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The Kindle is Getting Support For HTML5 123

Posted by timothy
from the that's-right-supporting-of-you-jeff dept.
Nate the greatest writes "It looks like Amazon won't be adopting Epub after all. [Thursday] Amazon released some technical details on the new Kindle ebook format, which they are calling Kindle 8. There are a lot of interesting changes to the file, including new formatting and SVG images. The new tags are going to open up a whole lot of new possibilities for making Kindle ebooks."
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The Kindle is Getting Support For HTML5

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  • Kindle is the new I.E.6; Is the Amazon the new Microsoft?

    • by Xugumad (39311)

      It's not that bad, thankfully (but still quite bad). It's easy to convert between ePub and Mobipocket ( http://calibre-ebook.com/ [calibre-ebook.com] does so rather well and is free), as they're both HTML at the core anyway. The only real issues are book-specific parts like handling pagination or footnotes, where the standards (where there is one) tend to be incompatible extensions to HTML.

  • by ondelette (253185)

    What about DRM?

    • What about DRM?

      No DRM on personal documents like PDFs or Webpages

      • by rolfwind (528248)

        Yes, but we're talking about books.

        We're glad that there's no DRM on personal PDFs and webpages, that's so kind of them.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by EdIII (1114411)

          Exactly.

          I have been interested from the beginning, but not offense or trolling intended, but who gives a flying $(#)($ about a new format.

          As long as Amazon still has control over my Kindle and can remove my "property" without knowledge or consent I could care less about significant improvements to the file formats and features. It's interesting, but I would rather know that Amazon has fundamentally changed its policies. That *would* be welcome news.

          This is like Sony introducing a new firmware with some coo

          • Re:DRM (Score:5, Informative)

            by thesuperbigfrog (715362) on Saturday October 22, 2011 @03:08AM (#37802248)

            You can thank Steve Jobs for the fully locked-down and now ubiquitous agency model that practically all publishers use.

            "In the agency model, publishers set the price and designate an agent--in this case the bookseller--who will sell the book and receive the 30% commission. Adopting the model for e-books tends to mean e-book prices will rise, something both publishers and independent retailers applaud. Publishers believe low e-book prices devalue their books and cannibalize hardcover sales. Under the agency model once a price has been set it cannot be changed or discounted by the retailer and independent e-book retailers believe the higher prices of the agency model allow them to compete with big e-book vendors. " (from this article [publishersweekly.com])

            At least Amazon was selling ebooks for reasonable prices and encouraging competition in the market. Now we have a racket that is enforced on all sellers. Neither he nor Amazon have been able to dissuade publishers from using DRM.

            • by EdIII (1114411)

              Interesting.

              I never knew anything about that. Only thing I remember is that he gave me a viable alternative to piracy and/or purchasing over priced CDs.

              It was the DRM that turned me off the Kindle from the first place, which is ironically, still a result from Steve Jobs. He was the one who showed me that eventually I could purchase DRM free music and I have not been interested in getting involved with any kind of transaction system that does not allow DRM free downloads.

              Same reason why I will never have a

              • Re:DRM (Score:4, Informative)

                by thesuperbigfrog (715362) on Saturday October 22, 2011 @04:07AM (#37802422)

                Yes, I too think that DRM-free ebooks are a good thing.

                If you read technical books, O'Reilly offers DRM-free ebooks from their website in several formats, including PDF, ePUB, and MOBI (Kindle-compatible).

                They do this by marking your ebook: "Prepared for [your_email_address], [Your Name]" on the bottom of the pages. I think this is okay since it discourages piracy and marks the book as yours the same as if your wrote your name in the front cover of a paper book.

                I hope that other publishers will adopt this practice or something similar.

                • by MadChicken (36468)

                  I have a number of O'Reilly books, and none of them have that, at least in the ePub or PDF. It is not a bad idea though.

                  • Hmm. It seems that O'Reilly has two types of ebooks:

                    1) Ebooks obtained through their Safari Books Online website (using download tokens) are marked with email address and account name as I described in my above post.

                    2) Ebooks purchased through their website, shop.oreilly.com, are not marked this way.

              • by MHolmesIV (253236)

                Heh, in my view, the dead tree version has the most insidious DRM of all. It uses analog technology to artificially degrade any digital copies you try to make. It takes many hours of work and even more hours of proofreading to convert it to a DRM free digital version. On the other hand, it takes me less than 3 seconds to convert a Kindle book to a DRM free digital version. (Which I do under the DMCA exemption for ebooks that do not allow screenreader access)

            • You can thank Steve Jobs for the fully locked-down and now ubiquitous agency model that practically all publishers use.

              Yes. But unlike the iPhone, you can transfer eBooks from other sources to your kindle with a plain usb cable. (or even by email). DRM is no way mandatory on the kindle.

              • by Anonymous Coward

                Nor is DRM mandatory in iBooks. I sell content not protected by DRM. It's optional.

              • by Sylak (1611137)

                Yes. But unlike the iPhone, you can transfer eBooks from other sources to your kindle with a plain usb cable. (or even by email). DRM is no way mandatory on the kindle.

                Actually, you can put DRM Free ePubs onto your iPhone through iTunes, so DRM isn't mandatory on either device...

            • You can thank Steve Jobs for the fully locked-down and now ubiquitous agency model that practically all publishers use.

              We can thank him for popularizing it, but Jobs wasn't the first Steve to use the agency model. Xbox Live Indie Games had been using the agency model, where the publisher sets the price and the store gets a fixed percent cut, for a few months before iOS 2 came out.

            • by Kristoph (242780)

              This is a terribly misguided and misinformed post.

              DRM has nothing to do with the agency model. You can have DRM with or without an agency model. DRM existed on e-books long before the rise of the agency model.

              The iPhone does not require DRM and many books from iBooks store don't have DRM on them. In fact, in most cases the ONLY reason why an iBook cannot be used on a Kindle is because of the Kindles non standard file format (without first converting it).

              Jobs pushed for the agency model on books to eliminate

              • I never said that DRM and the agency model were related. I was merely pointing out that Apple's entry into the ebook market removed seller freedom and empowered publishers. This was in contrast to the parent post which stated that Steve Jobs brought freedom to music by removing DRM from music formats.

                I personally think that Apple was afraid of losing too much of the ebook market to Amazon so they made a behind-the-scenes push for publishers to adopt the agency model to thwart Amazon's price advantage. Th

          • by BrentH (1154987)
            Do what I did: purchasefrom a third party and never register the thing with Amazon. I can put any (DRM-free) ebook on it when mounted as USB drive, I can surf the web, and Amazon will never know. Perfect.
          • As long as Amazon still has control over my Kindle and can remove my "property" without knowledge or consent I could care less about significant improvements to the file formats and features.

            Please do care less. But don't be careless about it. By the way, I fully agree with the sentiment.

          • You can, you just have to be careful what and where you buy! It's called voting with your wallet! If you like the right type of SF&F then http://www.webscription.net/ [webscription.net] is one such place, then there is Fictionwise.com's mutiformat books they are DRM free, lots of places like that around you just have to look for them and not get seduced by the Amazons and B&Ns of the world!
        • by tepples (727027)
          No DRM on books from Project Gutenberg.
    • At this point, there is no option. Publishers will not allow for un-DRM'd ebooks. So unless Amazon was willing to have only titles they publish on the Kindle, and they could convince authors to accept no DRM, they must have it. Amazon, being in the retail business, will do what the publishers want.

      • Funny how the ONLY eBooks by my favorite authors that they do carry are the one from publishers that demand DRM, and they carry none of the book from Baen publishing that does non-DRMed eBoooks! Seems like a much of an Amazon policy as the publishers' policy!
  • by Sasayaki (1096761) on Saturday October 22, 2011 @12:38AM (#37801848)

    I'm writing a book [lacunaverse.com] for Kindle (naturalistic sci-fi, 61,000 words in) and I look upon the inevitable Kindle conversion with a terrible dread. I'm typing it up in Google Docs, but because I use italics for emphasis, this means I have to either manually construct the book (and manually re-put in all my italics and formatting), or use a converter which will produce sucky output which will require a lot of manual cleanup...

    If the Kindle supports HTML5 however, Google Docs will do a bang-up job (by and large) of converting it straight to HTML5. Good news for me I guess!

    • by optimism (2183618) on Saturday October 22, 2011 @12:59AM (#37801912)

      I look upon the inevitable Kindle conversion with a terrible dread. I'm typing it up in Google Docs, but because I use italics for emphasis, this means I have to either manually construct the book (and manually re-put in all my italics and formatting), or use a converter which will produce sucky output which will require a lot of manual cleanup

      Crikey.

      I had no idea the Kindle conversion was as lame as you say.

      I thought we software-folk had solved all the issues of converting basic formatted text about 20 years ago. Equations, vector graphics, embedded images...OK, they might still be cross-format hurdles.

      But italics? Seriously? That's so 1980's

    • Out of interest, why on Earth are you writing it in Google Docs? When I write things I tend to use LaTeX, which probably strikes most people as even more insane but it compiles up to lovely PDFs, and it's pretty quick to swap it to HTML and build up an ePub or MobiPocket. I could of course write straight in HTML (or in markup which could be easily swapped to both) but I'm very used to LaTeX.

      I've not had too many problems converting properly clean RTFs into ePub or MobiPocket and vice-versa using Calibre. I

      • by Sasayaki (1096761)

        I'm writing it in Google Docs because, well, to me it most accurately resembles what the final product will look like. Call me strange, but "seeing" it is important.

        Technically Docs can convert to HTML too and it does a good job (as I mentioned), which the converter converts to their strange format. It's just that the Kindle converter, judging by my brief playing around with the converter, is very very strict. It's much more likely to pass if you build the HTML manually, which also produces much much cleane

        • Hmm, OK. I still think you're making more problems for yourself than necessary, though. Why don't you use a WYSIWIG HTML editor? Or LibreOffice, which may or may not make cleaner HTML than Google Docs? (I've no idea; I've not tried either. I stopped using word processor HTML export about twelve years ago when Word XP -- or even earlier; I forget -- spat reams of gibberish at me.)

          Also, are you closely wedded to the Kindle Convertor? Can you not use Calibre to build a MobiPocket? Or are there features in the

          • by Sasayaki (1096761)

            I'm not closely wedded to the Kindle converter, nope, I just wanted to make sure that it was accepted by the Kindle people. I've heard of Calibre but haven't actually tried it yet. I'm actually downloading it now to give it a shot.

            What I'd really like is some kind of WYSIWYG eBook writer, but I don't think such a thing exists...

            • by boristhespider (1678416) on Saturday October 22, 2011 @06:46AM (#37802868)

              You can get Sigil [google.com] - it's a WYSISYG ePub writer. You can either write in the word processor window, or in the raw XHTML. I've not used it to build ePubs from scratch but I have used it to edit and clean them up and it's reasonably nice once you get used to its quirks.

              Calibre's OK, but I'd stick to the command-line tools, if I were you. I find the GUI distracting and not really quite suited for the purpose I put it to, whereas the command-line tools are there to edit metadata (though you might want to edit the results by hand to avoid Calibre leaving its fingerprints everywhere) and convert from a multitude of input formats to a multitude of outputs. ePub -> Mobi/AZW is particularly clean since ultimately so far as I know it's swapping one subset of XHTML to another subset of XHTML.

              Both are worth a try. You do lose the easy sharing that you're getting with Google Docs, but you can always replace that with something like DropBox.

              • Also I don't know how you're planning on selling, but going through Amazon's Kindle Publishing (rather than cutting deals with them directly, which most of us aren't anything like big enough to do) they say they prefer DOC uploads. They accept ePub though so that's what I feed them, and the results have come out absolutely fine. Some of the other online publishing routes -- like Smashwords, which I use in addition to Amazon -- have other requirements. Smashwords only accepts RTFs, and strictly formatted one

              • by Sasayaki (1096761)

                I gave Calibre a shot -- it failed with the ODF, but the PDF worked fine. I didn't try HTML but I probably should.

                I put the .mobi file into the Kindle simulator and it had a few obvious formatting problems (mostly to do with chapter headings and the occasional, minor issue) but it actually worked out fine. What I might do is use Calibre to convert the PDF or HTML to ePub, then use Sigil to clean it up as you suggest. The cleanup should be fairly minor and judging by how accurate it is I could probably get i

                • No problem :)

                  Focus on converting HTML into ePub - the output from PDFs tends to be really doggy. I know the developers are trying to improve that, but they're really hampered by the fact that PDF really isn't well suited to reflowing, no matter what Adobe do to amend that. But HTML to ePub should be very clean, and ePubs are easy to edit either by hand or with something like Sigil.

                  (In case you're not aware, to edit an ePub by hand, change the extension from .epub to .zip, unzip it, and go into the OEBS dire

    • by mibus (26291)

      I look upon the inevitable Kindle conversion with a terrible dread. I'm typing it up in Google Docs, but because I use italics for emphasis, this means I have to either manually construct the book (and manually re-put in all my italics and formatting), or use a converter which will produce sucky output which will require a lot of manual cleanup...

      Have you tried (say) Calibre's conversions? I've thrown random HTML files at it to create MOBI-format eBooks for my Kindle, and it's done a brilliant job, with no

    • by Xugumad (39311)

      Both ePub and Mobipocket (which Kindle uses) are HTML based at the core already. Download your files from Google Docs as HTML, import into Sigil ( http://code.google.com/p/sigil/ [google.com] ) and you'll be 90% of the way towards an e-book.

      All this refers to is Amazon adding more bits of HTML to the parts Kindle supports.

    • [plug]You might want to try using Scriptito [scriptito.com] instead of Google docs, as it can directly export to EPUB and Kindle/MOBI format... and it's free.[/plug]

    • by Pembers (250842)

      I have a novel on sale in the Kindle Store ( Death & Magic [amazon.com], a murder mystery set in a school for wizards). I wrote it in OpenOffice.org, before I had any thought of releasing it as an ebook. When the time came to convert it, I exported it as HTML and used a text editor to get rid of all the crap that OO.o puts in just in case you want to re-import it and have it look something like it used to. This took a couple of evenings - I could probably have done it faster if I'd been braver with my regexs. It ke

      • (shameless plug coming up: if we're plugging stories feel free to go to my smashwords [smashwords.com] or amazon [amazon.com] profile and get hold of some stuff. there's two free stories on smashwords and the others are a dollar apiece because that seemed to be the cheapest amazon would let me sell things for (i wanted 40c or so). for some reason the amazon profile is currently missing The Train will Never Stop [amazon.com], though it will be added in a day or so. the genre is basically fantasy of one form or another, though as far from sword and so

    • by jfengel (409917)

      One advantage to going through a real publishing house is that an editor would remove 99% of your italics.

      You want to break the mold, ignore the rules, do your own thing... go ahead. But sometimes conventional wisdom becomes conventional for a reason, and in the case of italics, I think most readers will agree. Used sparingly, they help something stand out, or compel a particular reading of a sentence.

      But frequent use dulls their value, and it makes the sentences harder to read. Italics forces a re-parse

    • by gozar (39392)
      I'm surprised more people don't just type up their ebooks in any text format using Markdown [daringfireball.net]. Easy to write in whatever editor your have (for example, storing the manuscript in Dropbox, allowing one to write on their computer, their phone, their tablet, etc.) and then use Calibre to convert into whatever format you want.
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Saturday October 22, 2011 @12:38AM (#37801850) Homepage Journal

    Is there a utility yet that converts all Flash (Actionscript, not just video and animations) into HTML5? Even if just enough to make a prototype for specifying how the human recoders finish the job, in less than 80% of the time to hand convert from scratch?

    • by optimism (2183618)

      Who cares? The only useful applications of Flash are:

      1) To provide a wrapper and controller for video-on-demand, until everyone has a web browser that natively supports low-bandwidth video formats.

      2) To populate classrooms with a multitude of poor shmoes who are really excited to make some of that fancy-shmancy keyframe animated stuff, though they don't really know what they will use it for.

      Flash died years ago. Most Flash content was dead on arrival. Let it go, and program your new stuff in HTML. Doesn't h

      • by _merlin (160982) on Saturday October 22, 2011 @01:16AM (#37801982) Homepage Journal

        Flash lets designers build interactive content. Macromedia/Adobe got/gets designers, and too many people don't realise that. You may not be interested in it, but there are some gems buried in NewGrounds along with all the crap. None of the other solutions are accessible to designer types the way Flash is. I predict one of two things will happen: Flash will die, and this kind of creative content will die with it until a new challenger appears; or more likely, Flash will just refuse to dies, and the geek elite just won't understand why.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Flash lets designers build interactive content. Macromedia/Adobe got/gets designers, and too many people don't realise that. You may not be interested in it, but there are some gems buried in NewGrounds along with all the crap. None of the other solutions are accessible to designer types the way Flash is. I predict one of two things will happen: Flash will die, and this kind of creative content will die with it until a new challenger appears; or more likely, Flash will just refuse to dies, and the geek elite just won't understand why.

          What will happen is that Adobe will make its tools output formats other than just flash so they work on iPhones/iPads as well as Android devices: http://www.adobe.com/products/flash-builder.html

          But, in the mean time, Flash will hang around for about as long as it took to get people to stop making their web sites only work correctly with Internet Explorer. (Speaking of which, how well is that process going?)

        • I don't view flash any more, haven't for a few years.

          The only content I miss is video on some websites like the BBC which refuse to serve their video as video files, and graphics like the ones you mention at nytimes.com say ( though actually not many sites produce infographics worthy of the name).

          Having graphic content in HTML is going to be a lot better for everyone (more accessible, easier to mash up, easier to extract data), and when adobe completes migrating their tools to produce HTML, there really wil

        • by EdIII (1114411)

          There is another thing to consider:

          Proprietary platforms are not doing well. IIS is dead and dying. Most systems I run across using it are 3rd party CMS for time clocks, payroll, and patient record systems. It is costly to implement since it requires quite a bit of MS licensing to get off the ground, and (IMO) a developer premium to modify and extend the systems, if that is even possible.

          There are still a lot of development firms and in-house coders doing ASP, .Net but those all have higher costs than Op

        • by optimism (2183618)

          Macromedia/Adobe got/gets designers, and too many people don't realise that.

          Actually...Macromedia/Adobe built their businesses by "getting" wannabe designers.

          You know, folks who think they can just buy a copy of Director/Flash/Dreamweaver/Photoshop/Premiere/etc, take a couple of classes at the community college, and be a "designer".

          fwiw...I was using Flash when it was FutureSplash Animator, back before MM acquired it in the mid-1990s. I really enjoyed Flash too, doing interactive animations with physics, flocking behaviors, etc. But I'm not sentimental about it.

          Professional designe

          • Professional designers have either the breadth of skills to take on whatever tools will do the job, or the depth of skill that they can partner with professional tool developers.

            So what "professional tool developers" have published an SVG-animation or canvas-animation creation tool that approaches the capability of even Flash from a decade ago?

            • by optimism (2183618)

              So what "professional tool developers" have published an SVG-animation or canvas-animation creation tool that approaches the capability of even Flash from a decade ago?

              You missed a big one. On Internet Explorer, which still has almost twice the market share of any other browser, the vector graphics technology was VML.

              Honestly, the tools that use SVG, Canvas, and VML, to provide decade-old Flash vector graphics, are very hard to find right now. As I mentioned in another post, SmartClient (http://www.smartclient.com) is at least one framework that does this. Afaik they smartclient guys do not provide the tools to the general public. But they do at least have some raw demos

        • Macromedia/Adobe got/gets designers, and too many people don't realise that.

          Even assuming this is entirely correct, Adobe is planning to produce authoring tools for HTML5 directly. As for existing content...

          You may not be interested in it, but there are some gems buried in NewGrounds along with all the crap.

          NewGrounds is hardly the reason Flash won't die. If it was just Newgrounds, well, hey, there are some gems buried in platform-specific native game binaries -- and not all of these are Windows, mind you, there are some real gems which ran on Mac OS 9. It's an issue, but it's not a point against moving forward to a viable replacement -- especially something like HTML, which is goi

      • by Doc Ruby (173196)

        I care. I've got a large old Flash program that I want to convert, because Flash is indeed "dead". Its interactive features are HTML5 features which would be much more work in HTML4.

        Why would you think I want to keep Flash, if I'm asking for a converter to get rid of it? You have a one track Flash-hating mind.

        • by optimism (2183618)

          I care. I've got a large old Flash program that I want to convert, because Flash is indeed "dead".

          Sorry. My reply was inappropriate for your question...and yes, I was expressing some of my historical exasperation (call it hate if you prefer) with the unfortunate fate that Flash was used for anything except the keyframe animations for which it was originally designed.

          To answer your question: No, there is no generic Flash-to-DHTML converter.

          As someone who has used both Flash and DHTML from their very beginnings, I can state with 99.9% confidence that a general-purpose converter will never be created. To m

          • by Doc Ruby (173196)

            Well, my other option is to hire someone who can reverse engineer my Flash/Flex app into its network APIs and user features, using whichever tools they prefer. Targeting probably HTML5 because I want a port to something at the start of its lifecycle, not late middle or end like HTML4. Do you know where I can look for someone like that? Preferably in NYC.

            • by optimism (2183618)

              HTML4 will never go away. It is an open standard with BILLIONS of users. It is impossible for any corporation, or even government, to break backwards compatibility with that standard.

              HTML5 is still just a vapor-buzzword, and is totally irrelevant unless Microsoft, Apple, and Google all agree to implement the same spec. But if they do, it is just an extension of HTML4.

              The crossover between advanced Flash/Flex development and advanced web development is very very slim. My recommendation is to hire a Flash/Fle

              • by Doc Ruby (173196)

                HTML4 won't have nearly the hold on mobiles, and HTML5 features are more suited to their more varied runtime constraints. Some of those features make sharing among client sessions better, and yes video. That's important for my app.

                Your strategy is what I have in mind. When I find a consultancy with a good existing gallery, I'll go with the tools/frameworks they're good at.

                Nice talking with you.

  • by MacTO (1161105) on Saturday October 22, 2011 @02:10AM (#37802122)

    I had a Kindle for a while, and it does what it is supposed to admirably. This new book format is bound to do things even better, which is great.

    But everyone else seems to be using ePub. Libraries use ePub too. Which really means that if you buy a Kindle you're stuck in the Amazon ecosystem. Well, unless you find a publisher that is willing to use unprotected PDF or MOBI files. That sometimes happens for the books you buy. But that won't happen for libraries (which need some sort of DRM).

    And libraries are a serious concern for me. The ebook/digial audio book section is already confusing enough with device support.

    • overdrive is working with amazon to provide library content, many libraries already have it. also kindle users are not "stuck" in the amazon ecosystem anymore then ipod users are "stuck" in the itunes ecosystem. i have several hundred books on my kindle, and haven't bought any from amazon.
      • by am 2k (217885)

        also kindle users are not "stuck" in the amazon ecosystem anymore then ipod users are "stuck" in the itunes ecosystem.

        Not quite. I can take the AACs I bought on iTunes and play them on any music player/operating system that supports the format. I can't do that with ebooks from Amazon.

        • by yahwotqa (817672)

          Getting ebooks from Amazon? That's crazy talk! Kindle is purely for reading ebooks obtained elsewhere.

        • You can, however, run the Kindle app on a Mac, a PC, a iOS device, an Android device, or the web, so the only people who are left out are those who want to buy Amazon ebooks to read them on a non-Kindle eInk reader and yet don't have the technical skill to strip the DRM.
    • by radish (98371)

      I'm reading a Kindle book from my library right now - Overdrive now support Kindle for all their ebooks.

  • Per a discussion in the comp.infosystems.www.authoring.html newsgroup, not all of HTML5 is supported in Kindle. See the Subject "HTML5 on Kindle - Not really html5?" at news:comp.infosystems.www.authoring.html [authoring.html].

  • The Kindle is a great device! No matter the format they choose, it'll be possible to switch to/from it with Calibre. And hopefully, we can also change the screensavers on our Kindles: http://www.kubizo.com/changing-kindle-screensaver.php [kubizo.com] Ciao!
  • Amazon is going to introduce yet another proprietary format. Whether it will be using html 5 or html 10 internally is completely irrelevant.
    Title is misleading, trying to make it look as if amazon was going to support common standards like html 5.
    There is one for ebooks already, it's called epub and it's not and is not planned to be supported by kindles.

  • by vanyel (28049) *

    I will only be buying books for the kindle as long as they can be converted to epub so I know they'll be readable on future and alternative devices. If the new format successfully blocks that ability, then I'll stop buying them. Even now, I look for non-drm'd versions first, making baen books my primary source of reading material. Simple as that...

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