The Magic of Blogging by Email

I’ve been practicing posting by email to make it easier to blog when my only access to the internet will be my phone. It wasn’t as difficult to post by email as I thought it would be.

The first thing I needed to do was to get a special email address. To do this, go to your dashboard and click on “my blogs.” The easiest way to find “my blogs” is to go to your blog, hover your cursor over “my site” on the left navigation strip, then click on “WP Admin.” You should see “My blogs” on the left sidebar close to the top.

Click “enable email” for the blog you wish to post to via email. That will give you a special email address. I input the email address in my phone so I don’t have to ever think about it again, and now it’s ready whenever I need it.

To post by email, go to your email on your phone and open a new message. The recipient, of course, is that secret email address WordPress assigned to you. The subject line is the title of the blog. The body of the email is the blog itself. An attached photo will show up on the bottom of the email. Apparently, as of now, there isn’t a way to align the image via email. If you want to realign it — to add it to the top of the blog or to wrap text around it — you have to edit the post on your computer.

There are some really cool aspects of email blogging, for example, the shortcodes. [category a,b,c] will post categories. The categories must already be ones you use on your blog. The brackets are part of the shortcode, and there can be no space before the word “category” or after the last category you use. (In this case, the letter c.) You don’t even have to use the whole word, just the first few letters, but I haven’t yet tried out that tip.

For tags, use the shortcode [tags a,b,c]. Again, no space before the word “tags” and after the last tag. Be sure to separate tags with commas. New tags will be automatically generated; they don’t already need to be in use on your blog.

If you attach more than one photo, they will show up as a gallery. If you want each one posted individually, use the shortcode [nogallery].

These three shortcodes can be placed anywhere in the email and it won’t affect the text of your post.

Magic!

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Testing 4 5 6

(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)

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Yesterday I tried out the post by email feature on WordPress but forgot to add tags and categories. so today I need to try to do that too. I’m disappointed that the photos appear at the end of the post rather than at the beginning or in line with text, but I’m pleased that I can post at all. The main problem is that the photo appeared after my signature line, so I’m experimenting with putting the signature line first. If it’s too annoying let me know and in future posts by email I’ll just leave it off or just not worry that the photo is tacked on as an afterthought.

I’m also trying to do this without wifi because obviously if I’m out in the middle of nowhere I’ll be lucky to have a signal of any kind and definitely no wifi.

I took my last walk in the neighborhood today, and then ended out in the desert. I’ll miss that easy access to the wilds, but there will be more wilds in the future. This is an interesting time in my life, that’s for sure.

Testing 1 2 3

I figure since my internet access might be a problem, I should learn how to blog by email. I read the tutorial but there is no way to find out if I learned anything unless I test myself. Okay let’s do it. Abracadabra! Post!

***

Posted via phone. Since this smartphone is probably more intelligent than me, blame any mistakes on the phone.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Desert Procrastinations

I have about 12 hours of work I have to do this weekend, so like any well-disciplined person, I got up early, went right to work . . . and checked out Facebook and emails on my computer. Then, because apparently I hadn’t procrastinated enough, I spent a couple of hours resurrecting old email addresses. They hadn’t been used in so long, I had to go through a lot of rigmarole to prove I was human and that these near-defunct emails were mine. (Tell me honestly — can you remember the exact day you opened your email account? And if you have one that’s been inactive for a long time, can you remember the exact day you last used it? Well, gmail expected me to remember. Sheesh.)

Actually, a couple of the email addresses were not strictly mine — they were emails I set up for Jeff. (I don’t have any idea why I decided to keep them alive. But they are available if he ever decides to contact me.) A couple of other addresses were emails I had set up years ago when I was playing around with downloading music. In one case, I used the email a single time before it became flooded with so much spam, it became unusable. (It’s not often you can tell exactly where the spam originated, but since that was the only thing I had done with that email, it was obvious.)

Realizing this online activity wouldn’t get my work finished (or even started), I turned off the computer and went for a walk. A long, long walk. It felt good to stretch out. Felt good to visit the desert again. (Felt even better not doing my work!)

desert knolls

I had a few pangs of nostalgia thinking that in a couple of weeks this near-private patch of desert will no longer be mine. I’ve grown fond of the stark landscape, the tans and taupes,

the rare but brilliant spots of color.

poppy

Still, the thought of all the new places I might walk offset the wistfulness.

When I returned from my walk, I got right to work . . . on this blog.

I just can’t seem to force myself to get the 12-hour task done. The job is tedious and almost anything would be more fun. Watching water boil, for example, would be more fun. Or watching rocks race each other across the desert floor.

Maybe I’ll get up early tomorrow. Start working before I know what I’m doing.

Yep. That’s what I’ll do.

For sure.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Centering Myself

I’m sitting here trying to find my center. I had a great day up until now. Jazz class, great weather, sold my dad’s couches. Found myself smiling at odd times. Just felt great.

Then I came online and had to deal with frustration after frustration. Not with the internet or the computer or even Facebook for a change, but with people. Misunderstandings. Folks who can’t follow directions. People who assume . . . whatever the hell it is they assume.

circlesI’ve been trying to teach neophytes how to blog, and yikes. People, even older folks — especially older folks — don’t seem to know how to follow directions. But, as a friend always says, “Not my problem. Not my circus. Not my elephant.” As long as I stay around this area, I’ll probably have wifi, but if I take off “into the fog” as another friend put it, then internet connections will be sporadic. I certainly won’t use my limited data allowance (and my limited desire for writing long emails via phone) to help people who should be able to help themselves.

But then, I could be in the neophyte category myself soon, so I should be more accepting. If I don’t have access to wifi, then I’ll be doing my blog posts via email when cell service allows, and that’s a whole new dimension of blogging. It doesn’t really seem difficult, just a different way of doing things, and like most things, when taken one step at a time, it’s doable. Apparently, the first step is to create a secret and private (is that redundant?) email address to send the blog post to. (It has to be secret/private because anyone who had the address could post to the blog as me.) The subject line will be the title of the post, the body of the email will be the body of the post. I just need to make sure I have a phone email service that takes rich text formatting. Photo attachments will show up in the body of the post. Categories and tags are added by short code. For example: [category x,y,z] and [tags a,b,c].

Maybe I should practice first. I don’t want to be up in the mountains somewhere with a very rare cell signal, and then screw up the post.

But not today. Today is complicated enough, though I have re-centered myself. No more frustrations. At least for the moment.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Countdown To Homelessness

Such a very strange time in my life — this countdown to homelessness. Strangest of all is that I, a world class worrier, am calm — even happy — about the whole thing. I do have occasional brief moments of panic and just as many moments of excitement, but mostly I think my situation is . . . amusing. Yes, that’s the word. Amusing.

I find myself musing about the future. I find myself bemused by the chain of events that lead me here. I find myself smiling in amusement at the possibilities of an uncertain life. And the necessary research keeps me amused for hours.

desertOddly, I am quite content with the thought of living nowhere in particular, but the truth is, as long as I am alive, I do have to be physically present somewhere, and that does give me pause. There is no place I really want to be, and the thought of being anywhere in particular spooks me.

The main conflict right now comes from my desire to continue taking dance classes, but unless I find a place to stay here, I will be heading out. (Maybe just for the summer or until I can find a place here. Thanks to the internet, every place is everywhere, so I don’t have to be present to continue looking.) I have offers of places to stay in an emergency, and I will probably take people up on their offers since I have promised to continue taking classes until June. (We have a performance at the end of May — a Hawaiian War Chant and a trio of Tahitian Apurimas. I love both these pieces. Energetic and so very exotic!)

I am leaving future to the fates, God, the universe . . . whatever you choose to name the Great Unknown. If I find a place, I stay here in the desert. If I don’t, well, I have friends to meet all over the country, and actually, all over the globe. But specifically, I have offers of places to stay temporarily in Northern California and Texas. Invitations to hike in Door County. Lunch in Ohio. A dear friend in Louisiana to connect with. An old friend near Tucson to reconnect with. A friend to meet in Quartzsite (and maybe even a place to stay if she hasn’t sold her RV.) An invitation to visit a friend in New Zealand. Plans to meet a friend in Australia. (If you want to be added to this list, please let me know!)

To be honest, considering the state of my finances, I should get a job, but there’s nothing much I’m suited for except looking after the sick, old, and dying (it’s all I’ve done the past 10 years) and I’m ready for LIFE.

I’d considered getting a van and turning it into a camper, considered getting a larger car that I can sleep in, but somehow (not sure how, exactly) I decided to get my ancient VW Beetle restored. It started with my wanting a paint job so I wouldn’t look like a bag lady living in a decrepit car, but no place would paint a car with rust even if I signed a waver, so the rust had to be removed, and if I did that, I might as well have the dents fixed, and if I did that, I might as well . . . see? Somehow it all just happened.

And somehow, my future will just happen, too.

I do love the idea of traveling around the country in my bug, visiting my online friends, camping out in remote and not so remote areas, getting a feel for the world and my place in it. (Maybe preparing for some sort of epic walk while I’m at it.) Since I have no experience camping and have no gear, there is a whole new realm to get to know. Where can I tent camp for free or almost free? I don’t want to be around RVs, won’t need the same sort of amenities, and wouldn’t really be a part of that culture, anyway. And I definitely don’t want to camp in the middle of a busy campground. So I’m researching tent campgrounds and camping equipment. I covet the eight-person tent I saw — multiple rooms, plenty of space, even a closet! — but it seems a bit impractical. There are wonderful camp toilets, but the practicality ends with the cost of the liners and fillers. They would be fine for a week or two, but months? No. Way too expensive. So, lots and lots of research!

Whether or not I ever do any of this — camping, traveling cross-country, taking a freighter to New Zealand, staying here and continue taking dance classes — it’s a true experience rethinking what is necessary for both my comfort and safety. The internet is a necessity, of course, but I can use my phone to post my blog (which I would do whenever I could find a signal) and use truck stops and other public places when I need to use the computer.

If I’m traveling in my car rather than on foot, I’d have no problem carrying enough food, water, shelter, pillows whatever I need for comfort and cleanliness. But safety? Eek. I just read about a guy sleeping in a tent who had been bitten in the head by a black bear. Oh, that is so not on my agenda!! Nor are ticks and miss-quits (as a friend calls mosquitoes because they never miss and never quit). So more research needed!

Do you see what is most important to me? Internet, comfort, safety, in that order. Hmmm. Don’t quite know what to think about my priorities. Might have to research that too.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

The Internet, Twitter, and Other Frustrations

Frustrations abound, the most significant one being a spotty internet connection for two days. It took almost the whole day yesterday to post one not-very-interesting article. Today I’ve been trying to research Twitter and the best way to use the site. I can’t see Twitter as a way of making friends like I’ve done here on this blog and on Facebook, but several people have told me it’s a good way for an author to sell books. Of course, they have also told me I won’t sell books via Twitter because my books are not sold as cheaply as self-published books, so who knows if Twitter will make any difference in my life, but it’s worth a try.

chickenSo many things are confusing when it comes to Twitter. For example, you can only follow 2,000 people, yet the most active people on the site follow more than 10,000. (Apparently, at some point, the cap is lifted.) The limit has something to do with keeping out robot accounts and controlling spam, but it doesn’t make much sense because the number of tweets a person can tweet a day is capped at 1000. I don’t care who you are. Posting 1000 times a day constitutes spam in my opinion!

The most confusing thing is that Twitter will tell you what you are doing wrong, such as unfollowing too many people in a day, but they won’t tell you how many people you can unfollow. I can see the bewildered look on your face as you wonder why you would want to unfollow someone you followed. Well, once you hit 2,000 followers, apparently you can’t add more until you have approximately that many following you, so if you want to follow someone specific, you have to unfollow someone else.

There used to be a service called TwitCleaner that would tell you who unfollowed you (a lot of folks will follow you, hoping you will follow then back, and once you do follow them, they unfollow you) but Twitter changed their API (application program interface), making the service ineffective and it went out of business. Now, though, you can do some of it yourself. If you go to your twitter page and click on “following” you will see all your followers and if they are following you back. If they don’t follow you back and they aren’t someone you are interested in, they are safe to unfollow.

Another thing that is so very confusing is that you can set up your blog and various other sites to post directly to Twitter, which is what I used Twitter for — a place to automatically link my blog posts in the hope of getting someone interested in my articles. But — and this is a big but — what Wordpress posts is the title and link and your name (and theirs), and you get almost no views that way. People like color, graphics, hints of what the blog is about, hashtags (hashtags are like tags on wordpress; they give people a way of finding your posts) and if your blog post is automatically posted on Twitter, all of that is missing.

It’s like hootsuite.com. A lot of people use sites like that to post articles and comments to all their sites at once, but anything posted from hootsuite is posted outside the parameters of (for example) Facebook’s algorithms. Those algorithms are what dictates who and how many gets to see what you post, and they reward those who garner a lot of interactions. But if you post via a secondary site rather than directly to FB, your “pebble” leaves no ripples.

Then there is the egg situation. If you don’t post a photo for your profile, the empty space where your photo would be looks like an egg, hence the name “egg” for those with no profile picture. Very few people want to deal with blanks, so the general consensus is to ignore eggs. And yet, sometimes eggs are simply those with no time to fill out the information. So do you follow eggs or not?

Lots to think about while I’m waiting for the internet provider repairperson to come. And that, of course, will add to the frustrations, because you and I know the truth. When they get here, the internet will be on one of it’s “up” cycles.

But it’s all part of the game. I’m just glad I’m able to play it, frustrations and all. Maybe someday I’ll even figure out how to make all this information work for me.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

 

Pinning Interest in Pinterest

In a recent discussion about promotion for writers, someone asked what the benefit of Pinterest would be for authors.

I answered: I’m not a fan of Pinterest, so I can’t really tell you the benefits. I do know authors post all sorts of things related to their books, things they are interested in, quotes, whatever. The truth is, though, that anything you do on the internet helps get you noticed, which is a good thing. The secret is to do what is fun for you. Me, I prefer blogging, with a bit of Facebooking. I mostly use Twitter, Tumblr, Google+ and Linkedin to post blog links. I also used to be a major presence on a couple of now defunct social networking sites that I enjoyed.

Sherrie Hansen does a lot with Pinterest. Maybe she can help answer your question. Sherrie? Sherrie? Any thoughts about Pinterest?

I’ve known author Sherrie Hansen for several years now (online only so far), and she is someone I have grown to admire tremendously. By day, Sherrie operates the Blue Belle Inn B&B & Tea House and tries to be a good pastor’s wife. By night, she writes. I don’t know how she ever manages to do anything else, but she also keeps up with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and probably all the other networking sites, too. And she posts a perfect blog every month for the Second Wind Publishing blog. She uses many lovely photos, tells a bit about her life and how it intersects with her novels, and ends with an inspiring message. Can’t get much better than that! Question Marks and Other Things That Make You Think by Sherrie Hansen is her most recent post. Check it out.

Sherrie kindly posted the following response to my question:

I agree with Pat completely when she said, “Do what is fun for you.” I love Pinterest and think of it as a big file cabinet with color-coded folders for fun things – except that I don’t have to dig through a bunch of papers when I want to go back and find what I need.

One fun way to use Pinterest is to make a folder for each of your books and use them like a story board – pictures of people who look like your characters, links to the location where your story takes places, sites you’ve used for research, clothes of the period or style your characters would wear, basically whatever you want handy when you’re working on your book, and whatever gets you in the mood to write or helps you to visualize people and places important to the story. I’ve also tagged the style of font and photos I want to use on the cover.

On a personal note, I use Pinterest to pin things that I like – songs I want to learn so I can play them with my music group, ideas of things to make with my nieces and nephew, places I’ve traveled to or want to see one day when I’m rich, recipes to use in my tea house or at church events, garden and landscape ideas, and of course, my love of rainbows. If nobody ever sees them but me, that’s fine, because I like using it to organize the things that are important to me and to keep track of things I don’t want to forget about. If someone looks at my pin and thinks – I have a lot in common with this person, or hey, we like almost all the same things, or wow – this lady has great taste, and wants to give my books a try, that’s wonderful. And I have had that happen.

When you pin things, you can click a box to have them shared simultaneously on Twitter and or Facebook. The general rule for social media is to post 80% personal posts so that you are building relationships (which is what social media is all about), and no more than 20% business posts designed to promote yourself or your books. When it comes to sharing personal things or what’s going on in my head, or the bigger scope of my world, it’s a lot easier to quickly pin something than it is to stop and try to think of something clever to say about my day. Both are windows to your personality. Both are important… but it’s nice to have variety – and pictures for those of us who are visual learners and relaters.

***

Thank you, Sherrie. You’ve even got me interested in playing around with my still mostly empty Pinterest site.

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Sherrie Hansen writes romance. Her novels, Shy Violet (coming soon), Blue Belle, Wild Rose, Thistle Down, Love Notes, Night & Day, Stormy Weather, Water Lily & Merry Go Round are available from SecondWindPublishing.com.

A Little of a Lot of Things

Hurray for blogging! I’ve been on my feet all day, and if it weren’t for my wanting to continue the discipline of daily blogging, I’d be on my feet still.

I’ve been sorting and packing, which I’m sure seems as ludicrously long a task to you as it does to me since I’ve been working at getting packed for more than four months now. I don’t even have much personal stuff, maybe two dozen boxes of household goods, office supplies, and personal items, and that’s it. Well, three dozen if I include Jeff’s video collection and his VCRs, which I’m keeping for now. I have no furniture, no massive shoe collection, no clothes dating back to my youth, no vast number of books (no shelves to put them on, you see).

But when you’ve done a little of lot things for decades, you end up with a little of a lot of things. And that’s what I am having to deal with — a little of a lot of things and a lot of little things.

handmade miniature rosesToday I sorted through a few boxes of flowers and flower-making supplies and condensed it all down to two boxes. Took me all day. I can see the frown on your face. Why would that take so long, you’re wondering. Well, the flowers are very, very small. To show you how small, I took a photo of this pot of roses sitting on a quarter. Each petal of each rose was individually made, and if you look closely, you can probably see my fingerprints.

I don’t know if I will ever make any more flowers or flower arrangements, but I’m not about to toss out or give away the thousands of hours of work I have stored in those two boxes. And that’s just one of the many things I have had to sort through during these past months.

For most of my life, I made crafty things for a living (a sparse living, but what the heck. I never starved), and I got good at creating unique items. Because of this, I can do anything within a very narrow range. (Successful marketing, unfortunately, is outside that range.) My two or three remaining wholesale customers for miniature cloth dolls (1-1/2” tall, fully clothed) want me to keep making the dolls. My few fans and my publisher want me to go back to writing. The people who have seen my jewelry, think I should go back to plying my pliers. Those who have seen my various scale miniatures think I should go back to trying to make a living at it. (Strangely, though thousands have seen the only piece of art I ever did — a one-inch-tall oil painting — no one has ever suggested I go back to painting. Do you recognize the painting? I tweaked it and used it for the cover of More Deaths Than One, which some people have called the ugliest cover of all time.)

The problem is I don’t want to go back to anything. I want to go forward to . . . I don’t know what. I keep hoping that someday my fingers will fill in the “I want” so I can look at it in amazement and say, “Aha! Why didn’t I think of that?” (My dance teacher wants me to keep dancing, as do I, but we both know there is no career in dancing in my future. Dancing is one of those things that if you start in your teens, you’re already too old.)

Meantime, I am sorting, clearing out what I know I will never use (and of course, those discards could be the very things I will need, but I’m okay with that), and packing the rest until I can figure out what to do with the stuff — or even better, until I can figure out what to do with me.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

I AM Writing

My publisher sent me a message asking that I continue to write. He said, “You’re a wonderful writer and you do no service to yourself, Literature or anyone by saying you’re not going to write; after what you endured with your family (your dad and schizophrenic bro in particular—and the story isn’t over, is it), you have the material for a companion volume to Grief: The Great Yearning —of which I still sell a lot of copies. I want you to keep writing.”

As much as I appreciate the affirmation from my publisher, my life is so up in the air right now, without anything to tether me to the earth (except perhaps my dance classes), that I don’t know if I will ever write another book, though eventually I would like to finish the books I have started, including the book about my dance class. But the truth is, whether I continue to write books or just my daily posts, whether I publish with Second Wind or simply publish on this blog, I am writing because blogging is writing, too.

Anyone who writes is, of course, a writer, though the facility of self-publishing unreadable, unremarkable, and unworthy books has fudged the lines. It used to be that “real writers” were chosen by faceless editors working for megacorporations, but now writers are chosen by themselves, leaving readers floating in a sea of gutless books. (Gutless because so many books have no core. Gutless because so many writers never really risked anything.)

It used to be that money made a writer. If you earned your living by writing, you were a writer. Sometimes it was acclaim by the self-appointed literati that made a writer. And sometimes it was fame that made a writer. But mostly, it was sales. Money.

It still is sales that make a writer . . . to a certain extent. I know many so-called writers who toss out a book they wrote in a month with little editing, and people buy the books for some unfathomable reason. (Unfathomable to me, anyway.) I know other writers — excellent writers who actually have something to say, who work at their craft, and who write the best book possible no matter how long it takes — who have few sales.

So what makes a writer? Since writing is basically a form of communication, perhaps readers make a writer. And I have readers galore — on this blog, anyway. Some of my posts have had more than 10,000 readers. (But, keeping things realistic, some of my best posts had less than 100.) Maybe it’s the ability to touch people’s lives through words that make a writer, and that I have done by being willing to open up and tell the truth about my life. I many never write a book about my dealings with my dad and brother, but here on this blog, I have already written the story as it happened.

I always wanted to be a writer, and for many years it saddened me that I didn’t have the talent. Well, by dint of hard work, I learned how to write. Even found a publisher who loved my books. I just never learned how to sell enough books to make a living at writing, so I’ve never considered myself a real writer.

But I am.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

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