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Undeniable – our DNA tells the story of humanity and life…

31 Jan

No matter how hard I try, I can’t get the images of the grown American man crying at the airport because his brother who had finally received his LEGAL, BONA-FIDE, permanent resident green card (after years of vetting and background checks) was detained at the airport.  It was heart-breaking and moved me to tears.  Without bringing politics or partisanship into play, I feel for anyone who faces rejection for any reason.  That’s just who I am… (and I’ve personally been through the visa, green card and citizenship road – it takes years of poking, prodding, investigation, interviews, background checks, more investigation, more interviews, vetting, etc. – it is certainly not a slam dunk, passport stamp process!)

I am optimistically hopeful with the new USA administration, and I am also cautiously concerned about some of the sweeping rhetoric and views expressed by elected officials with “we, the people’s” best interests in mind.  I hope that calm heads prevail and that kindness and sanity become our moniker!  America is and was great… period.

As someone who is not a Native American Indian, I am among the 99% of Americans who immigrated to this country.  I am not ashamed to say that an IMMIGRANT and if you are American and reading this, so are YOU (most likely!)

I love the people, the ambition, the open-mindedness, and overall savoir faire attitude and freedom.

I am also learning that history repeats itself (and not always in a good way…)

Last year I visited the National Archives in Washington, DC where the historical documents dating back hundreds of years are preserved and displayed.  I took particular note of turn of the century (early 1900’s) manuscripts and documents authored by immigrants (who were now in power in the U.S.) who cast laws to prevent immigration of their own people  (at the time I think it was Italians, in particular) — just a handful of years later.

I was bewildered by the fact that these men felt justified to enter the country as foreigners through Ellis Island (and obviously, in their opinion, they were good, upstanding, worthy of entry, people) and just a few years later, judged their own countrymen as scoundrels with ill-intent.  I’m still perplexed how power and money changes people. (I still smile at lawmakers who judge the unemployed as “lazy” until they, themselves are unemployed…)

It is interesting how inclusion of ourselves is important, but exclusion of others (who are exactly us – just separated by time) prevail when it’s no longer us who are directly affected.

How easy it is to judge and make rules when they don’t affect us personally.  I agree that we need to keep the “bad people” out of our country (as should any country!) – it’s just common sense, and…

I am also disturbed and concerned that we continue to repeat our history, instead of learning from it (I am intimately familiar with this trend of “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results” in software development!  But, that’s another story…)  There has to be a better way.

DNA doesn’t lie and we are all connected as humanity…

I’d like to share this video with you simply for your comments and consideration.  It brings me to tears every time I watch it, so I’m just leaving it here…

Comments?  Wishing you a peaceful, happy, optimistic and uplifting day, week, year!

Love, C

Own Your Day or it will Own You…

17 Jan

Thanks for joining me here today!  It’s going to be an awesome day ahead – or is it?

It’s been almost 18 months since I’ve posted on this blog and today is the day I do something different and start posting again.  Since June 2015, a lot of things have happened in my life – both positive and negative (I’m sure it’s the same for you!) – the most notable that I haven’t earned an income since May of last year, despite having the expertise, experience, putting myself out there, having tons of positivity, optimism, and donating my time to my industries (through various volunteer Board of Directors work.)

For whatever reason, I’ve hit a brick wall in terms of income (I can’t collect unemployment as an independent consultant,) and… yet I’m surviving, and it’s time I got back on the road to financial abundance.  I’m not sure exactly HOW that will happen, but meanwhile I’d like to share a few of the survival tips I’ve learned as I start posting twice weekly from now on.

attitude

I’ve found a couple of awesome life coaches/friends who encourage me to stay positive despite the financial lull and sometimes a lack of positive supportive people in my life.  Maybe this resonates with you?

I’m grateful for so many things in my life (health, friends, opportunities, partnership, inspiration….) and as my world changes and I become more abundant (here’s hoping!) I’d like to encourage others, through my blog posts here, to know that life doesn’t end when you hit a gap in earnings!

I’m a Big Proponent of Positive / Optimistic Thinking

I love books and motivational speakers and reading anything that promotes good health, self-love, and the Law of Attraction (making dreams come true!) – and I love promoting people and things that create positive energy, so I’d like to share two great inspirations I found today: (Thank you to both Maria and Marie !)

  • One Wise Life – daily Facebook motivational sessions.  Maria Flynn of OneWiseLife.com hosts an incredible, daily 9:30 EST Facebook Live session. – Today’s session was very relevant to me:  “If you Don’t Own Your Day, Your Day will Own You.”  Here’s the link to the rebroadcast (click on the pic)

one-wise-life-own-your-day-jan-17

  • MarieForleo.com videos  – today’s segment was about the importance of a positive attitude with some great advice:

marie-forleo-attitude-jan-17

Becoming my own Cheerleader…

One of the ways I’ve discovered that I can be productive, do market research in customer service and put myself out in the mainstream to find new work (hopefully in my specialty) is to bartend at major sporting events.  While the financial gains are yet to manifest, it does remind me that cheerleading is an important part of sporting events – and also in life.

One of my goals in 2017 is to finally write (and take the journey) to become my own best cheerleader!  I hope you’ll join me along the way, keep reading, and share this blog if it resonates with you.  Sometimes I feel like a lone eagle who joyfully supports, inspires and (hopefully) motivates others – and I’m learning that I need to do the same for myself.

I’d love to hear your comments – or brickbats.  Blogging can be a lonely sport – and I’m hoping something I say might inspire you along the way.  And if you have ideas on how I can find contracts, speaking engagements and just to say hi – drop me a note (caroldekkers at gmail dot com.)  Thanks for reading and…

Have an awesome week!

Carol

Change is the Natural State… 1sts, lasts, and nevers

22 Mar

Seth Godin (best-selling author, consultant, celebrity) does a daily blog that inspires me for two reasons:

1. Anyone who can write intelligent postings every single day (including weekends!) has it going on.  (He’s at one end of the spectrum with an open mind compared to many who blurt out the same drivel every day… and no, I’m not referring to particular TV network “spokespeople”);

2. His range of motion in terms of topics is astounding.

I wanted to share with you his post from today called First and Never (click on the title to access the post) which is an interesting way of looking at change. It is interesting to note that most people devote time to resisting and rejecting change so that they can remain in their comfortable wagon rut (remember TV westerns where huge “ruts” were left by the wheels of covered wagons as they ploughed through mud?)  And yet we talk about the Need for Progress (which only comes with change!)

What Seth doesn’t mention are the “lasts” – which relates to my belief that the gift in life is the present (today).  Seth mentions the firsts (first time experience – often you recognize these immediately when they happen), never agains (which are retrospective looks at past experiences that won’t happen again), but neglect the Lasts.  I believe that the fact that we never realize a “last time” occurrence until after it is past is an important aspect of the experience.  While it might sound morbid to think that anything or everything we do could be our “last time” to do it, I prefer to turn that around and extol the moment for its innate virtue.  While we lament over the never agains, it is my fervent belief that we ought to enjoy every pleasurable moment (as soon as we realize that we’re feeling something positive) and extol the people, places, feelings, smells, sounds, sights and wonder of it all. Should it turn out later to have been a “last” time we will have a fully experienced happy memory to recall.

Think about how this could transform your life – a staff meeting could become less of a chore and a bore if we take the time to chuckle when someone tells a joke (instead of lamenting how lame it was) or when we feel a sense of joy as someone describes an accomplishment.  More than likely it won’t be our last staff meeting (or even a memorable one) but if we take the time to enjoy the little moments of joy as they occur, we’ll find that they are more frequent that we realize (is this what is meant by “take time to smell the flowers”?_

I know how positive this has been for me — when I take the time to recognize the moments of pleasure and joy sprinkled throughout my oft-busy day, the inconveniences and petty disturbances grow smaller.  The gift of life is always the present (live for today) – and I’m finding that the 1sts, lasts and never agains are just a (good) part of overall life.

Thank you Seth for inspiring me to look at life in a different and inspiring way!

Have a good weekend!

Regards,
Carol

Carol Dekkers, Software Measurement and Global Software Development expert, author, speaker. Want to engage Carol to be a speaker at your next event? Email Ms. Dekkers at dekkers@qualityplustech.com or carol@caroldekkers.com or visit http://www.caroldekkers.com for details.

dekkers@qualityplustech.com
http://www.caroldekkers.com
http://www.qualityplustech.com

Expand your horizons, enrich your life

19 Mar

For years I’ve encouraged technical conference attendees (some of you might consider these to be “nerd” conferences) to read what their customers are reading – I called it reading outside the box – to gain an understanding of what is relevant in other industries. And I’ve always adhered to that as much as possible by reading Fast Company, Travel and Leisure, Time, Financial Times, etc.  It always expands my horizons through continuous learning.  I continue to find new opportunities to apply this wisdom in my life!  Rather than simply reading about other industries, I’ve started to take part by volunteering and helping out with local community events for the City of Clearwater (sporting and cultural events), local charity events, and one of my favorites: Film Festivals.

GIFFThis weekend (Mar 18-21, 2010) is the Gasparilla International Film Festival (GIFF) in Tampa and tonight’s opening event was a celebratory night of filmmakers, sponsors, students, fans, and industry notables. Not only was the event fun, it was a learning experience to network with non-software industry people who are passionate about their profession.  If you’re in Tampa or the vicinity this weekend, take in a film or two and join the festivities – if you’re a software professional I can tell you that it’s such fun to venture out from our regular environment.  Expand your horizons beyond the “software industry” and you’ll be surprised at how much it enriches your (work and personal) life!

Have a nice weekend!

Regards,
Carol

Carol Dekkers, Software Measurement and Global Software Development expert, author, speaker. Want to engage Carol to be a speaker at your next event? Email Ms. Dekkers at dekkers@qualityplustech.com or carol@caroldekkers.com or visit http://www.caroldekkers.com for details.

dekkers@qualityplustech.com
http://www.caroldekkers.com
http://www.qualityplustech.com

Read Carol Dekkers’ other blog (Musings about Software Development) at http://musingsaboutsoftwaredevelopment.wordpress.com

Copyright 2010 Carol Dekkers – All Rights Reserved ———————

The freedom to DISassociate is a basic American Right…

18 Mar

Most of us were raised with good morals and values including be nice to others, share, don’t kick sand in another’s face, and if you don’t have something good to say, don’t say anything.  I find that these are good childhood teachings but our current society seems to be more and more devoid of such practices.

In my travels to conferences and public events throughout the world, I have the opportunity to observe human behavior at its best (at charity events where people are truly devoted to making a difference) and its worst (crowded airports on a snow day) and everything in between.  While it seems that the overall societal level of frustration in the U.S. has increased since the recession set foot, the majority of people I meet are kind, considerate human beings.  Every once in a while I encounter someone who is just plain “nasty” and it always gives me pause because they are so different from most people I meet.  Last night was one of those times.

Every year on my friend’s birthday eve, we go out to to a local neighborhood pub to celebrate her birthday and St. Patrick’s Day, and we are always amazed at the variety of “characters” and how the economy doesn’t seem to have affected St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. We were lucky to get seats at the bar and were enjoying the atmosphere and high energy of bar patrons who came up close behind us to jostle for position and attention of the bartenders to order their concoctions.  It was an interesting vantage point for observing patrons who seemed to be invisible despite their courtesy and patience – some simply couldn’t attract the attention of the servers (they weren’t scantily clad) and became increasingly frustrated as others who arrived later were served first. We ended up having “informal jobs” of flagging down passing bartenders when people in our vicinity started to lament the length they waited to be served.  Patrons were appreciative when we assisted them and were relieved to finally get a drink.

Things were going swimmingly until a “mean” (I’ll explain) bartender yelled “don’t point” and then “don’t call my attention” – loudly scolding three separate people at the bar for trying to aid stranded patrons whose pleadings for service fell on deaf ears. I can understand frustration (the pub WAS crowded) and the stress of working (but there were another 6 bartenders on shift behind the bar) — but the behavior was so sudden and disrespectful that it attracted the attention of everyone within earshot including other servers – who stopped to pause – before continuing on.  Everyone around us was stunned!  Had any of the other bartenders reacted or if they had with anyone else at the bar, it could be considered to be a single mean moment… but as we sat there in shock and silence we realized this same server had done this exact behavior last St. Patrick’s day!

I remember reading a Dec 2009 column from RealSimple.com called “10 Truths I wish I’d known sooner” by Amy Bloom. #7 on her list came to mind “Mean doesn’t Go Away”. In the article, Amy states:  Mean people suck

“7 Mean doesn’t go away. Some people get better looking with age; some don’t. Some people soften; some toughen up.  Mean streaks tend not to disappear. A person who demeans and belittles you and speaks of you with contempt to others is probably going to be that way for years. The first time it happens, take note. The second time, take your coat and go.”

That’s exactly what we did – took our coats and went – since it is a pub we want to revisit again, we will register complaints with the management.  Over the past several weeks I’ve come to realize that a basic freedom is the Freedom to Associate Freely, which we readily embrace – but we don’t often practice the freedom to also DISassociate freely.  Whether it is in our homes, our neighborhoods, at work, or in public – as adults and Americans we have the choice and the freedom to DISassociate! With over 7 billion people in the world, we need to know that there are many good people with whom we can CHOOSE to associate.

I spent far too many years defending and justifying mean behavior because I simply didn’t recognize it and didn’t exercise my right to DISassociate, but I’m learning. Disassociation from mean people is an important part of our own health and welfare – yet somehow we fail to practice this freedom.  What do YOU think?

Wishing you a productive and happy week and weekend!

Regards,
Carol

Carol Dekkers, Software Measurement and Global Software Development expert, author, speaker. Want to engage Carol to be a speaker at your next event? Email Ms. Dekkers at dekkers@qualityplustech.com or carol@caroldekkers.com or visit http://www.caroldekkers.com for details.

dekkers@qualityplustech.com
http://www.caroldekkers.com
http://www.qualityplustech.com

Read Carol Dekkers’ other blog (Musings about Software Development) at http://musingsaboutsoftwaredevelopment.wordpress.com

Copyright 2010 Carol Dekkers – All Rights Reserved ———————

Too many Choices Kill the Sale

16 Mar

It’s a basic American right to choose — we want to choose french fries or mashed potatoes with our meal, our salad dressing, our clothing, our partners, our lifestyle.  To be robbed of choice is tantamount to prison – even when it comes to minor things like paper or plastic bags at our grocery checkout.  But, can there be too many choices?

choiceResearch shows that the human brain can handle only a finite number of choices at once without losing track of what was already presented – if I remember correctly from a research presentation, I think the ideal number was six or seven – and choices beyond our limit causes what I call “choice paralysis”.  One study cited on the American Psychological Association’s website states:

“Chernev reports on four studies where he finds that the bigger the assortment, the harder it is for people to choose, except under one condition: when they enter with an articulated preference. In that case, they often choose what Nobel Laureate Herb Simon, PhD, first referred to as a “satisficing” option: the first decent choice that fits their preference as opposed to exhaustively scanning all options until finding the perfect, or “maximizing” one.”

Think about your own Encounters with Choice

If you don’t believe that too much choice is paralyzing, consider what you think is the most popular flavor at a Baskin-Robbins ice cream parlor – despite the 53 flavors of ice cream (changing daily) the favorite remains – are you ready for this: VANILLA!  We are creatures of habit and not up for that many choices when it comes to testing our palate (or our life) on new things.

Another example is Girl Scout cookies.  I always found it easy to select one or two different boxes to purchase at a grocery store exit when there were only 5 or 6 choices displayed.  Did you know that now there are actually ELEVEN different flavors of Girl Scouts cookies available including the 2010 introduction of “Thank  U Berry Munch”?  Fortunately for me, the current display outside my grocer in FL features only the five most popular choices. This is a good thing for me – and for the Girl Guides (who make money on sales) or I’d probably leave without making a purchase (actually in the case at hand I’d always purchase at least one box since Samoas are my “satisficing” favorite!)

Derek Severs posted a blog in the fall of 2009 about research outlining the Jam Experiment where shoppers given too many choices purchased 10x less jam than those presented with a smaller array of options. Here’s an excerpt:

“For 10 years, Columbia professor Sheena Iyengar has been studying choice.  For her research paper, “When Choice is Demotivating”, they ran a great test:

  • They set up a free tasting booth in a grocery store, with six different jams.  40% of the customers stopped to taste.  30% of those bought some.
  • A week later, they set up the same booth in the same store, but this time with twenty-four different jams.  60% of the customers stopped to taste.  But only 3% bought some!
  • Both groups actually tasted an average of 1.5 jams.  So the huge difference in buying can’t be blamed on the 24-jam customers being full. “

Derek’s assessment (click here to read the entire post) goes on discuss rationale for such results but the bottom line is that those with too many choices bought TEN TIMES LESS PRODUCT — buyer paralysis indeed!

ChoicesThink of times when you’ve had too many choices on a website or on a restaurant menu – nested if’s become too difficult in our already too-busy lives — and quickly we yearn for simplicity.  For example, do you want grande/venti/colossal/mega/gargantuan/enormous, with/without/soy/almond milk/skim/full-fat/half-fat/half and half/whipped/partially whipped/steamed?  My response is ‘duh’ – not only do I not know what I want, I have no idea what my friend asked me to buy… Eventually I either order two medium regular coffees to go, or nothing at all (and all I can think is “get me out of here!”)

What can we Learn from Too Many Choices?

Following the Pareto Principle (80/20 rule) we know that we can capture 80% of the market with purely 20% of the options we think we need to provide.  So, save time, energy, and development time by limiting the options available to five or less, and earn more sales and bigger profits.  At the same time, you’ll save your customers stress and decision-making gymnastics as long as you provide them with a choice – just not a vast array of overwhelming features!

Wishing you a highly productive (and stress-reduced) week!

Regards,
Carol

Carol Dekkers, Software Measurement and Global Software Development expert, author, speaker. Want to engage Carol to be a speaker at your next event?      Email Ms. Dekkers at dekkers@qualityplustech.com or carol@caroldekkers.com or visit http://www.caroldekkers.com for details.

dekkers@qualityplustech.com
http://www.caroldekkers.com
http://www.qualityplustech.com

Read Carol Dekkers’ other blog (Musings about Software Development) at http://musingsaboutsoftwaredevelopment.wordpress.com

Copyright 2010 Carol Dekkers – All Rights Reserved ———————

Can’t Focus with all the Noise? Try Kanban…

15 Mar

Too much to do, too little time! seems to be the mantra of today.  With our minds racing at 100 miles an hour and distractions coming at us from every direction (sound, sights, demands, emails, tweets, Facebook pings, instant messages, texts, phone calls, ARGH!!!) it’s amazing that we get anything done that we set out to do…

I’ve stumbled on a solution from software development that I think is equally applicable to our everyday lives and can dim the ongoing noise and clatter of living in a modern world – it’s called “Kanban” (from Japan) and it is the newest cooperative approach to agile software development (for more information see www.kanban101.com or AgileManagement.net).  For non-technical readers, one of the advantages of the Kanban approach is to “Limit the amount of work in progress” and I’ll explain in a bit how this will benefit everyone who wants to increase productivity and the quality of life!

Turn down the Noise! Most of us who are over the age of 35 can remember the days before ipods and mp3 players when teen years were challenging to find the exact volume for music that was loud enough to hear and quiet enough to stop the lamenting calls from mom and dad.  The same thing happens these days in our heads – there is so much clutter, distraction, and ongoing interruptions as we go about to complete our days that it becomes difficult to focus on any finite group of tasks – and as a result we end up spending our days like robots – shifting focus and effort every time another demand calls for immediate attention.  If we can find a way to limit distractions to those that are urgent or minimal – then we can complete more work in less time. This is the goal of Kanban – more, high quality work, completed in record time, with minimum bottlenecks and maximum focus (my paraphrasing!)  So, let’s see what we can take from Kanban and apply to everyday life…

Kanban works on the notion of having an “Input Queue” or pile of tasks that need to get done – think of this like your weekly or monthly to-do list, from which “work” is taken off the pile and started. This piece of work or task enters the “work in progress” pipeline (my visual term) and goes through what is referred to as “swim lanes” (whatever you are doing goes through steps from start to completion) before it gets to the end where it is completed and is “done”.  At this point, the work is no longer “in progress” but finished or passed on to another person or stage or simply crossed off the queue.  Once a task enters the swim lane (forward moving progress), life happens!  The task might take longer to do or be harder than you thought (and you might return it to the queue for later retrieval or adjust your schedule to accommodate this), you might need additional help, other more urgent requests may come in – there’s all sort of things that can happen before you complete the work. The neat thing about Kanban is that you only work on things that is important (i.e., there is a priority and classification step for the queue) and you Limit Work In Progress to the capacity you have!  Wow, industry principles we can use in everyday life

Kanban Principles for Everyday Living. Here’s my short list for Kanban trials in my own life this week (I’ll  report back on my own results next week):

To-do list1. There is no limit to the amount of things that can go on the queue – but you have to document what’s in the queue! (Like the old to-do list) The difference is that each item must have a description (as short as two words – sort laundry), a requestor (who asked for it, partners who will help, etc), a work type (is it a fix, a routine, something new, what’s it going to take to do it), and priority (date driven, mandatory, nice to do, etc). Over time, items in the queue can be added, dropped, changed, merged, etc.

2. Nothing is taken out of the queue to work on by accident. Unless there is capacity (you have the time, resources, extra help,  or something else has been removed from the work in progress pipeline) – nothing new is added to the work-in-progress pipeline.  This doesn’t mean that we cannot be multitasking or attending to children’s or answering the phone while working on something – it simply means that we LIMIT the amount of items we work on at once.

3. Focus on the WIP (work in progress) and don’t go back to the queue unless something urgent arises. When we have too many things presented as urgent during the day, we end up being paralyzed by choices.  There is a limit to the number of choices we humans can handle at once (think of the overwhelming menu choices at some restaurants) – and when we try to tackle to many things at once, we become ineffective at doing anything!

4. Don’t be afraid to take WIP out of the swim lane /pipeline if it doesn’t fit today. Too often we overestimate our abilities to get something done alone, or the amount of time something will take, or the resources we need to complete a task.  This is one of the beauties of Kanban – a task can be taken out of the pipeline and placed back on the queue for later completion or can be set aside until a bottleneck is removed – and there is no harm done!  We want to limit the amount we put in so that we can guarantee what comes out!  We can also “Block” a task (and not work on it) until something downstream becomes available to complete it (e.g., after someone else picks up a needed ingredient) and work on other items in the pipeline (still within our capacity) . It is a flexible but FOCUSED approach to our work.

5. If an urgent item must be done, put another WIP item aside. Similar to #3, urgent matters can interrupt and take precedence over an item in progress. The key principle here is that we consciously take (or block) the WIP to be able to handle this new item.  We are not constantly surveying the queue to see what else might be coming (diverting our energy and focus), and we are not constantly looking over our shoulders for distractions. We are focusing on and working through whatever item(s) we have the  capacity to do at the current point in time.

6. Inform everyone that there is a limited WIP size! This goes for yourself first, then friends, family, co-workers, strangers, phone callers – everyone!  It is mature and healthy to figure out our capacity and limitations for our WIP limit – and the number should be somewhere less than six, ideally a maximum of four items depending on the size and complexity of the task.  Once you inform everyone of this capacity, they will begin to understand the impact that interruptions, urgent requests, and constant demands make on the work in progress. It is simple common sense (seldom practiced in this area) to know your own capacity for work.  The saying goes – how do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time… If we place a task as large as an elephant in our work in progress pipeline – there is room for NOTHING else!  So, divide the elephant into bite size pieces and place them on the queue and tackle them one bite at a time as your WIP pipeline allows.

7. (This is the maximum number of steps or choices we can ever handle at once!) Revisit the queue only periodically or when you complete work! This is a disciplined step that many of us will struggle with. Only check your email inbox (a queue) once a day or when you’ve completed other work. I’m doing that now. My WIP is this posting and I haven’t checked email or answered the phone during this writing.

That’s it!  What do you think?  Want to try Kanban on your life today and see if it makes a difference in your week?  Let me know how it works for you.

I’ll be back here next week with a Kanban board (visual chart of what I’ve used to track my WIP) and how it worked for me.

Best wishes for a productive week!

Regards,
Carol

Carol Dekkers, Software Measurement and Global Software Development expert, author, speaker. Want to engage Carol to be a speaker at your next event?      Email Ms. Dekkers at dekkers@qualityplustech.com or carol@caroldekkers.com or visit http://www.caroldekkers.com for details.

dekkers@qualityplustech.com
http://www.caroldekkers.com
http://www.qualityplustech.com

Read Carol Dekkers’ other blog (Musings about Software Development) at http://musingsaboutsoftwaredevelopment.wordpress.com

Copyright 2010 Carol Dekkers – All Rights Reserved ———————

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