Maker Night' club thing getting introduced to microcontrollers and designing electronic gizmos that are more physical than virtual. It's a community type thing run by awesome folks who let you use their workshop for learning how to make things. Just last week I put the finishing touches on the wooden box for my super-duper new custom vector home arcade system I devised!

Image

Laser cut and etched wooden box, designed using my own software. Inside, there's custom boards and microcontroller software to produce vector graphics and polyphonic audio, and read Mega Drive pads (and Zipsticks).

I got sick of trying to find a second hand Vectrex in decent condition, so I just built my own, more or less. There's only one game for it at the moment:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4NVMO8ghXg

A pant load of Mattsteroids.

But, uh I guess I should start a different thread if I wanna talk about that.

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 Post subject: Re: Training and stuff
PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2014 22:04 
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What-ho, chaps!

Joined: 30th Mar, 2008
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Quote:
Have a look at jobs you think you might like to do and what skills they need. Then go get them, tiger. Errm. Or something.
I honestly have no idea!

If I did, I'd have asked something like 'Do you think I could become a plumber?' and the answer probably would have been 'Probably! Try it!'. Is plumbering good? I've never plumbered before.

It would suit my circumstances if I could get a job that wasn't full-time but was still suited to my skills (the ones I have or could get). The number of jobs that fit both of those conditions is roughly zip, which is great. The number of jobs that meet both of those and that would pay enough to subsist on are even less.

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 Post subject: Re: Training and stuff
PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2014 22:08 
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Gogmagog

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Plumbing is fuck easy. If the water isn't coming out on demand, you've cocked it up.

I dunno, I'm the worst person to ask.

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 Post subject: Re: Training and stuff
PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2014 22:15 
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What-ho, chaps!

Joined: 30th Mar, 2008
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I've considered legal stuff many times. I think I've got the right head for it, but as far as I can tell there's many years of study before you can even think of using your training in any practical sense. I don't mean to say that that's a bad thing; it is a career and a commitment. Also there's no chance in hell I would be able to afford it (unless I'm seriously mistaken) so it's a bit of a non-option. I'd still like to know everything about it though.

I think I just feel a little at a loose end for not being in any kind of formal training for some time. The closest thing to that was my driving lessons a year ago. I'm not looking for 'the magic vocation' that pays absurdly well and solves all the problems (how well does magic pay these days? I don't know! And magicians are a cagey bunch and surely wouldn't say.), but some kind of training that's uncommon but useful. Maybe I could take some First Aid training for example?

I have no basis for looking up this kind of thing, so even if I had ideas I wouldn't be able to know if I was talking any kind of sense. That's why I've gotta ask.

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 Post subject: Re: Training and stuff
PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2014 22:26 
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Gogmagog

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I move boxes around.

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 Post subject: Re: Training and stuff
PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2014 22:29 
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What-ho, chaps!

Joined: 30th Mar, 2008
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Did you require training for moving boxes around?

Tell me more about these boxes, are some of them illuminated?

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 Post subject: Re: Training and stuff
PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2014 22:33 
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Gogmagog

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Be good at excel, getting favours and help from people, creatively solve problems.

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 Post subject: Re: Training and stuff
PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2014 23:47 
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MrD wrote:
But, uh I guess I should start a different thread if I wanna talk about that.


No, this one! Did you program everything yourself? Including the vector and sound drivers? Did you make the music yourself?


Q: You've not stated what your current job is and what you don't like about it, or rather what's unsatisfying with your previous employments. If you don't like, e.g. talking to people, then we'd be wasting our time suggesting you become a professional person-talker-to.

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 Post subject: Re: Training and stuff
PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2014 23:53 
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If you want my advice: become an Amazon Web Services/Cloud expert. Start now. It's the future.

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 Post subject: Re: Training and stuff
PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2014 2:07 
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What-ho, chaps!

Joined: 30th Mar, 2008
Posts: 2130
Pod wrote:
MrD wrote:
But, uh I guess I should start a different thread if I wanna talk about that.


No, this one! Did you program everything yourself? Including the vector and sound drivers? Did you make the music yourself?
Yes, yes and yes. No.

The MCU is an integrated CPU with RAM and PROM and by itself can run small programs and do whole-number maths, and some basic physical things like put voltage at a place, read an input voltage, send some serial communication. It also has hardware timers that count up to a number and send messages when they're full. That's all the chip can do for you by itself. I've added a second chip that receives pairs of numbers that tell it what output voltage it should try to put on its output pins. Everything useful my box does is a custom programmed routine that manipulates and combines those base things, with a little bit of cat magic, into super interactive game-ness.

Reading the pad reads the voltages coming through the front port and decodes them to make sense (and speaks the special Mega Drive pad lingo), graphics are done by a whole bunch of clever fast maths to simulate, place and rotate objects and do line-drawing before they're sent as messages to a second chip that sends voltages out through the side ports, the audio part plays four channels of square waves by toggling the voltage from 0 to 1 at the correct frequnecy and adds them up before its amplified for loudspeaker, and the game is a real-time simulation that uses the services of all these different systems to produce awesome output.

My brother wrote the music as a MIDI and I wrote a convertor to a special tiny Ocelot-specific code that my system can interpret with a player routine. If you want to hear it play something I composed, it can also play back the slightly less efficient code I used for my Master System programming so the Gravity Beam MG intro music sounds like this and the ingame music sounds like this.

Quote:
Q: You've not stated what your current job is and what you don't like about it, or rather what's unsatisfying with your previous employments. If you don't like, e.g. talking to people, then we'd be wasting our time suggesting you become a professional person-talker-to.
I'm unemployed. My previous employment was a one year internship at a company that no longer operates, being their software guy and pressing buttons to make discs happen.

Professional person-talker-to wouldn't be my first choice; it would get old fast. A 9-5 Mon-Fri routine would probably be very difficult for me right now (and I don't know how long that 'right now' would be). Commuting would be the worst part of it. Even a one-day break in the week would be a great relief, but you've got to earn telecommuting, don't you? And it's always at the whim of The Boss, and Their Boss.

I've thought about working from home doing software, but I don't know if I have the experience for that. I also don't know how the legalities of it would work out (can I just 'do a little bit' before I register as self-employed? I do not know.). Building contacts and networking sounds like the ultimate anti-fun.

ElephantBanjoGnome wrote:
If you want my advice: become an Amazon Web Services/Cloud expert. Start now. It's the future.
Yeah, that's depressingly practical advice, thank you. For all the stuff I'm familiar with, I can't say I have any experience with what it's trendy to call Big Data (even though actual real scientists have been analysing large data sets since computers) or distributed or remotely administered computing, but there is no doubt that that is where it's at. And I guess I've got no excuse not to learn about it, because like a lot of computer stuff it would be a case of reading about it and having at it.

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 Post subject: Re: Training and stuff
PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2014 8:28 
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AWS/Cloud and Big Data are very different. Mainly because cloud stuff is pretty interesting and useful, and big data is dull as fuck.

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 Post subject: Re: Training and stuff
PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2014 8:50 
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ugvm'er at heart...

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Big data is great for pulling up spurious correlations though. Some people at my place did some analysis on the company data, and you could trace 70% of the leavers in the last year to a single person who had worked with all of them. So obviously we fired him. Data right, it never lies.


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 Post subject: Re: Training and stuff
PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2014 8:51 
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ugvm'er at heart...

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We didn't actually fire him.


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 Post subject: Re: Training and stuff
PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2014 8:51 
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ugvm'er at heart...

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We sacrificed him to our gods.


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 Post subject: Re: Training and stuff
PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2014 11:25 
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MR EXCELLENT FACE

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MrD wrote:

Yes, yes and yes. No.


COOL. How long did it take? Roughly how many LOC? Did you look-up everything yourself by pouring over datasheets or are you leveraging some opensource/free code to do help you out? What specific microcontroller are you using? From your pic: It looks like a 16bit pic, based on the package and the position the text is stamped on it? (I can't actually read the text, however). edit: Your videos say it's a PIC33F.

Quote:
My brother wrote the music as a MIDI and I wrote a convertor to a special tiny Ocelot-specific code that my system can interpret with a player routine. If you want to hear it play something I composed, it can also play back the slightly less efficient code I used for my Master System programming so the Gravity Beam MG intro music sounds like this and the ingame music sounds like this.


Cool stuff! If you write your own music then you're a TRIPLE THREAT or whatever the term is. The text intro screen music reminds me of someting I can't place...


Quote:
I'm unemployed. My previous employment was a one year internship at a company that no longer operates, being their software guy and pressing buttons to make discs happen.


Pressing buttons to make discs happens sounds dull. Would you have liked to have done more/less programming? How much carpentry do you think you would have liked to have done instead?

Quote:
Professional person-talker-to wouldn't be my first choice; it would get old fast. A 9-5 Mon-Fri routine would probably be very difficult for me right now (and I don't know how long that 'right now' would be). Commuting would be the worst part of it. Even a one-day break in the week would be a great relief, but you've got to earn telecommuting, don't you? And it's always at the whim of The Boss, and Their Boss.


I get email spam from recruiters all the time and some of them are heavily work-at-home based. So there's positions out there.

Quote:
I've thought about working from home doing software, but I don't know if I have the experience for that. I also don't know how the legalities of it would work out (can I just 'do a little bit' before I register as self-employed? I do not know.). Building contacts and networking sounds like the ultimate anti-fun.


LIVE THE DREAM: Make a game from home, kickstarter it near the end, sell it, get it on steam, sell even more, then Scroog McDuck into the piles of gold you'll end up with.

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 Post subject: Re: Training and stuff
PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2014 17:49 
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What-ho, chaps!

Joined: 30th Mar, 2008
Posts: 2130
Pod wrote:
MrD wrote:

Yes, yes and yes. No.


COOL. How long did it take? Roughly how many LOC? Did you look-up everything yourself by pouring over datasheets or are you leveraging some opensource/free code to do help you out? What specific microcontroller are you using? From your pic: It looks like a 16bit pic, based on the package and the position the text is stamped on it? (I can't actually read the text, however). edit: Your videos say it's a PIC33F.
It's almost all in this thread, posted about as I made it.

It's a dsPIC33FJ128GP802 'Digital Signal Controller'. I picked it because it had a built in dual channel DAC, but it has audio filters and cack built into it that you can't disable so it's useless for vector displays. It's still super fast, and has single cycle multiplication which is essential for this kind of thing. You could do this with any PIC really, but the faster (and more RAM) the better.

Image

It took about two months to spec out, test and build I guess. The hardest part of the project was waiting for stuff to get here (and desoldering things when it turned out I bought the wrong thing.) The 'kernel' and the base abstractions were done in about a week. I already had Mattsteroids written in C++ for when I did the sound card XY version in Linux, and it only took two days to port it back to C and wire it up to the Ocelot's services. In terms of lines, the Zipstick/MD pad reading and abstracting is about 1k, Audio (music player and pseudo-DAC sample playback) is about 2k, Video basics is about 1k, the massive list of 36 built in symbols (A-Z 0-9) to draw text to the screen is about 2k, Ocelot system support and setup is about 1k, Mattsteroids is about 2k lines. Compiled, it's 26kbytes of the 128kbyte PROM. (That's on -O0. On -O2 it's half of that, because my code explicitly sets a lot of bitmasks in separate statements which the optimiser doesn't crush down unless you tell it to.)

I looked everything up by pouring over datasheets, yes. There's no software libraries used unless you count the PIC 'executive' that the system falls back on to communicate with the PC for uploading programs, and the compiler almost certainly has a couple of built-in software shims for things you can write in C but don't have an instruction for, like multiplying two 32-bit numbers together (it would do it in pieces with the instructions it has and then add up the result). I wouldn't rewrite the supplied libraries for stuff like SD-card or TCP/IP if I added an SD-card slot or ethernet jack unless there was some pressing reason to. The Mega Drive stuff is all manually communicated but the SPI communication between the dsPIC and the DAC is asynchronously hardware driven (It's a constantly blast of bytes from a ring buffer that I have to fill in myself. Yes, the Ocelot has Blast Processing.). Even stuff like converting numbers to text is rewritten.

Image
When I get around to porting my software 3D engine to it (this is one I wrote to run on unaccelerated 386s in DOS), that will use a PD square root routine in C from snippets.org, because I'm not so good on the square root theory. The rest of the 3D stuff there is all me. (And yes I fixed the polygons-disappearing-close-to-the-camera ages ago, I just haven't made a new gif of it.)

The TBA820M amplifier is a separate detachable board that I could use in any other project, and it's just a veroboard version of the 'Typical Usage' schematic that's supplied with the datasheet. Nothing original. (Picked because it works at 3V to 12V so I don't need two regulators.)

Quote:
Quote:
My brother wrote the music as a MIDI and I wrote a convertor to a special tiny Ocelot-specific code that my system can interpret with a player routine. If you want to hear it play something I composed, it can also play back the slightly less efficient code I used for my Master System programming so the Gravity Beam MG intro music sounds like this and the ingame music sounds like this.


Cool stuff! If you write your own music then you're a TRIPLE THREAT or whatever the term is. The text intro screen music reminds me of someting I can't place...

Have a guess at what I used to compose the Gravity Beam MG soundtrack. If you'd have said this, award yourself ten points!

I used it because I can export into easily parseable formats, which I can then read, analyse and turn into the really teeny tiny 50 bytes per second Master System music format I used (30 bytes per second for Ocelot because it doesn't have volume controls so I can cram more things into a byte). It's a little redundant now that I've got some better MIDI editors available to me, but the convertor code lives on. Also, you're never without something similar to that (I could do it on Google Docs for example).

Quote:
Quote:
I'm unemployed. My previous employment was a one year internship at a company that no longer operates, being their software guy and pressing buttons to make discs happen.


Pressing buttons to make discs happens sounds dull. Would you have liked to have done more/less programming? How much carpentry do you think you would have liked to have done instead?

More programming, though the actual programming team I was attached to pretty much exploderised immediately after my internship had finished. The previous intern had actually been laid off before his year had finished I was told. They were only a small outfit, you probably hadn't heard of them.

More carpentry would have been awesome! I could have made and painted wooden models of the ships from the game and taken pictures of them for the cover, like it was some 80s pulp sci-fi compendium.

Quote:
Quote:
Professional person-talker-to wouldn't be my first choice; it would get old fast. A 9-5 Mon-Fri routine would probably be very difficult for me right now (and I don't know how long that 'right now' would be). Commuting would be the worst part of it. Even a one-day break in the week would be a great relief, but you've got to earn telecommuting, don't you? And it's always at the whim of The Boss, and Their Boss.


I get email spam from recruiters all the time and some of them are heavily work-at-home based. So there's positions out there.
Any in the north-west? Maybe forward them to me?

Quote:
Quote:
I've thought about working from home doing software, but I don't know if I have the experience for that. I also don't know how the legalities of it would work out (can I just 'do a little bit' before I register as self-employed? I do not know.). Building contacts and networking sounds like the ultimate anti-fun.


LIVE THE DREAM: Make a game from home, kickstarter it near the end, sell it, get it on steam, sell even more, then Scroog McDuck into the piles of gold you'll end up with.
That would be nice, but I have the exact opposite set of circumstances for Kickstarter success, I fear. To be good at Kickstarter, you need to have an angle, and I am entirely un-angular. You could have a reputation to wring for all it's worth, but I don't. You could be extremely persuasive and charismatic and all the rest, but that involves being omnipresent on every forum and winning everybody over one at a time (or doing underhanded manipulative crap that never works). Or, you could have a phenomenally talented artist on your payroll to paint some pretty pictures of the game you would totally make had you had the money.

I've got a whole bunch of Android prototypes knocking about, but Android is such an utter utter utter utter pile of unforgiveable shit I stopped. I got to the point where I felt I could start hiring illustrators to draw the scenes and characters to polish the game I'd broadly implemented, but when I started testing my code on others' phones, it crashed them all without exception. I only had one phone at my disposal, a HTC Dream/T-Mobile G1, and I thought that having the worst phone would make it so that code that ran on that would work on anything. It didn't turn out anything like that at all. :(

I think I would have the problem that I wouldn't feel comfortable Kickstarting until I had most of the game done, and if I had most of the game done why would I need to Kickstart it? The final 10% of the work takes 90% of the time and all that, but that's a difficult thing to express in a way that would sell.

Quote:
"Here's a game I think you would enjoy. This Kickstarter would help me hire and artist and a musician and make it super shiny for you."
- "Why would I help Kickstart that? It has bad art and lousy music."
"Here's the one single level we have to publishable quality so far! It has great music and art and models and all the rest."
- "You look like you have everything in hand so I might buy it for fifty cents on Steam when you have finished it okay seeya."


I do have a few aces up my sleeves though, but I don't think anybody would be willing to put money up for it. I've had success making custom circuit boards for consoles before. Front, back. That's my 64kbyte rewritable Mega Drive cart board I had manufactured before I worked on the Ocelot. If I put together an Awesome Crew and made a decent 16-bit gen console game, maybe folks would like to own a physical version of it? (It worked pretty well for Blast Arena Advance and holy CRAP was that ten years ago? I still remember signing up for The WoS That Was specifically just to spam about selling it.)

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 Post subject: Re: Training and stuff
PostPosted: Sun May 25, 2014 22:36 
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What-ho, chaps!

Joined: 30th Mar, 2008
Posts: 2130
Quote:
Cool stuff! If you write your own music then you're a TRIPLE THREAT or whatever the term is. The text intro screen music reminds me of someting I can't place...

I think I was aiming for it to sound like a space game. I tried to hit Star Fox but ended up closer to the theme from Seven Days instead. It had to have a theme that you could hum.

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