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Looking for a Good Young Enterprise Idea? – What About Promotional USB Memory Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 26th February 2014 | Permalink

This year there will be around 250,000 students participating in the Young Enterprise programme. At some point they’ll all be at that tricky point when they’re trying to come up with that “killer” idea that will ensure the success of their initiative.

No doubt they’ll all have been glued to the latest episodes of Dragons Den and a few of them might have poured over copies of Richard Branson’s and Alan Sugar’s autobiography to get some insight into what makes a successful entrepreneur tick.

But when it comes down to it having that “gem” of an idea is what’s needed to get you started and then it’s all about execution, teamwork and enthusiasm.

One option for any Young Enterprise team is to consider selling promotional USB memory sticks – these are USB sticks that carry a company’s brand or logo and optionally also have data-files pre-loaded onto them.

Promotional USB memory sticks are incredibly popular at the moment because they’re so easy to use, they’re small, portable and they come in a great range of styles and colours. Millions are sold every year to businesses that use them as a give-away to prospective customers at shows, exhibitions and events. Typically businesses will pre-load the USB sticks with sales brochures, presentation files or media files before they are handed out – this way they can offset the cost the USB sticks by saving they make by not printing their sales collateral.

Because of their popularity there are lots of opportunities for a Young Enterprise Group to sell promotional USB memory sticks including selling them to their fellow students, selling them in the school shop and to teachers, lecturers, parents and friends. They can be sold (pre-loaded with photographs) following school sports days, award ceremonies, stages plays and musical performances.

The primary target has to be local businesses – use your “local” knowledge and your networks and any contacts parents of the group might have. If this is just too big a leap then just target he school and gets some USB sticks produced with the school logo or crest on and sell them through the school shop.

Finding a supplier of USB sticks that is supportive of an Enterprise Initiative will be key. Ideally you need to identify a supplier that won’t demand payment up-front (This way you’ve got around a month to sell some before you have to pay for them and you won’t have to deal with one of the big headaches of starting a business and that’s cash flow!)

Promotional USB Wristbands for a Young Enterprise Scheme

Promotional USB Wristbands for a Young Enterprise Scheme

USB2U have been supplying branded (and unbranded) USB memory sticks to Young Enterprises participants for a number of years on the following terms:

  • Free design support using their team of in-house designers. So, if you’ve got an idea but need someone to bring it to life then just chat through your requirement and their designers will weave their magic on their Apple Macs
  • Free Print Set-Up and Origination. When you order printed USB memory sticks it’s typical to get charged for the artwork to be “set-up” before the sticks are printed but for Enterprise Groups these fees are waived.
  • Free Lanyards (neck straps) – these come in a variety of different colours and are available with every order.
  • Discounted packaging and gift box options
  • 30-Day trade terms on all orders. You won’t have to pay for your branded USB memory sticks until 30 days after delivery! (to qualify the order needs to sent to your school or university)
  • Wide choice of styles and memory sizes and you can select different colours and sizes in a single order.

If you think branded USB memory sticks might be suitable for your Enterprise project then get in touch with USB2U – you can email, pick up the phone (it’s a Freephone number so you won’t have to pay for the call), fill in the on-line quote form or “chat” to the team in real time using their web based chat system!

Promotional USB Flash Drives for Young Enterprise Schemes

Promotional USB Flash Drives for Young Enterprise Schemes

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Do You Flip or Slide Your USB Cards

Posted by USB2U on 13th January 2014 | Permalink

Promotional USB Cards are gaining in popularity all the time and if the current trend continues they look set to overtake many of the more traditional styles during 2014 in terms of number of units sold.

Whilst promotional USB memory sticks have been with us for over a decade it was only 2-3 years ago that USB Cards started to appear but the first versions were much thicker than the very skinny 2mm thick models that are popular today. Their rise to prominence has been underlined by three key features:

1)      They’re only 2mm thick and they are typically credit card shaped so they are easy to slot into a wallet or purse.

2)      They’re ideal for posting out to customers and prospects because there is no “bulk” to them meaning they still qualify for the cheaper letter postage rates rather than the much more expensive package posting rates.

3)      They have a large print area and you can print in full colour on both sides of the cards right up to the edges. This gives you scope to print some stunning images and to include lots of detail like contact names, telephone numbers, email addresses, website URL’s, strap lines and so on!

USB Credit Cards

USB Credit Cards

A well designed and well printed USB Card will look stunning and because they’re not really available on the high street they still get people who are given then a little excited.

Despite being just 2mm thick you don’t have to compromise on memory capacity – they still come in memory sizes all the way from 128MB up to a whopping 16GB (We expect 32GB cards to be available a little later in 2014).

The one big decision you have to make when buying USB cards these days is whether to go for the version where the USB connector “flips” out of the card but is still attached to the card when in use or whether you opt for the newer version where the USB connector slides out of the card completely.

USB Cards - Slide Version

USB Cards - Slide Versiion

The advantage of the slide version is that is much more obvious how to use it and get to the USB connector but the big disadvantage is that it’s easy to lose the USB connector section once it’s been removed! We still sell significantly more of the “flip” versions but sales of the slide model are on the increase.

If you’re thinking of buying some USB credit cards any time soon but you’re not sure which option to choose just give us a call and we’ll arrange to send out a sample of each.

 

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Promotional USB Sticks Replace CD’s and DVD’s

Posted by USB2U on 28th October 2013 | Permalink

Ever since USB memory sticks hit the market around 10 years ago it was only going to be a matter of time before they replaced CD’s and DVD’s as the preferred way to hand out and share company information.

Their adoption has been accelerated over recent years partly because laptop manufacturers now rarely include CD/DVD reader on their new models and partly because USB memory sticks are simply a better technology.

Of course it helps that the price of USB sticks has fallen dramatically over the past few years. In addition to this the amount of memory you can now buy for a few pounds wouldn’t have seem possible even 2-3 years ago.

But more than anything else it’s the range of styles and types of USB that are now available that has really lit a fire under the sale of promotional USB memory sticks. Gone are the days when there were just a few simple rectangular and purely functional models to choose from. Today they are available in hundreds of different shapes and styles; some are made from wood, some from plastic, some from leather, some from bamboo and some from PVC.

The companies, schools and universities that are buying them in there thousands don’t even have to restrict themselves to a standard colour or a standard design. Any colour is possible simply by pantone matching the plastic or leather to a specific pantone reference or colour swab. If companies want something completely unique then they can now commission fully bespoke USB sticks made in any 2D or 3D shape – literally anything is possible, USB sticks in the shape of a training shoes, lips, ships, cars, pieces of fruit, anything!

Promotional USB Memory Sticks - Custom Versions

Promotional USB Memory Sticks - Custom Versions

Any chosen model of USB stick can then be printed or engraved and supplied complete with a fully personalised gift box. It’s also likely that these USB sticks will be pre-loaded with data-files (presentations, video clips, speakers notes etc.) before they are handed out.

When handed out today’s promotional USB memory sticks are incredibly well received – people like them, they like being given them and more importantly they keep them and use them and they keep on using them. So popular have they become that USB memory sticks are now the most popular technology based promotional product in the world and whilst something will ultimately supercede them (just as they superceded the CD and DVD) for now at least they are what most savvy marketers, advertising agents, PR companies, schools and professional photographers are choosing.

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Chinese Public Holidays – Expect the Usual USB Memory Stick Mayhem

Posted by USB2U on 10th September 2013 | Permalink

If the challenges thrown up last week by the fire at the Hynix factory were not enough we’re about to enter even more choppy waters with the start of the Chinese Holiday Season.

For the uninitiated it won’t come as any surprise that 99% of all USB memory sticks in the world are manufactured in China. So when “China” goes on holiday and stops production it has a huge knock on effect on the price and availability of promotional USB memory sticks.

USB Memory Sticks - Chinese National Holidays 2013

USB Memory Sticks - Chinese National Holidays 2013

The problem is exacerbated with promotional USB memory sticks because these are typically manufactured to order and flown in from the China within a few days of their production. Outside of the holiday period this works well with lead times from order to delivery being an impressive 7-10 days. But, during the holidays a back-log of orders builds up, prices rocket on the back of limited supply and even when the factories return from their holiday it can take weeks to get production (and prices) back to normal.

This year (2013) the Mid-Autumn Festival takes place on the 19th September so the factories will only close for one day. The big holiday is the Chinese National Day holiday and this will run from 1st Oct to 6th Oct. Some factories and courier firms will operate as usual during the few days between these two holidays but many won’t. Some businesses are predicted to close on the 18th September and won’t open again until the 10th October!

Whilst it seems extreme you have to appreciate that many employees combine these two national holidays to travel thousands of miles to be with their families in the provinces. These can involve journeys of several thousand miles often endured on clogged roads and overcrowded trains.

So, if you need some promotional USB Memory sticks any time during the next 4-5 weeks you are strongly advised to get your order in early. This way you should be able to get delivery before the factories close and before prices start to climb even higher.

If you simply can’t commit to an order now and find yourself trying to source USB sticks in the middle of the holidays then your best bet is to find a UK based supplier that holds blank stock and can print (or engrave) the USB sticks in-house.

At USB2U we always hold tens of thousands of USB sticks in stock across a range of 20 different models so typically we’ll have something that will meet your needs. We also print, engrave and data-load in house and we can turn orders around in as little as 24hrs! If you do find yourself caught up in these holiday delays don’t panic. Give us a call we’ll talk you through the options.

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Cheap Promotional USB Sticks Can Be a False Economy

Posted by USB2U on 1st August 2013 | Permalink

Everyone likes a bargain and it’s no different when people are shopping around for promotional USB memory sticks. The problem is when you get the prices back from the various suppliers you’ve approached how can you be sure that you’re really comparing like to like. We’re in our 11th year of supplying USB sticks and other USB products and at times we find it hard so if you’re buying them for the first time it’s incredibly easy to get bamboozled and quite frankly it’s easy to get ripped off.

Of course everyone you get quotes from is going to say that they are only supplying “new”, “Grade A” top quality products with a guarantee that’s as long as the sentence handed out to Bradley Manning by in the US this week. But, the reality is that whilst USB flash drives might look the same on the outside it’s what under the skin of them that really matters. So unless you are willing to take your USB sticks apart when they arrive it really is an act of faith that you are getting what was promised when you placed your order.

There are a few basic things you can do to protect yourself and your company – after all it’s going to be your company’s brand that’s printed on the USB sticks so if they do fail then it’s going to be your brand that takes the hit and not the brand of the USB supplier!

Our advice is as follows:

Buy Local – Of course we’re bound to say it but we strongly recommend that you buy from a local reputable supplier that has a proven and visible track record of delivery and happy customers. There are loads of review sites around today including sites like TrustPilot so use them to check what other customers are saying.

The added advantage of buying local (as opposed to buying directly from China) is that if things do go wrong then you have recourse in the UK. Trying to get a refund or resolution to a problem from a Chinese supplier you spotted on the web can be challenging to say the least!

Company checks – Do some basic checks on the company you’re planning to buy from. If you have access to Experian or Equifax run a company search. Check them out on Linkedin it’s surprising what information it can throw up.

Check the Terms & Conditions on Supply – Some companies write into their conditions that they can undersupply by as much as 5% of your order and you have no recourse.

Warranties – a lifetime warranty sound great providing the company offering it is still going to be around in 6mths or a year to honour it.

Basic Checks to do when your USB sticks arrive:

  1. Insert one into your PC or Mac and check the properties to make sure it’s the correct memory size.
  2. Load files onto the USB stick close to the stated maximum capacity of the USB stick
  3. Remove the USB stick and plug it into another PC and make sure the files you loaded are still there
  4. If they are not then it’s likely that you’ve been sold a “masked” USB stick– this basically means your say 2GB stick is only a 1GB stick that has been made to look like a 2GB. Send them back!

If you’re loading large images or videos it’s also worth checking several to make sure they have loaded properly – If the sticks have been made using cheap sub-standard components then images can have lots of white lines across them and videos either won’t work or will be very jerky.

In summary when deciding where to place your order for promotional USB memory sticks don’t just go by the headline price unless you do so in the full knowledge of the possible consequences. Ideally choose a company that has an establish pedigree and can point to lots of repeat business and will offer guarantees and warranties on their products that have some meaningful recourse.

Buying on price and price alone is an easy option but to do so is to ignore the complexities and risks of what should, on the face of it, be a simple and safe transaction.

USB2U - Your Trusted Supplier for Promotional USB Memory Sticks

USB2U - Your Trusted Supplier for Promotional USB Memory Sticks

 

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Blimey a 128GB Thunderbolt Drive – That’s Massive!

Posted by USB2U on 12th July 2013 | Permalink

When we started USB2U a little over 10 years ago the most popular USB sticks we sold had 16MB or 32MB of storage. At the time these storage options seemed more than large enough and it was difficult to see why anyone would want anything much bigger. Of course the memory size was always going to increase but I don’t think back then that anyone could image we’d now be talking about a thumb drive that had 128 Gigabytes of storage and what’s more could transfer the data to and from the drive at the break neck speed of 10 Gigabytes per second!

To be fair we’re not talking about USB technology here but Thunderbolt. Thumb drives that use Thunderbolt look very similar to USB sticks (see image below) but the connector and underlying technology is different.

Thunderbolt is a joint development between Apple and Intel. It’s 20 times faster than USB 2.0 and twice as fast as the new USB 2.0 standard which would allow you to load a full length HD movie in around 30 seconds!

But Apple and Intel are not hanging around – at last week’s Computex show in Taipei they not only announced the launch of Thunderbolt 2 (which sees transfer speeds increase to 20GB per second) but they also showcased a Thumb Drive with a whopping 128GB of storage!

Effectively what we’re seeing here is a glimpse of the future – these are first generation products that will appeal to the classic “early adopter” who is not going to be put off by a fairly limited choice a high price tag. For the next few years most consumers will continue to use USB 2.0 and increasingly USB 3.0 products but it’s going to be interesting to see how quickly Thunderbolt moves into the mainstream.

The price of Thunderbolt peripherals and in particular Thunderbolt Memory Sticks means they are not going to challenge the dominance of USB memory sticks in the near future. The promotional goods sector is one of the largest markets for USB sticks at the moment but they work to budgets of £2-£3 per USB sticks so they’re unlikely to make the move to Thunderbolt thumb drives in the next few years!

So if you want to get your hands on a super-fast Thunderbolt drive with tons of storage then you’re going to have to put your hands into your own pocket and buy one because no sensible company or school is going to be giving them away as part of a “promotion” any time soon!.

Thunberbolt USB Flash Drive - Image courtesy of Intel

Thunberbolt USB Flash Drive - Image courtesy of Intel

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Cheap and Fast USB Sticks – A Mutually Exclusive Statement

Posted by USB2U on 26th April 2013 | Permalink

If you’re looking to buy high performance USB memory sticks with fast read/write speeds then you’re best not to buy them from a company supplying promotional USB sticks.

The reason is simple – the vast majority of promotional USB sticks that are purchased are typically given away as part of a sales and marketing initiative of some description. As a “giveaway” the primary requirement is not speed and performance but value for money coupled with a product that looks good and can show off the brand that is printed on it.

Performance and speed comes at a premium and in the highly competitive promotional USB market most prices that are banded around will be for “standard promotional grade” USB sticks. What this means is that if you’re lucky you’ll get a Grade A (new and non-recycled) product that has read/write speeds of around 3MB -6MB per second. If you’re unlucky you could easily end up with sticks that look good on the outside but contain Grade B (re-cycled) components – these will be slow, they may be masked (the memory size is faked) and they are likely to have a short lifespan (the number of read/write cycles they’ll support will be small).

Forget any ideas of getting the sort of performance you’d normally associate with good quality high performance branded USB sticks you’d pick up in the high street – whatever anyone says unless you specify high performance chips and you’re willing to pay a premium (albeit often a small premium) then the USB sticks you’ll get from most companies selling “promotional” USB sticks will perform commensurate with this definition.

To be fair a decent promotional USB stick from a reputable supplier will be fine for most everyday needs. Problems only really occur when whoever buys then or uses them wants to transfer lots of large files onto them or wants to run large high quality video files from them – large files or multi-tiered data with complex file structures will challenge a promotional USB, often to the point of breaking – it won’t physically break but the data loaded onto it will either fail or corrupt.

For certain industries, professional photographers for example, speed, performance and a reasonable lifespan (backed by a decent warranty) are an absolute must. If these are attributes you want from your printed USB sticks then be very clear to tell your supplier what you plan to use them for and follow their advice. When and if they recommend you spend a little more money to buy an upgraded product remember that they are not doing it to squeeze a few extra pennies out of you they are doing it because they want the product they supply to work and for you to be happy and come back and buy again!

At USB2U we always recommend that professional photographers and videographers buy upgraded, high-performance USB sticks.

USB2U - A Trusted Supplier of Promotional USB Memory Sticks

USB2U - A Trusted Supplier of Promotional USB Memory Sticks

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What Happens if Your USB Memory Sticks Are Not Detected

Posted by USB2U on 12th September 2012 | Permalink

Normally when you plug any USB stick into a PC it will, after a few seconds, be automatically recognised by the PC and typically it will generate a pop up box that will give you the option to do a number of things including importing any pictures stored on the USB stick, opening or viewing the files stored on the stick or using the USB stick as a back-up.

AutoPlay-_-USB-Stick-Inserted

AutoPlay-_-USB-Stick-Inserted

The range of options presented to you in the pop-up dialogue box will depend on the Operating System on your PC and whether the USB stick has any data stored on it – if it’s a brand new USB stick with nothing saved to it then the pop-up box should look something like this:

USB-Stick---No-Files-Loaded

USB-Stick---No-Files-Loaded

If you plug your USB stick in and nothing happens and you get no pop-up box then you might have a faulty USB stick. The best way to check to see if this is the case is to:

  1. Try taking the USB out of the USB port it’s plugged into and try another USB port on the PC. Ideally use a USB port on the back of the PC rather than a front facing USB port – these tend to be more reliable.
  2. Don’t use a USB hub or extension lead – plug the USB stick directly into the PC (again, ideally into one of the USB ports at the back of the PC – yes it can be fiddly but whilst you’re trying to identify what the problem is it’s best to use a USB port at the back of the PC).
  3. Try a different PC and ideally a different PC with a different operating system on.
  4.  Try a PC that is not connected to any work network (LAN) – sometime local IT and LAN administrators will block the use of external storage devices like USB memory sticks.
  5. When doing the above even if you get no automatic dialogue box “popping up” then it’s worth using Windows Explorer to see if the USB stick has been listed and given a Drive Letter – typically it will say something like: Removable Disk (E:) although the letter used can vary.
  6. If at any point the USB stick is listed then “right click” on it and then click on “Properties” -this will hopefully then give you the option to view the size of the USB Stick (memory size), to view the Used space Vs the Free space. You also have the option on this menu list to format the drive. If the you USB stick is not working, is not being recognised then select the Format option and press “Start” – if the stick is OK then it should re-format and once done you can try the drive again (do bear in mind if you do have to format the drive any data stored on it will be erased).

    USB-Stick---Explore

    USB-Stick---Explore

  7. If all of the above fails then it’s likely that you have a faulty USB stick and you should return it under warranty for replacement.

If you’re buying promotional USB memory sticks then be prepared for a typical failure rate of around 1%. Ideally it should be 0% but despite all the QA checks that are done inevitably a few rogue USB sticks always seem to get through. One way of getting around this is to get your supplier to load data onto each USB stick because the simple act of pre-loading data should tease out any rogue sticks because they won’t be able to load your files.

If you experience a failure rate higher than 1% then it might suggest a more fundamental problem and you should consider returning the total order and requesting replacements. Too many suppliers are happy to supply poor quality products at a knock down price knowing that most are destined as give-aways and therefore they can be reasonably confident that most won’t get returned.

To minimise your risk and exposure only buy from trusted and reputable suppliers. Check out on-line forums for customers reviews and feedback and make sure that they are the sort of company that will stand behind any guarantees or warranties they offer.

 

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Does it Make Sense to Pre-load Data onto Promotional USB Flash Drives

Posted by USB2U on 6th July 2012 | Permalink

Demand from schools universities and businesses for promotional USB Flash Drives is still pretty buoyant with overall sales in 2012 on track to outstrip like for like sales in 2011.

Part of the growth is because people are abandoning CD’s and DVD’s in favour of USB flash drives but fundamentally it’s because:

  1. People like being given USB flash drives, they have a high perceived value and unlike CD’s and DVD’s they offer real value to the recipeient.
  2. The price of printed and engraved USB flash drives have Printed and customised USB memory has fallen below £2 per unit (subject to minimum quantities and type)
  3. Flash drives, unlike CD’s and DVD’s tend to be used by the recipient to store and carry their own personal data (after all this is what they are designed for!) and as such the brand that is printed on it gets significantly more exposure.
  4. Postage costs have recently shot up again making the mailing of brochures and catalogues prohibitively expensive. The same brochures can be sent out electronically on a USB flash drive for a fraction of the price.
  5. Rather than printing and shipping hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of glossy brochures to trade shows companies are now finding that it’s easier (and cheaper) to take USB flash drives pre-loaded with their sales collateral. Unlike brochures that have a tendency to fill up the bins just outside of the exhibition halls USB flash drive get kept.

Pre-loading data onto a memory sticks purchased for your school or company makes good commercial sense. The savings made by pre-loading data onto USB sticks rather than printing the equivalent documents can fully offset the cost of the sticks. Build in the costs of transporting and/or storing heavy brochures and the costs benefits get really compelling.

Twister USB Flash Drives

Twister USB Flash Drives

Data loading or duplication, pre-loading, copying or replication is relatively easy to do but it can be time consuming so you need to plan ahead to allow enough time to get the data organised. Don’t try and load the data yourself. Most USB suppliers will offer a free data load up to a certain amount, typically 100MB.

You can “lock” any data that you load onto the USB flash drives which means that it can’t be deleted but it has to be loaded and “locked” during the manufacturing process.

You also need to consider that if you load too much data on the stick and don’t leave enough room for the user then they’re unlikely to use it and your brand won’t get the on-going use and exposure you have paid for.

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Laser Engraved Promotional USB Flash Drives

Posted by USB2U on 19th June 2012 | Permalink

Laser engraved promotional USB flash drives delivered in just 24hrs from USB2U. The only problem you’ll have is deciding which type of USB flash drive to choose because there are lots and lots of different models to select from and they all look great.

Because we use state of the art commercial CO2 lasers to engrave our USB drives we are able to reproduce logos and images with amazing accuracy and clarity. All you need to do is supply us with your logo or artwork and then we’ll arrange for a mock-up and sample to be sent to you.

Our engraving is done in-house which is why we can turn around orders in as little as 24hrs and we can be 100% sure in the quality of the finished product.

Engraved USB Flash Drives - Wood

Engraved USB Flash Drives - Wood

The benefit of opting for engraving rather than printing is that the image (your logo) is going to last no matter what punishment is thrown at it. Any logo printed onto a USB flash drive will eventually chip and flake off so whilst printed USB sticks might look fantastic when they are delivered to you after a few months in the hands of your customers they might look like they’ve been through the wars and the brand that was printed on them may well have worn off completely!

Laser engraving or laser marking as it is sometimes called uses a fine CO2 optical laser to cut into or mark the surface of the drive so when it’s engraved the resulting image is there for good! I won’t matter if the engraved promotional USB flash drive is attached to a set of key-rings and subjected to daily abuse; any logo engraved onto the drive will survive!

As these images illustrate it’s not just wooden of bamboo USB flash drives that can be engraved, the process is also suitable for a wide range of metal and leather USB drives.

Engraved Swivel USB Sticks

Engraved Swivel USB Sticks

So, if you’re in the market for some promotional USB flash drives for your school or business and you want the logo on them to last as long as the drives themselves then it’s worth considering laser engraving rather than printing. If you need them in a hurry then providing we can slot you into our schedule you can have them the very next business day – give us a call and talk though your requirements with one of our team.

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