No Amount of Pain Can Break You, If You Learn This!

Search for elasticity on Wikipedia and the article will start with “In physics, elasticity (from Greek ἐλαστός “ductible”) is the ability of a body to resist a distorting influence or deforming force and to return to its original size and shape when that influence or force is removed.

 

The force or pressure is never enough to break anyone, literally. However, according to AIS (American Institute of Stress), around 80% people undergo some form of stress at work; nearly half of which don’t know how to deal with it.

 

Whether, it’s managing work-life or managing difficult people around you, the amount of stress or pain one goes through is proportional to one’s ability to manage such situations.

 

As research would have it, a vast majority of people can’t deal with these situations without being aggressive; which is similar to not being able to deal with it.

 

I see an opportunity where most of us see anxiety, stress, and pain.

 

Most of us have had these thoughts/situation, more than a couple of times

  • I was made to work till late after office hours
  • I was made to work on something I was not comfortable with, or had no previous knowledge
  • I was denied the rewards and recognition, which I deserved

How many of us deal with it head-on?

Challenged the manager or argued with him. We might even had compared ourselves to other and highlighted what we were doing (more) than the other people in the team.

But, have you really thought about the kind of work you do or you’re being asked to do?

Oh, I’ve been there, done that all too. But, I’ve always taken up the new work [the dirty work] so that I can stretch myself, and see if I can possibly handle that, or how much of it I was prepared to deal with.

 

The end game, has always been to be prepared! To be prepared for what’s out there, when I move to a different place, a different role, or when unexpected events occur.

 

Doing the same thing would prepare me for the same thing, but when the same thing runs out – where would I land?

 

More than that, I’ll not be doing the same thing – time and again.

 

So … shortcomings are short-lived, and they make you short-sighted. But, when you have bigger picture in your sight, you don’t lose hope, your ultimate goals.

 

The ship farthest from the shore explores more treasure. – If you haven’t heard that before, well… You’ve heard it now!

 

One should explore more and stretch beyond the routine, not because it’ll benefit you in the short term, but because you would know what you can achieve or must achieve, in order to reach your goals.

 

Moreover, this has to be an ongoing process which you engraft in your lifestyle, of your freewill rather than a forced one!

 

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Why Every CMS Beginner Should Start With A Content Project

CMS or a Content Management System, as we know, is a collection of basic building blocks which we call as ‘components’.

[Read More – What is CMS?]

There are components which are provided as part of the tool package – also known as ‘out of the box’ components (OOB components). Then again, there are components which are built to server specific needs, perhaps from scratch or on top of existing components – also known as ‘custom’ components.

Now, you’d be surprised to know that most of the existing (OOB) components, if not all, can be customised or configured in many ways.

You need to see it, to believe it.

Once you start going through multiple websites, you familiarise yourself with the components which are used, and the layout or different ways in which they are used. Just like the Lego blocks, which have different shapes and colours.

Then you start formulating your own ideas to how these can be used – some of these components are so rich with features that it takes a while to unlock the potential and explore them.

A little more digging will help you map the components to the current work you will be doing – either you’ll get help from content experts or you’ll find out the hard way (doing yourself).

This wouldn’t come naturally, unless you actually start creating content on your own – which is not as easy as it may sound. I’ve seen people struggle so hard with putting the content right and aligning all the elements together.

I don’t know about others, but I certainly felt good when I authored a page and previewed it. And, when the whole site was created, it almost felt like it was me who created it (although, it was a team effort).

Oh, it is such an exciting and rewarding experience, a sense of accomplishment and learning.

Not that you’ll get bonus for doing that, but just think about the world of possibilities it opens up for you.

Still don’t get it, do you?

See, working on those components can give you an understanding to the system (let’s say Adobe AEM, or Sitecore) – first of all.

Then, you get yourself at ease with the components and the common mistakes a rookie would do, like the related configuration, linking to areas within the system, and gaps left behind by the development team.

This, will give you an insight in to the areas which can be improved upon – be it your learning or the recommendations you could make.

Most importantly, you will get to look at the bigger picture rather than being limited to the components or areas you would work on otherwise.

At this point, it will matter less if you were from a development background, a testing, or any other area of expertise.

What matters, would be what you can or want to do now!

The knowledge and experience, while working on different components,

  • Would help to find the gaps, ask more questions to get clarity
  • Can be used to suggest better user experience, suggest optimal way to use a component, or suggest an alternative
  • Will equip you to develop components in a better way – don’t forget the scenarios you came across to configure a single component.
  • Will lead you to provide a better solution

All the things you can and must do, during the initial phases of the project, to reduce the loss of effort during the later stages.

It’s your choice now, if you wish to work as a technical person, a business analyst, or a quality analyst – the possibilities are never ending.

And if you thought otherwise, no one can limit a BA or QA from proposing a technical design (not literally a design document though).

Reflecting upon, would you have had so much clarity and vision of what you wanted to do or could do, had you not gone through this route?

May be… But, you can’t leave things to “may be”. It’s better to be informed, if you ask me, at least then it’ll be your choice and not something enforced upon you.

At the end of the day, it’s not only about doing right by the customers and delivering what’s best for them, it’s about doing what’s right for you and learning to become a better person and a professional, as well.” ~ P.R.

 

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How Not To Spend More And Still Sell The Product: Influencer Marketing

During the good ole days, newspapers, pamphlets, and television ads were the most used marketing channels. To some extent, they still are!

Mind Tricks!

Reflecting back, could you list some of the ads you remember still? And, why?

We tend to remember (ads promoting) things which,

  1. We could related to ourselves
  2. Had a brilliant concept
  3. Had a familiar face in it

 

Whether you think about your childhood or think about children now, you would notice how we are lured in to buying things, even if we don’t need it, just because it was promoted using a person or character we followed. Spiderman, Movie actors, cartoon characters (Doremon, Peppa Pig) – ring a bell?!

 

But, did you really think

  • Pierce Brosnan would eat betel nut just because he was in the ad?
  • Kareena would use lux soap?
  • Chota Bheem/Peppa Pig actually went to school with all that bag and pencil box?

 

It’s because they are known and have a following, these people or characters are used to promote products; which would make people to believe

  • The product is used by the person, perhaps
  • The product is endorsed/backed by a known person and hence safe to use
  • The product is better than other similar ones, since it is being promoted by a well-known person

The Influencing Act!

These well-known people (influencers) are there to influence your decision, make you believe which you otherwise wouldn’t, and are able to reach to mass or fans – instantly; thereby making a larger impact than those marketing agencies would make, following other practices.

In this era, people have so many social media channels on which they are active, and connect with their fans and followers.

Each of these followers further have a circle of people connected to them, so on and so forth. Virtually, you are connected to millions of people around the globe.

Theoretically, the chances of getting a response or someone buying/trying a product which you promote, are more.

Modern marketers are tapping on this trend!

The cost of engaging a creative ad agency, getting people to perform in it, getting the prime TV slots, and so many other associated costs are reduced. Not to mention the time and effort in getting the ad to market.

Now think, I’ve a million followers on three different social channels. If I say or promote anything on it, it will reach countless people within a few seconds – thanks to the internet!

Even if a percentage of those followers buy the product eventually, it’s a huge profit for the company; considering the amount they would spend on getting me to promote it online.

And this, my friends, is nothing but Influencer Marketing!

Influencer marketing (also influence marketing) is a form of marketing in which focus is placed on specific key individuals (or types of individual) rather than the target market as a whole.” – Wiki

Influencer marketing is a type of marketing that focuses on using key leaders to drive your brand’s message to the larger market. Rather than marketing directly to a large group of consumers, you instead inspire / hire / pay influencers to get out the word for you.” – Tapinfluence.com

 

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How Not To Be Affected By Mental Health Issues

Did you know?

People around the world are observing this week as Mental Health Awareness week.

What Is Mental Health?

According to mentalhealth.gov, “Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.

– Having a bad day at home

– Trouble with the kids

– Peers are creating a problem

– The manager is being .. well .. not helpful

Whatever the reason be, mental issues can affect us without we realising.

It’s not necessary to have a glitch in your brain, to be a diagnosed with mental issues.

People who put others under the bus, for their own greed, are suffering from mental health issues – they just don’t know it yet!

Only you have the power to stop such abuse, such situations!!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not asking you to get in to a fight.

But, SPEAK UP!! People don’t realise this but, “the most complex problems generally have the simplest solutions.”

Speak to a friend, a doctor, or someone whom you trust. Unload yourself of all the pain and sufferings.

We are humans, and we tend to make mistakes. Maybe, we don’t realise where we’re going wrong!

There is no shame in seeking help, no shame in accepting when you are wrong, and definitely no shame in learning to be healthy.

After all, it’s your health, your life, your well being – and it impacts everything around you!

Game of Theories: How Not To Be Played Down

If you have been following Prison Break, a popular US TV series, then you would know about the latest season which has come out after a very long time.

 

Well, watching the series this time, I never thought I would come across something which would intrigue me so much and so instantly. It is something which Sara discusses with (her husband) Jacob in relation to Michael, and he says it is a classic Game Theory approach.

 

Made Me Wonder, What This Game Theory Is?

Been in existence for over six decades, was originally thought to be related to zero-sum game – where one gains at the loss of other. However, it’s now an umbrella term referred in relation to logical decision making.

 

Seems like a lot of effort and research has been carried out over the years, which has resulted in various situations and fields in which this theory has been applied and evolved.

 

We All Start With “Imperfect Information” …

As I start reading the different types of game theories, I was astonished to learn, although these are mathematical or economics based models, these can prove to be lifesaving in real life situations. And, how being knowledgeable about such theories can help you identify potentially un-friendly tango [military term used for target or opponent].

 

In a world full of deceptive people, it’s almost unlikely to attain all or complete information, which is correct or perfect – resulting in favourable outcome. Most of the games/situations, thus, are played with imperfect information, from the onset.

 

In A Perfect World …

In a perfect world, there would be one controller or dictator who would hold all the cards and would know the outcome. Seldom, is the case!

 

Therefore, till a decision or an outcome is reached, think of it as a continuous game which feeds on the outcomes of many players, who may or may not be set in motion by the one calling all the shots or actually playing the game.

 

Lifesaver!

Moments back, I mentioned these theories could be lifesaver. Let’s see how?

 

Whether you are hiring a person, making a business deal, or presenting your case – knowing as much about other person or company would be beneficial. That’s a given, whenever we go out for an interview, isn’t it?

 

Whether that information comes handy or not, the moral advantage it gives you, can’t be matched. Moreover, at a higher level, it’s the leverage you have on other person which decides which way the deal or negotiation would go.

 

The Cooperative and Non-Cooperative game types would tell you that your chances of success would improve considerably if you are able to form alliances; doesn’t matter if they are with mutual agreement or enforced.

 

With the assumptions and the need of bargaining power over others eliminated, that’s two less things to worry about.

 

Still… In a business, where things can get uglier than your imagination, it’s advised to still have that bargaining power; humans are unpredictable!

 

In order to reach a goal, we break the whole journey in to smaller milestones. And, the outcomes would densely depend on the outcomes of the strategies devised for these milestones. If these milestones are people dependent then it’s asymmetric, and if the people can be replaced in a way that only outcome matters then it’s symmetric game play.

 

“A symmetric game is a game where the payoffs for playing a particular strategy depend only on the other strategies employed, not on who is playing them.” – Wiki

 

Keeping a holistic view, these theories should guide you to take an educated course of action.

 

It is one thing to be uninformed, and another to be informed. Then again, what you do with that information or the lack of it, decides the outcome.

 

First, you use them to get relevant information, and then, you use that information to get to them! ~ P.R.

 

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How To Break The Team To Make It Work

There was this game which we used to play during our childhood days; chose a word and then form as many words out of it as you can. The more words you got, the better.

 

I don’t know who came up with that game, and it sure would sound silly if I ask you to play it now!

 

And not because you wouldn’t have time for it, but you might be too sheepish to play such a naive game.

Are you really that busy or ashamed?

C’mon! I bet it’ll only take a couple of minutes. Alright! Alright! Five minutes at max.

 

I knew you’re too lazy to do that. No? Well, even if you did .. You would have come up with few of these.

Am | Me | At

Tea | Eat | Ate | Met

Team | Mate | Meta | Meat | Tame

You notice something odd there?

Me! There’s a “Me” which is odd. The ME which represents each one of us. The ME who is there in every team!

 

There is I in there as well, or I’ AM. But, I prefer not to use this “I” as it sounds to me bit self-centred and arrogant.

 

There are times when I should take the front seat, but not when it’s about the team.

 

So, you would have to jumble up yourself or break yourself to form ME, who drives the team.

 

Every word you make out of it could mean something so powerful, if you associate it with the team.

 

Every member is like a Meta data or Meta property of the team. They HAVE to work in conjunction or the whole machinery would wear and tear out, even before you know it.

Like,

The ME has to take care of my mate(s), that’s a British slang used to refer to a friend, a buddy, or a known person.

Me has to ask them if they have had something to eat or eat with them.

Me never tame(s) his mate(s), or offer someone as meat to step up.

 

You have to passionate, yet selfless. You have to be willing to learn, yet impart knowledge to others. You have to be successful as a team, yet achieve your own goals.

 

We all have some qualities and some weaknesses, and we look out for each other; otherwise it’s not a team we’re part of.

 

Otherwise it’s just AM who’s gonna take control. And when that happens, you know how ugly it could get.

Here’s another food for thought, do you work with a team or in a team?

Working in a team, is like working in silos where someone would tell you what to do and you do it; plain and simple. You don’t question, you don’t challenge, and you don’t push boundaries. Of course, you do work hard to achieve something, personal and/or professional.

 

However, working with a team is like holding everyone accountable and responsible. People have similar frequency and everyone works towards a common goal first.

 

Funny, how words, as small as these, could make a huge shift in perspective.

 

Whether you think – “I am part of the team” or “me who is in the team” or “me who makes the team” – the choice is yours, and so is the success of it!

 

It’s not easy, and it can take years to learn. Anyone who says he is a team player, ask them this – do you know how to break a team to make it work?

 

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Creating Sustainable Livelihood: To Make Our Lives Better, Eventually

Travel the world while you are young; don’t we all aspire to do that?

The nature has so much to offer, and combine that with the efforts people put in to make a place desirable – priceless!

 

Some people are born at such places, while others work towards that dream. Thank god for giving you, or your parents the ability to make that happen for you.

 

Nobody wants to live poor – that’s a given. And, any child coming into this world has no control over where he’s born.

 

Let’s keep destiny aside for a moment and ponder over things like

  • Why do people desire to go abroad?
  • Why is there so much brain drain?
  • Why people are not doing something to improve conditions at home?

 

So on and so forth …

 

The most common reply you would come across is – there’s no will to make things better and everyone wants to make money themselves.

 

Isn’t that true?

Everyone wants to make money, to survive, to enjoy the comforts which comes along.

 

If you think hard or follow the stats, you would realise that survival is first and foremost criteria for majority of the population, everywhere in this world.

 

You might have come across NGOs which support various causes like; clean water, education, child support, cancer support, and many more. These exist, because they are selfless and want to bring a change.

 

Arguably, some of these are front face of certain god forbidden activities. But, it would be like labelling a community wrong if a fraction of it go the other way.

 

Then again, who’s asking you to trust blindly?

In today’s world, where information is available in abundance, you can always get more details and make an informed judgement.

 

If you want a clean environment, start cleaning your house and set an example. Then motivate others to follow. Gradually, you would have a team of people willing to clean the community, the area around, and create a larger impact.

 

The willingness, the adamancy, and the support of like-minded people is all you need to kick start; to bring about the change you seek around you.

 

BTGT (Bridging The Gap Together), is one such organisation who has made that temperament in to a mission: a mission to provide teaching/training to people who have the desire but no means, to ensure those people become capable to find a reputable job than wander off to path of darkness and indulge in offensive activities.

 

Even if you are a business person, or not, you would know the concept of Supply-and-Demand

Every year, there are hundreds of thousands of people in search of job, but not all of them end up getting what they want – the reason being the skill gap in what employee has to offer and what employer requires.

 

BTGT, is playing that intermediary who understand what firm or organisations are looking for, and provides skilled training to people which can help them cater to such organisational needs; be a good fit.

 

Why work with EWS?

On top of my head, I can give you few reasons

  1. They don’t have any support or guidance, and are most gullible to go the wrong way
  2. These are the people we later complain about, causing havoc or mischief – prone to become scapegoats
  3. Educating them, will in turn help each and every one of us to bring the change we long for
  4. The educated and experienced are more expensive, and organisations are not able to create jobs in lieu of that (increasing operating cost)
  5. Last but not the least, the open needs are not fulfilled because the organisations see a skill gap and are reluctant to fill those needs – eventually the need becomes burden on existing staff; leading to loss of need, extra work, no work life balance

 

Now… Think hard, and think again – who will benefit or what impact it will have, if people around us are more literate, have a job that pays off, and are not manipulated by others for their mean motives?

 

We can sit at our home, complain about the law and order, blame the government or the private organisations, and do nothing ourselves. Or, support such causes and make lives around us better, to make our own life better.

 

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How Not To Follow A Humdrum Strategy

On the night of March 08th, 2017, the football world saw one the major upsets of the tournament; at the highest level.

The #ChampionsLeague is no small town kid. It’s the crown which every European football club yearns for. It’s a show of strength, desire, and something to kill for.

A giant club from France (Paris St Germain or PSG) battling it out with another giant from Spain (Barcelona or Barca).

Those Petious Six Goals (#PSG) changed the way world looked at #Barcelona; for those who still had any inhibitions about this club.

For those who don’t know, there are two fixtures between the same two teams, in this tournament – one home game and another away game.

During the first meet, PSG knocked a heavy blow on Barca, leading the night 4 goals to nil.

Very few people would have thought that Barca would be able to overcome such a mountain of a task.

Plain and simple, it was impossible.

Well, those of you who don’t know Barca’s might would not know that they don’t give up till it’s the end.

So, all they did was to make impossible to I’m possible!

HOW?

You have to watch it to believe it.

The energy they had, they pace with which they moved, and the rage which was evident from their body language. They could kill, if they had any weapons!

Was it enough to make such a comeback?

Absolutely not!

These are key ingredients which you need, but the ingredients don’t mix or bake on their own.

They need a binding agent, a purpose, and a role which each of them plays.

So, after their defeat in the first leg, Barca made changes to the team. The coach started mixing his strategies and kept his opponents, guessing!

The two things which stood out for me: Reorganising and Rotating.

When to tame the opponents and when to go for the kill – know that and all you have to do is wait for the right time. Wait for the opponents to make a mistake and present you with a weak spot.

You don’t always get a high ground, and you don’t always win from a high ground.

Agility, which comes from challenging and perfecting different scenarios, giving yourself more data to prepare, and a cutting edge!

The next thing, is to know who could make that killing. It’s not always the sniper who has the best spot to kill.

Sometime, he could be there to cause a distraction or make you run for cover, while the man with the knife waits for the opportunity and makes the silent kill.

Never let your work be monotonous, have a thorough SWOT analysis, keep more information, and know what works for you and what not.

When you put yourself in different scenarios, you will know the weak areas. And, if you could stumble upon those then others could, as well.

You have to try!

Take a calculated risk!

Or, go blind!

You’ll learn something out of it, for sure.

But, eat only what you can stomach.

In between, the first match and the return match, Barca played other games and corrected their new ways of working.

When the time came, they were better prepared!

 

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And Your 9 Minutes Start Now!!

Glancing through the top stories on my twitter, I came across a much unexpected item; “Tax workers in Australia have refused to extend their day from 4.51 to 5pm – what could you do with an extra 9min at work?” That’s somewhat absurd, I thought. Firstly, that’s an odd bit of time to close your day, and secondly, I was unaware that people in Oz worked till 4.51pm. My initial thought was to ignore it and move on to other things. But then, I couldn’t keep it out of my mind for long. I know there could be many things which a person can do, however I came up with these (not in any sequence)

  • The most impactful thing which I’ve seen off lately is the executive orders being signed by US president. If you are at an important role, it might be enough for you to pass an order or a decision.
  • A customer service representative could help a customer with his concern, who must have waited more than that to get through to someone who could help.
  • Professionals working hard could take client calls, discuss issues, and provide information on which they have worked throughout that day.
  • A brilliant sales person might need less time, but if he is not able to convince the potential customer in less than 9 minutes then the chances are he might not be able to do it, at all.
  • If you follow most watched sports like baseball, cricket, or football then you must know how each minute could play out. Roughly 3 pitches or an over could be bowled in that time. On your best day, a team could score a goal in 30 sec. So, 9 minutes could change a match’s outcome completely.
  • For a patient, who has had an attack or has been shot, 9 minutes could become a matter of life or death. The response time for a medicine or time before an organ fails is generally less than that.
  • The brave soldiers, who tirelessly fight and put themselves at harm’s way, 9 minutes could mean getting backup team or an air support when they are about to advance to enemy’s post.

These are some of the things which one could achieve in 9 minutes or less. Understandably, these are subjective or situational scenarios which you might not come across every day. However, one should not underestimate the importance of every minutes and what can be achieved during that time. I personally feel, it’s not only time but the will to complete a task at hand which makes the difference. Yes, it’s end of day and you have to catch a bus or a train back home, or drive miles away steering through traffic. However, the work which you’ll complete in those 9 minutes or somewhat more would save you nearly an hour when you come in the next day!

All of us try and plan our day’s work, but there are times when it just spills over. Situation beyond control stays as it is. But, if there is something which you can achieve during the day then aim for those extra minutes, wherever possible. The sense of achievement, might not be noticed or rewarded, at least you’ll have a peaceful sleep.

“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” ~ Michael Altshuler

 

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How Not To Lead Into Deadlock

Have you worked in an agile environment?

Adaptable, flexible, and adjectives like that are common when you look for a job or talk to people. Everyone’s got the role and responsibilities defined. However, we do tend to overlook them when needed or to say when we are lazy.

Recently, I came across a situation where the team was behind schedule by a mile and they needed to get the impediments out as quickly as possible. Funny thing is, people may forget about the common goal they’re working towards, they never forget to play the blame game. It’s never easy to work with team across geographies, with varied cultures. So, instead of resolving the issues at hand, the teams involved started this ping pong of passing the work/blame over to other team. And when asked about the status, the teams responded they are analysing the issue and everything is working fine at their end but it’s the other team who needs to fix at their end. So if two systems are working fine individually but not when they are integrated, then whose territory is the integration? Ummm.. Obviously, it’s both the teams’.

It’s like those situations where without the handshake, the meeting never happened! The simplest approach at this time would have been for both the teams coming together and resolving it. But, due to their time differences, approach differences, and failure to identify this need: the meeting never happened. Amidst, all this the team who was responsible for verification was blocked. In spite of checking every possible scenario, working with all the tools at hand, and speaking to different technical teams; it was a deadlock!

After days of waiting, planning and re-planning, the teams were forced to make time for THE call. Didn’t matter if one is on earth and other on moon, if one is sitting in office late at night or coming too early; the meeting was absolutely necessary!

Where’s the wall with “Bang Your Head Here” written all over it?!

Someone, please shoot ’em all!! The call, which went on for around 45 minutes, made it clear that there were certain changes required at both ends to make the code work. And just like that we all had an understanding of what needed to be changed and an agreement, at last!

This situation led me back to three principles which are long forgotten,

  1. You don’t always have to move mountains, you can go around them – every problem doesn’t need a complex solution. A very basic or simple idea can do wonders
  2. Although, he should but it’s not always a project manager’s duty to intervene and resolve issues like these – anyone can take that step and be authoritative. Authority comes by being knowledgeable and analytical, not only with designation or title.
  3. Learn to put your personal agendas aside, there are times when project’s goal/client needs take the pilot seat.

There’s a very deep meaning to it, but if you can decipher it then you may lead a better life than others.

 “You grow together, you lead in a group; alone you can think of being whomsoever, but it will not turn in to reality!” – P.R.

 

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