/ Lost on the Cairngorms without a map

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annieman - on 14 Aug 2012
I've just seen this report from the BBC.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-19252949

Why is it that people insist on relying on their Smart phones? If only they were smart then they would know.
mick.h on 14 Aug 2012
In reply to annieman:

Many years ago, I reached the cairn at the top of Braeriach in a howling gale and low cloud. I placed my map down on the aforementioned cairn, seconds before realizing what a bad idea this was, as my map soared upwards and back down into the depths of the Garbh Coire.

At the time I was an inexperienced hillwalker, but had energy and knees that those in their 20s will enjoy. I blundered down into the Coire, literally bumped into the bothy, spent a cosy night there before heading north to Aviemore for a new map and several days more fun. At this time, cellphones were the size of housebricks and GPS was the preserve of the US military.
Slugain Howff - on 14 Aug 2012
In reply to mick.h:

Nobody ever spent a cosy night in the Garbh coire refuge!!!
roypartington - on 14 Aug 2012
In reply to annieman: We all see them all the time, t-shirts jeans trainers no waterproofs no map or compass, no backpacks out for a jolly and carrying an IPhone holding them up in the air to try and get a signal.
I would never ever ever dare go out without my 1:25 O/S map not even on routes I know back to front inside out.
I always take my Satmap Active 10 which I insist on charging up the night before I go out along with carrying spare batteries just on the off chance.
I also carry a Spot Tracker when I go on my own just on the off chance I get into serious bother with no one around to help.
Overkill!! possibly, too much Technology again its a personnel thing, but the one thing I use first and foremost is the O/S map.
A smart phone - not a cat in hells chance.
Pursued by a bear - on 14 Aug 2012
In reply to annieman: Zero common sense and phones smarter than their users. Sheesh...

T.
toad - on 14 Aug 2012
In reply to roypartington:
its a personnel thing,

Absolutely. I never go high with my butler in attendance, just in case of lassitude.
Slugain Howff - on 14 Aug 2012
In reply to annieman:

In recent years reliance on electronic devices in this area has kept us busy.

S
Wonko The Sane - on 14 Aug 2012
In reply to annieman: I think you're all being a bit harsh. It shows great foresight to take a smartphone loaded up with Angry Birds along in bad weather so you have something to keep you occupied while awaiting rescue.

You're all just jealous because you didn't think of it.
Pursued by a bear - on 14 Aug 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane: If I'd done as this group did, there'd have been a particularly angry bird waiting for my return...

T.
abcdefg - on 14 Aug 2012
In reply to roypartington:

I use a map and compass but ...

> A smart phone - not a cat in hells chance.

... iPhones etc have GPS onboard so, if they're loaded with the appropriate maps, they should be as useful as any other mapping GPS - possibly more so on account of their screen size.
Wainers44 - on 14 Aug 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane: Agreed. Right game passes the time while you wait for the MRT to arrive, keeps you calm, focussed, conscious etc.

Isn't this just the new version of all the guys you used to meet with the A4 photocopy (mushy in the rain) of their mates map who don't know which way up to hold it anyway?
toad - on 14 Aug 2012
In reply to abcdefg: is part of the problem not that smartphones are quite frail? My etrex has been dropped, drowned, wallopped etc with no signs of injury. I've seen iphones bite the dust before they've left the car park. I know there are some tough cases, but even so it's a delicate flower
Slugain Howff - on 14 Aug 2012
In reply to toad:

The issue is lack of network coverage and user incompetence.
puppythedog on 14 Aug 2012
In reply to annieman: When MrsTheDog and I went for a wander in the Cairngorms as part of our Honeymoon we used Map and compass but the iPhone with a geocaching app and GPS app was nice to tell me I was right with my navigation. I was even able to check my accuracy on pinpointing my location using a couple of bearings. smartphones can be a useful addition but navigation skills can't be replaced.

Catpain Blackudder on 14 Aug 2012
In reply to toad:
> (In reply to abcdefg) is part of the problem not that smartphones are quite frail? My etrex has been dropped, drowned, wallopped etc with no signs of injury. I've seen iphones bite the dust before they've left the car park. I know there are some tough cases, but even so it's a delicate flower

I honestly don't get this whole "smartphones are delicate" thing. I've had my iPhone4 for nearly 2 years and within the first 6 months of it's life I had dropped it in the (full) bath and dropped it from 5 metres onto a solid concrete floor. My line of work leads it to be used constantly in the pouring rain, get covered in mud/sweat/corrosive chemical residue, left in a pocket containing leatherman/keys, kept in cargo pocket of trousers/shorts and consequently knelt on etc.

The 5m drop produced a 2mm chip off the edge of the glass (not a crack) and there are a f minor scratches on the back/screen that aren't visible when the screen is on. Apart from that it's never skipped a beat. I didn't even turn it off after it's bath, wiped it with a towel and got on with life.

I also use it for navigation in the hills. Memory maps loaded means cell signal isn't needed and it's fa easier to pull it out my pocket where it is anyway and have a quick look at the map than to carry an OS map to hand. Of course I have a map/compass in my bag but I don't think I've used them at all this year, including a few 2-3 day trips.
George Ormerod - on 14 Aug 2012
In reply to Slugain Howff:
> (In reply to mick.h)
>
> Nobody ever spent a cosy night in the Garbh coire refuge!!!

I once spent a night in there with 6 other people and I can say it certainly was cosy. That's about all you could say for it mind.

Slugain Howff - on 14 Aug 2012
In reply to George Ormerod:
> (In reply to Slugain Howff)
> [...]
>
> I once spent a night in there with 6 other people and I can say it certainly was cosy. That's about all you could say for it mind.

Did you get a space on the pallet?


toad - on 14 Aug 2012
In reply to Nick B, Another One:
> (In reply to toad)
> [...]
>
> I honestly don't get this whole "smartphones are delicate" thing.

Took a gang of students on a field trip to Spain last year. 3 instances of tears before bedtime in a week, just from drops onto stony ground. Mind the guy with the bomber case did really well - just wish I could remember the brand
bobbybin - on 14 Aug 2012
In reply to toad: Otter cases are good, my boss (tree surgeon) uses one and it seems to work well
abcdefg - on 14 Aug 2012
In reply to Slugain Howff:

> The issue is lack of network coverage ...

But the GPS functionality doesn't need the phone network: the phone has an actual GPS receiver.

> ...and user incompetence.

No argument there - but the same applies to map and compass, as others have mentioned.
abcdefg - on 14 Aug 2012
In reply to toad:

> (In reply to abcdefg) is part of the problem not that smartphones are quite frail?

Yes potentially. Also they have a much shorter battery life in general, which might be a more critical factor.

I'm not advocating their use in such circumstances, but neither would I dismiss the idea.
Siward on 14 Aug 2012
In reply to Nick B, Another One: Well one of my daughter's friends is now on his seventh since he breaks them (proper iphone mind) so regularly, generally simply by dropping them. He always makes sure he is well insured.

HTC phones seem to be indestructible though.
Slugain Howff - on 14 Aug 2012
In reply to abcdefg:

GPS and smartphone incompetence = increased callout frequency = dinner in the dog for me
Catpain Blackudder on 14 Aug 2012
In reply to toad:
> (In reply to Nick B, Another One)
> [...]
>
> Took a gang of students on a field trip to Spain last year. 3 instances of tears before bedtime in a week, just from drops onto stony ground. Mind the guy with the bomber case did really well - just wish I could remember the brand

I should probably add, the only case I've ever used has been the Apple bumper thing, it has it on about half the time, it has an annoying habit of switching it to vibrate mode without me noticing so I often just leave it at home.
Catpain Blackudder on 14 Aug 2012
In reply to Siward:
> (In reply to Nick B, Another One) Well one of my daughter's friends is now on his seventh since he breaks them (proper iphone mind) so regularly, generally simply by dropping them. He always makes sure he is well insured.
>
> HTC phones seem to be indestructible though.

Fair enough, but I've destroyed 2 HTCs (on call phones for some of the jobs I do and others who have had to carry them have done it too) in the last year. Some models seem to fair better than others but all of them seem to suffer more from water getting inside and bits falling off than the iphone has done.
Fat Bumbly2 - on 14 Aug 2012
In reply to Nick B, Another One: I would imagine the biggest factor in smartphone callouts is the phone. Instead of working out the problem - whoyougonnacall!

Never any harm in having a couple of maps / map + "A4 photocopy" incase of papier mache (especially in Ireland) or a gale snatching one away. Anything with a battery needs back up.
Catpain Blackudder on 14 Aug 2012
In reply to Fat Bumbly2:
> (In reply to Nick B, Another One) I would imagine the biggest factor in smartphone callouts is the phone. Instead of working out the problem - whoyougonnacall!

But that also relies on there being signal! I'd still say the biggest factors in such callouts is idiocy.

> Never any harm in having a couple of maps / map + "A4 photocopy" incase of papier mache (especially in Ireland) or a gale snatching one away. Anything with a battery needs back up.

Damn right, much as I don't really use them much if I'm just glacing at OS mapping on my phone to keep me on track I'd always have some paper with me. Although generally it's home printed and shows more than the immediate area I'm planning. But I do laser print on the toughprint-type paper and find it lasts far better, is fine in the wet & is lighter than original OS maps/their own waterproof ones.
Milesy - on 15 Aug 2012
In reply to abcdefg:
>
> ... iPhones etc have GPS onboard so, if they're loaded with the appropriate maps, they should be as useful as any other mapping GPS - possibly more so on account of their screen size.

The batteries on smartphones are garbage and they are not designed for any sort of rough handling. iPhones can barely stand a drop on the floor without breaking (expensive but cheap shite).
The New NickB - on 15 Aug 2012
In reply to Milesy:
> (In reply to abcdefg)
> [...]
>
> The batteries on smartphones are garbage and they are not designed for any sort of rough handling. iPhones can barely stand a drop on the floor without breaking (expensive but cheap shite).

Bollocks, I drop mine all the time, probably 20 times in the year I have had it, no problems at all. I believe my old iPhone 3 is still going strong (I gave it to someone), that is nearly 4 years old.
The New NickB - on 15 Aug 2012
In reply to roypartington:

I often go into the mountains without a map and compass, usually in flimsy fell running gear. I guess you understand the risk and manage it accordingly.
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Fat Bumbly2 - on 15 Aug 2012
In reply to The New NickB: Depends on the hill and weather - managing the risk. Of course a hill runner would usually be fit and clever enough to keep out of trouble most of the time and get out of trouble if it does call.

Interesting to compare our experiences with the professionals. I once knew an old shepherd who after 50 years of working on his hill managed to get lost once. He was quite proud of it.
digby - on 15 Aug 2012
In reply to annieman:

No clues in the article as to whether it's an over reliance on calling for help at the least difficulty, or incompetent navigation with the smartphone.

I seem to remember quite a few stories of turning to the phone at the first sign of tiredness or problems, but unrelated to using phones for navigation.

And they must have had signals, to be able to ask for help.
gingerdave13 - on 15 Aug 2012
In reply to Nick B, Another One: agreed - i've destroyed a HTC after a relatively short walk (2hrs) in the driving sleet. Was in a 'waterproof' pocket too...

still powers up etc - just won't get reception/make calls.
Howard J - on 15 Aug 2012
In reply to annieman: My experience of trying to navigate with my HTC smartphone is that quite often the map will fail to load, or will take so long that it is effectively useless. The touch screen doesn't work in the rain, and with GPS turned on battery life is a matter of hours. It makes a great in-car satnav, but on the hills I prefer to use my 'proper' GPS in conjunction with map and compass.

The crucial part of the report is the bit which says "What is particularly concerning is that the individuals who are relying on this apparently inappropriate technology often do not possess even rudimentary mountain navigation skills".

For people who know what they're doing, and can work with their limitations, then a smartphone may be a useful aid. However to rely on it totally seems to me unwise. Neither the hardware nor the software is designed to be used in in such potentially harsh and dangerous environments.

Wee Davie - on 15 Aug 2012
In reply to annieman:

I like the story about some real UK alpinist hotshots who topped out on the Shelter Stone in darkness, in Winter. None of them could remember which end of the compass needle they should follow. (I heard this from one of them at a lecture).

It's easy to get all high and mighty about navigation but even if you do I've found it's possible to get lost, carrying map and compass- alone in the hills! In my case I got a lift off some MRT guys once I got down. They just ripped the p*sh out of me for my incompetence.



AnnaSpanna - on 15 Aug 2012
In reply to annieman:
> I've just seen this report from the BBC.
>
> http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-19252949
>
> Why is it that people insist on relying on their Smart phones? If only they were smart then they would know.

Just Natural Selection at work. Probably best not to interfere...
tony on 15 Aug 2012
In reply to Wee Davie:
> (In reply to annieman)
>
> I like the story about some real UK alpinist hotshots who topped out on the Shelter Stone in darkness, in Winter. None of them could remember which end of the compass needle they should follow. (I heard this from one of them at a lecture).

Wasn't that Mick Fowler?
>
> It's easy to get all high and mighty about navigation but even if you do I've found it's possible to get lost, carrying map and compass- alone in the hills! In my case I got a lift off some MRT guys once I got down. They just ripped the p*sh out of me for my incompetence.

I reckon if you haven't got lost at least once you haven't really been trying.

gingerdave13 - on 15 Aug 2012
In reply to AnnaSpanna: darwinism at it's finest!
Wee Davie - on 15 Aug 2012
In reply to tony:

Yeah it was Mick Fowler. I daresay his credibility won't suffer if we mention his name ; )
I've been lost a few times. Always managed to get down under my own steam so far- touch wood....

I do have reasonable basic compass and map skills and would not be daft enough to only rely on a smart phone. Having said that, I've got a free app for the iphone called Gridpoint GB that gives you a ?10 figure OS grid reference. I may use that if I'm pushed next time it gets claggy.
whispering nic - on 15 Aug 2012
I've got a free app for the iphone called Gridpoint GB that gives you a ?10 figure OS grid reference. I may use that if I'm pushed next time it gets claggy.

You might want to check it works before you get into the clag, many of the free grid ref apps work on gprs rather than gps, and can be somewhat wide of the mark!
Wee Davie - on 15 Aug 2012
In reply to whispering nic:

Yeah- absolutely. I'm quite sceptical about GPS in the hills. Will be interesting to see how good or bad it is.
veteye - on 15 Aug 2012
In reply to Nick B, Another One:

> I honestly don't get this whole "smartphones are delicate" thing. I've had my iPhone4 for nearly 2 years and within the first 6 months of it's life I had dropped it in the (full) bath and dropped it from 5 metres onto a solid concrete floor. My line of work leads it to be used constantly in the pouring rain, get covered in mud/sweat/corrosive chemical residue, left in a pocket containing leatherman/keys, kept in cargo pocket of trousers/shorts and consequently knelt on etc.

Well I lost all function(permanently)of my Samsung Galaxy SII which was only a couple of months old at the time by bivvying near the top of Tower Ridge just because it was a bit damp.Meantime the Nokia E71 was unaffected and still is working.So I would assume that the Galaxy SIII will be equally pathetic, and would not buy one.
Martin W on 16 Aug 2012
In reply to whispering nic:

> many of the free grid ref apps work on gprs rather than gps

I'd have thought that they would all work using the location service in the OS, which uses whatever the user has enabled. If the use has disabled GPS eg in order to save battery then the OS will provide a location using other information, mainly "visible" cell towers and wifi networks, which will indeed be much less precise than GPS - and next to no use at all out in the hills.

I doubt they use GPRS for location services: that's the data service that runs over a cellular connection. They may use data that's acquired via GPRS but GPRS itself won't tell you much of any use about where you are, same as Ethernet won't.
Seocan - on 16 Aug 2012
In reply to abcdefg:
I was under the impression that smartphones use AGPS, in whch case they do need network coverage.
Seocan - on 16 Aug 2012
In reply to whispering nic:

> 'You might want to check it works before you get into the clag, many of the free grid ref apps work on gprs rather than gps, and can be somewhat wide of the mark!'

GPRS is packet data, that has nothing to do with GPS position.
AndrewHuddart - on 16 Aug 2012
My standard GPS is my watch (Suunto X10m) which gives a simple grid which is all I ever want but the 1:50 map and compass are my main means of nav.

But, I've been using my iPhone 4 in a waterproof case with the Memoery Map app as a back-up for a while without incident. I'm carrying it (switched off ) anyway, so no harm.

I download relevant mapping before I head out and it works with and without a data connection to show current position on the map and a 10 fig grid ref.

If it wasn't for the battery life, I'd just use the phone in its case.

OwenM - on 16 Aug 2012
In reply to Wee Davie:
> (In reply to annieman)
>
> I like the story about some real UK alpinist hotshots who topped out on the Shelter Stone in darkness, in Winter. None of them could remember which end of the compass needle they should follow. (I heard this from one of them at a lecture).
>

I know a now retired professor of geography who made the same mistake on a mountain marathon some years ago. His running partner kept asking "are you sure you got that bearing right" to which he replied "Of course it's bloody well right, I teach this all the time I do know how to use a bloody compass". In the end they were so far off route that they didn't make the overnight camp and had to drop out. He still wont admit that he was 180 degrees out.

Catpain Blackudder on 16 Aug 2012
In reply to Seocan:
> (In reply to abcdefg)
> I was under the impression that smartphones use AGPS, in whch case they do need network coverage.

They do but use AGPS but it doesn't mean they don't work without coverage, they may take marginally longer to acquire a first fix but I've not noticed any difference at all with/without coverage on any smartphone using pre-loaded maps.
Seocan - on 16 Aug 2012
In reply to Nick B, Another One:
> (In reply to Seocan)
> [...]
>
> They do but use AGPS but it doesn't mean they don't work without coverage, they may take marginally longer to acquire a first fix but I've not noticed any difference at all with/without coverage on any smartphone using pre-loaded maps.

Thats interesting, i had considered a gps enabled phone, which i wanted to have with the ability to use as a standalone gps unit, but when i asked in the shop, a couple shops in fact, i was told that coverage was a must. It surprises me not one jot that the shop assistant was havering. Thanks for that bit of info.
Howard J - on 16 Aug 2012
In reply to Nick B, Another One:
> (In reply to Seocan)
> [...]
>
> They do but use AGPS but it doesn't mean they don't work without coverage, they may take marginally longer to acquire a first fix but I've not noticed any difference at all with/without coverage on any smartphone using pre-loaded maps.

"Using pre-loaded maps" is the crucial point. If you haven't done this then you will be relying on coverage to download the relevant map sections, and I suspect it is this, rather than the GPS aspect, which is the main cause of problems in the hills. People on this forum may have sufficient nous to download maps in advance, but I bet the average tourist doesn't.
roddyp on 16 Aug 2012
In reply to Seocan:

AGPS relies on recent data from the mobile network to speed up the time taken to get a fix. However, the AGPS data becomes stale and need re-downloading.

I've had problems in the past with various Android phones - basically they don't always fallback to non-AGPS mode if there's no data connection, so you get no GPS at all until you either get a mobile signal, or you use a tool like eclipsim's GPS Status to reset the AGPS data.

I use Viewranger with 1:25K OS maps on a Motorola Defy (rugged-ish, waterproof-ish) but it's primarily as a backup for obtaining a fix. Map, eyes, and compass are primary tools.

Having said that, if I had to choose EITHER the phone or the compass, the phone would probably win. In a decent case with charged battery it's a multipurpose emergency tool. (And it has 'Cut The Rope' on it. But not the Yates/Simpson version...)

tom_in_edinburgh - on 16 Aug 2012
In reply to annieman:

I never venture out without my trusty sextant and chronometer. Just can't trust these newfangled compasses and OS maps. Bit of rain or some magnetic rock and your completely lost.







Des - on 17 Aug 2012
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

Exactly, you've got to know the strengths and weaknesses in your technology!
Common sense required. The phones alone are not the problem. Like any other technology you need to read the instructions (shock horror!) and understand how the technology works. I have tested a couple of Garmin GPS units with OS maps loaded versus my iPhone4 with memory map app and OS maps loaded. The iPhone proved generally more usable with a far better screen, map scrolling, position indicator etc! (I just put it in an ortleib case to keep it dry as it was chucking it down all day). All performed on a five hour journey on the said Cairngorm plateau! Consider what skills are required to use a modern GPS with maps on it anyway. Ok so at the very least you will be given a grid reference. Not much use if you donít know how to use them. Ok so youíve got a map that shows you where you are. You still need to be able to map read, contour interpretation, set the map, determine direction, identify and avoid hazards etc. The GPS unit whatever it is canít tell you how to descend from Ben Macdui in the clag unless youíve learned how to use it and can map read. Most people I teach admit they just have the GPS to get a grid reference and donít know how to use it. In this case you still need your trad nav skills. I still carry a spare map, compass and sextant just in case......
wintertree - on 17 Aug 2012
In reply to Wee Davie:

When I go out I take the map+compass and an iPhone 4. The iPhone is in a solid battery case and records a GPS track log with Runkeeper. With the battery case this will rind for aboutb11 hours. I do this so I can annotate my photos with the track log when I get home to geotag them all.

I also have 25k OS maps on the iPhone, and the touch panning and zooming beats the pants off any handheld GPS I have seen. However, the screen is to small to be really useful for navigation so I tend to just leave the phone tucked away and recording whilst using my map. On the other hand it's a great way of zooming out for a bigger picture, especially when wind/rain make it inadvisable to take the map out of the case and unfold it. This is particularly great for identifying well distant summits from a top.

It is notable however that the iPhone has never tried to strangle me in high winds unlike the map case...

As things stand a modern phones GPS is accurate to within meters in the hills, and shock proof, waterproof android phones are coming out. Pretty soon the only weak link in the system will be the satellites, and gallileo will help address that. I suspect the statistical odds of a satellite failure are lower than of a map blowing away.

So my take is that a well protected smartphone or GPS is just another tool open for use or misuse. I find it n all round great tool for the hills, and one that compliments the map and compass.
Carolyn - on 18 Aug 2012
In reply to abcdefg:
> ... iPhones etc have GPS onboard so, if they're loaded with the appropriate maps, they should be as useful as any other mapping GPS - possibly more so on account of their screen size.

IME, it's the being loaded (or not...) with maps that is the critical factor. We've seen a few cases of people trying to navigate off Google maps or similar internet based mapping, and when they lose their 3G signal, they also lose their mapping. Whereas a smart phone loaded with 1:25,000 OS mapping of the area functions pretty well. Sure, it can run out of battery, but then maps get blown away in bad weather, etc.
Carolyn - on 18 Aug 2012
In reply to Slugain Howff:

> The issue is lack of network coverage and user incompetence.

You mean like the bloke who was "lost", despite me being able to talk a 10 fig grid ref out of him? Nice straightforward search, that one ;-)
whispering nic - on 21 Aug 2012
In reply to Martin W:

I suspect the relevant point here is that the freebie Grid ref apps do use cell towers rather than GPS. I've used them on phones which have GPS switched on and are giving an accurate location on the map app but when the OS GR app is asked for a grid reference they are a long way out.
jimontherocks - on 29 Aug 2012
In reply to annieman:
Don't think I have truly got lost on the hill, maybe went of track slightly but always found my way off,and I've done all the Munros and quite a few Corbetts, my problem seems to be the start point - I have failed to find the start to three walks one which I had done before :( I blamed the local council they moved a bridge that crossed a burn which sent me completely the wrong direction - was half a mile up the hill before I realised my mistake sheeee. Finding your way through forests is another of my problems.
That's what happens when you decide not to take the traditional routes.
Tried a smart phone don't like them, could not make out the map on the screen under certain light conditions, I vote map and compass, good water proof case is also essential.

jm
Jim C - on 29 Aug 2012
In reply to roypartington:
> (In reply to annieman) ........> I would never ever ever dare go out without my 1:25 O/S map ........> I also carry a Spot Tracker .........> Overkill!! possibly, too much Technology again its a personnel thing, but the one thing I use first and foremost is the O/S map.
> A smart phone - not a cat in hells chance.

Only one map!
I'm sure we have all had maps blowing out of our hands. I like you, when I'm on my own, am an overkill type. I photograph the map section I need so it is always on my camera as a back up, and I keep the large map safe. I always print off and have a couple of A4 prints of the route from Memory Map to work with in plastic folders.

The argument about compass goes on of course. I only carry two but I can see the argument if they disagree with each other that you don't know hich one is right, so a third would (in theory) resolve that particular issue. I carry two in case I lose/break one.

(and I do have a smart phone with GPS capability -and memory map on it- but I don't find it particularly useful, and is of course very unreliable.)

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