Oct 10, 2007

"Expanding Africa’s Broadband Capacity", Connect Africa Summit in Kigali, 29-30 October 2007

Where: Kigali, Rwanda

Why: The main goal of the Summit is to help bring connectivity to Africa and promote "Connect Africa", a new partnership that seeks to expand the information and communication technology infrastructure of the continent, especially Internet broadband.

Who: Some 500 participants are expected to attend the Connect Africa Summit. Participants include the patrons of the initiative, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame and Ghana’s President John Kufuor, who is also the African Union Chairman. High-level participants include International Telecommunication Union Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré; President of the African Development Bank Donald Kaberuka; and Intel Corporation Chairman Craig Barrett, who is also the Chair of the UN Global Alliance for ICT and Development. Robert Zoellick, President of the World Bank Group, will make a contribution by video link. The Presidents of several African nations are expected to participate.

The event will bring together political leaders, including Ministers and Heads of State, CEOs and senior executives of global and African IT companies, leaders from civil society and heads of international and regional development banks. Industry leaders including Cisco, GSM Association, Ericsson, Huawei, British Telecom, Qualcomm, NTT DoCoMo, Neustar, Safaricom, Nokia-Siemens and Microsoft will attend and announce new initiatives to help bring connectivity to Africa.

The Summit sessions are designed for television to encourage interactive participation and key sessions will be moderated by Stephen Cole, a renowned TV anchor with Al Jazeera International. The event’s press conferences will be webcast live, and time slots for telephone interviews with prominent participants will be allocated for those journalists who cannot attend.

The event is organized by the International Telecommunication Union, the African Union, the World Bank Group and the Global Alliance for ICT and Development, in partnership with the African Development Bank, the African Telecommunication Union, the UN Economic Commission for Africa, and the Global Digital Solidarity Fund.

For further information, click here or contact:

Sanjay Acharya
Chief, Media Relations and Public Information
Tel: +41 22 730 5046
Mobile: +41 79 249 4861
Fax: +41 22 730 5939

Contact: in New York Enrica Murmura, Tel: +1 212 963-5913, E-mail murmura@un.org; in Washington, DC Henny Rahardja, Tel. +1 202 473 4857, E-mail HRahardja@worldbank.org; in Tunis, Emmanuel K. Ngwainmbi, Tel: +216 71 10 26 27, E-mail e.ngwainmbi@afdb.org.

About ITU

Aug 03, 2007


Rob Mitchell ( http://nakedchurch.wordpress.com ) writes:

I'm helping to do documentation on the ChurchInfo project. It's still early in its development and needs some other functionalities, but it's a great start. I wrote a doc on installing ChurchInfo on an Ubuntu LAMP server from bare metal to using the app, including the installation of some support tools. This is a PDF available on the ChurchInfo web site.

ChurchInfo has some really neat functionality -- basically it allows you to enter families, individuals, and organize them into groups and add roles. You can upload photos for families and individuals, and it ties in with GoogleMaps API to show geographic coordinates. You can create groups and organize people therein.

Another plus is that the database schema is extensible from within the application. Michael Wilt, who wrote ChurchInfo, is from a church polity that has basically active and inactive members, and that's the default. In my tradition (Presbyterian) we have several classes of members: communicant, non-communicant, baptized, non-baptized (these last are the kids of member families), active and inactive, and the ChurchInfo interface allows you to add new membership classifications as you desire.

Similarly there are a couple of group classifications built in, but you can add new types of groups and roles to suit your own organizational structure, and this can grow over time as you dictate.

ChurchInfo is 100% open source -- it uses PHP middleware to sit between the Apache server and the MySQL database back end. You can install it on Windows if you must, but it's ideally suited for Linux.

If you don't want to use an in-house server, it is straightforward to install on your ISP, provided it's got PHP and MySQL available.

I recommend having PHPMyAdmin as a support tool. This will allow you an easy-to-use method of doing database backups (with PHPMyAdmin you can download the database to a text file already in SQL query format, that will re-create the database schema and populate it.)

The financial portion of Churchinfo allows you to track pledges and contributions, and will print out a report or output to a delimited text file. The latter is probably preferable, as it will allow you to customize a document in your spreadsheet program. I don't remember if it allows you to designate funds to different accounts or campaigns, one of the functions I'd like to see.

Future enhancements should include a calendar module (there are presently hooks to work with WebCalendar, a PHP project) and an event scheduler, which should include a facility/resource scheduler as well. If you have a good email/workgroup package already that should suffice for you and doesn't need to be part of your church management system, though being able to tie groups and members and roles together with schedules is helpful.

Bottom line, ChurchInfo is a pretty good little package. It still lacks some of the functionalities of the big commercial packages, but for a free app, it rocks. ...Please consider giving it a try -- it will cost you nothing. It's not a full-featured Swiss Army Knife like some commercial packages, but if all you need are the awl, corkscrew, and a couple of regular cutting blades, it just might work for you.

Jun 26, 2007

Ministry as Open Source

<ed.note>There are several podcasts on the meme of of Ministry as Open Source over at Geeks and God. My assertion is that the true strength of open source is its transparent community collaboration.</ed.note>

Jun 15, 2007

The Wired Scholar: Five Free Tools You May Not Know About

Danny Zacharias

The Internet has radically changed how information is stored, researched, and published. Work that was once done in a file catalog and in the midst of towering book shelves can now be done with a few keystrokes on a computer. The ability not only to find information, but to store your own information for the benefit of others makes the Internet an exciting tool for academic research. At the same time, the Internet has also become a resource for free quality resources. The purpose of this article is to introduce Society of Biblical Literature Forum readers to five free online tools that can serve to enhance research and productivity.

Jun 05, 2007

Born Again in Second Life

"Give me that online religion", Virtual religious services are gaining in popularity - Online religious observance gains a foothold

May 21, By Don Teague, Correspondent, NBC Nightly News ( via MSNBC.com )

A new online virtual world called Second Life is also a new religious frontier where real-life churches, synagogues and mosques are trying to gain a foothold.

Jun 03, 2007

Deaf Missions launches new ASL sermon series

Just imagine not having a local church you could attend each week. How would you grow spiritually? For many Deaf people, this is a reality, because they live in isolated areas where no Deaf church or interpreted services are available.

That’s why Deaf Missions is providing a new ministry on the Internet beginning in June, 2007. This new ministry is called LINK: ASL Sermon Series. Sermons will be presented weekly in sign language via streaming video on a new website owned by Deaf Missions — http://www.linkasl.com.

Now Deaf people will be able to “link” with Jesus and with solid Bible teaching in their natural language—ASL. Skilled and experienced Deaf preachers will each present a series of four or five messages on a particular Bible passage or theme. Every month, a new series will be webcast, with a new sermon in the series posted each week.

The sermons, which will be about 15 minutes in length, will include passages from The Bible: ASL Translation, graphics and other elements to enhance learning. Viewers may also download PDF files of discussion questions in English over each sermon to use for further study or for group study. A PDF file of the English manuscript also will be available. In addition, viewers may subscribe to free downloads of the sermons in ASL for their iPod, Windows Media Player or H.264, with a choice of file sizes.

Past sermons for the month and some former series of sermons will also be archived on the website, so visitors may watch previous messages. After a series has been shown on the Internet, those sermons will be made available on DVD for purchase from Deaf Missions’ online store. Viewers may order the DVDs directly from the LINK website.

In late April and May, six Deaf and hearing preachers will be videotaped in Deaf Missions’ new studio, using the high definition video equipment we recently purchased. They include Chad Entinger of Deaf Missions, José Abenchuchan (Jacksonville, FL), Mark Lowenstein (Fairfax, VA), Rick McClain (Birmingham, AL), Jeff Jackson (Bakersfield, CA) and Dave Borgaila (Council Bluffs, IA). Their sermons will be webcast throughout the rest of 2007, beginning with four sermons by Chad Entinger in June.

LINK: ASL Sermon Series will be a great resource for individuals and groups. Check out www.linkasl.com during the first week of June for the premiere of this exciting new program.

Apr 23, 2007

Churches of Christ 2007 Ministers Salary Survey Results

Charles A. Siburt, Vice President for Church Relations, Frazer Professor of Church Enrichment, of Abilene Christian University <ed.note>my alma</ed.note>, writes:

Church Leader Friends, I am pleased to inform you that the 2007 Ministers Salary Survey Results are now available on the ACU Ministry Resources web site. The number of ministers participating in this year's survey is larger than ever before. The results are available in either Excel or PDF formats. Hopefully, the data is more intelligible and more accessible than previous surveys. You can access the results... Thank you for your interest and participation in this year's. Peace, Charles

Apr 06, 2007

A Good Friday for Post-Congregationalists

<ed.note>I listen to audiobooks when possible ( fwiw - I like audible.com, store.audiotech.com, summary.com, some others ). It is interesting to me that the two recurring themes that stand out for me in the business management meme are the importance of servant leadership in the C-Suite ( including the ability to put your ego and vision on the shelf when circumstances dictate that that it is prudent ) and listening to the consumer ( and actually spending money on aligning your business practices and processes { yes this means ACTUAL I.T. capex spending [ over airplanes, race cars and yachts ] and employee education, eg - requiring that every employ be both tech and biz savvy, usually involving the statistical data warehouse and open comments on public facing web properties }).

Bill Kinnon captures this same spirit as applied to the tradition ecclesiastical structural deafness in the land at his ongoing posts found here.

A personal aside and hypothesis: you might think that US denominations exist for theological reasons -- in fact, I would offer, it is to keep otherwise uninsurable ministers in affordable health insurance plans. Go ahead -- ask your minister/pastor/priest -- and then ask if anyone in the congregation can get the same deal. Then ask them why not.

Oh, and if you are wondering what I think the resolution to all this angst is going to be -- ( it's going to be a shocker coming from me ;-) -- apply the Pauline edification imperative ( I Cor. 14:3-4 ) -- via a globally distributed, open stance model -- as the default answer to every discussion ( as opposed to the rote "congregational meeting drivification for 30 minutes to discuss something that should have been wikied" response ). Start there...</ed.note>

Mar 31, 2007


"The Association for the Development of Religious Information Services was established in 1971 to facilitate coordination and coooperation among information services that pertain to religion. Its goal is to promote worldwide networking to foster organizational cooperation to reduce unnecessary program duplication, and to share applicable research data and tasks among diverse religious groups and agencies. ADRIS publishes a blog and provides information services consulting."

Dr. David O. Moberg, ADRIS Coordinator, Professor Emeritus, Department of Social and Cultural Sciences, Marquette University, started a project which would create a directory, launch a newsletter, inspire both a series of web sites, including a blog. In addition, David attended and attends a variety of scholarly events encouraging the use of this technology and sharing his own research ( I'm still hoping he'll launch his own blog -- I'm being patient ). I was honored to be allowed to begin to work with him ( remotely ) just as the world wide web was beginning to dawn on the popular consciousness. We worked to build a network of folks concerned about how computers and data might be used to better the missions of manifold religious organizations.

We've come to a day of "pervasive search" -- and we still await the promise of the semantic web's delivery of meaniful distributed queries which will result in aggregated data from a variety of global sources, with all the metadata and standardization of taxonomies to make the results meaningful and useful. I've been monitoring the web site's activity lately and I've come to the conclusion that it makes as much sense as any to repoint the adris.org domain to the <ADRIS.org/> category on Conmergence Blog and carry on posting here.

Continue reading "ADRIS.org" »

Apr 16, 2006

Africa's New Twist: Technology [The Next Silicon Valley?]

By Jessica Springgay, convergemag.com

Africa is often stereotyped as a Third World continent, working to alleviate poverty and AIDS without much success. People repeatedly overlook the advancements the continent is making in strides, leading Africa toward a 21st century seat.

To draw attention to the increasing number of information and communication technology (ICT) innovations coming out of Africa, the Stockholm Challenge created a side event called the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Challenge. Approximately 130 ICT projects, out of roughly 1,100 total applicants, submitted to the 2006 Stockholm Challenge came from Africa. The WSIS Challenge Award will pick the best African ICT project and award its winners 10,000 euros, to be used for further development of the project. Two winning team members will then travel to Stockholm for the final event in May.

The Stockholm Challenge searches for the project that best accelerates the use of information technology for the social and economic benefit of citizens and communities. The challenge's objective is to help local entrepreneurs working to bride the digital divide by bringing research communities, development organizations and strong corporate initiatives to an area lacking such resources.

Three projects competing for the WSIS award involve revolutionizing ICT and education in Africa: the Distance Learning and Information Sharing Tool (DLIST-Benguela), Multimedia in Arts Training and Production in Tanzania, and the Digital Design School in Nairobi.

Oct 11, 2005


Moodle is a course management system (CMS) - a free, Open Source software package designed using sound pedagogical principles, to help educators create effective online learning communities. You can download and use it on any computer you have handy (including webhosts), yet it can scale from a single-teacher site to a 40,000-student University. This site itself is created using Moodle, so check out the Moodle Features demos, the Demonstration Courses or read the latest Moodle Buzz.

Jan 04, 2005

Faith-based charities received a total of $1.17 billion in 2003


Minnesota "faith-based" charities received $11.4M from feds in 2003 The federal government gave more than $1 billion to "faith-based" charities in 2003, including $11.4 million to Minnesota groups, The Associated Press reported.

More than a dozen local charities received federal funding, including Volunteers of America in Minneapolis, Lao Family Community in St. Paul and several branches of Lutheran Social Service.

Nationally, some charities on the list of faith-based groups questioned their inclusion because they have secular missions.

President Bush has supported funding faith-based charities, saying they often do a better job serving the poor. But oppenents say it blurs the separation between church and state.

An analysis conducted by The Associated Press showed that many of the charities are well-established, large social service providers that have received federal funding for decades.

Faith-based charities received a total of $1.17 billion in 2003. In the five federal departments in which groups can qualify for faith-based grants, they accounted for 8 percent of the $14.5 billion spent on social programs.

New York groups led all states with $152 million in federal money.

Dec 29, 2004

Tech Industry's Tsunami Relief Efforts Pick Up

By Jim Wagner, Internetnews.com

As the official death toll from the tsunami in southern Asia grew beyond 70,000 Wednesday, tech players were offering any aid and support they could in response to devastation from an underwater earthquake that struck near Indonesia Sunday, unleashing massive tsunami waves in the region.

Fortune 500 companies and individual bloggers were offering donations and free services in order to support relief operations to the stricken regions across Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Somalia, Sumatra, Thailand and Somalia.

Paul Roberts, director of Hong Kong-based ForgetMeNot Software, said the company is donating free SMS (define) messaging via its ChatBar service to anyone in the affected region or anyone trying to reach a person in the countries impacted.

The ChatBar service is available on Internet-connect PCs as well as mobile phones. It's browser-based, and the recipients don't need to be signed up to the service before receiving the SMS messages.

"We are all shocked and stunned by the devastation wrought by the earthquake," he said in a statement Wednesday. "In an effort to help, we wanted to make the functionality of ChatBar available free to everyone who needs to communicate with loved ones at this difficult time. Experience has shown that SMS messages may get through to mobile phones even though voice networks may be overloaded."

Users can download the ChatBar software to make contact here (English), here (Simplified Chinese), here (Traditional Chinese) and here (Tagalog).

Amazon's home page carried information about how customers could make a one-click donation to the American Red Cross for disaster relief assistance. According to the site, nearly 30,000 people have already made more than $1.6 million in donations through Amazon.com at press time, with the amount growing by the hour.

The service is anonymous for donations under $250, unless donors choose to release their name, e-mail address and amount donated to the Red Cross after the payment has been made.

Enterprise mobility software company Symbol, with operations in India, pledged $150,000 Tuesday to the Red Cross, Mercy Corps and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) to help out with emergency relief; employees in India all donated one day's pay to the donation.

Australian telephone company Telstra said it would donate its phone service to non-government, not-for-profit organizations in Australia who are helping with efforts directly in the affected countries, as well as a rebate for Telstra mobile phone users in the area who made phone calls to loved ones in Australia or vice versa. The company is also donating $100,000 to Australian aid agencies.

Over at Google, the company has invested its Web search services to aggregate the latest Google mainstream news coverage on the tsunami and a page with links to Web sites where people can make donations.

The blogosphere is providing expertise in the area it does best, providing first-hand accounts of the devastation as well as a viral network for relief opportunities. While mainstream media reports on the disaster were sketchy at first, bloggers quickly jumped in and spread information after the tsunami's wake.

Other efforts were also taking shape:

  • Benjamin Rosembaum's blog journal has a table rating the effectiveness of relief organizations involved in the disaster, compiled from several watchdog organizations.
  • A post at thewirelessweblog from a person going by the name of Mike Outmesguine is helping create a Post-Tsunami Reconnect project with the Southern California Wireless Users Group (SOCALWUG) to send wireless equipment and technical expertise to the affected regions. It noted how, in the coming days, re-establishing communications will be as important an operation as providing food, shelter and water.
  • The Command Post weblog, one of the earliest blog sites to feature information and donation links, had updated its site Wednesday to include more relief organizations and ways for individuals to help.

  • The South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami blog at blogspot.com carried a new entry asking people to donate bottled water, first aid materials, canned goods, clothes and household items for the New Jersey Buddhist Vihara.

The New York Times also carried a list of relief organizations on its Web site.

Nov 21, 2004

Asia Source: Tech camp for the voluntary sector

Bangalore, India. January 28th to February 4th 2005.

Asia Source hopes to bring together over 100 people from 20 countries to increase the use of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) amongst the voluntary sector in South and South East Asia. This week long event will bring together NGOs and NGO technology support professionals working at the grassroots level across the region to learn new skills, exchange tips, and share experiences. Together with regionally and globally renowned experts and specialists they will look at the use of FOSS within the non-profit sector from both an access and a content perspective. Offering participants the opportunity to explore the practical technical side of FOSS whilst providing a conceptual backdrop. Asia Source will be the first event of its kind in the region, bringing together regional non-profit professionals with a rights based focus, it will invite those from both the technical and content end of the spectrum to focus on the practical elements of FOSS deployment. Participants with a range of expertise will be provided with a space for intensive peer learning. They will be given the opportunity to develop their understanding of FOSS, learn how to select and apply alternative technologies, and be provided with the skills and tools to utilise this within the context of their daily work. They will also be encouraged to explore the challenges and the future potential of FOSS adoption within the social context. During this 'camp' style event, participants will take part in a range of sessions. From planning and helping an NGO to migrate to FOSS, to sharing tips and techniques on using FOSS tools for content development, advocacy and campaigning. In parallel to this they will look beneath user-level scenarios, and break-down tricky issues such as localisation techniques and how to develop total cost of ownership models.

Four themes will flow throughout the event
1. 'FLOSSophy' for NGOs
2. Migration and Access
3. Tools for content and communication
4. Localisation Asia Source will be held in a small artists community on the outskirts of Bangalore.

Its aim is to become a community building event, with the potential to seed connections and future partnerships across borders and between skillsets. The event is co-organised by Mahiti.org (Bangalore) and the Tactical Technology Collective (Amsterdam). The event is guided by an advisory board of established non-profit and FOSS professionals from across the South and South East Asian region. Asia Source belongs to a larger family of Source Events that seek to increase the viability of FOSS use by the non-profit sector. Other source events have taken place in South East Europe, Southern Africa and are planned in 2005 in Western Africa. For more information please visit http://www.mahiti.org/asiasource.

Participants will be selected by the advisory board based on their interest and experiences. There will be a small registration fee for the event. A limited number of travel and registration fee scholarships will be available and may be applied for on application. If you have any questions please write to asiasource@tacticaltech.org.

Oct 23, 2004

A Few Resources on NPOs and Blogs

By Katrin Verclas

What's a Blog, and Why Should Nonprofits Care?

Marty Kearn's discussion of the same with some other resources and good thoughts (that Marty is a smart guy and the Green Media Toolshed a good example of what you are looking for):

Christian Crumlish's

A conversation on the SocialText NTC site on the utility of blogs:

More from Marty on his Network-Centric Advocacy blog about how to use blogs to advance an advocacy agenda:

Some musings on blogs and NPOs:

United Way of NYC's take on the matter:

An interesting list of ideas and samples of what NPOs have used blogs for from the NPO tech talk list (courtesy of another smart guy, Sheldon Maines):

Giving beyond local congregations lower than 1968, study says

by ABP Staff

Church members are giving less of their income to churches today than 35 years ago, and even less of those contributions are put to work outside the local congregation, according to a new study.

Giving as a percentage of per capita after-tax income dropped 16 percent -- from 3.11 percent to 2.62 percent -- among Protestant church members between 1968 and 2002, said empty tomb inc., an Illinois organization that studies congregational giving patterns.

But church-based giving to ministries beyond the local congregation dropped even more -- 41 percent -- from 0.66 percent to 0.38 percent during the same period.

The study, "The State of Church Giving Through 2002," looked at contribution data from about a third of the 350,000 congregations in the United States, the organization said. The study's authors said recent reports of increased charitable giving through churches are misleading because they don't account for increases in population, inflation and per capita income.

Oct 04, 2004

International Open Source Network

Contact: Sunil Abraham

The International Open Source Network (IOSN) is a Centre of Excellence for Free / Open Source Software in the Asia-Pacific Region. IOSN is an initiative of the Asia-Pacific Information Development Programme (APDIP - http://www.apdip.net), which has been supporting the strategic and effective use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) for poverty alleviation and sustainable human development in the Asia-Pacific region since 1997. Via a small secretariat, the IOSN is tasked specifically to facilitate and network Free / Open Source Software advocates and human resources in the region. Activities undertaken by IOSN is listed below:

Continue reading "International Open Source Network" »

Sep 25, 2004

Association for the Development of Religious Information Systems

ADRIS.org exists to promote organizational cooperation, to reduce unnecessary program duplication, and to share applicable research data and tasks among diverse religious groups and agencies. ADRIS is working to establish a genuinely symbiotic, interdisciplinary, interdenominational, interfaith, global network of religious information services. ADRIS links scientific and academic research interests and resources with the applied needs of denominational, parachurch, and analogous religion-related agencies.

Sep 21, 2004

SWORD Project

The SWORD Project is the CrossWire Bible Society's free Bible software project. Its purpose is to create cross-platform open-source tools-- covered by the GNU General Public License-- that allow programmers and Bible societies to write new Bible software more quickly and easily. We also create Bible study software for all readers, students, scholars, and translators of the Bible, and have a growing collection of over 200 texts in over 50 languages.

What is the OSIS initiative?

The mission of the Bible Technologies Group is to maximize production, distribution, access, use, impact, and preservation of the Bible and related materials from all time periods. Co-sponsored by the American Bible Society and the Society of Biblical Literature, the OSIS initiative plays a key role in meeting this goal by providing a common format to facilitate production, distribution, etc. of the Bible and related materials. Since people engage with the Bible at a number of levels - as literature, as a religious text, etc. - OSIS is "a common format for many visions."

Sep 20, 2004

Imaging Pays Off In Accounts Payable

By Steve Webb, Integrated Solutions, October 2004

Public companies are eager to develop business processes that drive down costs. After all, money saved through increased efficiencies can help boost net income and encourage investors to buy stock. As a not-for-profit company, LifeWay Christian Resources (Nashville, TN) isn't out to impress Wall Street investors, but it's as intent on cutting and controlling costs as any Fortune 500 company.

Sep 08, 2004

Theological Markup Language (ThML)

This document describes Theological Markup Language, a new markup language that is being used to mark up texts for the Christian Classics Ethereal Library and other projects. This XML application can be thought of as HTML with additions for electronic books and rich digital libraries, with special support for theological needs such as scripture references and Strongs numberings. When books have been prepared in ThML, many new features will become possible in the CCEL: subject and scripture reference indexes for books and for the whole library, intelligent searching, automatic conversion to other formats, "lining up" documents in various ways such as parallel columns, and more.

Mar 30, 2004

XML Scripture Encoding Models

The Open Scripture Information Standard (OSIS) is an XML schema for marking up scripture and related text, part of an "open scripture" initiative composed of translators, publishers, scholars, software manufacturers, and technical experts who are coordinated by the Bible Technologies Group. The group formed out of an informal meeting at a technology conference in 2000 where key players from the American Bible Society, SIL International, and the Society of Biblical Literature connected and began to share about the need for a common digital format for the Bible. OSIS is the first project to come out of the Bible Technologies Group.

XSEM is a markup standard that reflects the structure of a particular type of literature, Scripture. More properly, it is a data schema. A data schema defines the structure of a specific data set, in this case, the Bible. It allows Bible text to be encoded in a standard way regardless of the language the text may be written in. This benefits all by allowing a more standardized approach to translating and publishing Scripture.

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