Steve Jobs: Let the post-PC era begin (live blog)

In a wide-ranging chat at D8, Apple's CEO tells why PCs are like trucks, shares a secret of the iPad's birth, and says the story of a missing iPhone would make a great movie.

Editor's note: We used Cover It Live for this event, so if you missed the live blog, you can still replay it in the embedded component below. Replaying the event will give you all the live updates along with commentary from our readers and a few CNET editors. For those of you who just want the updates, we've included them in regular text here.

RANCHO PALOS VERDES, Calif.--The D: All Things Digital conference kicked off Tuesday night with an appearance by Apple CEO Steve Jobs. CNET's Ina Fried covered the event live, with additional coverage from Josh Lowensohn and Apple watcher Erica Ogg.

In a wide-ranging chat with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher at D8, Jobs told why PCs are like trucks, shared a secret of the iPad's birth, and said the story of a missing iPhone would make a great movie. Jobs' talk comes just as Apple has passed Microsoft to become the most valuable tech company and takes place on the eve of Apple's developer conference.

We'll also be covering the rest of All Things D, which runs through Thursday and includes appearances by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie, HTC CEO Peter Chou, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, and many others.

Steve Jobs
Apple CEO Steve Jobs is the featured guest during the opening night of the All Things Digital conference on Tuesday evening. Asa Mathat | All Things Digital

6:01 p.m. PDT: We're all seated, just waiting for Jobs, Swisher, and Mossberg.

6:03 p.m. PDT: News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch will kick things off, with Jobs likely to take the stage around 6:10 or so.

6:04 p.m. PDT: Despite the fact that this is a crowd full of big wigs, folks were lining up to get a good seat. A sign of just how big a draw Steve Jobs really is. I saw him earlier, he's in his standard uniform.

6:05 p.m. PDT (Josh Lowensohn): Hello readers, thanks for joining us. I'll be keeping an eye on your comments and adding some to our stream. Also, some of your questions will be answered by Ina, Erica Ogg, and myself, if we can squeeze them in. Please don't get too frustrated if we don't include yours, as we tend to get quite a few of them during one of these events. Thanks!

6:05 p.m. PDT: Still no speakers yet, but we're close.

6:06 p.m. PDT (Josh Lowensohn): We're getting a lot of questions about a live video stream. No there isn't an official one, which is why you're here with us :)

6:09 p.m. PDT: So there were no Apple goodies in the conference bag. Apple is not known for giving away much, so folks here aren't holding their breath for an Oprah moment.

6:10 p.m. PDT: And here he is... Rupert Murdoch. Sorry, had to tease you all just a bit.

6:10 p.m. PDT (Josh Lowensohn) : Reader FYI, All Things D usually puts up a video from this event a few days after the fact.

6:11 p.m. PDT: Thanks so much for joining. There will likely be video after the event, but live blogging is as close to the action as you can get for now.

6:12 p.m. PDT: Murdoch reminiscing about how at the first D, Jobs talked about how tech companies and content creators didn't get each other. Murdoch says that has changed.

6:14 p.m. PDT: Murdoch: Thanks to tech and the crumbling barriers to trade, men and women in the remotest areas have access to the world's information and innovations. (I'm not sure everyone in those areas would agree.--Ina)

6:16 p.m. PDT: Murdoch is talking about the iPad, yet flipping though some folded notes on 8 1/2 by 11 printed paper. Content had to change and it has changed, Murdoch says.

Rupert Murdoch
News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch opens the All Things Digital conference on Tuesday evening. Ina Fried/CNET

6:17 p.m. PDT: Murdoch notes that News Corp. has started charging for content. "I believe that technology is ushering in a new golden age for those willing to embrace it." Online news, that is.

6:18 p.m. PDT: For those wondering, Murdoch is what stands between us (and you) and Steve Jobs. He is paying the bills, so Walt and Kara can't yank him off, even though he went several minutes over. He's wrapping up though.

6:19 p.m. PDT: Murdoch just turned it over to Walt and Kara.

6:20 p.m. PDT: Still no Steve. Talking about new venue. Conference is near L.A. this year instead of old spot, in northern San Diego County.

6:21 p.m. PDT: Steve Jobs takes the stage.

6:23 p.m. PDT: Starts off asking Steve about fact Apple passed Microsoft in market cap. "It doesn't matter very much. It's not what's important. It's not what makes you come to work in the morning... It is a little surreal." Jobs said.

6:24 p.m. PDT: "Apple was about 90 days away from going bankrupt," Jobs said, when asked how different it was then when he came back to Apple in the late 1990s. "It was much worse than I thought when I went back initially. I expected all the good people would have left (but he found many still there)...I tried to ask as tactfully as possible, why are you still here?"

6:25 p.m. PDT: Now Walt asking about some recent controversies, starting with Flash and war with Adobe.

6:26 p.m. PDT: Walt says even if what Jobs says is true, why be so abrupt in removing Flash. "Apple is a company that doesn't have the most resources of everybody in the world. The way we have succeeded is by choosing which horses to ride very carefully," Jobs said.

6:26 p.m. PDT: Me: that's less true than it used to be.

6:27 p.m. PDT: "We try to pick things in their springs. If you choose wisely, you can save yourself an enormous amount of work." By doing that, you can make things great as opposed to just OK. (A good point.)

6:28 p.m. PDT: Points out move from 5-inch to 3.5-inch floppy disk. "We have gotten rid of things," one of first to get rid of optical drive (MacBook Air), floppy disk (iMac). "They call us crazy." Flash looks like tech that had its day and is waning. HTML 5 is on the rise.

6:29 p.m. PDT: Jobs points out no cell phones have Flash. Walt notes going to be. Steve says Flash has "going to be" for a long time. 75 percent of video on Web may be in Flash. 25 percent going to 50 percent very shortly is also going to be in HTML, Jobs said.

6:30 p.m. PDT: There are holes in some Web sites, but those are getting fixed, Jobs said. Main hole is ads right now.

6:31 p.m. PDT: HyperCard was huge in its day, Jobs said.... Jobs suggests it was bigger than Flash.

Jobs
All Things Digital's Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher interview Jobs on Tuesday evening. Ina Fried/CNET

6:32 p.m. PDT: We didn't start off to have a war with Flash. We just made a technical decision. Told Adobe if you ever have this thing running fast, come back and tell us. Shipped iPhone without Flash too. Wasn't until iPad that Adobe raised a stink, he said. "We just decided not to use one of their products in our platform. We didn't think it was a matter for the press," Jobs said of the dispute, but said eventually he got tired of Adobe trashing them, hence the letter.

6:34 p.m. PDT: "We're trying to make great products for people. We at least have the courage of our convictions...We're going to take the heat because we want to make the best product in the world for customers...They are paying us to make those choices."

6:35 p.m. PDT: "If we succeed they'll buy them, and if we don't they won't. So far, I have to say that people seem to be liking iPads. We've sold one every three seconds since we launched it."

6:35 p.m. PDT: Kara: You've been emailing a lot lately.

6:36 p.m. PDT: Not much there. Moving on to the iPhone in the bar issue.

6:40 p.m. PDT: There is an ongoing investigation by the DA, Jobs said. To make a wireless product, no way to do it totally in the lab. So Apple has some out there. "There is a debate of whether it was left in a bar or stolen out of his bag."

6:40 p.m. PDT: Jobs said it is a great story. "It's got theft. It's got buying stolen property. It's got extortion." Probably has sex in there somewhere, he said. "Somebody should make a movie out of this."

6:41 p.m. PDT: Kara asks about Foxconn and suicides.

6:42 p.m. PDT: Jobs said Apple does one of best jobs in its or any industry of understanding the working conditions of its suppliers. We go into these suppliers and their secondary and tertiary suppliers--places where nobody has gone before. "We're all over this. Foxconn is not a sweatshop. it's a factory, but they've got restaurants and movie theaters."

6:43 p.m. PDT: Jobs said the rate there has been 13, out of 400,000 for first half of year. Still under the U.S. rate of 11 per 100,000, but it's still troubling. "We're trying to understand right now before we try to go in with a solution," Jobs said.

6:44 p.m. PDT: Walt: You spent a good chunk of your time fighting a platform war with Microsoft. They won that, though the Mac is making a nice comeback. Now there are new platforms out there. You've done really well on several of them.

6:46 p.m. PDT: Do you see it like that? A platform war? "No, and I never have. We never saw ourselves in a platform war with Microsoft. Maybe that's why we lost." "Sure we thought about Microsoft, but we never saw it as a platform war." Thinking instead about how to build better product.

6:46 p.m. PDT: Re: Google. "They decided to compete with us, and they are," Jobs said, in phones. Asked about Chrome OS, he said "Chrome is not really baked yet."

6:48 p.m. PDT: Jobs talking about WebKit, which Apple really kick-started with Safari, now being used by Google, RIM, Palm. "We've created a real competitor to IE."

6:48 p.m. PDT: What happened with Eric (Schmidt)? "They decided to compete with us. We didn't go into the search business."

6:48 p.m. PDT: Walt: Did he call you? Jobs: "No, they started competing with us, and it got more and more serious."

6:49 p.m. PDT: Do you feel betrayed?

6:50 p.m. PDT: Jobs: My sex life is pretty good these days. How's yours?

6:51 p.m. PDT: "We want to make a better product than they do...and we do. What I love about the consumer market that I always hated about the enterprise market...(In the consumer market) every person votes for themselves. If enough of them say yes, we get to come to work in the morning." In enterprise, not so much--people that use them don't get to decide, and the people that make those decisions "are sometimes confused."

6:53 p.m. PDT: Jobs asked about Siri acquisition . Says "we're not going into the search business." Says Siri about artificial intelligence, not search.

6:53 p.m. PDT: Of course, Jobs often says Apple not going into a market...until they do.

6:55 p.m. PDT: AT&T; they have the fastest network. I think it's improving, he says, but adds he only wishes he could say rapidly improving. "I do think they have some issues."

6:55 p.m. PDT: Walt: In the U.S., would there be an advantage to being on more than one carrier. "There might be," Jobs said, noting that the future is long.

6:56 p.m. PDT: Asked about this year, Jobs said he couldn't say.

6:57 p.m. PDT: Walt asks Jobs about his earlier statements that Apple didn't want to make a phone and then did, reminding him of the time he talked about phone carriers being an orifice that device makers had to go through. "We found a way to change that. We found a way to sell the phone we want to sell and define it the way we want to...We were able to change the rules of the game and that's what got us (to change our mind)."

6:58 p.m. PDT: On tablets. Jobs said Apple hasn't done a tablet in the same way as Microsoft. Noted that what he was really opposed to was a handwriting-based system, saying it's too slow a form of input. "What we are doing is completely different than what we did. What we said is, if you need a stylus you have already failed." Tablet PC had expense, battery, and weight of a PC.

7 p.m. PDT: Walt asks Jobs why phone first before tablet. Jobs: "I'll tell you a secret: I actually started on tablet first." Had idea of a multitouch display that you could type on. "About six months later they called me in and showed me this prototype display." This was in the early 2000s. Gave it to one of Apple's early UI folks who got inertia scrolling and other things working. Jobs thought "My god, we can build a phone out of this. And I put the tablet on the shelf because the phone was more important. When we got our wind back and thought we could do something else, we took the tablet back off the shelf."

7:01 p.m. PDT: Kara: Can iPad save journalism? "We have a lot of goals for it, but one of my beliefs very strongly is that any democracy depends on a free, healthy press."

7:02 p.m. PDT: Jobs says he thinks of NYT, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and other newspapers. "Some of them are in real trouble. I don't want to see us descend into a nation of bloggers. I think we need editorial now more than ever."

7:04 p.m. PDT: "We all moved to reading on the Web...What we have to do is get people to start paying for this hard-earned content." iPad offers a way to offer more than just a static Web page. He thinks publishers should charge less than print, though. "The biggest lesson Apple has learned is, price it aggressively and go for volume."

7:05 p.m. PDT: Walt notes that Apple's entry into e-books actually raised prices. "It's complicated," Jobs said. He noted that the structure now allows the market to be more sensitive to the consumer, which should allow prices to eventually go down.

7:06 p.m. PDT: Is tablet eventually going to replace laptop, Walt asks.

7:07 p.m. PDT: Jobs: "When we were an agrarian nation, all cars were trucks because that's what you needed on the farms." Cars became more popular as cities rose, and things like power steering and automatic transmission became popular.

7:07 p.m. PDT: "PCs are going to be like trucks"

7:07 p.m. PDT: "They are still going to be around...they are going to be one out of x people."

7:08 p.m. PDT: "This transformation is going to make some people uneasy...because the PC has taken us a long ways. It's brilliant. We like to talk about the post-PC era, but when it really starts to happen, it's uncomfortable."

7:08 p.m. PDT: "Is it the iPad? Who knows?" Also the time frame is unclear, he said.

7:09 p.m. PDT: "People laugh at me because I describe the iPad as magical. You have a much more direct and intimate relationship with the Internet and media and apps and your content. It's like some intermediate thing has been removed and stripped away. Like that Claritin commercial where they strip away the film--it's like that."

7:10 p.m. PDT: "We are just scratching the surface on the kinds of apps for the iPad...I think there are lots of kinds of content that can be created on the iPad."

7:10 p.m. PDT: Walt notes a lot of people think lack of a keyboard makes it not right for content creation.

7:12 p.m. PDT: "Why wouldn't they be? When I am going to write that 35-page analyst report, I am going to want my Bluetooth keyboard. That's 1 percent of the time. The software will get more powerful. I think your vision would have to be pretty short" to think these can't grow into machines that can do more things, like editing video, graphic arts, productivity. "You can imagine all of these content creation" possibilities on these kind of things. "Time takes care of lots of these things."

7:12 p.m. PDT: Flexible displays? "We don't have the technology to do that, and it's not on the horizon."

7:12 p.m. PDT: "A lot of people have tried and are trying. Maybe someone will have a breakthrough." But probably several years away.

7:14 p.m. PDT: Walt: Isn't there a downside of Apple having so much power to control apps?

7:15 p.m. PDT: "We have two platforms we support. One is completely open and uncontrolled, and that is HTML5. We support HTML5. We have the best support for HTML5 of anyone in the world."

7:17 p.m. PDT: "We then support a curated platform, which is the App Store. It is the most vital applications community...We've got a few rules." The app has to function as advertised. It can't crash. It cannot use unsupported APIs. Approve 95 percent of apps, thousands a week.

7:17 p.m. PDT: Jobs is explaining why political cartoons app (was rejected at first). "We had a rule that said you can't defame people. By definition, they defame people. We didn't think of that. That was an unintended consequence."

7:18 p.m. PDT: Jobs said Apple actually had changed the rule several months earlier to allow political cartoons. "We are guilty as charged of making mistakes. Nobody has ever done this before. We're doing the best we can. We're making mistakes. We are fixing them as fast as we can."

7:19 p.m. PDT: "Some people lie. They use undocumented APIs or try to do something different than as advertised and they run to the press. They get their 15 minutes of fame. It's unfortunate, but we take it on the chin. That's part of what we do. We don't run to the press and say this guy is a son-of-a-bitch liar."

7:20 p.m. PDT: As for whether they Apple do better, Jobs said they could, but also reiterates that 95 percent of apps get approved in 7 days

7:21 p.m. PDT: Kara: What is your day like? Jobs: "I have one of the best jobs in the world...I get to hang around some of the most wonderful, brightest people I've ever met. Together we get to play in the best sandbox I've ever seen."

7:22 p.m. PDT: Walt notes that he could ask Jobs about the new iPhone, but says Steve wouldn't talk about them. Jobs agrees, starts to tell his well-worn story about the old Apple was a ship that leaked from the top.

7:22 p.m. PDT: So, sounds like we won't get any product news from Jobs.

7:23 p.m. PDT (Erica Ogg) : He has his own show in less than a week. Makes sense that he would hold off with product news.

7:23 p.m. PDT: Jobs talking about how Apple is run. "We are organized like a start-up. We are the biggest start-up on the planet. No committees. The whole meets once a week for three hours." (Not sure if that is separate Mac and Phone, etc. or the whole company.)

7:25 p.m. PDT: "What I do all day is meet with teams of people." Work on ideas, meet with teams. Walt: "Are people willing to tell you you are wrong?" Jobs: Yes. "We have wonderful arguments." Do you win them all? Jobs says no, you have to be run by ideas if you want to keep people. "The best ideas have to win, otherwise you don't have good people who stay."

7:26 p.m. PDT: Kara: "What do you imagine next 10 years of life are going to be like?" Jobs: "When this whole thing with Gizmodo happened, I got a lot of advice from people that said you've got to just let it slide. You shouldn't go after a journalist because they bought stolen property and tried to extort you." Jobs said he concluded the worst thing would be as company got bigger if it started letting things slide. "I can't do that. I'd rather quit."

7:27 p.m. PDT: Company is a little more experienced, a little more beat up, but still same as the company was 5 or 10 years ago in terms of values. "I don't see why you have to change as you get big," Jobs said.

7:29 p.m. PDT: Jobs on entry to ad business: "We're going into the ad business because we want to help our developers make some money. We're not going to make much money in the ad business. We are doing it for our developers."

7:29 p.m. PDT: Jobs said that people's behavior on phones very different than on desktops. People search less and go to apps more. Notes app phenomenon. "People are using apps way more than they are using search. If you want to make developers money, you put ads in the apps."

7:30 p.m. PDT: Today's in-app ads take you out of apps and into a browser and make the user find their way back. "If you are playing a game, you are probably not going to make it back to the same place," Jobs said.

7:31 p.m. PDT: Walt: "Could someone else do that?" "Sure, but nobody else is doing it. We can build it into the OS."

7:32 p.m. PDT: Walt, wrapping things up. Says want to ask all the panelists about privacy. "There seems to have been a spate of mistakes, or false starts," Walt says, referring to Facebook, etc.

7:32 p.m. PDT: "Or Google's Wi-Fi collection," Jobs offers helpfully.

7:34 p.m. PDT: Jobs said Apple very concerned about privacy. "We worry a lot about location in phones," he said. Worry that some 14-year-old gets stalked and something terrible happens to them. That's why the system requires its own dialog pop-up before an app grabs location info. "We have rejected a lot of apps that want to take your personal data and suck it up into the cloud. A lot of people in the Valley think we are really old-fashioned about that, and maybe we are. Privacy means people know what they are signing up for in plain English...Some people want to share more data. Ask them. Ask them every time. Let them know precisely what you are going to do with their data."

7:35 p.m. PDT: On to Q and A. First questioner asking about Jobs' graduation speech a few years back at Stanford. Would you add anything else with a few more years' wisdom? "I have no idea," Jobs said. "Probably I would just turn up the volume on it. The last few years have reminded me that life is fragile."

7:36 p.m. PDT: Second question: Does Apple want to own analytics in ad business?

7:37 p.m. PDT: Jobs said that there were tools out there that were sending data about devices that people were using to sniff out new products that Apple was testing. "We said, no we're not going to allow this. It's violating our privacy policy, and it's pissing us off. They are publishing information about our new products."

7:38 p.m. PDT: "That we don't need to do," Jobs said. "Is that clear?" Questioner, said yes, but added that there are valid uses for app developer to know what devices are using its apps. Eventually, he said, Apple would be willing to sit down with analytics firms. "It's not today."

7:38 p.m. PDT (Josh Lowensohn): RE: Privacy, iPhone OS 4 adds an extra privacy level just for location and what apps can access it.

7:39 p.m. PDT: Third question from Village Roadshow Pictures guy, asking Jobs to put on his Disney hat. Long-winded question. "Question," Kara blurts out, the first time (but not the last) that Kara cuts off a long-winded question.

7:40 p.m. PDT: But question, all agree, was good, how is balance shifting in content. The way we market movies is changing, Jobs said. Used to be TV advertising with trailers. "Now we can reach that audience much more effectively on the Web."

7:43 p.m. PDT: Jobs noted that record labels used to think that distribution channel was its customer--the Best Buys and Tower Records of the business. Same issue in movies. Customer isn't the theater, it's the movie viewer. "That's what's going to happen in visual media as well," Jobs said. "The content is going to be just as valuable, if not more valuable in the future." Movie companies need to start knowing who their customers are and let them watch it whenever they want, wherever they want. "It's starting to happen now in television," Jobs said. "They are more willing to experiment with their television properties. You are starting to see it more and more in film. I even think there is going to be a way to watch a first-run film at home before it comes out on DVD, if you are willing to spend a bunch of money."

7:45 p.m. PDT: Jobs on need for content syncing on the cloud. "You want to share your content that you bought amongst your various devices." You can do that today with a wire. "You can't do that without a wire. We need to work harder on that. We need to do better. Anytime soon? We're working on it."

7:48 p.m. PDT: Next question on iPhone dropped call issue. "I'll tell you what I am told, and I am told this by credible people...To make things better, people reallocate spectrum...and they do things like increase the backhaul...and they put in more robust switches." But, Jobs said, he's told that with these fixes "things in general when they start to fix them get worse before they get better. If you believe that, things should get a lot better soon." Said reason to believe things should get better by end of the summer. Kara: "And if they don't?" Jobs: "Then they won't. We'll see."

7:48 p.m. PDT: Last three questions...

7:51 p.m. PDT: Asked about HDCP content protection that makes it hard to use content legally purchased. "We didn't invent the stuff," Jobs said. Questioner: "But you did deploy it." Jobs responds that the content industry, particularly Hollywood, doesn't want repeat of Napster phenomenon. As a result, he said, they are willing to latch onto potential solutions. "Sometimes they grab the right straws, sometimes they grab the wrong straws." But they set the rules. Apple tries to persuade, but if they can't, then they have to either take it with the strings or not have that content.

7:53 p.m. PDT: Asked by social gaming company guy about his vision for social gaming. Jobs points to iPhone and iPod Touch. Notes that games on console are $30 to $40, while iPad ranges from free to a few dollars. "We didn't set out to compete with Nintendo, or Sony with their PSP." But it is, he said. He notes that not just the iPhone, but the iPod Touch. "Now we have the iPad, a third product on that same platform."

7:55 p.m. PDT: Last question: On television. "Do you think it is time to throw out the classic up-down, left-right interface of television?" "The problem with innovation in the television industry is the go to market solution." Everyone gets set-top box for free or $10 a month. That pretty much squashes innovation because no one wants to pay for a set-top box. "Ask TiVo. Ask ReplayTV. Ask Roku," he said. "Ask us. Ask Google in a few months."

7:56 p.m. PDT: Only way that changes is if you can tear up set-top box and get it to consumer in way that they are willing to pay for it. "Right now there is no way to do that. That's the problem with the TV market. We decided what product did we want the most? A better TV or a better phone?" Decided a phone, but didn't have a choice really, because no viable go-to-market strategy. Same set of choices when tablet came around.

7:58 p.m. PDT: Questioner: "Well, in phone, Apple got around that by working with carriers." Jobs said that the problem is there is no standard in U.S. or international. "It's very tower of Babel-ish. It's very balkanized."

7:58 p.m. PDT: He's wrapped up and folks are heading to dinner. I'm going to take my notes and turn this into a story. But I think the most poignant stuff was his prediction that post-PC era is really here and that the tablet will evolve to meet a lot of people's needs.

7:59 p.m. PDT: Josh, Erica, any final thoughts?

7:59 p.m. PDT (Josh Lowensohn) : Next week should be very interesting :)

7:59 p.m. PDT (Erica Ogg) : I was just thinking it's interesting he brought up not paying for something you can get for free. Dell just announced its tablet will be free on contract in the U.K.

8 p.m. PDT: Definitely. I'm surprised we didn't get even a taste for any of the products. But Jobs really does like his own stage for product introductions.

8 p.m. PDT (Erica Ogg) : Which we will of course be live-blogging also (on June 7 at 10 a.m.). :)

8 p.m. PDT (Josh Lowensohn) : With our truck PCs.

8 p.m. PDT: Definitely. I saw a Dell Streak making its rounds here. Looked interesting. I'm hoping to get a closer look and share with the class.

8 p.m. PDT (Erica Ogg) : Yes, pictures please!

8:01 p.m. PDT: Well, Thanks everyone... I'm sorry I couldn't chat more, but wanted to get you all as much of the content, since it wasn't being streamed.

8:02 p.m. PDT: We'll be covering much of the D8 conference live, using this format again for Steve Ballmer's talk on Thursday. But I'll also be covering things like the Project Natal demo and more that take place tomorrow. Many of the other events will be published in story form. Only some things merit blow-by-blow. Others are better condensed. Trust me.

Editors' note: The initial, bare-bones version of this story was posted June 1 at 10:01 a.m. PDT.

 

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