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Ask a Techie/Geek...The Fix-it thread....

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Prometheus View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Prometheus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jun 2009 at 8:44am
Originally posted by meinga meinga wrote:

Does anyone know about TV's?  I have a Zenith about 10 years old which works fine except for the remote.  I replaced the original remote long ago, but the replacement quit working.  I bought a new one and and it does not work, I think I programmed it right.  Before I drive myself crazy, is it possible or common that the sensor in the TV itself is bad?  If so, how involved and costly is this to fix.  I need my remote for muting purposes, I know you all understand that.  LOL


If you can give me a year and model number, I can look into it for you. Has the remote completely ceased to respond at all? I assume you have tried fresh batteries in it (if not, try that...use a digital camera to see if the led is flashing when you hit a button), so will it work at all with the remote right up to the sensor? Reprogram the remote again and again until you are sure you have done that right.

If you cannot get the remote to work at all, even after all of the above, the receiver might be out for one reason or another, especially if replacing the remote didn't solve the problem. For that, you have three solutions:

1- Assuming you have one connected, using your VCR as a "block-converter", leave the tv muted or the volume all the way down and use an audio receiver to control your audio. This is how I have mine set up, because I use a 1979 RCA television that has no remote. I always recommend this setup where a receiver is available. Most VCR's can output digital audio (left/right) as well as the RF signal (coaxial/cable connection) simultaneously. Just run cable from the digital outputs to the receiver and leave the tv muted or the volume at a minimum. Receivers often cost less than a new tv now, and always offer better sound than the tv's basic system can provide.

2- Take it to a shop, and expect the possibility of paying more than the tv is worth. Be sure to include the remote and any instructions for programming the remote (I assume you are using a "universal programmable remote", so they'll need the instructions as well, or they will be as lost as you are).

3- Either tolerate the inability to mute the tv, or it might be time to invest in another one. No need to buy new, plenty of thrift stores get tvs bu the truckload, and I find the older ones are far more repairable and reliable (hence why my 1979 tv not only has a fabulous picture that rivals that of modern analog sets, but the electronics might actually out-last the picture tube (unheard-of in modern televisions, in over two decades, I have never seen or heard of a tv tossed for a bad picture tube). Thrift stores could use the business too.

10 year old Zenith....so about 1998-9?I hate to say, but that's after they decided to make tvs as "disposable" appliances. I'll look into it if I can find a schematic or a history for it, but your likely choice is to find another tv or deal with it, because many weren't made to last, they were made to sell.

If you choose to dispose of it, please recycle it, as there are many environmentally-dangerous metals in a tv set including lead and mercury.
 It is possible that your local Goodwill can recycle it for you.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ad Endless Nauseum Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jun 2009 at 11:38am
There are a LOT of used and new, original and "universal" remote controls always available on Ebay. I've bought four remotes that way, and they all worked. Do a search using: Zenith, tv model number, and the word "remote", and you might very well find something. If not today, maybe next week.

There are also a lot of remote control sellers that have Internet sites without doing it on Ebay. Do a Google search.

As to the IR sensor on the TV, yes, that circuit can and does go bad, but not often. If I lived near you, I could probably test it for you, using my "TV Be Gone" novelty remote controller. It is a small device that has NOTHING but power on/off codes. It it capable of turning off hundreds of models of TVs! The newest one is high power. It can turn TVs off from a hundred feet away.

The nice thing about "TV Be Gone", is that the same TURN OFF code is also the TURN ON code. That is how I figured out that the very old TV in my company's lunch room had your problem, using my TV Be Gone. It can be used to test that capability of the suspect TV. But it is limited to TVs. Won't affect anything else.

If you enjoy the occasional practical joke, buy one of these little gadgets, and go TV shopping. Hold it in your hand, push the button, and watch every TV in the place go dark! Evil%20Smile. Take it to a sports bar during the big game, and click it just as the center snaps the ball in the crucial play, especially if your team is losing, and you just can't stand to watch! Just be sure nobody sees it!Dead
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote meinga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Jun 2009 at 3:06am
Thanks to both of you. Yes! different and new batteries were tried several times before I even bought a new remote, and with the new remote.  I was just wondering if this was a common problem with sensors BEFORE and IF I take it in for service.  I am planning to play with the VCR/DVD player sound, but I won't have much time to mess around with it for a couple of days, and I will try to re-program the remote with the many codes again (I've done this several times). It's not a distance issue.  I'll let you know.  BTW, I'm not planning on junking the TV because of this, it works fine, except for the remote.  When I can afford it, and all other bills are out of the way, I'll move it to another room to use, then purchase a newer model.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote meinga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Jun 2009 at 2:58am
UPDATE:  Fixed the problem.  It was not the TV, thank goodness.  It was the remote.  The code was wrong.  There were different codes listed online, versus the list that was provided with the new remote, and a separate code for digital TV's. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Prometheus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Jun 2009 at 8:16am
Well that's good news. As I said, check the remote first...That was the first thing different, so start from there...

Glad your problem was solved. Thanks Nauseum for your input as well. Anyone else?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ad Endless Nauseum Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Jun 2009 at 9:02am
Just a further note on remotes. Nearly all of them I've acquired in the last ten years had multiple codes for each manufacturer. Usually, the codes are organized by manufacturer (ie: all the Zenith codes printed together at the end of the alphabetical listing). But a few of them have had an extra little slip of paper in the bag with all the other little slips of paper, documenting a few more codes that didn't get printed on the master list. One time, I really needed that extra code. So be sure to scrutinize all that crap that gets included with any new electronic gadgets you buy. Most of them warn you not to stick you finger in the wall socket, and not to eat batteries, but a few of them are actually useful, strange as that seems.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ThreadKiller Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Jul 2009 at 3:17am
I have a couple old radios with mechanical tuners and volume controls. I'd like to keep using them--two of them were favorites of my dad's before he passed away--but they are all suffering from what I suspect are dirty contacts in the tuner or volume control.
 
Chief symptom is the signal fades out or cuts out completely, but will come back if I turn the tuner or volume knob back and forth quickly...but then it will go out again after several minutes.
 
Any hints/suggestions on using contact cleaning spray? Lubricating or nonlubricating? I've had the back off these radios a few times, and on one the tuner assembly seems to be exposed--I can see a series of circular wires that sort of mesh together when you turn the tuner knob. The others, the tuner appears to be sealed in a plastic or metal case, but there are a few small holes on the outside. Safe to spray contact cleaner in these?
 
Any suggestions are appreciated!!!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ad Endless Nauseum Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Jul 2009 at 8:34am
I'm restoring several 70 year old radios right now. All I can till you, advice-wise, is it depends!

I know that isn't the answer you want or need. But without knowing exactly what you have, and seeing it's physical condition, it is hard to be more precise.

A tuning capacitor uses large metal plates that mesh with each other. But if you are looking straight down at it, I suppose they could look like wires. On those, it is often enough to use "canned air" to blow accumulated dust and debris away. A little oil on the bearings can help to free up the old congealed grease, to make the tuner easier to rotate. But you don't want to spray "contact cleaner" into the tuner, unless it is the type that evaporates residue free, especially in old tube radios with high working voltages.

Spray contact cleaner is fine to use inside the volume control, but sometimes there is so much stuff in there, that you must open the control and clean it directly. Sometimes the old volume controls are just worn out, and must be replaced.

Do you have details about the radios? Tube or solid state? Brand names and model or chassis numbers? Age? If they are older tube sets, there are a several websites that still have schematic circuit diagrams and other details for free download, or for a few bucks. Any tube type radio must have the electrolytic capacitors in the power supply and audio power amplifier replaced, because the old capacitor designs simply don't last. Also, the old paper type tubular capacitors are often electrically leaky, or open, and need replacement. Often, that is all that is required, plus an alignment check of the IF transformers and the tuner and oscillator padding capacitors.

Many of the older tube radios have their diagrams and parts lists glued into the cabinets or the edges of the metal chassis. Both of my Sears Silvertone radios have that very nice feature.

If you weren't across the country, I'd offer to take a look at them! The symptoms you describe can have a number of causes, depending on which technology they use, tubes or transistors or microchips.

The ironic thing is that if they are tube radios, they can almost always be repaired and upgraded to better than new sound and performance and sensitivity. Many early transistorized radios also. But more modern radios with microchips are almost impossible to repair! The problem is that those newest sets quite often are built with proprietary "one off" chips that simply don't exist anywhere else, built specifically for that one company's products.

That is why in 50 years, my fancy high powered Yamaha home theater receiver amplifier will be in the recycler's scrap heap, but my 1938 Zenith Shutterdial Console will still be going strong and looking pretty in someone's living room.Cool

Feel free to private message me, if you wish.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Prometheus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Jul 2009 at 11:51am
Threadkiller, what it sounds like to me is that you have gummed-up selector-switches and/or potentiometers (varistors). The common practice in the mid-late 1900's was to lubricate the contacts with "contact grease", however after a decade or three, this grease congeals into an ear-wax-like substance that merely attracts and traps the carbon.

As mentioned above, these "wires" are more likely the plates of a tuning capacitor. If said capacitor is loaded with dust, by all means clear it out with compressed air, but not with contact-cleaner, as this may destroy any remaining grease in the bearings of the capacitor's body, if not actually attract dust that can damage it's accuracy. In the case of volume controls or selector switches, it is more likely that either the contact(s) are fouled because of this degraded grease, or could be completely worn-out altogether.

My advice to you is to use a spray called "cramolin", or a suitable "tv-tuner cleaner" (for the old dial-type tuners), and use it generously, especially for selector-switches (which can be hard to find exact replacements for). Volume controls use varistors, so you should forgo the surgery and simply replace it with a new one, just be sure to have the old component for comparison so that you have the proper configuration of shaft length/style/size. Be sure to take a detailed note of the wiring before you remove anything, especially when all three terminals are used, andabove all, have the right value. Measure the resistance from the most-opposite terminals to determine it's resistance, and the replacement should have a similar appearance (diameter less than a dime is usually 1/8W, quarter-sized is usually 1/4W).

With old age comes decomposition with many components, but mostly it's either that the varistor's brush has simply worn thin, or it is so loaded with carbon that it cannot retain a connection for very long. Seek to replace selector switches and varistors, but be prepared for some detective work. Varistors are much easier to find replacements for, although you will have to do some searching to find the exact same configuration when it is a less-commonly used style.

I recommend you have some experience doing electrical work before you go replacing components, because use of a soldering-iron is an acquired skill, so you don't overheat the components as you install them. If you can get a lubricating contact-cleaner, use it as these are contacts that would benefit from lube (unlike relays and throw-switches).

From the problem you describe, the tuning cap has nothing to do with your problems. In any device, the tuning cap will outlast every other component by a century or more, the exception being a hostile environment such as salt-air or otherwise corrosive vapors that react with aluminum specifically. Whatever you have to fiddle with to get the signal back is the most-likely culprit.

Ad Endless Nauseum, I totally agree with you on new vs old. My 1978 RCA TV has outlasted every 1995 or younger television set, and still has a better picture than most. The real benefit is that it's actually repairable, not disposable. I can tune it for component-wear, instead of having to replace components for wear. A component fails, I simply replace it, instead of that failure cascading throughout and destroying other components. I expect my RCA TV only 2 years my junior to be one of the extremely-rare to outlast it's CRT. It's only been down once for a cold-solder joint (wave-soldering in the day wasn't very good), but after manually resoldering critical terminals, it's back up to speed, and likely to run another 10-20 years without any issues. The tech was good, the execution wasn't so good though. It is the last example of the now-mythical "American-made quality" that only our parents ever saw, and our children will never see again. It also helps keep my house warm in the winter LOLWink

Last I heard on a 1981 Zenith I had tweaked about 15 years ago (sentenced to landfill for simply falling out-of-tune), it's still running like new, from the people I donated it to, and they still can't believe how spectacular the picture still is. I think it cost me about 35 cents to put it back to nominal, and maybe an hour of tweaking, and it's picture still rivals that of modern units. All you really have to do with these old sets is properly-tune them, and occasionally open the cabinet to clean out accumulated dust every few years, and they just won't die until you shoot them in the screen with a 50mm cannon. I love old TV's and they love me.....

Just remember that before you clean a vacuum-tube that you get it's part-number first, because sometimes cleaning the tubes will wipe the numbers right off. That way, if you clean the tube and the labeling comes off, you can just use a Sharpie to write it back on for when you may have to eventually replace it. Just don't leave behind accumulated dust though, as the blanket of dust insulates and overheats electronics, as well as trapping moisture that could cause a low-resistance short. The high-voltages actually attract dust, so keep your vintage kit clean, inside and out. If you really love your vintage kit and show it, it'll faithfully love you back and perform to the best of it's abilities forever.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ThreadKiller Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jul 2009 at 2:12am
Originally posted by Ad Endless Nauseum Ad Endless Nauseum wrote:

Do you have details about the radios? Tube or solid state? Brand names and model or chassis numbers? Age?
 
...my 1938 Zenith Shutterdial Console will still be going strong and looking pretty in someone's living room.Cool

Feel free to private message me, if you wish.
 
Ad and Prometheus, thanks to  both of you for the tips. Ad, I'll PM you the model numbers, but they're both Panasonics that I'm guessing were purchased in the early-mid 1970s. One is a large portable multi-band with SW and marine bands, as well as a pretuned weather band. The other is a small, nearly pocket-size AM/FM.
 
Re. your Zenith...my parents had one of those blonde-wood RCA console radios with the huge tilt-out control panel. Had a large knob in the center for tuning and a huge, like 10" x 20", speedometer-like tuning dial. I was just a little kid but I remember the sound; wish I had it today.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ad Endless Nauseum Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jul 2009 at 12:09pm
Panasonic radios are a tad more difficult to find diagrams for, at least for the websites I am familiar with. They mostly tend to deal with early American, but some British and German radios are often there as well.

For Japanese radios, it would be best to try to locate a Sam's FotoFact for it. Sometimes those and original manuals and info get offered on Ebay.

I've got a Panasonic AM/FM tube radio sitting atop my refrigerator, and it has the diagram pasted inside the plastic cabinet. That radio has always worked well. I'm about to replace the power cord, just because it is hard, and ready to start cracking apart and get dangerous, but the radio is great!

Sometimes the old Sam's folders can still be found in public libraries.

Your radios are old enough that they can very probably be repaired to operate as good as new. The fading could be the fault of electrolytic capacitors drying out. I've got a Zenith TransOceanic multi band radio, model 3000. It had similar problems, which turned out to be bad capacitors. I'm on a Yahoo Group for those radios, and it is common for 60's and 70's radios to be suffering right about now, from bad capacitors. The good news is that once identified, the capacitors are easy to acquire and install.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jack Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Jul 2009 at 6:19pm
If anyone has any computer issues that can be handled remotely; i.e., not hardware problems (though I could remotely determine that it is a hardware problem :P) I can do remote assistance. See http://crossloop.com/JAviado. I think I set a pay rate there but I've never actually charged anyone since I just use it to help out friends. I get paid to do this stuff anyway so it doesn't matter.

The other techies may want to register there; it's rather useful. 'Course, there are many RA sites besides this one.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jimbo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Jul 2009 at 9:46pm
I have a question.... you know how when you're typing on a forum & you go to add a character or a space into an existing line of text & when you do it just pushes the existing text forward to the right?
 
Why is it that sometimes, it quits doing that & instead "eats" the existing text by writing over it?
 
Why does it do that and how can I make it stop?
 
I'm guessing maybe cutting my text & pasting it back into the reply field might help, but I don't remember ever trying it.
 
I also think cutting the text & pasting it into notepad, then cutting & pasting it back into the reply field will fix it too, but I'm not positive.
 
I think I've done one of those two things before & it worked.
 
Is there something else anyone knows of that will work? Like using an F key or doing a CTRL or ALT thing?
 
 
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Thor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Jul 2009 at 10:47pm
Might you be accidentally hitting the "insert" key? 
 
If not...sorry, that's all I have.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jimbo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Jul 2009 at 11:54pm
I don't think so.
 
But using that key could very well be the key.
 
I've never used that key in all the years I've been using computers.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jack Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jul 2009 at 2:13am
Yes, it's the Insert key. It toggles typeover mode; when it's on, typing before other text will type over it instead of pushing it over. If you have typeover mode on, the typing cursor will appear thicker.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Thor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jul 2009 at 3:09am
My cursor looks the same whether the INSERT key is on or off.  Anyway, if the problem happens again, try hitting that key.
 
There are keys I've never used, too.  I'll bet there are some combos that do some useful things.  I've used "special characters".  Some are useful (¢, °, ½).  Some not so much (Æ, Þ, µ).
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HollyRock Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jul 2009 at 12:14pm
The INSERT key is annoying.  I'll accidentally hit it when I'm going for HOME or END, and then not realize it until I've typed over three sentences.
Let's try not to be boring, mkay?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jimbo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jul 2009 at 2:22pm

THAT'S IT!!!!!!

It was the INSERT key all along.
 
Tried it & it works.
 
So next time that crap happens, I'll be payin that key a little visit!!!!!
 
Problem solved.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tiz Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Aug 2009 at 9:18pm
The last month or so, I've been getting maybe 2-3 junk mails( which I've not opened)a week with my proper name in the subject box. The only time I ever use my full proper name
is online purchaces and that is maybe 1-2 times a month.
I'm a fanatic about deleting history/cookies/temp files every time I shut down and do a full virus scan weekly.
 
So, my question. Has my name simply been sold or do I have spyware/malware that hasn't been picked up?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hootman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Aug 2009 at 10:26pm
I think they are getting smarter and more desperate. It really sucks.
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It's probably just information farming, but it can't help to do a quick scan with MBAM to make sure. Stuff like your name seems impossible to keep to yourself. I think we just have to guard the really important stuff.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rickhamilton620 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Aug 2009 at 3:34am
Originally posted by Jack Jack wrote:

If anyone has any computer issues that can be handled remotely; i.e., not hardware problems (though I could remotely determine that it is a hardware problem :P) I can do remote assistance. See http://crossloop.com/JAviado. I think I set a pay rate there but I've never actually charged anyone since I just use it to help out friends. I get paid to do this stuff anyway so it doesn't matter.

The other techies may want to register there; it's rather useful. 'Course, there are many RA sites besides this one.


CrossLoop is awesome, I use it for helping out family when at college...gets through the college IT's byzantine security/firewall with no problems. Smile
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tiz Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Dec 2009 at 8:31pm
My question is for any cat owners. I want to steam clean{shampoo} my carpet but I have a cat. The bottle of Resolve I have doesn't mention anything about pets, just not walking on it until it dries. It could stay damp for a few hours.
I'm fairly sure keeping her locked in the bedroom for hours just isn't gonna happen. And cats clean themselves by licking, so I'm wondering if she'll get sick.Unhappy
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tiz Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Dec 2009 at 8:45pm
Almost forgot, a techie question. Is there a simple "ad-block" for Opera? In another message board that uses banner ads, I have to keep right clicking 'block content' on each banner that pops up. I only visit & post there on Opera or the crappy laptop connected to the TV.
I've got this redirect a couple times, from PCscanner.net. If anyone ever gets this, don't click it. It looks authenic with the Windows alert.Angry
I took this shot from the tv screen.
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