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Author Topic: General brainstorming for Note-taking software  (Read 399308 times)
superboyac
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« Reply #350 on: November 21, 2006, 05:30:24 PM »

From the thread covering my review, I thought I might include for discussion here the notable programs that I left out of the review.  TexNotes and OneNote are the two big ones that are not included that will definitely be included in my next review.

I've tried OneNote, and while it lacks several features that prevent me from commiting to it as my primary notetaker, it does show a lot of promise.  Furthermore, if you keep up with the news, it sounds like the new OneNote (2007) is going to be awesome and have lots of great features.

Texnotes, which I initially thought was bloatware, is actually fantastic.  It does so much, and seems to do it really fast and efficiently.  I'll write more about it later.  From looking at it right now, it's going to give Mybase a run for it's money, and it might even knock Mybase out of the Big Three in its particular category.

The problem I've been having recently with Mybase is that even though it has a lot of features, something is mentally preventing me from using a lot of the more interesting ones.  It has to do with how they are implemented, some slight annoyances just make me say, "forget it, I don't need to use it anyway."  More on this later.  TexNotes seems to do some of these things better (at first glance).

Evernote recently had a significant update.  Surfulater, as usual, is always being consistently updated.
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superboyac
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« Reply #351 on: November 24, 2006, 11:44:38 PM »

Here's a program that I don't think has been brought up here yet:

My Notes Keeper
http://www.mynoteskeeper.com/index.html

Doesn't seem like anything special, but it does look decent.
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superboyac
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« Reply #352 on: November 24, 2006, 11:50:12 PM »

Heres another:

Secure Notes Organizer
http://www.secureaction.com/notes/
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superboyac
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« Reply #353 on: November 27, 2006, 06:16:00 PM »

nudone, you brought it to my attention that I didn't include TexNotes Pro in my review.  Man!  What an oversight that was!  TexNotes is freaking awesome.  I'm 90% sure that I'm going have to move Mybase out of the Big Three to include TexNotes Pro into it.  From what I've seen so far, it has most of the tools available in Mybase with a much more eye-candy options that are actually quite useful.  And I also checked out their forums, and the developers seem to be extremely responsive to suggestions, and pretty good at implementing them.

I don't know why, but in my mind, I had GemX pegged as one of those bloatware companies that make a half-ass product with a lot of bubbly eye-candy.  I couldn't have been more wrong!  They have great software.  Furthermore, in their flagship Do-Organizer product, they have a really cool modular approach to prevent it from being an unnecessary bloated software like InfoSelect.  Basically, the Do-Organizer can do a whole lot (Contacts, To Do list, Calendar, Notes, Finances, etc.) but you don't buy the whole thing as one package.  You buy the basic foundation, and you add the extra modules as you feel necessary.  So you only need to get the parts you want.  For example, if all you want is a Calendar and Notetaking, then you just buy those two.  Very Nice!

I am very impressed, and ashamed that I left one of the best software in this category out of the review.  I kind of knew this would happen, that's why I labeled my roundup #1...I knew there would have to be updates and fixes for it to be complete.
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Darwin
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« Reply #354 on: November 27, 2006, 06:59:11 PM »

While I, too, like what GemX are doing with Do-Organizer, I wish that the base program (that the modules run under) didn't include their e-mail client. All I want is a killer note-taking app! I'm a happy TexNotes Pro user and posted asking about it's future here . You'll note that the developers are seriously considering ending development (but not support) of TexNotes Pro once they complete adding all of its features to the Scribe module of Do-Organizer. This process is expected to take up to a year; note, too, that they are open to hearing arguments in favour of keeping TexNotes Pro in continued development!
« Last Edit: November 27, 2006, 08:13:41 PM by Darwin » Logged

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« Reply #355 on: December 04, 2006, 12:15:04 PM »

I've set up a poll on the GemX forum solicting opinions about the direction that should be taken with TNP, which can be accessed here, if you are a TNP user and have an opinion on the subject. Note that I am seeking suggestions as to how to strengthen the poll as some visitors have commented that the options aren't worded clearly...

Note, too, that the second post is from GemX's lead developer and architect, so they are monitoring the forum and paying attention to users' opinions. They claim to offer second to none support, and I've seen and experienced nothing to make me feel otherwise!
« Last Edit: December 04, 2006, 12:17:49 PM by Darwin » Logged

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« Reply #356 on: December 04, 2006, 12:51:29 PM »

hmm, I too uninstalled texNotes too quickly. Maybe I'll give it another go... in 2007 Sad

Right now, I use a combination of oneNote and mind Maps (!). Really effective for organizing/preparing large papers.

I think mind maps have a bright future for notetaking.
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« Reply #357 on: December 04, 2006, 03:42:11 PM »

IMHO Freemind is the best note taking/thought organizing software bar-none.  It's free too! cheesy
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superboyac
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« Reply #358 on: December 06, 2006, 01:00:56 PM »

Hi Darwin, I saw your poll on the texnotes forum.  I just joined that forum, and I've made a couple of posts already, and I voted in your poll.  Gemx seems to be a great company, I wish I could get them to participate briefly in this forum or make a few donations to the site.  I've tried a little bit already, but I don't want to seem like I'm "advertising" on their site for donationcoder.  I've read their posts on the forum, and the developers seem to be extremely responsive.  However, they haven't really responded to any of my stuff, but that's okay I guess.  Maybe I have to buy the software or gain a reputation there or something.

I'm pretty much convinced now that Texnotes Pro is the best hierarchical notetaking program.  Just an enormous amount of features.  I love the macro feature, so very cool!

For the next roundup, I think I want to try to get away from my Big Three thing, and try to expand the various notetakers into different categories, and maybe say which seems to be the best of each category.

Onenote is going to be difficult to review, how can I get a hold of the 2007 version?  My friend emailed me an article in The Atlantic that breifly reviews Onenote and a couple of other notetaking programs.  I'll post a summary of the article shortly since I can't copy the article here (copyright issues, right?).  Like all Atlantic articles, it's a bit smug and has a "I hang around rich people" quality to it, but it actually has some good information.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2006, 01:04:56 PM by superboyac » Logged

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« Reply #359 on: December 06, 2006, 01:30:10 PM »

A OneNote 2007 60-day trial is available for download from the MS site.  It does require activation for the trial.

I don't know if it can be installed stand-alone or if it requires other Office 2007 components.

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superboyac
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« Reply #360 on: December 06, 2006, 01:48:32 PM »

A OneNote 2007 60-day trial is available for download from the MS site.  It does require activation for the trial.

I don't know if it can be installed stand-alone or if it requires other Office 2007 components.
Thanks, I will check it out.  I got a free copy of the old Onenote several years ago, if only I could remember how...
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« Reply #361 on: December 09, 2006, 06:34:25 PM »

I am puzzled by the consensus that favors MyBase and Surfulator, yet complains of the difficulties managing large trees. Considering the problems users experience with trees, you would think that the leading programs would provide solutions. There are two solutions available, netheir well represented among the reviewed products. Since users want a usable tree, programs that make trees more accessible deserve a close look. One of the requirements for managing a large tree is the ability to move multiple headings simultaneously. Multiple selection in the tree is one basic property of modern outlining programs, and almost none of the trees have this capacity. Ultra Recall provides this modern outlining feature in its tree, in its most advanced incarnation, which it calls logical linking. This means topics can be subordinated to multiple headings (cloned).

Another program that allows creating a tree with multiple selection--this one, unlike UltraRecall, definitely definable as a "notetaking program"--is ndx Cards.

On the other hand, perhaps the tree isn't the best way to go about organizing notes. Then programs that use keywords exclusively and in a slick fashion might be the ticket. Here PersonalKnowbase, which has good notetaking features, thought not as good as ndx Cards, should be considered.

As to the process of creating a single note, Microsoft OneNote can't be beat. It has outlining within notes (that no other program currently in development has) and adapts to inputting notes in a variety of ways.
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superboyac
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« Reply #362 on: December 11, 2006, 12:06:19 PM »

srdiamond, first of all, please keep in mind that this review was only the first of hopefully more roundups for this software category.  It is a very difficult category to cover comprehensively, and knowing that from the beginning, I purposefully didn't worry about covering everything in one roundup.  Otherwise, I would've freaked out and lost my mind.  That being said, let me respond to your comments  Thmbsup

Quote
I am puzzled by the consensus that favors MyBase and Surfulator, yet complains of the difficulties managing large trees. Considering the problems users experience with trees, you would think that the leading programs would provide solutions. There are two solutions available, netheir well represented among the reviewed products. Since users want a usable tree, programs that make trees more accessible deserve a close look. One of the requirements for managing a large tree is the ability to move multiple headings simultaneously. Multiple selection in the tree is one basic property of modern outlining programs, and almost none of the trees have this capacity.  Ultra Recall provides this modern outlining feature in its tree, in its most advanced incarnation, which it calls logical linking. This means topics can be subordinated to multiple headings (cloned).

Actually, Surfulater has the capability already to clone notes.  The default action for copying/pasting notes results in cloned notes, not two copies of the same note.  Mybase can't clone per se, but it can link to other notes, meaning that you can create a note that when you click on it, it will jump to the note that it is linked to.  Not exactly the same as cloning, but functions similarly.

As for managing large trees, that is a topic that his been discussed extensively in this forum.  There was a long discussion about how the trees were inefficient and that better methods exist such as categorizing using keywords or tags.  A couple of programs do this, like Evernote and Zoot.  The author of Surfulater has mentioned putting tags into the program in the future.  Mybase also has the ability to "label" notes which is like tagging them with keywords.  MyInfo also has an interesting way to tag notes (mentioned in the roundup).  The thing is, neither solution is definitively better than the other.  In some cases, the traditional hierarchy works better, and in others, the more virtual tag-based system works better.  I feel that the simple hierarchy starts breaking down as the database becomes larger and larger, but for smaller databases, the hierarchy works well.  Not all people are going to have an enormous number of notes, and the simple hierarchy may feel easier, simpler, and more familiar to them.  Remember, not everyone is going to be a "poweruser".

As for UltraRecall, I remember trying it out and it seemed to have lots of features, but a bit too bulky for a simple notetaking program.  I'll try it out again.  Maybe the cloning of notes and multiple note selection is the deciding factor for you in choosing the right program, but you have to be careful not to make one little feature the focus of a general review of a broad category like this.  With me, my favorite feature is the search-as-you-type feature (like in Evernote), but I purposefully make sure I don't make that the defining feature of notetakers.

Quote
Another program that allows creating a tree with multiple selection--this one, unlike UltraRecall, definitely definable as a "notetaking program"--is ndx Cards.

On the other hand, perhaps the tree isn't the best way to go about organizing notes. Then programs that use keywords exclusively and in a slick fashion might be the ticket. Here PersonalKnowbase, which has good notetaking features, thought not as good as ndx Cards, should be considered.
I will take a look at those programs and add them to the next roundup.  Just from a first glance, ndx cards seems to be unconventional about it's note organizing, which may be very efficient, but also may present an unfamiliar interface for users.  But I'll say more when I have messed around with it a little more.

Quote
As to the process of creating a single note, Microsoft OneNote can't be beat. It has outlining within notes (that no other program currently in development has) and adapts to inputting notes in a variety of ways.

OneNote was a gross omission from the first roundup and will definitely be included in the next roundup.  It is clearly a popular and important software in this category. 
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superboyac
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« Reply #363 on: December 11, 2006, 04:56:29 PM »

ndx cards

So I tried this program out for a little bit today.  As expected, I find its interface unfamiliar (as I thought initially from looking at the website).  It seems to be an advanced kind of post-it software.  It is technically a notetaking application, but I think it's unlike what most people in this category are looking for in this category.  Is that good or bad?  Well, that depends on the user.  To me, it seems like users like srdiamond are looking for a more creative and unique approach to notetaking than what is currently being offered in general (ie heirarchies and similar tree-like interfaces).

I also want to point out that there is a distinction between notetakers and outliners.  They are not the same thing.  An outliner is an application that helps to create an outline that usually consists of short phrases and sentences.  A notetaker just stores random bits of text (and sometimes other content) in some kind of container.  Sometimes there is a gray area between the two functions.  Also, the terms are sometimes confused because notetakers usually rely on some kind of hierarchy which reminds people of an outline, but it's not really the same thing.

Personally, it would be very nice if a notetaking application included a powerful outliner instead of the rtf ordered list options that are normally offered (bullet list, numbered list).  A popular outliner in the past was ECCO's feature.  NDX cards also has a nice outliner.  However, for the most part, it is not the definitive feature of a notetaking application, but more of a nice luxury to have.
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superboyac
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« Reply #364 on: December 11, 2006, 05:22:20 PM »

Personal Knowbase

This is an interesting addition to notetaking if you truly can't stand the hierarchical system and are looking for a tagging style option for notes.  It uses a 3-pane system as opposed to the more common 2-pane system.  I've always been intrigued by 3-pane notetakers because they offer interesting organization options.  Other 3-pane notetakers are Zoot and Black Hole Organizer, but Personal Knowbase makes use of tags/keywords in it's system instead of categories or folders.  There's no hierarchy at all in PK, it's all just keywords and it offers some cool options for filtering and working with them to organize the notes.  Overall, it's a cool option for dealing with notes, especially if you can't stand traditional hierarchies.  The list of keywords on the left reminded of Powermarks, a very cool program for managing your internet bookmarks.

I've always liked the keyword approach, but it's still not completely better than the normal hierarchical approach.  There are pros and cons to each (which were discussed in this thread a few pages back).  Keywords are nice to organize in the macro sense (especially for a very large number of notes), but the typical hierarchy offers a nice visual representation of your notes, and also has other nice little advantages for a moderate number of notes.
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« Reply #365 on: December 27, 2006, 10:52:19 PM »

Hi,
I just came across this and would like to add some comments.  I use ndxCards regularly now and own a few other note taking programs as well.  I have settled on ndxCards ( I do use OneNote when I want to keep my scribbles as scribbles ) for the most part & would like to share why I settled on it.

Note taking programs should not constrain a person while taking notes as to how they organize the note - when I take a note, I want to do just that.  I may want to tag that note with some keywords - but then again, I may not know how to tag it at that time & will come back to it later.  Most tree-based programs fail in this regard - while I can 'park' the note in some general category, somehow, the note does not seem to stand alone as it should.  After all, I used to note cards & post-its in the paper medium & not note-books with subject tabs that forced you to flip to the right page before I can take the note.

Often I want to know where my note came from - I want to be able to jot down the magazine or book which was the source of my thought/note &  perhaps go to it later, or even give the reference to someone.  I like the Source card in ndxCards, though I don't need all the reference citation formats that the software offers.

Not all of my notes stand-alone, nor do they fit in only one category.  So I want it to be part of a structure as well. ndxCards allows me to use both the keyword system and the tree-structure system.  I have several outlines which are just tree-structures for my notes.  As you said in the previous post, the tree structure offers benefits of seeing a visual collection of a set of notes.

I take notes because I want to use it later.  I like that fact that I can just drag drop notes from ndxCards into my Visio diagram, or create a quick PowerPoint presentation directly from my outline.  Even with my OneNote, I am left with copy/pasting from various part of my 'notebook'.

None of this is to try and change your review - just thought I would share my view of 'note-taking' programs.
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« Reply #366 on: December 28, 2006, 05:15:57 AM »

Personally, it would be very nice if a notetaking application included a powerful outliner instead of the rtf ordered list options that are normally offered (bullet list, numbered list).  A popular outliner in the past was ECCO's feature.  NDX cards also has a nice outliner.  However, for the most part, it is not the definitive feature of a notetaking application, but more of a nice luxury to have.

OneNote does that! Bestest outliner ever (it does not only the typical vertical outliner, but horizontal as well. The witdth of the text box eseasily changeable, and you can start writing anywhere on the screen. It can be reduced to a tiny window, and still be useful (good for notes).
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« Reply #367 on: December 28, 2006, 05:20:58 AM »

Just wanted to drop a note on connectedText, a personal wiki system.

http://www.connectedtext.com/

The nice advantage over other notetakers and wiki systems is that it lets you see a graphical view of your notes (how they connect to each other) in some kind of concept map.



If you don't like to write wiki syntax, this is not for you.

Version 2.0.0.8. It contains some new features like:
Clipboard catcher: create automatically new topics as you copy text to Windows clipboard;
Support for Flash animations;
Support for AVI and MPEG movies;
Improved HTML paste. Convert HTML tags to ConnectedText marks. Automatically capture images from Internet.
Improved handling of files;
Consult the Change Log for complete information. Thanks for reporting and helping us track down bugs.
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superboyac
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« Reply #368 on: December 28, 2006, 10:57:42 AM »

arasu, good post!  I think I understand better what ndxcards is all about, and it's very cool indeed.  I'll give a summary here for others, and you can correct me if I don't get it right:

In ndxcards, the notes are input in on a completely independant basis.  That is, they don't go into a tree or any kind of structure at all.  Just like real post-its, each one is separate from the other.  Then, if you want, you can assign keywords and categories to the notes which can help for organizing later, but you don't have to.  If you do want to make a tree or some heirarchy or outline later, you can start doing it, and just take the notes that are available and organize them in a way to make an outline or whatever.  You can have as many different outlines as you want.  Similar to how Surfulater can have a couple of different ways to look at the same set of notes, but ndxcards is much more flexible.  Basically, you dump all your notes without much thought into the program, and if you want to add some structure to it later, you can do that.

I wish I could play around with it a little more, but my trial expired.  I really wish these companies would donate me licenses for their notetakers like a few here have, because comparing all of these notetakers is a long process.  Every few months, I need to go back and explore a few features here and there.
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« Reply #369 on: December 28, 2006, 11:36:55 AM »

Yes - you have it essentially right.  ndxCards uses Subject and keywords to tag a note. It assigns a default subject if you don't give one, but you do not have to tag it with keywords. In fact, I review my notes once a week - I have a 'filter' that finds notes in the last week without keywords & then I tag them, expand my abbreviations taken in a hurry etc.  I also like the filter concept - it is a window into your shoe box of all the note cards & you can create and save these filters to select only the notes you want later.

By the way, you can write to them and ask to extend the trial period - I had to do that & they did that without questions. I don't know about donating licenses, but it probably does not hurt to ask.
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« Reply #370 on: January 05, 2007, 12:09:00 PM »

Forgive me for not having read all 15 pages on this thread, but I just have to tell about this free note-taking program I am using: Flashnote by Softvoile Company.

http://softvoile.com/flashnote/

- but on the other hand; a trick picture may tell a lot more than my words:



Of course there is a hotkey of your own choice - hit the hotkey and Flashnote will open like a flash. Write at once (no need to place cursor), and forget everything about "save" - when it is written, it is saved / safed! Hit the hotkey again, or press Esc, and the program is gone at once.

It is so easy and so fast, you should love it ... I do!   Kiss

I just found out by now that a new version 2.1 have just been launched, December 15' 2006. I am looking forward to try it out. The picture here is the old version 2.0.1
Version 2.1:
    * Added: Possibility to specify path to database
    * Added: Export whole database to txt files
« Last Edit: January 05, 2007, 12:30:26 PM by Curt » Logged
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« Reply #371 on: January 05, 2007, 01:32:35 PM »

I really don't have too many demands for note taking, but it is mandatory that there is a powerful find-as-you-type search capability, like in Evernote 2.  two cents 
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« Reply #372 on: January 14, 2007, 04:58:22 PM »

I've been here a few months, pretty silent embarassed but totally enjoying this thread especially. Just wanted to chip in something I use. Not quite as powerful as MyBase and the likes but it works for me. My conditions are:

Must work on both PC and MAC
Must be portable
Free is nice but not a requirement

I ended up with a Firefox Plugin. It seems natural to me since I have FF running 99.99% of the time. The plugin is called Scrapbook - http://amb.vis.ne.jp/mozilla/scrapbook/
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« Reply #373 on: January 15, 2007, 12:09:54 PM »

Quote
The problem I've been having recently with Mybase is that even though it has a lot of features, something is mentally preventing me from using a lot of the more interesting ones.  It has to do with how they are implemented, some slight annoyances just make me say, "forget it, I don't need to use it anyway."  More on this later.  TexNotes seems to do some of these things better (at first glance).

From a quick look at TexNotes Pro product tour, it doesn't seem to support tagging, interactive search, or attachments. Is this wrong?
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Alexey Romanov
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« Reply #374 on: January 16, 2007, 10:45:30 AM »

From a quick look at TexNotes Pro product tour, it doesn't seem to support tagging, interactive search, or attachments. Is this wrong?

alexey, you really have to download and use the trial to see all the things that texnotes pro can do.  But in response to the items you mentioned:
--tagging; texnotes has the ability to add "keywords" to each note.  What these keywords do, i can't figure out using their help file or their forum.. I'm going to have to post and ask about that since I am curious also.  I know in Mybase and a few of the other programs, you can actually use tags (or "labels" whatever they decide to call it) to actually filter the notes...it's an added level of organization.

--interactive search; I don't know what you mean by this.  If you mean like Mybase and Evernote (search as you type), you are correct that it doesn't do that (I love that feature).  However, I wouldn't hang my hat on that feature, because Texnotes has several innovative and useful search tools.  So, if it wouldn't kill you to have to press "enter" at the end of your searches, you might be very pleased with what it can do.

--attachments; texnotes does support attachments, and then some.  I would have been very surprised if it couldn't do something as basic as that.  Look at the attached screenshot to really see all the ways you can have attachments.
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