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[TRENCHES] Thursday, October 18, 2012 - Unoccupied

GethGeth LegionPerseus VeilRegistered User, Moderator, Penny Arcade Staff, Vanilla Staff vanilla
edited October 2012 in The Penny Arcade Hub
Unoccupied


Unoccupied
http://trenchescomic.com/comic/post/unoccupied

Have a GREAT time.

Anonymous

The finale of our project coincided with the acquisition of our development house by the publisher. The title had passed CERT earlier in the week, and we were being rewarded on Friday with a day out at Six Flags for our wrap party.

Everyone came dressed for a sunny day in the park, complete with shorts, sandals, and sunscreen. The buses rolled up to the company parking lot promptly at 9am, we loaded in for the trip, and our project manager handed out the tickets. We rolled right up to the main gate, and everyone quickly rushed out. The PM stood and waved and wished everyone a good time, and told us to be back here at sundown (about 9pm), and he departed with the buses.

We all went inside and had a fabulous time. The day rolled on and finally the sun was hanging low in the sky. Many of us began our exodus towards the exit, but no buses were to be found.

Ok, technically the sun wasn’t DOWN yet. I mean it was sunset but not actually NIGHT yet, so we all grabbed some burgers from that little front restaurant.

Still no buses.

The PA announced the rides are closing but the shops are open, so we head back to the main square and shop a little, checking periodically.

Still no buses.

Fair enough, maybe he meant they would be there at the official ”Closing Time” and not just when the rides stop.

Still no buses.

Ok, the park is closed, maybe they would be there once the parking lot had cleared a little bit and in/out had cleared. It was beginning to get the evening chill.

Still no buses.

Everyone with was trying to reach ANYONE about transportation. Some called family members and friends, others began to call taxis. Team members asked and bribed each other for rides home. I simply cannot properly describe the dark humor and delicious chaos of the situation.

By the end of the night, I ended up just getting dropped off at home, and intended on picking my car up the next morning.

On Saturday morning, I (and everyone else who came in the morning to pickup their car) was greeted with a surprise. The security code had been changed and the building was locked up. Literally locked up with heavy chain around the door.

As it turns out, the ”friendly acquisition” was a “passive dissolution.” While we were gone on Friday, the building and our accounts\emails\servers had all been put into lockdown to prevent anyone from deleting\damaging\destroying the publishers “new property.”

We were all out of a job, without so much as a pink slip and a “Goodbye” to show for it.


Geth on
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Posts

  • MuddBuddMuddBudd Registered User regular
    edited October 2012
    Wow, even as someone in the industry used to hearing shitty stories... that is... just DUMPING people like that and not coming back? It's like getting rid of a dog you don't want, and even then only the WORST sort of people do it that way.

    Jesus I would have shattered every window of the building. That is rage inducing.

    MuddBudd on
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  • ApolloinApolloin Registered User regular
    edited October 2012
    Why were there no pitchforks and torches at the end of that story? Why was the Project Manager not burned in effigy and then strung up from a lamp post?

    I'm always amazed that people buy a Studio without considering the fact that the staff are actually the only asset worth acquiring, unless there's also some tasty IP. Certainly I remember a studio I was working going down in flame and the Receivers seriously modifying their attitude towards the staff once they realised that it was basically a rented building with worthless computer hardware and a whole pile of source code that couldn't effectively be utilised without the original programming team.

    Apolloin on
  • RMS OceanicRMS Oceanic Registered User regular
    How is mass summary termination without notification until well after the fact even legal?

  • MuddBuddMuddBudd Registered User regular
    The other reason is eliminating the competition. I can only assume that plus an IP acquisition was the motivation here.

    That PM probably went into hiding. If this was something they didn't find out about until after everyone was shipped out, any sane human would have called people to let them know to arrange transport.

    So they knew ahead of time.

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  • SmrtnikSmrtnik job boli zub Registered User regular
    And what about personal property, photos, etc, that the staff had?

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  • Man in the MistsMan in the Mists Registered User regular
    edited October 2012
    Something like that would be great justification for burning the publisher's rep to ash. As well as anyone who was in on it.

    As for the comic...
    Q: What's the difference between problems and customers?
    A: Ignore a customer long enough and they will go away.

    Man in the Mists on
    pwn493
  • MuddBuddMuddBudd Registered User regular
    Smrtnik wrote: »
    And what about personal property, photos, etc, that the staff had?

    Or, and this is a hypothetical situation, stuff like medication or insulin? Not that any smart person wouldn't have backups or be able to go to the store (unless they were all closed), but goddamn.

    Presumably the next workday they allowed people to box up their stuff.

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  • -Tal-Tal Registered User regular
    the hell is the point of doing that

    the company paid for the six flags trip but couldn't just properly fire them

    were they literally paying extra for cowardice

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  • DiannaoChongDiannaoChong Registered User regular
    I find it hard to believe this could happen, without it appearing somewhere on the intertubes after it happening.

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  • Hungry DonnerHungry Donner Registered User new member
    I find it hard to believe this could happen, without it appearing somewhere on the intertubes after it happening.

    I figured the first responses in this thread would be identifying the studio, and I'd simply missed this blow up in the news before. I suppose if it occured in the 90s it may have flown under the radar, or perhaps it's just a very small studio . . . but I'm surprised by the story.

  • zepherinzepherin Registered User regular
    DiannaoChong: Actually this is the third time I've heard of something like this happening.

    The most chicken shit I've ever heard of was the company calling a meeting into the parking lot, and essentially telling them that they were firing half of them and that if their security card didn't work their belongings would be shipped to them. Good luck.

    The other time was simply a small buisness that got bought out and it was done over a weekend like that. The employees were given a paid day off while the larger corp changed out all the locks and security procedures, they had the head of Human Resources come in early Monday email all the employees to tell them that they were laid off and not to come in, then they fired her with an email after she got home.

    You would be surprised the length companies go to be chicken shits about firing people.

  • StormwatcherStormwatcher Blegh BlughRegistered User regular
    Because the asshole coward company is actually a group of assholes and cowards persons.
    I woulda burn down the whole thing in rage

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  • KarlKarl Registered User regular
    Ah Trenches....when I think I couldn't have a lower opinion of the games industry you manage to lower the bar.

    YOU'RE ALL BABIES.
    SO MUCH POTENTIAL TO WASTE.
    Koshian wrote: »
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    MY POTENTIAL IS ALREADY WASTED
  • emskadittleemskadittle Registered User
    My guess is that somehow Cora organized a players strike

    I am not criticising your work, I am testing it!
  • zepherinzepherin Registered User regular
    To be fair to the games industry, it is not any better or worst than many other industries. Construction is very much in the same boat in terms of the way things are done. The product is different but the mentality is similar. Except instead of laborers you have testers. Instead of artists you have tradesmen. Instead of developers you have project managers and instead of programers you operators. Project cycles are similar with a light load and many meetings pre project, a run up till the project kick off and there is even a crunch. Then a layoff of personel that aren't going to be attached to the next one. There are good companies to work for and others that treat you poorly. In both industries there are decent employers and shit sticks.

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  • RatherDashing89RatherDashing89 Registered User regular
    I always wondered about the changing the locks thing. Is it symbolic or something? Because I'm pretty sure if you tell someone they don't work there anymore, and will no longer receive paychecks, they will be able to resist the urge to break into the building and keep working. Why not just...ask for the keys back?

  • RMS OceanicRMS Oceanic Registered User regular
    zepherin wrote: »
    To be fair to the games industry, it is not any better or worst than many other industries. Construction is very much in the same boat in terms of the way things are done. The product is different but the mentality is similar. Except instead of laborers you have testers. Instead of artists you have tradesmen. Instead of developers you have project managers and instead of programers you operators. Project cycles are similar with a light load and many meetings pre project, a run up till the project kick off and there is even a crunch. Then a layoff of personel that aren't going to be attached to the next one. There are good companies to work for and others that treat you poorly. In both industries there are decent employers and shit sticks.

    My annoyance with this particular story is the underhanded way in which the layoffs happened. There was an earlier Trenches story where there was a party in the building canteen where an announcement was made to the effect of "Well done for your hard work, you're all fired". As awful as that was, I would maintain that this was even worse, because they didn't even tell the employees until after the fact.

  • MuddBuddMuddBudd Registered User regular
    I always wondered about the changing the locks thing. Is it symbolic or something? Because I'm pretty sure if you tell someone they don't work there anymore, and will no longer receive paychecks, they will be able to resist the urge to break into the building and keep working. Why not just...ask for the keys back?

    Because they could go in and steal half the computer equipment.

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  • azmod2000azmod2000 Registered User regular
    MuddBudd wrote: »
    Wow, even as someone in the industry used to hearing shitty stories... that is... just DUMPING people like that and not coming back? It's like getting rid of a dog you don't want, and even then only the WORST sort of people do it that way.

    That was my exact thought. This is pretty much like taking your dog and dumping him/her on the side of the road.
    -Tal wrote: »
    the hell is the point of doing that

    the company paid for the six flags trip but couldn't just properly fire them

    were they literally paying extra for cowardice

    The trip was probably scheduled and paid for before the acquisition happened. The park gave them a group discount but would probably not want to refund the tickets at the last minute so the company execs figured that it only cost them the price of renting the buses for a one way trip.

    The real dick move is not actually having the buses available to pick the people up. That actually verges on criminal behavior.

  • DurkhanusDurkhanus Commander Registered User regular
    I always wondered about the changing the locks thing. Is it symbolic or something? Because I'm pretty sure if you tell someone they don't work there anymore, and will no longer receive paychecks, they will be able to resist the urge to break into the building and keep working. Why not just...ask for the keys back?

    Not symbolic. Just security against the possible retaliatory response from the people you just cut loose. Asking for the keys back, and receiving them, doesn't guard against the chance that they still have a means of access to the property.

  • El SkidEl Skid The frozen white northRegistered User regular
    Somewhere in there, someone went "well, the tickets are already paid for, and if we let them go it'll give us time to lock down everything so that nobody can get in and try to retaliate. So let's send them on the trip and we'll be reducing the risk that this termination has negative concequences." I can see this, it actually sort of seems like a good business decision in many ways... Often Tech people who are summarily fired get pissed off and go changing passwords or deleting important things as a "fuck you too" sort of parting gift. That's cool.

    But if you've already rented the bus for this event, deciding to save the $100 and not have it sent to pick people up requires a special kind of dickishness. At that point you are just trying to be an asshole, and being an asshole for being an asshole's sake is not justified ever.

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  • PonyPony Registered User regular
    fire cora

  • KarlKarl Registered User regular
    Pony wrote: »
    fire cora

    She really is terrible.

    To be fair they all are

    YOU'RE ALL BABIES.
    SO MUCH POTENTIAL TO WASTE.
    Koshian wrote: »
    JOKE'S ON YOU
    MY POTENTIAL IS ALREADY WASTED
  • PonyPony Registered User regular
    like

    if i ran a games company and i had an employee like cora i'd fire her with lightning speed

  • Ori KleinOri Klein Registered User regular
    edited October 2012
    Oh, I love this story.
    I worked once in a local branch of Israel's wallmart-esque chain as a stock boy.
    Except that we didn't get stranded in the middle of no-where (which I'm certain would've been liable for lawsuit according to our laws), very similar.
    Several days prior, I over-heard the store manager talking with what I can only assume was his boss, about that apparently they'll have to let us all go because the project didn't go well.
    I thought this is still in question mark or weeks, perhaps couple months, ahead. NOPE!
    Few days later we were due for the yearly employee vacation (which we all paid participation fee in advance for, $50 each, it was quite a good deal TBH, 3 days in a 4-star hotel, a spa called Hamat Gader - highly recommended if you visit Israel and some touring around) and we went on our marry way.
    Vacation ended, we got back home and the day after we returned to work.
    The manager gawked for a moment and then went "Oh? What are you doing here? Oh, you weren't told? Don't come here anymore. You'll get a letter by mail.", turned around and walked off to his side room office at the back of the store.
    Just. Like. That.

    Ori Klein on
  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    El Skid wrote: »
    Somewhere in there, someone went "well, the tickets are already paid for, and if we let them go it'll give us time to lock down everything so that nobody can get in and try to retaliate. So let's send them on the trip and we'll be reducing the risk that this termination has negative concequences." I can see this, it actually sort of seems like a good business decision in many ways... Often Tech people who are summarily fired get pissed off and go changing passwords or deleting important things as a "fuck you too" sort of parting gift. That's cool.

    But if you've already rented the bus for this event, deciding to save the $100 and not have it sent to pick people up requires a special kind of dickishness. At that point you are just trying to be an asshole, and being an asshole for being an asshole's sake is not justified ever.

    I have definitely seen drives zero'd by fired employees when they were given time to back-up any personal files from their work machine after termination. It's one of the reasons that a company I worked with started a policy of immediately taking away an employees computer access once the decision was made to terminate them. And that's with an employee who wouldn't have the ability to steal competitive information.

    What is this I don't even.
  • GaslightGaslight Registered User regular
    Karl wrote: »
    Pony wrote: »
    fire cora

    She really is terrible.

    To be fair they all are

    Without question. But at this point Cora is, by far, doing more immediate, practical damage to the company.

    bowen wrote: »
    The bacteria in your poop exist everywhere.
  • astronautcowboy3astronautcowboy3 Registered User regular
    These stories are all very interesting, but I think it's time that they go beyond the "tester" in them, because the comic is hardly about testing anymore as it is. I want to see some positive stories (or even just humorous tales about things that go down in the workplace) instead of this soul-crushing stuff. We love gaming and to at least some extent that should mean we love some aspect of "the industry" as well...so how about some stories that show off the good side too.

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  • plki76plki76 Registered User regular
    I am finding it hard to empathize with anyone in the comic. Part of me feels like this is a clever intentional gimmick to make us feel superior to testers in the way the industry seems to, but the other part of me doesn't care.

    At this point I am just increasingly annoyed with the attitudes and actions of the characters in the comic. I used to come here for the comic and then read the tales as a bonus. Now I come here for the tales and read through the comic because it is there.

    The artwork is well-done and the writing is adequate, but the characters are actively lowering my interest. :-(

  • zepherinzepherin Registered User regular
    My annoyance with this particular story is the underhanded way in which the layoffs happened. There was an earlier Trenches story where there was a party in the building canteen where an announcement was made to the effect of "Well done for your hard work, you're all fired". As awful as that was, I would maintain that this was even worse, because they didn't even tell the employees until after the fact.
    I know I was just pointing out that it wasn't industry specific, and there are cowardly firings that take place in all fields, and I was also pointing out that testers are viewed in a very disposable way like construction companies view laborers.

  • wormspeakerwormspeaker Objectively Terrible Registered User regular
    MuddBudd wrote: »
    I always wondered about the changing the locks thing. Is it symbolic or something? Because I'm pretty sure if you tell someone they don't work there anymore, and will no longer receive paychecks, they will be able to resist the urge to break into the building and keep working. Why not just...ask for the keys back?

    Because they could go in and steal half the computer equipment.

    Frankly, any company that buys a programming house (game or otherwise) just in order to acquire the computer equipment is probably too dumb to survive.

    As Apolloin said, the only real value in a programming house is the IP and the staff. Maybe not all the staff, but that nice application software or game that you acquired is usually pretty useless without the people that made it. You can't patch it, you can't update it, you can't expand it without the people that made it.

    Or to be more specific, you can't do those things in less time than it took to make the thing in the first place without those people.

  • Commander ZoomCommander Zoom Registered User regular
    Karl wrote: »
    She really is terrible.

    To be fair they all are
    plki76 wrote: »
    I am finding it hard to empathize with anyone in the comic. Part of me feels like this is a clever intentional gimmick to make us feel superior to testers in the way the industry seems to, but the other part of me doesn't care.

    At this point I am just increasingly annoyed with the attitudes and actions of the characters in the comic. I used to come here for the comic and then read the tales as a bonus. Now I come here for the tales and read through the comic because it is there.

    The artwork is well-done and the writing is adequate, but the characters are actively lowering my interest. :-(

    It's very BritCom that way.

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  • shoeboxjeddyshoeboxjeddy Registered User regular
    These stories are all very interesting, but I think it's time that they go beyond the "tester" in them, because the comic is hardly about testing anymore as it is. I want to see some positive stories (or even just humorous tales about things that go down in the workplace) instead of this soul-crushing stuff. We love gaming and to at least some extent that should mean we love some aspect of "the industry" as well...so how about some stories that show off the good side too.

    Well, I dunno. The "Trenches" are specifically the testing part of the business. Regular devs are in a better situation for the most part, so Tales from programming crunch might be interesting, but aren't exactly the focus of the site. Also, NO, liking video games in no way means we should glamorize the industry if it continues its status as a shithole occupation. That's like "I get such cheap prices from Wal-Mart, can't we find something nice to say about it?"

  • fearsomepiratefearsomepirate I ate a pickle once. Registered User regular
    Frankly, any company that buys a programming house (game or otherwise) just in order to acquire the computer equipment is probably too dumb to survive.
    There have been IPs that got turned into profit long after everyone associated with them was gone, like Fallout. But those are the exception, not the rule. The way it all went down suggests that the owner of the studio wasn't in on it. I mean, if you want to buy my IP, that's not going to cost you nearly as much as buying my whole company, unless you trick me somehow.

    I wonder if it's anything like what happened to a family friend, "Stan." He made a small fortune by inventing a technology for detecting errors in microchips that was more accurate and cheaper than existing technology. A much bigger company offered to buy him out, with the promise that he'd be retained as the manager of his company-turned-division. Because they offered him a high salary and a lot of autonomy, he sold out for a lot less than he would have otherwise. Of course, in the corporate world "verbal promise" is another word for "lie." A few weeks after the acquisition was final and certain time-based clauses ran out, they fired him and everyone that worked for him. He ended up losing his house, by the way. Turns out they had been developing their own competing technology all along and just wanted to knock out the competition. Oh, except their tech ended up not working, and they fired everyone who knew anything about Stan's technology, so they had to pull out of the market entirely.

    So it is a bad strategy, but hey, at least you can make some people miserable along the way.

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  • MuddBuddMuddBudd Registered User regular
    MuddBudd wrote: »
    I always wondered about the changing the locks thing. Is it symbolic or something? Because I'm pretty sure if you tell someone they don't work there anymore, and will no longer receive paychecks, they will be able to resist the urge to break into the building and keep working. Why not just...ask for the keys back?

    Because they could go in and steal half the computer equipment.

    Frankly, any company that buys a programming house (game or otherwise) just in order to acquire the computer equipment is probably too dumb to survive.

    Yes but you can still get SOME value out of it, not to mention some of those hard drives probably have something you want on them.

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  • zepherinzepherin Registered User regular
    Frankly, any company that buys a programming house (game or otherwise) just in order to acquire the computer equipment is probably too dumb to survive.
    There have been IPs that got turned into profit long after everyone associated with them was gone, like Fallout. But those are the exception, not the rule. The way it all went down suggests that the owner of the studio wasn't in on it. I mean, if you want to buy my IP, that's not going to cost you nearly as much as buying my whole company, unless you trick me somehow.

    I wonder if it's anything like what happened to a family friend, "Stan." He made a small fortune by inventing a technology for detecting errors in microchips that was more accurate and cheaper than existing technology. A much bigger company offered to buy him out, with the promise that he'd be retained as the manager of his company-turned-division. Because they offered him a high salary and a lot of autonomy, he sold out for a lot less than he would have otherwise. Of course, in the corporate world "verbal promise" is another word for "lie." A few weeks after the acquisition was final and certain time-based clauses ran out, they fired him and everyone that worked for him. He ended up losing his house, by the way. Turns out they had been developing their own competing technology all along and just wanted to knock out the competition. Oh, except their tech ended up not working, and they fired everyone who knew anything about Stan's technology, so they had to pull out of the market entirely.

    So it is a bad strategy, but hey, at least you can make some people miserable along the way.
    Sometimes if the company is in too much debt, and the value of the IP isn't that much then the owner may sell just it for less than the value of the IP because the company owes too much money.

  • Zazu YenZazu Yen Registered User regular
    edited October 2012
    Oh man. The timing of layoffs, takeovers and mass firing can make for some inane results, but abandoning bus loads of people you drove somewhere IS probably illegal if the ex-employees wanted to pay the legal fees to take action (which the new owners probably figured they wouldn't do). And that PM, probably still an employee, was almost certainly under strict orders to not say anything to anyone until Monday with the promise that they would stay employed. And then they got laid off on Tuesday night via email.

    Sadly corporate America has come to the conclusion that the best way to get rid of people is to get them out of the building on some pretext and then simply not let them back in. This prevents them from vandalizing anything, stealing anything, moping around the office hurting moral and best of all, you don't have to look them in the face when it happens which might make you have feelings. No one wants that. Feelings have no place in the world of business. The next best way is to bring in someone else to do it for you (see the film "Up in the Air").

    For years I worked at the same company as my wife (who I recommended for her job after I'd worked there for a year). I was a programmer and she was in marketing and sales. After a particularly difficult development cycle (months of late nights and 7 day work weeks) a project shipped and was a huge hit, money was flowing in. As a thanks the company gave engineering a weeks payed vacation and sent all of marketing/sales on an all expense payed 3 day weekend retreat to a resort in Tahoe. On Monday when everyone was back from vacations/Tahoe they laid off 80% of the engineering department. The resulting moral implosion probably had HR wishing they'd laid off the engineers while they were on vacation and had locked them out of the building. After people realized what was going on most of the company went down to a local bar and drank the day away.

    The president, co-founder and CEO who was a decent guy, I had always thought, explained it to my pissed off wife this way:

    1. The VP of marketing/sales (a well known party animal) had the money in his budget and decided to spend it that way. He didn't know engineering was going to have a layoff when he scheduled it (not that I think he would have cared).
    2. The marketing/sales payroll was a fraction of engineering's payroll.
    3. After the launch most of the engineers no longer had a project to work on, and that is a lot of payroll to have sitting around doing nothing.
    4. On the back of the successful launch they were looking to sell the company and thus it was critical for its value to be has high as possible. Dumping most of the engineering payroll made the companies evaluation shoot up.
    5. Yes, the timing sucked, but marketing/sales and HR came up with the dates independently and by the time someone realized what was going on it was too late to change either one.

    "But hey, if we do sell your stock will be worth a lot and that will make it all worthwhile right?"

    The company didn't sell for many years after that, and had withered painfully before then. The stock was never worth anything.

    Zazu Yen on
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  • DoctorArchDoctorArch Curmudgeon Registered User regular
    It's things like this that reinforce my opinion that DLC is a good thing because it keeps people working while transitioning to new projects.

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  • -Tal-Tal Registered User regular
    pay me all the dollars to look people in the eye and tell them their kids are going to starve because they are fired

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  • FramlingFramling Registered User regular
    DoctorArch wrote: »
    It's things like this that reinforce my opinion that DLC is a good thing because it keeps people working while transitioning to new projects.

    This... is actually something I hadn't considered, and is probably going to result in me buying more DLC.

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