Author Topic: Bitcoins: The Future of Currency?  (Read 3941 times)

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Offline Mylo

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Bitcoins: The Future of Currency?
« on: April 08, 2013, 12:14:28 pm »
What do you think of the Bitcoin phenomenon?  Do you think this will be the next big thing in currency?  Or, is it just another scam or a bubble?

Read about Bitcoins here: http://bitcoin.org/en/


Offline Purrrl

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Re: Bitcoins: The Future of Currency?
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2013, 01:00:02 pm »
For the majority of applications, I highly suspect Bitcoins will be a bubble, as it's not exactly convenient for most things - waiting on transactions is a pain, and adoption won't be all that quick

However, it will always have applications amongst those who are very interested in their privacy  as it is impossible to trace to a recipient (Well, you can see if the same person is receiving funds, but you cannot trace a wallet address to it's owner)

Bitcoins are likely always carry a fairly high price due to the anonymity factor and their having a hard limit on the amount produced, which will be less than the demand for them (Economics 101, here we come!)

Offline Chiscringle

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Re: Bitcoins: The Future of Currency?
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2013, 01:21:19 pm »
I'm not sure about BitCoin, but I do think that as time goes on that more and more corporations will be issuing their own fiat currency online (going further than gift cards).  It's not really all that hard these days and it can lead to interesting new ways of selling products.
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Offline redyoshi49q

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Re: Bitcoins: The Future of Currency?
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2013, 06:15:45 pm »
Yay, Bitcoins!  Bitcoins are a technology that I've been keeping an eye on.  I downloaded a wallet application and a Bitcoin miner about a week or so ago, but haven't used either to any extent yet aside from experimentation.  Apparently, my laptop's GPU is powerful enough to mine approximately $0.03 USD per day worth of Bitcoins.  This figure doesn't include Bitcoins earned through transaction fees, but I don't have any way to estimate that amount other than spending a few days mining Bitcoins, and that would require disabling my FaH client to free up my GPU.

However, it will always have applications amongst those who are very interested in their privacy  as it is impossible to trace to a recipient (Well, you can see if the same person is receiving funds, but you cannot trace a wallet address to it's owner)

There are some aspects of Bitcoin that make it difficult to derive the identity of a Bitcoin holder (for example, if you use a different wallet any time you receive funds), but it's worth noting that tracking people through Bitcoin isn't necessarily impossible.  This is due to the interplay of a number of factors:
  • Though Bitcoins aren't inherently associated with real life identities, they are associated with wallets that have a (random looking) unique identifier.
  • Some people do publish the address of one of their wallets so that their Internet fans can send money to that address.  For example, Randall Munroe, the author of XKCD, has done exactly this; his Bitcoin address is BTC 14FHqYSgAi39CEJksUJJsK8JzJzyqFpLVk.
  • The history of transactions between wallets is public (this effectively ensures that a single Bitcoin cannot successfully be spent twice).  Consequently, it's possible to view transactions that come from a given Bitcoin wallet.  For example, this is the history of Randall's public Bitcoin wallet.
  • By viewing data such as this on a massive scale (possibly alongside data obtainable elsewhere) and searching for patterns, it is possible to derive data that wouldn't have otherwise been apparent.  As a cursory example, if multiple wallets are used for the same payment, it is likely that all of those wallets belonged to the same person, which in turn links the purchases that were made with those wallets as all belonging to the same person.  If the spender's identity can be identified for any of those transactions through outside information, their identity is effectively compromised for all wallets they've used for the transaction in question.  This is a technique that is called frequency analysis, and the principles of its effective application have matured from the historic utility of that technique.

There are ways as a privacy oriented consumer to inhibit this possibility.  It's worth mentioning, though, that although Bitcoin doesn't actively destroy one's privacy, it doesn't actively protect it, either.


Bitcoins are likely always carry a fairly high price due to the anonymity factor and their having a hard limit on the amount produced, which will be less than the demand for them (Economics 101, here we come!)

Here we come indeed!

Since Bitcoin is a currency rather than a good, its supply and demand work a little differently than they would for a good.  From an extremely simplistic macroscopic perspective of a closed economy with a single currency, the following assertion can be made by viewing all of the purchases within a country under a number of different paradigms:

<gross domestic product> =
<volume of goods/services sold> * >price of those goods/services> =
<wage of an average laborer> * <number of citizens participating in the workforce> =
<quantity of currency or currency equivalent in economy (a.k.a "money supply")> * <average frequency a unit of that currency is spent (a.k.a. "velocity of money")>

When considering only the existence and use of a single currency, the "value" of a given unit of that currency is... well... moot.  If a single Bitcoin was considered to be more valuable than a typical month's wage, most trading would occur with fractions of a Bitcoin; however, if a single Bitcoin wasn't considered valuable enough to buy a small piece of candy, most trading would occur with large quantities of Bitcoins.  Similarly, in the long term, the volume of currency available to the economy doesn't affect the volume of produced goods or the supply of labor; these values are (again, in the long term) fixed by a number of factors unrelated to the money supply itself (such factors include technology, labor culture, and age distribution).  The fact that Bitcoins are highly divisible (and that the protocol can be modified to make them more divisible if necessary) means that (from a theoretical perspective) the same finite supply can suffice for any arbitrary large economy; products will simply be sold for less Bitcoin as more products are sold.

Things get a little more complex when you consider the economic consequences of the existence of additional currencies and/or of multiple national economies.  This, especially the part about multiple currencies, is a subtopic of economics I'm less fluent in, and I lack the time to try and contemplate this.  I leave this as an exercise for anybody else who would like to expand on my Macroeconomics 101 lesson.
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Offline Foxpup

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Re: Bitcoins: The Future of Currency?
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2013, 06:24:39 pm »
It is the next big thing in currency. I don't understand how anyone can consider it a scam. That doesn't even make sense. Bubble? Possibly, but I seriously doubt it. Adoption is increasing rapidly, and given everything that's happening in Europe, that's to be expected.

waiting on transactions is a pain
I don't know where you live where an electronic funds transfer is credited to your account in seconds and is cleared in 10 minutes, but I want to move there.

I'm not sure about BitCoin, but I do think that as time goes on that more and more corporations will be issuing their own fiat currency online (going further than gift cards).
Bitcoin is neither a corporation nor a fiat currency, and anyone who tries to treat is one or the other invariably comes to downright bizarre conclusions.

Amazon tried to cash in on Bitcoin's success with Amazon Coins, which in no way resemble bitcoins (for one thing, they're not even their own currency: 1 Amazon Coin = 1 UD cent), and are basically just gift cards. Except you can't give Amazon Coins to other people. It's a gift card you can't give to people. The whole thing was a complete failure as nobody could figure out what the point of it was.
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Offline redyoshi49q

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Re: Bitcoins: The Future of Currency?
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2013, 06:34:04 pm »
I'm not sure about BitCoin, but I do think that as time goes on that more and more corporations will be issuing their own fiat currency online (going further than gift cards).
Bitcoin is neither a corporation nor a fiat currency, and anyone who tries to treat is one or the other invariably comes to downright bizarre conclusions.

Bitcoin fits within at least one definition of "fiat currency" and stands outside at least one other.

From Wikipedia:

Quote
The term fiat money has been defined variously as:
  • any money declared by a government to be legal tender.
  • state-issued money which is neither convertible by law to any other thing, nor fixed in value in terms of any objective standard.
  • money without intrinsic value.

Bitcoin is not declared by any government (yet) to be legal tender.  However, a Bitcoin has no intrinsic value (I can use gold to make a piece of jewelry, but I have no direct use of a Bitcoin).  I think Chiscringle intended the third definition I listed above.
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Offline Foxpup

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Re: Bitcoins: The Future of Currency?
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2013, 06:49:36 pm »
Bitcoin is not declared by any government (yet) to be legal tender.  However, a Bitcoin has no intrinsic value (I can use gold to make a piece of jewelry, but I have no direct use of a Bitcoin).
Maybe you don't have a direct use of an international payment network that allows you to instantly and securely send any amount of money anywhere in the world at any time, any day of the week, for only a few cents in transaction fees. But I do. There's your intrinsic value.
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Offline Mylo

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Re: Bitcoins: The Future of Currency?
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2013, 07:10:34 pm »
I am very glad that people are experimenting with this, as experimentation is the only way that we can improve things.  Who knows what the future will hold for this type of currency?  But the thing is, if it fails, then we learn from it and try to improve, or just realize that plain old centralized money is the way to go.  If it sticks out, then we may be looking at a paradigm shift in currency.  That's what is exciting about this!  Of course, the Bitcoin market is worth about a billion dollars, and seeing that value drop, I don't think a lot of people would be very happy...  But, it's one of those risks that you buy into, you know?  Sometimes it burns...sometimes, it pays off.  But right now, the Bitcoin market is too volatile to look at with any accuracy.  It's value is entirely based on speculation, and very unpredictable speculation at that.  I mean, look at the chart.



10 times increase in value in about 3 months?  That seems a little...much.  

But to conclude, I like the concept, and I like the fact that people are actually trying it rather than theorizing.  

Offline Foxpup

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Re: Bitcoins: The Future of Currency?
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2013, 07:49:19 pm »
Of course, the Bitcoin market is worth about a billion dollars, and seeing that value drop, I don't think a lot of people would be very happy...  But, it's one of those risks that you buy into, you know?  Sometimes it burns...sometimes, it pays off.  But right now, the Bitcoin market is too volatile to look at with any accuracy.
Actually, it's worth 2 billion dollars. Still, 2 billion dollars is just a rounding error in the global economy. The extreme volatility is fairly typical for such a small market.

It's value is entirely based on speculation, and very unpredictable speculation at that.
No, it's not. Well, price discovery is based entirely on speculation, but that's true of most assets. The value (and thus the reason for all the speculation) is in its usefulness as a global payment system. As a global payment payment system, Bitcoin puts all its competitors (SWIFT, ACH, SEPA, BECS, etc) to shame. That's worth a lot more than 2 billion dollars if you ask me.

I mean, look at the chart.
You want us to look at a chart of a growth process on a linear scale? Seriously? Look at it on a logarithmic scale:



See? Not so crazy.

10 times increase in value in about 3 months?  That seems a little...much.  
It's a lot, but not completely unheard of for a small, emerging market. In such a small market, all it takes is a few million dollars of new capital (which is small change for most institutional investors) to send the price skyrocketing.
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Offline Alsek

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Re: Bitcoins: The Future of Currency?
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2013, 08:04:04 pm »
neat concept,  but honestly,  currency needs to be backed by something that is stable in real world worth.  Otherwise,  it's worth is based entire on people's trust in it.

Offline Aloneness

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Re: Bitcoins: The Future of Currency?
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2013, 08:27:51 pm »
Apparently, my laptop's GPU is powerful enough to mine approximately $0.03 USD per day worth of Bitcoins.
Hmm I wonder what my Beowulf cluster could do... time to make the police think I'm doing something I'm not suppose to be doing with a 7500Watt spike in my power bill by turning my beowulf cluster on full blast. *evil laugh* IT'S ALIVE~! *presses power button*
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Offline Ziel

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Re: Bitcoins: The Future of Currency?
« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2013, 08:55:14 pm »
Apparently, my laptop's GPU is powerful enough to mine approximately $0.03 USD per day worth of Bitcoins.
Hmm I wonder what my Beowulf cluster could do... time to make the police think I'm doing something I'm not suppose to be doing with a 7500Watt spike in my power bill by turning my beowulf cluster on full blast. *evil laugh* IT'S ALIVE~! *presses power button*

This highlights one of the questions I had about the mining quite well...
Is the extra energy put in actually worth the 3 cents/day (equivalent) you'd be making?

Overall I'm quite intrigued by the concept, though I don't think I'll be giving it a shot any time soon. It's a bit of a 'chicken before the egg' issue to me. For it to feel worth using, there needs to be a reason for me to use it (enough things I'd be buying anyhow with actual money, where Bitcoins are an accepted alternative). But for the places I'm usually spending money, they would probably need to see a high rate of use of the currency before they would bother to think about accepting it.

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Offline redyoshi49q

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Re: Bitcoins: The Future of Currency?
« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2013, 01:44:42 am »
Maybe you don't have a direct use of an international payment network that allows you to instantly and securely send any amount of money anywhere in the world at any time, any day of the week, for only a few cents in transaction fees. But I do. There's your intrinsic value.

...It seems that there's once again confusion stemming from the multiple definitions of terms, this time stemming from the use of "intrinsic value".  I think you're thinking of the first definition listed here (and Bitcoin most certainly falls under that definition), whereas I'm thinking of something that's more in line with the second definition listed on the same page, and to the lesser extent the definitions listed here and here (in essence, "valuable for its own sake").

I don't question that Bitcoin has value for the reasons you listed.  Having said that, it has value for those reasons *only* if there are people to send Bitcoins to who also recognize Bitcoins as currency.  A commodity currency (of which gold is one of the most well known) is itself valuable even if people were to stop accepting it as payment, and therefore is always at least as valuable as its own utility as a good (even if you couldn't buy with it or use it, you could still successfully barter it if you had to).  Bitcoin could gain value through acceptance (and in fact has many qualities that would promote that), but will never have value inherent to itself.

...Isn't lingual ambiguity fun?


neat concept,  but honestly,  currency needs to be backed by something that is stable in real world worth.  Otherwise,  it's worth is based entire on people's trust in it.

It used to be the case that the US dollar was backed by gold (you could exchange USD for gold at a fixed rate).  That is no longer the case.  The worth of money in use today *is* based on people's trust in it, in essence.  Bitcoin isn't actually different from what's done now in that respect.
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Offline Alsek

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Re: Bitcoins: The Future of Currency?
« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2013, 02:11:55 am »
It used to be the case that the US dollar was backed by gold (you could exchange USD for gold at a fixed rate).  That is no longer the case.  The worth of money in use today *is* based on people's trust in it, in essence.  Bitcoin isn't actually different from what's done now in that respect.

Yes i'm well aware.  That was the point. :)

It's not a solution to that problem.  It is still at high risk for hyperinflation if too many people lose their trust too quickly.  It doesn't help that inflation is built into the system with, "mining."

Offline Foxpup

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Re: Bitcoins: The Future of Currency?
« Reply #14 on: April 09, 2013, 02:55:18 am »
I don't question that Bitcoin has value for the reasons you listed.  Having said that, it has value for those reasons *only* if there are people to send Bitcoins to who also recognize Bitcoins as currency.
So? Telephones only have value if there are other people who also have telephones. Pretty worthless, right?

A commodity currency (of which gold is one of the most well known) is itself valuable even if people were to stop accepting it as payment, and therefore is always at least as valuable as its own utility as a good (even if you couldn't buy with it or use it, you could still successfully barter it if you had to).
Sorry, but as a base metal, gold is pretty useless. It's soft, weak, doesn't make useful alloys, and is a worse conductor of electricity than copper. It's only used in a few industries, and then only in minute quantities. Virtually all of its value comes from its usefulness as money: it's scarce, fungible, divisible, and difficult to counterfeit. Just as gold's properties make it useful as money (and not much else), Bitcoin's properties also make it useful as money (and not much else).

Bitcoin could gain value through acceptance (and in fact has many qualities that would promote that), but will never have value inherent to itself.
It's usefulness as money is value inherent to itself. Usefulness as money is not merely an abstract property with no real significance: using a non-ideal money incurs real costs in the form of transaction fees, storage fees, etc. A better money reduces those costs, and therefore has real value to anyone using it.

It used to be the case that the US dollar was backed by gold (you could exchange USD for gold at a fixed rate).  That is no longer the case.  The worth of money in use today *is* based on people's trust in it, in essence.  Bitcoin isn't actually different from what's done now in that respect.
Yes, it is. It's very different. Bitcoins are being produced at a known and limited rate, and there will never be more than 21 million of them, and nothing can ever change that. Dollars, on the other hand, are being printed as fast as Ben Bernanke wants, with no limits, and nobody knows whether this rate will increase or decrease over time.
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Offline Aloneness

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Re: Bitcoins: The Future of Currency?
« Reply #15 on: April 09, 2013, 08:38:59 pm »

A commodity currency (of which gold is one of the most well known) is itself valuable even if people were to stop accepting it as payment, and therefore is always at least as valuable as its own utility as a good (even if you couldn't buy with it or use it, you could still successfully barter it if you had to).
Sorry, but as a base metal, gold is pretty useless. It's soft, weak, doesn't make useful alloys, and is a worse conductor of electricity than copper. It's only used in a few industries, and then only in minute quantities. Virtually all of its value comes from its usefulness as money: it's scarce, fungible, divisible, and difficult to counterfeit. Just as gold's properties make it useful as money (and not much else), Bitcoin's properties also make it useful as money (and not much else).

Gold is used for storing wealth because it has a half-life of over a million years, it doesn't rust or corrode like most other metals, it's semi rare, and it even has a tolerance to a good number of acids aside from super concentrated HCL. It's a important player in circuitry as well which makes it plenty useful in my opinion.
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Offline Jacoby Quinn

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Re: Bitcoins: The Future of Currency?
« Reply #16 on: April 09, 2013, 10:24:52 pm »
can you even actually buy anything with bitcoins?
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Offline Mylo

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Re: Bitcoins: The Future of Currency?
« Reply #17 on: April 09, 2013, 11:33:10 pm »
can you even actually buy anything with bitcoins?

Yes on certain websites.

Offline Foxpup

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Re: Bitcoins: The Future of Currency?
« Reply #18 on: April 10, 2013, 12:22:14 am »
can you even actually buy anything with bitcoins?

Yes on certain websites.
For reference, here's an incomplete list.
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Offline Jacoby Quinn

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Re: Bitcoins: The Future of Currency?
« Reply #19 on: April 10, 2013, 01:33:40 am »
well i've officially started mining bitcoins, quick question though, how do i find the value of a single bitcoin? i have looked at some charts and stuff but i can't make sense of it.
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Offline Foxpup

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Re: Bitcoins: The Future of Currency?
« Reply #20 on: April 10, 2013, 02:44:37 am »
well i've officially started mining bitcoins, quick question though, how do i find the value of a single bitcoin? i have looked at some charts and stuff but i can't make sense of it.
It's pretty self-explanatory, and the same as any as with any other asset.

High is the highest price one bitcoin was traded for in the last 24 hours.
Low is the lowest price in the last 24 hours.
Open is the price at the start of a 24 hour period (note that bitcoin markets are open 24/7, they don't actually open and close at the start and end of each day).
Close is the price at the end of a 24 hour period.
Best bid or quote is the highest price buyers are currently willing to pay.
Best ask or offer is the lowest price sellers are currently willing to accept.

Does that answer your question? Or is there something else you're not sure about?
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Offline Jacoby Quinn

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Re: Bitcoins: The Future of Currency?
« Reply #21 on: April 10, 2013, 02:52:17 am »
soooo....one bitcoin is worth at least $193 USD currently? wow
http://bitcoinprices.com/

how do i mine them anyway?
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Offline Foxpup

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Re: Bitcoins: The Future of Currency?
« Reply #22 on: April 10, 2013, 03:17:57 am »
soooo....one bitcoin is worth at least $193 USD currently? wow
http://bitcoinprices.com/

how do i mine them anyway?
Step 1: Get a bitcoin wallet.
Step 2: Get mining software.
Step 3: Sign up for a mining pool.
Step 4: Run mining software.
Step 5: Profit!
Step 6: Subtract the cost of your increased electricity consumption from your profit.
Step 7: Give up after realising the figure you arrived at in step 6 is negative.

Mining is a business, and a highly competitive one at that. Only the most efficient miners using specialised hardware can actually hope to make a profit. An ordinary PC just doesn't cut it for Bitcoin mining these days.
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Offline Jacoby Quinn

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Re: Bitcoins: The Future of Currency?
« Reply #23 on: April 10, 2013, 03:25:32 am »
75% of my houses power is generated in my backyard via a river and solar, otherwise i wouldn't be doing this.
it won't be a big deal to wire in another hydroelectric generator
« Last Edit: April 10, 2013, 03:32:31 am by whtwolf »
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Offline Foxpup

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Re: Bitcoins: The Future of Currency?
« Reply #24 on: April 10, 2013, 03:40:53 am »
75% of my houses power is generated in my backyard via a river and solar, otherwise i wouldn't be doing this.
it won't be a big deal to wire in another hydroelectric generator
In that case, go right ahead.
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