Bill Loguidice's Blog

June 26, 2017

Well, color me surprised. After assuming that Nintendo would give up on the mini plug and play consoles concept after quickly discontinuing the NES Mini, we have an announcement of a Super NES Mini called the Super Nintendo Classic Edition. My argument against the release of this system was the belief that with the Nintendo Switch being the success that it is, that it was no longer necessary to continue the Mini line, which might be distracting. I was clearly wrong.


The SNES Mini certainly features an interesting game line-up and physically looks fantastic, but it’s a shame that they’re still sticking with wired controllers. At least there’s two controllers this time. Now it’s just up to Nintendo to release enough supply where the scalpers don’t try to take advantage of eager buyers with markups many times the list price.


Here’s the press release:


Now You’re Playing with Super Power! Nintendo Announces Super NES Classic Edition

Mini 16-Bit System Launches Sept. 29 with 21 Games; Includes Unreleased Star Fox 2


The Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo’s follow-up console to the legendary Nintendo Entertainment System, launched in 1991 and introduced what many consider some of the greatest video games of all time.


REDMOND, Wash.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo’s follow-up console to the legendary Nintendo Entertainment System, launched in 1991 and introduced what many consider some of the greatest video games of all time – classics such as Super Mario World, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Mario Kart, Super Metroid and F-ZERO.



On Sept. 29, this beloved console is coming back to stores in the form of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System: Super NES Classic Edition. The mini system, which contains 21 pre-installed classic games and can easily be plugged into any high-definition TV using the included HDMI cable, will be available at a suggested retail price of $79.99. And for the first time, players who pick up the system can enjoy the intergalactic adventure Star Fox 2, the sequel to the original Star Fox game that was created during the Super NES era but never released … anywhere!


“While many people from around the world consider the Super NES to be one of the greatest video game systems ever made, many of our younger fans never had a chance to play it,” said Doug Bowser, Nintendo of America’s Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “With the Super NES Classic Edition, new fans will be introduced to some of the best Nintendo games of all time, while longtime fans can relive some of their favorite retro classics with family and friends.”


The Super Nintendo Entertainment System: Super NES Classic Edition has the same look and feel of the original system – only smaller – and comes pre-loaded with 21 incredible games:



Contra III: The Alien Wars
Donkey Kong Country
EarthBound
Final Fantasy III
F-ZERO
Kirby Super Star
Kirby’s Dream Course
The Legend of Zelda : A Link to the Past
Mega Man ® X
Secret of Mana
Star Fox
Star Fox 2
Street Fighter ® II Turbo: Hyper Fighting
Super Castlevania IV
Super Ghouls ’n Ghosts ®
Super Mario Kart
Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
Super Mario World
Super Metroid
Super Punch-Out!!
Yoshi’s Island

 


All of these games would be considered classics by anyone’s standards, and some of them in particular – Secret of Mana, Final Fantasy III, EarthBound and Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars – are massive role-playing games that can take dozens of hours to complete. Even for super fans who have played all of these games multiple times, the inclusion of the never-before-released Star Fox 2 game will offer them something entirely new to enjoy – ifthey can unlock it by proving their skills in the original Star Fox game. (Well, they only have to complete the first level – we didn’t want to make it too hard!)


Super Nintendo Classic Edition (aka, SNES Mini, Super NES Mini)

Super Nintendo Classic Edition (aka, SNES Mini, Super NES Mini)


Included with the Super Nintendo Entertainment System: Super NES Classic Edition are one HDMI cable, one USB charging cable with AC adapter and two wired Super NES Classic Controllers, perfect for playing multiplayer games. Having two controllers will make it easy for two players to dive into multiplayer action right away. Some of the games with multiplayer options include Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting, Super Mario Kart, Contra III: The Alien Wars and Secret of Mana.


The Super Nintendo Entertainment System: Super NES Classic Edition launches on Sept. 29 at a suggested retail price of $79.99.


For more information about the Super Nintendo Entertainment System: Super NES Classic Edition, visit http://www.nintendo.com/super-nes-classic.


© Nintendo

© CAPCOM CO., LTD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

© Konami Digital Entertainment

© SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD. All Rights Reserved.


About Nintendo: The worldwide pioneer in the creation of interactive entertainment, Nintendo Co., Ltd., of Kyoto, Japan, manufactures and markets hardware and software for its Nintendo Switch™ system and the Nintendo 3DS™family of portable systems. Since 1983, when it launched the Nintendo Entertainment System™, Nintendo has sold more than 4.4 billion video games and more than 703 million hardware units globally, including Nintendo Switch and the Nintendo 3DS family of systems, as well as the Game Boy™, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS™ family of systems, Super NES™, Nintendo 64™, Nintendo GameCube™, Wii™ and Wii U™ systems. It has also created industry icons that have become well-known, household names, such as Mario, Donkey Kong, Metroid, Zelda and Pokémon. A wholly owned subsidiary, Nintendo of America Inc., based in Redmond, Wash., serves as headquarters for Nintendo’s operations in the Americas. For more information about Nintendo, please visit the company’s website at http://www.nintendo.com.


Note to editors: Nintendo press materials are available at http://press.nintendo.com, a password-protected site. To obtain a login, please register on the site.




Contacts

GOLIN

Rich George, 415-318-4342

rgeorge@golin.com

or

Eddie Garcia, 213-335-5536

egarcia@golin.com




 


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Published on June 26, 2017 09:27

June 23, 2017

June 23, 2017 – Cloanto released today Amiga Forever 7 and C64 Forever 7, the latest versions of the official Commodore/Amiga preservation, emulation and support suites for Windows.


The new editions are the result of more than 18 months of uninterrupted work since the previous major release. The active code base now consists of more than half a million lines written by Cloanto, in addition to OS components and independent open source modules of which Cloanto too is a grateful and active contributor.


New features include the ability to autostart the PC into any Amiga configuration, enhanced PowerPC emulation support, custom content folders and playlists, and a “playerless” title playback, preview and editing experience.


By opening up to new ways to manage and access more content, Amiga Forever 7 follows in the footsteps of Cloanto’s tradition of disruptive innovation. Emulation and preservation enthusiasts can not only work better and faster than before, but also enjoy additional degrees of freedom, as Amiga Forever encourages the curation of self-contained titles that are designed for long-term access, without being bound to a database or to a single player interface or version. Any title, no matter whether it’s a “Classic” Amiga, a PowerPC system, or an 8-bit system (with C64 Forever installed), can now be played back from Windows File Explorer, or by booting the Windows PC into it, without ever launching Amiga Forever, if so desired.


More than in the previous few versions, a substantial amount of work was done under the hood to keep things simple on the surface, yet without limiting possibilities. “We worked very hard to raise the quality bar on all fronts, no matter whether you use Amiga Forever for your own enjoyment, to entertain your friends by surprise-booting a PC into an Amiga or C64, or to start an educational journey with your children or grandchildren.


“The level of improvements and refinements on the input front alone is beyond the scale of what would normally be invested in a project like this,” said Cloanto’s Mike Battilana. “Months at a time were spent to optimally blend the different features and needs of PC-side game controllers and keyboards with the emulated counterparts. A dedicated group of joystick-armed beta testers kept providing valuable feedback, as even Microsoft engineers helped us best support the latest Xbox controllers. Quite a few DirectInput and XInput API bugs were marked for resolution in the process, again illustrating how demanding the emulation universe can be.”


General and title-specific input options work hand in hand to enable maximum personalization without unnecessarily reducing title portability, while providing precious information for future touch-enabled playback. Xbox, X-Arcade and I-PAC controllers, and arbitrary keyboard layouts are supported out of the box. Host-side buttons can be assigned to guest-side keys and vice versa, e.g. to use joystick-controlled games on modern systems without a joystick. Virtual buttons make it possible to use modern controller buttons to trigger events that would have required pressing a key like Space or Enter in an Amiga game, or to play CBM 8-bit titles originally designed for keyboard-only use.


Dead keys, double-dead keys, deadable keys, anyone? Amiga Forever knows about all those Amiga keyboard details, and seamlessly integrates them with the modern Unicode world, so that clipboard and keyboard input always work as expected. 8-bit systems were not left behind either, with support for multilingual ROMs in C64 Forever, and systems like the VIC 20, VIC 1001 and C64 even featuring Japanese configurations.


“In spite of the occasional technical prowess, we see the result more as a form of art. We are still aiming for the same excellence and beauty in computing which made us feel so at home with the Amiga and its community in the 1980s and 1990s. As we once again thank our generous customers and contributors for allowing us to keep working on these projects, we invite all Amiga friends to keep engaging with us at events, online and by signing up at cloanto.org.”


Amiga Forever 7 is available now in three editions:



Value Edition (downloadable installer)
Plus Edition (downloadable installer with option to build DVD ISO image)
Premium Edition (downloadable Plus Edition, plus boxed software and additional videos on 3 DVDs)

C64 Forever 7 is available now in three editions:



Free Express Edition (feature-limited version)
Downloadable Plus Edition (downloadable installer with option to build CD ISO image)
Boxed Plus Edition (downloadable Plus Edition, plus boxed CD)

Both packages recognize and work with each other, with options to merge the different platforms into the same interface. Prices start from $9.95 (Value Edition, or special upgrade offers).


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Published on June 23, 2017 11:14 • 2 views

June 22, 2017

There’s a belief out there that “good games are always good games.” You might even call it a mantra. While this may sound surprising coming from someone like me, I don’t necessarily agree.


Sometimes what was great in the past “ages out” when we get used to a better, different, or simply other way of doing things. I think it’s usually easier for action-style games to stay relevant and playable, but harder for games like RPGs. At least that’s been my experience, particularly in recent times.


A counter to this idea is that they wonder if maybe the game wasn’t that good in the first place if it’s not good today. I don’t agree with the “wonder” premise. Some things are just of their time, period. If they were great in and of their time, but are not enjoyable anymore, I don’t think that diminishes their greatness. That’s more an argument of timelessness vs greatness. Some things, like action games, are by their nature, more conducive to being timeless.


This is not a strictly videogame phenomena either. The same thing applies, for instance, to a lot of the movies we’d watch multiple times as kids. Tastes change and evolve, and media of their time don’t always come with us. I know a few years back when I watched the original Star Wars trilogy with my kids – something I watched myself countless times around their ages and loved – it was a bit hard to get through. Those were amazing films in their time, but pacing and special effects have really changed in the 30 years since they were released. Acknowledging that doesn’t make those films any less than they were, though. That’s kind of like saying Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar was never a great game because it’s so difficult to get into today. In the context of its time, it was amazing and was for a long, long time after its release. Not everything has a “forever” shelf life.


In response to that I’ve heard the argument about why should a game or movie be compared to the time it was made rather than stand alone for what it is? Certainly a particular media creation can stand alone and be judged for what it is, but then that goes back to the earlier argument about if something doesn’t hold up, maybe it was never great in the first place. Again, I don’t agree with that. I’m suggesting that we need to acknowledge that sometimes greatness has a shelf life or needs to be considered in the context of its time.


Going back to the Ultima IV example, I think we can unequivocally acknowledge its greatness, importance, influence, etc., while acknowledging that it’s going to be a heck of a lot harder to enjoy it today. Even going back to my action game argument, let’s take something like the Atari 2600’s Pitfall!. That’s a timeless game to be sure, but is it really as much fun today as it was back in the early 1980s? Probably not. We’ve changed and certainly today’s gamers (and those of us who have been around forever) have different expectations. That doesn’t – or at least shouldn’t – diminish its greatness. Of course, like our ongoing series on casino technology here at Armchair Arcade, e.g., the best online casino games, some experiences probably are timeless regardless, but it helps when they’re given a fresh new look and feel to cater to modern tastes.


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Published on June 22, 2017 13:51 • 2 views

June 18, 2017

I’ve used a Logitech M570 Wireless Trackball as my primary pointing device on my home, mobile, and work computers for many years, reserving mouse usage to specialty cases like games. After a bout with carpal tunnel-like symptoms in the mid-1990s, I’ve really come to rely on Logitech’s thumb trackball design for maximum comfort (side note: I used to also need an ergonomic keyboard, but for many years now have no longer had the need, preferring instead traditional mechanical keyboard designs).


The box.

The box.


As a side effect of needing the comfort of more ergonomic computing devices, I’ve had a keen interest in the category. Nevertheless, despite my desires, I’ve never had an opportunity to try a vertical mouse. With the iXCC Wireless Vertical Mouse, that failing has finally been rectified.


Box contents.

Box contents.


The iXCC package comes with the mouse and a tiny user manual. Two AAA batteries are required, but not included. The design of the mouse is interesting and immediately intuitive, but, sadly for left-handers, purely a right-handed experience.


Underside of the mouse.

Underside of the mouse.


Next to the battery compartment is the dock for the 2.4GHz USB dongle (roughly 30 foot range). Once the batteries are inserted into the mouse and the dongle into your computer, you can turn the mouse on with its switch. You can choose to use the mouse with or without its removable palm rest, but I found it quite comfortable, so I left it on.


DPI is adjustable between 800 and 3000 (optical resolution). A power saving auto-sleep function puts the mouse into sleep mode after 8 minutes. Clicking any of the mouse’s many buttons wake it from sleep.


The design is rather striking.

The design is rather striking.


In terms of functionality, the mouse features a DPI Switch button, Scroll Wheel/Middle button (i.e, scrollable and clickable), Previous/Next buttons, and the expected Left and Right click buttons. There’s no native programmability or adjustments other than the onboard DPI Switch, but that’s OK because that means its compatible with nearly any mouse-capable device, including of course Windows XP or greater, Mac OSX (10.4 and greater), and Linux computers. I’m using it with a Windows 10 desktop.


The all-important indicator with any mouse, naturally, is how it performs. I was also concerned about a learning curve. There definitely was a learning curve, but after a few days I was able to get the hang of it. Even during the learning curve, I noted that the action was smooth and the comfort top-notch.





A post shared by Bill Loguidice (@bill_loguidice) on Jun 18, 2017 at 4:04pm PDT





If you’re concerned about carpal tunnel symptoms or a Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), the iXCC Wireless Vertical Mouse is worth investigation. It makes a nice alternative for those who don’t like trackballs.


Pluses:

– Ergonomic and comfortable

– Great price

– Button placement is logical

– Smooth action

– Minimal setup requirements


Minuses:

– Only works for right-handed mousers

– No way to know what DPI setting you’ve selected

– Few extended features

– There’s a learning curve


Summary:

A great value for an ergonomic vertical mouse.


Thanks to iXCC for the review unit.


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Published on June 18, 2017 16:17 • 4 views

June 17, 2017

As someone who is always on the look-out for great performing PLA 3D printing filament at a good price, I was excited to try the PolyLite PLA 3D Printer Filament. To mix things up a bit, I went with the Grey color, although it’s also available in Red, Blue, White, and Black (the included flyer actually states 11 True Color and four Translucent, with more promised on the way).


The box.

The box.


The contents.

The contents.


Loaded on my printer.

Loaded on my printer.


Another angle.

Another angle.


The PolyLite comes packaged as you would hope, in a vacuum sealed bag (it’s even resealable) with desiccant inside a cardboard box. When you free this filament from its packaging, the first thing you’ll probably notice is the nice clear spool. I find that particularly useful, because the 3D printers I have don’t offer ways to check how much material is left. At least with this clear spool, I have a literal window into how much material is left on my spool.





A post shared by Bill Loguidice (@bill_loguidice) on Jun 17, 2017 at 8:04am PDT





In terms of dimensional accuracy, the stated specifications check out on my digital multimeter. Since this is a full 2.2 lb (1 kg) spool of filament, I’m using it with my usual Creker 3D Printer Filament Spool Holder.


Just finished printing a fortune cat.

Just finished printing a fortune cat.


A closer look at the fortune cat.

A closer look at the fortune cat.


Performance of the PolyLite was excellent. The output was smooth, with a nice matte finish. Even using it on my modest New Matter MOD-t, the results were impressive. If you’re looking for a great value in PLA, I can highly recommend the Grey from PolyLite.


Pluses:

– Great value

– Good consistency

– Nice matte finish


Minuses:

– Large, heavy spool may not work with every printer


Summary:

An excellent value and great performance make for a great choice in Grey PLA.


Thanks to PolyLite for the review unit.


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Published on June 17, 2017 19:34 • 3 views

The iCODIS G6 Video Projector is just one of a seemingly endless variety of such low cost devices. While most budget projectors struggle with resolution and overall brightness, the G6, as a clear point of differentiation, doesn’t. You get a WXGA (5:3) resolution of 1280×768 at a bright 3200 lumens and a 3000:1 contrast ratio. Projected size is anywhere from 60 – 120 inches diagonal, so it doesn’t skimp in that area either.


The box.

The box.


In the box you get the projector itself, a Quick Start Guide, HDMI cable, stereo composite cable adapter, VGA cable, power cable, and remote control. You’ll need to supply two AAA batteries for the remote.


The contents.

The contents.


The G6 unit itself is feature-packed. You get headphone, AV (stereo composite), USB (x2), HDMI (x2), and VGA ports, as well as all the expected menu, picture, and keystone correction controls. The LED light source is rated to last 30,000 hours, which is about 1,250 full days of usage, or over 3 years of 24/7 viewing.


The rear of the projector.

The rear of the projector.


A function breakdown.

A function breakdown.


While the speaker is satisfactory, it’s not something to blast, which is pretty much true of any projector. If you need more oomph from the speakers, take advantage of the 3.5mm audio output jack.


The quick video that follows shows me using the projector with a Steam Link running at 1080p/60 in a non-darkened room, projecting on the ceiling.





A post shared by Bill Loguidice (@bill_loguidice) on Jun 17, 2017 at 3:39pm PDT





As you can hopefully tell from the images and video, this projector more than gets the job done. At well under $200, it also won’t break the bank.


Pluses:

– Bright image

– Good picture quality

– Great price


Minuses:

– A bit bulky

– Batteries not included for remote

– Included instructions are not in English


Summary:

Despite the low price, the iCODIS G6 projector makes few sacrifices. It’s worth the investment.


Thanks to iCODIS for the review unit.


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Published on June 17, 2017 15:52 • 3 views

If you’re a frequent traveler, road warrior, or whatever best to call it, being as nimble as possible is always the goal. That means packing small devices that pack in lots of functionality. The RAGU International Travel Adapter with USB is one of those devices.


The packaging.

The packaging.


The box.

The box.


Rated for an input of 100-250VAC 50-60HZ/400mA and an output of 5VDC, 3500mA, the adapter works in the US, UK, and EU (each selectable via switch), and related countries that use one of the same standards. While there’s no grounding or voltage conversion, most modern devices don’t need them. In any case, you can basically plug just about any plug type into the input and adapt it on the other side to just about whatever country or situation you might find yourself in.


What's inside.

What’s inside.


On the side are three slider switches for US/AUS, UK, and EU plug types, respectively. Since US plugs are straight and AUS plugs are angled, you just need to perform a slight twist of the prongs to use them with the latter standard. A retract button on the opposite side helps you pull the selected plugs back in.


One angle.

One angle.


There are four USB ports, stacked in pairs. One side is rated for 2.1A and the other side is rated for 2.4A, the latter of which allows for more effective charging of larger devices like tablets or faster charging of other devices like smartphones. The only consideration when using multiple USB ports is not to overload the device with more than 1000W of power.


Another angle.

Another angle.


At a size of 1.85x2x2.68 in (47x51x68 mm) and a weight of 4 oz (116 g), this small device makes for a great, versatile travel companion.


Pluses:

– Compact

– Versatile


Minuses:

– Styling is a bit hit or miss

– No grounding


Summary:

A compact, versatile travel adapter that makes for a great value.


Thanks to RAGU for the review unit.


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Published on June 17, 2017 14:45 • 3 views

It goes without saying that spinners are all the rage these days. What I find most interesting about this particular category of toy, though, are the variations possible. This HOSALA Mokuru Toy Fidget Spinner Stick mocks the very idea of simple variation and instead delivers a completely different type of fidget toy.


The packaging. That's a tight fit!

The packaging. That’s a tight fit!


First impressions are that it doesn’t fit in its packaging very well and that it’s smaller than you might expect at only 3.5×1.1 in (90×27 mm). It’s also wood, which is a stark contrast to the usual plastic or metal fidget spinners.


One angle.

One angle.


I’m reviewing the black wood, which is capped by red rubber pads. Other available colors are blue wood and natural.


Another angle.

Another angle.


Unlike traditional fidget spinners, you don’t spin this. It’s literally a rounded block of wood with rubber caps. As such, you instead flip it, roll it, and toss it about. This is said to be based on a Japanese desktop game, where a search for “Mokuru/Kururin” seems to confirm that.





A post shared by Bill Loguidice (@bill_loguidice) on Jun 17, 2017 at 8:00am PDT





Whether this provides more focus than a traditional spinner is entirely up to the individual (I’ll admit it is fun to try and make it tumble end-over-end! (a light touch helps)). The wood certainly provides a different tactile sensation than the usual spinners, and having a different type of object to fidget with is definitely refreshing.


Pluses:

– Unusual take on the fidget toy category

– Inexpensive


Minuses:

– Does not fit well in its packaging


Summary:

An inexpensive and unusual take on the fidget toy experience.


Thanks to HOSALA for the discounted review unit.


The post Review: HOSALA Mokuru Toy Fidget Spinner Stick appeared first on Armchair Arcade.

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Published on June 17, 2017 14:37 • 4 views

As I’ve stated before, fidget spinners need some hook these days to stand out in a very crowded category. The LuckyBaby Fidget Spinner stands out with a distinctive, single-plane design and colorful styling on its metal frame.


Its case is quite nice.

Its case is quite nice.


At only 2.7 in (7 cm) across and being a single plane design, the LuckyBaby is amongst the smallest spinners. Spin time on a sub-max push (on its “good side,” see below) was timed at 4 minutes 3 seconds on my third spin. That spin time performance is above average.


The spinner has a unique look.

The spinner has a unique look.


Because of its squat design, you feel the weight with this spinner more than others. It’s also rather noisy, particularly when not being used on a flat surface. This is not a great performer when held, with an odd center of balance.


The other quirk is that this is not a balanced, mirrored design, with it not spinning well and being noisy on a flat surface when placed on one side, and spinning well and not being noisy when placed on a flat surface on its other side.





A post shared by Bill Loguidice (@bill_loguidice) on Jun 17, 2017 at 7:56am PDT





Given its low price and radical styling, if you keep in mind its quirks, the LuckyBaby Fidget Spinner still rates as a fun recommendation.


Pluses:

– Good performance when placed on a flat surface (from one side)

– Interesting styling

– Unusual single plane design

– Low price

– Nice storage case


Minuses:

– Heavy

– Noisy

– Unbalanced when held

– Only spins well on one side


Summary:

Although it has its fair share of quirks, this spinner still delivers fun thanks to its unusual styling and low price.


Thanks to LuckyBaby for the discounted review unit.


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Published on June 17, 2017 14:28 • 2 views

June 15, 2017

As was reported last night, Keith Robinson, who was a manager and video game producer at Mattel Electronics from 1981 – 1984 and worked on various Intellivision games, including Tron Solar Sailer (1983), and President of Intellivision Productions, Inc., since 1997, passed away yesterday from heart and kidney failure at the age of 61. Keith also wrote and drew the weekly comic, Making It, since 1985.


Although I only had a chance to engage with Keith on a limited basis (our paths crossed when working on the Intellivision Flashback console for AtGames), and unfortunately never in person, in my brief interactions, my own impressions certainly affirm the outpouring of wonderful stories about what a great guy he was. I offer my sincere condolences to his family and friends.


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Published on June 15, 2017 05:47 • 3 views