Podcast episode 138 transcription
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[00:00:00] Patrick Wu: Thanks Al. Hi everyone. Welcome back to the rainforest leaders, innovators, and big ideas podcast. My name is Patrick and with me today is Louis Berman. he is one of the founders. Is that correct? Of the Calgary UX meetup?
[00:00:15] Luis Berumen: No, no, no. I took over some of the direction in 2019 but yeah, they, they meet obviously been around for almost 10 years, actually November 3rd we are celebrating our first decades of existence. And, yeah, let's say I just took over from a large lineage of design leaders and thought people that wanted to make Calgary UX an ongoing thing. So yeah, it's an ongoing thing for ten years.
[00:00:45] Patrick Wu: So it's only, it's only been two years for you and you already made like a very big name for yourself. I think you, you are like the face of the Calgary UX meetup group, and there's a lot of people in the community we think. No, no, you, at this point.
[00:00:58] Luis Berumen: Yeah. So tell me, I don't, I don't think I should be the face, you know, I think, if we have to have a face, I think it should be collective or at least somebody with a much better face, but if they say it needs to attach the name to for community I am find with it,
but really the idea is to make it something that allows people to step in, to make a project, to build creative spaces and to move on. Right. They don't need to stay to long but just good enough to make it up.
[00:01:29] Patrick Wu: Yeah. Great. Well, I mean, we've, we've already kind of gotten into that a little bit. So how did you get involved with the Calgary UX thing?
Or maybe let's go back a little bit. Like, how did you get into design? Where, where, like, you know, what were you like as a kid? How did, how did you get to where you are today?.
[00:01:45] Luis Berumen: That's that's almost 40 years back. So it's it's yeah, let's say flashback eh, well, the honest truth is that I always felt like a designer, you know, and, in Mexico, yeah.
We kind of history of creative endeavors, trying to be very artistic in many ways. At the same time, we don't have a design culture to really grasp on. So for me, it was a mostly trying to understand the symbols of the building something I tried to do to put together some toys or some ideas or some drawings, and then finding that a yeah, that's called design.
And, yeah, it takes a couple of decades to really it out what actually a designer does, but really the incentive and the ideas were always there.
[00:02:43] Patrick Wu: Did you, did you go to school for design?
[00:02:45] Luis Berumen: Yes. Yes, yes, yes. Yes. in that sense. yeah, I want to, well, the university's called Jalisco, which is in Guadalajara my home town.
And yeah, I spent five years in university just trying to learn how to be a designer. It's a, it's a very interesting curriculum because you can be, you have to learn graphic design, industrial design. And at that time when we were a, just discovering what exactly the web is, you know, beginning of the 2000's and was smart about multimedia, right?
So we were thinking about, either design the pages in flash or trying to understand basic HTML and trying to see how the upgrade the website and just see. So it's been a long time and we have be there. Let's say that is phase for also a longer time, but what can I say? You know, if you have a.
They the impression of how you want to be a designer at the end that technology comes and you adapt to it. Right. So it doesn't matter if you've had to do graphic design and industrial design, or UX in this case.
[00:03:51] Patrick Wu: It's crazy to think kind of what, what the internet was like on a back in the early two thousands, late nineties, like the wild west of the internet back then, like definitely, flash for example, even just that name alone was like, man, we haven't heard about Flash in like ages my goodness. But how, how, how much, in your opinion do you think the Internet's kind of evolved since those days?
[00:04:13] Luis Berumen: Wow. Hmm. That's a good question. Because in many ways it has the both, and also has the bolt. So when are you? I, at the beginning thought that the internet was a way to connect people by that's a way to
to to talk to a stranger and trying to figure out where, what this person needs you and who they are and trying to get me to conversations that we never figured out before. You know, so it busted at the time of having a Yahoo chat, I don't know if you ever heard or seen about it?
[00:04:43] Patrick Wu: I remember like MSN and AOL, but I guess Yahoo had their own thing back then, you know?
[00:04:50] Luis Berumen: Yeah. So, so in that sense, there were not many opportunities to do beyond your own sphere or having your own community and just stuck to some particular set of people. It was more like a access to everybody at the same time and just fantasy. What was going. And now things are much more regulated and certainly things have evolved up to a point where extremely hard to remind you that life without internet existed before that, at the same time, it's also very easy to just talk to a particular set of people or go to it does take a really niche set of interfaces and experiences there. So that's where I feel like we have been through a very interesting journey but at the same time we have missed, something's not developed.
[00:05:38] Patrick Wu: Yeah. Well, since after graduating then where did you, where did you end up going?
[00:05:42] Luis Berumen: Well, I, I spent some time in Mexico saving some money to go to Barcelona.
I always wanted to live and work there. That was my dream since I was 12 years old. And, yeah, they, they, original idea is, or was to get the master's degree in product development and that time I was dreaming about making physical products, you know, it just like a Stoller sort or a crutches or anything that had a industrial design component.
I was super excited about it. Then once I finished my master degree. I worked for a little while over there, and that's when I had the opportunity to start working at an agency and discover there was that there was something much more a relevant happening at the time the because my introduction to user experience.
And I had the chance to start working for the e-commerce side of Panasonic. And yeah, it was, it was a very formative experience because it was really crazy how you can make a change and suddenly 8,000 people will be able to, to see that right now, 8,000 doesn't sound like much. But for me, it does the idea of a, if you design a product, eh, you have to wait six months until all the moulds and all the material gets done.
And if you're lucky maybe 20 people are going to buy it and they are going to like it. And maybe it's going to get a potential commercial. success and yeah, if you made a mistake well, too bad you cannot fix it. I'm very prone to mistakes. I really appreciate it.
[00:07:22] Patrick Wu: I mean, it's a human thing, right? Everyone's prone to mistakes.
[00:07:26] Luis Berumen: Oh, well, in that case I'm more human than others, you know, but really what I wanted was to be able to. To connect with as many people as possible and having, having a platform like an e-commerce site, you can just kind of see right away how an improvement happens. And also a how that actually helps the bottom line for the business, that's just incredible.
[00:07:56] Patrick Wu: So you went from like an interest in physical product design and you kind of went into e-commerce.
Do you miss in product design? Would you'd like to try and like do a project back then, or
[00:08:06] Luis Berumen: it's funny because nowadays everything is circling back right now you have internet of things. So basically it's kinda like your, your products are just gaining his soul, you know, made out of a code. And you have artificial intelligence and censors., yeah, it's, I think of it. The next step, for UX is being much more involved into the physical side of the experience or getting into the beautiful side that emulates a ton of activity it's full immersion into, into other physical environments that we cannot really access. So you can see that.
[00:08:47] Patrick Wu: The tools and capabilities that you can learn from one experience either industrial design and graphic design. Are never really left behind. Right. It's just, they're just waiting for that. it just kind of becomes like this all encompassing thing of design at that point. Right.
[00:09:03] Luis Berumen: Or or maybe they have multiple branches that just suddenly invites them through other branches and it's just computer code right, but it's beautiful
[00:09:13] Patrick Wu: it's very true. Like even, even with what I'm working on right now, it turns out, even though I. Like my primary projects was working on a software product. It's integrated with a whole bunch of hardware. It's integrated with a whole bunch of physical devices that people are using. And you had to have to think about what does that whole experience look like outside and beyond the app?
What do people do with these products physically? And it all becomes like this full vertical thing, which I guess makes sense why our UX department has actually rolled into sales and product development because in the end, it's all very much tied to. The product development life cycle as well. So what are you up to these days?
So like, if it's not managing, not just managing the Calgary UX meetup, but then like what, what would you be doing otherwise?
[00:09:59] Luis Berumen: Wow. yeah, so I keeping myself quite busy, but then let's say my full-time job right now is that the Enbridge innovation lab and, yeah, there's quite a lot of, of work that is related to internal things sensor artificial intelligence
I'm not working on the side of, of virtual reality, but there, there is a group of people and teammates that I worked in on that side, let's say they are, they're proposing quite a lot of interesting things
[00:10:27] Patrick Wu: Enbridge is an oil and gas company, right?
[00:10:30] Luis Berumen: Yeah, exactly.
[00:10:30] Patrick Wu: So what are, what are they doing on, on virtual reality and, and that kind of side of innovation then?
[00:10:37] Luis Berumen: I can't really say too much on that side. Yeah, because obviously that is a bigger thing. and also some of the, the solutions that are, but these aren't meant on it for the company. So the company certainly is that big, that allows a part of the company to produce their own solutions that other part of the company will adopt
and that's, I think one of the most interesting things that caught my attention, because most of the time you don't get to have a captive audience, right. Then you don't get to see who is going to be your or decide who's going to be your user, but in this case, have much more control on that. So that made it really interesting.
[00:11:20] Patrick Wu: Maybe, maybe then the better question to ask is not specifically within Enbridge, but like, do you find that our oil and gas sector is actually taking advantage? like design aspect of things and integrating them into their products and services.
[00:11:32] Luis Berumen: Hmm. That's a good question. Eh, I think actually I've seen quite a lot of, really great companies and solutions that have come out.
It seems maybe, well, when was that it was 2012. Yeah. So whenever you see a, sort of a crisis happening on the oil and gas industry there's also a conflict, a counterbalance of either a group of people that are trying to use technology to improve efficiencies or a kind of like the market adjusts itself to match the particular circumstance.
So let's say from the first crisis that I remember the site, these have been here for 12 years, so we had a couple of them going on
[00:12:16] Patrick Wu: Oh man ya, that was like 10 years ago now almost.
[00:12:20] Luis Berumen: So let's say for, they saw this opportunity for processes to need to apply and sometimes you involve a kind of like, assisting on a crisis or performing some particular actions or a time to be on, on places and, a consensus that are normally quite dangerous. And I guess also you can see that there are many places, especially in Canada, where if you just stay more than half an hour, you are going to die, because the second it's either very cold or they, the environment is potentially hazardous.
So if they send me anything that allows people to avoid those spaces, there is a chance for technology to assist in that sense.
[00:13:08] Patrick Wu: Let's, let's talk a little bit about the Calgary UX meetup group then. So what you already kind of alluded to it, but like what drew your attention to this? What, so you, you know, a little bit about what happened before, do you know kind of how it was started? It's like 10 years ago you said.
[00:13:26] Luis Berumen: I don't know.
and this is maybe something I need to do. You know, I need to make a, an event where I gathered all the original, foundational elements and try to see, try to piece together. This history you have for such a long time. And certainly I've been a member since I think it was two thousand and 14 or 16, but at the same time, one of the biggest challenges they had was.
[00:13:54] Luis Berumen: quite a lot of, the, the events and the setup where physical and we're downtown. So for me a to actually get there on time, that meant either leaving work earlier because I was working in the Northeast or trying to plan my day around it. And that was very hard for me. So it just was one of the classic ones that you just sign up.
And I was just looking at the events that I, I just missed, I'm going to make it my personal homework. You're not just trying to get this out, that, that, that history and trying to find a way to record it and pass it on. So it really feels like it belongs and it's part of a much more complete compass
[00:14:36] Patrick Wu: So, how did you eventually get roped into becomming like the main organizer of, of the Calgary UX meetup events then?
Well, I think, yeah, listen, that's a good question. I think it was just a set of coincidences. I think it was around 2018 when they got a email. I think it was from Jason [???] At the time. And he was,just as asking for, for us to complete a form, if you want it to be a collaborators, you know?
And, I just filled it out and forgot about it. It's the classic thing. Yeah. I would love to collaborate. I would love, I would love to volunteer and I, I just really put it on the back of my head and nothing happened until it was 2019. And then it was, yeah, I, I was contacted again. It's like, Hey, yeah, we're thinking about passing the, passing the Baton to another, another team.
We want to make it complete to the new leadership team. And I was invited there and, at the beginning we were, we were happy more members and,yeah. Then COVID happen and. what can they say? You know, if things got complicated for all their other team members and it's completely understandable, right?
Like it was a completely out of the circumstance. We were going to switch things, quite delicately, and also it's been a challenging time for everybody on the mental, physical and professional side. So it's some of us couldn't continue and, I just stick around until maybe another people come and that's got the baton
2019. It must've been an interesting time because you didn't really have a lot of time before suddenly 2020 hit. And then everything that came along with 2020 right. And do you, do you find that, like, I guess the, maybe the size of the group has now, like when you, when you started to going from physical events to virtual events, cause everyone had to go to virtual.
you know, I've been noticing that there's a lot more people kind of coming from outside of Calgary and outside of Canada, like just joining in on a lot of our meetup groups. Have you, have you kind of seen that, we've been getting a lot of growth in this meetup group then?
[00:16:46] Luis Berumen: Yeah. Yeah. What would seem crazy?
when, when I used to started, we were 1900 members. Now we are around 2,200. I, I keep tabs of where everybody's coming, you know, based on, on meet up information. So, so let's say it's publicly available. I'm not, not gripping on anybody's information, but for me it's really irrelevant because it really tells me what.
[00:17:12] Luis Berumen: And what kind of audiences are we attracting? Also a what kind of connection? So pernicious from the start of the working week, you know, so these days, for example, working with, the, a similar group from Edmonton makes a lot of sense, right? Like we need to work together as a province. And what has happened also in the very recent years is that there have been very recent in recent months.
Oh, feels like years, you know, but, yeah, we have been attracting quite a lot of people from a Toronto, from Vancouver. and from San Francisco and I don't know exactly what are the key reasons why they are looking at us, you know, but at the same time, It's really interesting that this places that normally is half a much more mature set of companies and practices and a better market for UX, they want to look at us and they want to connect.
[00:18:13] Patrick Wu: That's really interesting. Yeah. So, well, what's your hypothesis then? Of why, why do you think there's so much interest from these like, you know, cities that we would otherwise assume to have a much more mature tech org like innovation ecosystems, then
[00:18:27] Luis Berumen: That's a very good question it's really hard to point out yet because part of that could be maybe because of the accessibility of the events we try to actually welcome everybody. Right? They can hear me saying that the beginning of every event, but this is Calgary UX but if you are not coming, from Canada, you're welcome anyways and we really mean it we need everybody from everywhere. But at the same time, I think, some of the, the external circumstances that are happening allows us to start thinking outside the whole city.
So are there people from Toronto that are considering to move to Calgary, because obviously the housing market is way cheaper, or they have the maybe a different set of opportunities that they cannot really find in Toronto. Or they just were actually originally from Calgary, but they moved to Toronto and now they're seeing some activity and they want to come back because obviously the main families still here or their roots are stronger than maybe some other inclinations or some other connections that they have yielded over the years. So I still not completely 100% sure because it's still, it's hard to kind of like piece together the information, But I have a really good guess.
[00:19:53] Patrick Wu: Well? I mean, I imagine it's a lot of harder for you to just go straight up to these.
People's like, so why are you here? Even though we told you you're allowed to be here. Right. And it's a harder request in to just kind of throw at people I imagined,
[00:20:06] Luis Berumen: but at the same time, what can I say? You know, I, while some of that happens, I get to see some people from the select channel. Just mentioning that.
I'm from Calgary or I'm from Toronto and they want to see what's going on here
[00:20:23] Patrick Wu: not just like north America, like I'm from Brazil. I am from Spain. I am from like all these other places just around the world that like, you know, I, I distinctly remember there's a couple of events where people are like tuning in from Israel at 2:30 AM their time.
It's, it's crazy to see how many people are willing to come to these events. And, you know, the Calgary UX meetup does run a whole bunch of different events. So I remember seeing events for like, how do you use the software more appropriately? How do you do design systems? How do you find a job? What do you think?
Like have you kind of taken a look to see kind of like which types of events are people more interested in or are they all just generally very well attended.
[00:21:03] Luis Berumen: That's a yeah. I can see a pattern when it comes to about a double sponsored workshops has had a, huge response. And, yeah, there'll be as a brand and also the, the speakers are very well positioned, so they're really, really great.
So, yeah, let's say this once. I know that there are going to be a heat. Also, anything that is related to career development works very well. And, yeah, I think that even though those numbers are normally pretty fantastical, because sometimes it's really important to place him in a way that allows for other conversations and also a yeah.
Having a particular sense of when some conversations need to happen. One, one thing that was happening at the beginning of the years that I've got, when we had these a yeah. W we had this combination of things, the winter term was ending, which normally is the season for winter blues, and also COVID was rampant and the economy was unbelievably fantastic. So, yeah, I was noticing quite a lot of desperation. Sad faces on around the community. Right? So in that sense, there, wasn't a start talking about the community, to start talking about why we need to be involved or one why we need to up, because we need to make a, to focus more on hope on creativity and time to get us out of those well, let's say thoughts that somehow we're circulating,
[00:22:47] Patrick Wu: Building community to support each other. Right. During, during really tough times, which I think you've been doing a really, really good job, with, with that. Recently, the Calgary UX meetup has also joined platform Calgary, is that correct? And, now that the platform innovation center is done mostly, mostly done at this point, what's in, what's in store for the future, for the meetup.
[00:23:09] Luis Berumen: Wow. Yeah, let's say you asked that question two months ago. I was going to tell you. Yeah, well, we're going to meet in person and platform is going to be our next big place where you are going to be able to. And we'll all gather and create these sorts of,spaces where we're never going to meet with the different at a community center and potentially get a stronger sort of relationships.
But eh, obviously COVID is still around and, yeah, we need to reassess the plan. The plan is still is the same. But the one that's going to happen. I think maybe, both whenever I think of a date, it sounds more like I'm guessing. Right. But yeah, the idea is the same, you know, you're part of a community and Platform amazing partner, and I'm just trying to assist and support on whatever they are. doing and ya, we'll work together, I think,
[00:24:17] Patrick Wu: I think if people are still finding the meetups and the events and the topics that you discuss really valuable each time, then why not keep doing it. Right. And then when we do have the ability to come meet up in person, that will be a different dynamic. because obviously when you're meeting in person, now you have to figure out kind of, what about all these other people who are outside of Calgary, who might not be able to make it, and then. How do you ensure that that's all accessible still
[00:24:41] Luis Berumen: Yeah, that was there were a couple of ideas that I bounced some, some, community members and, yeah, certainly the possibility of having maybe mixed media event, part physical part to be virtual is very attractive. Exactly. Yeah. Or in my, in, for example, let's say you make it in the in-person workshop.
And at the end, you make a beautiful presentation of what happened with the other option. So that what allows us to start thinking about very creatively about how to involve people from different places. How do we manage your sources and technology to really achieve all of the circumstances that were not used to.
But at the same time, it implies some more planning implies some more training because as soon as we changed the skew, people potentially could get lost. So we will need to find more, more community ambassadors. So more, a catalyst that will allows us to connect and keep people in the loop. But, yeah, it's sort of, for us, we're just waiting for it for the rest of the province and the work to be on the same page and to be healthy
[00:25:58] Patrick Wu: I mean, I think for a lot of people who are looking to get into user experience, design or design in general, The meetup is a great resource to do it. What kind of advice do you, do you have for people who are saying I'm interested in learning more about UX or I'm interested in pivoting my job into UX?
any, any kind of advice from either like the events that you like hosted or just from your own personal experience?
[00:26:19] Luis Berumen: Wow.
Yeah. Okay. Well, not many. that's an answer that, that's a question that I answer pretty much every even day, you know, there is quite a lot of people that we reach either from Calgary UX, or I'm also a mentor at the U.P. And also I do some mentorship at design life.
And I think that the most important part, ah is to understand what kind of experience do you want, you know, because quite a lot of people have the intuition that they can be great designers and they are creative and they're very talented and they're very smart and they can come from different backgrounds doesn't matter.
But I think it is very important. To do a bit of research on what do you think they're going to get out of being a UX designer? Because it's a tough job, you know, like not all the time you're going to be able to create meaningful experiences. UI interfaces can be challenging. You'd have to convince a lot of people all the time and yeah, you have to either find alignment or sometimes
Deal with the circumstances that maybe investing on UX is not going to be possible at the time and is sometimes frustrating and the things that most people do not really get to feel that once they until they're getting into, into the profession and I want to let them know that yes, it's a wonderful profession.
You will love it. I'm sure that a, if you have a inclination to make the world a better place. This is going to be the profession for you while at the same time. Yeah. It's going to be challenging and it's going to rely much more on your capabilities to influence people, even if you don't have a leadership role or a, well, structured is sort of for authority than let's say how good you are working on [???].
[00:28:22] Patrick Wu: Yeah. I mean, I didn't realize it until I kind of started doing this work. How much UX actually is not even working with the software team that much, but you're working. The sales product team a lot more. And, it's, it's all stakeholder engagement first and foremost. And then you get, you go into your like Figma or your XD, our boards, and try to like figure things out.
But before then it's actually a remarkable amount of planning and it's a lot of thinking. then sometimes there are just days where my brain is just completely fried. I don't know about you.
[00:28:54] Luis Berumen: Well, actually, yeah, not many Fridays Fridays. That's when my, my brain is toasted. I guess we should have this conversation, on a Monday instead of Friday, today is Friday yeah
yeah. So normally a Saturday I used to spend it, you know, lay down and completely deflated. And then on Sundays I start taking that more physical shape again. But, yeah, at the same time we need more designers, right. So I'm not going to scare away too many people. And just to let them know that.
They, the challenge us out there. It is such a wonderful profession and has so many opportunities to be explored that we still haven't really imagined. So if they are coming from any other background or they have any inclination this is still valid they just need to find a market place for that or a company that's looking for these kind of people.
[00:29:56] Patrick Wu: Yeah and I think, I think having more design maturity is definitely a lot of like something that I think a lot of companies can really benefit from. just having, and even though I think a lot of people still think of design as like, you know, logos and graphics and websites and stuff like that. I think design is that bigger thinking, thinking, brainstorming strategic almost,organization organizational strategy type thing that you need to put together sometimes.
And I think that is where a lot of our companies, even within Calgary would benefit a lot from people who are passionate and interested in design and are able to kind of come in with that, with that skill.
[00:30:34] Luis Berumen: Yeah. I couldn't agree more. I couldn't agree more. I think one of the biggest challenges that the city has is to take full advantage of the opportunities we have.
Now, there are many companies that have great technology, but they still haven't figured out for it to commercialize how to make it more user friendly or more available for a bigger audience, because they, they are very well at building things, but not very well, but not, they are not great at explaining it or making it accessible for, for a largest set of, So I think this is the pain that we can start working.
And also another challenge is that sometimes the designers need to start thinking as entrepreneurs, as investors, as the stake holders, and either become or taking a role like that, or a being able to empathize and have to understand what did they need from what their react in the way they react. Because sometimes, yeah.
W we are really focused on trying to push out ideas, but yeah, if there are not any, eh, there is not that common ground to actually allow these ideas to do grow. Then we are not going to have a really good time with time trying to get traction on those projects. Right. So, yeah, it needs to be challenging because those are the kinds of things that they don't teach you at school.
And it's not until you start seeing that your products are failing time over time. Once you start asking yourself, well, why I'm not getting buy in? Why not? Why this idea is not really holding any sort of water.
[00:32:16] Patrick Wu: Yeah, no, it's, it's a, it's almost like a little bit more business school stuff could be snuck into design school every so often right? Well, last couple of questions I want to ask you first off, what's been like the most challenging thing about what you're doing. What do you. Not like it could be something trivial. They, you know, do not like getting the amount of emails. It's just like, something trivial like that, or what's been really challenging for you.
[00:32:37] Luis Berumen: Wow. That's a good question. and this is something that you need to consider if you want to stay inside for a really long time. I think, I think , we design for communities so I, there's something that point where I will need to make a decision of what's going to be my, my next. What kind of experience I'm looking for the next 20 years.
And at some point, those are going to come as a revelation or more as a, as a set of options that I would take for my own life or for the life of my family. But I think right now, the biggest complexity that a designer to face once they are reaching out some maturity, how to see current problems that we have been working on for years and how to see them in a very fresh way, how to adopt a beginner's mind. And especially once you are facing some frustration, how not becoming [???]. And it's very easy to make a parody of somebody else's needs or somebody else's issues. But it's really hard to be able to withstand the kind of things the negative things that you can be feeling at that particular moment and not piling them up with all the experiences that are missing that are accumulating from, from the past. Right. So all the time that the client said "Make the logo bigger" and you're like if I make it bigger it's going to be the whole size of the mobile phone. But what can you say you know? This side of the business is that ya you have to breath in, breath out and just trying to see how you're we accommodated the logic.
So you get the possible outcome. Yeah. After you do that for awhile, it starts digging in something. It starts a road in some, some processes in mind. Right? So it's not about how do you remain in this space? without really losing your sense of humanity at some point.
[00:34:46] Patrick Wu: Great. And I'm sure there's going to be a lot of people who will be interested in chatting with you and then coming to check out some stuff. So hopefully for the rest of our listeners, they, we will see some of them at our, next to Calgary UX meetup. I'm, I'm so grateful that we got a chance to, talk today.
So thank you so much for your time.
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