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Nick a few years ago, in a leather jacket
SimpleSpeak text-to-speech - new filter
Group Developers

I've been developing a new filter to add speech synthesis to Moodle, particularly for scenarios like an alphabet quiz for children.

Syntax

  1. Simple: [Speak] Hello world [/Speak]
  2. Quiz:
    [Speak]
    ;; Just a comment.
    letter = A
    sound  = ah
    image  = "ht++tp://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/fb/Red_Delicious.jpg/240px-Red_Delicious.jpg"
    alt    = "A red delicious apple, on WikiMedia Commons"
    word   = apple
    phrase = Which of the words below start with the letter [em]a[/em]?
    [/Speak]

Feedback welcome! Thanks,

Nick

 
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Frankie's the name, Moodle's my game!
Re: SimpleSpeak text-to-speech - new filter
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Hi Nick

Thank you for an GREAT filter. WIth TTS technology getting better each year, your filter has opened up endless potential in teaching and learning English on Moodle!

I ALSO like your [speak][/speak] syntax where you have abstracted the coding for the non-programmer.

I immediately downloaded you zip file and with further reading of your README file, I spent the next 20 minutes poking around the sites TTS of espeak, google translate and festival for Linux.

Now if I could only get a free TTS service installed on my Centos VPS and link the API or whatever to my to-installed-in-the-future TTS service as in:

$CFG->simplespeak_service_url =
'http://example.org/cgi-bin/espeak/getsound.pl?lang=!LANG&text=!TEXT';

that would be FANTASTIC.

At the moment all I have is this link to install a TTS service named festival (Linux system). This is the link I am using (even as I type) to install festival on my Centos VPS system:
http://www.xenocafe.com/tutorials/php/festival_text_to_speech/index.php

.....downloading lotsa stuff.....I'll let you know how it goes. mixed

Frankie Kam
Melaka, Malaysia

 
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Frankie's the name, Moodle's my game!
Re: SimpleSpeak text-to-speech - new filter
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

My going down a 1.5 hour RABBIT HOLE

Ever the eager-beaver, I immediately downloaded your zip file and with further reading of your README file, I spent the next 20 minutes poking around the sites TTS of espeak, google translate and festival for Linux.

Now if I could only get a free TTS service installed on my Centos VPS and link the API or whatever to my to-installed-in-the-future TTS service as in:

$CFG->simplespeak_service_url =
'http://example.org/cgi-bin/espeak/getsound.pl?lang=!LANG&text=!TEXT';

that would be FANTASTIC.

At the moment all I have is this link to install a TTS service named festival (Linux system). This is the link I am using (even as I type) to install festival on my Centos VPS system:
http://www.xenocafe.com/tutorials/php/festival_text_to_speech/index.php

.....downloading lotsa stuff.....I'll let you know how it goes. mixed

(20 minutes later)

OKAYY! I managed to install Festival on my Centos. AND with this command I am able to create a WAV file on my server:

At the Linux command promt, I used this command to create the WAV file:
echo "It's such a beautiful day!" |  text2wave -scale 50 -o beautiful_day.wave

which I can download and play from this link (it works, give it a try!):
http://scm.moodleace.com/tts/beautiful_day.wav

Quite a robotic bloke isn't he?

This link below shows me how to install BETTER voices compared to the festival's "default robotic voice":-
http://info.solomonson.com/content/linux-text-speech

Another interesting link: http://www.ghacks.net/2010/10/09/linux-text-to-speech-with-festival/

So in conclusion,
1. I got festival's TTS robotic voice installed on my Centos server;
2. I can get festival to create a WAV file (I bet I can find out how to use LAME to convert WAV to MP3 - resulting in 10x smaller sound MP3 files)
3. How to link festival to your SimpleSpeak TTS filter, I simply do NOT KNOW.
4. I am STUCK. Need a Linux/Centos/pHP  guru to sort this one out.
5. DEAD-END.

I'm gonna have to leave this on the to-do-list. Till next time, bye!
Frankie Kam
Melaka, Malaysia

 
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Nick a few years ago, in a leather jacket
Re: SimpleSpeak text-to-speech - new filter
Group Developers

Hi Frankie,

Thanks for downloading and having a go. And apologies for the gaps in documentation. I hope you'll find some answers here.

Below I've started documenting how I got this working with eSpeak and LAME on my Mac for the DIY'ers.

3rd party services

There are a number of TTS services emerging on the Web. These can get you started quickly. I've been wary of saying too much, because in many cases I'm unclear on their terms of use. Please check with the service before proceeding. (And I accept no responsibility for your use of the services.)

Note, SimpleSpeak caches the audio from the TTS service, but please respect any usage limits.

DIY - eSpeak

Here are some steps to install and configure eSpeak and LAME:

  1. Install eSpeak, for example, Mac installer, from Curtin University of Tech.
  2. Install LAME, eg.
      $ sudo port install lame
  3. Download a CGI bridging script, eg. my Gist, based on WebAnywhere, or from the WebAnywhere project on Google Code (includes Festival script) - Perl, hmm!
  4. Make CGI script executable, eg.
      cgi-bin/espeak$ chmod +x getsound.pl
  5. Configure binary, log and cache paths in the CGI script.
  6. Test! For example,
      http://example.org/cgi-bin/espeak/getsound.pl?lang=en|f1&text=Hello+world 
    ('f1' is a eSpeak female speaker.)
  7. Consider setting up an alias in Apache, eg.
      ScriptAlias /espeak_tts /var/www/cgi-bin/espeak/getsound.pl
  8. Consider installing alternative voices, eg. mbrola (242 MB!)
  9. In Moodle, go to Site Administration | Plugins | Filters | SimpleSpeak. Enter the URL in the settings form, using the placeholders !TEXT and optionally !LANG, eg.
      http://example.org/espeak_tts?lang=!LANG%2Bf1&text=!TEXT 
  10. Experiment!

I hope this helps, and you can adapt to Festival. Please let us know how you get on. Best wishes,

Nick

 
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Frankie's the name, Moodle's my game!
Re: SimpleSpeak text-to-speech - new filter
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Hi Nick

Thanks for the quick reply. And thanks for the extra information.

Well, as a former C, C++, Java programmer, I'm still boggled by the amount of subproblems to I'll have to experiment-try-fail-experiment-again in order to get the TTS working.

I'm sure to take up the challenge once I SUBMIT MY DISSERTATION ON MONDAY. Heh, I took a slight diversion this morning to attempt installing festival because I SO WANTED TO USE your filter. Anyway, they say "good things come to those who wait". So, I'll bide my time and when I've rechared, I'll charge right back in and try out your steps.

From the look of things (I'm new to this Linuxy stuff), it's more like "Who DARES WINS" when it comes to server side programming, coding and script stuff.

But I'm sure I can do it. I know because I managed to install Munin Graphs, eAccelerator and mod_deflate on my Apache, Centos setup. I took me days, no - weeks, and hours of pecking away at the keyboard one step at a time. Hours it took me to read all those Googled how to sites and blogs. Also managed to get Ghostscript installed on my Centos.

And to think that 6 months ago I had never ever run a script in a Linux command prompt. Anyway I still backup my system before doing anything I consider as "high risk" to my beloved VPS.

So anyway, keep up the good work on the filter, maybe one day you can write a PHP & Linux for Dummies book for the rest of us.

Thanks for reading my ramblings. After my Masters is done, I intend to take up Php and MySQL seriously (reading books first). So that I can one day write Moodle mods and code and be a developer rather than just a power user.

Frankie Kam

 
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Frankie's the name, Moodle's my game!
Re: SimpleSpeak text-to-speech - new filter
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Hi Nick. I've got Festival 1.9.5 installed on my site. You can test it out it out here: http://scm.moodleace.com/tts.php

Now, if I could
(a) connect SimpleSpeak plugin to Festival
AND
(b) change the Festival voice to a better sounding voice
THEN I would have had it made.

Problem is (a). Any pointers?

I've attached the tts.php file for your reference.

Frankie
P.S., I had a look at eSpeak's installation instructions at the eSpeak website and then beat a hasty retreat when I couldn't find anything on the Web that could help me install eSpeak on CentOS. Maybe later.

 
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Picture of chaya roy
Re: SimpleSpeak text-to-speech - new filter
 

thank you Nick. I am really happy to get it. I use 1 audio to speect filter which is really very nice.

speechtotextservice.com

 
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Nick Walker on Phu Quoc, Vietnam
Re: SimpleSpeak text-to-speech - new filter
 

Hello Nick,

I love the filter and have successfully installed it with Festival (with help--and Frankie's posts were very helpful). It works, but not as well as I would like it to work in the context of a Glossary with pictures. It seems to filter the first entry with a picture on the page, but entries lower on the list are less reliably filtered. That being said, when I display a random glossary entry on a course page the filter works every time.

Entries in the glossary without pictures (using either the "image =" method or the image insertion button on the HTML editor) seem to work as long as they are shown ahead of a picture. Below, it is not so reliable. I am using Moodle 1.9.12+. The server is pretty powerful: CORE2 Duo E7500 2.93GHz, 2GB RAM with CentOS.

I should note that I prefer to use [speak] phrase = yacht [/speak] rather than [speak] word = yacht [/speak] for simplicity sake. I doubt this is the issue. Also, I get the same result with IE, Firefox and Chrome.

Has anyone else had this problem? Is there a way to improve the reliability of the filter with a server tweak?

Nick Walker

Screen shot of TTS filter in IE

 
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Nick Walker on Phu Quoc, Vietnam
Re: SimpleSpeak text-to-speech - new filter
 

P.S. I have found a workaround for summer courses. Since my post above, I have switched the glossary from "simple, dictionary style" to "entry list". Now, each entry gets its own pop-up window.

 
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Frankie's the name, Moodle's my game!
Re: SimpleSpeak text-to-speech - new filter
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Hi Nicholas.

How did you manage to link Festival to SimpleSpeak?

 
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Nick Walker on Phu Quoc, Vietnam
Re: SimpleSpeak text-to-speech - new filter
 

Hi Frankie,

I asked my provider to install the speech server using the link you provided: http://www.xenocafe.com/tutorials/php/festival_text_to_speech/index.php The rest is a mystery. He reports that he was able to get this link working: "http://www.example.com/cgi-bin/espeak/getsound.pl?lang=en&text=Hello+world"

Perhaps you can help me with a question I have. Do you know how to change the voice? The default has an English accent. It must be the Festival standard voice. I teach English in Montreal and would prefer a Standard American accent.

Nick

 
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Frankie's the name, Moodle's my game!
Re: SimpleSpeak text-to-speech - new filter
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Dear Nicholas

I'm not sure what OS you're using (Linux I presume). On my CentOS system, there is a file named siteinit.scm that is located in the /usr/share/festival folder in my server. Your server's festival folder may differ from mine.

Anyway, inside that siteinit.scm file is an interesting code that looks like this:

;; If you want a voice different from the system installed default
;; uncomment the following line and change the name to the voice you
;; want

;(set! voice_default 'voice_ked_diphone)

Remove that read semicolon at the front of the line, and replace the pink voice name with the voice name of your choice. Hope this is clear enough for you and your provider, and hope you can get that Standard American accent working! tongueout

P.S., it took me roughly 4 hours(!) of solidly tackling this festival/tts/espeak/SimpleSpeak feature to find this out. So hope it helps you.

 
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Picture of Andy Petroski
Re: SimpleSpeak text-to-speech - new filter
 

Has anyone got this working with one of the free TTS services?  Do you only need the API URL or is there something else that's needed?

I've entered "https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/services/language/translate?v=1.0&q=!TEXT&langpair=%7Ces" in the Text to Speech service URL, but it's not working.  There is no "speech" when I click the button that's created by <speak>Apple</speak>

 
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Nick Walker on Phu Quoc, Vietnam
Re: SimpleSpeak text-to-speech - new filter
 

Hello Andy,

I have been using Festival installed on my own dedicated server, but your post prompted me to try the Google TTS. I was able to get it to work using the following URL:

http://translate.google.com/translate_tts?tl=en&q=!TEXT

I noticed that you reported using these < > rather than these [  ] to enclose your speak tags. Please, try the sqaure brackets and the URL above, and let us know if you get SimpleSpeak to work for you.

Best wishes,

Nick

 
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Picture of Andy Petroski
Re: SimpleSpeak text-to-speech - new filter
 

That URL didn't work either.  And, I mistyped my original entry.  I was using the brackets [ ]. 

Is there something else that needs to be installed or another setting that needs turned "on?"

The TTS button renders.  When I click the button the browser processes "something."  I see the progress bar at the bottom of the browser activated and completed.

My audio is not muted.  I'm useing IE 8.

Thanks for any additional help.

 
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Picture of yun gao
回复: SimpleSpeak text-to-speech - new filter
 

really appreciate your work! but i wonder how to deploy  this filter on windows IIS, I tried but faild,would you pls to give me some advice?

 
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Frankie's the name, Moodle's my game!
Re: 回复: SimpleSpeak text-to-speech - new filter
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Hi Yun Gao.

Actually I've just discovered how simple it is to run SimpleSpeakon your Moodle 1.9.x site by using Google's Text-To-Speech service!

1. Download the filter from http://moodle.org/plugins/pluginversion.php?id=118&action=download

2. Ftp the simplespeak folder to your Moodle site's filters folder

3. On your Moodle site, run Notification to install the Filter

4. At the settings page, you can use:
      http://translate.google.com/translate_tts?tl=en&q=!TEXT
   as the Text to speech service URL. See image below:

 

5. Activate the SimpleSpeak filter by clicking on the filter's eye icon

6. Test the filter to see if it is working by creating a label or a webpage with the text: [speak]Welcome to Moodle![/speak]

7. Save the resource 

8. You should be able to see the SimpleSpeak object.
 

9. Click the SimpleSpeak object and enjoy the text to speech audio! 

Hope this helps!

Frankie Kam

 
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Picture of Doug Moody
Re: 回复: SimpleSpeak text-to-speech - new filter
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Frankie (or anybody)

You said you installed it on 1.9. Has anyone tried this on a 2.x Moodle? Is there any reason it would NOT work on a 2.x install?

 
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Me at the Moodle Moot NZ11
Re: SimpleSpeak text-to-speech - new filter
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Yes, we've got it running on Moodle 2.1.3+

You can see it here on our public development server (you can use Guest access)

http://dev.moodlebites.com (Course is called SimpleSpeak Filter)

We have noticed a strange behaviour in that the filter will work (once) and then seems to not work again?

 
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Picture of peter winter
Re: SimpleSpeak text-to-speech - new filter
 

I have got the filter to work on both 1.9 and 2.0 using Google translate. It is a little temperamental and definitely works better with very short text.  The sites I run are all for my primary school and the SimpleSpeak filter has the most enormous potential for this age range. As a sidepoint if you set up a glossary and autolink the entries all the text to speech entries break-any ideas!

 
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Me at the Moodle Moot NZ11
Re: SimpleSpeak text-to-speech - new filter
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

"if you set up a glossary and autolink the entries all the text to speech entries break"

Hmmm, well in this case you are filtering the text twice - once for the SimpleSpeak, and once for the Glossary auto-linking.  So I'm wondering if the order that you have the Filters in will make a difference?

Although Teachers can enable/disable Filters at a Course level in Moodle 2.x, the order has to be altered at a site level, by Admin.  I'm not sure this will resolve this problem for you, but it might be a factor?

Stu

 
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Picture of Giedrius G.
Re: 回复: SimpleSpeak text-to-speech - new filter
 

Hello,

now I managed to make it show the button, but when i click it nothing happens. The file is generated in the server. Also below the inserted link the player is shown like black rectangle, maybe this is the problem? Any ideas how to solve it are welcome.

Thanks.

Giedrius

 
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Picture of Dorota B
Re: 回复: SimpleSpeak text-to-speech - new filter
 

I have the filter on Moodle 1.9 using Google translate. The problem is that once it works in browsers and another time it doesn't and all I can see is text in brackets "Speak". 

What can be the reason?

Any ideas? Thanks

 

 
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Picture of peter winter
Re: SimpleSpeak text-to-speech - new filter
 

Have  the SimpleSpeak filter working in 1.9 and 2.1. Upgraded to 2.2 and it does not work using the http://translate.google.com/translate_tts?q=!TEXT. Has anyone got any suggestions or do I have to wait for the 2.2 version.

 
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Picture of Albert Chan
Re: SimpleSpeak text-to-speech - new filter
 

Hi Peter, I am using v2.2.4, I have same problem, do you have any solution yet? 

Will Nick (the author) make any update in near future?

 
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Picture of peter winter
Re: SimpleSpeak text-to-speech - new filter
 

Hi Albert

As far as I know there is no update yet. As a solution to not having the Simple Speak working I have used the new Nanogong applet for quick audio instructions. Another solution is to use Vozme a free TTS where you can copy your text, create a mp3 of it and then upload it. Fun but even longer process use VOKI.

Hope this is of some help!

Vozme

Voki

nanogong

 
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Picture of Albert Chan
Re: SimpleSpeak text-to-speech - new filter
 

Hi Peter, thanks for your useful tips. I am using a workaround. I make a link to google tts and ask student to click it

Click and Listen -> Apple

 Of course you can replace the "Apple" text with image <img></img>

P.S. There should be a popup window to play "Apple" . Seems removed javascript code when I save it.

 
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Picture of Thomas Bachert
Re: SimpleSpeak text-to-speech - new filter
 

Please provide an update to this plugin.  We host over 30 schools at my job and they are greatly anticipating the use of SimpleSpeak.  We are currently using Moodle 2.2.3

Thank you for your time and cannot wait to install this plugin - Tom

 
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Frankie's the name, Moodle's my game!
Re: SimpleSpeak text-to-speech - new filter
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

I get an echo when I click on a SimpleSpeak link - if I use Google Chrome. When I use Mozilla Firefox, there is no echo! Anyone experienced this phenomena?

 
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Picture of Doug I
Re: SimpleSpeak text-to-speech - new filter
 

I can confirm this.

Firefox - Perfect;
Chrome - The file seems to play twice, so often appears to have an echo, but occasionally also plays them consecutively instead. I notice the code generates two iframes - could this be the cause?
Internet Explorer - Works as expected, however with an added 2-3sec delay.

 
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Picture of Giedrius G.
Re: SimpleSpeak text-to-speech - new filter
 

Hello,

I'm quite new to Moodle, I have tried to install Bitnami with Moodle version 2.2.2. Is it possible to use SimpleSpeak TTS with this kind of installation? Because i can see the filter enabled, but when try to post something I can see it like this: [Speak] Hello world [/Speak]. It doesn't seem to work. Any suggestions are really appreciated. Thanks.

Best regards,

Giedrius

 
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Frankie's the name, Moodle's my game!
Re: SimpleSpeak text-to-speech - new filter
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

SimpleSpeak limitations

The following tag pair and sentence results in "backslash" being voiced three times and "single quote" voiced once. Quite irritating.

[speak]It's great to be back isn't it?[/speak]

How do I solve this? 

In addition, he below sentence doesn't work. Perhaps it's too long?

[speak]If quitters never win, and winners never quit, then who is the fool who said, quit while you're ahead?[/speak]

Frankie Kam

 
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Picture of Philip Hayes
Re: SimpleSpeak text-to-speech - new filter
 

I got this to work on moodle 2.2.x by changing line 169 of filter.php to:

 var SIMPLESPEAK_URL="{$CFG->wwwroot}/filter/simplespeak/proxy_tts/?q=";

I also found the editing jquery.speak.js line 25 and changing it to:

$(".tts").append('<iframe style="display:none" id="tts-frame" title="Player" src="" width="2" height="2"></iframe>');

Adding in the "display:none" to the iframe stopped the page from jumping up to the first iframe when there where multiple instances of speech on the page.

Hopefully it will work for you guys too.

 

 
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Frankie's the name, Moodle's my game!
Re: SimpleSpeak text-to-speech - new filter
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Hi Philip! 

Thanks for sharing this. I've used your clever hack and it seems to work. No repetitious overlapping audio this time. Brilliant! 

Frankie Kam

 
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Picture of Yasser Goda
what about other languages
 

can this filter be used with other languages , if possiple can we use more than one languaes in moodle at the same time , and ho to choose which language to use in each place in the lesson.

by the way , I'm using google service.

many thanks for your concern

 
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Frankie's the name, Moodle's my game!
Re: SimpleSpeak text-to-speech - new filter
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers
Hi Nick Very strange. The same filter which works on Moodle 1.9.15, with the setting text of: http://translate.google.com/translate_tts?tl=en&q=!TEXT doesn't work in Moodle 2.5. I can't figure out why. Any ideas?
 
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Picture of Suresh Dhanakotti
Re: SimpleSpeak text-to-speech - new filter
 

Hi Nick,

Thanks for the wonderful plugin. It's very useful.

I installed the plugin in Moodle 1.9.8, it's working fine but I give more than 100 chars inside <speak> tag it's not working. Can you please tell me how to make it work for more than 100chars?

 
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