Monday, May 18, 2015

DIY PDF to Excel / Spreadsheet conversion

1. If you want to do multiple pages at a go, then you'll first need to extract just those pages from the bigger document. For that, you can use:


2. Then, this site will convert that pdf to excel for you.. it was pretty accurate for me:
If not that, then my second choice is: 
You might have to clean up the converted excel, re-align stuff, etc.


3. In case it's just a few pages, or if you need a specific part of the page only, then better to use Tabula: 
It's a portable software that runs on your computer, works through your browser. You visuzally draw a box on the page and it converts that to table. Either copy it to clipboard and then paste in excel using import text wizard, or save it as CSV and then load it in excel.


4. Now, the converted file may have weird characters, if your document was using legacy fonts like Shree-Dev to display vernacular language data.
Here's a site having converters to convert such text to Unicode format, which can then be read, copy-pasted, searched:
You'll get HTML files that have scripts in them. Save them locally and run them in your browser. (note: certain browsers might block the script from working unless you activate it.)

For Pune's Budget book, which was using a font similar to but slightly different from Shree-Dev, I made a customized converter, you can copy it from here:
Convert, copy, and in excel, select just the topmost cell of your selection and press ctrl+v. all the cells you originally copied out from should be replaced.

In case this was in regular ShreeDev font, try this:

The text might get garbled up in the pdf-to-excel conversion. Try this: Go down this thread : https://github.com/tabulapdf/tabula/issues/303 to get a dropbox link to a version that handles Indian scripts and does the conversion perfectly without distorting.

If is still happens (happened a lot on my end and later I got Tabula devs to fix it), then you have to copy-paste the text from the pdf. Press and hold the Ctrl, Alt buttons and draw a box (box-select) in the pdf-reader, that should let you select all the text in a column. First paste that in a simple text editor like Notepad.

Where there was more than one line of text in a cell, you'll have to "unwrap" them back to one line. (switch off wrapping by Format > Word Wrap). Where there were blank cells, you'll have to press enter, enter to space out the lines. Once you're sure it's exactly as it was in the PDF, then you can safely paste it back to the excel. Use the adjoining cells to make sure the stuff is well aligned.


5. For the figures, if they have commas like this: 52,50,000 then they'll be stored in the excel as text, not as numbers. To make them as numbers, select all the cells having the numbers, copy, and paste here:
..and press "zap commas". Copy the output and paste it back to the excel, with the first cell of your copied block selected.
(you can look for other such converters too or just make your own.. my file's source code is here: https://gist.github.com/answerquest/273360c7098428f2449a

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Food as humanity's primary renewable energy source

I sense opportunity in changing the narrative to count as energy and technology, things that haven't been considered as so by the mainstream.

Food is solar energy. Energy from the sun is converted to a medium that powers living beings to move and grow and live. It still has far higher efficiency than PV, wind etc and is a storage medium.

Permaculture / organic farming is a technology that removes the fossil fuel dependence of food energy. Just because it may not immediately involve silicon chips and wires or handling of poisonous substances doesn't necessarily make this a non-technology.. We can instead look at its sophistications. Wind direction, terrain, light and shade, companion plants, 100% waste recycling, macro and micronutrients management through influencing soil microbes and beneficial insects (coming a long way from the simplistic N-P-K and kill-everything-else doctrines), designs that incorporate water management, location-specific micro-climate adaptation ... It takes farming to totally new levels of sophistication and productivity potential that make conventional fertilizer-pesticide farming and its predecessors look crude, backward and uncivilized.

To top it off, this technology has been proven to not just avoid or reduce CO2 emissions (which is the primary focus of, say, solar PV), but it actually reverses them, sequestering carbon back into the ground. So imagine a solar panel that while providing you with energy that's inherently storage-friendly, also pulls excess CO2 out of the atmosphere, and does not use rare earth metals or have a pile of embodied costs. That's permaculture technology. (Yes there are many other names of this but I suggest we just go with the one that more than one nationality's peoples are already familiar with)


So yes, do keep eyes open for renewables technologies, even forms that haven't been taken into account as yet by a mainstream that chooses to ignore innovations in the world's largest and most primary energy sector (food) when talking about energy.

PS: all technologies have a transition period, with early adopters investing more, feedback cycles for improvement, not getting immediate ROI, time taken for standardization, lack of available resources, learning curve, etc and the one mentioned is probably no different.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Breaking through problem-reaction-solution traps

Here's an analytical/critical thinking experiment : It would help if
the following were detailed out:

1. What misunderstandings are there in the analysis of the problem?

2. What conclusion has been arrived upon and how it's problematic,
what would be the consequences if that conclusion were put into
effect? Specify how the misunderstandings if any are leading to a
mis-conclusion?

3. In which stakeholders' interest is the advocacy being done in. Are
they meant to be stakeholders here to begin with, or are they just an
excuse? Are their interests being truly represented, and is the
advocated solution a true solution for them?

4. Which stakeholders' interests are being ignored?

5. Is there any common ground between the two stakeholders groups
mentioned, are there any similar goals, intentions or problems
affecting both?

6. Is there any genuine reason for the two stakeholder groups to be
pitted against each other?

7. Are there any background intentions behind what has been published,
any stakeholders who aren't being mentioned that would surreptitiously
benefit should the proposed changes be brought about? (example:
textbook publishers, private education industry, etc) Who gains if the
misunderstandings persist?

8. What is an alternative change to the status quo that rectifies
misunderstandings, if any, and serves the interests of both the
stakeholder groups mentioned

9. If the status quo is not to be changed and things are fine as they
are, then what are the clarifications that will clear away the
misunderstandings that led to a perception of a problem being there
and needing redress? Is there a motive for any stakeholder to maintain
the misunderstanding?

Friday, May 1, 2015

Hints to an aerodynamic model possibly more efficient than today's regular planes


Built scaled up replicas of gold trinkets recovered from tombs, put propellers on them, and successfully flew them.
" At the August, 1997 meeting of the " Ancient Astronaut Society World Conference," gathered in Orlando, Florida, the two researchers presented their independent findings on the "insects." Those assembled literally cheered when Belting's model (powered by a small jet engine - left) flew a set of complex aerodynamic maneuvers … and then came in for a perfect landing - all with a model airplane built as an exact match to a tiny gold trinket found in an Incan grave … dated minimally to over a thousand years ago!"


It's quite healthy to get one of these googly's now and again :) Just imagine the far more logical and practical approach that would have been followed to properly test this stuff out if the mainstream stopped resorting to all the "conspiracy theory" branding and dismissing and instead just took things logically and allowed people to explore. Instead, no, we have to brand this and dismiss it and ridicule the people interested in it and so cut out any possibility of actually testing and proving or disproving.

The legalese it takes to destroy democracy

"Protection of persons acting in good faith under this Act from prosecution, suit or other legal proceedings, except with the sanction of the Central Government, in exercise of the powers conferred by this Act."


That's all the legalese it takes to destroy democracy in your country, for the sake of a "greater good" that the guys with the guns can decide upon. Stick this line at the end of any law, and you've effectively disabled anyone badly affected by that law from seeking any justice or relief or remediation. In the absence of legal avenue for justice, if you dare to seek it using any other means, even civil disobedience, then you're branded as terrorist or uncivilized or anarchist or disrespectful of due processes and not worthy of any justice. Our ever-ready army of educated intellectuals who don't bother fully reading what they are defending or checking what it actually translates to on the ground, will gladly dismiss you off while remaining in blissful ignorance of the fact that the law itself bans you from pursuing the correct avenues for justice. 

Got raped by a policeman acting under this Act? Got your land taken away just before harvest time? Sorry, bitches, you've been deprived. All in "good faith", of course.

Interesting links for March and April 2015

So here comes another omnibus links dump! I missed the passing of March into April, and now we're in May. I got busy with some work and discontinued putting in interesting links, so missed a lot of things. Still, this collection is awesome.


World's first lagoon power plants unveiled in UK

What Yogendra Yadav and Bhushan said about the AAP in their letters
>> Valid points made by the two! Good feedback, must be acted upon now. Why all the accusing??

Activists vs Arnab Goswami Part II: Now an open letter 
Explaining how the activists were denied a chance to articulate their views on a news show, the letter stated that " Not only were their mikes at times muted, they were repeatedly heckled and subjected to hate speech," with Goswami as the anchor, "encouraging, even orchestrating and amplifying these responses."
"Not surprisingly then, an opportunity to question the accusations raised by the Government was not allowed. Instead, Government allegations were presented as self-evident facts by you as the anchor. You went on to claim that you had the 'facts' to prove the 'anti-national' character of one organization in particular and activists in general. While the responses of the activists on these panel were deliberately distorted, you as the anchor insinuated baselessly that the said activists were employing 'hackers', and that they had 'deposed against India'.
Bringing attention to a previous show in which a panelist had allegedly called two feminists on the panel as 'Naxals who believed in free sex', it said that the terms had been used as tools of abuse against them. 


According to the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), in an area that is proclaimed as "disturbed" (today disturbed areas are present in Assam, Kashmir and Manipur provinces), an officer of the armed forces has powers to:
    After giving such due warning, Fire upon or use other kinds of force even if it causes death, against the person who is acting against law or order in the disturbed area for the maintenance of public order,
    Destroy any arms dump, hide-outs, prepared or fortified position or shelter or training camp from which armed attacks are made by the armed volunteers or armed gangs or absconders wanted for any offence.
    To arrest without a warrant anyone who has committed cognizable offences or is reasonably suspected of having done so and may use force if needed for the arrest.
    To enter and search any premise in order to make such arrests, or to recover any person wrongfully restrained or any arms, ammunition or explosive substances and seize it.
    Stop and search any vehicle or vessel reasonably suspected to be carrying such person or weapons.
    Any person arrested and taken into custody under this Act shall be made over to the officer in charge of the nearest police station with the least possible delay, together with a report of the circumstances occasioning the arrest.
    Army officers have legal immunity for their actions. There can be no prosecution, suit or any other legal proceeding against anyone acting under that law. Nor is the government's judgment on why an area is found to be disturbed subject to judicial review.
    Protection of persons acting in good faith under this Act from prosecution, suit or other legal proceedings, except with the sanction of the Central Government, in exercise of the powers conferred by this Act.


July 2004: Women Rage Against 'Rape' in Northeast India 

The Buck Stops Here - Greece is Fighting to Save Europe

Four Reasons Young Americans Should Burn Their Student Loan Papers


Mysterious Fireball Explodes Over Kerala, India - February 27, 2015 (Video)

Linda Moulton Howe on ET Resurrection Anunnaki and Interdimensional War 

UFO over Donetsk: Skyline cam catches light in time-lapse

Holy crap its actually there.. 48°35'22.04"N 98°21'24.07"W

The mysterious bright spot on Ceres has a companion

Example of vaccine coercion being encouraged : of schools not allowing non-vaccinated kids to attend

Mystery of the Crystal Sphere of Atlantis

Mysterious Giant Clouds Spotted On Mars, 150 mile High Plumes Coming Off The Red Planet 

ROGOZIN: RUSSIA'S NUCLEAR DETERRENT HAS SECRET TECHNOLOGIES… AND A CONFIRMATION?

Read the first comment posted here.
"The Sony breach was an inside job. 100 terabytes is too big to transmit over the Internet. At top broadband speeds it would take 661 24/7 days at top US speed; and, 2,315 day to transmit to S. Korea (and general Asia Pac Rim) at their top transmission speed. This breach is not perpetrated by hackers. 100 terabytes of is basically a snapshot or complete system back-up of all the information on disk arrays. All that is required is physical access to the monitor that triggers the back-up of Sony's data."

UFO mystery in France goes on, again a UFO spotted next to the Eiffel Tower - Feb 27, 2014 


Built scaled up replicas of gold trinkets recovered from tombs, put propellers on them, and successfully flew them.
" At the August, 1997 meeting of the " Ancient Astronaut Society World Conference," gathered in Orlando, Florida, the two researchers presented their independent findings on the "insects." Those assembled literally cheered when Belting's model (powered by a small jet engine - left) flew a set of complex aerodynamic maneuvers … and then came in for a perfect landing - all with a model airplane built as an exact match to a tiny gold trinket found in an Incan grave … dated minimally to over a thousand years ago!"

Venezuela : Marudo: The Northern IMPERIAL Power Has Entered A Dangerous Phase Of Desperation

China Sides with Russia over Ukraine Issue
Speaking in very clear and explicit language, something diplomats are not used to doing, the Chinese ambassador said the "nature and root cause" of the crisis was the "game" between Russia and Western powers, including the United States and the European Union.
    He said external intervention by different powers accelerated the crisis and warned that Moscow would feel it was being treated unfairly if the West did not change its approach.
    "The West should abandon the zero-sum mentality, and take the real security concerns of Russia into consideration," Qu was quoted as saying.
    His comments were an unusually public show of understanding from China for the Russian position. China and Russia see eye-to-eye on many international diplomatic issues but Beijing has generally not been so willing to back Russia over Ukraine.
As noted above, China has long been very cautious not to be drawn into the struggle between Russia and the West over Ukraine's future, not wanting to alienate a key ally.
And yet, something changed overnight, with this very clear language, warning some could say, that China will no longer tolerate Pax Americana, and even the mere assumption of a unipolar western world, let alone the reality.

Geopolitically, Russia, India, and China Just Sent a Powerful Message Westward

China "Pivots" Everywhere Based on a "New Type of Int'l Relations Centered on 'Win-Win' Cooperation" BUT NOT the US's "Bully-or-Bomb Exceptionalist" Approach

Aruna Rodrigues noted that the Technical Expert Committee (TEC) Final Report (FR) is the fourth official report exposing the lack of integrity, independence and scientific expertise in assessing GMO risk (see here).
The four reports are: The 'Jairam Ramesh Report' of February 2010, imposing an indefinite moratorium on Bt Brinjal, overturning the apex Regulator's approval to commercialise it; the Sopory Committee Report (August 2012); the Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) Report on GM crops (August 2012) and the TEC Final Report (June-July 2013). There is a remarkable consensus here.
The TEC recommended an indefinite moratorium on the field trials of GM crops until the government devised a proper regulatory and safety mechanism. No such mechanism exists, but open field trials are being given the go ahead, regardless of a history of blatant violations of biosafety norms, hasty approvals, a lack of monitoring abilities, general apathy towards the hazards of contamination and a lack of institutional oversight mechanisms

Edward Lucas, the senior editor at The Economist magazine, made in fact a self-defeating confession in his speech at the Munich security conference: "Why do people watch RT so avidly? Because they think that the mainstream media is not telling them the truth and they are fed up with the political elite in our countries."
"Indeed, the best propaganda you can do against Edward Lucas is just to quote him in full. His words speak for themselves."

Hidden Chemtrail Airfield outside Las Vegas: Chemtrail plane airfield accidentally discovered 20 miles outside Las Vegas, NV, ….came upon this Airfield in the middle of no where full of white Chemtrail planes. ...a trail of dust heading towards us and a black SUV with 4 armed men came ….got very agitated and told us we needed to leave immediately…


Beware the Cult, Arvind Kejriwal

Gandhi's Anti-Vaccine Views Ring True A Century Later


'Impossible' space drive tested by NASA foretells future of deep-space travel
The drive's creator, British scientist Roger Shawyer
"demonstrated a remarkable new space propulsion technology. [It] has successfully tested both an experimental thruster and a demonstrator engine which use patented microwave technology to convert electrical energy directly into thrust. No propellant is used in the conversion process."
In short, if the results hold up, humanity can say goodbye to huge energy consumption costs associated with space travel, and say hello to deep-space missions and distant world exploration at a fraction of the cost and at 100 times the speed. 

Problems with wheat

 The whistleblower continues to lead a secretive existence in Russia, where he's been stranded since June 2013, hiding from his own government, which is seeking to prosecute him for his crimes behind closed doors.
"I've told the government again and again in negotiations, you know, that if they're prepared to offer an open trial, a fair trial in the same way that Dan Ellsberg got, and I'm allowed to make my case to the jury, I would love to do so," Snowden said. "But to this point they've declined." 

'Citizenfour': Documentary shows Snowden reunited with dancer girlfriend in Moscow





India's Daughter: since the Delhi rape things have got worse 
The current government has been blatant in its complete disregard for implementing safety measures for women and girls. And the rapes and physical attacks continue.

At least part of this is because the attitudes displayed on film by the rapist and his lawyer are not unusual - they are widespread across India (and many countries) in all sections of society.

Trying to hide this, or prevent others from knowing about it, is not a solution. Instead, we have to confront this head on, precisely because this extreme form of patriarchy is so pervasive. Knowing our enemy - within and without - means facing all this, no matter how repulsive it may appear, because only then can we ever hope to change it.





Delhi govt has a public grievance monitoring system


When it comes to Mr Modi, we are all in the dark
- by reputed journalist Vinod Mehta, now deceased.
"...has neither submitted himself to open questioning in a press conference nor given a credible one-on-one interview."


India Central govt's budget for 2015-16

Renewable energy sector left high and dry (2015-16 Union Budget)



The Khudai Khidmatgar (Servants of God) Movement: Badshah Khan and the Northwest Frontier in British India (1933-1937)
Ghaffar Khan, who is also known as Badshah Khan and the "Frontier Gandhi," formed the world's first nonviolent army, a force of perhaps 100,0001 Pathans who took a solemn oath in joining the "Servants of God" movement, with each stating that "since God needs no service… I promise to serve humanity in the name of God. I promise to refrain from violence and from taking revenge. I promise to forgive those who oppress me or treat me with cruelty. I promise to devote at least two hours a day to social work".

"has become a benchmark for contemporary Muslims organizing nonviolent resistance rooted in the Islamic tradition. "


It seems to me that this outfit, whatever the name it decides to call itself by, will be a harbinger of what seems to be seeking to make its appearance worldwide - a post-party politics and post-party democracy. The possibility that it might become a party and yet not be one, is interesting and new - though I am aware that there are many among Kejriwal's confidantes who would like it to become a party right away. If these advisors have their way, we can rest assured that it will be the end of this interesting new experiment.



SSC students to donate PMC scholarship to waste pickers' children

Demetri and Bruno
A stray dog in Athens explores the ongoing Greek crisis from a very different perspective.
Al Jazeera documentary

Limits sought on GMO corn as pest resistance grows
* Rootworm gains ground; seed producers criticize EPA proposal
U.S. regulators for the first time are proposing limits on the planting of some genetically engineered corn to combat a voracious pest that has evolved to resist the bug-killing crops, a potential blow to makers of biotech seeds.

Here Shri Om Prakash Dhankhar, Minister of Agriculture, Haryana talks about the harmful effects of Greeen Revoultion...the growing cancer.......hazards of Bt Cotton etc.
Here he emphasize on the promotion of organic Farming.

http://craftsmanship.net/drought-fighters/ The Drought Fighter >> Awesome, long, detailed article on no-till farming.
some links on Farmer Paul Kaiser.
At Singing Frogs Farm they are earning around $100,000 an acre, per year. This is unheard of in traditional farming and made many in the audience take note.
And yet he uses no conventional or organic pesticides, fungicides or herbicides. The reason for this is that even though the organic chemicals don't harm humans, beneficial insects are still killed. By the way, he also has virtually no weeding to do.


Israeli forces respond to Women's Day march with violence
Published Saturday 07/03/2015 (updated) 08/03/2015 18:19
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) - More than 30 Palestinians, mostly women, were injured as Israeli troops forcibly dispersed a peaceful march marking International Women's Day at Qalandiya checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah on Friday.

Corporate Media Ignores Report of U.S. and Israeli Operatives Arrested Aiding ISIS
More evidence U.S. and Israel directly aiding ISIS
A story over the weekend stating American and Israeli military advisors were arrested in Iraq aiding ISIS was not reported by the establishment media.
According to Iraq's Sarma News Agency and the Iranian Tasnim News Agency, the four foreign military advisors were captured during a military operation in the Tal Abta desert near the city of Mosul in Iraq's Northern Province of Nineveh.
Three of the arrested men were dual U.S.-Israel citizens and a fourth Persian.
On Thursday Qasim al-Araji, the head of the Badr Organization in Iraq, told parliament on Thursday he has evidence the U.S. is arming the Islamic Army, according to a report carried by the Arabic language Almasalah.


Ecuador Alerts Public to CIA Actions Across the Continent
"They destroyed our democracy"
The Foreign Ministry is backing a new book outlining CIA actions in Ecuador to raise public awareness of interventions committed by the organization.
Imprisoned on various occasions and subjected to numerous interrogations, Dr. Jaime Galarza Zavala is one of the estimated 120 direct victims of the CIA's record in Ecuador.
Persecuted by the CIA for his political organizing, Galarza described to teleSUR English that "they told me that I was working as a guerrilla in the Dominican Republic. I, to this day, have never visited the Dominican Republic. But they accused me of being a guerrilla leader in the Dominican Republic. And this was a common theme with various interrogations."

 Climate change: why the Guardian is putting threat to Earth front and centre

As global warming argument moves on to politics and business, Alan Rusbridger explains the thinking behind our major series on the climate crisis

It is our great collective misfortune that the scientific community made its decisive diagnosis of the climate threat at the precise moment when an elite minority was enjoying more unfettered political, cultural, and intellectual power than at any point since the 1920s
Naomi Klein
>> Can't help but feel that the two are in some way interconnected, eh?


The West Losing Control of the Narrative and It's Really Starting to BUG THEM …
Edward Lucas, the senior editor at The Economist magazine, made in fact a self-defeating confession in his speech at the Munich security conference: "Why do people watch RT so avidly? Because they think that the mainstream media is not telling them the truth and they are fed up with the political elite in our countries."

Recently an international collaboration of concerned economists released a new set of free and downloadable course material for first year economics students that aims to teach the subject "as if the last 30 years had happened." 'The Economy,' an e-book produced by the CORE Project, was released on February 17. 


Teaching economics as if the last three decades had happened

If they are unconscious, don't make them tea. Unconscious people can't answer the question, "Do you want tea?" because they are unconscious.

No peons or bells for Delhi government's aam-aadmi panel
At the office of Delhi Dialogue Commission, appointees will work as the aam aadmi. The no-frills office will not have any peons to carry files from one desk to another. There will be no bell to press for a cup of tea—officials have to help themselves.

Rana Ayyub: Why I believe Sanatan Sanstha is behind Dabholkar and Pansare's murder
Investigating agencies have various evidences to back up their claim while the investigation is underway.

The great Indian wedding drama: Bengaluru girl's rebellious matrimonial website goes viral

Wikipedia sues NSA, full text of lawsuit

Internet needs stricter curbs than print, TV: Centre to SC

The CIA Campaign to Steal Apple's Secrets
RESEARCHERS WORKING with the Central Intelligence Agency have conducted a multi-year, sustained effort to break the security of Apple's iPhones and iPads, according to top-secret documents obtained by The Intercept.

Pollution is changing the way China does politics

GM Mosquitos with a genetic "kill switch" that will make their offspring die being released... what if this trait transfers to other species?

Changes in NDA's land Bill only cosmetic
Amendments skip key controversial issues


Shit man, this is sooo Ridiculous!


PC App to automatically change color tone of screen to warmer tone at night, to reduce straining of eyes.

Transitioning a company to an employee-owned one

Madhya Pradhesh government today has over 2000 centres offering free generic medicines and plans to establish 52000 more such centres. #MumkinHai



>> example of media bias : Zero coverage of what AAP govt has DONE in delhi. This article is solely focussing on the rift among the party's leadership.



The non-patentable treatment Ronald Reagan and several others have taken to make a full recovery from cancer
According to Dr. Hans Neiper, the world-renowned German cancer doctor who administers the 8th Element therapy, "You wouldn't believe how many FDA officials or relatives or acquaintances of FDA officials come to see me as patients in Hanover."




Google allowed 282k users' personal details be seen on doing WHOIS searches on websites whose makers sought to protect their identities. And this was going on for years.. they only just fixed it.
>> Something tells me this wasn't entirely accidental.


AGENDA FOR ARVIND - Govt goes local even as city waits for CM 





Great source for daily news on India.. hand-picked articles that matter

Rs.5,40,000 crore subsidy to India's richest people this year

Victory for Priya Pillai and Greenpeace and all activists seeking to expose government's violations to the world

Delhi govt plans to honour trees for cleaning city's air
Deputy CM Manish Sisodia told TOI that this Rakshabandhan, he would like the women to tie rakhis around trees as a mark of respect for the role they are playing to keep the city safe from high levels of pollution.
"This is just a plan but if we honour our brothers, why not do the same for trees which serve such an important purpose in our lives," he said. 
>>Awesome symbolic idea. But why only women? As a man, I also tie rakhi to my sisters and brothers for caring for me. Men in Delhi should tie rakhis to the trees too. God knows it might do wonders to the Delhi men's attitude too.

Mapping Chicago with bike riders using @LeafletJS, data from @DivvyBikes (rough draft): http://mkfreeman.github.io/divvyTrips/  

A person who happens to have a degree from IIT, thought it's a good idea to murder his family when a lab erroneously gave him HIV+ test result.



"I strongly believe that AAP leaders are not a breed that seeks personal gains. I believe the real conflict is not between personalities or different core principles. Rather it is between priorities."

Another twitter account giving just short updates of major decisions by Delhi CM office:

Describing thought germs.. how they infect and spread just like germ germs. And importantly, how seemingly opposing angry thought germs are actually complimentary and dominate the thoughts of all.
Brilliantly animated video.

Across the globe, countless women are standing up to the ravages of climate change – and to the governments and big businesses who are allowing it to destroy the world

Aam Aadmi Party has to give good govt in Delhi, change the system: Arvind Kejriwal


Firechat : chat app, anonymous, off-the-grid using bluetooth
>> This is what I've written about some yrs back.. peer-to-peer mobile communcation would bring in the second telecommunications revolution that would disrupt the hold of centralized grid networks, and enable people to communicate walkie-talkie style. This is still in early stages, bu already the most basic part : public chatting : is possible, which is quite big in itself. This app was used extensively by protestors in Hong Kong.. the Chinese authorities couldn't 

Why a messaging app meant for festivals became massively popular during Hong Kong protests

Big at SXSW: FireChat Bypass Cellular and WiFi Networks


Spirit Science : Animated video series covering thoughts, chakras, geometry, cosmic stuff... 


Split-Flux Bifilar Transformer (SFT) : a design that yields over 90 degrees power factor, efficiency goes over 100% and transformer becomes generator.
This inventors is on similar lines as Keshe's research.


In 1906, Tagore released his 15 point Village Reconstruction Charter in Pabna (now in Bangladesh). This document makes clear that making villages autonomous was chief among his concerns. It was necessary to use "indigenously made goods." Further, all the village disputes had to be settled within through a process of village arbitration. A community grain bank was necessary to guard against famines. In a gesture towards the necessity of women's autonomy, the Charter asks that "housewives" be trained in a trade that could enhance the family's income.
While Tagore sought autonomy for villages, he did not wish that they remain isolated. In his view, it was necessary that "brotherhood" was cultivated between "hamlets, villages and districts."
A few of Tagore's concerns were generally shared by reform minded intellectuals and government officials: science and history had to be taught in village schools; and, demographic data had to be compiled meticulously for every village. Many of his concerns were however unique. His Charter, for instance, stressed the need for building communal harmony and asked that the essence of all religions be taught in schools.



Check out this portal now to track progress against AAP's 70-point agenda 

Why are top corporate executives taking up the plough?
..some members from the farming-related mailing lists featured here.

Delhi govt to give powers to SDM to act against Molesters



What's So Wrong With Kejriwal's 'Hunger For Power'?
>>awesome article, brings a dose of common sense and realism into the debate.

>> ok, point... but what made this special for me was that it was using an online service for creating infographics:

Online infographics (HTML5! with graphs, mouseover etc!) generator


"Private instant messaging via secure, distributed technology. No cloud required."

BitTorrent says Bleep is fully encrypted end to end, with messages and other data only stored locally on your device. Users also have the ability to delete their message history, "leaving no trace of conversation behind."

>> i have doubts in case it's not open-source. If not now, then future updates could include a 3rd party recipient and make this a trap.

A limitation: you cannot have asynchronous communication, with group messages and photos only getting delivered when users are online (similar to a problem that Skype, which had originally been built on an exclusively-P2P architecture, also used to have).

-----
Then, i looked for "android lan chat" and found this:
>> standalone java .jar file. So, portable. Cross-platform. Open-source.

-----
And this page as many lan chat softwares for windows:


Testing out IPMessenger:
from laptop to mobile : works. We even get a delivery notification.
But from mobile to laptop : NOPE, doesn't work.

We're Supposed To Be Peace Officers: Good Cop Who Stopped Brutality and Got Fired For Her Trouble Just Won Her Job Back


Rodale Institute's report on side-by-side conventional vs organic Farming Systems Trial (FST) over 30 year period.
Quick summary points:
1. Organic yields match conventional yields.
2. Organic outperforms conventional in years of drought.
3. Organic farming systems build rather than deplete soil organic matter, making it a more sustainable system.
4. Organic farming uses 45% less energy and is more efficient.
5. Conventional systems produce 40% more greenhouse gases.
6. Organic farming systems are more profitable than conventional.



Flying car does a Nano

Major university studies on lab rats have found that foods using processed sugar are often even more addictive than illegal drugs such as cocaine and heroin.


Originially written after Lok Sabha Polls, I think it's a good time to ask these questions to AAP's supporters, esp the ones active on social media.

Wonderful article on homeschooling across age groups, with inputs collected from families across the country

Finally, a fully transparent solar energy harvester

India's other daughters – The village that plants 111 trees when a girl is born 

Anger brews as US company skips hearing for second time in Bhopal gas tragedy



France decrees new rooftops must be covered in plants or solar panels
Rooftops on new buildings built in commercial zones in France must either be partially covered in plants or solar panels, under a law approved on Thursday.
Green roofs have an isolating effect, helping reduce the amount of energy needed to heat a building in winter and cool it in summer.


Philanthropist Howard Buffett backs brown revolution in Africa
Promoting sustainable farming practices, no-till farming, lowering needs of fertilizers, etc.



YES, WE CAN PROSPER WITHOUT GROWTH: 10 POLICY PROPOSALS FOR THE NEW LEFT




10 Things People With An Abundance Mindset Do Differently

Paris is asking its citizens to decide how it spends €500m by 2020

Three Supreme Court Orders Later, What's the Deal with Aadhaar?
By law, you should not be denied any government service in India if you don't have an Aadhar card number. So why do various government programs continue to ignore three Supreme Court orders and insist on the dreaded number, and how are they getting away with it?

How do you plant 1 billion trees a year? With drones, of course
Instead of doing surveillance or carrying out military missions, the drones from BioCarbon Engineering are taking on a decidedly more progressive task: planting trees and reversing deforestation.

Please cancel the NOCs for GM crops cause they are CANCER CAUSING and destroy any field trials that have started

Monsanto Loses GMO Permit In Mexico – Judge Sides With The Bees

Learn How This Family Grows 6,000 Lbs Of Food on Just 1/10th Acre


Useful web tool for measuring area of a land if you mark the boundary points.

Sharing tools and best practices for budget data analysis

Yes, I'm bad at sharing what I myself am up to. But for some reason when communicating with a person it happens nicely. So, forwarding an email:

Hi,


2 open source tools that were used:

PDFtk4all : for splitting heterogenous pdf's into homogenous sections, so that each file only has one kind of table. http://pdftk4all.sourceforge.net/

Tabula : for refined conversion from PDF to excel. http://tabula.technology

Go down this thread : https://github.com/tabulapdf/tabula/issues/303 to get a dropbox link to a version that handles Indian scripts and does the conversion perfectly without distorting. (they still have to push the update to the main version.) (The conversion happens nicely if the PDF uses legacy fonts, that is. If the data is in unicode, then God help us. Whatever you do, please don't persuade governments to publish large tables in pdf in unicode! If they are switching to unicode, then they should stop making PDFs of the docs and just give a link that we can compare the file with for authenticity.)


Our biggest hurdle is usually the with getting the data in Unicode format.
Here is a link to the converter I used: https://gist.github.com/answerquest/74c13f73f1bfb21c3177

That one was for a particular font that the PMC uses.

For Shree-Dev, which is a more popular font and which the bus authority here uses, here's the converter:

Detail: There's a substitution array of about 200 characters that we usually have to map to their unicode equivalents. The converter scripts basically does a quick find+replace on all the substitution pairs. But in Hindi/Marathi we also have vowel "maatras" and a variety of combos, and that can get a little tricky, hence some scripting is needed. I didn't make the script.. I got it from an online group and adapted it to work with what I had.

An example of letter-substitutions seen across some popular legacy fonts:

-----------------

Also, I've recently been working on using mapping to facilitate budget analysis. Here's one outcome, for browsing through this year's Pune's Participatory Budget:

One significant breakthrough here was learning how to combine geolocation data with a separate excel file having the info we want the map to show on the marked areas. More on how that happened is partially explained here: http://gis.stackexchange.com/questions/143730/leafletjs-combine-location-data-in-geojson-kml-gpx-with-other-information-in-c


And.. did you know google spreadsheets turns our regular graphs into interactive HTML5 ones? We can embed them on website, like so:
http://pugpune.weebly.com/punes-annual-budget.html (note: website is work in progress and this is a temporary address.)


All the visualizations you'll see in the pages here are coming from google spreadsheets, just like excel, making graphs out of table data. No coding needed; I just had to copy-paste the html code.


Then,
There's some quite nice open data sharing platforms out there, example: http://datahub.io/http://data.okfn.org/ etc. I'm going to explore how to plug into them.



Friday, April 24, 2015

Story : The Cargo plane and the tissue boxes

A large cargo plane has suffered one engine failure while flying and must immediately reduce its weight to prevent a crash, by dropping out some of its cargo load from the back side bay doors. There are 10 minutes within which to act, failing which enough altitude will be lost and they will crash into some oncoming mountains. The pilots relay this to the airman crew head inside the cargo plane. Inside the plane are some crates full of heavy-duty metal equipment, some crates carrying drinks, and the rest of the space is being taken up by hundreds of crates carrying tissue boxes. A glance at the inventory roster reveals that the equipment and the drinks combined weigh as much as all the remaining crates put together. But that is in terms of wegiht. In terms of monetary value, they are worth 100 times more than the remaining crates.

Keeping in mind that the heavy equipment and the drinks are high-value consignments whose cost cannot be covered by the insurance cover, the crew head instructs his staff to start with the crates having tissue boxes first.

Did this story ring a bell with some global-level issue that you can recollect?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Book : The Secrets to Nonviolent Prosperity: The Principles of Liberty

Wonderful book description.. (I haven't read the book yet but the descriptions and reviews stand on their own)

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1466477857/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=wwwhotforlibe-20&linkCode=as2&camp=217145&creative=399373&creativeASIN=1466477857

The Secrets to Nonviolent Prosperity: The Principles of Liberty

A Review of "The Secrets to Nonviolent Prosperity: The Principles of Liberty"

The new book by Trevor Z. Gamble - The Secrets to Nonviolent Prosperity (published in paperback and Kindle editions, 2011) - provides a welcoming introduction to ideas that go a long way toward resolving many of our contemporary problems and the deeper concerns behind them. Like many of us, the author realizes that something is amiss in the world. Then he takes us on a journey to find out what is wrong and how it relates to our understanding (or misunderstanding) of politics, economics, human rights - and ultimately, the idea of freedom itself.

Mr. Gamble opens his book like the 12th-century thinker, Bernard of Chartres, by acknowledging his debt to writers who came before him - political scientists, psychologists, and economists who enabled him, in effect, to stand on their shoulders so that he can see a bit farther than they did. And the first thing he sees is that we can do away with the tiresome convention of thinking about politics in terms of "left" and "right" with all of the name-calling that goes with it. And it's not enough, says the author, to point to the villains of history to find out why things have gone wrong. After all, every nightmare-toting dictator in the history of the world was able to get there because he (or she) had plenty of followers willing to do the dirty work. In other words, it's not just them...

In his next chapter, Gamble identifies the concept of "human rights" as a basic source for gaining insights into and unraveling the problems that surround us. He explains and adopts the excellent definition of rights laid out by Murray Rothbard and Hans-Hermann Hoppe: self-ownership. Consequently, he defines the most important human right as the right of ownership that one has over one's own body. Better yet, he explains that it is the only self-evident "right" that we can have, and from it, he deduces our ethical concepts of rights to personal property and the constellation of ideas that come into play with that realization. In doing so, he explores the non-aggression axiom that lies at the basis of all fruitful and peaceful human interactions - stressing, as he does so, the inviolability of all human beings as ends in themselves.

Once he has marked out this intellectual and ethical territory, he goes on to explore topics such as equality, property rights, government entitlements, collectivism, majority-rules politics, the natural environment, third-world poverty, and related issues. This would be a daunting task if he didn't do two things that make his book particularly enjoyable to read.

* First he enlivens his narrative by breaking it up with fascinating quotations from figures that loom large in literature, politics, and history. What makes his use of these quotations especially useful, however, is how and when he inserts them into the text. These quotes appear in the most unexpected places, and they call a complete halt to our thinking - forcing us to engage our minds and question our assumptions. The reader is continually shocked by the unsavory pedigree of words uttered by a number of "favorite" American icons. At other times, these quotations simply reinforce what Mr. Gamble has attempted to explain. All of them, however, are delightful in the context of the narrative and well worth the price of the book.

* Second, he ends each chapter with a section entitled "I Object!" It's the author's way of entering into a dialog with readers who may disagree strongly with the things he has been writing. By including these objections, Mr. Gamble anticipates some of the most common complaints that can be registered against his viewpoint, and he addresses them fairly. This alone sets him apart from writers who are so convinced of their brilliance that they can't imagine anyone disagreeing with them about anything.

Once we are grounded in the ethics of self-ownership and non-aggression as the bases for constructive human relationships, Mr. Gamble's remaining chapters address the following topics:

* Money, central banking, hard currency, debt, and the source of inflation and economic manipulation

* Taxes and their meaning in our lives and in our relationship with others

* The real meaning of profits, capitalism, democracy, and the nation-state

* The how and why of bailouts, price fixing, tariffs, innovation, labor unions, social security, and tax-funded undertakings

The penultimate chapter is one of my favorites. The author devotes it to dispelling a good number of commonly held myths. Among them are favorites such as the following:
* Self-sufficiency (a favorite of nationalists)
* Local buying (its good and bad points)
* Inequality and its value to us
* The idea that one person's loss is another's gain
* Free trade and its imposters
* Employers as tyrants
* The meaning of capitalism vis-à-vis communism

In his final chapter, Mr. Gamble asks a thought provoking question: what should we do? He clearly wishes to see improvements come quickly, but how are we to accomplish change? Hint: not by depending upon promises by politicians. After exploring a number of different approaches to change, he seems to choose the route that all of us are capable of enacting - changing how we ourselves interact with others and calmly discussing our insights with friends and acquaintances. This is not a call for destroying or compelling or storming or squatting. It is a call to reasoned discussion and an invitation to make changes in our own lives - including how we interact with our own children.

And that brings us back to where we began, doesn't it? After all, if we can raise a generation of children who have been respected and treated as inviolable human beings, won't they be able to stand on our shoulders and see even farther than we do? And if you are passionate about human rights and liberty (but find it difficult to express yourself), The Secrets to Nonviolent Prosperity can do your talking for you. Try it, and see for yourself.



Participatory Budgeting in Delhi..

How opposing one defective Car model doesn't make one anti-technology [GM issue explained for technology lovers]

Share this with your technology-inclined friends!

While we all agree that research and science are important and that innovation shouldn't be blocked, here's a little devil-in-the-details sharing about GM (genetically modified) foods technology.

The present GM varieties being marketed, those being in focus, are defective models that a company shouldn't be pushing to market. Kind of like releasing a car model whose braking system the company's management internally knows tends to get defective after the first 10,000kms, so they decided to test the car only for 1000 kms. Results were positive so it went into production and is now being aggressively marketed. The industry regulator believes that there is no further independent testing of the car needed since they already know that it is safe, from the 1000km test. The top boss of the regulatory commission happens to be the car company's former high-level employee. Oh, and IPR (intellectual property rights) laws ban any third party from conducting any kind of tests on the car, they're quite strict about that. If you as an independent consumer try to conduct any test or research on this car model, you're likely to get sued and loose everything you have in lifelong litigation, and your research results likely cannot be accepted as evidence. Hence, the car company isn't doing the tests needed and isn't letting anyone else do them either.

The car is now released for open trials, which isn't actually a test for safety; it's one for studying financial potential and performance metrics. But people are led to falsely believe it's a safety test and the car company likes it that way. This test isn't being conducted in separate off-limits proving grounds or Top Gear style retired airport runways where the car being tested wouldn't interact with normal civilian traffic.. several units of the car are actually being driven actively all throughout the country, including on the streets you cross everyday, highways, expressways, AutoBahns etc, by regular people and with children in the back seat. The law of the land has exempted the company from any liability or any obligation for call-back or money-back should anything unfortunate happen, since the regulatory agency has already declared it to be safe. No one wants to talk about what will start to happen when the users of this car cross the 10,000km mark. Right now there are very few first-buyers who have, and the company is quick to respond to any complaints with the standard "it's the driver's fault, we are not liable" reply.

As per our current wisdom which is brought to us by our academia, government and media, all the people who are protesting against the release of this car model or its open testing are hereby decreed to be against technology and anti-progress, anti-science, and should not be listened to. Otherwise society will end up going backwards and we will all die for lack of cars, as if there isn't any other company on the planet capable of manufacturing the requisite number of cars (scroll down to find out that there actually is).

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Coming back to the GMOs.. two main technologies:

BT : they produce a toxin that supposedly only harms one specific insect (in the patent they're classified as pesticide and not as food), but it turns out that humans and that insect are not from different planets after all and share certain physiology. Hence, that toxin is turning out to be harmful to living organisms other than that particular insect, surprise surprise. Plus, it turns out that insect is already evolving to beat the BT-toxin, and there's other pests coming in too, resulting in farmers having to resume spraying pesticides on their crops. That ruins the single most important USP of BT technology : that pesticides would no longer be required. The technology was basically betting that biological evolution doesn't happen. (and that's Intelligent Design for you). It also turns out horizontal gene transfer does exist as a phenomena.. the technology was betting on the assumption that it didn't. Which means that the BT-toxin-producing tendency is capable of "installing" itself into other plants as well as the human body's gut bacteria : that itself was a very grey area and treated as non-existent until quite recently.

HT  or "Roundup-ready" herbicide tolerant : glyphosate tolerant.. the recent Mexico court ruling was mainly about glyphosate. It's a toxin right up there next to DDT and friends, and its devastating effect on pollinators like bees (without whom you can't have most plant reproduction) as well as on humans is only now being brought out. If you remove the glyphosate herbicide, that GM crop is useless.. the whole technology was betting on the assumption that glyphosate only kills every single other plant in the whole field (making multicropping impossible btw) but is perfectly safe for humans and other non-plants (despite Monsanto in their own fields mandating their employees wear fully enclosed protective suits and not get in contact with any particles in the field).

Some other technologies being explored:
Golden Rice : It is being compared only with rice, and so is claimed to provide more necessary nutrients. The assumption here again is that people only eat rice and nothing else. Foods like drumsticks (Moringa) have more of those nutrients than the Golden Rice can ever hope to achieve, and it's far cheaper to increase their consumption in the target population. (this thing and others like it literally grow on trees) But the assumption is that people prefer eating only and only rice in their meals and will never ever touch anything like drumsticks, so one must try squeezing all the required stuff into the rice only while forgetting that there are other items in people's meals and the rice was supposed to be for the carbs.

DNA structure:
Also, it turns out that plants are not predominantly left-brained like the people who designed the GM seeds. So DNA is quite messy and integrative, whereas the gene theory upon which the entire GM technology is based, says that DNA is linear and reductive. It assumes that there is an exact input-to-output relation between gene and characteristic. So they thought that precisely X gene sequence controls Y characteristic, and its placement or removal will then control only and only that characteristic of the plant and have absolutely no side effect whatsoever on the rest of the living being and its other characteristics. It was assumed that there is no integrative overall structure  or inter-relationship between the various parts of the genetic sequence. Typical assumptions of the techno-savvy left-brain mindset. All very neat and orderly, a place for everything and everything in its place. Turns out that assumption was false, DNA is integrative and inter-relational, and one drastic change in one part tends to have other effects on other characteristics too which they didn't bother to check out, since the assumption was that nothing else will get affected.

So it's not like the flagship products of the GMO sector have "a few chinks to iron out". The very technologies they are based upon have lost their core USPs in light of emerging realities, and have become redundant. You can't make an improved version of a floppy disk : it's pointless, you need to go back to the drawing board and look at the whole thing again from an improved understanding of the science of food.


Some websites where you'll find good info on this topic:
http://www.gmoevidence.com/
http://gmoseralini.org/  : this European scientist repeated Monsanto's same feeding trial on rats that had "proved" safety of their GM products, but made one tiny alteration: He ran the experiment for 2 years instead of Monsanto's 3 months. (after which their opposition to independent testing really kicked in!) The result : After 2 years of eating them, those GM foods seem to be the exact opposite of safe, and the rats that managed to survive the feeding trial are just not what you'd call "perfectly healthy". To this day, Monsanto is refusing to accept the research's results, but not daring to repeat it, which would have been the scientific way of proving something wrong, which happened to them (Seralini repeated their study and got disputing results). They even terminated another long-term study of theirs midway and refused to share the results with anyone. So for someone who supports science, it's worth questioning which side of science are GM producers on? If they are pro-science, then why are they and their supporters opposing independent scientific research?

http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_agriculture/our-failing-food-system/genetic-engineering/eight-ways-monsanto-fails.html

Videos : Genetic Roulette, Seed Freedom, Bought... there's many independent films out there which channels like Discovery don't want to show, even if the film-makers themselves aren't charging any money. (saala tereko free mein itna mast maal mil raha hai... fir bhi wohi purane shows repeat pe repeat karte jaa raha hai tu?). But there's surprisingly no independent films out there (not in my years of looking around) which make any case FOR GM foods. It seems every independent film maker out there working on food sector is against GM only, while every corporate studio wants to religiously avoid sharing these objections. Wonder why?

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Now, for those who don't care about the harms part and want to "be positive" and focus on the gains, here's a 30-year side by side growing study by Rodale Institute (they incorporated GM when it became mainstream). Tested conventional non-gm, GM, organic.
http://rodaleinstitute.org/our-work/farming-systems-trial/farming-systems-trial-30-year-report/
Result? Organic won hands down. Greater yield per unit area, lower costs, lower inputs, lower CO2 emissions, negative damage to soil (ie, soil health improved year on year). Everything that the world's  scientists and our governments have been desiring from a technology to grow food, delivered without the pesky patents or high input costs. And what's more, it's an industry alternative that while lowering the bottom line, actually creates more jobs (with zero work related illnesses) at the same time! Organic technology has much higher job creation opportunities, while simultaneously having much lower costs than GM technology! Now you'd object that this organization might have had some bias (but apparently Monsanto conducting its own tests has no bias). May I point you to the scientific method : The best way to prove a research study wrong is by repeating the experiment as defined and publishing your results.


Note: There are presently heavy government subsidies given to the competitors, and the market dominance combined with lack of market mechanisms for decentralized organic technology are hampering these cost benefits from making their way to the retail end. That changes when more people join in and market share increases, and this sector is witnessing exponential growth right now, with the first adopters being everyone from politicians' families to movie stars to industry leaders to well-educated people. Like in any other technology's life cycle, early adopters pay higher but this funds the technology and enables it to come into its own.

What makes things difficult here for those who love technology and internally bracket everything natural as non-technological and backward, is having to eat humble pie and admit that nature might be technologically more advanced than present human attempts in at least ONE sector (saala ek ko jaane do, kya jaata hai tumhaara?), and might have a solution that is still far better than what our best scientists and mega-corporations have come up with so far. Given the fact that she has had a multi-billion year head start and access to a planet-full of resources to tap into for her research, we shouldn't be so surprised and definitely not so jealous of her. On our end, more research should happen of course, but it should happen safely, without treating you and me and our children like lab rats. Defective products shouldn't be pushed to market for the sake of recouping investments made so far. If you know your closest competitor is so far ahead of you, then you should either invest in researching something like GMOs for the long, long run (I'm talking multiple human lifetimes here), or not invest at all and simply go for the best alternative solution available that delivers better, even if you can't earn royalties off it. But it's wrong to get impatient or greedy and push defective products to market just for the sake of showing a profit this year, and it's wrong to use massive government subsidies, IPR and friends in high places as a crutch to conceal your product's defectiveness.

And that's pretty much what all your "anti-technology" friends are trying to tell you. Nobody's being anti-technology. They're just warning about defective products that can cause irreversible harm. That is all. On the other hand, they are also actively supporting organic technology which seems much more promising, so it would be nice if we didn't have anti-technology and anti-science people and mega corporations unnecessarily harming progress.

PS: this is adapted from a reply in another email conversation, so apologies if some reference is not explained or linked fully here. Do search the net for it, you'll find it easily and get bonus points for not being spoon-fed.
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