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The Almighty Buck Technology

Goldman Suspends 4 Senior Tech Specialists After Trading Glitch 140

Posted by samzenpus
from the feature-not-a-bug dept.
First time accepted submitter sbjornda writes "A glitch in an internal system led to erroneous trades on some funds whose listings begin with the letters H through L. Goldman Sachs has put four Senior Technology Specialists on administrative leave as a result. From the article: 'The system, called a "trading axis," monitors the Wall Street bank's inventory to determine whether it should be a more aggressive buyer or seller in the market. But a technical error misinterpreted non-binding indications of interest, or IOIs, as firm bids and offers, leading to some trades that were vastly out of line with where market prices were, Reuters reported previously, citing a source familiar with the matter.'"
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Goldman Suspends 4 Senior Tech Specialists After Trading Glitch

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  • by Noxal (816780) on Monday August 26, 2013 @12:31PM (#44678129)

    Some high profile companies/people fucked up and lost money, so the market shut down.

    Why didn't it shut down when I lost money in the stock market? Oh right, $1500 isn't enough for me to matter.

    I'm sure I'm wrong on this. Someone correct me!

    • by olsmeister (1488789) on Monday August 26, 2013 @12:36PM (#44678163)
      This didn't cause the market to shut down. It may have caused GS to lose some money.
    • Some high profile companies/people fucked up and lost money, so the market shut down.

      Why didn't it shut down when I lost money in the stock market? Oh right, $1500 isn't enough for me to matter.

      I'm sure I'm wrong on this. Someone correct me!

      When your loss can trigger a sell wave, they'll shut the market down to investigate. The market wasn't shut down because GS lost money, but because something was obviously systematically wrong, and they wanted to figure out what it was before allowing more trades. Once they found out what it was, they could have brought everything back up, as it was just a bad algorithm used by a single (large) trader.

      it's kind of like if you get hit with a pebble vs hearing a loud rumbling sound and getting pelted with pebbles -- you're more likely to vacate the area and then investigate in the second instance, even if it's the same monkey hitting you with multiple pebbles.

      • by sjames (1099) on Monday August 26, 2013 @01:02PM (#44678525) Homepage

        And it just happens that it provides a great way for the 1% to remain the 1% while bleeding everyone else dry.

        It's a good argument for not allowing any legal fiction to be too big to fail (or jail).

        • by TWiTfan (2887093)

          Why was this modded flamebait?

        • by lgw (121541) on Monday August 26, 2013 @06:08PM (#44681377) Journal

          Goldman Sacks should never be confused with 1%ers They're the 0.000001%ers. The regulators that are supposed to regulate GS? Mostly former or future GS employees (or both). If the people who decided to suspend trading weren't GS employees once, they will be soon.

          The 1% is doctors, lawyers, and successful small business owners, who have just as much power here as you do. It's a bad term if you want to discuss the one company that owns more of the government than anyone else!

          • by sjames (1099)

            For the most part, doctors and lawyers don't make the cut, nor does Joe the Plumber. They have the income for it, but they have debt and future obligations rather than accumulated wealth. The GOP would like you to THINK Joe the plumber would be the one to suffer under "tax the rich", but he's not. His income would fall below the threshold.

            The term itself is probably not quite on the mark anymore since wealth disparity has continued to grow since it was coined.

            • by lgw (121541)

              Do you mean 1% by income, or by wealth? Most people in America care about income, not wealth - it's such a part of our culture that many people actually say "rich" or "wealthy" when they mean "high income". I think you just did.

              1% income is about $300k. Many small business owners will pass that - for a few years, after many spent putting all the business income beck into growing the business. Dentists, doctors, and lawyers with their own practices often do. You probably won't as a "one truck" plumber,

      • If enough little guys get together [reuters.com] they can be stopped by the big boys too. (Article is on how some 401(k) members were banned from trading, in their own 401(k), based on newsletter information.)
        • Re:OT? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by lightknight (213164) on Monday August 26, 2013 @03:09PM (#44679729) Homepage

          "When large numbers of investors trade mutual funds in lockstep, it can force fund managers to buy and sell securities at inopportune times. They may have to find securities to buy in a hurry if the pack invests all at once, and may have to sell quickly to pay off sellers who cash out together."

          Right...because when an average investor buys and sell securities at an inopportune time, it's totally cool, but when a fund manager has to do it....well, we can't have that.

          Love this world to death: it has so many laws, so many rules, for so many different peoples, and they're all different! No two people abide by the same set of rules. God Himself would be proud.

        • by slick7 (1703596)

          If enough little guys get together [reuters.com]

          You mean like the BRICS nations?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Err... NO. If Goldman had a computer glitch that caused erroneous trades, that's their fault and they should lose money for that and the market SHOULD go down, and trigger sell waves or whatever. Nobody else gets do-overs, neither should Goldman.

        • Err... NO. If Goldman had a computer glitch that caused erroneous trades, that's their fault and they should lose money for that and the market SHOULD go down, and trigger sell waves or whatever. Nobody else gets do-overs, neither should Goldman.

          There's no do-over here; the system was halted, it wasn't reversed. All those trades went through, and can't be reverted. But they didn't know what caused it until they investigated, and they aren't going to let people continue trading when something fishy might be going on.

          This is the way it's designed* to work

          *albeit designed by those who profit from the system -- a circular thing, as anyone who profits under the current system becomes one of the "big guys" and has a vested interest in perpetuating the

    • by erroneus (253617)

      Wait'll you see what Las Vegas does when I go there and lose a butt-load of money!

      They just give it all back and then some for making me wait for so long.

    • by Jayfar (630313) on Monday August 26, 2013 @12:54PM (#44678411)

      Some high profile companies/people fucked up and lost money, so the market shut down.

      Er no, this was an unrelated glitch with Goldman 2 days *before* last weeks Nasdaq shutdown.

      • by boorack (1345877) on Monday August 26, 2013 @01:10PM (#44678603)
        Still, most of GS bad trades have been DK'ed. You see, for Goldman Sachs this is 'Heads we win, tails we win' kind of market. They're above the law in every respect. I'm curious what will happen to those tech folks. Will Goldman jail them in retaliation like they did with Aleynikov ? As much as they can call puppet US government to overturn their bad trades, they also can call govt to jail anyone they wish ...
        • by timeOday (582209) on Monday August 26, 2013 @01:31PM (#44678823)
          Oh boy, you're right! Quoting the Wall Street Journal: [wsj.com]

          After sifting through each trade, exchanges canceled or adjusted many of the trades.

          Their actions stanched what would have been an even more costly mistake. People familiar with the matter last week estimated that Goldman's losses could have reached hundreds of millions of dollars.

          ...

          At NYSE Amex, the exchange will cancel trades in most cases of obvious error, unless the traders on both sides are market makers, or exchange members who facilitate the trading in a given stock's options to ensure fair and orderly markets. Goldman has a market-making unit, but in this case, NYSE Amex classified the orders as coming from a broker-dealer firm.

          • by adolf (21054) <flodadolf@gmail.com> on Monday August 26, 2013 @02:38PM (#44679399) Journal

            It is thus proven: GS is both too big to fail, and too big to make mistakes.

          • by quetzyg (1335689)

            Oh boy, you're right! Quoting the Wall Street Journal: [wsj.com]

            After sifting through each trade, exchanges canceled or adjusted many of the trades.

            Their actions stanched what would have been an even more costly mistake. People familiar with the matter last week estimated that Goldman's losses could have reached hundreds of millions of dollars.

            ...

            At NYSE Amex, the exchange will cancel trades in most cases of obvious error, unless the traders on both sides are market makers, or exchange members who facilitate the trading in a given stock's options to ensure fair and orderly markets. Goldman has a market-making unit, but in this case, NYSE Amex classified the orders as coming from a broker-dealer firm.

            Looks like someone at GS read yesterday's news about the The Greatest Keyboard Shortcut Ever [slashdot.org] and did a CTRL+Z on the trades.

          • by rtb61 (674572)

            In this case the reality is. If you are so stupid as to let computers do the trading of stocks and options without supervision, then you deserve to loose the money, end of story. Instead, corruption on display. As for blaming the coders. Sorry again, what did you miss about being stupid enough to allow computer systems to do automatic trades. You computer systems should only recommend trades, with a supervising officer allowing them to finally pass through if and only if they make sense.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      No. Their was a software glitch that halted trading.

      I mean, they're out to get YOU, man.

    • by slick7 (1703596)
      That's easy, someone other than Goldman Sachs profited from the glitch and there was no way possible for them to recoup their losses through taxpayer money approved by their bought dog CONgressMEN.
  • Tokens. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Seumas (6865) on Monday August 26, 2013 @12:32PM (#44678135)

    The disgusting criminals at the top sacrificing a few pawns.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Have some respect, that's your government you're insulting! http://geke.us/GS.html

      (OT - And incidentally, in case anyone interprets my .sig as being anti-Obama, I first set it while Bush was in power, and just never got round to changing it. For obvious reasons.)
    • Re:Tokens. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Billly Gates (198444) on Monday August 26, 2013 @12:43PM (#44678261) Journal

      Look the CEO's and senior traders who play games of golf and have 2 hour elaborate lunches at the best NYC restaurants create all this value through their handwork.

      They do not need to be distracted by the mundane details of actually trading and need to just think of ideas all day instead. Distractions need to be minimized as do work. ... now these IT guys who program the computers that earn them the flash trading? They are greedy COST CENTERS. They have no value! Lazy! Can be replaced by H1B1 visas faster than you can say campaign contribution. Fire them as they do not create value at all.

      By playing golf and thinking mysterious powers are telepathically entered into the HFT systems and money is just generated out of thin air. I think these guys need a big bonus for being so smart for this? Don't you?

    • by sycodon (149926)

      Manager: Are those changes going to be ready by Monday?
      Specialists: We don't think so. We still want to test more.
      Manager: Did it pass the unit tests?
      Specialists: Yes, but we still are not comfortable enough to go to production. It needs more testing.
      Manager: You guys are just overly cautious. Put it in.
      Specialists:ummmm...
      Giant System Crash
      Manager: Dammit! Why didn't you test??? Yer Fired!

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Jobs becoming exponentially more complex and exponentially more time-critical, with exponentially-rising penalties for human error, all for the benefit of the exponentially-more lazy money club.
    • Rising penalties? I just came in to say they got off easy. Administrative leave, OH NOES! They were making money deep into the 6-figures annually and caused a major fuckup that could have cost millions, if it didn't.

      A friend of mine used to work at a bakery. Someone there got fired because they forgot to put the lid back on a drum of flour for a few minutes.

      • by Talderas (1212466)

        Because that has absolutely nothing do with the fact that some flour begins to ferment after left exposed and that by doing so you started to create a health hazard? That couldn't possibly be the answer. Nope. Not at all.

  • I wonder how they could cancel their mistrades that fast while crunching out those huge numbers of HFT orders every second...
    • by zlives (2009072)

      probably some one in IT caught it... they will be beaten for it later

  • by tiberus (258517) on Monday August 26, 2013 @12:40PM (#44678209)
    I'm surprised to hear new about 'suspects (my word)' so soon after the glitch occurred. It makes me wonder how a company, with the technical expertise to find the supposed root cause of the problem in a recent software update so quickly, failed to catch the error prior to the software being installed ?!?
    • by msobkow (48369)

      The four are probably the whole team responsible for that subsystem. So once the subsystem was identified, it was easy to point fingers.

      Mistakes happen, though. That's something these HFT systems don't really allow for: there *will* be screwups in the code from time to time.

      One would think they'd do a statistical analysis of the risk of touching an HFT module at least before rolling it out, and see if it's worth the gamble.

      Silly me. Thinking instead of playing golf and "doing lunch" with the power

    • These systems are in a constant state of flux, there is immense pressure to get new algos installed and pushed out ASAP, with little chance for review and thorough testing. Something like this will happen again, it's not a question of but of when.
  • Blame the IT guy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Compaqt (1758360) on Monday August 26, 2013 @12:45PM (#44678281) Homepage

    Just another example of "blame the IT guy".

    If it breaks, you don't fire the trader, the lawyer, CEO, VP, whoever. If you lose a billion dollars you don't jail Jon Corzine. If you gamble people's money, you get a golden parachute.

    But if you're an IT guy, everything better be perfect, otherwise you'll get fired (lucky) or sent to jail (unlucky).

    • by kiwimate (458274)

      I suggest you read the article. It talks about a specific subset of trades that were affected due to a problem resulting from an upgrade. It further discusses the impact in a company which prides itself on risk management.

      That would seem to imply that it is thought possible an IT upgrade was performed without adequate backout provisions or due diligence.

      • I suggest you read the article. It talks about a specific subset of trades that were affected due to a problem resulting from an upgrade. It further discusses the impact in a company which prides itself on risk management.

        That would seem to imply that it is thought possible an IT upgrade was performed without adequate backout provisions or due diligence.

        I have read other comments from HFT programmers on slashdot and their bosses do not care about risk management. They want rewrites by the hour 100% bugfree 100% of the time so they can earn their money and beat the other HFT systems FIRST.

        Perhaps one can comment, but I distrust officials from Wall Street claiming this as their actions dictate otherwise with unreasonable demands as their only performance metric is how much growth per hour.

      • by swb (14022)

        "I suggest you read the article. It talks about a specific subset of trades that were affected due to a problem resulting from an upgrade. It further discusses the impact in a company which prides itself on lobbying, cronyism and legalistic obfuscation."

        There, I fixed the spelling error you had..

    • If you lose a billion dollars you don't jail Jon Corzine.

      John Corzine was a special case. He was a close political ally of President Obama.

      "Former New Jersey governor and U.S. Sen. Jon Corzine, whom President Obama once hailed as an “honorable man” and one of his “best partners” in the White House, has been subpoenaed to testify before Congress about his role in the collapse of the investment firm MF Global."
      http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2011/12/jon-corzine-obama-partner-and-campaign-financier-subpoenaed-on-mf-global-collapse/ [go.com]

      • by geekoid (135745)

        Because no one in Congress wants to get Obama?

        are you high?

        • Because no one in Congress wants to get Obama?

          No, not really. Sure, they'll make a big show, pontificating on the virtues of their party platform whilst simultaneously demonizing the opposing extreme ideologues, but truth be told the TLA's (who operate outside the Constitution and thus, above the federal government) have enough dirt scraped up by now to bury each and every one of those motherfuckers in a mountain of their own shit, Commander-in-Chief included.

          Truth be told, they're all in the same sinking dinghy. The 'he said, she said' back and forth

          • Basically my hope at this point is that Snowden included the files on all congresscritters and their staff, federal judges and their staff, the entire executive branch for the last six administrations, the entire staff (for twenty years) of GoldmanSachs and all members of all 50 state governments in his insurance file.

            Having that come out would make me smile like very little else could.

        • by drnb (2434720)

          Because no one in Congress wants to get Obama?

          And when has Attorney General Eric Holder shown any care about what Congress thinks regarding his administrative and prosecutorial decisions? When has Holder shown any reluctance to take the political heat in order to shield the President?

          And frankly that is his job, albeit to stay with the Constitution and the law while doing so. Once confirmed by the Senate an Attorney General couldn't care less about the Congress.

    • This is why I didn't go into computer engineering as a young lad. I recognized that computers were tools, and the people trained to maintain and program them were going to end up as essentially service personnel. The high-level managers consider sysadmins to be one notch above a janitor. Shameful, but true. I realized this quite young.

      Instead, I went into physics. I'm not appreciably higher in the corporate architecture, but what I do is so arcane nobody believes that I'm easily replaced. If sysadmins

      • by jedidiah (1196) on Monday August 26, 2013 @01:13PM (#44678625) Homepage

        I had an uncle that tried to do that. Turned out that his physics degree was so esoteric that he had trouble finding a job.

        He ended up being a produce clerk.

        • I had an uncle that tried to do that. Turned out that his physics degree was so esoteric that he had trouble finding a job.

          He ended up being a produce clerk.

          Well worse case scenario he can apply to be a science teacher. Not a glamour job but almost anything fucking pays better and would give benefits than being a produce clerk.

          Same states even have programs for non teaching majors to enter the field. Yes you have rotten kids but at least you do not have to pay for healthcare and cost actually teach science and have a somewhat middle class salary.

          • by drnb (2434720)

            I had an uncle that tried to do that. Turned out that his physics degree was so esoteric that he had trouble finding a job. He ended up being a produce clerk.

            Well worse case scenario he can apply to be a science teacher. Not a glamour job but almost anything fucking pays better and would give benefits than being a produce clerk. Same states even have programs for non teaching majors to enter the field. Yes you have rotten kids but at least you do not have to pay for healthcare and cost actually teach science and have a somewhat middle class salary.

            It depends on the timeframe. Grocery store jobs used to pay quite well and have generous benefits. It may have been a better job than school teacher.

            • Walmart quickly changed that. I dated a girl who did that and she got paid minimum wage with no benefits and she has worked there for 5 years.

              If anyone can do it included an undocumented worker then it pays to pay the least amount of money possible.

              • by drnb (2434720)

                Walmart quickly changed that. I dated a girl who did that and she got paid minimum wage with no benefits and she has worked there for 5 years. If anyone can do it included an undocumented worker then it pays to pay the least amount of money possible.

                Yes and no. Tech has also changed things. Not so long ago a couple of major supermarket chains in my area went on strike. Within a couple of months my local supermarket converted 2 of 12 checkouts to self serve. You scan the bar codes yourself, swipe your debit/credit card, and RFID scanners make sure all of your items were scanned.

                Self serve can not be used by everyone. It only handles packaged goods, no self bagged veggies for example. Well, most packaged goods, booze is an exception.

                • by Talderas (1212466)

                  Our self scans can handle self-bagged veggies. There's 6 self-checkouts maintained by a single human, who is there mostly for liquor sales or if there's the odd problem. It's still frustrating to see people use them and take longer than if they had gone through a regular checkout.

                  Seriously. I can have a whole cart of groceries (say around 30 items) and be in and out faster than some people with 5 items.

          • by TWiTfan (2887093)

            It's tough to get a job as a teacher unless you got your education certification while you were getting your undergrad degree. As you point out there are some programs that make some VERY LIMITED exceptions. But even with those, you're always treated as a second-class teacher if you don't have certification. And it's hard to advance your career, get raises, or even keep your job until you get it.

            You can't just walk into most primary/secondary schools in the U.S. and say "Hey, I'm a Ph.D. in physics and I'd

            • It's tough to get a job as a teacher unless you got your education certification while you were getting your undergrad degree. As you point out there are some programs that make some VERY LIMITED exceptions.

              When I received my MS CS I was told that California has an exception to the education certification requirement for people with an Master's. Of course I never looked into it so I can't say if this is 100% accurate.

              But even with those, you're always treated as a second-class teacher if you don't have certification. And it's hard to advance your career, get raises, or even keep your job until you get it.

              Yes and no. A few teacher of the year awards can change that.

              I read an article about a government program where retiring military officers were somehow fast tracked into teaching positions. A retiring Army Colonel became a HS math teacher and as you describe the existing teachers were angry. On

              • by pspahn (1175617)

                The few who didn't made arguments that seemed more political than teaching related.

                The education industry in a nutshell. I worked with a teacher who was ex-military. His indoctrination went pretty smoothly once he got his Master's, but people still felt like he was kind of a dick. He was, but he was a damn good teacher despite that.

                Education can pretty harsh to outsiders, especially those with a political belief system that clashes (anti-union, anti-federal control, free textbooks, etc). I've seen an entire school dismantled and the principal ousted simply because he was a conservative

      • This is why I didn't go into computer engineering as a young lad. I recognized that computers were tools, and the people trained to maintain and program them were going to end up as essentially service personnel. The high-level managers consider sysadmins to be one notch above a janitor. Shameful, but true. I realized this quite young.

        Instead, I went into physics. I'm not appreciably higher in the corporate architecture, but what I do is so arcane nobody believes that I'm easily replaced. If sysadmins are treated like janitors, a scientist is treated like a skilled seamstress -- I'm still 'labor', but it costs so much to find someone who can do my job they're willing to cut me a little slack.

        Until your boss realizes he can get scientists in China and India with no plumbing who would happily work for peanuts.

        Unless a job needs to be done physically here you will be viewed as a cost. I notice a rise in people becoming teachers recently. It is because those jobs are not considered valuable where as before the great recession no one would dare think this unless they had a passion for it or were moms and wanted the same days off as their kids. But it is a job that needs to be here and can't be outso

      • by Nethead (1563)

        Tell me about it. At our 200 person aerospace company the facilities and IT are one two-man department. Our trouble ticket system tracks both bad keyboards and toilet issues.

        The call I hate to get starts off with, "do you know where a plunger is?" I know what the next question is going to be.

      • by Zeromous (668365)

        I joke that I'm a janitor all the time, but someone must've watched Fight Club, because I at least get treated with respect by my 'superiors'.

        Honestly, some days I do feel like a janitor, but a janitor *wishes* he could replace himself with a very small shell-script (that thankfully only he would understand).

  • by cookYourDog (3030961) on Monday August 26, 2013 @12:47PM (#44678319)
    Wreck a few trades: Suspension! Wreck the global economy: Free federal loans and an even greater share of aggregate wealth!
  • by JoeyRox (2711699) on Monday August 26, 2013 @12:51PM (#44678365)
    Losing money for Goldman is a federal crime, punishable by a 10 year sentence with no trial.
  • by nimbius (983462) on Monday August 26, 2013 @12:59PM (#44678473) Homepage
    Administrative leave is a temporary leave from a job assignment, with pay and benefits intact. Generally, the term is reserved for employees of non-business institutions such as schools, police, and hospitals.

    this is an investment firm, with at-will employment. While im certain the glitch was of great concern to "investor confidence" this just feels like an absurd move to stifle any possibility of a negative market reaction, imaginary or concrete. If i were the IT guy being awarded this transition in employment, it would be difficult not to offer an ultimatum. That if, as its implied by the administrative leave, you in fact value me so much as a team member and employee, perhaps you should judge me by my past works and not by your board of directors insipid demand for job reassignment routinely applied to a police officer after she kills a suspect.
    id also be more inclined to check across the street and see if any other investment firms might care to hire a coder.
  • If you've read the Vanity Fair articles you know that the problem is not the IT, it's the senior management at Goldman that patches together spaghetti code and STEALS OPEN SOURCE CODE by slicing off the headers from the code they stole.

    Nothing good ever came from Goldman.

    Ever.

    • STEALS OPEN SOURCE CODE by slicing off the headers from the code they stole.

      While that is an abhorrent practice, open source licenses recognize concept of the company as an individual (implicitly if not explicitly). It is a legal necessity for copy-left to work with the existing framework of copyright law. Because of this, it is legally okay for a company to use modified open source code internally without public disclosure of modifications because that doesn't count as redistribution under the law.

      The AGPL's extra requirements for software as a service are the only real impediment

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The programmers are pointing to the specs and saying it did what it was supposed to.

    The analysts are pointing to the business requirements and user acceptance tests and saying that it did what asked us for.

    The business is pointing to IT and saying it was a computer glitch.

    Sound about right?

  • for not have a redundant system to test on.

  • Suspending the techs for a Mistake is kinda stupid.
    Financial Systems are all about speed. To get that sort of speed,you need to drop as many checks as possible.
    You don't check to see if the String sent is an int, you just process and hope for the best. You may be creating a bunch of duplicate records and messes, but you don't have time to check, it goes it and it goes out as fast as possible.

    The reason why OS's and programs are so bloated today compared to 20 years ago, is because we have the power for th

  • Frankly, I'm disappointed having read so many comments in this thread and not one talks about the most important for a geek site like slashdot: How do manage to get a bug like this?

    Nothing is very special with HIJKL that makes them stick out or warrant exceptional handling.

  • Reporting by Krithika Krishnamurthy in Bangalore; Editing by Chris Gallagher

    So is the the IT outsourced or just the reporting?

  • The article doesn't have any names. Did they make Drepper go?

  • When your reduction can induce a offer trend, they'll closed the industry down to examine. The industry wasn't closed down because GS missing cash, but because something was obviously consistently incorrect, and they desired to determine what it was before enabling more deals. Once they discovered out what it was, they could have introduced everything returning up, as it was just a bad criteria used by only one investor. They're above the law in every regard. I'm interested what will occur to those tech. Th

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