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Rewiring (and Unwiring) New Orleans 193

stinkymountain writes "Is New Orleans bouncing back from Hurricane Katrina with the most advanced telecom system in the country? According to Network World, carriers have invested billions to rebuild the wired and wireless networks in the city, and businesses are taking advantage of new, advanced telecom services." This story selected and edited by LinuxWorld editor for the day Saied Pinto.
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Rewiring (and Unwiring) New Orleans

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  • My god. (Score:5, Funny)

    by TheOldSchooler ( 850678 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @02:09PM (#15928912)
    Just imagine the future of New Orleans; a technological marvel, with gigabit ethernet connections to each home, instantly transmitting terrabytes worth of images showing topless coeds partying outside.
    • Re:My god. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Incongruity ( 70416 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @02:24PM (#15929053)
      Hmm -- sounds like the urban equivalent of a forest fire in some ways -- the fire comes through and clears out all the old stuff and clears the way for new growth. It'd be very very cool to see New Orleans come back as a much less corrupt and much more modern city that business flocks to, thereby improving the job situation for all residents and improving the tax base allowing for restoration of the historic parts of the city, etc... of course, that's unlikely to happen as the powers that be seem to have survived the flood.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by mrxak ( 727974 )
        Just imagine the future of New Orleans; a technological marvel, with gigabit ethernet connections to each home, instantly transmitting terrabytes worth of images showing topless coeds partying outside.
        Or more likely, lots of video blogs of the next big huricane.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hador_nyc ( 903322 )

        Hmm -- sounds like the urban equivalent of a forest fire in some ways -- the fire comes through and clears out all the old stuff and clears the way for new growth. It'd be very very cool to see New Orleans come back as a much less corrupt and much more modern city that business flocks to, thereby improving the job situation for all residents and improving the tax base allowing for restoration of the historic parts of the city, etc... of course, that's unlikely to happen as the powers that be seem to have su

      • I visited Hiroshima about 10 years ago. I was amazed by how new and shiny the city seemed, and then I remembered that it *was* pretty new compared to other Japanese cities.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by TubeSteak ( 669689 )

      Just imagine the future of New Orleans; a technological marvel, with gigabit ethernet connections to each home, instantly transmitting terrabytes worth of images showing topless coeds partying outside.

      That'll never happen.
      Too many backhoes in the New Orleans area.

      I can't imagine that (with the amount of ongoing* construction)
      anyone in the city will have consistent internet service or cable tv.

      The Backhoe, The Internet's Natural Enemy
      http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/01/19/164 3215 [slashdot.org]

      *You really think NO

      • by RESPAWN ( 153636 )
        Actually, I lived there for 6 years. Katrina was the first hurricane to hit us in that time. The city isn't as prone as, say, Miami.
  • by guruevi ( 827432 ) <[evi] [at] [smokingcube.be]> on Thursday August 17, 2006 @02:10PM (#15928928) Homepage
    Does that mean we have to wait for a hurricane in order to get high speed in my area?

    It's nice that they are re-building and as with that they indeed have to use new technologies because implementing old would be more expensive. It's logical to me that this happens. It's like building a new house, you can't get the cotton-covered electrical wiring so you get new better wiring. How this will translate to costs of course is another issue. Re-wiring existing technology IS also expensive and the costs/benefit is not as high.

    But will this also mean that the poor in New Orleans won't be able to pay the charge for fiber-to-premises? Or will they make it so cheap so that New Orleans becomes the haven for geeks and technological companies?
    • "But will this also mean that the poor in New Orleans won't be able to pay the charge for fiber-to-premises? Or will they make it so cheap so that New Orleans becomes the haven for geeks and technological companies?"

      Poor people have other expenses to worry about. They don't need fiber to the premises. Just like the poor in the rest of the country doesn't have FTTP. Why should N.O. be treated any differently?

      Nick

    • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

      But will this also mean that the poor in New Orleans won't be able to pay the charge for fiber-to-premises? Or will they make it so cheap so that New Orleans becomes the haven for geeks and technological companies?

      They wont have to pay for any of it, they were in a natural disaster, silly.
      The government will pick up the bill as part of Federal Aid for the city rebuilding. Everyone (down there, wins) Telcos gets the government to pay for their network upgrades, businesses and consumers benefit from the impro

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 17, 2006 @02:11PM (#15928937)
    sick, politically-correct joke. There's really no point except that people equate throwing obscene amounts of cash at the poor with having compassion on them. That is also why there will never be any meaningful welfare reform, and why folks will continue to game the welfare system.
    • by eln ( 21727 ) * on Thursday August 17, 2006 @02:27PM (#15929077) Homepage
      That's a nice knee-jerk reaction, but if you actually look at the parts of New Orleans that are actually being rebuilt compared to those that are basically being left to rot, it's the middle class and the wealthy that are benefitting. The poorest areas are not being rebuilt, and it seems like a lot of the aim of the rebuilding efforts so far is to attract businesses and higher-income people than the ones that used to live there. Most of the poor still don't have any homes to return to, and their entire neighborhoods remain wastelands while politicians argue if they should even bother rebuilding them.

      There is a significant contingent who would like to see those areas bulldozed and turned into parks, and turn the city into a smaller, wealthier (and whiter) version of what it was.

      As far as there being "no point" to rebuilding a major US port city, that's just silly. The reason that city has remained there for hundreds of years, despite its vulnerability is because it's in such a commercially advantageous spot. Maybe instead of letting it sink into the sea, we should concentrate on rebuilding the wetlands around it that served as natural barriers to hurricanes in the past.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ptbarnett ( 159784 )
        The poorest areas are not being rebuilt, and it seems like a lot of the aim of the rebuilding efforts so far is to attract businesses and higher-income people than the ones that used to live there. Most of the poor still don't have any homes to return to, and their entire neighborhoods remain wastelands while politicians argue if they should even bother rebuilding them.

        They aren't rebuilding the poorest areas because it's more likely to be flooded again. That's a large part of the reason that low-income

        • Parts of New Orleans should not be rebuilt. Besides being unsafe, the city will not financially be able to support the infrastructure that the old footprint required. The pre-storm population could hardly support the upkeep of the existing infrastructure, even if everyone came back tomorrow, there wouldn't be the money to repair/rebuild it all.

          The unfortunate reality, as you've noted, is that the parts least reasonable to rebuild were overall inhabited by low-income residents. But either way, the best solut
      • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @03:04PM (#15929394)
        but if you actually look at the parts of New Orleans that are actually being rebuilt compared to those that are basically being left to rot, it's the middle class and the wealthy that are benefitting

        It's not fairies working for the Republican Party waving magic wands at swamped houses and rebuilding them. It's typically people who have money from having the background and training to command a good income that own the houses they're rebuilding, and were paying for enough insurance to do so without it being a dead end.

        They're benefitting, and they're paying, too. They're also the ones that pay all of the income taxes, remember? You know, the stuff that funds that part of what the government is doing?

        There is a significant contingent who would like to see those areas bulldozed and turned into parks, and turn the city into a smaller, wealthier (and whiter) version of what it was.

        Parts of town that are the most likely to flood are the places least well suited to housing. They're perfect for parks. How does the fact that water runs down hill make recognizing that a racial issue, for you?
      • by Cutriss ( 262920 )
        The poorest areas are not being rebuilt, and it seems like a lot of the aim of the rebuilding efforts so far is to attract businesses and higher-income people than the ones that used to live there. Most of the poor still don't have any homes to return to, and their entire neighborhoods remain wastelands while politicians argue if they should even bother rebuilding them.

        And ironically, this will be one of the factors contributing to the eventual failure of the NO experiment. The poor and lower-class are th
      • "...ut if you actually look at the parts of New Orleans that are actually being rebuilt compared to those that are basically being left to rot, it's the middle class and the wealthy that are benefitting. The poorest areas are not being rebuilt, and it seems like a lot of the aim of the rebuilding efforts so far is to attract businesses and higher-income people than the ones that used to live there."

        While true that we ARE trying to attract business (what city isn't?), an

      • by mabu ( 178417 )
        It's way, WAY premature to start talking about where emphasis is being placed in the rebuilding effort. At this time, virtually nothing is being "rebuilt" - we're still in the tearing down, deciding-what-we're-going-to-do phase. Most of my friends are still trying to get their insurance settlements... they aren't even sure whether they can afford to rebuild, or whether tearing down will be a better option. I know of no area of the city where there is any sanctioned "rebuilding effort" in place, so I don'
    • by DrDitto ( 962751 )
      The Port of New Orleans is vital to the Midwestern economy. Billions of dollars worth of agricultural products float down the Mississippi River each year. You can't really have a port without a city given the sheer number of people who work in the system.
  • I agree that it's great people are taking advantage of the new services, hopefully some of those will provide the people of New Orleans with their still more pressing needs, like houses, regular supply of goods + services, etc. In case you missed it, a remarkable story of Katrina and its post-effects appears on this blog [metblogs.com] (no relation). Even current posts there detail how things are still far from normal -- things each of us take for granted are still considered blessings in the affected areas.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by russ1337 ( 938915 )
      Did they get a tax break for helping rebuild ? I'm sure nation will be wondering why the people of New Orleans are still poor 5 years down track, while large corporations say "bbbut we invested billions, we cant understand why they are still poor"... etc. Is the Billions of Telco money going to create jobs and wealth, or just fleece the locals for wi-fi instead?
  • On a somewhat related note, I heard an ad for AT&T while driving to work this morning that was disparaging VOIP service as inferior to landlines here in California. The main thrust of the radio spot was the recent power outages in California prevented people using VOIP from making calls, while those using landlines still had a dialtone. There was the typical scaremongering, with the implication that people who needed to call 911 couldn't if they were relying on VOIP, while AT&T customers were "safe"
    • ere was the typical scaremongering, with the implication that people who needed to call 911 couldn't if they were relying on VOIP, while AT&T customers were "safe" because AT&T has generators at the switching stations.
      .. and all they had to say was "VOIP is the chosen carrier of Al Queda...", or "if you use VOIP, the terrorists will win"
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by RESPAWN ( 153636 )
      Not that you could have gotten through the switch anyway. I lived in New Orleans when the hurricane hit. My 504 area code cell phone was virtually unusable for incoming calls for the better part of the next couple of months. Backup generator or not, the lines were simply unusable. Actually, when we were evacuating, myself and my friend in the other car, once we finally made a connection on our cell phones, just stayed on the line with each other for several hours so we could communicate driving (idling)
    • by BrianH ( 13460 )
      There was the typical scaremongering, with the implication that people who needed to call 911 couldn't if they were relying on VOIP, while AT&T customers were "safe" because AT&T has generators at the switching stations.

      Does it still count as scaremongering if it is true? I know that in my area (central California), the network equipment owned by our local cable company runs on 30 minute UPS's. The central station runs just fine, but all of the repeating boxes go dark during an extended out
      • But come on, the rate of cellphone adoption these days makes it unlikely that there's anyone being attacked during a power outage who is relying soley on their VOIP phone to call 911?

        I don't necessarily agree or disagree 100% with the ad, I just thought it was interesting that AT&T thought they needed a "preemptive strike" against VOIP. I wasn't aware that the uptake was high enough to rate that kind of a strategy.
  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @02:13PM (#15928953) Journal
    Let the ocean take it and live somewhere else. Or, at the least, quit asking for my tax dollars to bail your sorry asses out and hold back the gulf.

    I think it is a collosal waste of money, and investing $B in infrastructure is just going to encourage people to move to an area which is inherently unsafe and very expensive to make livable.

    Oh, go ahead, hit that troll button, but there are an awful lot of us that are getting sick and tired of people spending an inordinate amount of taxpayer money on projects that keep "beautiful" places in the black. I'm okay with the occasional monument or historic home, but forking over billions of dollars to artifically change the landscape for a commercial venture is not my idea of good government. That goes for all you weenies on the east coast, too. I'm tired of paying the Army Corps of Engineers to put the beach back so your oceanfront home keeps its value. You want beach, you pay for it.
    • amen! if i had mod points you would have them

      i feel the same way about a large chuck of cali. if you don't want your home to slide down a hillside, don't build it there..
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Catbeller ( 118204 )
      The Army Corps of Engineers created the god damned mess by dredging the river and laying in a new, straight canal for oil tankers and such to get at your precious oil so you could gas your precious car that you drive on freeways made by taxpayers paying hundreds of billions of dollars so that your white bread town could exist in suburban splendor at nearly no cost to you. The storm surge went straight up the canal and swamped the stormwalls. for your oil.

      And taxpayers gave lovely tax breaks for the oil comp
      • by Black-Man ( 198831 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @02:28PM (#15929091)
        The city is BELOW sea level. Which part of that statement DON'T you understand?

        • by RESPAWN ( 153636 )
          Here's an interesting question: did the French that founded the city have any way to measure sea level in 1718?

          Next question: when was it determined that parts of New Orleans were up to 10 feet below sea level?

          Third question: what level of development had the city undergone when it was determined how much of it was below sea level?

          Last question: what would have been the costs to pack up the entire fuckin' city and move it further in-land?
          • by Cylix ( 55374 )
            Yeah, I think nature did a pretty good job of "packing up" the city.

            • by RESPAWN ( 153636 )
              Not really. At least not in the sense of a permanent move, which is what I was suggesting. People are still moving back. Another of my co-workers just moved back last weekend, as a matter of fact.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by identity0 ( 77976 )
          What I don't understand is how you can be such a huge, rich country, claim to be the greatest country on Earth, and yet you can't do what the Dutch have done with a quarter of their country [minbuza.nl] to one city on your coast? Heck, even the Italians managed to do it for over a millenia - Venice was founded some time between 400 and 800 AD.

          Why can't America do it right in one city?
          • Well, that just about sums it up.
          • by FleaPlus ( 6935 ) *
            What I don't understand is how you can be such a huge, rich country, claim to be the greatest country on Earth, and yet you can't do what the Dutch have done with a quarter of their country to one city on your coast? Heck, even the Italians managed to do it for over a millenia - Venice was founded some time between 400 and 800 AD.

            I wasn't aware that Italy and the Netherlands were subject to hurricanes.
        • "The city is BELOW sea level. Which part of that statement DON'T you understand?"

          There are other cities below sea level...The Dutch figured Amsterdam was important enough to protect it...is NOLA not as important to the US? If not on a historical basis...it is good business. NOLA is a major port city...read some of the other posts on here. We support energy refinement, drilling and importation that nowhere else in the country will do. It has to be where it is with regard to the MS river and the sea....

          No

      • Adjusted for inflation, we've spent trillions of dollars since the 50's laying concrete ribbons into the cornfields so smarmy, self-satisfied EXTREMELY subsidized white a-holes could sneer at the cities which funded their existence.

        Wow have we not had our coffee yet this morning.

        First I assume you are referring to the National Interstate Highway system. This is called infrastructure that is largely responsible for our prosperity and is a national security issue. They were not built so that people could liv
    • by BBrown ( 70466 )
      You'd prefer, perhaps, that Little Rock, Arkansas be a waterfront vista?

      In all seriousness, you really must accept the basic fact that our main population centers are along the coasts and waterways of our country, and that there exist several good reasons why this tradition has survived a couple thousand years of city building.

      I'm curious, however, where you live that is so free from any sort of natural disadvantages that our tax dollars do not go towards mitigating?
      • by chill ( 34294 )
        There is a significant difference between "free from any sort of natural disadvantages" and building a city below sea level, in a bowl, on the coast, in the known path of major hurricanes, at the mouth of one of the largest river systems in the world, adjacent to an artificial lake and surrounded by swamp and marshland.

        Post-Katrina analysis by the NOAA had downgraded the strength of the hurricane to a Category 3 and look at what happened. One of these days they really are going to get hit with a Category 5
        • "There is a significant difference between "free from any sort of natural disadvantages" and building a city below sea level, in a bowl, on the coast, in the known path of major hurricanes, at the mouth of one of the largest river systems in the world, adjacent to an artificial lake and surrounded by swamp and marshland."

          Yeah, those guys 288 years ago really should have researched it better before building a city there.

          Also, the city SHOULD have survived. The hurricane did miss..and we got

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        I live in Vegas. We don't really get "weather" here. it rains a couple times a year, and gets a bit windy every now and then, but that's about it... 3000 feet or so above sea level. Floods when it rains, but that is largely conreolled through detention basins... No Tornados, no hurricanes, earthquackes don't generally propagate this far. Nope. I think we're pretty much natural disaster free here.
  • by SlashdotAnswerGuy ( 996097 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @02:19PM (#15928998)
    Is New Orleans bouncing back from Hurricane Katrina with the most advanced telecom system in the country?

    Yes, yes it is.

    In fact, New Orleans' broadband is so good, Korean tourists are flocking there to mob-harass the local Web pariahs.

    New Orleans' broadband is so good, Al Gore is working on a movie advocating we de-decentralize the Internet, putting New Orleans right in the middle.

    New Orleans broadband is so good, mint juleps are already outselling Mountain Dew as the official drink of computer nerds.

    New Orleans broadband is so good, girls at the last Mardi Gras were flashing their MySpace pages in exchange for beads.

    Hope that answers your question!

    Sincerely,
    SlashdotAnswerGuy
  • Wait and see (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rainer_d ( 115765 )
    Let's hope the Telco's equipment also works underwater - or is at least water-proof.
    Because one thing is sure: New Orleans is going so sink into the ocean rather sooner than later. Just the people (left) living there haven't caught up to the reality, it seems.
    But the term "sinking billions in infrastructure" suddenly makes more sense, right?
    • Let's hope the Telco's equipment also works underwater - or is at least water-proof.

      The latest pedistals are basically a sealed heavy-duty fibreglass shell that fits over the top of the terminals that are positioned near the top of the shell - secured at the bottom. So the terminals and ends of the underground cables should remain relatively dry in flooding conditions.

      Windows 2000 - from the guys who brought us edlin

      You probably already know this, but for the benefit of those not in the know: edlin duplica

      • > You probably already know this, but for the benefit of... ...snip....

        All well, but at least in Unix-land, they did get vi(1) on board - which MSFT failed to do.

        FreeBSD's single user mode still doesn't have vi(1) but ed(1), BTW - which I cannot use at all...

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mabu ( 178417 )
      Let's hope the Telco's equipment also works underwater - or is at least water-proof.
      Because one thing is sure: New Orleans is going so sink into the ocean rather sooner than later. Just the people (left) living there haven't caught up to the reality, it seems.


      Why are ignorant responses like this getting modded up?

      New Orleans is not "sinking" by any significant measure. The coastline and wetlands of South Louisiana are eroding, that is true, but all things considered, New Orleans being a few feet (IN SOME A
  • ...until every one of the children in New Orleans has a $100 laptop!
  • by X86Daddy ( 446356 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @02:25PM (#15929061) Journal
    I've been musing about this since Katrina... There is a lot of emotional power behind the "rebuild New Orleans" concept, and it will most likely happen. As huge parts of it were destroyed, that rebuilding process will be from the foundations up.

    During the Civil War, Sherman burned Atlanta to the ground. Now, as far as cities in the Southern US goes, it's pretty damn advanced. It most assuredly would not be what it is today had that event not occured. Savannah, Georgia was "spared" by Sherman, and the place seems allergic to progress. At least part of that comes from a valid desire to preserve the historic elements that have been there for centuries. NOLA faces some of those concerns, but only in the sections that weren't destroyed...

    I very seriously hope to see, perhaps in 20 years or so, the beginnings of one of the first NEW cities in the US in quite some time. The causality may suck, but life has already delivered those lemons... I want to see a 21st century city over here, and it has a chance to happen. Failing that, I'm hoping some growth happens around one of the spaceport sites.
  • Going on the assumption that instead of laying copper the folks doing the reconstruction will be laying fiber, will fiber work if it's underwater? Or will the water, once it gets through the coating, degrade the signal so much that you can't use fiber?
  • by bjgeraci ( 634035 ) <BJGeraci@aol.com> on Thursday August 17, 2006 @02:29PM (#15929105)

    Things are getting better each day here in New Orleans.

    One problem that is still present is phone service. A lot of people I know are primarily using cellular phones as their main numbers since the landlines are not reliable / available in some areas. To BellSouth's credit, they have taken this opportunity to replace the copper wires throughout the city with fiber optics, which will provide more bandwidth. But this will take some time to do (and it does not take an inordinate amount of extra time than replacing the lines with new copper wires).

    A lot of people in the city are now talking about scanning their important pictures into the computer and sending them off to relatives out of town (by CD or email).

    Some of the lessons learned from Katrina in New Orleans include:

    • Offsite backups to other cities
    • While cellular voice calls were not available, cellular text messaging was possible in the days after Katrina
    • Rendundant lines / methods of communications is needed with no one point of failure. Before Katrina, this lesson was demonstrated when a large collection of fiber lines were cut accidentally, severing communications in a large region
    • First responders should be able to communicate easily with each other. This was an issue after 9/11, and was still an issue for Katrina.

    It is hoped that the lessons learned here help prepare other people in other places for the next emergency.

  • Did Slashdot decide to get some editors whilst I wasn't watching? I must have missed the memo...

    I'm going to miss complaining about all the dupes and typos. For me, it's a part of what Slashdot is.
  • New Orleans Bounce (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @02:58PM (#15929367) Homepage Journal
    I lived in New Orleans for years before Katrina created Lake George, and I've returned several times since the storm and flood. I talk with people living there all the time.

    New Orleans is not "bouncing back". As usual, some rich people are getting extra care and money, like the people getting the fat contracts in this article. The local poor people, though desperate for jobs and rebuilding, are cut out by imported Mexican and Central American workers, mostly illegal, all subsidized by living cheap in their own countries when they leave. Imported by fat American contractors, also mostly from out of state. Meanwhile, they still haven't hauled away the trash from the storm 355 days ago.

    New Orleans isn't on TV much anymore. But it's still screwed. It's still a great place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there. I hope these new infrastructures are worthwhile investments in its future, but it's certainly not "bouncing" yet. What it really needs is more of you to come visit, spend some time and money seeing it for yourself. It's cheap and easy to get to by plane, rail and road, it's cheap to eat, party and learn there. And even if it never bounces back, at least you'll have seen America's most magical city for yourself before it's finally gone after 300 years - on our watch.
    • I second this. Come visit here. Go and have your fun in the french quarter, but make sure to take the time to go see some of the devestation. It's worse than you think it is. Hopefully seeing it will remind you that there are a bunch of human beings who lost a whole lot and could really use some more help. But even if it doesn't bring out your compassion, it should stir a little anger in you. Think back to what you saw on CNN, of the government's response, of how FEMA dealt with the crisis. And then remembe
    • by mabu ( 178417 )
      I can also concurr. I was in the city before, during and after the hurricane. We lost a lot of business post Katrina. Ironically, about half was due to people deciding not to re-open their businesses, and the other half, relocating outside the state. What's interesting is that every client of ours which relocated outside the state didn't take much damage -- they merely availed themselves of the opportunity to jump ship from the state.

      The city is a completely different city now. At least 20-30% of the p
  • Great, Wi-Fi all over N.O. Does this mean that I can maybe surf somewhere that doesn't smell of stale urine?

    No, that'd mean I'd have to get that kind of access *outside* of N.O. too.
  • This really struck me:

    ... The company has offices in Colorado and New Jersey, and the plan was for employees to fly there and keep working. The company expected to lose use of its data center, but by taking copies of its backup tapes and CDs of its software and software licenses, planned to create a new data center in Colorado, according to Jeremiah Tangen, IT administrator at the firm.

    1. Data - check
    2. Customized applications - check
    3. Licenses - get out of here!

    Don't forget the licenses as your save your

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