Blog

It was rumored for some time, but now it’s a reality.  Facebook has launched the Timeline feature for brand pages.  That includes your church’s page.  Here are some tips to help you get started.

March 6, 2012 0 2 comments
Blog

My name's Jerod Clark and I'm the new guide for the Church and Web network.  There’s something I know to be true: everything communicates something.  So why not be intentional about what you’re saying?   

March 5, 2012 0 2 comments
Blog

“How time do fly,” my dad sometimes jokes. It’s been a year since I started as the guide for The Network’s Church & Web section, and I will be saying so long, until we meet again -- which I’m sure we will, right here in The Network.

February 24, 2012 0 6 comments
Resource, Webinar Recording

This webinar was recorded on: Wed, 02/08/2012 In this webinar we'll take a tour of the site and look at examples of the connections being made. Plus we'll uncover tricks to getting the most out of the site, and ways to quickly tap into the collective knowledge and experience of fellow church members across the CRC.

February 8, 2012 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Do any of you use texting in your church? I think it’s a promising idea. Some churches encourage texting during church services, some use it for sending news, encouragement, prayer requests, whatever information they wish to share.

ChurchJuice has an article with notes from a webinar by...

February 4, 2012 0 0 comments
Resource, Webinar Recording

This webinar was recorded on: Wed, 02/01/2012 This webinar is a repeat of the January 25, 2012 webinar of the same name. Learn about web strategies: from planning and designing to content creation and updating. We'll talk about making your website visitor friendly as well as useful for members.

February 1, 2012 0 0 comments
Blog

This webinar was recorded on January 25, 2012 and then a repeat session was held on February 1.

January 27, 2012 0 0 comments
Resource, Webinar Recording

This webinar was recorded on: Wed, 01/25/2012 What does your church website say about you? Learn about web strategies: from planning and designing to content creation and updating. We'll talk about making your website visitor friendly as well as useful for members.

January 25, 2012 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

In this time of New Year’s resolutions, I, like many others, decided I should get more exercise. I had been thinking for a while that I would like to purchase an elliptical machine. So where do I go to find one? Craigslist, of course!

Most of you are probably familiar with craigslist, but...

January 15, 2012 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Happy new year! Top 10 lists are all over the place right now. I figured, why not join in? Below is a list of the articles or blogs that I consider some of our “Church and Web” top entries.

1. Thoughtful Use and Non-Use of Technology

The other 9 entries on my list are more “techie”...

January 2, 2012 0 1 comments
Blog

When her parents are getting her ready for church, my little 3-year-old granddaughter asks, “Are we going to the show?” That’s what she calls church -- “the show.” At her church, the service is shown via streaming video to the nursery where she goes each Sunday. Makes me wonder, how will “doing church” be different for future generations?

December 26, 2011 0 0 comments
Blog

Today I'd like to direct you to an article from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship called "Technology that Redeems Downtime." The article gives examples of the ways you and your church can use technology to "support a lifestyle of worship."

December 13, 2011 0 1 comments
Blog

An article by Joyce Suh reminds us that being “wired” presents a danger “of gradually cutting ourselves off from the blessing that comes with being face-to-face with another human being and from being face-to-face with God.” As we begin the Christmas season, it is good to remind ourselves of what is the most important in our lives, and to “turn our eyes upon Jesus.”

December 6, 2011 0 0 comments
Blog

A few weeks back I wrote about technology as a devotional tool and received some excellent suggestions of devotions available online from several of you. How about blogs? Have you found some good ones that you find help you grow in faith?

November 29, 2011 0 1 comments
Blog

What do you know about video? Well, if you’re Andrew Nutma, quite a bit. Andrew posted an entry in the forum called “Video Record 101.” You’ll learn about the low cost solution he found for video recording his church’s services. Has your church started video recording? 

November 15, 2011 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

 

Video Recording Church Service 101

So you are sitting in church thinking, man I would love it if my friend could hear this message, or see this baptism, or wedding, or funeral etc. If you’re my wife you are thinking oh boy here he goes again.

The question is how would...
November 8, 2011 0 5 comments
Resource, Article

Ever wonder why using Facebook and/or Twitter for your church would be a good idea? Or what in the world would you write about if you set up a Facebook page? Or what if I start using Twitter and someone posts something negative about our church? There’s a webinar on The Network that will help...

November 8, 2011 0 3 comments
Blog

I love technology. If you’re reading this blog, you may enjoy it, too. But, even though I appreciate the use of technology, I also appreciate it when people are thoughtful about its use -- or non-use. Opposite decisions about whether or not to use technology can both be "right."

November 1, 2011 0 3 comments
Resource, Article

We’ve talked a little in the past about back-up, but there’s another side to file storage - just plain storing files in order to share them with others.

Probably the most common reason to use an online storage service is the limitations of email. Emailing large files is not only bad...

October 25, 2011 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Does your church use a wireless network? Many do, and it’s a useful tool for connecting staff members, giving web access to committee members as they meet, and so on. Many of us have it in our homes, too.

This article in the New York Times Technology section has some good tips on wi-fi...

October 16, 2011 0 5 comments
Blog

Can technology be a tool to increase your devotion to God? Have you ever signed up for a thought or Bible verse a day? Did it help you spiritually? Have you ever developed or experienced a system using technology to increase your own or others’ devotion?

September 25, 2011 0 11 comments
Resource, Article

“What is the end goal of...design? Make sure you look good for God.” This is a quote from an article on art in the church that I recently read. How are you using technology at your church to “look good for God?” In reading about art and design, I was surprised to find many artists saying that...

September 20, 2011 0 2 comments
Blog

Those of you who follow The Network may have seen the forum discussion led by Tim Postuma regarding Google’s decision to no longer give Google Apps free to religious organizations. It’s really too bad, isn’t it? Maybe the CRC Network can help to change their minds, what do you think? 

September 10, 2011 0 0 comments
Blog

Some things never change. Fostering relationships involves building trust, developing rapport, and sharing experiences. But some of the tools for accomplishing this have changed. This is especially true when using technology and the web to accomplish this with kids and young adults.

August 29, 2011 0 2 comments
Blog

Who doesn't love a good deal? There's that shirt you found hidden on the clearance rack or the coupon you used at the restaurant for dinner. In the same way your church can get deals on technology services and software. Is your church taking full advantage of all the available discounts and freebies that it can?

August 22, 2011 0 2 comments

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A great resource for principles and suggestions on "slide" design is: A Guidebook for Visual Worship by Stephen Proctor. You can purchase it here.

Also, as a comment, I'd like to see us think more in terms of communicating visually as opposed to simply putting text on a screen in a way that is readable. Certainly text communicates, and it would be hard to sing a song without the words, but it seems the "problem" we are trying to overcome is more profound than "we needed the words and we didn't want to get a book out." I would contend that the "problem" to solve is our disconnection from our God, and that good visuals, whether on the screen or in the stained glass or projected on the walls help us experience God in a way that words alone cannot.

Just my $.02

Eva,

There is an article in the network called "How to Use Facebook at Your Church" that will give you some good basic information. Also, if you do a search for "Facebook" on the site you'll find quite a lot of resources.

If you need something just for your church members, you would probably want to use something else. If you'd like to share what specifically you are trying to do in regard to information for your members only, we very likely have resources on the Network for those purposes as well. Let us know.

When you use Facebook for your church, you typically would not be protecting it from others or keeping it secure. The whole idea of Facebook is to share information, not keep it protected. It's a great way to connect with people where they're at, and to publicize events and share photos and news. You might think of it more similar to your church's public website than a private, for-your-church-members-only tool.

For example, our church, along with two others, is planning a city-wide 9-11 memorial service. One way we are spreading the word is through Facebook. I posted information and a link about the event on our church Facebook page and invited everyone to share it with their Facebook friends. In this way, the word gets out and multiplies -- besides those who are fans of our page, as those fans post it, the word gets to their friends. And if their friends post it, it gets to their friends, and so on and so on.

Hope this helps!

Mavis

I have been a salesforce.com administrator for 4 years and I am seriously considering trying to implement salesforce.com for our church.  I think I could get it to manage just about every process we have.  Have you actually implemented it or are you just speculating?  I would like to see some real-world examples of what other churches have done.

BTW-  The Chatter feature would be HUGE for communication between ministry leaders (think Sunday School) and volunteers to communicate schedules, whether a sub is needed, etc.  Just give all volunteers a Chatter account (perhaps even a very limited salesforce.com account) and then everyone can communicate.

We are debating the pros & cons about going on Facebook. Can you provide more information? How can it be used to bring information to our members? How secure is it? How can it be protected so that those outside of our church do not have access to it? Would like feedback for churches who already are using facebook and if they are happy with it.

Thanks for your help, Eva

Wow, @Tim, you declined your chance at 15 minutes of fame! ;-) Probably a smart move. But, yes, wouldn't it be great if Google would change their minds? Seems to me it'd fit right in with their motto of "Do no evil." (That's them, right?)

Interesting. I can completely understand why companies want to differentiate between various types of non-profits. I just hope that Google considers adopting Microsoft's approach of setting up a separate program for religious organizations.

Update: I just got a call from FOX & Friends. They saw Matt Branaugh's Christianity Today article and asked if I'd be interviewed for a segment on their show.

I declined, but it's interesting how this little discussion thread can turn into something bigger. And, even in declining, maybe Google will see my tweet about it and reconsider their stance. Not super-likely, but one can always hope!

Tim, very cool you were quoted because of the network. Very UN-cool that Google has made this change. Maybe they'll change their mind? I guess that's a slim chance, but we can hope.

Christianity Today just posted a story about this - Google Cuts Churches Out of Non-Profit Program

Matt Branaugh's reporting answered some of the questions I had (especially the part about existing churches getting grandfathered in). BTW, the reason I was quoted was because he saw this discussion on The Network. Cool, eh?

Michael -

I checked with our CRCNA IT department, and here's what I found...

First of all, some of the big-name vendors that most churches are interested in (e.g. Adobe, Microsoft) can't be purchased at a non-profit discount through TechSoup's purchasing program (see their list for religious organizations). So it may be better to use TechSoup for information, but then check on the vendor's website or through a local reseller to see if you qualify. Or, just check some of the big-box stores to see what the pricing is like there.

If you do want to purchase through TechSoup AND you have your own 501c3, go for it. But, as you point out, many churches don't have their own 501c3 because they can all fall under the CRCNA's umbrella (as I understand it at least). While it would be technically possible to associate the CRCNA's TechSoup account with that of individual churches, the benefits are mediocre at best. Not only because of the issue above, but because many of the vendors further restrict purchasing to organizations below a certain $ threshold (e.g. Sage is under $500,000 so the CRCNA account doesn't qualify). And other vendors restrict the number of licenses an organization can get (one license among all the CRCs won't go far!). And we'd need to think about how the payments would be handled (does payment/invoice info get saved with the organization profile?). Our IT department is on the lookout for deals they can extend to churches, but they've judged that this one has too many limitations to make the benefits worthwhile.

Having said all that, if there's a specific software that, after doing your research, you find fully qualifies for purchasing under the CRCNA TechSoup account and is not limited to a single license and can save your church big bucks...send me a direct message through The Network and we can see if we can make it happen for you.

Even without using their purchasing program, the TechSoup website is a valuable source of information for churches. So check it out even if you don't use the purchasing side of it.

Hope this helps!

Good suggestion but Techsoup requires that you be a 501C3 registered organization which many if not most churches are only an implied 501c3. There is a way around it but to date I have not been able to make it work. Since the local congregation is a "branch" of the parent denomination "CRC", they can use their 501c3. The CRC has a subscription to Techsoup (according to Techsoup) but the CRC office does not know the account number or how to access so those CRC congregations that could be using the great resources of Techsoup can not because they can't get access without going through the long and usually costly process of obtaining their own 501c3. If you know how to get the info from the CRC offices in regard to Techsoup and can share it with our congregation, please do.

Tim, I had heard about Google's change and tried to find something official about it. I saw, as you did, the wording on their guidelines. I couldn't find anywhere where they'd made a statement about the change, but I guess that it would make sense they wouldn't do that. It's a shame. I felt kind of betrayed when I heard about it, after thinking how wonderful it was that Google offered the free licenses to churches.

Kyle, I like your idea. I wish Google would come out and say something.

I've seen this more and more in a post-9/11 world. Businesses are shying away from supporting non-profit organizations that prosthelytize. No business want to risk having their product linked to a radical extremist. Some organizations, like Microsoft, have a separate (but still very good) license for religious organizations. Hopefully Google will consider having something like this, as well as grandfathering in existing religious customers.

Thanks for the comments Kyle and Todd, I have seen twitter work in many different capacities, both with Tech-savy people and vice versa.  For me it goes back to knowing where your audience/client/consumer/congregation is and then spending some time in conversation with them.  Twitter is one of those things (like many others) that the more time and effort you put in to it, the more you get out of it as well.  

 

Thanks for your comments!  

Jason/@jasondyk 

The junior high pastor at my church manages dozens of volunteers. When one joins the ministry, he makes them get a Twitter account and follow a certain account. He then uses this account to post messages for his volunteers. His thinking is that Twitter is available on all cellphones & an easy way to do regular updates--even urgent ones like "The weather has cancelled tonight's meeting!"

I work at a CRC agency and one of our programs deals with communications issues for churches. Here's a white paper Church Juice released on using Twitter as a Ministry Tool. It includes the basics of how to use Twitter and shows how other churches are successfully using this form of social media.

I often tell people that Twitter is not a must for organizations and churches: You need to think through why you would use it and how. If you do it, do it right. Be interacctive. Don't just advertise or broadcast. Share. Be present. Tweet more than once a week. Even if you don't have the staff to man an active, menaingful account, you should have the capability for people to share your website or content viz their Twitter account. Here's a good resource on that.

We host a Serve missions week through Youth Unlimited every year. In past years we've used Twitter to provide, brief, up-to-the-moment updates from the work sites, with the idea that friends & family back at home could follow us and be especially keyed into what their loved ones are experiencing. With that said, my experience has been the uptake on Twitter outside the tech savvy community is still relatively low, especially compared to Facebook.

Sounds like a really interesting project. Like the others, I unfortunately have no suggestions, but am very interested in what you learn. 

you might try kemmeyer.com, a website/blog of the communications director of Grainger Community Church. You also might try churchmarketingsucks.com.

 

You might check with either the research center at Calvin College or the Pew Forum website.

Good questions, Phil. I don't personally know any answers, unfortunately. I'd love to hear more about your project and how it turns out. I'm hoping others on the network will have some ideas.

You're right, Allen, knowing what you're doing makes a big difference, and that takes training.

Staying focused is definitely a prerequisite, too, as you noted. Once when I was recruiting new people in a bulletin announcement I wrote that one of the necessary skills was to stay cool when things go wrong. No matter how hard we try, sometimes things do just go wrong (As Jon Acuff also wrote in his blog, "God hates microphones."), and staying calm is another necessary skill. 

Thanks for sharing your perspective, as someone who's on the other end of the mike.

posted in: Say Thanks

Thanks Mavis,

I know that running sound and tech can be a very thankless job.  The sad thing is that people have no clue what it takes to do that ministry well.  As a worship pastor I trained our sound techs thoroughly so they had less of those head turns at them and could really help make the worship band sound good.  As a musician, I'm at the mercy of the sound people to help create excellent sound.  As a preaching pastor I am counting on the projection volunteers to make sure the screen is projecting what it's supposed to at the right time.  Both ministries require focused attention to details -- not something just anyone can do.  The sound people especially need to know what to listen for in order to tweak the sound just right -- what knob and slider does what and how to use it.

Kudos to all the techies out there who love what they do and seek to do it better!!  And strength to those who have been battered from insensitive parishoners.

Go thank your tech people after church this Sunday  :-)

posted in: Say Thanks

yes, that is the goal, doing the job so well that no one notices!

thank-you sound people!

posted in: Say Thanks

Thanks Mavis. After a few long days at synod it was so nice to see your post.

Webcast traffic has been very steady (~1,350 unique viewers so far) and there's been some very good discussions in the chat. It's like a real-time extension of what we're doing on The Network!

posted in: Say Thanks

I agree completely, Dave. I am always glad to go unnoticed when it comes to running the sound system. There have been times, with our old sound system, where I felt like holding up both my hands when people were craning to look at me to convey the message, "I wasn't touching anything!!" Fortunately we recently bought a new sound board and we're usually able to be unnoticed now when we run the sound -- always a good thing.

But I'm definitely telling my co-workers in the sound booth thanks for all their work. They do really put it on the line every time they sit behind that equipment.

posted in: Say Thanks

Thanks for the laught about the 'sound guy neck crane'! I have to admit that I've done that. I've done sound at several church and have had several times that this happened to me. I was always glad when I could do a service where I was in the zone and went unnoticed so that the congregation wouldn't have to be distracted but could focus on the intent and purpose of the service.

posted in: Say Thanks

Creative Commons is a great resource.  The majority of the images used for the blogs on The Network are Creative Commons licensed images. As Mavis suggests. if you are using images in your ministry areas, Creative Commons images and content are very useful.

Thank you, Anko! It's really valuable to get personal experience testimonies like yours.

I am currently using a back-up program called Carbonite.  It backs us files whenever I am logged on to the computer.  I also use it at home, and this weekend I had a nasty virus.  I had to reformat my computer and I downloaded all my files from their server without any problems.  Well worth the cost for an off-site backup program.

Hi Allen,

One Call Now looks like a great option. Using the phone rather than email might make a lot of sense, depending on the community, as you wrote.

Thanks for sharing the idea!

Mavis

Cool idea except for our church where our community is way behind and few people regularly check email if they have it.  We have a small group of our folks on Facebook, but many of them don't check it regular either.

I certainly see the value for churches in larger populace centers where the majority of folks regularly use web services and social networks.

We are using One Call Now and it works great.  Our people really appreciate it.

Hey Mavis,

 

Thanks for the information. It will be nice to finally put that question to rest!

 

Nate

Does anyone have a Standard Operating Procedure for church backups?

What should be backed up

What should not be backed up

Off site

On site

Kevin Sigler

Fairfield Christian Reformed Church

Fairfiled California

Nate, 

Sorry it took me so long to respond. I found this page comparing the free vs. "busines" Apps: http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/group/index.html. The nice thing for churches is that we get the "Education version" for free. This Wikipedia page also compares the different versions: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Apps.

Hope that helps.

Mavis

Are there any legal issues regarding streaming live video on-line without first receiving some sort of waiver form?  I do not know what the proper protocals are, but I have heard that many Christian schools do not post pictures of children in their newsletters until their parents have signed some sort of liability waiver or permission form.  Anyone know details?

CCLI now offers a streaming/podcasting license for worship. The license seems pretty reasonable.

http://www.churchstreaminglicense.com/

Yeah, I had Livestream in my "you need to check this out" set of browser tabs after your previous post :-) Sure looks pretty awesome - can't wait to give it a try!

Kyle - You may want to check out LiveStream, particularly for it's Procaster tool that handles encoding from a wide range of devices. Here's the user guide. LiveStream is what we've used for the Synod webcast for the past couple of years.

I'm curious if anyone's tried converting a CCTV feed for internet streaming. We've got a CC camera in the back of the sanctuary. Right now I'm looking at using a Viewcast Osprey 100 for capturing the composite video and Flash Media Encode to encode it for Ustream.

I was involved in the launch of a website at my church recently (www.graafschapheritagecenter.org). We use godaddy.com for the domain hosting, and an online content management system.

If you have an outside person or company design and build the site, remember to be clear about what their length of involvement will be. Do you want them just to build the site, or also continue to maintain it long afterwards? Go through the above steps before you bring that person or company on board (especially the services section), then clearly communicate it to that person, so that you end up with what you want in the final product. 

Also, GoogleAnalytics is a free way to see how many people are viewing your website and where they are located. This can help you focus your promotions, expand on what people are actually using, and not waste time on what they ignore.

D.

SermonStudio (http://sermonstudio.net/index.html) is another option for placing content online. They will host audio for free or you can pay to have your video online. The church where I grew up uses this on their website: www.graafschapcrc.org

If anyone in the congregation has a Mac, they probably have an application called GarageBand (http://www.apple.com/ilife/garageband/) that can be used to record and edit audio and iMovie, which you could use to edit video.

Great article. One thing I have never been able to figure out is the difference between the free google apps that google offers to everyone and these google applications that you are talking about Mavis. For example, on my person email account I've been using google documents, google chat, and google calendar for years. When google relseased this paid version of google apps I got really confused because all the applications they are offering I already have. I already share files with members of my church using google documents and I share a calendar with some of the church leaders as well. Anyways, if you have any idea what the difference is (if there is one) that  would be great.

P.S. I didn't know you could use google to make a website. I might see if I can use it to complement my church management software site I'm running.

This is a great article. I have to admit that I've been avoiding creating a facebook page for my church management software website. I'm really not that tech savvy, and I thought it would be more difficult than this. I don't know if this is a newer criteria or not, but I heard that you needed something like 150 followers before you could have an official facebook page. I guess I'll go and try and set mine up and then I'll see if there is something else I'm missing.

I should mention that the members of my church do use facebook quite frequently, especially the youth. It is a great way for leaders of the church to connect with the youth. One word of caution though: there has been a few minor problems with adult male leaders "friending" female youth members. There isn't necessarily any guilty parties, just a bad perception. Unfortunately these are just the times we live in.

Thanks for the great article.

Thanks for this excellent article on SCE Technology & Equipment/Training grants. As you stated, the process is quite simple with a very quick turn around. We look forward to receiving new applications.  Lis Van Harten  Director of SCE

FYI, I would recommend FaithConnector if you want some good Content Management Software for your website.  Easy to use.

posted in: Member Only Section

When we redesigned our website three years ago we really struggled with this issue.  In the end, we decided that the privacy of our members needed to be protected in many cases.  Therefore, we have a "members only" section (called MY FCRC) ... for meeting minutes, our "focus" section of the bulletin (which contains names, phone numbers, e-mails and other things that should be kept private), budget reports, our prayer line (again, some private information).  I disagree with the statement that e-mail is best for prayer updates ... I don't think there is a "best" anymore.  For a lot of our membership, e-mail is best; for others, the webpage is best; for others, an unpublished phone line with a recording is best.  In March, for example, we had 114 visits to our member-only Prayer Line webpage -- I don't know how many people that represents, but that's between 3 and 4 visits every day -- all by our church members (since it requires a log-in).

We just updated our website, hoping to make it, primarily, a site for visitors ... there is plenty of stuff there for visitors: our bulletin (i.e. our order of worship), pictures, videos, our history, our ministry plan, our floor plan, most of our policies, etc.  But, we also wanted to have a member section for communication purposes.  See www.friendshipcrc.org.  Also, our website stats for Jan. thru March of this year can be viewed at http://www.friendshipcrc.org/files/Misc/jan_mar_2011_website_stats_summary.pdf  I think it's a good idea to know what your web traffic stats are -- we've been surprised at what gets looked at and what doesn't.  It's often good to have data.

Every church's situation will be different, so it's good to hear the different ideas and thoughts on The Network!

posted in: Member Only Section

I can see where it might sound exclusive even though it's not meant to be. Our bulletins are not in the members only section. Our members only section has links to volunteer schedules and some other parts of our Google Apps pages which would be of no interest to non-members but are a handy way for members to get to places they need to without having to remember another separate website url. We could be more subtle, maybe, with just one "Members" or "Login" link or something.

posted in: Member Only Section

 

Personally, I don't like members only sections. It can be a tough issue because I feel like churches are being exclusive to outsiders. 

I find that prayer updates are best sent through email. People aren't frequently checking the church website, but they do check their email!

Also, bulletins can be helpful for visitors to look and what your church is like and what events occur. 

posted in: Member Only Section

Mavis - What is the best way to get in touch with you?  Our church is actively considering SalesForce and I'd love to setup some time to talk with you more about your experience.   

 

Thanks

[quote=Kyle Adams]

Clearly free or cheap is also a must for the inner city church. I'm still wading through options like Mozy, Crashplan, Dropbox, etc.

[/quote]

Mozy is good but it's going to have a continued cost every month. I'd avoid dropbox for churches because it requires the user to actively select which files will be backed up... that'll most likely mean that very little or nothing actually gets backed up in my experience. If you're considering Crashplan, why not consider Amanda, it's open source (http://amanda.zmanda.com/)? I think I'd probably go that route, get a cheap server to throw in the church and use Amanda for automatic backup. Then you're not having to deal with regular payments, just a one time hit, maybe even convert an older computer into a linux server to handle the backups. The software isn't dead simple, but you can set it and forget it.

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