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The giveaway has ended. Thank you for participating! I’ve contacted the winner by email. We may launch another giveaway in the coming months, so follow me on Twitter and follow Consumerism Commentary on Facebook to be the first to know when there is another opportunity to win a free copy of Quicken 2013.

Intuit is offering Consumerism Commentary readers the chance to win a copy of Quicken Home and Business 2013. This is the same software I have been using for many years to track my personal finances as well as my business finances. Read my review of Quicken 2013 here, published yesterday.

Compared with the Starter Edition, Deluxe, and Premier flavors of Quicken, the Home and Business edition of the software is most suitable for people who, like me, have or have had investments and side income to track accurately. Even when my business accounting became more important and I attempted to switch to QuickBooks for tracking my business’s financials, I continued using Quicken to maintain a complete picture of my life from the financial perspective.

Through Quicken, I was able to generate personal finance reports to publish on Consumerism Commentary on a monthly basis.

The Home and Business edition is best suited for anyone from bloggers earning a small bit of income from their websites to small business owners. Over the past several years as the owner of a blog-based business, I’ve used Quicken extensively for organizing more than just my personal finances.

  • I’ve made a heavy use of Quicken’s invoicing and payment tracking tools.
  • Quicken has helped me to chase down clients or advertisers who were late on their payments.
  • The software gave me an idea of my accounts receivable at any moment so I could make good decisions about potential business expenses.
  • The business expense tracking allowed me to easily prepare for increasingly difficult income tax returns for the business.
  • As a professional writer and business owner with income from various sources, Quicken helped me decide how to spend my time for the best increase of revenue.

Quicken 2013 giveaway

Thanks to Intuit, I have one copy of Quicken Home and Business 2013 to give away to a Consumerism Commentary reader. The winner will be chosen randomly from visitors who comment on this article. The comment should be substantive and answer these questions:

What is your motivation for improving your financial life? What are your life goals for which a strong financial situation is necessary?

At the same time, if you link to the Quicken 2013 review or this Quicken 2013 giveaway in any form of social media, be it Twitter or your own blog, for example, let me know in your comment below as well. Each social media share (and there are other options beyond Twitter and your own blog) listed in your comment and confirmed will earn an extra chance to win. Don’t forget your comment needs to include an answer to the question or questions above.

For example, if you answer the questions with substantive thoughts and point out that you’ve shared the review on your own site and on Google Plus, you have three total chances to win.

Scroll down or click here to leave your comment in answer to the above questions. The winner will be selected randomly. All comments must be received by Sunday night, October 7, 2012, at 11:59 pm Pacific Time in order to be considered valid for the giveaway.


Quicken 2013 Review

This article was written by in Software. 107 comments.

The new Quicken 2013 adds an extensive mobile experience to the software. This is a must-have upgrade for long-time Quicken users.

Starting today, the new version of Quicken is available for purchase. While and other online services are now very popular for tracking personal finances, I’ve stuck with Quicken for many years. This desktop software from Intuit has many advanced features — and basic features dealing with investments — that will never be built into For people serious about tracking personal finances, Quicken is the only software to use.

Although Quicken isn’t the only desktop software for tracking personal finances still being developed, Quicken’s biggest competitor, Moneydance, is much less sophisticated. Quicken’s former toughest competitor, Microsoft Money, has been defunct for several years. The lack of real competition and Intuit’s plan to focus more on have both contributed to Quicken’s slow progress over recent years.

With Quicken 2013, the story is different. There are incremental changes to some features with a number of slight improvements — and these are improvements that the community has been requesting for several years — the biggest change is the addition of a mobile experience.

Improvements to budgeting functionality

Intuit pays attention. The new budget planner was introduces last year and offered a much improved experience for planning full-year budgets and visualizing actual spending and income against the plan. In last year’s review, I wrote the following:

One drawback to Quicken’s budgeting tool is that it does not include a rollover feature. For example, if you budget for an expense of $200 in groceries each month, but you only spent $150, the extra $50 is lost. In real life, and in other budgeting software, that $50 would be available to add to the following month’s spending on groceries, but Quicken does not automatically handle surpluses.

This problem has been solved in Quicken 2013. Budget surpluses can be assigned to different spending categories within the same month or rolled over to the next. There is less of a focus on strict monthly numbers than a broader view of the concept of budgeting.

Although the full-year budget screen appears to be somewhat complicated, it’s very easy to create, edit, and review progress against the budget. The full-year view adds more flexibility in adapting the budget to fit your circumstances.

This solves the problem of a budget in Quicken being too rigid to fit real-life situations, where budgets need to be flexible in order to be useful.

Related to budgets, Quicken has an improved area for savers who wish to define and contribute to specific savings goals. This is a move away from the mechanical transaction-recording premise of Quicken towards the more personal end of personal finance.

Through Quicken 2013′s updated savings goals feature, you can put money aside, virtually, for any future expense you or your household desires. Some expenses, like a down payment on a house, a vacation, or a child’s education, often require a gradual or slow increase in savings over time. Quicken creates a savings plan to help you stay on track.


Quicken 2013 offers an improved process for setting up new loan and mortgage accounts. Just like setting up new checking or savings accounts, you can download your basic loan information, including interest rates and other pertinent information, directly into the software.

To the right is an example loan overview screen in Quicken 2013. This screen offers a new visualization of what it will take to pay off the loan or mortgage according to its terms. This visualization allows users to easily understand the cost of debt, and it can help to encourage those in debt to do what it can to eliminate it quicker.

Quicken mobile

People spend more time on mobile devices than they do on desktop or laptop computers, and if any software plans to stay relevant in the future, there must be a mobile component. The latest developments in the software show that Intuit has learned the importance of mobility from its acquisition of

Pictured above is the Quicken 2013 screen that allows you to enable mobile access to your Quicken information, accessible in the software by clicking the Mobile & Alerts tab in the upper right-hand corner of the interface.

To activate mobile access to your Quicken data, Intuit requires you to create a new set of log-in information. In some places this is called a Mobile ID, and in others it is a Cloud ID. Creating this account will sync the spending information in your Quicken data file with your mobile devices, and AndroidOS and iOS are both supported. Tablet apps, both AndroidOS and iOS, are enhanced for those display types, taking advantage of more screen space.

The purchase of the Quicken software includes access to the mobile apps. They are free for users of Quicken.

The mobile applications support only your spending accounts. You can’t access your investing or foreign currency accounts with the mobile apps. This allows you to handle most of Quicken’s features while on the go, including recording transactions, reconciling data against the information downloaded from your banks, and check your budget on the go to help you make spending decisions while you’re away from your computer. If you’ve enabled online access to your spending accounts through Quicken, your bank transaction data will be downloaded in the background so you can use your mobile device for reconciliation.

Rather than collecting a pile of receipts over the course of the month, the mobile applications will allow you to enter spending information as you spend, increasing the chances of accurate tracking. The applications allow you to split transactions into several categories just like the desktop software, and this could theoretically save you from facing the daunting tasks of trying to remember details at a later date.

These are the highlights of the new mobile apps for Quicken 2013:

  • View a chart-based visualization of your spending.
  • Review a snapshot of your budget, and edit your budget if necessary.
  • View your top spending categories for the month.
  • Record and edit your transactions while away from your computer.
  • Access new mobile alerts.

To the right is the transaction detail view for AndroidOS tablets. All information on this screen is editable.

Part of the new mobile experience includes alerts, as mentioned above. Thanks to the cloud, your data is constantly being crunched.

You no longer need the desktop software to be open and running. With the mobile features enabled, you can create email or text alerts to notify you of changing conditions affecting your budget, like low balances or an approach towards a spending limit.

The mobile applications should be available from their respective stores today, but as of publishing this review, they are not yet available. You can, however, set up your Mobile ID or Cloud ID and begin the process of enabling mobile access. Update: The mobile apps are now available as free downloads from Google Play and the iTunes Store.

These new mobile features are very different than other mobile applications for managing your money, like This is a robust experience designed for users who appreciate the level of tracking and analysis possible with the desktop version of Quicken, impossible with other mobile applications. I would prefer to be able to at least view investment activity in the Quicken mobile experience, but spending and saving certainly deserve extra attention from developers.

Quicken 2013 download and giveaway

For users who have been waiting for a reason to upgrade from a prior version of Quicken, and perhaps dissatisfied with the incremental changes from one year to the next, the Quicken 2013 update including mobile may be a compelling reason to install the new update of the software. That statement applies to users of Windows only. Intuit has yet to finalize an update for Mac users, who must run Quicken in a Windows virtualization if these new features are important. Intuit is eager to support these new updates to the software natively for Mac users, and the company is “evaluating Mac opportunities in the coming year.”

The new version of Quicken comes in all the varieties of the past: Starter Edition, Deluxe, Premier, Home & Business, and Rental Property Manager. The prices have increased over last year’s release. All versions are available for download from or from Intuit directly. You can also buy the box and have the software delivered on a CD-ROM.

October 10: Intuit has already released an updated to Quicken 2013. If installing the software for the first time, if you are connected to the internet, you will be required to download the update when launching the software. If you have already installed Quicken 2013, you will be prompted to install the update the next time you open the application.

November: Although my experiences using Quicken 2013 have been trouble-free, other users are having a very different experience. Intuit’s user support forums and Amazon reviews are full of complaints from users of the new software. Visitors to Consumerism Commentary have also been reporting bugs and problems. Please read the comments on this article before making your purchasing decision.

If you have a problem to report and have notified Intuit or otherwise checked for a resolution, please describe your problem here as well by leaving a comment. This will help other users resolve their issues, or it will warn potential customers about other problems with Quicken.

Note: While some of the screenshots above say Quicken 2012, they are in fact from the newest version, Quicken 2013.

Quicken 2013 giveaway

This giveaway is now concluded.

For a limited time, Intuit and Consumerism Commentary are giving away one copy of Quicken Home & Business 2013. Here’s how to participate in the Quicken 2013 giveaway.

Buy Quicken 2013 today

Quicken Home and Business 2013Buy CD-ROM $84.99Download $84.99
Quicken Premier 2013Buy CD-ROM $79.99Download $79.99
Quicken Deluxe 2013Buy CD-ROM $54.99Download $54.99
Quicken Starter Edition 2013Buy CD-ROM $39.95Download $39.95
Quicken Rental Property Manager 2013Buy CD-ROM $159.99Download $159.99
Quicken WillMaker Plus 2013Buy CD-ROM $48.48Download $69.99
Quicken Essentials for Mac 2010Buy CD-ROM $32.67n/a


This is a relatively long review of TurboTax 2012 Online, software for completing tax forms and submitting them to both the federal and state authorities. I’ve updated the review to reflect the changes to the software in 2012 (for filing 2011 tax returns).

Recently, the IRS began accepting federal tax returned filed electronically. Even before the IRS began accepting returns, you could still have completed your tax forms online through software. Programs like TurboTax, H&R Block, and Jackson Hewitt have been accepting customers and holding off on filing until now. This delay affected those who had itemized deductions, claimed the tuition and fees deduction, or claimed the sales tax deduction.

Many taxpayers are just getting started with their 2011 federal returns now. I’ve been using the services of an accountant for the past few years, and he was able to cut through the more confusing tax consequences of owning a business, saving me $15,000. Before my tax situation was complicated, however, I completed my taxes online using various software. Following a series of questions, completing and filing my 1040 form was easy.

Every year, the companies that provide tax e-filing services like TurboTax and H&R Block tweak their products, not only for the latest tax laws, but to improve features, making the process of tax filing easier. I took a look at TurboTax to see what changes the newest edition has to offer.

The first thing I noticed with TurboTax is the wide variety of products they have available. There is an option that is completely free for filing federal returns, but it is limited. This free version is for taxpayers whose returns can be completed using the 1040-EZ form, a simplified version of the 1040 form. If you have deductions, investments, a mortgage, or self-employment income, or if you want a step-by-step hand-holding guide to completing the forms, you will not be able to take advantage of the TurboTax Free Edition.

TurboTax offers several flavors in addition to the Free Edition, including Deluxe, Premier, Home & Business, and Business, each to handling more complicated tax situations above and beyond the lighter editions. The Deluxe Edition focuses on capturing all of your deductions. The Premier Edition does deductions, as well, but also includes the forms you need for investments like stocks, mutual funds, and rental properties. Home & Business covers all of the above as well as self-employment income, and the Business Edition is for anyone who is a partner in or owner of a corporation.

The editions are flexible; start with the Deluxe Edition, and as you come across features you need, TurboTax will ask if you’d like to upgrade — without charging you yet — to the edition that takes all of your needs into account. I started the Deluxe Edition to see how far I could go. I saw that for the most part none of the upgrades are needed if you are confident about your tax accounting abilities and are willing to enter your information directly into forms rather than have the software hold your hand through every decision.

Get your refund in as little as 8 days. E-file with TurboTax today. It’s Easy

Here is an overview of my entire process of completing my federal and state tax returns with TurboTax.

Read the full article →


Quicken 2013 is now available. Read a full review of the latest version of the software be clicking here. What follows is a review of Quicken 2012, now outdated.

For the last few days, I’ve been testing the new version of Quicken Home and Business. While most people who track their finances have moved to online services like, some of us are holding out until the online software offers the same advanced features as the desktop Quicken software. I enjoy my ability to track my investments, create and customize reports, export information into Excel, and look into the future with planning tools.

Quicken 2012 is set to be released on October 10, 2011 and offers several new features, particularly in that last category. The programmers at Intuit have refreshed and improved the Budget Planner and the Debt Reduction Planner, available in all flavors of Quicken 2012.

Quicken 2012 Budget Planner

The new Budget Planner is a combination of the budget planner from previous versions of Quicken and the spending planner. When creating a new budget, you have two choices. The “Automatic Budget” looks at your recent spending to determine the five most important categories for budgeting. Quicken estimates the amount for each category on a monthly basis and presents its suggestions to the users for customization. The “Advanced Budget” invites the user to select the categories to be used in the spending and income plan.

Each line on the budget is configurable by period. You could, for example, assign a budget of $300 a month for Food and Dining (overall, which includes specific categories like Groceries and Restaurants) and set a budget of $10,000 per year for Property Taxes. If your annual salary is $60,000, you can enter this. Automatically, Quicken will assign the average monthly budget in this category to $5,000, but if you are paid bi-weekly, you don’t receive the same amount of income each month. You can edit the individual months if you like.

Quicken 2012 Budget PlannerOne drawback to Quicken’s budgeting tool is that it does not include a rollover feature. For example, if you budget for an expense of $200 in groceries each month, but you only spent $150, the extra $50 is lost. In real life, and in other budgeting software, that $50 would be available to add to the following month’s spending on groceries, but Quicken does not automatically handle surpluses. Rather than focus on these details, you could change the budget view in Quicken from monthly to quarterly to get a better overview of how you spend when expenses cross months. This is also helpful for those infrequent expenses that are often forgotten when you look at a budget on a monthly level.

Each Quicken file can contain multiple budgets, so you and your spouse could maintain separate measurements of spending, even including the same accounts.

If you’re just getting started with budgeting, consider these resources:

Quicken 2012 Debt Reduction Planner

The new Debt Reduction Planner in Quicken 2012 has been completely redesigned. The focus here is on credit card repayment, but the planner can be easily configured to include student loans, a mortgage, and any other debt that is destined for elimination.

Quicken 2012 Debt Reduction Planner

If your credit card issuers support it, Quicken downloads the interest rate and minimum payment information directly through the internet. If all the information isn’t available for automatic download, users will need to enter it manually from the latest statement or by accessing the account online. The interest rates and minimum payment amounts are important because Quicken needs this information to calculate the payoff plan.

Quicken 2012 Debt Reduction PlannerQuicken’s programmers have decided that the Debt Avalanche method of paying off debt is the most appropriate philosophy for prioritizing debt. This means that the Debt Reduction Planner advises users to pay minimum payments to all debts, and any left over cash available for debt repayment should be directed to the one loan or credit card with the highest interest rate.

This is the fastest, cheapest, and most efficient way to pay of debt. The Debt Reduction Planner creates a chart and reminders to keep borrowers focused on paying the correct amounts to the appropriate debts.

Although Quicken defaults to prioritizing debt by interest rate, any user who prefers to follow the Debt Snowball approach, where debt is prioritized by size to payoff the smallest debt first, taking advantage of the psychological “quick win,” can apply this philosophy with one click. Furthermore, if there is a reason to customize the order of debt accounts due to some other reason, such as the desire to eliminate a low-interest loan from a family member before tackling an otherwise important credit card debt, users can easily manipulate the list.

Quicken 2012 Debt Reduction PlannerOnce users and the software agree on priorities, Quicken uses a visual approach to illustrating the debt payoff plan. This slider can be moved back and forth to represent the total cash available to pay off debt. While moving the slider, Quicken updates the target date for complete debt repayment and the total amount of interest paid over time.

The screen also includes a monthly chart to show the payment amounts that should be directed to each debt to stay on track. I’ve included a video capturing how the new Debt Reduction Planner feature in Quicken 2012 works, in action.

Quicken 2012 bugs

Since upgrading to Quicken Home & Business 2012 from the 2011 version, I’ve noticed that the “One Step Update” frequently doesn’t complete without causing the application to become unresponsive. This was an occasional problem with all prior versions of the software, and forcing the application to close and restarting the program usually solved the problem despite the inconvenience. With Quicken 2012, more often restarting the program does not fix the problem.

I can avoid this problem by avoiding the One Step Update function and downloading transactions for each account separately. I’ve always liked the convenience of downloading transactions across all accounts at once, so I would like to see this fixed in one of the many patches Intuit is sure to release.

If you discover any additional problems with Quicken 2012, such as calculations that don’t seem correct, let me know by leaving your comments below.

Other questions

In addition to the above, Intuit has been busy adding more financial institutions to the “Direct Connect” or “Express Web Connection” features, so transaction information can be downloaded directly into the software with as little manual entry as possible. With Quicken 2012, I’ve found that the software much more intelligently assigns categories to new transactions.

Quicken 2012 offers a new feature, good for users with high-definition screens. A toggle allows users to switch to a larger font, making the information much more legible. This follows the design trend leading towards larger text on the web. You may find the large text more appealing. Also, the account bar now features new icons, supplementing the familiar red flag. The new icons help to identify whether there are downloaded transactions to accept into the register, upcoming reminders or bills, or any other issue needing attention.

The latest development of Quicken is available only for computers running the Windows operating system. Apple users with the Mac OS will need to continue using Quicken Essentials for Mac for the near term, or use the Windows version in a virtualization.

Buy Quicken 2012 today

Quicken Home and Business 2013Buy CD-ROM $84.99Download $84.99
Quicken Premier 2013Buy CD-ROM $79.99Download $79.99
Quicken Deluxe 2013Buy CD-ROM $54.99Download $54.99
Quicken Starter Edition 2013Buy CD-ROM $39.95Download $39.95
Quicken Rental Property Manager 2013Buy CD-ROM $159.99Download $159.99
Quicken WillMaker Plus 2013Buy CD-ROM $48.48Download $69.99
Quicken Essentials for Mac 2010Buy CD-ROM $32.67n/a


H&R Block Online Tax Filing Review

by Luke Landes

This is a relatively long review of H&R Block’s online tax preparation and filing service. H&R Block has provided Consumerism Commentary with six coupon codes for H&R Block Premium Edition, the most complete service offered by the company. If you haven’t filed your household’s tax return yet, chances are taxes are on your mind. If ... Continue reading this article…

22 comments Read the full article →

Quicken 2011 Review and Giveaway

by Luke Landes

Are you looking for the latest version of Quicken? Here is my review of the newest version, Quicken 2013. Downloads of Quicken 2013 are available today. I’ve been using Quicken for six years, and I have eight years’ worth of financial data in my files. I had the opportunity to take the beta version of ... Continue reading this article…

215 comments Read the full article →

Quicken Online Users Must Convert to

by Luke Landes

After a three years of operation and the acquisition of a competing product, Quicken Online will be completely replaced by on August 29, 2010. Both Quicken Online and have served the same purpose. These website applications help people save more money by tracking their financial accounts and offering suggestions for improvements. At the ... Continue reading this article…

4 comments Read the full article →

More Professional Collateral for Free

by Smithee

Many of us who want to earn more money have side jobs, or a flourishing freelance business or two. We want our customers and clients to take us seriously, but first impressions are often ruined by amateur—or even bad—graphic design. Unless you hire a designer, you’ll never get the constructive criticism you need in order ... Continue reading this article…

1 comment Read the full article →

Make Sure You Really Want to Jailbreak Your iPhone

by Smithee

If you heard about it at all, you heard right: it’s no longer illegal to jailbreak your iPhone. That means you can install any app you want on it, regardless of whether it exists in the official App Store. But according to Apple, this will void your warranty, so proceed with caution. I’d recommend looking ... Continue reading this article…

6 comments Read the full article →

TurboTax Online Review, New Features

by Luke Landes

Last year was the first year I abandoned my own tax return preparation, deferring to a professional to do the dirty work. I’m glad I did; he suggested I restructure my business retroactively, resulting in a savings of about $15,000. I still haven’t seen most of this; the IRS is still processing my amended 2008 ... Continue reading this article…

1 comment Read the full article →

Quicken Essentials for Mac Released Today

by Luke Landes

Today, Intuit officially launched the first new version of Quicken for Mac in years. I do not own an Apple computer, so I have not seen this software for myself. I do know from reading many reviews that the Mac versions of Quicken in the past have lagged in quality behind the equivalent Windows-based software. ... Continue reading this article…

6 comments Read the full article →

$10 Discount Off Quicken Essentials for Mac 2010, 50% Off Other Quicken Products

by Luke Landes

In February, Intuit will release a long-awaited update to the Mac desktop version of Quicken. The new software has been renamed again. When it appears on shelves with the retail price of $69.99, it will be labeled “Quicken Essentials for Mac.” You can pre-order Quicken Essentials for Mac now and receive $10 off the full ... Continue reading this article…

16 comments Read the full article →

Quicken Online Users Will Be Migrated to Mint

by Luke Landes

When Mint and Intuit announced the latter would be acquiring the former, the Quicken team and Aaron Patzer, the CEO of Mint, now a vice president of Intuit’s personal finance division, claimed that their two similar online product offerings, Mint and Quicken Online, would continue to co-exist. This made little sense to me. In fact, ... Continue reading this article…

14 comments Read the full article →

Quicken 2010 Review and Giveaway

by Luke Landes

Are you looking for the latest version of Quicken? Here is my review of the newest version, Quicken 2012. Downloads of Quicken 2012 are available today. Note: This is a long article containing an in-depth review of the new version of Quicken. If you are just interested in the giveaway of Quicken 2010 Deluxe, scroll ... Continue reading this article…

152 comments Read the full article →

Quicken 2010 Available Now

by Luke Landes

I’ve been a relatively faithful user of Quicken for the past five years after switching from Microsoft Money and other more basic personal finance management software. Even though I continue using this software to track my income and expenses and to share my finances with the world, I have never been silent about the software’s ... Continue reading this article…

50 comments Read the full article →

QuickBooks 2010 Now Available, Discounts for Readers

by Luke Landes

My accountant has strongly suggested I move my business-related financial accounting out of my personal Quicken file and into QuickBooks. It has been a slow process so far, and I have determined that I have not done a great job of separating my business finances from my personal finances. QuickBooks 2010 was released yesterday. The ... Continue reading this article…

15 comments Read the full article →

Real-time Traffic GPS for the iPhone

by Smithee

Soon. As in, October-soon. It looks like the first iPhone app to bring us real-time traffic alerts, and that comes with offline maps, will be the Navigon MobileNavigator (Earlier CNET review. iTunes Store link.) The AT&T Navigator (CNET review) also has live traffic data, but takes more time to download maps as you go, and ... Continue reading this article…

10 comments Read the full article →

Intuit Buys Mint for $170 Million: Quicken Online and Mint to Coexist

by Luke Landes

The news in personal finance today is that Intuit, the makers of Quicken and TurboTax, purchased internet start-up Mint, a service that has come into its own in the past few years. The two companies offer competing products: Quicken Online and Mint are both free web applications that aggregate your financial information across a wide ... Continue reading this article…

8 comments Read the full article →

Crowdsourcing My Ride Home

by Smithee

Until now, I never paid much attention to the different companies and providers, but I’ve learned that not all GPS devices are equal. I’ve recently been tempted by the TomTom app for the iPhone, especially in connection with the car kit. Turn-by-turn directions, as well as charging my phone, and playing music through the car’s ... Continue reading this article…

4 comments Read the full article →

Happy Snow Leopard Day

by Smithee

For the increasing number of Mac users in the audience, today’s the day to start deciding whether you want to upgrade your operating system: “Snow Leopard” is on the scene. Number-wise, this is a move to OS 10.6. It will only work on Apple computers with an Intel processor and at least 1 GB of ... Continue reading this article…

6 comments Read the full article →
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