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Ask HN: Share an idea?
51 points by some_furry on July 6, 2015 | hide | past | favorite | 75 comments
If you're like me, you often have a lot of ideas that you don't have the time or resources to execute on.

If so, why not write it down for your fellow hackers' enjoyment?

Topics can be anything: product ideas, service ideas, blog post topics, stand up comedy skits, research initiatives you wish could get funded, etc.

Pay for full time, beat-walking emergency medical technicians in shitty neighborhoods. This would prevent a lot of unneeded hospital visits and offer basic health services. A lot cheaper than 911 calls. I imagine having people on the ground would prevent a lot of problems.

Would this really be cheaper? It's an awful lot of man hours committed to just one area vs. a centralized one that can dedicate the time/effort/resources accordingly based on needs and corresponding urgency.

Also one of the bigger question would still be how would these EMTs have their equipment with them + how would quality of care be ensured?

There are some European Jewish communities that do this. Example: NW London has community funded Jewish ambulances.

Problem: Advertising is a big industry. Billions of dollars are spent to bolster brand awareness and drive sales. Increasingly, advertising is digital as consumers spend more time on phones, computers and tablets. Social platforms like Facebook exploit user data for enormous profit, while all the user gets is a “free” product. There is an opportunity for users to reclaim a significant amount of this value, and in doing so realize a greater sense of worth.

Mission: To measure and honor the value of every individual.

Vision: Corporations and Individuals providing value directly for each other.

Product: A URL shortening service for individuals to monetize the content they share. Monetization occurs via an ad featured between the platform sharing the short url (e.g. Facebook) and the site the short url takes the user to (the content being shared).

Do you mean like AdFly? - https://adf.ly/

AdFly is a competitor, but it is oriented toward publishers and advertisers. Everyday people who share content can still use the service, but they will have a difficult time clearing the $5 minimum payout amount.

Maybe if you could make it happen automatically, but I don't see regular people using a link shortener often. People sharing links on FB don't want to have an extra step, they just want to share links. You'd also have to look at the metadata stuff, the preview/Open Graph would just show your shortener service and not the actual content which could lead to less clicks.

I'm minimizing the complexity of the extra step with a browser extension. When you open the extension, it hits an API with the current URL and gives you the short URL. Ultimately, the goal is to make the service accessible on every site, alongside the Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest buttons common in social widgets.

I'm using tools similar to what social platforms use to aggregate metadata, and embedding this information in the page, specifically for crawlers. Facebook still gets the metadata, except it comes from my service and not the original site.

Amazing post-game experience for recreational athletes.

I play soccer recreationally. I've easily played more than 1,000 games and all I have post-game are memories ( which are nice ), but I feel we could do much better.

I have a vague idea for a solution - but it would involve drone-filming all my recreational soccer games, and then have the content edited/produced - so I could see al my plays, everyone else's best plays, and so on and so forth.

It would be really interesting because it would also augment the social in-pitch experience with post-game online socialization.

What do you think?

Personally, I think this is a really interesting idea. Sadly, I came across an article which initially focused on stats for recreational athletes and it eventually fizzled out. Can't remember where I read it and not saying that this idea will also fizzle out but it seems hard to get something going for recreational athletes if there's a smaller chance of monetizing.

Netflix, but mostly decentralized. End users can be paid to allocate part of their PC's storage toward movies and shows that they stream to their neighbors, taking a lot of the load off the public backbones and central servers.

Of course, these are encrypted and only decrypted (transcrypted?) when they're transferred to someone nearby, intelligently based on `tracepath` or something. My thought (may or may not be feasible) was that the central server only gives you the public key for the data, and then provides the private key and a new public key when the data is transmitted. I'm not sure that's even possible with any level of secrecy, but if so it would remove a lot of redundant traffic and I imagine you could pay people less than you'd save on bandwidth/peering if you could just pay them to P2P content (securely).

Get theaters involved in the initial distribution since they're everywhere and have digital copies (and probably decent pipes).

Basically, my internet got really crappy every day at about 6 PM and I imagined that 90% of my neighbors were streaming the same episodes of Breaking Bad, and it bugged me that it wasn't just sent once and the distributed locally.

I am working on a project that let's you stream video / files peer to peer: https://fuego.link/

This project is early beta. It's written in Elixir using the Phoenix Framework and uses React for the front-end. The source code is on GitHub: https://github.com/hayesgm/fuego

The end goal is to make file / video sharing in a browser fully peer-to-peer, similar to BitTorrent and cut out the middle-man. The project is open-source to allow anyone to create mirrors for peer discovery.

I'm happy for any feedback.

http://popcorntime.io/ does pretty good torrent streaming already, the challenge would be to offer a similar service that is not illegal and where users can pay.

Why would this wind up any differently then Spotify and Skype, two successful products that started out p2p but ended up centralized?

It sounds like what you would benefit from is a universal p2p caching layer. We have perhaps a nice foundation for this in plain unencrypted HTTP, just need to add the p2p part...

Also, bittorent has proved a good solution for me in similar circumstances to you. I've never tried streaming bittorrent but google tells me it is possible.

This would depend where the congestion is. If it is in the last mile cable infrustructure then this would not really help - I know that my poor internet bandwidth is occurring in the last couple of hundred meters.

1) An application that connects restaurant chefs and managers to local farmers. Local farmers could upload their goods for the week on a marketplace board, and chefs could find things that they would like to cook with for the week and buy them. Typically chefs meet local purveyors at farmer's markets, but for small enough producers, it would save them time and money to just have their goods bought directly without having to go to a central market and run a stand. Chefs would be able to order local goods similar to the way they order through Sysco or FSA.

2) A dribble-like site for artisans. A site to showcase and upvote artisan work and hopefully drive business to them. Baked goods, building airplanes, cedar strip canoe building, kinetic sculptures, etc.

1 is not a bad idea. I have an alternative idea where chefs (and anyone else) can post what high quality produce (heritage breeds, etc) they want and how much they will pay for the produce. Farmers could then bid on these requests. This way rather than having to select from what is available, or the farmer having to guess what the market wants, the farmer grows what is wanted by the market and they know how much they will earn. Rather than grow the tasteless varieties that crop and look good, they will grow the varieties that actually taste good.

Great idea. A contract growing scheme on a small scale. Community groups (churches, neighbors etc) might even want to get involved. Prepayment for at least some of the growing cost would be nice for the growers (CSA style). I suppose a rating system on growers would be needed also.

Yes it could really be expanded outside of the just the restaurant business. Having once had a garden where I grew my own heritage produce I really, really, really miss the quality of those crops - the taste was just fantastic. I now live in an apartment and would pay a significant premium to get someone to supply them to me again.

One final tweak would be to allow people to also select organic growers as well - I personally would not care, but I suspect it would be a big market for this.

Interesting, I hadn't really considered the market outside of restaurants. Typically the price of organic, locally grown (although it doesn't have to be limited to just organic) produce is higher per pound than similar produce found at supermarkets. Do you think that community groups would be interested in paying more, or would have the budget to pay more?

I thought the same thing when I was trying to flesh this idea out a bit more, but the more I've spoken with farmers, the less I think this is the right way to go. The downside to doing this approach is that for many small farmers contract farming is all but assured. What if it doesn't rain when it needs to? What if you have an odd cold snap that wipes a crop? What if your planned delivery date of particular produce is delayed because things aren't growing as well as they should?

These are all things that happen with a fair amount of regularity on small farms, and things that many good restaurants would be flexible enough to accommodate, but it would sort of negate the benefits of planning out menus at the beginning of a season.

I would ideally love to see this idea extend to foragers as well. It would be kind of amazing to have local foragers post their pounds of morels and fiddlehead ferns and see local chefs snap them up.

All these problems are inherent to farming in general and farmers are used to dealing with them. Restaurants can plan around the lack of some produce at very short notice (they are used to doing this now), what chefs lack is a good way to pass the information of what they want grown. A little of this goes on right now when chefs talk directly to farmers about the sort of produce they want, but it is small scale and inefficient. No farmer can commit to growing a specialised crop without knowing the demand for it in advance. It is the sort of problem where the demand is present, but the communication is missing.

A product hunt type website but for adding features to current app/websites. User can thumbs up or down a feature request, and can also thumb-up a request with some small money tagged to it. The money collected will go to a non profit.

This slightly reminds me of bountry source


- Startup: create a universal and convenient micropayment system that would allow content creators(writers, comics-artists, video creators) to monetize their content. The problem now is that current systems suck, and each website has it's own, so that it's not convenient for users to pay for content, they have to enter credit card, or go to paypal, etc. There should be a nice embeddable button that allows users to pay for watching a video or reading an article in one click, on any website. Or maybe something even more elegant and convenient.

- Startup: xprize meets kickstarter. Or a reverse-kickstarter. You create and back the project first, and then anyone can execute it and collect the reward. People come up with projects they want to see happen, submit the idea. Anyone can vote on the idea by sending some money. As a result you have a list of user-created project ideas, ranked by how much money people deposited on them. Anyone who completes a project gets all the money.

- Project: A convenient website where users can add feature ideas, vote on them, and discuss implementatuon. It would be a convenient way for developers to prioritize which tasks to work on. Probably connected to git. Basically like submitting issues, but it's feature ideas and it's ranked by importance.

- In-browser markdown editor like on gitbook.com. Please somebody make this. Ideally it would be open source, but I would totally pay for an opportunity to use it on my website.

- slant.co, but for things other than tech. Movies, books, music, whatever. Or a similar open-source system so that I could spin up my own website with this.

- Awesome open source chat that I can embed on my website. Like chapp.is or gitter.im

- ELI5 for computer science and programming. Explain linear regression, ANN, and other complicated concepts in short, simple terms.

-A robot simulator programming game where you control a virtual robot with your code. Targeted to CS and AI students. You could use this game to practice algorithms you are learning. Challenges(levels) are somewhat similar to AIMA exercises, or can be taken from berkeley AI class curriculum. Later you add a "competition" feature, where several teams program their robots to fight each other. Check out Screeps and Starcraft AI Tournament for inspiration. (the whole game is in the browser, robots are controlled with REST API so you could use any language.)

Send me an email to raymestalez@gmail.com if you are interested in working on any of these. I know Django, I can contribute, especially if it's open source.

Other stuff:

- All text editors on android suck. My god they suck so much. Create something like Editorial, and you have my money.

- Not sure of it exists - betting website. Allow people to deposit money and make small bets. Make it convenient for reddit users, so when 2 people are arguing they could bet on a thing and see what will happen. Or target it to fanfiction readers, to bet on what will happen in the following chapters(would be super useful for /r/HPMOR)

- Website - a collection of ways to make people's lives weirder. Something like pranks, or ways to mess with people's heads, but harmless, funny, and innocent. Stuff that Harry from HPMOR does.

- Use ML and CV and image recognition to do something cool with google maps. It's just an interesting idea, use CV to analyze google maps data.

- Subreddit recommendation engine. Based on your likes and subscriptions. Like on imdb.

- gitter for subreddits. Connect a subreddit to a chat.

- HN-lore. There are some links that are submitted to HN regularly, and every 6 months new people discover them. Great stories people here like sharing, articles, books, etc. Create a ranked list of HN folklore and traditions.

- Automatically compile my HN, reddit, other social media posts into a blog-like post feed.

- Crowdsourcing and crowdfunding for movies and animation projects. It would be a big kill-Hollywood kind of startup, not sure about how to make this at all, but we should turn movie industry into a github/reddit-like thing. Just a dream I guess.

Use ML and CV and image recognition to do something cool with google maps. It's just an interesting idea, use CV to analyze google maps data.

As someone working with something vaguely related to this sort of thing. Let me just say, use Open Street Maps. Google mapping data and the licensing thereof is a huge pain and often straight up impossible. Don't lock yourself into developing something for a platform where you will be forbidden from selling or even distributing the fruits of your labor. Plus with OSM you get direct access to the underlying vector data, which in most cases will save you an arduous and error prone processing step

Other than that, the whole field is wide open for all kinds of awesome ideas.

For anyone wondering: ML = Machine Learning, CV = computer vision.

Shazam for fonts. Point your phone camera at some text and it tells you the top N fonts it thinks it is with C% confidence.

Niche market for graphic designers.

There's the website What The Font [1], but it's not a super user friendly app like Shazam.

I think the hardest part of this would be the huge amount of time it'd take to get a good dataset and train whatever machine learning model you'd probably wind up using.

[1] https://www.myfonts.com/WhatTheFont/

Nice idea. I think you will find the hardest thing will be that so many typefaces are near clones of each other. It might be easier to just match to the closest open source typeface.

Definitely true. That's why you'd have to print out the top N fonts it thinks it's similar to.

Something like

    1. Foo Bar Lite Italic - 99.1%
    2. Foo Bar Italic - 97.2%
    3. Baz Bar Lite Italic - 97.0%
    4. Foo Baz Italic - 95.4%
    ... etc maybe give the top 10 or so ...
Another problem is many logos and whatnot have been hand-tweaked from their original font.

Yes it is a hard problem. It might be worth trying on a small scale with a few close typefaces to see how hard it is to separate them and what sort of accuracy could be achieved.

Definately not a hard problem. For logos, impossible because of customisation, but for regular text, it's simple. Capture image, make a box around text, warp to flatten, highten contrast, split characters, process characters for features, check against database of known features of fonts. It's similar to a facial recognition algorithm.

Problem is no monetization potential, so it's hobby project level.

I think you are under estimating how similar many typefaces are to each other. When even human experts have a hard time determining which typeface is which you know it is a hard problem.

I do agree 100% with you that any such product would be impossible to monetarise. I would certainly like to use it so I hope someone makes it.

> When even human experts have a hard time determining which typeface is which you know it is a hard problem

A font is just a series of images with standardised traits. Computers are great at recognising these traits, and perfect for cross comparing them. It's just pixels.

dataset could be provided through google fonts maybe. you'd need to replicate a few iphone camera quality versions for each font though.

any links for machine learning images? I could give this a go.

Unfortunately, google fonts is far too small a font set to be useful for a hardcore graphic designer.

It would be useful for "Here is a free font on google fonts that looks similar to whatever you are looking at".

I sometimes even registered the domains, e.g. toothing.org The name offers various cell phone games, even the toothing hoax itself.

The next odd idea requires expert knowledge in Babylonian contracts. Every change of ownership without a contract was theft. Contracts involving people required a cancel clause for each side. And ownership on people without contract was punished by death, as illegal slavery. So most contracts are marriages. The contracts are highly formalized, so one can use them as templates and exchange the names. Print them on a clay tablet, burn them, and send them by mail. I'm sure marriage contracts would sell, especially those with the cancel clause: "and when she says you are no longer my man, he can throw her into the river".

The 3rd and most challenging idea would be a project and freelancer site that does not suck. Where projects, prices and skills do not race to the bottom.

And last shameless plug about something real You can contact me on #o3db @ irc.freenode.net - currently developing a Browser-4GL in Scheme.

Here's my pet idea for a hardware product I'd totally use:

A Google Glass like device without most of the functionality (no camera or mics) or processing hardware (doesn't have to run its own OS), except the display (this should cut down costs quite a bit and make it a bit more feasible to manufacturer and purchase than Google Glass itself).

You connect devices to it using Miracast and/or some other wireless display tech and extend/mirror your smartphone/laptop displays.

It can serve as a portable multi-monitor setup for productivity, or a simple portable heads-up display for entertainment (video playback, reading) or utility uses (navigation).

That'd be the MVP anyways. In future revisions you can maybe add things like a mic and/or camera for things like augmented reality and voice control, but figure out how to offload the processing to the master device (laptop/smartphone) rather than dedicating hardware to it on the device itself for affordability and battery life.

For the love of God, someone create a World of Warcraft where the quests are educational. Instead of "go kill 8 green dragons" the questiver says "Mata a 8 dragones verdes". The immersion and addiction to progression (i.e. unholy motivation) would have us speaking multiple languages in no time.

Please. I'm begging you to take my money.

An Amazon for renting things. All the top Google search results looked antiquated..

edit: my search query was just "rent anything"

Rentoid [1] was one that started about 10 yeas ago in Australia. Not 100% how well it was working. At least it is still going when I checked a few minutes ago.

Although its idea is slightly different to being an Amazon. It allows your items to be rented out instead of sitting in your shed gathering dust. Kinda like p2p renting.

[1] - http://www.rentoid.com/

That sounds like a bad idea from a counter-party risk perspective.

But I suppose so did AirBnB.

Everyone says AirBnB was a bad idea, but only the original idea was bad. Once you realise that the business is really about running illegal hotels where the risk is outsourced then it becomes a very good idea.

> Once you realise that the business is really about running illegal hotels where the risk is outsourced then it becomes a very good idea.

No, thats exactly why I'd say it was a bad idea, because who would accept that outsourced risk?!

(It turns out a lot of people did)

The original idea was for people to share their home or room to strangers. This was not a good idea, but pivoting into the illegal hotel business where the properties are continually rented was a good idea - at least until there is a major crackdown.

http://www.peerby.com (no affiliation) is the only company I know working in this space, but I assume there are others.

Rooftop solar has really taken off here in Australia, and around 20-25% of houses have a solar inverter. Is it practical to build a cheap rooftop wind-power harvester that plugs into the inverter?

The killer here is likely to be planning restrictions. The other problem is wind is actually more efficient when centralised. The large turbines that our PM hates so much are much more efficient than small turbines.

Agreed on both points.

With planning restrictions, I hope that something small and noise-free could please the nimbyists. Something(s) the size of a Dyson fan on the roof-line would look cool.

With regards efficiency, I think it's not about replacing the large centralised turbines but augmenting the house's existing solar. A typical single solar panel that generates 200w peak makes about 500Wh/day (on sunny days). If (big if) a turbine can generate 20w average over 24 hours, that's 480Wh extra.

But as @desdiv correctly points out - the idea is nothing new. Here's a good looking 20w turbine that I would be happy to have on my roof:


My memory is a bit hazy on this, but I think that turbines place a lot of stress on buildings that they were not designed to handle. Retrofitting the required strength into the building will be expensive given what our tradies charge.


This is the first google result. There are many others like it as well.

Yes, I should have been more specific - I was thinking of something much smaller that could sit along the roof-line of a typical suburban house.

The site supplies separate wind inverters too. I guess that means that the turbines supply very different power to solar panels.

The vertical turbines are quite small. Here's one at a house in Brisbane near where I live: https://www.google.com.au/maps/@-27.50561,153.05533,3a,75y,1...

I suspect there's issues attaching it to the house itself, but for houses on the top of a hill such a setup can work well. That thing gets spinning really quickly some days.

That's a great example - is it in a particularly windy area? I will look into installing something like that.

It's on top of a relatively large hill in the suburbs, so it gets a lot of breeze. Scan around behind you and you'll see the extent of it. The traffic lights are just about at the top of that hill, so that house has at least a 180 degree view of the east, which is where the bay/ocean is and thus where breezes often blow from.

http://www.teslamotors.com/powerwall is somewhat doing that?

A mobile app platform based on images. Keep a basic JavaScript bookmarklet to decode the images into HTML, so they become browser-based apps. Store everything in the 50MB of cache-manifest. Use the same apps on iOS, Android, etc. Evade parental controls and device restrictions on app stores. Copy app-images directly between phones. I call it "Fondant", meaning "chocolate coated". Because I can have chocolate coated Apple, and chocolate coated Jelly Bean/Lollipop, etc.

1. deliver organic and healthy food at airports and hotels. When a user checks in for boarding pass, the delivery is ready. One delivery per flight..

2. building your own store curated from your favorite brands only. Every user gets discount on their fav brand and there is a limit to number of brands

3. Hire a local "expert" to build your itinerary when you are visiting that local's town/city.

4. An new email platform built with UI in mind for non-personal emails like newsletters, marketing offers, etc.

happy to work with or share more.

Hey. We are building #3. Email me at me@arilewis.com if you want to chat about it.

4. Campaign Monitor kind of does that

Indoor almond farms

I don't mean as a hobby. Industrial scale, genetically modifying the almond trees for better indoor results.

Global demand for almonds will continue to vastly outstrip what California can handle via traditional outdoor growing. That would have likely happened even without the drought. The water requirements will place a cap on the almond industry's growth. The solution is drastically more efficient indoor growing.

Wouldn't the simpler solution be just move the Almond industry out of California to somewhere with better water?

My understanding is there are only a few areas in the world climate suitable for commercial almond farming. Among them Spain, areas of Australia and California (which produces most of the worlds almonds). Move the Alfalfa first. It uses in sum more California water than almonds and you can grow it in many locations.

Incidentally, the idea of growing almonds indoors is just plain nuts:)

You would have to have a lot of indoor space and the return would likely not even close to cover the cost. Ever. Even if almonds cost 5 times as much. Even if you bred little tiny almond trees (which could probably be done as they have miniature peach trees and vertical espelied peach trees and almonds are essentially a type of peach pit)

The areas that are suitable is a function of the price. If the Californian Almond industry runs out of water then other more marginal areas will become viable.

They require a certain climate. That's why they aren't already being commercially planted in other places which they would be at current high prices if commercial production in those places were viable.

The media like to beat up on California nuts. But really, the largest and most unnecessary user of California water is Alfalfa. That is the low hanging fruit (no pun intended) in water savings.

Growing rice is also insane.

Yes the major problem with water in California is its current ownership and pricing. Almonds should be near the top of the most productive agricultural uses of water. Almonds also look rather nice - certainly much more interesting than alfalfa.

Glasses which become opaque when kissing love making scene pops up in Hunger games sequels, bcos some parents want those scenes to be censored out when they are watching the movie in theater with their young ones.

Verlet physics engine that supports

1) collisions

2) contraining particles by the area/volume

3) creating 'areas' that create and destroy particles based off forces effecting it and whether or not the two lines connecting two particles are parallel

Decentralized supply-chain system with cryptocurrency escrows, crowdsourced delivery drivers and crowdsourced video verification of delivery verification.

I am sure no one would use this to buy and sell illicit substances. Anyone thinking of working on this idea had better be pretty good at not revealing who they are.

Whatever, same argument as cash enables crime. Cars enable drive-bys & bank robberies.

I'm thinking of automated industrial supply chains. Robot delivery cars for mass factories, automated checking on deliveries.

1) A lightweight CRM for friends. I'd love a tool that takes the teachings of someone like Keith Ferrazzi and builds a simple tool around making it much easier for me to be a better networker. Facebook doesn't quite get the use cases right, and neither does linkedin, and other CRMs are too heavy weight to be practical. Maybe with tips on managing my professional networking life in addition to my individual relationships (eg, suggest among my network a group of 4 that would make a good dinner party, and see that I haven't done a dinner party in a while and suggest to send an invite to the group). Or, tell it a handful of aspirational goals (work at Google, start a company, go to YC) and have it suggest a path to get closer to that goal by probing my network, discreetly connect me to others with similar or complimentary goals, suggest when I can help someone that has a goal that's close to my expertise, etc.

2) It would be really cool to get the 'magic' of the command line into the hands of everyday people that don't even know what it is. Magic sort of does with with SMS. I'd love to see an app toy that you totally interact with by emailing it. Then you could email it for all sorts of automated things -- :bcc the app to log data, send it an email for reminders, simple commands could be parsed and understood. It wouldn't have to do a bunch of NLP at first, you could be strict about how the data needs to be formatted for it to work.

3) This one is nebulous, but I think software discovery for the enterprise is really broken right now. There is still WAY too much outbound phone sales and old fashion 'network' selling going on. There should be some place I could go as, say, a sales ops manager to check out the best software eating the uses cases for sales operations (Ambition, BaseCRM, Yesware, etc etc). Maybe it's product hunt style group voting. Maybe it's a curated, impartial look into the 'stacks' of the industry companies that are considered 'best in class'. Maybe it's something looking at Google trend data and finding 'momentum' sort of like Mattermark. Maybe it's a 'pagerank' style connection map by looking at VC investors and the 'client' pages of startups. I dunno the best way to get good information that scales and nimbly identifies new ideas when they emerge, but if you figured out that problem you'd be solving a huge, very real problem and be in the middle of what will be billions of dollars in $ shifting around in the next 10-20 years. Search like Google works when you already know what you want, but it's really hard to distinguish the signal and noise with all the new tech and tools and toys emerging to take over different use cases for large companies. And the people in the large companies that need to know this information often don't have enough time to do the research or even where to begin.

+1 for #3. I was working very actively on that problem about a year ago. The issue is to scale such thing with current way. Also typical chicken and egg problem

Interesting. What was the project? I'd love to learn more about it. Feel free to email me if you don't want to leave info in comment thread (email is in my profile).

I think the scale issue is a technology problem... it's finding the right algorithm or model that scales itself vs. being human driven. You might be able to do the latter for a while to build the audience, though, and slowly replace it with the former over time (to help with chicken / egg problem).

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