Tag Archives: Twitter

Twitter Question: Nexus 5X as a primary camera?

Cory Hixson asked me a question about the Nexus 5X that was interesting and complicated enough that my reply became a blog post:


I’ve just finished recording an Ihnatko Almanac about traveling with a phone as your sole camera, and about camera choices in general, so this topic is still on my mind. I’m a little stuck on the phrase “primary camera.”

In a way, I’m the least helpful person to ask for camera advice. I’m an Enthusiastic Amateur, plus I’m a technology columnist. This means I don’t know about the needs of the average camera user and I’m way too arrogant to try to find out.

I’m going to zero in on the word “you” in this question. I wouldn’t be choosing a phone as my primary camera. I’m too persnickety about the results, and I want to have lots of control. I’ve just come back from a week at Yosemite and I would have missed my flight rather than leave home without my Olympus OM-D E-M1 and some lenses.

Nonetheless, for three days in New York city the week before that, I left the gear at home and relied solely on the Nexus 5X. Mostly because I had to catch a 6:30 AM train, so I was grumpy, and in no mood to sling a camera around my neck and find room in my bag for an extra lens.

I also knew that the Nexus 5X camera was up to the job of Taking Swell Photos:

 

Added another Daniel Chester French to my Life List. Outside the Hamilton Custom House, NYC.

A photo posted by Andy Ihnatko (@ihnatko) onMar 9, 2016 at 12:00pm PST

When I choose a daily carry phone, I want the best camera I can get but I’m trying to maximize other variables as well. I think the iPhone 6S Plus has the best camera overall, but I wouldn’t switch back to iOS just to get the camera. I think the Samsung Galaxy S series has the best camera on any Android phone (and it’s better than the iPhone’s in many ways), but I see many advantages to Nexus devices, and their “fresh from Google” updates, that I want more than that camera. If I had bought something else, I’d only be trading an excellent camera for a better one.

It’d be hard for me to choose a phone as my primary camera. I tend to think in terms of an arsenal of devices. I’ve got the Olympus for situations where I foresee myself immersing myself in photography and wanting to come away with the best photo possible. I’ve can trust the Nexus for those situations where I’m expecting to take mostly snapshots, or didn’t know that I’d be confronted with something amazing, or I just couldn’t be arsed to carry the howitzer with me all day. I keep attempting to seduce myself into buying a nice, tiny camera, such as a first-gen Sony RX100. The argument for is “teensy camera with a big sensor, a big lens, full manual controls and handling, and RAW capture.” The argument against is “$400, and don’t you already have a nice camera, doofus?” But I keep wishing for a “daily carry” camera that was a big leap better than my phone.

One shouldn’t become like one of those weekend golfers who keeps buying new and increasingly-exotic putters, thinking it’ll improve their performance. Every camera has limits. Even this Olympus that I love so much has limits. But great things happen when you try to find a solution to a creative problem that works within those limits. Phones don’t have zoom lenses. Okay, but is the photo of that Daniel Chester French sculpture no good because it’s a tight crop of a much larger photo? The resulting 3 megapixel resolution forced me to be even more careful about the composition; every pixel was carrying such a great load.

Plus, our desktop tools for massaging photos are extraordinary. I can do things with exposure, depth of color, and addressing sensor noise that would have been a fantasy just a few years ago. So really, I could just concentrate on framing the shot correctly and tapping the shutter button at the right moment.

The direct answer to Cory’s question is that any premium phone, and even most midrange ones, will take excellent photos. So don’t worry about it. Buy the phone that presents the best total package for you.

These sorts of answers can be very very frustrating, however. So if pressed, I will sigh and say “If I had to rely on a phone as my primary camera, it’d be an iPhone 6s Plus. Image quality is a real tossup between it and the Samsung Galaxy, but the iPhone’s speed and reliability tilt the scales.”

Yeah. That answer definitely took more than 140 characters, eh?

Mustard! Mustard! Mustard!

I made myself a ham and cheese sandwich with a healthy dose of Bookbinder’s Whole-Grain Mustard. This mustard is my favorite intersection between “great mustard” and “easy to find.” It’s great on a sandwich, it’s great in a marinade, and I usually mix it with a little olive oil and use it as a dressing for green beans.

It prompted me to write this Tweet:


In retrospect, I think Bookbinder’s is like a $5-$6 mustard at my local store. But the principle is the same. You can’t afford to buy a $72,000 Audi instead of a $24,000 Toyota. But chances are that you can afford the fancy kind of mustard and the difference in flavor between a good one and a standard brown or yellow one is amazing.

A couple of people replied with the names of their favorite mustards, and then I encouraged everyone else to chime in. I feel as though it’s now my civic duty to record for posterity this list of Mustards that Someone Felt Worthy of Recommending. Here are the five that caught my eye (ones I sure intend to try):

  • Raye’s Mustards. Handmade (“Since 1900”) in Maine. A wide line that includes beer mustard, wine mustard, and cranberry mustard.
  • Maille. Holy cats these look like fancy-shmancy mustards. They’re not all $43 a jar but oh my god there’s mustard that’s $43 a jar! But this one got many recommendations and after looking at the selection…my curiosity is piqued. This is maybe the Bugatti Veyron of mustards and even so: hey, I got $43.
  • Düsseldorfer Löwensenf. They’re Germans and they’ve been making mustard for a mighty long time. Also some interesting flavor varieties here.
  • Kosciusko Spicy Brown. It seems like a straightforward, non-fussy but excellent mustard. And although the name doesn’t even have even one umlaut, let alone two, there’s something about it that creates a sense of confidence.
  • Sir Kensington’s Spicy Brown. Well, okay: you can’t possibly get a less ethnic brandname than “Sir Kensington.” But it’s well-spoken-of.

And these are all winners! Because each was so well-liked that someone chose to recommend it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 


 

Rethinking Social Media

Screen Shot 2015 11 10 at 12 40 58 PM

Okay, I give up. I’m going to become more active on Facebook and Instagram. Instagram was never my speed, and I instinctively distrust Facebook with the volume of information that a frequently-updated social media platform takes in.

Besides, Twitter, Flickr, and my blog are serving my creative needs well. I Tweet little snippets of ideas and it’s a great place to announce stuff (new articles, podcast episodes, tattoos) to people who are interested in my work. I’ve been a Flickr user for (gads) thirteen years and it’s been a tremendous source of motivation to keep taking photos and getting better at doing it.

In the past month, though, I realized that I was reacting to Instagram and Facebook the way that they had been presented to me when I first encountered them. Why do I need Instagram? I have Flickr for my photoblogging. Why do I need Facebook? I have a blog. Plus, I hate the interface and they’re so grabby for more info about me.

(Every time I log in and it pesters me “Your user profile is only 42% complete!” and then it makes a wrong guess about where I live or where I went to high school…I just smile and smile.)

I figured out how to use Instagram: it’s going to be a place where I just place Interesting Photos, without blogging about their context. And I’ll feel free to go nuts with the styling because these shots (or versions of other photos I’ve taken) are designed specifically to be looked at on small phone screens.

I also noted that I managed to acquire a few thousand followers there without posting anything to it for years (I signed up for the account early, just to make sure I got the username). Okay, let’s turn the taps on.

It’s also nice to have a social media account where the only people I follow are family, and people who are somewhere on the “friend” spectrum. I get lots of news and entertainment info from my Twitter feed and I wouldn’t follow all of those websites and TV shows if I didn’t want to see their Tweets. It’s different for me on Instagram, where I know that every photo has a personal relevance to the life of somebody I know and care about.

As for Facebook? Everything I’ve always felt is still true. I don’t like it, I don’t think it’s well-designed, and I don’t trust it the way I trust Google (which, yes, is every bit as hungry for personal data).

But sometimes you have to do things you don’t like to get the things you want. Facebook is, beyond any argument, the only place I can post something and be sure that most of my friends and family will see it. Similarly, if I want to see what these people are up to…I need to dip into Facebook from time to time.

This thought had been in the back of my mind for a couple of weeks but the point was truly brought home after I casually posted a short video of myself at the LA County Museum of Art. As with the photo I’d posted of myself in my Halloween costume, I got some welcome nods from the family.

And! Something from one of my far-flung cousins. He and his wife — whom I’d never met — happened to be in LA that same week for a different conference. Without Facebook, we would never have found that out and I wouldn’t have had such a great evening with them the night before I left.

It therefore becomes a question of “Do I want to insulate myself from family and friends?”

Well, one hates to generalize. You’re asking me “Yes” or “No”?

Okay. “No.”

There are so many tools available to you. You can drown in them. They work if you understand what they can do, and assign a clear role to them.

So:

  • The Blog. Stuff like this. Things that don’t really work as columns and articles, either because they’re synaptic misfirings, or the Sun-Times (et al) can’t push a super-timely piece through the edit cycle and onto the website fast enough.
  • Twitter. Quickies, links, fun ideas that pop in my head…potato chips of creativity.
  • Flickr. The gallery venue of my highbrow attempts at Art.
  • Instagram. Photos in Halloween fun-sized Snickers portions.
  • Facebook. A private account that I only let my friends and family see. And I’m usually there to see my friends and family.

You win, Facebook jerks.

(Oh, sorry: I mean “the executive team,” not “friends and family on Facebook.”)

Twitter Makes Self-Pity Much Harder

Massive chest cold, day 6. Now it’s just down to the receding thunder. My voice has dipped from baritone to a bass-baritone, I occasionally need to remove excess phlegm from my throat in a rude way, and though I am once again able to maintain a conversation, a laugh will provoke a coughing fit.

(So obviously, I’m DVRing “Futurama” and switching to “Family Guy” until this whole thing finally blows over.)

Ig, what a week. A cold is a slightly different experience when you’re self-employed. After X years as your own boss, you stop thinking in terms of ‘days at work” and “days off.” It’s all one slim little week in which you’re trying to reach a set of goals.

So you keep trying to sneak in little micro-bursts of work. I was unconscious for most of Monday, got a little work done on Tuesday but mostly kept drifting in and out of sleep all day, spend Wednesday mostly awake on the sofa. left the house for the first time in 100 hours for breakfast with friends on Thursday, and was finally back in uniform on Thursday night.

(Now? I’m at Chipotle, enjoying a burrito. Ironically, my annual physical is today. So just when I felt like I really wanted to have a nice, big meal…I needed to start fasting for the blood tests. And the blood work is just going to tell my doctor how healthy I am when I’m sick, right?)

(The good news is that in the past week, I’ve been dining on aspirin and cough syrup. I expect a big thumbs up on the cholesterol count. Is there actually any room left in that sample for cholesterol, anyway, what with all of the extra white blood cells?)

Now comes a big weekend of catching up with work and housekeeping. But I’m not complaining! As usual, I can’t imagine how parents deal with problems like this one. I was out cold for one day — couldn’t have taken care of a kid even if I liked him or her — and I would’ve simply needed to soldier through the rest of the week as best I can. As a childless freelancer, I was able to still get some work done every day, during slivers of opportunity that presented themselves. Kids make a big show about how freespirited they are but they do tend to work on frustratingly fixed schedules that care little for parental fevers and chills.

More than that: if you ever, ever, consider self-pity, a trip through your Twitter stream will set you straight pretty quick. Yeah, it sucks to have a bad cold. But then, amid the random links and silly comments, you encounter a Tweet from someone who’s undergoing cancer surgery in 24 hours and they’re still putting a full day’s work. Complaining about your chest cold seems selfish and silly and trivial and tacky, as it should.

(Even if you had a really cool fever-induced dream about the cast of “The West Wing” as the command staff of “Babylon 5,” and really, you were only going to mention how sick you were as a way of setting up that story.)

I shared this observation with my friend during breakfast yesterday. “Twitter’s the Total Perspective Vortex, from ‘The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy’,” he said. And he was very, very right.

We keep discovering and re-defining what Twitter is. This week I feel like it’s that road that all of us drive through during our daily commute from waking to sleeping again. We get to see the tiremarks that everybody else left and sometimes it makes us choose to follow that same line around a curve or to favor the apex a little more.

Why Technology Makes Me Want To Throw Things, Sometimes

Me in a fez with the This Week In Tech logo.

How disappointing: Leo Laporte and the TWiT staff gave me clothes for Christmas. Oh, wait, I meant “how AWESOME!”

And that, dear readers, is what I’ve been trying to post to Twitter for the past half an hour. What an terrific thing to unbox. I’ve been wearing it all afternoon; suffice to say that the bar has been set very high for friends and family members who will be giving me gifts this year.

(Which is not to say that you shouldn’t try, o friends and family members.)

(Look, just forget I said anything. It was clearly inappropriate.)

(Adjusts fez)

Shall I review all of the different “post a Tweet with a photo attached” methods that I tried, and failed, before saying (shouting, really) “To hell with it. I’m just going to make it a damn blog post”?

  1. Osfoora for iPad. My usual Twitter iPad client. I used Dropbox to copy the photo from my MacBook (which I used to take the picture) to the Pictures library. I wrote the Tweet, attached the photo…and Osfoora couldn’t connect to the TwitPic-like service-thingy to upload the image.
  2. Twitter for iPad. I hate it, but it was the only alternative I had on my iPad. It looked as though it was attaching the image correctly, but it wasn’t, really.
  3. YFrog.com, via my MacBook’s browser. The uploader froze at 0%.
  4. Twitter.com, via my MacBook’s browser. Nope, even the completely revamped interface doesn’t support picture attachments.
  5. Nambu, MacOS desktop client. Thought I’d give it a try, as it’d been recommended to me once before. Binary is hosted on Amazon. Safari tells me that this 7.3 megabyte ZIP file will be completely downloaded in another 94 minutes.
  6. Twitterific for MacOS. I remembered I had a copy on my Mac. It’s out of date and refused to log in. I downloaded the new version, it logged in correctly, and then I remembered that Twitterific doesn’t let you attach photos.

Normally, I Tweet from my iPhone. It’s simple and it works great. And…

(Now I’m reminded why I hated Twitterific and stopped using it: by default, it takes over your screen every time something happens on Twitter. Or, to be fair, maybe that’s just how I set it up the last time I used it, many months ago. Either way: Goodbye, goodbye, GOODBYE.)

(Oh, and thanks for hiding yourself so well that I can only kill you by looking for your processes in Activity Monitor, Twitterific. That makes this ever more so much more special. “I just can’t quit you” was a good line from “Brokeback Mountain” but in an app, it’s really crap behavior.)

…And that’s what I would have used, if I’d had my iPhone handy.

I guess I was just naive: I thought that posting a Tweet with a photo attached was, in fact, goddamn close to being the simplest thing in the world.

Okay. Well, I’m still wearing an awesome-way-cool fez. Under the circumstances, I can’t possibly be unhappy.

28 Hours Later

Screen grab from "28 Days Later." Patient in hospital greens walks through abandoned London streets.

I picked up some sort of cold over the weekend. I started feeling like hell on Monday. On Tuesday, my line of thinking was “If I want to get better, then I should stay in bed and rest.” Today, after a further day spent mostly sleeping, I thought “If I want to get better, I should keep moving around.”

This isn’t necessarily a positive step in my illness. After all, this is the sort of thing you must do with people who are dangerously close to slipping into some form of coma.

Well, luckily, it turned out that I’ve crested the hill of Deathly Ichors and am now speeding towards recovery. Diagnostic tip: if the patient is healthy enough to be bored senseless, then he’s probably healthy enough to go out and buy some more juice.

The medical industry should also research the healing power of deadlines. There’s a professional term for the amount of work I got done on Monday, Tuesday, and today. It’s on the tip of my tongue…something short…

Ah! Yes: “**** all.” That’s how much work I’ve finished this week. On Tuesday, I woke up, took care of an hourlong business call that couldn’t have been postponed, I did my podcast, and then I went back to sleep. Today I woke up, conducted an hourlong meeting via iChat, and then went back to sleep. Three, count ’em, three, things still need to be written and if my week hadn’t been such a Keith Moon pastiche of pills and aggressive unconsciousness I’d have finished them all by now.

So it’s my first evening back on the payroll. I’ve just about gotten myself caught up with all the emails I hadn’t read and now I’m getting caught up on all of the news that passed me by.

Imagine my reaction at finding out that I slept through a major Twitter panic. It looks as though someone has finally figured out a way to make money from Twitter: you just exploit a security hole to hijack a reader’s browser and forcibly redirect it to sites that could potentially install malware on the host computer.

Well!

And just about as quickly as the exploit went viral — in the “adorable video of a kitty finding its way out of a paper bag” sense, not the darker “you visit a hacked site and three days later, a Russian syndicate owns your house” kind — Twitter closed it.

I couldn’t help but think about all of the horror movies that use that scenario as a premise. You submit to some sort of no-big-deal medical treatment that puts you under for X days or hours. Then, aliens explode a spore bomb in the atmosphere. You wake up X+1 days or hour later and then there you are, the only one on the planet untouched by the madness. You’ve little time to piece everything together because if you don’t, you’ll get eaten by the half of the population that was turned into zombies. If you’re very unlucky, you’ll escape the zombies only to wind up in the hands of the half that was rendered completely blind; they’ll probably guilt-trip you into doing all of their shopping for them.

This will go very badly for you. I’m thinking about how self-pitying and entitled I feel just after two days of nursing a cold. Imagine how insufferable 150,000,000 people blinded by alien spores will be. There you are, clothes torn to shreds, skin scorched from the improvised napalm grenade you had to detonate to keep a pack of Walking Undead at bay. You brush away the zombie fingers and feet that got sliced off when you slammed the fortified steel door behind you, while giving thanks to your brutal and indifferent God that allowed you to get back to the safehouse alive with a bag of precious foodstuffs.

And then you hear the beneficiary of your heroism say

“‘Low-fat’?!? You make me wait here three hours for you to bring me low-fat peanut butter?!? I am not paying for this! How about you read the goddamn grocery list I gave you, just once? Jesus, now I know why you keep coming back alive. The zombies only chase after people with brains.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVdD0ZxPq_g

Actually, when I say I’ve gotten nothing done this week I forgot (in my flu-addled stupor) to mention that I finally saw “The Love Guru.” Or perhaps I’m just going through some form of PTSD. The reviews on this one were so bad that (1) I had to see it, and (2) I couldn’t retain my pride if seeing this movie required me to do anything more than pick up a remote and fulfill an impulse without spending a single sou.

It finally arrived on Netflix Streaming this week. It was…um…yeah, well, it was pretty bad. There are the kinds of jokes that just sort of lie there and don’t register any sort of reaction from the audience, apart from the realization that the thing that just happened had the form and the intention of a Joke. And then there are the ones that do provoke a reaction: hatred. It’s not just that the entire movie is packed with dick jokes. Even every male character’s name is a dick joke.

This is why I would have been kicked out of the Film Critic’s Guild Society of American Movie Critics. About fifteen minutes in, I’d lost all patience and was muttering “Oh, for God’s sake…” every time another dick joke came along. It was like the Rose Parade. They passed by in a nonstop, slow march. You’d first sense the joke at the far end of the street. When it was two blocks away, it was already in sharp focus. But then it took another minute or so before it rumbled to center stage and that’s when you saw Mike Myers standing on top of it, in a sash and tiara, waving proudly to the crowd. I wished I could have thrown a fire extinguisher at the man.

I found myself welcoming the epic “two-man combat with urine-soaked mops” scene. No, that scene didn’t work either. Nothing in this movie works. But it was at least nice to see some classy material up there. Relatively speaking.

There are bad movies that are entertaining in their pure naivete. There are bad movies that are entertaining as a forensic exercise in What Went Wrong. But this one was just bad. It reeks of the flop sweat of a studio executives that kept reminding each other of how much the Austin Powers movies made, and how many “Shrek” DVDs have been sold, and telling each other “Yes, the script is pretty weak…but just wait until they start shooting and Mike Myers starts sprinkling his magic stardust all over this!”

If this were a scene in “The Love Guru,” the next shot would have been of Mike Myers taking a whizz on the screenplay. The shot would go on for about four minutes before a cop taps him on the shoulder, Myers wheels around in surprise, and accidentally pees in the man’s face for thirty seconds more.

(On-set, Myers amends this to “The guy has to have his mouth open. That’s what makes it funny. Also, I’ll make funny faces and sputter nonstop apologies while it’s happening.”)

I’m taking bad. Bad enough to make me retroactively hate all of his previous work and wonder if he was ever actually funny to begin with.

I bet right now, Mike Myers is watching Joachim Phoenix’s appearance on Letterman last night and kicking himself. That’s what he should have done after his movie bombed. He should have gone on Letterman and said “We were really shocked that nobody saw through the joke immediately. We had done everything possible to intentionally make ‘The Love Guru’ the worst comedy ever made. We thought people would enjoy it as an innovative piece of performance art…”

Mr. 10,000 (Tweets)

The Andy Ihnatko 10,000th Tweet Live Video Spectacular from Andy Ihnatko on Vimeo.

After three years, 10,000 Tweets, and being followed by more than 35,000 people, I still don’t have a good answer to the question “But what’s the point of Twitter?” I’ve come up with two responses that work.

Apparently, Twitter is either a boat or a sliver of soap, depending on who’s asking me and who’s listening.

If my audience sincerely and earnestly wants to understand Twitter, I tell them “It’s like a boat. Anybody can use a Twitter account just for fun. A much smaller percentage are leading the kind of lives in which it’s actually useful. And a tiny, tiny fraction are making money with the thing.” If it’s a conversational kind of request, I say “Think of that sliver of soap left in the dish. That’s a single Tweet. All by itself, it’s worthless. Squeeze lots of them together, and you’ll eventually have something with weight and substance.”

But I guess Twitter is like my iPhone 4. Sometimes the best endorsement you can make — and the only endorsement that really matters — is the simple fact that you use the hell out of this thing, and that your week would be very, very different without it.

I got a taste of that over the past few days. For the past couple of weeks, I’d been aware that I was nearing my 10,000th Tweet. I knew I wanted to do something a little bit special for #10,000. Eventually I got to #9998, which meant that I had just enough shots left to announce what I was going to do and then to do it…which also meant that I couldn’t Tweet anything at all until I figured out what those things were going to be.

Behold, The Answer: I did my 10,000th Tweet on Ustream. Click away, but I should warn you that there’s an Anthony Newley impression coming.

“What should my 10,000th Tweet be?” I wondered. I came up with a halfway decent “140-character novel.” Naw. I thought about just being sincere and sweet and thanking the folks who’ve supported my work in various ways. Mmm…naah. When the right idea came, I instantly recognized that there could be no more appropriate way to crystallize my previous 9,999 Tweets.

But yes, these Big Plans meant that I had to stop Twittering for a few days, to preserve the #10,000 slot. Going without Twitter for 72 hours served to remind me about the things I most enjoy about the service.

I missed the ongoing communication with the people who read my columns and listen to my podcasts. There’s an immediacy and a conversational tone to the Twitter timeline that doesn’t exist in any other medium. I like responding to questions and I also like hearing good and bad reactions. Either way, comments are usually to the point, and valuable.

I missed those little moments of time with my friends. If I could afford to send each of my friends one of those baskets of fresh fruit cut into flowery shapes a few times a week, I could. Commenting on a particularly cool of interesting tweet of theirs is close enough, though it really does next to nothing to combat the spread of scurvy and The Ghost Disease among the geek populace.

Not Tweeting has been a little like watching milk go bad in my fridge. Little things pop into my head and maybe they’re of no use to anybody, but they’re fun little strings of words. Twitter is the only place where I can post them, really, and if I try to “save them up” for a later date, they go completely stale after sitting in my head for so long. “I was acting on impulse” isn’t a great explanation for why you did something stupid, but it’s still a hell of a lot better than having to admit that yes, you thought about it for two or three days and it still seemed like a solid idea. This admission is often the precursor to a fiancee maintaining her composure just long enough to twist the engagement ring from her finger and fling it at you with enough force that you’re going to want to apply a little Bactine to the wound.

I don’t feel like I’ve done all I can for something I’ve just written and published until I’ve Tweeted a link. And here we get to the Business end of Twitter. I was looking through my Flickr feed the other day, specifically looking for “orphan” photos that haven’t been organized into any existing photoset before. It’s not hard to figure out why some of these have received just four or five hundred views over the course of a year and another one got 2,000 in just a week: I Tweeted a link to one of them.

I create and publish things for many different reasons and they vary from item to item but yes, somewhere in the back of my mind “I’d like people to see this” is always on the list. I can come up with what I think is an interesting idea, research and write it well, edit it carefully, and publish it. But I’ve got this list of 35,000 people who at some point clicked a button to indicate that they’re somewhat interested in the stuff I post. Until I’ve posted a link to Twitter, I feel like the job is only partially-complete. If it fails to catch on, it fails to catch on…but just like sending a kid off to school with a good, hot breakfast in his or her belly, I feel as though I gave this piece every reasonable advantage.

And Twitter just keeps getting more and more important. Yesterday, I downloaded the sort of app that gets all of my Nerd Parts tingling. Within the first ten minutes of using Flipboard and linking it to my Twitter account, it seemed as though writing a review of it became the most important thing that I would ever do. Phrases like “From now on, instead of vaguely talking about the future of magazines and newspapers, we should just point to Flipboard and then break into discussion groups” and “This free app will justify at least $150 of the money you spend for your iPad” came straight to mind.

(When I feel this exuberant about something…yeah, I quickly realize that I need to calm down and see how I feel after a few more days.)

Screenshot of iPad app Flipboard, showing a collection of articles from various sources.

Flipboard: it really feels like the way I'll be getting 80% of my news from now on.

Still! What a brilliant idea. I follow about 250 people on Twitter. This is, exclusively, a list of people and institutions whose opinions matter to me (actual friends, and writers or publications who regularly write things that I want to read). Their Tweets are of interest to me. These people also often Tweet links to articles and other content that they think is valuable.

Flipboard strip-mines your Twitter follows for content and links, and assembles it all into a beautiful digital magazine of fresh content. I’d say it’s almost “suspiciously” beautiful. Like the Mechanical Turk, it’s hard to imagine that this on-the-fly design and layout is the result of an automaton working without human intervention.

It’s not a Twitter client, really. But yes, you can reply to Tweets and Star the original posts and whatnot.

The app was just released a day ago, so details are still a little sketchy. In addition to linking to Twitter and Facebook, there are “curated” channels whose sources are managed by the Flipboard team…and other social-media sources are coming soon. I almost wore out some of the glass on my iPad tapping and searching for a way to add my Flickr feeds to FlipBoard; a “National Geographic”-style viewer for all of my friends’ photos is going to be a killer feature.

When I first tried Twitter (let’s see: “March 22, 2007” — oh, my…were we ever that young?) I dismissed it as just a useless micro-trend. Then my friends started to join, and it became entertaining. Then, it somehow became important. I truly value the Twitter infrastructure. I’ve never been interested in playing the Numbers Game; having a certain number of Followers doesn’t motivate me. It’s the connections represented by the 282 people whom I follow and the 35,589 people who follow me that I rely upon. It’s not something that can be engineered. It has to be grown over time.

I had an awareness of the value of the unique shape of this thing called “my peculiar use of Twitter” before Flipboard was released. Flipboard is just the first app that makes that value so tangible.

Well, then. The next milestone, I think, will be 50,000 Twitter followers. I have at least a couple of years to think about how I’m going to mark that occasion. I hope to do something big but even so: expect a cash bar.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-05-23

  • Back from the MIT Flea. Not the greatest, but any Flea where you fondle a Cray 6 logic board and score an OM-10 for $5 is OK. #
  • Just realized: Jon Stewart is like Leslie Nielsen. Funny when he reads the joke straight, but DEATH when he tries to be funny. #
  • Watching "House" season finale, shot entirely on an iPhone. Wait, no, a Canon 5D SLR. Which is still kind of impressive. #
  • Getting set up for MacBreak Weekly. Watch and listen live at http://live.twit.tv/ #
  • The plot of "The Hangover" could have been the walkthrough of a really good Infocom text adventure game. #
  • Columnists whom the gods would destroy, they first make cover a 2day keynote that splits across a print deadline. Thanks Google! #
  • Watching the Google keynote. G is so worked up on spanking Apple with this talk that they've stopped listening for the safeword. #
  • Onward to GoogleTV. Their slogan seems to be "We should switch to the other box," for all of the HW connectivity problems. #
  • ("We should switch to the other box" is actually a good slogan in general for a new alternative to TV. Would be nice if the demo worked.) #
  • They're now seriously asking 5000 people to turn off their cellphones to solve the connectivity problems. Google rly understands people. #
  • Lots of good stuff in this keynote; typing and listening and thinking instead of making snarky comments, sorry. :) #
  • (Google: this is the THIRD time you've asked 5000 people to turn off their phones. It makes you sound very, very silly.) #
  • Hey, cool…MacBreak is one of the dozen HD video podcasts that just happened to be featured on the demo page. #
  • (Oh, for God's sake: CUT THE MICS of the people who are debugging your preso hardware probs when someone else is talking!) #
  • Other than these (big and avoidable) tech problems, it's a very VERY solid preso…leaves everyone with lots to think about. #
  • This keynote has been both about practical platform advantages but JUST as much about market positioning and differentiation. #
  • Interesting: the Adobe Flash Player team talks in-depth about Flash 10.1 on Android » http://bit.ly/bahrLR #
  • At comix shop, I H-A-T-E-D the in-store music so much I nearly left before getting what I came for. (This was my intro to Phish) #
  • Just finished talking to Google about Google TV. Keynote piece will appear in Sun-Times tonight or early tomorrow. #
  • I envy the actors who got to play foppish Roman emperors in 60's epic films. It looks like that was a pretty fun gig. #
  • New on Suntimes.com: My take on Froyo, GoogleTV, Flash on mobile, and other stuff from the Google keynote » http://bit.ly/cuzFLQ #
  • ALERT: Leno Horne movies on TCM all night long! #
  • I'm no expert…but I think this is bad marketing. http://yfrog.com/4c1xtj #
  • Just bought my AA flight to San Francisco for WWDC. Now (oh dear) all we need is the announcement of an Apple keynote. #
  • New on Ihnatko.com: Gramma’s Old Capture Album » http://bit.ly/bCbJVt #
  • I like Mike Rowe. I think I'm a good person. So WHY do I laugh hysterically at the DJ where he gets bitten repeatedly by snakes? #
  • Just installed Froyo on my Nexus One. I'm not deep in yet but I like what I see so far. #
  • I updated my N1 to Froyo easy as pie with these instructions from Android Central » http://bit.ly/9TLZjR #
  • Friday's lunch: a lovely Boston bento. >> http://twitpic.com/1q9txv #

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-05-16

  • Back in NYC, heading to Penn Station. Taxi's progress blocked by Jennifer Hudson walking to make a point about some damn thing. #
  • Back home from MacMania 10. Final three additions to the Holsteins' Bermuda album are now on Flickr. » http://bit.ly/chH1yi #
  • Recording MacBreak Weekly. Watch and listen live at http://live.twit.tv/ #
  • It is your civic duty to occasionally be that person at the coffeeshop who stares out the window while listening to Johnny Cash. #
  • Zaftigs 10 Vegetable Soup: http://yfrog.com/0j41nj #
  • Zaftigs BBQ brisket sandwich with potato salad: http://yfrog.com/4c18250010j #
  • Zaftigs chocolate chocolate cupcake: http://yfrog.com/2o6q6lj #
  • I miss the early days of "Mythbusters," when testing a myth required them to completely piss off their neighbors at the shop. #
  • They're now big enough that they don't have to build a chicken cannon in their parking lot; they can use a "real" test facility. #
  • Quick nerd alert: MIT Flea Market this Sunday. Photos: http://bit.ly/d5ri7M Details: http://bit.ly/d5ri7M #
  • It would take a while to clearly diagram out why I find this product and its packaging so disturbing. http://yfrog.com/2m26457010j #

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-05-09

  • Ship is now moving! I suppose I ought to Tweet before we leave AT&T's network and enter open waters of ostentatious lawlessness. #
  • Greetings from the MacMania 10 cruise. http://bit.ly/dclncF #
  • In Hamilton. This is not a Bermuda Apple Store…it's just an incredible simulation: http://yfrog.com/83bgdfj #
  • LazyTweet: In Bermuda, what day is New Comics Day? And is there a good shop for comics? #
  • Answers, which I found here in Bermuda: The Comic Stop on 69 Front Street in Hamilton. Last week's comix arrive on Tues. Very nice place! #
  • Two new photos on Flickr: the Holsteins at Elbow Beach in Bermuda. » http://bit.ly/chH1yi #
  • Today I did one of those things that Humankind does to tell God "You're not the boss of me!!!": I took my first SCUBA dive. Fab! #

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-05-02

  • I'll be damned…the iPad works with USB microphones! http://post.ly/daZu #
  • Dammit. Posterous screwed up the upload. And this was supposed to be the EASY way for me to post my iPad audio demo! #
  • New on Ihnatko.com: Yes, the iPad Camera Kit works with other USB devices! The (now working) audio proof: http://bit.ly/azS1WN #
  • Recording MacBreak Weekly. Watch and listen live: http://live.twit.tv/ #
  • I now have a tracking number for the iPad 3G I ordered in March. Very keen on testing the GPS. Follow-up review in the Sun-Times next week. #
  • Yesterday's AM appearance with @jbruin on NBC in San Diego, talking about Le Scandale: http://4sq.com/72Rr9F #
  • 45-minute interview with @danbenjamin, talking about Stuff In General. Thanks for the invite, Dan! http://5by5.tv/pipeline/13 #
  • As Brother Cadfael used to say, "I may have come late to the Order, but when I was called, I came…" #
  • In case you missed it: Jobs lays out Apple's pos. on Flash. "Mwah-ha-HA!" notably absent from discussion » http://bit.ly/a9a8jn #
  • iPad 3G in the house! Also, a tip for my Targus travel charger that works with my MiFi. But even this is edged out by the iPad. #
  • Setting up my new iPad 3G. First answer: yes, "Find My iPad" is a feature of MobileMe. #

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-04-25

  • At the MIT Flea. A good day to pick up an Atari VCS…I've seen 4 so far (including 1 in the original box). #
  • Among the highlights of the MIT Flea so far: clean & fully loaded Apple ][+ system, & chassis for a communications satellite. #
  • Email from the Apple Store this AM, more or less assuring me that it hasn't forgotten its promise to ship the iPad 3G in April. #
  • This morning, Bostonians looked out the window and thought "What terrific weather for running! I think I'll watch some on tv." #
  • New on Ihnatko.com: The Lost iPhone 4G gets more plausible. Plus, W.W.AI.D? » http://bit.ly/cfpp4J #
  • Quick clarification in response to Tweet replies: I'm not "calling out" Gizmodo. I just think there's a gap in their coverage. #
  • New on my Flickr stream: photos from yesterday's MIT Flea Market » http://bit.ly/adNeS7 #
  • Shuttle will be landing at about 9:08 AM Eastern time. Watch live on NASA TV » http://bit.ly/aEaUXo #
  • Just filed a ST story about the GizPhone thing. Managed to speak to a lot of people yesterday. Will Tweet the link when it's up. #
  • Getting set up for MacBreak Weekly. Watch and listen live at http://live.twit.tv/. #
  • New on Suntimes.com: My followup on the iPhone 4 story. Interviews & new info leave me with ?s about Giz » http://bit.ly/bG3C7J #
  • Stop the clock: after 7 months, 27 days, 15 hours, and 27 minutes, the last Mac in my office has been updated to Snow Leopard. #
  • About to speak with Dan Benjamin and Gruber on http://live.5by5.tv/ – listen in. Last day of comments on the iPhone kerfuffle. #
  • Podcast with @danbenjamin and @gruber is now online » http://5by5.tv/conversation/12 #
  • Watching #TCM one of my favorite "unknown" musical numbers: Nancy Walker with Tommy Dorsey and an all-milkman orchestra. #
  • The song in question: "Milkman, Keep Those Bottles Quiet" from 1944's "Broadway Rhythm" (via Amazon MP3) » http://amzn.to/ciw15i #
  • "If we issue takedown notices, it'll end this problem forever. And there's no way it'll backfire on us." http://bit.ly/9mL7W6 #
  • Incredible! iPhone hacked to DUAL BOOT Android!!! Buy that man an Outback Steak House gift card! » http://bit.ly/aDmciz #
  • Video from the MIT Flea: A working (and LOUD) Cold War cipher machine, used by the lousy filthy Commies » http://bit.ly/9n9SFx #
  • Mechanics are like surgeons. When they take a seat next to you in the waiting room and lean close, you know it isn't going well. #
  • Hmm…the local feed cut away from Letterman at the start of Altman's Nixon story, returning hours later for the start of Hanson's number. #

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-04-18

  • I had a swell dinner with @jimlee00 and his family last night. Words (and sketch!) on Ihnatko.com » http://bit.ly/96dOTZ #
  • I got ejected from the Boston Comicon. I guess my "convention center security guard cosplay" concept was way over their heads. #
  • (Joking about the "security guard" comicon costume. But I bet people have tried that…a very meta concept!) #
  • Conan goes to TBS! A smart, 21st-century move that proves that broadcast networks' TV dominance is over. http://bit.ly/bzlReF #
  • The Opera Mini browser has been approved by Apple! Will appear in App Store within 24 hours. » http://bit.ly/bxP4Ji #
  • Getting ready to record MacBreak Weekly. Watch and listen live at http://live.twit.tv/ #
  • Holy cow. If this weeks MacBreak had gone on longer, I would have needed astronaut diapers. #
  • EMERGENCY ALERT for men and women who are into women: TCM is at this moment airing the HOTTEST moment in film, ever. #
  • (It is Cyd Charisse's number from "Deep In My Heart." Sexier than this, there isn't.) #
  • Video (without audio) is on YouTube. I think after this, Ms. Charisse's middle name was "Oh, my God." » http://bit.ly/art447 #
  • At the Red Cross. About to do my first platelet donation relying on the iPad for distraction & entertainment. #
  • Apheresis needle is in. I am now using an iPad while bleeding. Is this an Apple first? #
  • Playing with my iPad while donating platelets at the Red Cross. As always, its smooth and painless. http://yfrog.com/0fbq5zj #
  • Apheresis machine making various Super Mario-like "level up" noises…meaning donation is complete. #
  • Quick reminder: Sunday is the first MIT Flea Market of the year! Photos » http://bit.ly/aMRcRP Details » http://bit.ly/aMRcRP #
  • A significant data point: a moment ago, I wanted to double-tap on a block of text in my desktop browser to zoom it. #
  • At last! The unhealthiest kiosk in the mall food court is now the worst cereal in the breakfast aisle! http://yfrog.com/2tn03wj #
  • "Kellogg's Cinnabon cereal: It's Like A Tea Party Protest For Your Pancreas." #
  • Reminder to New England geeks: 1st MIT Flea Market of year is TOMORROW at 9 AM. Pix and info: http://bit.ly/c3vpTV #
  • My thoughts on Engadget's miraculous mysterious iPhone 4G photos (Summary: I don't buy it.) » http://bit.ly/9tDo4p #

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-04-11

  • "Godspell" is only watchable if you pretend it's post-apocalyptic NYC & the holocaust drove these last few survivors to madness. #
  • (On the plus side it's cool to see early 70's NYC shot in its grubby beauty. Like "Taking Of Pelham 123" or "Taxi Driver".) #
  • Alert: "Easter Parade" starts on #TCM in five minutes. Astaire and Garland…starts with one of my fave Astaire numbers ever. #
  • Matias' iRizer laptop stand is proving to be one of my favorite iPad accessories. http://yfrog.com/ht42689165j #
  • Good news: got my first full night's sleep in about a week, now that iPad coverage is done. Bad: Overslept for my 7:39AM flight #
  • Final bit of comedy before leaving: housesitter sees me grab iPad from table, says "Nuts! I was hoping you weren't taking that." #
  • I have the ipad on my tray table. Very comfy. This might be the first flight in coach in which i can actually write! #
  • Watched tonight's "Amazing Race" while in the air. JetBlue is the iPad of airlines. #thatsgottabegoodforafreeroundtrip #
  • So what was the first thing YOU tried with YOUR new iPad? Here's @jimlee00's: http://twitpic.com/1dc5v0 #
  • Ooooooooo…and here's a @jimlee00 Catwoman from his iPad. http://bit.ly/dsjoKi #
  • New on Ihnatko.com: Apple unveils iPhone OS 4.0 this week? What does this mean for iPad? >> http://bit.ly/bM5oUT #
  • Here's a list of all of my public panels this week at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Do drop by. >> http://bit.ly/aDknJI #
  • Currently finalizing notes for my talk about Twitter. Decided that I'm going to give tips and tricks for 10 minutes. #
  • CoWA: "Tweeting the Conference" http://post.ly/Y3pA #
  • Disregard that last tweet…it was supposed to include audio. #
  • On a panel about the death of the middle class. I am wisely choosing to let the Financial Times columnist do the talking. #
  • New on Ihnatko.com: CoWA Day 1: Jennifer Connelly’s Breasts » http://bit.ly/aPBHpQ #cwa2010 #
  • Getting ready to do MacBreak Weekly…via MiFi in Boulder! Watch live at http://live.twit.tv/ #
  • Waiting for the jazz concert to start. I've way too much work to do & shouldn't be here. But it's always a star lineup. #cwa2010 #
  • Snow! I wanna play in the yard and make Geek Angels but I have to speak on *3* panels today. #cwa2010 http://yfrog.com/6rw3xj #
  • "Supergeeks changing the world" panel went v.well. I spoke about Crazy Tech Billionaire projects. Loved other speakers' talks. #cwa2010 #
  • Quick note: I'll be speaking at the Colorado Mac User Group Thurs. night. Meeting is open! Details here: http://www.comug.com/ #
  • Next up at 1pm: "Intuition, Technology and Communication" with @ebertchicago and @edyson. VERY excited about this one. #cwa2010 #
  • My next panel (w/ @ebertchicago) is in The Big Room Wot Streams Live. Watch or listen at 1pm Mountain Time: http://bit.ly/arSUx2 #
  • Just enjoyed a very tranquil 90 minutes with my iPad playing my "Peaceful" playlist, filling the room with its built-in speaker. #
  • New on my Flickr: The Holsteins in Boulder. » http://bit.ly/9yN0BZ #
  • Having an iPad and a MiFi at a party means not letting it drop when someone says "No, I haven't seen the 'Trololo Guy' video" #
  • Home after a 1AM redeye from Denver. Brain still urging me to hurry to my 9:30 #cwa2010 panel about somethingorother. #
  • Sitting in Panera, watching people stroll by. It's a shame they don't know how great they all look in this early-evening light. #
  • Okay. The WordPress app for the iPad app is officially a piece of total s***. Do not use it. It's lost this draft twice now. #
  • If this were a romcom, right now Adobe and Apple would be stranded somewhere funny, start fighting again, & suddenly make love. #

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-04-04

  • Sitting in the back at @stepto's Xbox Enforcement panel at #PAX Keeping eyes peeled for @majornelson. #
  • Good meeting with my publisher thus morning. My iPad book finally has a title. Stay tuned! #
  • At most of the tech shows I cover, the audience at a feature preso are all uplit by their laptops. At #PAX it's 1000 DS's. #
  • This iPad book will be a soup-to-nuts guide. IPad Fully Loaded (shipping much later) will be a great companion to this one. #
  • A guy two rows down at the #PAX q&a is playing two stacked DS's simultaneously, like Jimmy Page on a double-necked guitar. #
  • I've been to hella lots tech shows and hella lotsa comix/pop culture shows. I tell you: #PAX is an _exceptionally_ well-run show #
  • A geeky show at the Hynes is always a pleasant bit of nostalgia. My dad brought me here for my 1st comp. show when I was 9ish. #
  • There aren't many places where you can see a guy dressed as Super Mario sing James Brown's "Sex Machine." #PAX is one of them. #
  • Just chatted with @majornelson for a half an hour. Extremely cool dude…I kept checking his shirt for an Apple logo. :) #
  • Blimey…just realized that a few days ago was my third anniversary as a Twitter user. That long? This must be obsolete tech! #
  • Will everybody PLEASE stop phoning the radio station in my head and requesting Rush's "Tom Sawyer"? It's getting annoying. #
  • …Honestly, people. It was the 103rd caller that was going to get the Coldplay tickets and I promise you they're LONG gone. #
  • I'm just a little bit bothered by how many of my Flickr photos are tagged "Breakfast." » http://bit.ly/di0isM #
  • Some people have so little joy in their lives that they have to try and rob you of yours. When they do, react with compassion. #
  • Boaters: consider The Lake That's Appeared At The Bottom Of Andy's Street for your next water recreation vacation destination. #
  • Uncanny! Minutes after we finish recording MacBreak, Apple releases iTunes 9.1! #
  • Dear PR person for $50 iPod speaker: Boy, did you pick a bad week to email a release entitled "Hottest new gadget of 2010" #
  • Yes, I am a very simple man: I am happy to learn that I now have a ride to the comic book store while I'm in Boulder next week. #
  • BZZZZT! iPad embargo is finally over! Yes, I've had an iPad for about a week now. Unboxing video coming very shortly. #
  • I'll also be on TWiT live in about an hour to talk about the iPad and show it off. Links to 90% of my Sun-Times coverage coming soon. #
  • Tune in to live.twit.tv at around 10 PM…I'll be on live with my iPad. #
  • 10 PM Eastern Time at http://live.twit.tv/. Will tweet when links to my Suntimes.com pieces are live. #
  • My 1st of 5 iPad hands-on pieces is on Suntimes.com! "Notebook, Netbook, iPad: Yes, It's A Real Computer" http://bit.ly/dvjps7 #
  • My iPad unboxing video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xrqKVKhNNx4 #
  • Try that YouTube link again. My #iPad unboxing vid should now be publicly viewable… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xrqKVKhNNx4 #
  • On my way to NYC for iPad-related hijinx. With Amtrak flooded, I had to drive 90 minutes to board in New Haven! But it'll be worth it. #
  • ipad book page on an outdoor train platform: perfectly readable. http://yfrog.com/51bdjj #
  • Glare is a bigger problem than ambient light. But the screen is bright enough that it doesn't get in the way of reading. #
  • Friends, I've ridden trains without an iPad, and now I've ridden one With. I tell you: "with" is better. :) #
  • Off to check out the scene at the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue. #
  • Whew! There are 2 satellite trucks and a ropeline set up at the 5th Ave Apple store…but nobody foolish enough to camp out yet. #
  • I spent the morning at the @fastcompany office, helping them answer reader questions about the iPad. Watch: http://bit.ly/aV159O #
  • Be sure to watch Letterman tonight: Dave's got an iPad-themed Top 10 list. http://bit.ly/chsuQt #
  • My main, detailed (6700 words!) iPad review is now in the hands of my editor. Pray for him, my friends… (will Tweet when it's online) #
  • I'll be online LIVE with @gruber, @jsnell & others on @ClaytonMorris' Strategy Room. 3ET – http://www.foxnews.com/strategyroom #
  • Living La iPad Vida Loca: just bought my Amtrak ticket home using the iPad, waiting in the visitor lobby at Fox. #
  • The Main Event: my in-depth hands-on iPad review is now up on SunTimes.com. Allll 6700 words of it! http://bit.ly/c9Q5oR #
  • Lunch with @christophergurr at Ben Ash. The only way to eat at a New York deli and not die later is to share everything. #
  • As on Thursday, I am riding Amtrak and using my pre-release iPad. As on Thursday, nobody cares. :) http://yfrog.com/2hwv3j #
  • Cool, we already have multiple Twitter clients for iPad. Trying TweetDeck…first time this app's concept actually appeals to me! #
  • Who else worries that tomorrow morning, 250,000 copies of the iPad App Store app will cry out at once, and then fall silent? #
  • Almost done setting up my iPad. I've had it for a 10 days but (for TV and demo purposes) I never put any of my own stuff on it! #
  • iPad Home Delivery Day. I have never seen so many of my iChat buddies available at 7:30 AM on a Saturday before in my life. :) #
  • RRGH. If I hear a TV person say "iPad doesn't multitask" again, I'll throw an egg. Yes, it _does._ #
  • New on Ihnatko.com: a few comments on the iPad's multitasking, and Feature Porn. » http://bit.ly/9TdHNj #
  • A new Bravo show about parents with 9 kids who remodel homes? Uh-oh…lame basic-cable programming is starting to crossbreed… #

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