TV News

From new developments in technology to special offers and voucher codes - keep up to date with the world of digital TV here.

Benefits of the Virgin TiVo Box – A Reminder

Virgin TiVo

As more households are getting the Virgin TiVo box installed, either as new customers or getting their box upgraded, it’s time for a reminder of some of the benefits of the service.

The TiVo Box Itself:

The TiVo box comes with two different storage capacities: 500GB or 1TB. The 500 GB box allows you to store up to fifty hours of HD television and approximately 250 hours of normal television and the 1TB box enables you to record up to 100 hours of HD television or 500 hours of normal television. Convenience is king with TiVo – you can set the box to record programmes remotely using your mobile or online, something that Sky have offered for a while. If you find yourself in a situation where you want to watch something different from somebody else, then Virgin TV provide you the option to record two different programmes simultaneously whilst watching a third programme. Additionally, if you are watching something pre-recorded, you can record three other programmes at the same time. Should you accidently delete a programme then fear not, it is not lost forever as the TiVo box stores recently deleted recordings for you as well.

The Channels:

If you can’t tear yourself away from your favourite Sky channels, then that is not a problem as you can keep them with Virgin TV. Channels such as Sky Sports, Sky Movies and Sky1 HD can be watched on Virgin TV (although Sports and Movies require an extra monthly subscription) and an added bonus of Virgin is that you do not have to pay any additional monthly amount to watch up to seventeen channels in HD as HD comes as standard on all packages.

Catch Up:

If you miss a programme then you can ‘catch up’ on it at no extra cost. All programmes which were part of the ‘pick of the week’ from the previous week are available to watch for seven days.


The TiVo box allows you access to many popular internet Apps including YouTube, Spotify, Twitter, EBay and BBC iPlayer, so if somebody else is hogging the laptop, you can still enjoy these popular sites through your television. The TiVo box has its own connection to fibre optic broadband (up to 10MB), so your normal internet connection will not be affected.

On Demand:

Virgin TV offer an On Demand service where you can access a huge library of your favourite Movies, Music and TV programmes in general. You can watch old classics as well as the latest releases; additionally many films are available to watch on the same day that they are released on DVD. Similar to a DVD, you have the option to rewind, play and pause programmes. If you know what you are looking for then simply ‘search’ for it, otherwise browse by genre.


It is so frustrating when you miss the beginning of a new series of something you watch regularly as you didn’t know it was back on. Luckily TiVo has a solution to this problem. There is a ‘WishList’ service available which will record your favourite series for you automatically. All you have to do is create a ‘WishList’ of the shows that you love to watch and sit back and relax and let TiVo take it from there. You needn’t worry about missing your favourite show again.

Virgin packages start from just £20 a month plus line rental of £13.90, and although there are no current Virgin Media voucher codes there are always special offers, at the time of writing that’s in the form of 3 months free.

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Sky TV Comes a Long Way Since 1990

Sky TV

Today Sky TV is an integral part of many of our lives, and although Sky feels like it has been around for forever we have to remember it was only founded in 1990. Back then, Sky Television and British Satellite Broadcasting were two separate entities that merged and became known as BSkyB, and today the company is the largest subscription broadcaster in the UK with over 10 million subscribers. In the early days of Sky, customers had a dish placed on their homes and a receiver connected to their main television in the house – today we have small black mesh dishes on our homes, which are much more discrete compared to the grey satellite dish issued back then. The basic system is something Sky still uses today, however lots of things have changed quite dramatically over the last 22 years.

Back in the nineties, SES Astra launched its Astra satellite with 4 transponders, of which Sky became the first customer. Sky was able to use this satellite to enlarge its service with the use of the same satellite dish. Through the nineties, Sky television was building its market share as they offered a great number of channels, then in 1998 Astra launched another satellite, ‘Astra 2A’, which orbited in a different position to the previous Astra satellite, enabling Sky TV to release its all new digital service. This development gave Sky the potential to introduce hundreds of channels, all to the same box via one satellite.

Today we now see live TV that can be paused or recorded as and when we wish and we have access to hundreds of channels from around the world covering all kinds of tastes and interests. In 2011 Sky announced that they going to reshuffle the order in which channels were positioned, giving HD channels and other popular channels a prime spot on the listings. The look of Sky in 2012 is one of pure genius as we have a fully interactive TV service that can offer us a phone line and broadband connection too – Sky have also managed to integrate their services so subscribers to Sky Television, along with Sky Broadband, will have access to Sky’s Anytime service which offers a full library of TV programmes to suit all tastes. Like with anything, these products and services come at a cost, but the basic Sky+ package for £20 a month (plus line rental) offers great value, and while there are no current Sky voucher codes there are always deals and offers to choose from, such as a £25 M&S voucher for example.

Sky is not alone in the digital TV market place as rivals like Virgin TV offer a similar stack of products and services. Virgin’s main difference is that they are a cable network, so the way in which it is delivered to your home is different. Like Sky, Virgin has phone and broadband packages to choose from. Looking back at Sky’s legacy only makes us wonder – What is going to happen in the next 20 years? We have already seen massive developments in 3D TV, so we will have to wait and see what comes next.

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Will Apple Take Over the TV Market?

Apple TV

Apple have decided to use their brand identity to create a new style of TV and there are plans afoot to bring out the Apple iTV sooner rather than later. The channel would be a web-based paid subscription model with tailor made options for customers. Apple has wanted to get into the TV arena for years, but the timing hasn’t always been right until now. Steve Job’s autobiography claims that he has finally cracked the user interface for the Apple iTV which effortlessly syncs up with iCloud.

Apple would be looking to bring customised channels and TV show options, in a bid to separate themselves from the crowd in the web TV market. The idea is to allow users to pick and choose whatever channels they may want, then streaming the content through the web. They will also offer even more individual options to subscribers, allowing users to pick and pay for only what they choose to watch. If this service did catch on with the general public, it could change the TV game and the way we currently subscribe to our favourite channels, but the big question mark over the project would be how Apple plans to get granted the licenses required to be able to pull this off. Today they have a large library of music, TV shows and movies in iTunes, but what they feel is missing is live TV broadcasts. This ripple effect of this proposition could cross the realm of the web into the physical TV market as well. There is the option of partnering up with an existing satellite or TV platform, but a more revolutionary approach would be to deliver live content via the internet or IPTV.

Apple has already tested the water with Apple TV, but reports claim the tech giant has earmarked 2012 to start creating innovative panels – this is in line with claims that Mr Jobs dreamed of creating a new kind of TV set to take to the masses, in only the way that Apple can. It will also come with the aforementioned iCloud facility, allowing you access to all your information and probably the iTunes library as well. There has also been speculation as to what some of the features on the new set would have. It has been suggested that the set could also come with a touch screen remote, doing away with the classic physical remote or mouse facility, like the iPad. The system would hopefully also come with its own Apple channels similar to Sky TV and Virgin TV who have their own channels. Furthermore the new TV set would also benefit from voice control features and options in line with the recent iPhone 4S. There is speculation that the technology could even mirror the kinetic motion sensor voice controller in Microsoft’s recent Xbox 360 update.

Another feature it may have would be ‘Gesture Control’, similar to ‘Face Time.’ Users could then use both voice and gestures, as a kind of human remote to control the set. Their trump card would surely be the attractive new Apple design that only Apple know how to do. The screen size is reputed to come in three sizes, starting at 32 inches, 42 inches and finally the large screen at probably 55 inches. It will have the same processor which will be present in the upcoming iPad 3. However, at the moment, most of this is just speculation, so we will have to see what 2012 brings.

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TV Catch Up for Xbox 360 Users

Xbox TV

It literally seems like every day that we have another technological advancement that comes to light which just makes us want to go ‘WOW’. This time it is Microsoft’s turn to take the centre stage and dazzle their consumers. In their Xbox 360, they have now installed software for users to be able to watch catch up TV, similar to Sky TV’s ‘Sky Go’ service, the BBC’s iPlayer, or the ‘Red Button Service’ available for Virgin TV customers. Although the ability to watch TV on-the-go through mobile devices is not exactly new, what’s exciting about this development from Microsoft is the new technology they are adding to the Xbox console. This technology will further enhance their users TV interactive experience. Microsoft are calling this ‘the new technological era of live TV at home,’ a bold claim, but one which they just might be able to live up to, this time around.
The interface will offer an update, similar to the one you can find in the Windows phone. However, the beauty of it all is the fact that the update will contain voice control with an Xbox motion sensing control camera, called the ‘Kinect’, so the user can become the ‘remote control’ and take over the navigation. Effectively, the user will be able to issue audible commands and search for TV programmes, videos, movies and games as well as control playback; perfect for on demand TV. Microsoft’s goal is to usher in a new era of entertainment where user’s can have all their games, videos, TV shows , music and sports, all in the one place.

The menus on the Xbox dashboard will be easy to navigate. In fact, practically everything on the box will be available through the use of voice commands and gestures. Users will be able to command TV programmes with words such as ‘pause’ or ‘play.’ Additionally users will be able to ask the Xbox 360 to ‘search’ as well as find the associated services for TV, movies, music and digital game content. For example, if a user says the words ‘Xbox, Bing, TV Musical Smash’ (for the new series on Sky Atlantic) the Xbox will search for related content associated with these keywords and offer multiple results back to the user. If the Kinect sensor hears a user say ‘Xbox’, a bar will appear across the bottom, which indicates that it is waiting for any further instructions from the user.

Finally, users will be able to leave ‘Beacons’ for their friends on Facebook and on Twitter, which means that friends will become alerted to a particular game that the user may wish to play. The opportunities are endless and new Apps for sites such as ‘You Tube’ are also in progress and are due for release in the near future.

Microsoft has enlisted the services of almost 40 providers for this new advancement and the update began to be rolled out from the first week in December 2011.

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Sky Poker TV – a Great Bet for your Money

Sky Poker

If you are prone to making the occasional bet or just enjoy watching incredibly brave people win or lose money on TV, then Sky Poker TV may be just the bet for you. As Sky’s broadcasting online poker division, Sky Poker is one of the leading poker sites in the country, allowing users to play poker online whilst at the same time offering great promotions and tournaments to players.

Selected hands are screened from many tournaments and cash games are available on the channel, which gives players the opportunity to turn into TV superstars as well as creating excellent TV for the armchair viewer. The focus is mainly on UK poker players, therefore bets are placed in pounds. For those who want to interact with their new TV heroes locally, there even is a Sky Poker Tour in place.

One of the most unique and attractive qualities about the site is the ability to play poker live on Sky TV through Sky’s own unique software. The games are available to view daily on Sky channel 885. Players and the audience can watch the action unfold on the tables as it happens, live and in real time.

As mentioned earlier, Sky Poker hosts many tournaments nationwide for its players, including high value guarantee for those serious punters. The Sunday 8000 is one of the biggest guarantee tournaments, with winners scooping up to and over three thousand pounds in payouts. The tournament is of outstanding value to poker players as the registration fee is relatively low compared to the potential winnings. Players also have access to other prestigious daily tournaments including bounty tournaments as well as live held gigs; you really can get a lot of value for the amount of daily tournament’s available to you.

Currently Sky Poker is running two very interesting promotions called ‘Action Tables’ and ‘Happy Hour’. These promotions state that you stand a greater chance of accumulating cash for points whilst playing your favourite games. The ‘Happy Hour’ can be played daily during Sky’s assigned ‘Happy Hour’ times between 1pm and 2pm (The Lunchtime Happy Hour), 6pm and 7pm (The Evening Happy Hour) and finally between 11pm and 12pm (The Late Night Happy Hour.) To add to the excitement the Sky Poker team does state that extra Happy Hours can be added without warning, so keep a regular lookout for this on the Sky Poker homepage. As for the ‘Action Tables,’ both the small and big blinds are fixed at the same amount therefore each pot begins with more from the offset. As you can check your options preflop on both the small and big blind, the battle between the two blinds becomes even more exciting. All in all, you are able to accumulate cash quickly and in turn increase your monthly bonus. To catch all the live TV action on channel 885, make sure that you subscribe to one of Sky packages’ today.

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Watching TV on a Tablet – the Future?

iPad - TV on a tablet

Watching TV on mobile devices has now become a very popular pastime for many. Sky TV subscribers have ‘Sky Go’ to keep themselves updated and entertained when they are away from home. Virgin customers can access TV if they go via their ‘On Demand’ service. It’s fair to say that today’s mobile devices and in particular tablets are making a big impact on the culture of how we watch our television programs as their capabilities increase further. According to research by the ‘Broadcasters Audience,’ fifteen percent of four thousand people interviewed claimed to have watched television via some form of hand held device, during a chosen week of November of last year.

What we should really be looking out for are the trends of today and what they tell us about viewers and their viewing habits. The general economy may still be looking gloomy, but it would seem this country still has an ongoing desire to have access to a tablet device. The fact that a significant number of us were given a tablet as a Christmas present is a strong indicator of this.

Apart from the inherent luck of Santa managing to leave a tablet in our stocking at Christmas, why else are we so keen on being part of the tablet revolution? The biggest reason it seems is the need to listen to music whilst on the move, interact with friends through social networking platforms as well as keep up to date with what’s happening in the news; this comes as no surprise though, as the growing sophistication of new tablets and mobile devices have allowed us greater flexibility in watching TV. It also may be the fact that the quality of the enhanced TV viewing experience is more enjoyable and readily available. In turn, this is probably the reason why so many Apps across IOS, Android and other phones appease the tablet obsessed public, similar to Sky Go for Sky TV subscribers.

It is also believed that tablets are on course to be the back up option for the main screen in our homes. This suggests that devices like the iPad, will replace the PC as the alternative to watching TV as a home entertainment system. Sky have recognised this by bringing out their latest App, the ‘Sky Sports News’ App for the iPad. This App has live and on demand video viewing, rich interactive graphics and real time updates of data. It also delivers the ultimate sports experience while on the move to Sky Sports subscribed viewers. Customers even have the option to personalise their home page to allow them to follow the latest sports news stories. It would appear that both Sky TV and Virgin TV are looking to bring more to their customers than just the option of sitting in front of the screen consuming images. They want their customers to interact with their devices in a personal way, no matter where they may be situated. Some would say that this alone is a strong indicator that the days of viewing TV sat purely in the living room in front of a television may be numbered.

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BBC Sports App Coming to Virgin TiVo

Virgin TiVo

Good news for sports fans and Virgin TiVo customers, a recently announced partnership between the BBC and Virgin Media will shortly result in a new BBC Sports app for TiVo which will bring interactive ‘red button’ services to some of the top sports event coverage of the coming year, including Formula 1, Wimbledon and of course the Olympics.

Anyone who has Virgin TiVo will have seen how well the BBC iPlayer is integrated into the service, although there’s still sometimes an annoying delay or other anomaly – you’ll try and access a programme on catch-up through the TV guide without success then go to the iPlayer app and find it straight away by searching? Anyway, comment if you know why that sometimes happens. Aside from the odd annoyance iPlayer works brilliantly on Virgin Media and the BBC News and Sports apps coming soon promise to be just as successful.

What can you expect from the app? Imagine all the different video feeds from the BBC coverage of an event plus extra on-demand and online content mixed in to your TV service and you’ll have a truly interactive viewing experience. 2012 seems like a great time to launch it too – there’s always F1 and Wimbledon to look forward to but this year there’s also Euro 2012 and the London Olympics, which is going to be the sports TV (and possibly general TV) event of the year.

Other popular apps on Virgin TiVo include the music service Spotify, allowing you to control your music selection through the TV, as well as the original apps allowing you to use Facebook, Twitter and eBay. There is a new Android phone app out for TiVo in the US which looks really good – lots of great features so watch this space for a review when it becomes available in the UK. There is a brand new app just appeared in the Android Market called TiVo Remote but I’ve just had a quick download and can’t get it to work – could be a US thing too or maybe you have to do some playing around with settings which I haven’t yet done.

If you’re not familiar with TiVo it’s the latest Virgin TV box, but rather than just being a different box design with extra features it’s more of a whole new service – a bit like V+ and Sky+ but with a lot more online integration. You can create Wishlists (like a Series Link but with more variables) and watch YouTube through the box, among many other things. The TiVo service only costs an extra £3 a month on top of the normal V HD box (HD and 3D ready but with no PVR functions) so is well worth getting, and a starter bundle with basic M+ TV (75 channels), 20Mb broadband and landline costs £23 a month with free installation – details on the Virgin site here.

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When Will Virgin TV Customers Get Full 3D TV Access?

Virgin Media 3D

The promise of looking forward to great 3D viewing has been with us for the last few years now and the average customer on the street is wondering when it will finally explode onto our screens, flood our popular culture and become part of the furniture in the house. Sure everyone has had the experience of picking up those awkwardly weird 3D glasses as you go into the cinema to watch a big Hollywood blockbuster movie. However the question is when will the full integration from the outside world into your living room take place? This is a particular big question for Virgin TV customers, who almost feel uninvited to the 3D programming party and are desperate enough to want to gatecrash it. Don’t get the wrong idea; it’s not to say Virgin Media hasn’t done anything for its TV customers so far. In fact from the second part of 2010, there‘s been a lot of positive stories coming out in the media singing Virgin’s praises. Examples include Virgin Media being the first commercial TV provider to make 3D content available in the UK when they launched their 3D on demand service, the gradual introduction of 3D movies, including all the 3D productions from the major movie studios including Sony and some sport event coverage over 2011, with the Euro sport partnership for the French Open tennis in particular coming to mind. They’ve even had time to add ESPN-X Games to their VOD service.

There was even an announcement of bringing some new 3D programmes for Virgin TV customers from the Discovery network, with new programmes like ‘Experience 3D’ and ‘High Octane’. Sure HD TV is also still fairly recent and maybe some customers are still trying to get to grips with its full potential. However, there exists a large amount of Virgin TV customers who want full access to all available 3D TV programmes out there. Especially when you consider that a large part of them already possess a 3D ready Virgin Media set-top box in their home. Alas even with all the feel good stories in the press, there are still some lingering questions from the customers about whether they will get full value for their money with the current 3D programming schedule.

The biggest question is why can’t they get Sky TV’s 3D channels in the near future? Sky of course have now been regularly commissioning 3D content for their 3D TV and would be the first place Virgin TV customers would look to for more programmes, especially after talk that they have been in discussion with Sky themselves. The fact is that commissioning and providing content for their 3D customers still gives Sky a competitive edge, so it’s understandable if at the moment it’s still a no-go area for them. It’s going to have to be a wait and see policy for customers if Virgin can get the green light for Sky’s 3D channel to be available to them. Nevertheless, apparently Virgin still have a few tricks up their sleeves to keep their customers entertained until then. They are in discussion with a number of content creators and providers about providing bespoke shows for their audiences in the near future, for instance. In the meantime, Virgin customers will be on the edge of their seats waiting for the next 3D installment available to them.

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Quick Guide to Sky+HD Box Connections

Sky+ HD Box

Ok, so you’ve decided to replace your old Sky TV box with the new Sky+HD Box. You probably used one of the good Sky TV deals around at the moment when you placed your order for the new box, but now that you have you received your new box, how do you go about removing the old one and plugging up this brand new shiny box?

1. You start by disconnecting the old box, carefully going to the back of it and unplugging all the cables. A new welcome feature to your box is you don’t need to use your old SCART cables from your TV; the new box has pink HDMI cables to replace them giving you a picture of greater quality and better viewing.

2. Connect your telephone line to the back of your box. Now, even though you may not have needed a telephone line to use your old box, you’ll need to have one connected to be able to use your new box and activate your viewing card. Get the telephone cable and plug it to the line input on the far right of the box with the orange looking label ‘Tel line’. The shape and size of the port is quite similar to the green ‘Ethernet’ port closer to the middle of the box, but this is used for a different purpose, so make sure you have it plugged in the right place. Now connect the telephone cable to the socket on the wall.

3. Connect your satellite cables to the two brown coloured ports in the top middle of your box. These are labeled ‘Dish port 1’ and ‘Dish port 2’. As with your old box, these are used to connect to your satellite dish. It doesn’t matter which way you connect them, just make sure you do not bend the thin brown wires inside them as you do so. Screw these onto the ports all the way till they are finger tight. An important point to note if you have only a single feed setup is that you should then only connect the cable to ‘Dish input 1’ and not the other.

4. You now have to connect in your pink HDMI cable, which replaces the SCART lead. Place one end of the lead into the pink labeled ‘HDMI’ port in your box. This will be between the ‘Ethernet port’ and the ‘Dish input 1’ port. Then place the other end of the lead in the back of your TV where it has the symbol ‘HDMI’.

5. We move on to connect your power cable to the box. Thankfully your old power cable still works on the new box, so you connect one end to the blue power symbol to the far left of the box ‘230 V….’ and the other end to your wall socket; don’t turn on the power at this point. Surround sound and games console features are options available to connect to if you choose.

6. You are going to need your remote control so make sure you have charged up the batteries. You are almost ready to go – switch on the power for the new box and your TV. Now you need to download the latest up to date software for your new box, using your remote. Go to the standby button and press ‘hold’ until the light on the button turned red and then let go. This may take a few seconds, so be patient. Now press the ‘back up’ button on the top of your new box and the Sky button on your remote at the same time.

7. Finally, continue to hold the ‘back up’ button on the box whilst letting go of the ‘Sky’ button. You will now see the ‘Please wait’ message appear on the box. As you keep holding down, the ‘Updating System Software’ will appear with all the panel lights up on the box. Release the Backup Button. After 10 minutes of system updating, the box will go back to standby mode, and you should wait for another few minutes. Finally press the ‘Sky’ Button on your remote to complete your software download and you are ready to enjoy superior TV viewing on your new Sky+HD box.

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Sky Go and What You Can Expect from It

Sky Go

Sky Go, as we know, is the on-the-move service for Sky customers, so we thought we’d cover some of the Sky TV programming you can get when you run this application. Sky TV ensures that you can get your regular fix of TV, sports and in some cases even movies, for free. The iPad, iPhones, smart phones and laptops are among some of the many mobile devices Sky Go can run on. Sky Go’s audience reach is increasing with each day and with most of us not spending the holidays at home, it can come in handy when we have regular programming or viewing to watch during this period. Sky Go is great for the sports enthusiast, with the emphasis on getting an update on your favourite sports programme now.

To run the application on your mobile device you first need to download it. You will also need to have a Sky subscription and a Wi-Fi connection. Now you can watch and record Sky TV on your mobile device.
Of course you still have all the features from Sky Go that have made it a classic with customers everywhere – for instance, you can pause and rewind live TV as you watch. Also, the electronic programme guide or EPG alerts you to other relevant viewings of interest, with the little TV on the corner of the screen allowing you to keep watching while searching other channels. At the moment you can still only register two devices on the service, however you can still watch some sports on your iPad in the living room and something else in another room on your iPhone, which is pretty good. The only thing is tablets and phones are still limited to fewer channels than the laptop – the laptop version has at least thirty channels and counting. These include sports channels, ESPN, Sky News and Sky Movies. Sky’s on demand premium service is also available on Virgin TV. With the recent acquisition of the Wi-Fi network the Cloud, we can be sure of Sky’s commitment to supporting mobile devices and laptops as they now have access to over 4,000 hotspots in the country.

With the latest Sky TV sports programme – ‘Sports Xtra,’ which you can view using your Sky Go subscription account, the lure to download the app on your mobile device has never been greater. Sky offer this new online channel for the enthusiast to get closer to their favourite sports channels. The benefits will include featured sports and exclusive sports feeds from across all major sports in the world, to view. You get this all at no extra cost to you. Just sign in with your SKY ID account and watch the channel on the move.

As stated, the Sky Go App now also supports eleven movie channels as well for your viewing pleasure. These include Sky Action and Adventure, Sky Family and Sky Movies Crime and Thriller. New releases expected soon include ‘Black Swan’, the new Harry Potter movie and ‘Limitless’. You can catch older films and classics from yesteryear also, such as The Bourne Supremacy, 8mile and the Superman movie series.

If you want to keep up to date with your favourite sports and new movies why not check out the current Sky TV deals on offer and experience it now, live and on the go!

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