5 Best Practices for Buying Technology for Employees


Buying technology for personal use can be exciting once you get past
the price tag. Yet there are many factors to consider when investing in
technology for employee use.




There are many digital tools available to improve the day-to-day way people do their jobs. Providing the right tech can increase productivity, streamline processes, and improve employee engagement. Yet determining which solutions are smartest for your team takes work.




Best practices when buying new technology



Investing in a technology that doesn’t suit the needs of your staff can
hurt your business:




  • Learning a new technology takes time away from other
    mission-critical tasks.
  • Employees resent the change when the tech further
    complicates their day.
  • Staff feel unheard and disrespected when asked to use
    digital tools that don’t help.
  • Disgruntled employees disengage, which hurts customer
    experience.
  • Employees look for an easier way to do their work and
    may change work environments as an answer.



Best practices for buying employee technology




Providing the best technological tools supports a more productive,
energized, and motivated workforce. These best practices help bridge the gap
between IT ambition and actual employee experience.




Know how work gets done




Many decision makers think they know how work is done, but they haven’t
actually been in the trenches in years. Looking at the metrics to analyze
process efficiency isn’t enough. Purchasing officers need to understand the
employee’s daily journey. They need a good answer to the question “how is this
technology going to make my work experience better?”

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Are You Doing Your IT Due Diligence?


The words “due
diligence” may make you think of a courtroom drama on television. Surely,
that’s something only lawyers have to worry about? Not so fast. Due diligence
is something your business can be doing, too. Are you covering the basics?




Don't Leave your Business Vulnerable




Due diligence is
about taking care and being cautious in doing business. It extends to how you
manage your technology, too. You may think you’re immune to a data breach or
cyberattack, but cybercriminals can target you regardless of business size or
industry sector.




Depending on your industry, you may even have compliance or regulatory laws to follow. Some insurance providers also expect a certain level of security standards from you. The costs associated with these cyber incidents are increasing, too. Don’t leave your business vulnerable.




Are You Doing Your IT Due Diligence?



What due Diligence Involves




Technological due diligence requires attention to several areas. Generally, you’ll need to show the following:




1. Each staff Member has a Unique Login




Require complex, distinct passwords. Educated your people to protect these (e.g. not write them on stickie notes that sit on their desktop).

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Is Your Tech Partner a Team Player?


Business is about relationships. One important relationship today is
with a technology partner. This partner will consult on hardware, software,
security, and other IT concerns. You can focus on other business priorities,
but is your tech partner actually a good team player?




What type of Partner do you want for your team?




There are a lot of businesses that call themselves technology partners.
The term can be broadly defined.




Technology vendors who sell specific hardware or software solutions
will promise a partnership, but they will focus on a relationship that benefits
their business goals.




For instance, they will generally try to steer you toward buying the
products that they themselves make. Vendors will also bill your business for
support when you need it. Yet that creates a conflict of interest: they profit
from your inconvenience. That’s not the type of partner you want on your team.




A True Partnership with your MSP




Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are another type of technology
partner. They look to add value to the team.

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How to Get Your Devices to Play Nicely Together: Home Networking Help


Why can’t we all just get along? You’ve probably thought that before. But the sentiment is also one that goes through our heads when we’re trying to set up home networking. When cables and passwords abound, we can’t help but wish it was easier to get all our devices to play nicely together. Here’s help.




Desktop computers. Laptops. Tablets. Network printers. Routers. Modems. Smartphones. Smart speakers. Media players. Gaming systems. Homes today have many, if not all of these. Each has all sorts of features, and they’d be even more useful if they connected to one another. If only it wasn’t so challenging to get all our devices to relay information between each other reliably.




Get the assistance you need to connect all your devices.



Home
networking can bring so many benefits. You might enjoy:




Yep, all that
sounds pretty great, but we’re right back where we started. How do we get our
devices to do all that? 




What Your Home Network Needs




First, take a
moment to imagine connecting all the computers and smart devices in your home
via cables. Ack! As if you want more cables snaking around your home! You don’t
want to feel as if you’re rooming with Medusa.

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LetMeIn101: How the Bad Guys Get Your Password


Passwords are essential to your cybersafety. You know it, but if you’re like the rest of the digital society, you probably have dozens of them to remember. It’s a lot. So, you might take shortcuts. Taking advantage of your laissez-faire attitude is one way bad guys access your passwords.




Take Care to Create Strong Passwords




Incredibly, there are still people out there using “password” or “123456” in their access credentials. Some people don’t change the default passwords on their devices. So, anyone can pick up a router, look at the sticker identifying the password, and access that network.




Take care to create strong passwords



Tip: Avoid the obvious! When you have to create a password, make an effort. When it’s time to update a password, do so. Steer clear of simple, easily guessed patterns.




Cybercriminals can also guess your password. With a little bit of research about you online, they can make some informed guesses. Common variations include pet names, birthdays, and anniversaries. These are all easy to find via your social media accounts.




Tip: Be careful what you share on social media! Don’t befriend strangers, as you are giving them access to a goldmine of info for personalizing an attack on you.

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“So Slow!” Is it your Computer or your Internet Connection?


“Why is this
computer running so slow?” It’s a common complaint. The question is whether
it’s your computer or your internet connection.




You may feel your computer is moving at a snail’s pace, but it used to be cheetah-fast! You’re going to want to identify and address the issue to get back up to speed. Yet it’s hard to know whether to blame your computer or the internet connection, especially now that so many computer applications rely on internet connectivity.




Why is your laptop so slow?



Is Your Computer the Problem?




So, how do you determine whether it’s your computer or connectivity that’s the problem? If you are having the problem only on one device in a network, you can guess it’s the computer, not the connectivity. Otherwise, think about when you are having slow woes.




If you notice
programs are taking longer to load up, your computer may not be up to the task.
Running large applications such as Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Office, or some
accounting packages can cause slowdowns. The hardware may be overwhelmed. You
may not have enough available storage space. Sometimes your computer’s parts
are simply too old and not fast enough.




Even a new
computer could be the problem if it’s an inexpensive one. Or perhaps you didn’t
get enough random access memory (RAM). Your computer needs RAM to run
applications or games; it’s the short-term memory of the computer. This is
where the computer loads all the things it thinks it might need soon so that it
can process them quickly. Without enough available RAM, the computer has to
work harder (and slower) to get the results you want.

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7 Things You Need to Know About Ransomware


Ransomware is a well-named type of cyberattack. Cybercriminals taking this approach kidnap your data. After accessing your network, they encrypt files and demand payment for the passcode. Here are the top seven things you need to know about this business threat.




Ransomware is a well-named type of cyberattack where cybercriminals kidnap your data.



#1 It Can Happen to You




Cybercriminals rely on your false confidence. Don’t think “it won’t
happen to me.” Attacks on government, education, healthcare, or financial
institutions get publicity. Yet organizations of all types and sizes are
targeted.




#2 Ransomware Spreads Fast




Ransomware is malware, malicious software that can reach throughout a
network. So, if Jane from accounting opens a ransomware file, every single
computer on your business network could be infected. The virus can spread
between businesses, too. Consider the debilitating WannaCry ransomware attack
of 2017. Within four days of its first detection in Europe, the strain had
spread to 116 countries.




#3 Ransomware Targets People




A common method to send out phishing emails in the hope of having
people enter their access credentials. Targeted business communication emails
work, too. The attacker gets to know your business first. Then they send an
email impersonating a colleague, supplier, or customer asking you to take
action or update contact details by clicking on the link or downloading a file.




#4 Ransomware is Costly




Once the ransomware is installed on your system, it locks down your
files. To regain access to the files, you need the password or decryption key
the attacker supplies when you pay up; that’s if they keep their end of the
bargain once you pay the ransom. These are crooks you’re dealing with after
all!

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Do You Copy? What Can Go Wrong with BCC


Try to find
someone who has not “replied all” when meaning to send to only one individual.
It’s embarrassing and can aggravate those people with more emails flooding
their box. Another common email gaffe is misusing the CC and BCC fields in
outgoing messages. This mistake can prove costly for business.




Do you use reply all?



You’ll have
noticed those extra fields below the “To” field in your email client. CC stands
for carbon copy, and BCC for blind carbon copy.




When you use
CC, it’s like you’ve imprinted your message on an old blue sheet of carbon
paper. The email copy sends to your To recipients as well as anyone you have
CC’d. All recipients can see who else you sent your message to. This is a great
way to encourage collaboration and accountability.




When you use
BCC, your To recipient and anyone else you BCC’d gets the email, but you're not
showing where you sent the message. This is for when you’re addressing a large
group of contacts that may not know each other, or when you are sending a group
message but you want to respect the privacy of all your recipients.




The Blind Carbon Copy Nightmare




A big problem
is using To or CC when meaning to use BCC. You inadvertently expose all your
contacts’ email addresses. Personal contact information needs protection, and
people’s privacy demands respect. You don’t want to make this mistake with a
single or a few emails, or worse still hundreds or thousands of emails.

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Don’t Let Crooks Hijack Your Domain


Doing business
today you are as likely to give out your website address as your email or phone
number. Your Web domain is your business identity on the internet. Don’t risk
falling victim to the cyberthreat known as domain hijacking.




You build up a
business site to represent your brand online. Every bit of content, and all the
fonts and images you selected, reflect your business. You probably also have
email addresses at the domain name (e.g. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). So,
imagine the pain of finding out that someone else has stolen your domain.




When your
domain gets hijacked, you lose control of your website, its email addresses,
and all associated accounts. And it’s not easy to recover them.




Don't forget to renew your domain



The Infosec Institute shares examples:




An advertising
agency spent US$15,000 and 19 months recovering its stolen domain.




The owner of
ShadeDaddy.com lost US$50,000 and had to lay off six of its eight employees. He
said domain name theft is "like your house got stolen.”

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Your Equipment Fails – What’s Next?


You invest heavily in information
technology. You depend on your equipment to support your business. Then, the
equipment fails. It’s inevitable. Only cockroaches survive forever. You’re left
scrambling to find a replacement solution for essential tech. It’s a tough
place to be, but it can also be an opportunity.




You depend on your equipment to support your business. Then, the equipment fails.



When you hear the news that a piece of equipment has failed, the
headache starts soon after. It can mean costly downtime. You’re going to need
to budget for a replacement. You have to spend time and effort determining the
next, best solution. Users, and potentially customers, get frustrated, too.




If the equipment that’s conked out is a hard drive or server, don’t
even reach for that headache remedy. Stop everything, and call for expert help.
Anything you do can result in more data loss. This includes the age-old IT
self-help remedy of turning it off and on again!




When anything carrying data fails, the next question is whether you
have a recent backup. Can you restore data from that backup? We recommend you
have as many as three data backups for safekeeping, with at least one of them
kept off-site.




OK, it’s dead. Now what?




After the initial panic, once you’ve determined that technology is
kaput, take some time to reassess.

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Are You Banking Online Safely?


Banks and
credit card companies are making it easier for us to get money on the go. We
can check account balances, pay bills, and transfer funds online. We no longer
even have to go into a bank or visit an ATM to deposit checks. But are you
banking online safely?




Are you banking online safely?



PIN Numbers




In the past,
all we had to do was protect our PIN number (and remember it). Now, we need a
mobile account password, too. The first precaution you can take is to have a strong,
unique password. Can you believe that “password,” “123456,” and “letmein”
remain common access credentials? Don’t do it! Also, avoid using things that a
cybercriminal might guess or be able to learn from your social media. This
eliminates anniversaries and birth dates, pets, and children’s names.




Don’t reuse
your banking password anywhere else. Sure, if you duplicate the password, it’s
easier for you to remember, but, a bad actor could access your credentials for
another site. Then, they have that same email and password combo to use to try
on your banking or credit card site, too.




It’s also not
a good idea to write down your passwords or keep track of them on a note in
your phone. If you’re worried about remembering all your passwords, consider a
password manager. A high-quality password manager can be a safe way to keep
your passwords secret yet available. Top password managers use secure
encryption for your access credentials.




Use only Secured Devices




Make sure
you’re only banking using your own, secured devices. This means don't check
your balance or whether a payment cleared while in line at the coffee shop or
in the airport. Don’t risk banking using a public Wi-Fi network that a hacker
could be accessing to steal sensitive data. You also want to avoid using shared
computers to login to your financial data. A cybercafe or library computer
could have a keylogger that tracks your login details for criminal use.

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What Is a VPN and Why Do I Need One?


Ever seen a thriller in which someone asks, “is this a secure line?” The good guys or villains want to be sure their conversations can’t be overheard. When you get a VPN to connect to the Internet, you’re signing up for the online equivalent of a secure line.




VPN stands for
virtual private network. Put simply, a VPN connects your computer, smartphone,
or tablet to a shared or public network as if you're
connecting to a private network. Banks, governments, and companies use VPNs to
connect to their networks remotely. Now, it’s becoming more common for the
general public to use VPNs. After all, we’re doing online shopping or banking
and exchanging sensitive data. We don’t want others to be able to access or
track what we do online.




A VPN is an
encrypted connection to the internet. It’s your own secure and private internet
connection that you can take with you outside of your home.




VPN stands for virtual private network.



Benefits of a VPN




There are many
advantages to having a VPN. For instance, your VPN also encrypts your online
activity. Every internet user has a unique IP address assigned by their
internet provider. It’s sort of the technological equivalent of your
fingerprint.




When you
connect to the internet using a VPN, your IP address is masked. The address
used is that of your VPN provider. So, you look like them rather than your home
connection. You might think of the VPN as wearing gloves that prevent you from
leaving fingerprints when you move around online.

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Loving your External Hard Drive


External hard drives free up storage, offer portability, and provide a lifeline in case of a computer disaster. It pays to take good care of these compact, convenient devices.




Take care of your external hard drive device.



Here are some
helpful strategies.




1. Don’t knock the drive.




Depending on
the type of drive you have, impact could damage it. The hard drive’s mechanical
drives work a little like a record player. Envision a spinning platter and a
needle reading it. Note, you don’t have to worry about this with a Solid State
Drive (SSD) as there are no moving parts.




2. Don’t pull.




You can damage
the drive port with a hard or sideways yank on its USB plug. Remove the device
cable with a gentle pull. It’s best to unplug the drive cable when it’s not in
use. Then, when you are reconnecting the external drive, inspect the connector
before plugging the cable back in. Look for any damage, debris, or corrosion to
help maximize the device’s lifespan. 




3. Don’t skip steps.




You may be in a hurry, but always take the time to remove the hard drive from your desktop before physically unplugging it. On Windows, you’ll usually right-click on the drive and press Eject. For Macs, you can drag the drive icon to the recycle bin (which changes to an eject button).  Never unplug the drive while moving data to or from the hard drive unless you want to risk data corruption.

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What Happens to Your Data When You Die?


Death is a morbid topic most of us try to avoid. Making a will and
saying we prefer cremation is the extent of our advance planning. Yet, you may
want to also think about what’s going to happen to your data.




Consider your digital footprint. You have photos, files, emails and data on your computer and your phone. You’re also documenting your life on social media, and sharing on more than one channel.




What will happen to your data when you die?



Your wearable technology (say an Apple Watch or a Fitbit) may be
recording information too. If you have a virtual assistant in your home, it’s
recording your search history and saving that data on the cloud.




Yet many of us never think “what will happen to my data after I die?”
Do you want it deleted? Are there digital assets you want to share? Perhaps
there is tangible value attached to some of your digital assets. At the very
least, some photos and videos that may have sentimental value for those who
survive you. So, let’s explore advance planning you can do to protect your
digital legacy.




Personal Files on
Computer or Phone




Your personal devices are password protected. While necessary, this
makes it more difficult for your survivors. 

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Are You Sick of Ongoing IT Issues?


Like a persistent cough or muscle strain that won’t go away, many IT
issues prove ongoing. Every time they come back you think about getting an
expert’s opinion. Then, the cough fades, you can walk freely again, or your
computers are back up and running. You keep on going. Until the next time. If
you’re sick of ongoing issues with your IT, look to a Managed Service Provider
(MSP) for help.




There are many IT ailments that can negatively impact your ability to
do work. Let’s consider some of the particularly common ones, and why an MSP is
the right prescription.




Get the help you need with a Managed Service Provider



#1 Network and
Internet issues.




Business is done online these days. Not being able to connect to the
network and slow connections are frustrating. Without the Internet, how can you
do your job? You can’t even check and send emails! Let alone access team
documents or enter data into cloud-based accounting software. A lagging network
also slows down application and data loading time. It may only be a few moments
of thumb twiddling. But add that up over several times a day and multiple by
employees. You’re looking at a decrease in productivity that adds up.




An MSP has the know-how to survey the IT environment for what's causing
these frustrations. When there’s a problem, they’re at the ready to resolve it
and help improve reliability.




#2 Repeated malware
infections.




This can mean a couple of things. First, you don’t have effective system and application protections in place. These attacks shouldn’t be able to make it through the door in the first place. With the right firewalls, anti-spam, and protections, you should be able to keep your system on lockdown. You don’t have to do this yourself. Your internal IT team has a lot to manage and monitor. Gain expert backup with an MSP reviewing your security protocols to keep the bad guys at bay.

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Avoiding Growing Pains — Tech Tips for a Thriving Business


Maybe you started your business in a basement or home office. It was just you at the beginning. Then, your service or product gained traction. The number of staff grew, and you moved into an office. It’s amazing how far you’ve come. Better still, your business continues to grow. It may be time to consider some of these tech tips to help your thriving business.




Is your business outgrowing its tech?



#1 Upgrade to
Business-Grade Cloud Services




Perhaps you’ve been relying on free software from Gmail, Outlook, or
Dropbox. Who can argue with free email, calendars, collaboration and file
storage right? Well, it may be time to upgrade to the business versions of the
software your team relies upon.




Move from Gmail to Google Apps, or Outlook to Office 365, or Dropbox to
Dropbox Business. For a small monthly fee, you gain business-grade features.




The basic Google Apps offers business email, video and voice
conferencing, secure team messaging, shared calendars, 30GB cloud storage and
document, spreadsheet and presentation creation. Plus, you gain greater
security and administration controls. Right now, a disgruntled employee could
refuse to give up control of a business account.




You’d be out of luck. With Google Apps, your business would control all
accounts and could simply reset the password.

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Immediate Business Answers with Instant Messenger


You may have hated group projects in school, but collaboration is a
lifeblood of business. Yet members of a team may not work in the same
workspace. Even those who do, don’t want to spend their day crisscrossing the
office to get quick questions answered. While they could send an email or pick
up the phone, instant messaging is an even more efficient solution.




Instant Messaging



Don’t confuse this solution with the old AOL or MSN Instant messenger. Instant messaging (IM) for business takes group communication and collaboration up a notch. 




Instant Communication




First, IM is truly instant communication, faster even than email. When
you type in your comment and hit Enter, your message appears on the screen
instantly. You can see it, and everyone else in the chat can see it. While
email is fast, it's not instant. You must wait for the email to arrive and hope
the recipient has their inbox up and will answer right away. 




Calling on the phone could be as instantaneous, but often you’re going
to get voicemail. Don’t even try to get several people on the phone at the same
time without prescheduling a time! With IM, employees can chat in real time as
if they were on the phone with someone or on a conference call. An added bonus?




They can use IM while on the phone too. So, a sales team could have IM
up to relay information, while on the call, to make the best impression with
the client.

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Why is My Brand New Laptop So Slow?


Your old computer is beginning to slow down. So, you invest in a shiny new laptop. The clouds part and the sun shines down on this bright and lovely new device. Everything will be faster and easier. Only, from the first day, the new laptop is lagging. Why is it running so slow? One of these might be the reason.




Is your new laptop running slow?



#1 Not enough computing power. 




In many cases,
the laptop doesn’t have enough RAM (Random Access Memory). RAM is the
computer’s main memory. This helps your computer do more at once. Information
from the operating system, application programs and data are kept here, when in
use, for quicker processing. 




RAM is like
the computer’s short-term memory, while the hard drive is the long-term memory.
Just as the human brain can’t hold everything in short-term memory, RAM can get
overloaded too. When this happens on your laptop, the computer processor needs
to go to the hard drive. This slows things down.




Resolution: You might see 4GB,
8GB, 16GB or more of RAM available. How much you need is going to depend on
what you plan on doing with the computer. For a laptop with Windows 10, we
recommend at least 8GB of RAM, but 16GB is more comfortable for a better
experience.




Not all
laptops will let you access the RAM. When you can, though, upgrading memory can
be quick and affordable.

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Do Macs Get Viruses?


Many Apple
owners believe their Macintosh computers are immune to viruses. Apple itself
has run ad campaigns promising its computers “don’t get viruses”. And those who
have owned a Mac for years, decades even, are particularly prone to believing.
After all, nothing’s happened to them yet. Regrettably, Macs do get viruses,
and the threat is growing.




For a long time, the argument was that cybercriminals didn’t bother to develop Mac viruses. There weren’t enough users to justify the effort. Instead, they’d focus on the lower hanging fruit – PCs running Windows.




Yet Apple’s
market share is on the rise, and it’s increasingly common to see Macs in the
workplace, especially in creative industries. Plus, there’s a widespread
assumption that Mac users are a smart target as they are likely to be better
off. So, while Macs remain harder to infect (installing most software requires
a password), there’s often a greater payoff.




The research reflects reality. In 2017, for instance, the iPhone OS and Mac OS X placed #3 and #6 in CVE Details’ top 50 ranked by total number of distinct vulnerabilities. Apple TV and Safari also made the list at #17 and #18, respectively. In 2017, Malwarebytes also reported it “saw more Mac malware in 2017 than in any previous year”. By the end of 2017, the cybersecurity firm had counted 270% more unique threats on the Mac platform than in 2016.







Finding
Apple’s Weak Spots




It’s obvious
then that bad actors are no longer steering clear. They are actively looking
for ways to exploit Macs.

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Handle with Care: Sending Data Securely


In our digital
economy, we send and receive information quickly online. The Internet offers
immediate communication with colleagues, clients, vendors, and other strategic
partners. Yet we shouldn't prioritize convenience over data security.




What data do you send in a day’s worth of emails?




Sensitive data you send might include:




  • personally
    identifiable information (PII);
  • credit card or
    payment card information;
  • attorney–client
    privileged information;
  • IT security
    information;
  • protected
    health information;
  • human subject
    research;
  • loan or job
    application data;
  • proprietary
    business knowledge.



The problem is people sending without thinking about the security of the transmission. One way to gauge the need for security is to consider how you might send that same information via the postal service. Would you put that data on a postcard that anyone could read? Or would you send a sealed, certified mailing and require the recipient's signature?







Think about how sensitive the data is you are sending




Transmitting
data on the Internet in plain text is like the postcard – anyone can read the
information. And before you think that no one can actually see your data in
transit, think about where you are sending from. Your office network may be
password protected and secure, but what if someone waiting for their coffee at
Starbucks opens the message using the free Wi-Fi network?




Anyone can
intercept communications on open networks with the right tools. This type of
cyberattack is common enough to merit its own name: a “man-in-the-middle”
attack.

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