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Tips from Pinnacle Security

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Thursday, September 24, 2009
Here's a press release issued last night by Pinnacle Security. And these are not tips on how to sell security systems, ala the You Tube video. This is a consumer press release--the kind many big security companies release from time to time about how homeowners can best protect their homes. I thought it was interesting because it's the first time I've seen Pinnacle put out a press release. I've had a dog of a time trying to get them to comment on anything. There's a press contact down at the bottom. I'm going to give this guy a call once offices open in Utah.

iOmniscient wades into analytics wars

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Thursday, September 24, 2009
One of the things I really appreciated about the Bosch tent this week at ASIS was that they didn't pull any punches. They held head-to-head competitions (of their own design, obviously, to maximize their strengths) and let people take a look. They went after Pelco particularly hard. I don't know why these kinds of performance tests aren't more common. I suppose we should be doing them, and I probably would if I even knew how to plug in an analog camera and make it work, or wire an access reader. I suppose I could learn, or contract other people to do it. Maybe I will. Regardless, the hollowness of manufacturer claims are hardly unique to security, nor are marketers to be faulted for seeing what they can get away with. Every day I come across another "leading manufacturer" of some piece of equipment. The security industry is kind of like Lake Wobegon: Everyone's a leader! I'm reminded of this today because of an email I got from iOmniscient, a company that just started sending me emails, but which I've gathered makes video analytics they think are pretty special. Here's the good part:
Last week Security World Magazine hosted the Secon conference in Seoul. With over 2500 attendees it is THE event on Automated Surveillance in Korea. For the second year in a row they invited Dr Rustom Kanga, CEO of iOmniscient to deliver a Keynote address – this time on “Selecting Software and Hardware for Video Analysis Systems”.
There is apparently some major interest in automated surveillance in Korea. Who knew? Also, why would you have the same keynote speaker two years in a row? Anyway, moving on:
An interesting observation on the event was that several speakers talked about the dissatisfaction that users felt about Video Analysis systems because of the number of false alarms they usually had to deal with. This is inevitable as other systems do not have an Artificial Intelligence based Nuisance Alarm Minimisation System (NAMS). All iOmniscient products above an IQ level of 65 are armed with NAMS. (Note: products with an IQ lower than 65 are rarely sold by iOmniscient. They are offered only in competitive tenders where the user does not understand the value of NAMS and wants the lowest price. These low end products always come with a warning that they do not include NAMS).
I mean: obviously! No else has NAMS! If only they did, all of their troubles would go away. I'm also impressed with the way that iOmniscient is willing to stoop below their normal IQ level to sell to those pesky end users concerned about price. Sorry. I'm being extra snarky this morning because I'm half-way through the red-eye home. I still haven't really gotten to the good part. My apologies. Here we go:
The importance of NAMS became evident in a recent trial in North America where we were in a competition against one of our very large US competitors. Over a week the customer put both systems through various tests. Both companies did equally well on the detections but there was one difference. Our competitor had 200 false alarms each night. We had zero. This wide difference in capabilities explains why there are so many “unhappy users” around the world among those who have used systems which do not have NAMS.
Ah-ha! A secret test, conducted by an unnamed end user, pitting iOmniscient against an unnamed competitor, in a completely unexplained environment! That totally explains why there are so many unhappy users out there. I'm utterly convinced. Seriously. What is the point of this? You know, recently, I gave my newspaper to 100 people at a major U.S. conference and asked them to read my paper and then read one of my major competitors. Then I asked them, "which one made you smarter?" Every one of them, it turns out, chose Security Systems News! In fact, many of the readers commented that the competitor's paper actually made them dumber. So that really explains why there are so many dumb people in the security industry: They're reading the wrong newspaper! But this kind of stuff isn't just limited to emails sent out by iOmniscient. Here's the text from the front page of their web site:
Our multi-award winning, patented Non Motion Detection is recognized as the world's only technology to accurately detect in crowded areas despite constant movement and obscuration; a feat that is not achievable with standard Video Motion Detection. This has resulted in a multitude of airports, railways, and roads and traffic organizations adopting iOmniscient's products worldwide.
Recognized by whom? What awards? Detect what? A multitude? Then why does the press release section of the web site mention exactly three customers since 2004? The big case study they're touting is a museum in Australia. I'm sure it's a national treasure, but doing people counting and loitering in a museum isn't that tough, and certainly isn't indicative any secret sauce. If you beat out some other guy, tell me which guy. If you were tested by a customer, tell me which customer, or at least tell me who the integrator was? If you don't have anything more than vague references to mythical stuff, just stop it.

Plugfest lovefest

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Why I went to the PSIA plugfest and not the ONVIF plugfest is a little unclear. I guess maybe it was because I knew when the PSIA plugfest was and was only sort of mildly aware of when the ONVIF plugfest was happening (it's true that I've called the "executive director" of ONVIF, based in San Ramon, Calif., at least three times and he's never called me back. That might have something to do with it). Anyway, if you're unfamiliar with the concept of the plugfest, or if it makes you feel a bit creepy, let me explain: Basically, people show up with their cameras, plug them into the NVR, and see if they work or not, based on the fact that everyone is writing to the same standard. In the case of the PSIA, they all worked, and it was pretty awesome. Truly, there was the feel that someone had just landed people on the moon or something. People were lining up for awkward photographs. Engineers with iffy social skills were drinking wine and wearing ill-fitting ties. People were clapping each other on the back. IBM's Frank Yeh, the sort of guy who puts his Second Life persona on his business card, was pronouncing: "We're witnessing history in the making here." And it felt like maybe he wasn't being bombastic. Here is a picture of what the plugfest looked like. plugfest11 Notice all the different cameras running into the NVR powered by Milestone. They're all connected via the same driver. You plug them in, they work. Pretty nice. "But everything works with Milestone," you say. Okay. Ever heard of Synectics? Me neither. But they showed up with an NVR, plugged in all the same cameras, and because they'd downloaded the specification and implemented it, when they plugged in all the same cameras, they all worked great. How do I know this is cool? I asked Ian Johnson, of IQinVision, and a PSIA active participant: "Who's Synectics?" Ian: "I have no idea." That's right, a random company downloaded the spec, implemented it, and then just showed up and made things work. Pretty cool. Johnson said the spec is already paying dividends. For the new 1080p camera IQ just released, IQ didn't have to call ahead to Milestone and make sure they had a driver ready for it. They just wrote to the spec and assumed it would work. And it did. Why do you, the integrator and installer, care? Well, because things are going to get cheaper and faster now. No longer is money going to be wasted on engineering to make sure one camera works with another piece of software, and that means that money can be lopped off the MSRP or it can be used to fuel new product innovation. Want to see what happy engineering guys look like? Here you go: plugfest2 It's very possible, and likely, the ONVIF plugfest was very similar. I just wasn't there.

Are you too old for security?

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Actually, it's partly the aging security legacy the sparked the creation, through the NBFAA... er... I mean ESA, of the Young Security Professionals group. I got a press release from ESA the other day detailing the heights of rip-roaring success enjoyed by the first YSP Executive Forum held in Aurora, Ill. The Forum dealt with some pretty big issues facing those young security professionals looking to take over the biz from their parents. Here's some 411 from the release:
The forum focused on effectively managing change, implementing and selling new products and controlling attrition. Thirty young professionals attended the session, a first of its kind. It also provided best practices sharing opportunities in a non-competitive environment, and networking opportunities.
Attendees looking to curb attrition at their businesses might want to also check out CSAA's recently announced free Webinar led by Bob Harris of Attrition Busters. Though the forum was focused on the youngins, the evening was helped along by some established security heavy-hitters.
Ed Bonifas of Alarm Detection Systems in Aurora hosted the event and provided a special kickoff dinner and barbecue lunch on the Alarm Detection Systems campus. Bonifas, Mel Mahler of ADS in Nashville, Tenn. and industry icon Bud Wolfhurst from Reno, Nev., served as mentors to the group and shared their years of expertise and knowledge on the topics at hand.
For more information on the YSP, go here. And tell Trevor I'm still waiting for that Sears Portrait Studio pic of him on a Jetski for use in our next issue.

ASIS day 2, in pictures

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009
I apologize in advance for the quality of the photos, but I think being able to show you some stuff via iPhone pics is better than not having anything at all, and there's just no way I'm carrying around a real digital camera with a decent lens all day, so this is what you get. First up, evidence that the show was better today, following on the dead aisle pic I posted yesterday. Of course, I could have just cherry-picked something from the front, but this is from the back in a similar kind of spot at a similar time of day: day2traffic Also, check out the attendance for OnSSI's demonstration. It never fails to put butts in seats, despite the fact they've basically had the same presentation for 2 years. Yes, the technology is different, but not so much so the casual observer would notice, and most of the guys that sit in these seats are casual types. The touch screen stuff is just cool. onssi The show was busy enough for me, that's for sure, but I managed to resist stopping at the massage area. I'm kind of creeped out by massages anyway, and I can't say the folks in this pic are in particularly flattering positions. (I'm a little vain. I admit it.) ge-massage Anyway, the way I relax on the show floor is to visit VideoNEXT. Their Macs immediately put me at ease. An interesting note is that Apple gives them all of this display stuff and the servers for free use whenever they ask for them to go to a trade show. They've got to give them back, but it's sure nice to have a pallet of free stuff waiting for you at the show when you get there. Look for VideoNEXT to have a big announcement of a government win that's all Mac based. Apple has a big government sales force that's under the radar, but likely pretty effective if it's anything like the rest of the company. Too bad no one at Apple is allowed to talk to the press. Ever. videonext One of the hottest new things in software is the "dashboard," an interface for end users that gives them real-time stats that are easily digested. Here's Pacom's version of it, which is very slick, but Ionit have a similar thing happening geared toward business intelligence for retailers. Look for this to be everywhere in 2010. End users need stats to justify their jobs now more than ever. It's not good enough to just say you're protecting people and the enterprise, you have to prove it. pacom And, yeah, there were a ton of parties last night. I was going to go to the Stanley party, which I'm sure was awesome, but I discovered it was in Laguna Beach and that's 45 minutes from here and I just felt like I was going to be trapped. In terms of seeing the most people in the least amount of time, I felt like I needed to be on foot and mobile, so I was able to hit Arecont, Bosch, Open Options, Verint, get denied by ADT (there's a long and funny story behind that, but it's probably not safe for the blog), and then hit the tail end of Tyco. I feel like that's more productive than smoking cigars on the beach in Laguna, but I can't say it was more fun. Kind of exhausting, really. Anyway, here's the Arecont crowd, which was very strong. It's amazing to think how far Arecont has come in just three years. They've gone from being the industry outsider to the company everybody loves for their imaging and cost. arecont And here's the Bosch tent that had quite a few vendors a little grumbly (maybe because they wish they thought of it?): boschtent And here's the inside of the tent. Bosch had all kinds of carnival games set up as head-to-head competitions with other vendors' products. In this pic, an end user inexplicably makes himself look silly (again, the vanity, right?) for the opportunity to win a Bosch drill. The deal is that Bosch's motion detector consistently picks up the guys trying to get through and the competition - GE Security and some others - doesn't. It convinced me, and I love the bravado of the tent as a whole. In side-by-sides, they sort of kicked Pelco's ass all over the place, and they weren't shy about it. I think these kinds of "skills competitions" are healthy for the industry. Bosch acknowledged though that it isn't just technology that's gotten Pelco where it is, it's customer service and the whole package, and Bosch knows its customer service can't hang. It's a balance, and Bosch feels technology is on their side and getting better on the other side. boschtent2 The PSIA plugfest was also awesome, and I've got some pics from that, but I'm going to put that in a separate post later today.

ASIS, thoughts on the exhibit floor

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009
It was encouraging to me that exhibition floor traffic seemed much heavier on day 2, which jibes with many theories out there that a lot of attendees flew in on Monday or reserved Monday for educational sessions before checking out the technology on the show floor. Some people theorized that people didn't want to miss football games on Sunday (if so, they should have flown Jet Blue!). Others theorized that people didn't want to travel during the Rosh Hashanah holiday, which ran from sunset, Sept. 18 through sunset, Sept. 20. But there was another theory out there: This is the beginning of the end for the ASIS show as a major exhibition unless some things change. Many exhibitors are starting to feel like they're nothing but the economic fuel for getting all of the end users together to do everything but check out their products. Many are resentful of the fact that there is virtually always some educational programming going on during show hours, and, unlike ISC West, that educational programming is necessary in order for the attendees to keep their accreditation, so it's not like they can just skip out on it. Why, they wonder, isn't there dedicated time for exhibits only? Why isn't there more activity by ASIS on the show floor? This is something ESX tried to address at the Baltimore show this year, with a lunch held on the show floor each day and the NBFAA and CSAA booths having very prominent spaces on the show floor so that members would be right in the center of things when they were doing organization business. The ASIS booth is so out of the way that I was surprised when I stumbled upon it and there was pretty much nothing going on there. Of course, it's a pretty easy argument that vendors don't want show management to be taking up prime real estate in the front of the hall, so I'm not sure I'm convinced the ESX model is the way to go, and that's a far smaller show, anyway, so it may be a poor comparison. Regardless, it's noticeable that Siemens doesn't have a booth, that Bosch is in a big tent in the parking lot rather than inside the show (one vendor's stock answer to the question, "have you seen the Bosch tent?": "We prefer to actually support the industry"), that there are a lot of "relaxation areas" and very wide aisles. Is that because of the economy? Is it because people are dissatisfied with ASIS management? It's really hard to say. I think the economy is a very large factor, and that people still continue to underestimate just how bad the economy is, but more than one vendor gave me a variation on the line, "ASIS is just going to blame the economy." Maybe they're just bitter, but if enough of them feel the same way, ASIS could find itself with an annual show that's great for education opportunities, but doesn't have quite the economic engine it probably needs to fund it.

Kwikset gets an A (from me)

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Kudos to Kwikset, a door lock manufacturer and division of Black & Decker, which yesterday put out a study about homeowners' behavior and attitudes toward home security. I liked this study before I even read it because I noticed that it includes information about methodology. Here is the paragraph I love to see when someone sends me a study:
1 Telephone survey conducted among a national probability sample of 1,001 adults living in private households in the continental United States by CARAVAN®. Survey was completed during the period July 23-26, 2009. Margin of error +/- 3%.
This is good! And it's important. It gives the study instant credibility. Think about this the next time you want to put out a study, OK? And about the company and the content of the study: Black & Decker entered the security market last spring offering a new line of door locks that can be integrated into a security system. Here's a story I wrote about that. Seems like a smart and logical move. Black & Decker debuted their products at ISC West. This study appears to be new angle to get folks at ASIS to notice the product. The study says that most homeowners say security is important to them, but they're not "controlling access" to their homes. Almost half are not re-keying or changing their locks when they move into a new house. They're lending out the keys they have (and that former owners still have.) They've also got entries with different keys. (Now I know from the methodology that those surveyed do not all live on the coast of Maine, but I have substantial anecdotal evidence that the findings of this report are true, at least in small town New England. Here are the findings of my survey of the editors of SSN: Dan has keys, but doesn't lock his doors. I have a key to my house--it was given to us by the former owner. And, I know exactly where it is--on the floor of my unlocked car with the rest of my keys. Then there's Sam--he says he doesn't even have a key to his house.) But I digress... here's the release:
Kwikset® Study Reveals American Homeowners Are Living with Compromised Home Security National Survey Finds that Nearly Half of All Homeowners Did Not Change or Re-key Locks at Move-In LAKE FOREST, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nearly half of all American homeowners fall short when it comes to maintaining the security of their home, according to the findings of an American Security Study1 (July 2009), conducted by Kwikset®, the leader in innovative residential door hardware. Released today, the study revealed that an alarming 47 percent of homeowners did not change or re-key the locks to their home when they first moved in, and nearly one-third have never changed their locks or had them re-keyed at any point since moving in. This is despite the fact that more than half of homeowners surveyed routinely loan house keys to non-residents, and previous homeowners often continue to carry old house keys. The inaugural Kwikset American Security Study also revealed that although residential security often is cited by Americans as a top priority, data suggests that people are not managing access control to their homes accordingly. Of the half of all homeowners that loan-out house keys, nearly 10 percent reportedly have loaned out their key more than 10 times. What’s more, with 60 percent of homeowners having multiple home entries with different keys for each, there already is an increased margin of error for maintaining access control. “Probably the most significant insight from our study is that American homeowners may not even be aware that their home security levels are compromised,” said Brent Flaharty, vice president of Marketing, Kwikset. “Given that the majority of respondents have never changed or re-keyed their locks, combined with the fact that they’re loaning out keys to non-residents, there is a very real possibility of keys falling into the wrong hands and even being copied unknowingly.” The Smart Solution to Improved Access Control – As Easy as 1-2-3 Kwikset developed its SmartKey® re-key technology to help combat the disturbing national trend in compromised home security. This groundbreaking new lock technology gives homeowners the ability to re-key their own locks in a matter of seconds without even having to remove the lock from the door. In three simple steps, homeowners can re-key multiple SmartKey locks to one Kwikset key, or replace a lost or loaned key with a new key, all while the lock remains in place. “SmartKey has been hugely popular with home builders and homeowners alike since its introduction in 2007, and we want even more Americans to understand how this highly secure and affordable technology is a smart and simple solution for their home security needs,” Flaharty said. “With Kwikset’s SmartKey, homeowners won’t have to worry about how many lost or loaned keys are lying around; they can simply re-key the lock to a new key for improved access control and peace of mind.” How It Works SmartKey’s patented side-locking bar technology is central to the lock’s ability to be quickly and easily re-keyed. By using the included SmartKey Learn Tool and the existing functioning key, homeowners can safely match or change out keys without special training or outside contractors. Providing superior security, SmartKey deadbolts eliminate the typical sheer line, pin and tumbler mechanisms in its design, removing the most vulnerable points in residential locks. High-quality stainless steel internal parts ensure smooth operation, increased strength and exceptional durability. SmartKey technology is currently available in all Kwikset Signature Series keyed entry products, including handlesets, levers, knobs and deadbolts, as well as the new SmartCode® touchpad electronic deadbolt. Kwikset products are available in a wide selection of the latest styles and finishes at major home improvement retailers nationwide. About Kwikset For more than 60 years, Kwikset, manufacturer of America’s most trusted name in security, has provided beauty, security and peace of mind for millions of families. For additional information on Kwikset products, visit www.kwikset.com, or call 1-800-327-LOCK. Black & Decker Hardware and Home Improvement (BDHHI) Group is a division of Black & Decker, a leading global manufacturer and marketer of power tools, power tool accessories and security hardware. Today, the BDHHI Group includes some of the most recognizable hardware and home improvement brands in the world including Kwikset®, Weiser®, Baldwin®, Price Pfister® and K2™ Commercial Hardware by Black & Decker. 1 Telephone survey conducted among a national probability sample of 1,001 adults living in private households in the continental United States by CARAVAN®. Survey was completed during the period July 23-26, 2009. Margin of error +/- 3%.

ASIS day 1 impressions

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009
The show is slow. There's really no two ways around that. But I was chatting with Siemens' Carey Boethel and he says, "So, the show's not as bad as I thought it was going to be." I guess everything comes down to expectations. When you go so far as to not even grab a booth and you're Siemens, I guess you think the show is basically going to implode. When the building remains standing, you're happy with the turnout. Personally, I thought scenes like the below were pretty commonplace. show-floor Notice how there's nobody in the aisles? That was pretty par for the course unless you were right in front of the doors. I think the Stanleys and Pelcos, situated with numbers that end in 01 were probably fairly happy with the turn-out, actually, but if you were in the back of hall you weren't talking to anybody but your neighbors. Perhaps that's just about always the case. My theory on the turnout is that the big corporations, those that can actually afford to have an internal security department and a professional heading it, were spooked in the first and second quarter and slashed all the budgets, especially the travel budgets. And I don't think I'm telling you anything you don't know when I say you don't get your travel budget back in the middle of the year. For ISC West, the integrators and installers maybe brought fewer people, but they had to show up. It's their business. For the end users, it's not their business. I'm sure shows focused on HR professionals or, God forbid, editorial talent where absolute ghost towns this year. But, as noted by a few people who are rocking Twitter at the show (follow me at www.twitter.com/sam_pfeifle, hint, hint), the amount of product releases and the activity by the manufacturers has been pretty strong. Sanyo's new HD camera line is pretty impressive. Ionit has a cool new partnership that brings very in-depth business intelligence to mass video surveillance. Genetec's new network appliance is easy and inexpensive. Pelco's Sarix stuff looks great. American Dynamics and Software House are streamlining operations. AMAG has new video offerings. Avigilon is playing nicely with others. Arecont has all kinds of new cameras, including a 10 megapixel number. Seriously, things are pretty busy and I don't think the lack of end user attendees is as bad as it will seem on Wednesday afternoon, when everybody's already gone home and the exhibitors are itching to pack up early. I'm slightly concerned my 2 p.m. panel discussion on Wednesday is going to be deserted. Hoping not. I'll have lots more press releases and such posted tonight, assuming the Stanley party isn't too intoxicating.

Where else can you get FREE info on increasing RMR and net profit?

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Monday, September 21, 2009
Just got my most recent issue of CSAA's Signals. Looks like they're offering a free webinar on on sales. I don't have a link, but here' the pitch:
Do you want to increase, not only your RMR, but also your net profit? We want to invite you to attend the first-ever CSAA Webinar. Participate with your whole sales team in this free webinar offered by CSAA on Thursday, October 8 at 1:30 p.m. ET - 3:00 p.m. ET.
Hey, free is good, right, especially in this floundering economy of ours. And the topic is certainly appealing. Bob Harris has been around the biz helping others battle attrition for nearly 30 years. You could do worse than sitting in on a free session led by this guy. Here's a little more of the pitch from CSAA:
The webinar, conducted by Bob Harris, president of Attrition Busters, will provide you with ways in which your company can stand out from the rest. It is very easy to participate. All that is needed is a computer and a phone or audio-enabled computer. There is no limit on how many people can participate from you company.
Education is important in maintaining a competition-beating edge, and free education can't be beat. Call in details from CSAA will follow shortly.

Are you an alarm company in VT or PA?

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Monday, September 21, 2009
ESA, which until recently was the NBFAA, is holding legislative meetings in your state next month. It's your chance to weigh in on statewide licensing and other legislative initiatives in your states. Details are below:
Electronic security and life safety professionals are invited to attend these free events, sponsored by GE Security and Honeywell, respectively. The first event will be held on October 6 in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Burglar & Fire Alarm Association’s (PBFAA) quarterly board meeting. Attendees will hear State Representative Brendan Boyle talk about the PBFAA-sponsored statewide licensing bill (HB 1544) and other important topics. The event will take place at the Holiday Inn Harrisburg East, located at 4757 Lindle Road in Harrisburg, Pa., in the Harrisburg Suite from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. A free lunch will be served courtesy of GE Security. The second event will be held on the morning of October 13 and is being coordinated with the Vermont Alarm & Signal Association. Industry professionals are invited to enjoy a free breakfast courtesy of Honeywell and hear a focused discussion on the introduction of industry licensing legislation in Vermont. This event will be held at the Capitol Plaza Hotel, located at 100 State St. in Montpelier, Vt., in the Ethan Allen Room from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Those wishing to attend the events should RSVP to NBFAA Events Manager Michelle Whitaker at (888) 447-1689 or michellew@alarm.org. RSVPs are needed by October 1 to attend the legislative lunch in Pennsylvania and by October 7 to attend the breakfast in Vermont.

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