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Messages - IainB [ switch to compact view ]

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1
Just thinking a bit more about this: Regardless of how the text is put into the image (e.g., whether using ScreenshotCaptor edits, or ZoomIT, or StickyNotes, etc.), there is one image file format that would ensure that that text data becomes persistent, portable and searchable - .TIFF
Refer:

For years, whenever I migrated to a new laptop, one of the first things I did was to ensure that iFilters were installed for OCR (Optical Character Reading) of .TIFF image files, so that WDS (Windows Desktop Search) could then be enabled to search for text content in those .TIFF image files.

However, in Windows 10, these iFilters now seem to be included by default - hurrah! Goodness knows why it's taken Microsoft this long to get around to doing that. If you look at the WDS settings (Advanced - File Types) you will see they are already set thus:
17_433x535_77627061.png

So, there's yet another approach - and a standards-based one at that - to saving/accessing images containing text.

2
@nkormanik:
 Where you write:
What might be the best way of typing a note on the screen before taking a screenshot with Screenshot Captor?
Sometimes I'd like to 'annotate' what and why I'm taking the screenshot.  Would be super to have a small movable note to that effect.  I'd prefer a white rectangular background.  Minimalist.  Editable.  Adjustable-sized font.  Closely cropped to the text.
I think the answer depends on your requirements. For example, I have a similar requirement - I very often want to annotate captured images. For me, those notes are important and useful as they become data or metadata for that image, so I need to have them searchable and copyable.

I tend to do this in one of three ways, depending on how I intend to use the image and the metadata:
  • (a) USE CHS + SC: (Favourite #1 way.) Using SC (ScreenshotCaptor), capture the screenshot/clip image into my CHS (Clipboard Help & Spell) database, and add a note about the circumstances/context of capture to the text tab for that image. CHS is great for this as it enables managing and real fast searching of any text attached to my library of captured images. Good for when you want to keep those details noted and searchable, but don't necessarily need/want the notes themselves to be displayed in the actual image.

  • (b) USE CHS + SC: (Favourite #2 way.) Using SC (ScreenshotCaptor), capture the screenshot/clip image into my CHS (Clipboard Help & Spell) database, and then EDIT the image using SC and add a caption or add/embed a text note object into the image itself - in the same way as @mouser suggests. When I do this, I also copy the text of that note and paste it to the text tab for that image in CHS. Again CHS is great for this as it enables managing and real fast searching of any text attached to my library of captured images. Good for when you want to keep those details noted and searchable - they wouldn't be searchable if you didn't copy/paste the text into the CHS text tab that you had put into the image.

  • (c) Use MS OneNote: (Favourite #1 way for more complex annotation.) Capture and annotate using OneNote, SC and CHS in combination - for example, as in this post: For research, don't take notes, just use clip-to-OneNote
    The method for using OneNote like this when making a complex image+text posting to DCF is described here:
    ...My organisation and use of Notebooks is pretty minimalistic, so I am not into beautifully designed pages such as that digital DM Notebook seems to be.
    After a period of experimentation, I learned to organise my notes using macros and templates as much as possible, and create notes usually using indented numbered or bulleted (collapsible) sections and subsections. As discussed in an earlier post, I also use table cells quite often as "containers" for text and images, since their boundaries are more "sticky" than the main containers on a Notebook page. Containers and images can be dragged and resized.
    You can create and assemble/arrange several containers in a page, and overlay them and add drawings/shapes. They "float" as objects in layers over the page, but they do not retain any attachment or fixed relationship to each other, so that if you change one container, the page layout starts to get messed up. I think that's a limitation.
    I work around it by taking a screenshot (OneNote clip) which gives you a single image of the assembled containers/objects - which latter can then be deleted and replaced by the single image in the clip. Any embedded text in that image is automatically OCR'd and becomes searchable and copyable, so nothing gets "lost".

    If you select and copy a selection of formatted text and images, and paste the contents of the clipboard into (say) irfanview, the whole thing - formatted text and images - pastes as a single image. I sometimes post those single images to a DCF post as my notes. This can save a lot of time - no more messing about with the kludgy BB formatting codes in the DC Forum post editor - I just post the image (sometimes with the same clipboard contents posted as the actual, but unformatted plain text in a spoiler, so people can grab that text if/when they need it - e.g., for hyperlinks).
    Hope that all makes sense.

3
I suspect this mousepad (or maybe it's the mouse?) can't be fixed easily.
There's a similar problem I've noticed in some 15 year-old (or so) European cars like BMW or VW - which have always tended to use a lot of synthetic plastics (as opposed to say, ordinary rubber) on the outer coating of some rubber/plastic-coated controls/knobs in the passenger compartment. What seems to happen with them is that the outer coating (goodness knows what it is made of) of the control/knob starts to chemically break down. First it becomes slightly tacky to the touch, and then it becomes progressively more tacky to the point where some of the surface material sticks to your skin when you touch it, and it sort of spreads around. It can be removed from the fingers with white spirit, but if you try white spirit on the actual knob/control, then it seems to make the problem even worse for a while until the white spirit has evaporated and the whole substrate melts a bit and becomes gooey.
I've tried all sorts - e.g., including plastic/vinyl cleaner (is usually silicone-based), soap and water, hydrogen peroxide, salt solution, sodium bicarbonate (the main ingredient of baking soda) solution, white spirit, methylated spirit, isopropyl alcohol, gasoline (petroleum) - and they variously have either no effect or make matters worse. I have not yet found anything that sets the tacky surface hard(er)/less tacky.
The only solution so far is thus to replace the part, or (say) apply talcum powder to the the surface of the part. Yes, the latter is a kludge, but it reduces the tackiness and could be a useful temporary workaround - works on babies' bottoms too!  :Thmbsup:

Actually, thinking of babies' bottoms, I haven't tried paraffin oil on these knobs/controls, but that might make the surface smoother/slicker. On the other hand, paraffin (kerosine) is a petroleum product, so it might make it tackier. Either way, paraffinum liquidum (paraffin oil) is non-toxic/harmless (non-allergenic) - it's a tried-and-tested main ingredient in baby oil and is safe for use on babies bottoms (e.g., where there may be nappy rash) and is apparently a main ingredient in many commercially available skin cremes/oils and vaginal/anal lubricants also (it doesn't harm sensitive mucous membranes).
I hasten to add that my only experience with its use is as a generic baby oil and in the form of a herbal skin oil recommended by a doctor, and which bears the brand name Bio Oil:
Bio Oil: Looks like the base is liquid paraffin, which has been safely used for donkey's years.
Manufacturer is Union Swiss (Pty) Ltd. (South Africa).
Contents of Bio Oil:
* Paraffinum Liquidum,
* Triisononanoin,
* Cetearyl Ethylhexanoate,
* Isopropyl Myristate,
* Retinyl Palmitate,
* Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil,
* Tocopheryl Acetate,
* Anthemis Nobilis Flower Oil,
* Lavandula Angustifolia Oil,
* Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaf Oil,
* Calendula Officinalis Extract,
* Glycine Soja Oil,
* BHT,
* Bisabolol, Parfum,
* Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone,
* Amyl Cinnamal,
* Benzyl Salicylate,
* Citronellol, Coumarin,
* Eugenol,
* Farnesol,
* Geraniol,
* Hydroxycitronellal,
* Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde,
* Limonene,
* Linalool,
* CI 26100
_________
Per: https://www.ocado.co...duct/BioOil/69172011
_________
See also: https://en.m.wikiped...iquid_paraffin_(drug)

4
Worth listening to the podcast and watching the video:   :Thmbsup:
RadioLab - Bit Flip
(Copied below sans embedded hyperlinks/images.)
May 9, 2019
Back in 2003, Belgium was holding a national election. One of their first where the votes would be cast and counted on computers. Thousands of hours of preparation went into making it unhackable. And when the day of the vote came, everything seemed to have gone well. That was, until a cosmic chain of events caused a single bit to flip and called the outcome into question.

Today on Radiolab, we travel from a voting booth in Brussels to the driver's seat of a runaway car in the Carolinas, exploring the massive effects tiny bits of stardust can have on us unwitting humans.

This episode was reported and produced by Simon Adler and Annie McEwen.
Podcast: Listen at the link above or download MP3 file here.

Video: Quite a well-made video.
(The audio track in the video is all/mostly quite good music and worth downloading in its own right, IMHO.   :Thmbsup:  )


5
@Mouser:
Iain can you point me to the thread about that so I can refresh my memory?

Sure, here you go:

@mouser: Nope, the gotcha is still there after boot-up has completed with R:\Temp running OK.
As soon as CHS is restarted after setting the CHS Tweaks to Force to system Temp directory, the error:
   Error DBG103: DBISAM Engine Error # 11013 Access denied to table or backup file '124120'
 - pops up and and CHS is without any settings.
Whilst CHS is still thus active, I go into CHS to change the Tweaks, and this error pops up again:
   Error DBG103: DBISAM Engine Error # 11013 Access denied to table or backup file '124120'

I then set CHS Tweaks back to Let database engine decide and then terminate CHS and restart it. CHS then seems to start up just fine, with all settings correct as previously.
This seems to be consistently repeatable.

However, CHS is definitely "allergic" to the ImDisk RAMdisk under this current version of Win10-64 Home, whereas it was perfectly OK using that RAMdisk under Win10-64 Pro.
I presume that the likely cause could be some vestigial Registry entry in this Home version which remains even after fast startup has been disabled. I shall try to research that as I'd like to know.
It might be worth identifying exactly what CHS looks at when the user sets CHS Tweaks to Force to system Temp directory, as a good starting-point, because that's when the error is triggered - e.g., whether it checks the Registry for anything at that point.

As far as any other apps being similarly afflicted by this mysterious error, so far there's still been no sign. Pretty much everything that has to use system Temp will need to be happily using that ImDisk RAMdisk. Apart from CHS, everything else seems stable with it, so far.    :o

That's very odd.. I wonder if maybe CHS is getting the wrong directory information somehow and trying to write somewhere it shouldn't.
Maybe I can have it report where it really is trying to write.
AND at the lease I can have it try to give a better error about the likely source of trouble so people less rigorous than you have a chance at fixing the problem. 

^^ Yes, those could be useful ideas. Thanks.

By the way, I just had an installer automatically run itself from the RAMdisk Temp and it kept failing, but it ran OK from a directory on C: drive.
I recall this problem (installers failing when run from R:\Temp) being a problem sometimes, with some installers, so it's probably nothing new. I never could figure out the cause of that.

I just realised that CHS writes the file CHSDatabaseLockFile.lck to the ImDisk RAMdisk (R:\TEMP) without any apparent problem, so it's not totally "allergic" to the R:\TEMP directory.
Don't know if that helps any, but I thought I should mention it anyway.


6
@4wd: Hey, nice campsite shot there Bruce!    :Thmbsup:

I'm a minimalist - similar to @tsaint - except that I tend to keep the gear down to the bare essentials and probably would never bother even trying a swag unless I was in the Oz environment, let alone the Amok hammock (though it looks very interesting).

7
That's odd. I wonder why they discriminate against overseas warehousing addresses? Maybe its something to do with not wanting the hassle of being de facto obligatory tax-gatherers for overseas governments?    :tellme:
I have access to an overseas warehousing address, but have not used it so far because the per item cost is too costly in my view - i.e., unless you buy a lot of items for shipping in one hit.

Maybe the online service you contacted doesn't deliver to non-US residential addresses, however other suppliers on Amazon seem to. For example, I did a search for "Amok Draumr hammock" and came up with hits that would deliver to my geographic location (Australasia) - e.g., Amok Draumr 3.0 Flat Lay Camping Hammock with Tarp, Bug net and Suspension kit. - but admittedly that one was "not in stock". Looks like a nice hammock, by the way!  :up:
As an aside: What model of this brand of hammock are you looking for? There seem to be several.

When I have had difficulty getting stuff shipped to my location from Amazon US, I find it is usually available from Amazon UK - even for books (though prices may differ) - so you could try setting up an Amazon UK account. They seem to be not so insular and ship pretty much anywhere where there is a relatively stable postal delivery service available.

8
Bit of interesting history of OneNote here. I saved the webpages to .mhtml files:
2004-01-30 OneNote genesis – Chris Pratley's Office Labs and OneNote Blog.mhtml
https://web.archive.org/web/20170327080319/https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/chris_pratley/2004/01/30/onenote-genesis/

2006-07-12 Microsoft OneNote 2003 « Later On.mhtml
https://web.archive.org/web/20111207225115/http://leisureguy.wordpress.com/2006/07/12/microsoft-onenote-2003/

9
Just as a basis for making some comparisons, this is a useful Wikipedia reference: Comparison of notetaking software

It's not an exhaustive list by any means, but it is worth a look.

10
@mouser:
I have installed CHS v2.45.1. Beta (from the .ZIP file, per link above).
Seems to work just fine for me, though I haven't tested it for the issue that @chashnniel raises.

Have you incorporated a fix for the RAM-drive "allergy" that CHS seems to have (per separate discussion)? I'd like to force it to use TEMP in RAM drive again.
Thanks.

11
Has anyone used Android Parallel Space?
I'm a bit new to Android. When I stumbled upon Parallel Space I though it looked like it could be pretty handy, however the feedback on it in Google Play store doesn't seem terribly useful. Maybe it was one of those "It was good in its time" apps?

12
General Software Discussion / Re: Mozilla shoots itself in foot
« on: May 05, 2019, 10:57 PM »
...Farewell, Mozilla. This was one middle finger too much for me.

That echoes my sentiments too, except my patience with Mozilla wore out quite a long time back.
Judging by its results, they seem to have a bunch of monkeys running that outfit now.

13
Clipboard Help+Spell / Re: Clipboard Help+Spell errors
« on: May 02, 2019, 05:24 AM »
I just realised that CHS writes the file CHSDatabaseLockFile.lck to the ImDisk RAMdisk (R:\TEMP) without any apparent problem, so it's not totally "allergic" to the R:\TEMP directory.
Don't know if that helps any, but I thought I should mention it anyway.

14
My mind can't abide a puzzle. It habitually seems to set itself in a sort of alert, problem-solving state, almost as though looking for something to occupy itself with. When it finds something interesting - which could vary from (say) figuring out the best way to clean a laundry utility-room, or fixing a car's wing mirror, or analysing a puzzling situation, program error, or maths puzzle - it becomes fascinated and won't let it go until satisfied that the area of interest has been understood sufficiently fully. Very often, it won't let me sleep. It's difficult sometimes to determine which part of me is the master and which the servant.

At school, I had a pretty useless maths teacher and so I used to teach myself maths, using books of past UK Cambridge GCE "O" Level exam papers, with worked examples of all the answers. I would study at night up till bedtime, and sometimes - with a particularly knotty problem - I would refuse to look at the worked answers and would go to bed with an unresolved math question still puzzling my mind, and I would tell my mind to solve it whilst I was asleep. Invariably, the answer would be clear in my mind on waking. I had read about this idea in a book on self-hypnosis, so I applied it, and it seemed to work.

Well, I had invested quite a bit of my cognitive surplus in the subject of this interesting post by @holt and it must have grabbed the attention of my subconscious, because, though I thought I had finished with the subject by contributing what I did above, for a couple of days I have had a niggling feeling - my subconscious sort of tugging at me - that I was missing something very relevant to this subject, that I actually already knew about, but had not put in the puzzle to explain it.
When I woke up this morning, it was there in my mind - I already knew about the type of legal, government-sanctioned corporatised, careless and indiscriminate killing of innocents that the Boeing case seemed to typify - the word "Aberfan".

I went to school in North Wales. An important aspect of the Welsh character is that they understand the need for education as a tried-and-tested way out of serfdom/poverty/dependence, and they take up teaching posts where they tend to remain fiercely nationalistic and teach that nationalistic sense (as propaganda - e.g., making Welsh compulsory) to children in school – and why shouldn’t they? It’s their country (or it was), after all, and they are heartily sick of the history of the English trampling all over them and oppressively milking them economically for all they are worth – e.g., in the coal and slate mining industries. – and with an utter disregard for the safety/lives of the Welsh (No, don't mention all those accidental pit deaths. Oh dear, what a pity, never mind.).

If there is any single event that indicated unequivocally that the English were unfit to rule Wales – either economically or otherwise – one that stands out would have to be the Aberfan disaster. (Refer Wikipedia, and which I wrote about in
Re: Thermageddon? Postponed!
as an example of corporate psychopathy.)
This was a disaster waiting to happen – a manmade ticking timebomb building up in Aberfan. It was the catastrophic collapse of a colliery spoil tip in the Welsh village of Aberfan, near Merthyr Tydfil, on 21 October 1966, killing 116 children and 28 adults. It was caused by a build-up of water in a waste tip, the accumulated rock and shale, which suddenly started to slide downhill in the form of slurry.
The black humour at the time had it as: “What’s black and goes to school on Friday? A number 7 tip.”

This was an avoidable disaster: it had been predictable and was a predicted risk, yet the risk had been ignored in characteristically cavalier fashion by the English National Coal Board. The official inquiry blamed the National Coal Board for extreme negligence, and its Chairman, Lord Robens, for making misleading statements. Parliament soon passed new legislation about public safety in relation to mines and quarries. (Oh dear, what a pity, never mind.)

The Welsh were arguably second-class citizens then, and will probably remain such until they gain full sovereignty for Wales. After that, they will only be able to hold themselves accountable for any further corporate negligence.

You could thus label the Boeing 737 MAX crashes "the Aberfan syndrome", because the Aberfan event predated the Boeing 737 MAX crashes. They are of the same type - i.e., legal, government-sanctioned corporatised, careless and indiscriminate killing of innocents. But that's not enough - what about the cause? The resulting disasters are created/caused by a Corporate Psychopath.
In the film The Corporation, they reviewed the personality disorder "psychopathy". (A psychopath is a person with chronic psychopathy, esp. leading to abnormally irresponsible and antisocial behaviour.)
They gave this checklist of criteria to identify the disorder:
    1. Callous unconcern for the feelings of others.
    2. Incapacity to maintain enduring relationships.
    3. Reckless disregard for the safety of others.
    4. Deceitfulness: repeated lying and conning others for profit/financial gain.
    5. Incapacity to experience guilt.
    6. Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviours.

In the film, these criteria were shown to be met by many/most of the legal entities (legal persons) known as "corporations", thus demonstrating that society has legalised these special kinds of psychopaths to operate in society, where they can and do cause tremendous harm - e.g., including such things as economic dependency and control of communities, or a deadly (toxic) environmental footprint - sometimes both, as in the case of the US corporation Exide in their factory in Mexico.

15
@mouser:
...it seems that somewhere people are getting the idea that our license keys work for Pokemon Go.
Wait...you mean that DCF license keys don't work for Pokemon Go? Oops.

16
...it was an unfortunate move! That being said I'm very happy to hear that it works locally. If it ever stops working it looks like there might be a way of exporting the tag information to lightroom
Hmm. I did a post somewhere (in this thread, I think) about the trouble with inconsistent image tagging standards, and Picasa's sorta workaround to that. Fortunately, it seems that most/all of the comments and other tagging (meta)data is written out to the .JPG image file .EXIF/IPTC fields, rather than retained in a proprietary Picasa database. Thus, one can migrate the images to another PC, install the Picasa app, and Picasa can fairly rapidly rebuild its database using the data that it had previously attached to the images. Phew! A lifesaver.
I swear some pretty farsighted and smart cookies must have been responsible for designing/developing that app. It's almost a perfect design. It even seems to be forwards compatible to some extent with Google Photos!    :o
...Interesting.

17
Thanks! I am now running CHS Beta v2.45 portable.

18
Relevant, and similar to (along the lines of) what I wrote above:
Mish: Boeing 737 Max Unsafe To Fly, New Scathing Report By Pilot, Software Designer

Attached is a .mhtml copy in case it gets lost down the memory hole (I don't trust Wayback):

19
Living Room / Re: Boeing 737 exposee
« on: April 28, 2019, 10:31 PM »
@holt: Thanks for that video and subsequent posts. Very informative.   :Thmbsup:
I happened to be on a project conference call meeting with several people from different countries last night, discussing a software development project. One of the people happened to have been a highly qualified aeronautical engineer and a systems lead designer (software control systems) at Boeing.
At the end of the conference call, when just he and I were left on the line discussing the meeting minutes I was to write and distribute, I took the opportunity to ask him, "Bearing in mind recent aircraft accident reports, if I was going to go on an international flight very soon, what Boeing aircraft should I avoid travelling on?, and straight back came the reply "Statistically, the 737 MAX and MAX 8" and he mentioned that the nomenclature seems to be changing, possibly to hide the pea. I asked him to explain.
In a nutshell, he said that:
  • (a) Statistically, safety was clearly at risk: the reported accidents indicated ab initio a relatively high probability that these aircraft were unsafe, something which no potential passenger should ignore, as a matter of self-preservation and preservation of their family members and colleagues - so, for safety, it would be rational and prudent to boycott all services using those risky aircraft, on that basis alone. That was why they had been grounded.

  • (b) Statistically, the accidents were predictable anyway - as night follows day, because the FAA standards and expertise had been emasculated or watered down to such an extent that the FAA inspectorate now deliberately concealed or ignored risks (also QED per the video above). He said this had reduced the emphasis on minimum safety and quality control standards and was probably largely attributable to cost-cutting within Boeing and Boeing's increasing control over the FAA (compromising the FAA's independence), and that the rot seems to have set in and become endemic within Boeing, due to policy decisions - as made by and following the appointment of an ex GE executive to the position of CEO at Boeing (and who apparently had earned himself the nickname "Chainsaw Mc-someone", or something). Those policy decisions were apparently largely focused on cost-tutting and short-term enhancement of shareholder profit, so the guy would presumably have "just been following orders" (sounds somehow familiar?) and getting well paid for it to boot.

  • (c) The cost-cutting measures included the reduction of costs of engineers. Generally speaking, aeronautical engineers are more highly paid the more highly-qualified and experienced they are, because they are the brains that design the aircraft and its systems, which keeps those aircraft in the air and flying safely over their working lives (and I was evidently talking to one of these people over the phone). However, the cost-cutting measures apparently included - wherever possible - laying off approx. the highest-paid two-thirds of the more expensive engineers in any sector of engineering, "leaving Boeing with the bottom turd." - which was not to say that they weren't any good, just that they were much less qualified and experienced than those laid off. This would essentially have meant that they were less competent, by definition. 

  • (d) There was a revolving door operating between Boeing and the FAA - with the remaining bottom turd engineers moving into the FAA for cushy and highly-paid jobs. Thus, the incompetent watchmen were overseeing the "standards" being maintained by their incompetent colleagues in their work. What could possibly go wrong in such a scenario? Well, the answer to that is presumably what we now are allowed to read about in the news, and it includes deaths on quite a large scale.

  • (e) But isn't it the aircraft that are at fault? Yeah, right. Just like it's the gun's fault whenever there's a mass shooting at some college or other place in the US. Oh, wait...

Some people (not me, you understand) might say that, the amazing thing is the whistleblowers' testimonies in the video, and from this guy I was talking to on the phone, which would imply very strongly that, either they are a pack of liars, or there is/was government and corporate collusion here and which has inevitably led to hundreds of people being already killed and countless more being put at risk of death through these "unfortunate" aircraft accidents, but I couldn't possibly comment. I mean, no government would do that, surely?  :o
I mean, it would be like turning a blind eye and doing nothing to (say) stop the mass importation of Fentanyl from China even though it might have been causing 6,000 deaths per three months in the US already. Oh, but wait...

That looks like one sick puppy you have there...

20
My mind can't abide a puzzle with missing pieces, so I thought I'd update this thread by closing it off with a "What happened to BitTorrentSync?" note (couldn't find anything similar already posted elsewhere on DCF), after today stumbling upon the rather interesting Wired.com article below, dated 2017-11-01 - where the short story is that, during BitTorrent's apparently chequered corporate history of trying to realise and operate a hitherto elusive profitable business model, it spun off the Sync product into a standalone company called Resilio, which exists today. BitTorrent itself still exists at https://www.bittorrent.com/

By the way, the links in @Paul Keith's post above now give a 404, with the 2nd one (to the blog) rerouting to https://www.resilio.com/blog/

(The Wired article is copied into the spoiler below sans embedded hyperlinks/images.)
Spoiler
THE INSIDE STORY OF BITTORRENT’S BIZARRE COLLAPSE
Jessi Hempel  -  Backchannel
01.11.17  12:00AM

Last April [2017], a pair of cousins named Bob Delamar and Jeremy Johnson became co-CEOs of BitTorrent. Delamar was a bearded Canadian Japanophile in his early forties; Johnson a network engineer from San Diego. Through an unusual financial arrangement, they represented a four-person group that had recently come to own a controlling stake in the company, and they had a plan to turn BitTorrent into, as Delamar was fond of saying publicly, “the next Netflix.” BitTorrent had already tried to be the next Netflix, starting long before Netflix had become the next Netflix. The company was founded in 2004 by Bram Cohen, inventor of the open-source protocol that lent the startup its name, and Ashwin Navin. BitTorrent — the protocol — was a genius way to transmit large amounts of information over the net by breaking it into small chunks, sending it through a peer-to-peer network, and reassembling it. BitTorrent — the company — got started on the assumption that Cohen was brilliant. He’d invented one of the web’s most fundamental tools, and surely there was a business to be made from it.

But from the start, BitTorrent had a branding problem — pirates used it to share movies illegally, making it the Napster of entertainment. Because the protocol was open-source, BitTorrent (the company) couldn’t stop the pirates. For 12 years, BitTorrent’s investors, executives and founders attempted to figure out many money-making strategies, including both enterprise software and entertainment businesses, while convincing us all that, sure, people might use the BitTorrent protocol to conduct illegal activity, but BitTorrent was just a tool — a really great tool you can use for really great things!

They’re right: 170 million people used the protocol every month, according to the company’s website. Facebook and Twitter use it to distribute updates to their servers. Florida State University has used it to distribute large scientific datasets to its researchers. Blizzard Entertainment has used BitTorrent to let players download World of Warcraft. The company’s site boasts that the protocol moves as much as 40 percent of the world’s Internet traffic each day.


Jessi Hempel is Backchannel's editorial director.

———

Sign up to get Backchannel's weekly newsletter.

But transforming this technology into any kind of business has proved elusive. By last spring, BitTorrent had already endeavored to become a media company, twice. There was BitTorrent Entertainment Network, launched in 2007, which was a storefront for movies and music that made no money and shut down a year later. And then there was the BitTorrent Bundle, launched in 2013, which was a competitor to iTunes and Amazon that let artists distribute their work directly to fans at a fraction the cost. In 2014, the company even announced plans to produce its own original series, a scifi show called Children of the Machine. But by early the next year, BitTorrent had given up on this strategy, too.

Some startups are born lucky. By the chance of their timing, their technology, or the individuals who helm them, they experience Facebook-size success. Others fail quickly. There is luck in this, too — in an immediate, concise conclusion. Far more startups, having raised funding on the merits of an idea and a team, plod along for years or even decades, constantly casting about for the idea or customer or partnership that will transform them. Their investors are patient, and then exhausted, and then checked out, and then impatient. Their executives change, and then change again. The founders leave, or they hang on in hopes the company they conceived will somehow eventually prove itself. They are zombie startups.

Such is the case with BitTorrent. It has remained a technology in search of a business for a dozen years. Then last year, Delamar and Johnson arrived with plans to save it once and for all. Instead, they squandered millions on failed schemes, putting the company on course for collapse.

I stumbled across this story while reporting Backchannel’s weekly Follow-up Friday piece, in which we step out of the knee-jerk news cycle to follow up on announcements and news events from previous years. I reached out to discover what had happened to Children of the Machine, the original series for which BitTorrent received accolades for announcing two years ago. When the company didn’t respond, I began asking others.

BitTorrent doesn’t want to talk about what happened last year. It made no executive available to answer questions. I pieced together the following narrative by speaking with current and former employees, investors and artists. Consider it a morality tale for discordant investors and entrepreneurs. It’s the story of the most recent dramatic and strange chapter in the life of one venture-backed company that has failed to succeed, but also hasn’t failed.

As a child on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Bram Cohen was smart, introverted, and strange. “I knew I was weird,” Cohen once told FORTUNE, explaining that he got frustrated trying to interact with other people. “I can really remember lots of stories in my life — things that it’s really obvious to me now what was going on, but I didn’t realize it back then because I didn’t understand people very well.” He graduated from Stuyvesant High School. But for all of his ability to focus, his grades were dismal. He attended the University of Buffalo, dropping out after two years.

Cohen has Asperger’s Syndrome, a condition about which he has always been very public. He disclosed his condition to an early investor, for example, during one of their earliest fundraising meetings. “It’s one of the first things he tells most people,” the investor told Bloomberg BusinessWeek in a 2008 profile. As a result, he’s not a handshaker. He doesn’t like wearing shoes. He’s not one for making small-talk.

In his mid 20s, having worked a string of dot-com jobs, Cohen spent the better part of nine months hunched over a Dell keyboard at his dining room table, consumed by a puzzle he could only solve by writing code and more code. He lived off his savings, and later credit cards. He felt certain he could figure out how to solve a puzzle that had stumped programmers since the start of the web — how to transfer massive files. The result, of course, was the open-source protocol BitTorrent.

In 2004, Cohen partnered with his younger brother, Ross Cohen, and Ashwin Navin, an alum of Goldman Sachs and Yahoo, to attempt to create a business around the protocol. They raised $8.75 million from Doll Capital Management (DCM). An early business plan was to establish a marketplace, like eBay, for creators to sell bandwidth-intensive content to consumers. They’d make money off it either through advertising or by charging these sellers a fee. The venture firm Accel led the company’s next round, in December 2006.

From the start, the company had personnel issues. Early on, Cohen’s brother, who had been in charge of the engineers, left. In 2007, Cohen ceded the CEO role to a short-lived outsider, moving into the newly created role of Chief Scientist (a title he has kept). In 2008, Eric Klinker, who was then chief technology officer, became BitTorrent’s CEO. Klinker possessed a rare combination of traits — he had the people skills to run the company, and he was sharp enough technically to win Cohen’s respect. (This was a particularly high bar.)

The original business idea didn’t take off, and for years the company cast about for promising alternatives. In 2008, having taken a third round of financing, the company admitted the business wasn’t “gaining significant traction” and agreed to recapitalize. It returned the $17 million to investors and instead raised just $7 million — from the same investors — at a significantly reduced valuation. It was a sign the company was in trouble. Navin left. And still, the company tried to make a go of it.

So went the life of BitTorrent. The company was headquartered in a gray office complex in San Francisco’s SOMA district. The executives tried strategies, hired people, experienced failures, and laid people off at regular intervals. A TechCrunch post from 2010 begins, “Hmm, BitTorrent…that’s still around?”

The latest chapter of BitTorrent’s saga begins in earnest in 2015. By then, many of the company’s executives and directors were exhausted. They still couldn’t agree on a path forward for the company. Some people believed it should double down on its technical business, building products people loved. They’d developed a product called Sync, for example, which was a decentralized version of Dropbox. Others wanted it to be an entertainment company, striking deals to send content to those people. With no focus, the company had reached an impasse. Earlier that year, BitTorrent had laid off nearly a third of its 150 employees. That’s when Accel’s Ping Li decided he wanted out. He’d been invested in BitTorrent since 2006, when he led a $20 million round of financing. Back then, he’d been excited about the company’s potential. But after a decade in which it had failed to hatch a venture-size business, he couldn’t see a path forward. Says Li, “We couldn’t get excited by any of the plans after ten years. We thought the best way to support them is to let them do what they do.” Also, BitTorrent was among the last outstanding investments in the Accel fund that had had an early stake in Facebook and Dropbox, among others — possibly the best performing venture fund of all times — and the firm was looking to wrap it up.

That’s when a group of investors offered to step in. They were familiar with BitTorrent because one of them, Jeremy Johnson, had been friendly with Klinker; the pair had worked together starting back in the late 1990s at the internet service provider [email protected], and had gone on to work on an Accel-backed routing startup together. By fall, the investors had obtained Accel’s stake in BitTorrent.

By venture norms, this was an unusual transaction. Here’s how it worked: Johnson and his cousin, Robert Delamar, teamed with two others to start an investment company called DJS Acquisitions. They had no money to offer up front, but they volunteered a $10 million promissory note in exchange for Accel’s stake in BitTorrent as well as DAG’s remaining stake in the company. (DAG was a minority shareholder, having first invested also in 2008.) The plan was that DJS would repay the note in a year.

It’s uncommon for an investment firm to exchange its shares for a promissory note. Why did this make sense for Accel and for BitTorrent? Well, for one, the DJS team articulated a plan for transforming BitTorrent into an entertainment company. Sure, it hadn’t worked before, but they showed up with new blood and new enthusiasm. Beyond that, it wasn’t clear Accel had other options. While some insiders said that Cohen had tried to buy parts of the company back himself, Accel’s Li didn’t feel there were other reasonable options on the table.

Regardless, the resulting transaction gave the DJS team, which had not actually invested any capital yet, a good deal of power in the company. DJS inherited two of the company’s five occupied board seats, replacing Ping and the partner from DAG with Johnson and Delamar. It owned more than 50 percent of the company’s preferred shares, according to four people with direct knowledge of the company’s corporate structure. In other words, DJS was in control.

The four members of the DJS team had eclectic backgrounds. Two had come up in engineering: Johnson and Raj Vaswani, cofounder of Silver Spring Networks. The other two are in business together at a Vancouver-based startup called Pacific Future Energy. Its goal is to build an oil refinery in British Columbia. Delamar, a lawyer by training, was chief executive of this endeavor and is now a senior advisor, and Samer Salameh is executive chairman. Within a few months of their arrival, Klinker resigned as CEO. The board appointed Delamar and Johnson as co-CEOs, and they were free to pursue their strategy of turning BitTorrent into a Hollywood behemoth. By June, BitTorrent had divorced its media and enterprise businesses, spinning its Sync product into a standalone company called Resilio. Klinker runs it. Today, Resilio offers freemium software for companies.

Meanwhile, Johnson and Delamar moved quickly to realize what they believed to be BitTorrent’s media opportunity. Delamar made plans to open an office in Los Angeles, and began commuting between LA and Vancouver, where he lived in a two-bedroom rental in the Shangri-La Hotel building. Meanwhile, Johnson opened an engineering office near his San Diego home. (Neither of them made it regularly to the company’s San Francisco headquarters, in a gray office complex just South of Market Street.)

They went on a hiring tear, boosting headcount by 26 percent between January and June, with most of the new hires in marketing and sales. They also brought in some of their own people as senior executives, a few of whom remained employed at Pacific Future Energy at the same time. Salameh, who is currently CEO and executive chairman of PFE, was paid a consulting fee by BitTorrent that totaled $154,000. Delamar, who remains a senior advisor to PFE, also hired Jeremy Friesen, who is PFE’s chief investment officer, as executive vice president of corporate development; Friesen worked for both companies simultaneously.

The pair moved quickly — at great expense — to spread the word in Hollywood and beyond that BitTorrent was a smart option for distributing movies and music, one that allowed artists to be in control of their distribution and had the potential to reach large audiences. They hired Missy Laney, who had managed Sundance Institute’s Artist Services Program, to help woo filmmakers. They relaunched their platform intended to let artists distribute their work directly to fans, calling it BitTorrent Now. They hired the son of a former CNN anchor to start an online news outlet. They launched the Discovery Fund, promising up to $100,000 in grants to 25 aspiring artists. They even paid a female motocross big truck driver, reportedly a friend of Johnson’s, $50,000 to plaster the company logo across the side of her truck.

Even as BitTorrent’s ad revenue was apparently declining, Delamar spent much of his time trying to convince Hollywood producers that BitTorrent could deliver massive audiences and profits for their creative work. In an August email to X-Men producer Tom DeSanto that he shared with the entire company, Delamar suggested a plan to generate a billion dollars for DeSanto’s next project by releasing it via BitTorrent, writing, “Our goal is to do something that has never been done before here with you.” In an email, DeSanto told me the talks didn’t go anywhere, writing: “Bob was very excited by my ideas but I have no plans right now to partner with bit torrent.”

By the end of the summer, it had become clear the strategy wasn’t working. The pair blew through more than a third of the company’s existing cash reserve, while revenues declined. BitTorrent had, for several years, maintained cash reserves of $33 million, give or take a few hundred thousand, according to financial documents shared with the board. By last July, the company had $14.9 million in cash, and forecasted ending the year with just more than $8 million in cash. The company had spent $10.1 million in the first six months of the year.

Amid all of these efforts Cohen had little sway — and little interaction with the rest of people at the company he had created to make something of his invention. His equity had been so diluted that he had little voice; the professional investors controlled 70 percent of BitTorrent. And within the company itself, Cohen had no direct reports. For the last few years, he has poured his energy into BitTorrent Live, a technically complex piece of software that allows people to broadcast live directly to viewers. Quietly, over the summer, after several years of development, the company released the app in beta.

In October 2016, a year after DJS struck its deal with Accel, the promissory note came due. DJS reportedly was unable to pay. DCM’s David Chao, the remaining venture investor, reportedly stepped in to pay the note, assuming control of their shares — and affording three board seats to DCM. BitTorrent fired its newly impotent co-CEOs. Today, the company’s chief financial officer, Dipak Joshi, is interim CEO. Both Delamar and Johnson have left the company. BitTorrent has shuttered its LA production studio and San Diego office, and laid off a larger number of its staffers. The Discovery Fund that announced grants to artists in August has finally sent an email to all applicants saying the program has been suspended. (“Sorry, Discovery fund has been scrapped out.”)

It’s unclear what’s ahead for the company. I did, however, finally track down the creator of Children of the Machine, Marco Weber, who told me he has finished writing the series and is currently shopping it in a more traditional manner. Anxious fans may one day get to see it after all, though likely not on BitTorrent.

Nearly everyone to whom I spoke had a different perspective on what had gone wrong at the startup. Infighting. Profligate spending. Strategic mistakes. But to a person, every last one agreed on one thing: the technology that Cohen invented was brilliant. Said one person, “It’s a testament to Bram’s genius that no one has yet built a better trap for moving this big data over bad networks.”

Perhaps the lesson here is that sometimes technologies are not products. And they’re not companies. They’re just damn good technologies. Vint Cerf did not land a Google-size fortune for having helped invent the TCP/IP protocols that power the Internet (though he did get the U.S. National Medal of Technology). What’s more, to be successful, a startup requires both a great idea for a product or service, and a great idea for how to make money off of it. One without the other will fail.

Then again, like so many other zombie startups littering Silicon Valley, BitTorrent is not dead yet. Just before the holidays, Cohen’s BitTorrent Live app debuted in the app store.
--------------------------------- END ---------------------------------


21
I had a discussion in the Personal Message area of DCF, about OneNote and PIMs. I figured a lot of it could be of common interest, so I have duplicated some of the post here:

You say (**1): "I'm still searching for the best PIM system.", but I'm not so sure that there is a "best" one. What I perceive is that there are lots of different good ones, of which a few may meet your needs/requirements - e.g., (say) Lotus Agenda, ConnectedText, TreeProjects, InfoSelect, OneNote.
For example, a criterion you have (like me) is (**2) a preference for a local desktop-based app + database, so, all of the above PIMs could potentially meet that criterion, and so on.

You say (**3): "I like having the occasional cloud alternative/option.", and so do I. OneNote seems to fit that bill pretty well, but you could also use the technology available to turn your non-Cloud desktop-based app and database into a sort of Cloud-backed service. For example, I use MEGAsync, which has a 50GB free starter package. I have put all my music media files into a MEGA Cloud drive, that appears as a folder on my C: drive, and which is continually syncing with the Cloud-based files. I used to hold all those music media files in a directory C:\Workdata.007 (Media 1), but I moved them from there to the MEGA folder (i.e., and to the Cloud). I then set up a Reparse Point to that MEGA folder, and named it C:\Workdata.007 (Media 1), so that became a virtual folder. My music media players and audio and MP3 Tag editing software have always used that folder name as their Library and they continue to do so. Any edits/writes to that virtual folder or its files are reflected in the MEGA folder and synced  to the Cloud whenever I choose to connect.
I have done something similar with several other applications, including the PIM InfoSelect, syncing their databases and the application itself to OneDrive. This was where I discovered that OneDrive is insecure in that Microsoft will sometimes delete some executable files in the apps, if they don't like the file(s) for whatever reason - so they're only good/reliable for data storage, and even that is not certain, unless its one of their apps - e.g., (say) OneNote. Long live encrypted sync à la MEGAsync!

You say (**4): "In the coming months I'm going be working on a project and I'm considering using it as an opportunity to seriously try out Microsoft Onenote."
Whilst you are at it, I would suggest that you also try out TreeProjects:
 * http://www.rgdot.com/bl/2011/09/11/smereka-treeprojects-powerful-personal-database/
 * http://personaldatabase.org/

Now, regarding encryption and security, here's an interesting thing: Telegram
(https://telegram.org/)
Telegram is FREE for all use. It requires a smartphone to use. Like LINE, it just uses your phone number as a base ID, but that's where the similarity stops. You can use it on any number of devices, and you can also use it on a PC as a desktop app.
You could copy media files, data files, app files - any files - into what's called a Channel (in the Telegram Cloud), and it's stored there, fully encrypted and preserved intact for as long as you want. You could do that from the Telegram desktop app, then Access your Telegram account and that Channel from another PC using the Telegram desktop app, or from a smartphone using your Telegram app/ID. When you try to access the files saved to a given Channel, if those files are not already stored on the device (smartphone or PC) that you are using, then they are downloaded from the Channel, to that device. The potential is mind-blowing, and people are already taking advantage of that potential. You could, for example, (say) backup your OneNote Notebooks to the Telegram Cloud that way... and if you wanted to give a person (or persons) access to a particular OneNote Notebook, then you could let them have read access to that backup in the relevant Telegram Channel...

You say (**5): "The prospect that Microsoft might be phasing out the cloudless version of Onenote does have me a little bit wary about trying it out.", and you also consider using OneNote from an old copy of MS Office 2013.
  • Evernote killed off their rather good desktop app, focused on a Cloud-only business revenue strategy and stuck to it - though I suspect they probably could have regretted it since. It could have been a cash-cow for them.
  • In Microsoft's case, they would seem to be decidedly NOT a Cloud-only business and have many examples of where their software continues for ages, or is responsibly and gracefully sunsetted (and even kept backwards compatible in the Windows 10 OS) - the most recent being, I think, Microsoft Money Plus Sunset
  • I would recommend a wait-and-see approach regarding OneNote. Trial/use it anyway. It seems unlikely that it will be killed off for several years yet.
    A licence for MS Office 2019 Plus is available relatively cheaply - e.g., here.
  • It was possible to get MS Office 2016 Plus relatively cheaply, but I am unsure if it is still available - e.g., here.
  • As regards using MS Office 2013, I wouldn't recommend it as the OneNote functionality would be kludgy - it has been vastly improved on since, in ON 2016.

22
@sphere:
What I'm most interested in is a local directory and photo organizer. I'm curious if the face recognition still works in isolation from Google?
...As an aside, it looks like there is a Picasa import for lightroom utility
http://picasa-lightroom.com/
Regarding Lightroom: Thanks re the Lightroom utility. Looks potentially rather useful

Regarding face recognition: In Picasa, face recognition seems to have always been independently carried out by the desktop app and thus not requiring any online Cloud-based/Google functionality, unless you wanted to link people's names/faces with their email address (the database for which would be in your online Gmail account). I therefore find it curious and somewhat telling that the Google marketing push - effectively shutting down Picasa and only partially replacing it with a new offering (Google Photos) - was to force the user into a seemingly unnecessary (i.e., not a user requirement or benefit) and sole reliance on Cloud functionality, thereby apparently creating/ensuring an increasingly more captive audience and owning unfettered access to an increasingly large amount of users' data (i.e., including the image databases).

Some people (not me, you understand) might say that Google - like Facebook - is decidedly NOT your "friend", but merely a very successful marketing data miner and and corporate psychopath that - rather like the US NSA - considers the user's right to privacy to be an annoying nuisance to be variously trampled upon or evaded at all costs, but I couldn't possibly comment.

25_480x480_37A222C8.png

23
Clipboard Help+Spell / Re: Clipboard Help+Spell errors
« on: April 11, 2019, 04:27 AM »
^^ Yes, those could be useful ideas. Thanks.

By the way, I just had an installer automatically run itself from the RAMdisk Temp and it kept failing, but it ran OK from a directory on C: drive.
I recall this problem (installers failing when run from R:\Temp) being a problem sometimes, with some installers, so it's probably nothing new. I never could figure out the cause of that.

24
Clipboard Help+Spell / Re: Clipboard Help+Spell errors
« on: April 10, 2019, 09:30 PM »
@mouser: Nope, the gotcha is still there after boot-up has completed with R:\Temp running OK.
As soon as CHS is restarted after setting the CHS Tweaks to Force to system Temp directory, the error:
   Error DBG103: DBISAM Engine Error # 11013 Access denied to table or backup file '124120'
 - pops up and and CHS is without any settings.
Whilst CHS is still thus active, I go into CHS to change the Tweaks, and this error pops up again:
   Error DBG103: DBISAM Engine Error # 11013 Access denied to table or backup file '124120'

I then set CHS Tweaks back to Let database engine decide and then terminate CHS and restart it. CHS then seems to start up just fine, with all settings correct as previously.
This seems to be consistently repeatable.

However, CHS is definitely "allergic" to the ImDisk RAMdisk under this current version of Win10-64 Home, whereas it was perfectly OK using that RAMdisk under Win10-64 Pro.
I presume that the likely cause could be some vestigial Registry entry in this Home version which remains even after fast startup has been disabled. I shall try to research that as I'd like to know.
It might be worth identifying exactly what CHS looks at when the user sets CHS Tweaks to Force to system Temp directory, as a good starting-point, because that's when the error is triggered - e.g., whether it checks the Registry for anything at that point.

As far as any other apps being similarly afflicted by this mysterious error, so far there's still been no sign. Pretty much everything that has to use system Temp will need to be happily using that ImDisk RAMdisk. Apart from CHS, everything else seems stable with it, so far.    :o

25
Clipboard Help+Spell / Re: Clipboard Help+Spell errors
« on: April 10, 2019, 03:38 AM »
@mouser: Thanks for your comment. I put my Sherlock Holmes hat on and went through the checks you suggested to verify what directories are being accessed/written to, and have now figured out and fixed the problem and discovered what seems to be a quirk in CHS. It's quite interesting:

  • Context: I have migrated CHS from a laptop with an oldish version of Win10-64 Pro to another laptop with a more up-to-date version of Win10-64 Home.
    Problem: CHS consistently fails with the DBISAM error above and all previous settings are lost.

  • CHS directory:
    My user ID is the Owner of the FARR directory and subdirectories at:
           C:\UTIL\Windows utilities\FindAndRunRobot\
    These directories are all unchecked for Read-only.
    The location of CHS is in the plugins folder of FARR:
           C:\UTIL\Windows utilities\FindAndRunRobot\Plugins\Clipboard Help+Spell\

  • CHS Database:
    The CHS Database path is:
           C:\UTIL\Windows utilities\FindAndRunRobot\Plugins\Clipboard Help+Spell\Database\

  • CHS Backups:
    The CHS Backups path is:
           C:\UTIL\Windows utilities\FindAndRunRobot\Plugins\Clipboard Help+Spell\Backups\

  • CHS Tweaks: Is set to Force to system Temp directory - for potentially fastest response time.
    NB: System Temp is ImDisk, a dynamically variable-sized RAMdisk (up to 2GB) - in R:\Temp and which is set as the system default Temp/TMP directory.
    Changing CHS Tweaks to either:
            Let database engine decide, or
            Use Database "Temp" subdirectory
     - fixes the problem and all the previous settings are restored OK.

  • The reason for this is explained by a warning in the ImDisk configuration tool:
    ImDisk
    Warning: the fast startup feature of Windows is enabled. This
    can lead to some issues:
      • The system writes the ramdisk content onto the hard drive
         at shutdown, and restores it at startup.
      • The data synchronization feature of ImDisk Toolkit does not
         work at system shutdown.

    Open the Shutdown settings to disable the fast startup.

    (Button) Shutdown settings
    (Checkbox) Do not t show this warning again                             (Button) Close
    Obviously, I want to keep the R:\Temp RAMdrive working, as it speeds up the the system, so I disabled fast startup.

  • Gotcha in this version of Win10?:
    The fast startup shutdown settings are greyed out (cannot be changed), but you can change them, except that it is sorta hidden on another page (I did a duckgo search to find that out). After disabling the fast start settings, the ImDisk configuration tool no longer gives the warning message. However, CHS still would not work with the R:\Temp setting, so I left the CHS Tweak set at Let database engine decide, (which works OK) - and the RAMdisk seems to work fine for all other applications (so far). Not sure whether CHS using the CHS Temp folder instead of the RAMdrive will slow CHS response times on some large database searches, but we shall see. However, it seems as though CHS is sensitive to the RAMdrive and doesn't like to use it, though it apparently worked OK on the previous laptop (with the older Win10-64 Pro). I would like CHS to use it, for optimum response, so that could be a something needing a workaround/fix, if/when you have the time to investigate, please.   :D

Thanks again.
CHS remains one of my daily most useful PIM tools and I was nearly overcome with despair when it wouldn't seem to work.

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