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U.S. Safety Commision 'Keeping an Eye' on the Wii 102

Posted by Zonk
from the watching-the-flying-wiimote dept.
In the wake of this past week's offer from Nintendo to replace our Wiimote straps, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says they'll be keeping an eye on the situation in the future. For the time being they are satisfied with Nintendo's handling of the problem. Just the same, Kotaku reports that the organization wants to make sure there aren't a lot of subsequent 'flying Wiimote' incidents. From the article: "Because Nintendo self-reported the issue, the commission will not do its own investigation unless new issues crop up with the new strap. 'If the problem continues with the new strap that's where we might step in," she said. "We also would have to decide if it's a safety issue.' Vallese added that that means that if remotes were, for instance, smashing into a television hard enough to cause the tube to explode or somehow stop working in a dangerous way, it could also be deemed a safety issue."
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U.S. Safety Commision 'Keeping an Eye' on the Wii

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  • Overboard (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pembo13 (770295) on Saturday December 16, 2006 @05:56AM (#17267124) Homepage
    I think people are _really_ going overboard with this entire things now. It's not as if the controllers are launching themselves. As nice/good as it is of Nintendo to replace the straps. This is just settings the bar lower for common sense. If your hand is sweaty, please dry it off for the sake of people around you. I'm curious as to how much tension the straps takes before breaking myself, and also how the replacement straps fair in that metric. But really, the controllers aren't supposed to be flying (or are games somehow requiring this?). Has anyone been able to actually damage the remote itself? It seems as if it is near indistructable.
    • Re:Overboard (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ejdmoo (193585) on Saturday December 16, 2006 @06:00AM (#17267136)
      Nintendo should never have put straps on in the first place. They should have just told people to not let go.

      On another note, Gizmodo [gizmodo.com] has a bit on how strong the strap is...pretty strong if you ask me.
      • by 7Prime (871679)
        I actually quite like the strap, even if I'm playing something as kineticly tame as Zelda, it really feels like I'm "strapped in" to the game, it actually adds an extra little layer of immersion, in a funny way. I think it's comforting, for some reason. I don't know if other people have found this to be the case, or not, but a lot of people are wearing the straps.
      • "Nintendo should never have put straps on in the first place. They should have just told people to not let go."
        GM never should have put seat belts into cars in the first place. They should have just told people to not let go.

        Your argument is foolish. The Wii manual specifically states that people should not "let go"; adding a safety precaution on top of that is a good step. Now, go roast in hell.

    • If your hand is sweaty, please dry it off for the sake of people around you.
      Exactly - just like if you playing real (as in life) tennis - which you wouldn't do in the lounge, would you? Would a sane person play football there? Or practice Jujitsu in the kitchen?
      • Exactly - just like if you playing real (as in life) tennis - which you wouldn't do in the lounge, would you? Would a sane person play football there? Or practice Jujitsu in the kitchen?
        yeah, but neither would a sane person play tennis or football for 36 hours straight. you're not dealing with sane people here, these are gamers.

    • It seems as if it is near indistructable.

      Haven't you heard? Nintendo hardware is more durable than most. Have you ever had your parents chuck your GBA out the window, watch it roll sideways down the hill and land in some bushes, retrieve it, and see that it's still intact AND working withonly three small scratches on the screen?

      Heck, they're even MORE durable than the televisions!!!
    • by gmezero (4448) on Saturday December 16, 2006 @10:52AM (#17268414) Homepage
      This is awsome press coverage for Nintendo that they don't even have to pay for. "Oooh look, Nintendo is dangerous! The Governement is keeping their eye on them." It's almost always good to play the bad-boy card in the U.S. market. Consumers eat it up. :) Anyone who wasn't thinking about buying a Wii might think that they should check to see what all the fuss is about... and if it makes another sale, cha-ching!
      • First of all, you bet your ass they're paying for it! A full recall (although they're not calling it that) on all the straps on the Wiimotes is going to cost them. Even if only 10% or something actually do send their's back, that's hundreds of thousands in shipping, repackaging, and wages for people having to put them back on.

        Secondly, I don't think this could be FURTHER from the "bad boy card". This is Nintendo, voluntarely standing up, saying, "there's a problem with our product, we don't want anyone to

        • by gmezero (4448)
          I counter that with this morning, a non-gamer co-worker came over and asked me "So what's this about people getting hurt using that new game machine?"

          I explained the whole situation to them and that was followed with a "Gee, I bet my wife would enjoy that, she likes to excercise but can never find the time. It sounds interesting. Where can I check it out?"
          • by 7Prime (871679)

            Sure, obviously any press is good for them, but there are better and easier ways of getting press than purposefully making faulty hardware so that it will get press.

            My one question is: after you're discussion over thrown video-game equipment, his first thought was about his wife... do I sense some... uhhh... trouble at home?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by DaSH Alpha (979904)
      Yeah, I think they should be investigating the people who didn't develop very good motor skills in childhood instead. I've never even come close to releasing the controller from my hand, although I have come close a few times to hitting stuff around me (coffee table, cats) while playing bowling and tennis. But I'm not going to be a moron and blame Nintendo for my lack of proper attention.
      • by Shirloki (563610)
        Hang on now! We can't let people take the blame for their own actions! That's what lawyers call attractive nuisance. If a kid down the street steals gasoline from your car and severely burns himself, OF COURSE it's your fault! You parked the damn thing in your driveway!
    • I'm curious as to how much tension the straps takes before breaking myself, and also how the replacement straps fair in that metric

      My straps haven't snapped yet, but they are starting to fray where they loop on the wiimote, and I'm not even swinging it in full motion like those people you see in online wiisaster videos.

      I guess that eventually the string just becomes too weak from fraying.
  • and conduct extensive tests. Its the only way to be sure.

  • Uh... what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RyoShin (610051) <tukaro AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday December 16, 2006 @06:03AM (#17267150) Homepage Journal
    People get whacked in the head with golf clubs, tennis clubs, all sorts of stuff all the time. Safety Commision pays no heed.

    People have thrown cellphones and remotes across the room in frusturation before. Safety Commision pays no heed.

    Nintendo implements tool to keep device from being thrown across room. Nintendo then upgrades tool and offers replacement of 'inferior' version to try and keep accidents down. And now the Safety Commision is a bit concerned? For. Fucks. Sake.
    • Re:Uh... what? (Score:5, Informative)

      by An Anonymous Coward (236011) on Saturday December 16, 2006 @06:28AM (#17267224)
      From TFA:

      "She said that there are two ways in which the commission can get involved in a product safety issue. One is by discovering the problem on their own, either through consumer complaints or their own research, the other is by the company notifying them of an issue.

      In this case Nintendo contacted the commission and asked to fast track the solution, which involved offering to replace about 2 million Wii remote safety straps.

      Because Nintendo self-reported the issue, the commission will not do its own investigation unless new issues crop up with the new strap."

      So the Commision is only getting involved because Nintendo asked them to.
      • Re:Uh... what? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by RyoShin (610051) <tukaro AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday December 16, 2006 @12:48PM (#17269150) Homepage Journal
        Good point. The synopsis makes it sound like the Safety Council will be following the Wiimote strap very closely, as if it's some big concern. This quote, though, still make me wonder:

        Vallese added that that means that if remotes were, for instance, smashing into a television hard enough to cause the tube to explode or somehow stop working in a dangerous way, it could also be deemed a safety issue.
        Going back to my OP, how is that any different than someone throwing a TV remote at the screen in frusturation? That's probably not any more uncommon than these incidents with the Wiimote. The tube explosion is unintended in either case, though the reasons for throwing the device are quite different. I don't see the Safety Council leaning on remote manufacturers about this.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          As a guess, I would say that it is a matter of scale ...

          The Gamecube sold 12 Million systems in North America and I think it is pretty safe to assume the Wii will sell more than that...

          If 1% of person-play-sessions result in a dropped controller and 1% of those are thrown with enough force to cause damage to a TV and if you assume 1-person-playsession/console-day you would get 1,200 Wiimotes thrown a day or about 420,000/year; if 1% of those caused an exploding TV you'd have 4,200 exploding TVs/year.

          Do I th
        • by ultranova (717540)

          Going back to my OP, how is that any different than someone throwing a TV remote at the screen in frusturation? That's probably not any more uncommon than these incidents with the Wiimote. The tube explosion is unintended in either case, though the reasons for throwing the device are quite different.

          Since the tube contains a vacuum, if it gets cracked there's going to be an implosion, not explosion.

        • by Izhido (702328)
          Dude, you're not getting it. TV remotes are not supposed to be thrown at a TV screen, just to point at it so we can do things with the TV. Wiimotes, in the other hand, are >>intended to be moved at high speed in all directions, and many of them, towards the TV screen. If you throw a TV remote at the screen, it's your fault if it gets broken. If you throw your Wiimote at your screen, it's because you (and, probably, Nintendo) were expected to do it, and if your screen gets broken, it is an accident. On
      • By being so unconventionally honest and open Nintendo has also probably limited (most of) the legal fall out from this recall. I'm not a lawyer but from my limited understanding of the law (which varies from country to contry and state to state) if you can demonstrate that you practiced due-diligence the legal consequences are far less severe.
        • by Wordplay (54438)
          Which makes it a minor wonder that it's quite so unconventional. You'd think more companies would want to limit their liability, since trying to keep secrets works less and less well as people become better informed through the internet.

          Of course, I don't know if it's all that rare anymore. Microsoft did the same thing with the Xbox power cord issue, and the Xbox 360 warranty extensions, etc. I'm sure there are plenty of other examples where an infrequent issue was publicized reasonably widely and the co
          • Which makes it a minor wonder that it's quite so unconventional. You'd think more companies would want to limit their liability, since trying to keep secrets works less and less well as people become better informed through the internet.

            Less and less is still >0. They've still got Marketroids saying that things like that are bad for PR. The truth is, the only time anyone actually says "There's no such thing as bad press." is when they're knee-deep in it and trying to appear glib and unconcerned (or are a
    • by nomadic (141991)
      And now the Safety Commision is a bit concerned?

      Yes, exactly. They're a "bit" concerned. That's it. That's all. How can you be that outraged over them NOT TAKING ACTION?
  • by SpectreHiro (961765) on Saturday December 16, 2006 @06:09AM (#17267162) Homepage
    ... But when I finally get mine, I think I might do a little home modding on my Wii-Motes. I've got standard-issue sweaty geek palms, so a little Grip Tape [wikipedia.org] might be a good idea. Considering the fact that my elderly parents are also interested in playing (not to mention my goofy nieces), the TV will probably appreciate it.
    • by Enoxice (993945)
      You can also get some stylish wiimote condoms: http://keentop.en.alibaba.com/product/0/51328074/W II_Remote_Control_Silicone_Sleeve.html [alibaba.com]

      I haven't personally tried one, but according to third-party testimonial they get the job done quite well.
      • Yup, they work great. Both my brother and my father have bought Wiis (I've just been unlucky and not gotten one yet) and all 4 of the Wii-motes (2 for each system) have the condoms. The grip on them is great, we've played numerous hours of the Golf and Bowling games and never once had a Wii-mote slip out of hand. Of course, we are all rather sane in the amount of force we use, so this has not really been tested in extreme conditions. Also, they make Wii-mote identification easier. You get one in a colo
  • by zarkzervo (634677) on Saturday December 16, 2006 @06:29AM (#17267226) Homepage Journal
    Drop the American market. It's just a matter of time before some idiot uses a real bat on a controller, spreading plastic splinters all over his mates. "How would I supposed to know that a real bat would destroy the wiimote? Nintendo should make it impossible to throw the wiimote. They should pay me a gadzjillion dollars!" If Nintendo drops the american market, we here in Europe could get some ;)
  • by Grey Ninja (739021) on Saturday December 16, 2006 @07:00AM (#17267326) Homepage Journal
    I've had a Wii since launch. I've dropped the remote once or twice while playing (I think both times were while boxing. I'm terrible at the game, so I pretty much do the equivalent of button mashing, which is waving it around wildly). The strap held up just fine.

    A more serious incident was when I was playing Baseball with my girlfriend's 5 year old daughter. She was pitching, and I was batting. She was standing almost directly in front of the TV as usual, and I was standing further back, near the wall so that I was out of reach of her. What happened was she pitched the ball, and then stepped back for some reason. I was taking a swing at the ball, and I was fairly focused on the TV. I heard a very satisfying CRACK! as the remote hit her head, and the bat hit the ball. I got a home run. She got a hurt head. And learned an important lesson about Wii safety. She hasn't done that again. ;-)

    (Yeah, I know that I'm a bastard. But surprisingly, she wasn't that hurt, despite me whacking her in the back of the head nearly as hard as I could. (The battery cover flew off of the remote, but it was otherwise undamaged, and the battery cover didn't break))
    • Re:My experience. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Henry V .009 (518000) on Saturday December 16, 2006 @08:57AM (#17267800) Journal
      What lesson did she learn? Stay away from Mom's boyfriend or get beaten? Good god, you dumb fuck, if you're playing with 5-year-olds, you're the one to be careful.
      • by soft_guy (534437)

        What lesson did she learn?
        She learned that the Wii remote is well made and durable.
      • by WCLPeter (202497)
        My grandmother had 16 kids so I have many nieces, nephews and cousins. At family functions, being the "fun" uncle, I'm usually tapped to supervise and play with those kids. I can tell you with certainty, kids are unpredictable bundles of pure energy. It doesn't matter how careful you are in playing with them, you *will* unintentionaly hurt them.

        Kids are pretty smart in their own way, but they don't have the same wisdom and level of understanding of the world as adults do. They *will* do things no sane a
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LKM (227954)
      Wow, that got modded "funny"? If you really did "whack" a five year old on the back of her head "nearly as hard as [you] could," you should take her to a doctor, not make fun of it, even if she doesn't show any symptoms.
      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Have you raised a five year old? If you took the kid to the doctor every time they hit their head or some other part of their body, that could be a hell of a lot of doctor visits! He didn't hit her with a baseball bat or punch her straight on - I think she'll be okay. And yes, the kid would be a wuss, too, if you took them to the doctor for every "booboo" they had. Talk about how to raise a hypochondriac.
        • If you took the kid to the doctor every time they hit their head or some other part of their body,

          If you can't see the difference between a girl hitting her head, and her parent whacking her on the head as hard as he can, you shouldn't have kids.

          • If you can't see the difference between a girl hitting her head, and her parent whacking her on the head as hard as he can, you shouldn't have kids.
            He said that he hit her, unintentially. I don't see anywhere where he said he "hit her as hard as he could". If you lack the reading comprehension to see the difference, you shouldn't be on Slashdot.

            Wait, I take that back. You're right at home.
      • She was rubbing her head for a little bit after I whacked her, but she wasn't even crying. She doesn't have a really low pain tolerance like a lot of 5 year olds, but believe me, if it had hurt her that bad she would be crying.

        And no, I wouldn't take her to the hospital for whacking her on the head. I'm not a psych person, but I did take an introductory psychology class. It's a pretty basic principle of psychology that the way we are raised does have a lot of bearing on our mental development. Parent
        • by LKM (227954)
          It's better to overcome your instinct and joke with the kid a little to get them to cheer up rather than fawning over them.

          I'd absolutely agree - if she had fallen down her bike, or hit her head on something, or scraped her knee after stumbling over something. But not if you hit her on hear head as hard as you could. Either you're really weak or really lucky, but hitting a five-year-old on the head as hard as you can can be really dangerous.

  • Well (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sv-Manowar (772313) on Saturday December 16, 2006 @07:34AM (#17267472) Homepage Journal
    It seems as if the talk about the Wiimote straps breaking is becoming almost as big news as the console itself, if you speak to anyone on internet gaming forums or offline who enjoys console gaming and you bring up the Wii, you will last about 5 minutes before someone tells you a story of how they know somebody who killed their TV/Cat/Sister with the Wiimote flying out of their hands. The BBC [bbc.co.uk] reported some advice from Nintendo and it seems like the last point adresses reason why most people are having this problem - "Do not use excessively rapid, violent or wide swinging motions during game play."

    I'd dare say that over 80% of the reason for the breakages right now is because people have been booting up Wii Sports and taking on, say, the Golf game thinking they have a real seven iron in their hands. Of course people are going to pretend it's the real game while playing Baseball or Boxing and with these kind of multiplayer games, when your with a friend you will both pretty easily start going at it with more violent movements. Games such as red steel in the shooting part are unlikely to have that many breakages happen, but as soon as you get into the sword fighting parts people will start thinking they are one of the fourty-seven samurai and start throwing the controller around. It's good to see Nintendo are beefing up the wrist strap with the recall but I still think it's less about product failure and more about people not using common sense while playing - on the flipside of that it is a game console (with a target market of young people), so surely Nintendo should have expected people to get a bit over excited and be at least slightly prepared for this.
  • Explode? (Score:3, Informative)

    by scdeimos (632778) on Saturday December 16, 2006 @07:47AM (#17267518)
    "We also would have to decide if it's a safety issue.' Vallese added that that means that if remotes were, for instance, smashing into a television hard enough to cause the tube to explode or somehow stop working in a dangerous way, it could also be deemed a safety issue."
    Sheesh, have CRT's been "off the market" so long that people have forgotten how they work? CRT's are big vacuum tubes. Due to the near-vacuum inside them, they will *implode* when broken, not explode. Worst case scenario the cathode guns (at the back of the tube) will try to come out through the front of the tube but will be restrained by the pins attached to the neck board and associated cables. The glass on the front of a tube is so thick (so it doesn't self implode) that you'd virtually have to hit one with a hammer to break it, usually with only the shadow mask getting dislodged and a whole bunch of phosphor with it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I can personally attest to the thin-ass screen on a 14" black and white monitor from goodness-knows-how-long-ago being quite resilient.

      It came time to dispose of "ol greener", so I did the only sensible thing: put it face-up in a dustbin and dropped bricks on it. Took quite a few, and then the tube just cracked and slowly filled with air. A wiimote? please.
    • by Mattsson (105422)
      I have actually seen this while working as it-support for a company.
      An angry customer had hit the front of a crt-monitor with a hammer.
      There where not a shredd of glass outside the tube. Just an "inverted crater" visible through the glass, a hole the size of the hammer-head and a strong smell of what probably was phosphor.

      No explotion... =)
  • by advocate_one (662832) on Saturday December 16, 2006 @07:57AM (#17267562)
    perhaps Microsoft or Sony? Who gains by all this news of Wii remotes smashing televisions then? perhaps some of these breakages are not true accidents? tin foil hat time
    • Yeah, its really in the interest of M$ and Sony to ensure that the Wii gets daily mentions in the media during the run up to ex-mas (along with comments about how excited people are getting over them). Seen anything in the mainstream press about the PS3 last week?

      As long as nothing really serious happens, the Nintendo marketing guys should be laughing all the way to the bank. They'll make more than enough to absorb a few ex-gratia payouts for broken tellys.

  • Vallese added that that means that if remotes were, for instance, smashing into a television hard enough to cause the tube to explode or somehow stop working in a dangerous way, it could also be deemed a safety issue.

    The tube to explode? First of all, since a cathodic tube is filled with vaccum, it might not create such a considerable deflagration, and then, what about people who'd catch Wiimotes in the head/face/eyes?

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      First of all, since a cathodic tube is filled with vaccum

      Is it now...

  • Excessive Force (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kurayamino-X (557754) <Kurayamino@nospam.graffiti.net> on Saturday December 16, 2006 @08:52AM (#17267774)
    I've seen video of one guy breaking the straps on a Wiimote.
    Be was pitching in baseball and threw the fucking controller.
    You do not throw the fucking controller.

    Aparrantly people seem to thing you have to put the same force behind your movements as if you were actually pitching or hitting or bowling or swinging a golf club. I'm starting to thing WiiSports was a really bad title to include with the console, maybe they should have gone with WiiPlay, I'm sure far fewer dickweeds would fling thier controller with enough force to break thier TV then.

    It's not the strap that's broken, the strap is only meant to stop you from accidentally dropping it, it's the retards putting way too much force behind thier movements. Maybe if they used it without the strap they'd be more careful.
  • by AWhistler (597388) on Saturday December 16, 2006 @09:05AM (#17267846)
    Nintendo needs to rethink the Wiimote. While I think that it's just stupid for people to not use the straps (you wouldn't be able to throw the wiimote if you strapped it down), it seems that people are truly becoming immersed in the games, even the ones with inferior graphics, so much so that they start treating their moves like the real thing.

    I see a solution is to create Wiimote gloves to keep the controller on the body. And another idea is to create Wiimote ankle controllers. This way games can be created that monitor feet movement (dance, dance revolution kinda thing). Then a new genre can start using game consoles...exercise videos! Imagine it...Jane Fonda's workout video game that could monitor your movements, tell you what you're doing right and wrong, monitor your heart rate (sensor in the glove), estimate calorie burning, save the game and keep a history, and draw charts of the history.

    There are issues with the glove (how to remap all the buttons and the trigger), and it may take away from the tactile feel of holding something in your hand, but the safety issue would be solved. Well, except for people smashing into furniture.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by tonyr1988 (962108)
      No, Nintendo needs to do nothing else to change anything. I got my Wii a while ago, and there is not one instance in any game that requires you to get even close to letting go of the remote. I've played with different people, and sometimes we'll even go crazy with the remotes. It's fun to swing your "sword" like a complete nutjob in Zelda, or run back and forth hitting the ball in Tennis (although neither is necessary at all). You don't throw a sword in real-life, you don't let go of a tennis racket, you sh
      • by AWhistler (597388)
        I agree that this is mostly user error, but if there are enough recalls, or even worse, lawsuits about "design flaws" in the Wii, Nintendo will yank this off the market VERY quickly. I REALLY don't want to see that happen. This is a truly new way of playing games, one in which kids, parents and grandparents can play together without any of them feeling dumb not knowing which strange combination of buttons to push to get an obscure move. Nintendo has really done something good here, so protecting it from
    • by minus_273 (174041)
      ".Jane Fonda's workout video game"

      the work being lunging forward to spit on a disabled vet. we could have the wiimote strapped to the neck
    • by Wordplay (54438)
      Yeah, Nintendo's tried that glove [wikipedia.org] thing before. It kinda sucked.

      Part of the reason the remote works better is because you can hold it in different ways, depending on the type of motion it's trying to simulate, and because it can be used with either hand. And as you say, there's also something very immersive about actually -holding- something. The glove won't be ambidextrous, and it'd be much more difficult to "drive", as you'd have to hold and move your hand in an absolutely specific way to make the moti
      • Yeah, Nintendo's tried that glove [wikipedia.org] thing before. It kinda sucked.

        If you actually read the URL you linked to, you'd see that it wasn't produced by Nintendo :p

        But after seeing the Angry Nintendo Nerd's [youtube.com] video on the Power Glove, I can agree that it kinda sucke.

  • by Ingolfke (515826) on Saturday December 16, 2006 @09:13AM (#17267896) Journal
    This Wii issue is the best advertising money can buy. What's wrong with the product... it's so fun people of all ages (particularly adults, one of their target demographics) are actually breaking the strapp while playing. This doesn't affect the actual functionality of product... you have to be careful... but the games still play and the Wii itself doesn't break. So they'll send out some replacement straps, while the news media covers this story for days demonstrating how to use the Wii, how young and old are using it and having a great time. How you should excercise some restraint while you have all of that fun.
  • We sure have come a long way since lawn darts!
  • So far I've had one close friend have a wrist strap "break" with the Wiimote subsequently flying across the room, leaving me to ask WHY the controller left his hand in the first place? The controller leaving his hand enabled the strap to break, not the other way around.

    Seriously, the only dangers involved in playing Wii games are the ones imposed by playing with people who seem to lack some motor skills or self-control. My wife hit me with a controller because she flails her arms wildly when boxing. My f
  • why hand guns do not have straps.
  • If someone did the same with their fist because they were stupid, would they sue god?
  • Let me refer you all to a quote from the Darwin Awards:

    "If you make something idiotproof, they will make a better idiot."

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