• NH and friends NoktahHitam is my alter ego. I am a nocturnal Web Developer at Laman7. Part time innovator, full time procrastinator.

Web Development in Malaysia: Bukan Business Air Liur

I took a glance at my company account and see so many reds which leads to one thing, non-paying customer. The most back dated ones goes way back to 2007 and up till today, that site is still up and fronting clients, virtually.

Like any business owner, I’d call and talk to their accountant to release the remaining balance. I felt pretty much like a beggar asking for lose change on the streets of KL. Every single time I’d call, he’d excuse himself and ask for extensions. It’s nothing more than a few K’s, and for a land developer, what is few K’s compare to M’s?

I was planning on asking my uncle’s help and sue them. Fortunately for them, I do not wish to waste my time with dick heads like these. It’s not about money, it’s about ethics and credibility. You buy products, you pay in full, unless it’s discounted.

Web Development:
Under Appreciative Industry.

Allow me explore this further. There are 2 crucial points to consider;

  1. Design – Involves art
  2. Programming – Involves technical

Unlike most industries, web development requires the developer to master both worlds. In other words, become an amphibian. I assure you, it’s not an easy task.

Most companies have 2 brains for this, web designers to design and web programmers to code stuff. The limitation of this model is, designers may not know what are the boundaries of a web. Likewise programmers do not know the depth of the designer. Most of the time, designers are way over their heads when it comes features. Either the programmer is incompetent or the technology have yet to exist.

Why don’t I hire people? Well I do, occasionally, especially photogrpahers. But it’s best I control these two worlds. (Yes, I am a control freak.)

Like any other projects, a web has to go through several stages before it matures. Procurement, Development, Installation, Training, Commissioning, and some times, Delivery. Whilst this may vary depending on company, but this is the ideal working order. Shortcuts are not allowed, and perhaps an extended foreplay for complicated project. Yes, this is very much like engineering.

Now the moolah (money) part. Internationally, the going rate for a web development is USD50 per hour. Since I’m talking about Malaysia, it would be RM50. But most clients (in Malaysia) do not like the idea of Per Hour basis. They think we’re cheating their money. Fair enough, web developers charge a lump sump (often stomach-able, not lavish).

But then again, this is Malaysia and the web industry is very much under appreciated.

The Cheapskate Clients.

Let me break this down into several clients/ leads.

“I want an e-commerce website, RM 1,500 can?”

The common trend of e-commerce is credit card enabled. Although it may appear simple, but it’s actually tough. We’re dealing with security at the same do not want to complicate potential customer. Then the overall design, mini, macro too. Next the engine itself. There are a handful of open source shopping cart out there, however that does not make things any simpler. More choice = more doubts = more work. So, RM 1,500 for an e-commerce website: Possible, but wish your best that you’ll generate sales.

“Copy this website functions and cost between RM700, bole?”

Some clients have always thought Web Development as a cut-and-paste business. If it was that simple, you should do it yourself instead of hiring someone. Back to the RM700, now, how many runs of debugging should you do? Until it works right? Because that’s what you’re paid to do. But sometimes, it remains buggy for a few more weeks. Then again, is RM700 good enough to last for more than a month?

“Layout like this website, with bla bla bla. RM 500?”

Layout, design, overall look, magazine, three column or what ever, it all points to the same thing, how it displays. Like an individual, EVERY and I mean EVERY project is unique. If a web designer sees this as opportunity, then they’re probably delusional (slightly). It takes a lot to come up with something original, wordings, elements, focused and most often forgot, good usability. So if you come to me with RM500 for a unique design, then I’m sorry, I can’t.

“Very simple only, 4-5 pages. RM 100/page can?”

Possible, thanks to ready-templates available at cheap price. But often, web developers love the lime light. In other words, they’d like to add new pure-awesomeness projects in their portfolio. So if it’s templated, where does it fit other than the tummy? Call me an egoist, but I believe I deserve more.

“I need you to change this ASAP, datuk has complained about this”

Clients have their way of throwing hardballs. Today it’s like this, tomorrow it’s like that. Being the kind web developer you are, you abide to these demands. Then you are screwed. Your job is not to re-do stuff.

“I’d like to add this and that building somewhere in the design”

Whilst it may be available at Flickr, I find this demeaning. First, the picture doesn’t belong to me nor them. Second, it spoils the entire balance in design. Third, you should have told me during the designing stage before it’s turned into a website!

“I like Comic San, I don’t want Georgia. I don’t care what others say.”

The idea of building a website, IS NOT for you, but to attract NEW LEADS! To an untrained eyes, Comic Sans maybe nice, but it’s also by far the most irritating fonts ever (presently and future).

A well trained, groomed web developer is VERY accustomed to good designs. Unless they make a very sinful and ugly design, it’s best to have it their way. Why? Like fathers and mothers, they know best about their kids potential.

But, if you want it your way, then ask yourself, how often do you visit your company’s website? Even as a religious web developer, I don’t even visit mine daily, instead monthly.

End of Rant

All I wanted to say is, I WANT MY MOOLAAHH  but instead I took a step deeper into our (Malaysian Web Developer) concerns. Suffice to say, I’ve left many clues to aspiring web developers out there on how tough the web industry is. Rest assured, if you have passion and talent and a rich dad*, you’re safe.

Quote: Customer is always right

Who they hell said this may be one of the Best Ass Kisser around. In my industry, customers are usually wrong. That’s why they hired me, to correct their wrong. Again people, even if you have the money to spend, it doesn’t make you king.

You got a problem with your industry? Spit it out! I want to read too!

*rich dad: Helps you pay your outstanding credit card bills.

ps: In case you’re wondering, I work at Laman7 and I love building cool corporate websites. (No it has nothing to do with Windows7)

 

There are 45 Comments for “Web Development in Malaysia: Bukan Business Air Liur”

That’s it! XD

You hit the point pretty good Eddie. Still, i am VERY upset with the future of web development industries in our country, UNLESS, the web designer/web developer stand up to their own principles by NOT allowing such client to take them for granted.

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NoktahHitam replied #1

Then you’ll become a pixel pusher and no one wants to really work with you, UNLESS, you are that good (which I believe you are my man!).

Most of the time, they think the web is a free service. Usually if the clients are to clogged up with their idea, I’d ask theme to use blogger.com. *jgn susahkn badan*

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Bat wrote on December 3, 2009 #1

reasons why i dont like to work for malaysian.. you guys can opt international market which your customer is professional and pay you 5 times than those sick lowballers…

aku pernah je kena ugut smpai nk kena pukul sbb diorang ingat bila bayar deposit boleh terus control hidup orang.. deposit pun ciput..

web designer is like a contractor in our real life but we build home digitally.

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NoktahHitam replied #1

Threaten to beat you? Serious shit!

Actually bro, when I was your age, I had a company in UK for Web Dev. It was awesome, until I needed to focus on becoming a telco eng. My dad wanted me to be one, so I became one, then quit. Hahaha. Most of the time, clients WANT to pay even before rolling out the mockup. Even IF my mockup were rejected, I’d asked for payment too. And they happily paid and told whats wrong with it. Pure awesomeness kan?

I agree on that, we build a SITE (as in tapak) for business. And they failed to see that, 10 online visitors is better than 1 offline visitor.

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xun replied #1

cuak siot. damn these people. ergh.

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izuddin helni wrote on December 3, 2009 #2

ade lagi rupanya syarikat yg reti mintak tapi tak reti membayar. Ape punya jenis la ni.

Orang lain pun mau hidup kan? hehe.
Quote: Customer is always right hanya boleh dipakai di kedai2 mamak seMalaya :P

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NoktahHitam replied #1

YEAAHH Quote itu utk kedai mamak je! :D

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blowie wrote on December 3, 2009 #3

I really do agree that we’re in an underpriced industry. it maybe come because from age, or the fact that we live in piracy world in all things. video, music, movie till software. yeah maybe the customer thinks we use pirated software so they want to pull the price. the fact there’s always new people can do for it cheaper, but still the client want to meet us to ‘trying out their luck’ to get more good quality for cheaper price. and use cheesy statement like ‘kawan tolong kawan’, ‘melayu tolong melayu’,'we’re friends and we’re suppose to help each other.

hello, it’s just 20 minutes I’d met you. and you the one who call me for this meeting.

my huge turn off words are those kind of words. if my prospect said like that, that’s it. I already have ‘off’ on my mind, unless they’d able to consider what not.

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NoktahHitam replied #1

Kawan tolong kawan, melayu tolong melayu. CRAP!

The usual I get is, quote murah2 la, I can refer you to my friends. My business network is good! – cilanat. If that’s the case, then I’d go to tesco and tell the cashier, kasi discount la, nanti saye refer kt kawan2. Mmg sundal!

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t.a.t.a replied #1

“Kawan tolong kawan, melayu tolong melayu.” — betapa aku benci akan quote ini.

Ada sorang kasteme ni, selalu menggunakan “Alaa dah banyak tolong bawak masuk pelanggan lain, tak kan tak boleh kasik murah kot?”

Macam mana nak kasi murah, kalau dia bawak masuk pc kawan dia, pastu mintak murah, dan lagi bayar 2 3 tahun kemudian? tak ke rasa macam apa je kan? memula tu memang la boleh sabar, tapi kalau lama-lama itu bukan tolong lagi dah, tolong nak jahanamkan bisness ada la.

Bab call minta bayar hutang ni memang rasa macam peminta sedekah, naik malu rasanya. kalau berhutang faham-faham la kena bayar. tak pasal-pasal jadi bad debt dan lama kelamaan bad debt written off.. huh!

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tekong wrote on December 3, 2009 #4

Well written. I believe not only web development, but other creative field like graphic designer are also having the same problem with Malaysian clients. When people ask me how much do I really get from doing this kind of stuff, I’d say depends on the client. If there’re Malaysian, don’t expect much.
Just throw a greater-than-rm500 quotation, you’ll never get any reply from them. silence. But again, not all liket that lah kan. I had this band I created a web for, last year, they still owe me like 2/3 of the payment, and the excuse is, “we are not rich, we are not a famous band”. yeahh.

Great article!

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flisterz wrote on December 3, 2009 #5

For certain clients, I would overlay (it’s not fool proof, but it’s enough for annoy some companies) “preview” or “sample” on their website until the payment is made! haha.

True that, flisterz. Malaysian clients usually wants anything and everything for almost nothing. They might be good to foot the bills, but don’t expect portfolio-able jobs.

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Fird wrote on December 3, 2009 #6

your dad helps to pay your credit card bills? oh bahagienye hidup

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NoktahHitam replied #1

To be honest, yes. I think that’s his way of expressing love. (but of course not the whole lot!)

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xun replied #1

seconded your reason. lol. hehe.

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lyana wrote on December 3, 2009 #7

actually, ini masalah yang aku nampak terjadi pada software house yang buat webdev.. bukan setakat company biasa, gomen pon lambat bayar.. tahun lepas dan tahun ni aja berapa banyak company yg aku nampak suffer berpunca dari benda ni.. ada yang rugi teruk.. risiko web dev ni lebih besar dari terjun lombong tanpa belajar berenang!

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mrkay wrote on December 3, 2009 #8

nice articles and lot of interesting information for me to gain my knowledge in this area.

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nadiawatiamin wrote on December 3, 2009 #9

Nice post, but I’m referring to the comments:

Baru ku tahu betapa ramai “set2 kita” yang senasib. Baru ku tahu juga rupanya set kita ni ramai, bukan sorang dua jer.

So, is there anything we could do to overcome this problem? We have to make them to see us as a real profession that exists in this real world!

Aku stuju dengan flisterz, setiap kali kos bawah 500, senang2 jer projek boleh start. Start jer 4 angka, terus diam membisu, takde respon, hampeh!

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NoktahHitam replied #1

I think MSC should play a role in this. They should educate people. Anyway, our web is still young.

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Iwani replied #1

ImamKhalid hits the jackpot!

And I can’t agree more, Eddie. Govt bodies like MDEC, MAMPU should play a role to educate people about web

Our industry is still too small to grow and we have just too many freelancers who are willing to do things at lower price.

At this moment, we have to stop ranting and start executing ways to educate people

For starters, we can get all the web peeps we know into one wave and discuss this further. Not to rant coz we all know the issues already. But what can/should we do to improve the industry & bring awareness.

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ImamKhalid wrote on December 3, 2009 #10

hope u can give more articles and updates on this web area later.waiting for dat

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NoktahHitam replied #1

What kind of article are you looking forward too?

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nadia wrote on December 3, 2009 #11

I hear you brother. And that’s why Simpleet doesn’t prefer working with SMBs and MNCs. Either too demanding or problematic with collections.

Luckily though, we’ve been working with professional SMBs and MNCs so far. But we’ve definitely had our fair share of nightmares.

By the way, you seriously need to push for the payments these 2 months or you might as well write it off and rid yourself of the burden and worries. :)

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Danny Foo wrote on December 3, 2009 #12

eddie, boleh ejas2 themes MentariWorks Kak Jie tu sikit?

Hntr bill ye nnt

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Kujie wrote on December 3, 2009 #13

bro aku setuju dengan point lu, baru2 ni aku cuba la establishkan company yang dibuat tapi orang2 korporat malaysia yang nak buat website semua mintak murah, dengan modal 3ribu dan 3 orang kerja 1 web dev, 1 graphic design dan seorang marketing manager kami hanya mampu bertahan 3bulan dengan basic gaji 1.5k sebulan duduk di tgh KL, Malaysia web design company tak boleh bertahan lama bro except ko terjun dalam dunia IT sendiri create community build up dan jadi tauke Advertising mcm carigold, atau johnchow!

dan sekarang aku kembali menjadi balaci~ T_T

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skyjuice wrote on December 3, 2009 #14

Good article :) I always do “charity” werk and promised with good dinner at the end. I prefer $ though.

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blank172 wrote on December 3, 2009 #15

sungguh! aku turut terpanggil dengan catatan yang aku anggap menjelaskan usaha pembangunan web oleh warga tempatan.

aku anggap ini adalah catatan terbaik untuk memperlihatkan suasana sebenar yang perlu ditempuh oleh pembangun web kita.

aku juga turut terkesan dengan usaha murni untuk membantu orang kita dalam web tetapi dicantas oleh perangai dan ceteknya ilmu mereka tentang web dev.

sehingga memaksa meletakkan harga yang begitu rendah! bull shit derang ni. bikin sendiri la (hu3)

sebenarnya klu bisnes ini bebetul dibangunkan dapat 3 4 projek sebulan pun dah boleh hidup kan?

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megat wrote on December 3, 2009 #16

Wow bro, you sure have some rough customer over there, I mainly cater students (clubs and society actually) and well, just because they are older then me they sometimes think that they are smarter. There is this one case where they say they like this and that and this and that, so i follow their demands, but two weeks after I send the design, I found out they change everything else, most probably using front page or something, the tabbed interface was destroyed, not to mention some pictures were well, not resized properly destroying the layout. And yet they keep calling me to fix everything, for free, yes for free. :(

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Afiq wrote on December 3, 2009 #17

Semua kalau boleh mahu murah, mentaliti sudah set nak yang murah tapi hasil yang gempak. yang pening kepala web developer sendiri.

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Fahmishah wrote on December 4, 2009 #18

tepat pada masa nya ko update blog ni.. theoatmeal.com pun buat entri yang lebih kurang sama.. http://theoatmeal.com/comics/design_hell

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r1c3d wrote on December 4, 2009 #19

customer is not always right. Itu aku setuju.

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titan wrote on December 6, 2009 #20

“If you have to ask how much is it, then you can’t afford it.” -Jeremy Clarkson.

I think this explains a lot.

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NoktahHitam replied #1

Jeremy Clarkson is nothing but F awesome. No journalist can be an ass like him.

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mind replied #1

Hell yes. An idol he is to me.

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Mind wrote on December 6, 2009 #21

hey, nice thought there. that’s the reason i don’t want to be a programmer or a webmaster. Like you said, i like to take control of my world.
;)

p/s – this is my 1st comment. but i was your reader for quite sometimes..

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sankai wrote on December 7, 2009 #22

malaysian kat suke tawar menawar..haha tawar menawar pun biarla bertempat..nak adjer aku melempang deme.. diorang igt design2 ni senang ker? sama la..aku ade sorang kawan ni pakse mmbr yg pandai buat design2 ni cpt2..pada hal tak mo byr..kate suh tolong2 member je..bleh la..tiap2 bulan tlg2 member bankrup la weh..industri malaysia belom pada tahap ‘Perfect Competition’ yang aku bajar dalam ekonomi..huuuu

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Roslan Nazri wrote on December 7, 2009 #23

Haha. So true la bro. Aku wat webdev nie pun byk makan hati je. Patutnye role aku coder tapi terus kena multitask jadi designer and coder. Dateline xyah cakap la, nak cepat je. Then bile PM aku propose Joomla (aku benci Joomla), diorg bising plak sbb later byk benda xleh nak buat sbb limit. X msk bab a few component yang clash dengan component lain. IE incompability? Memang tekanan. Lagi satu bile client kita orang tua yang rasa diorng punyer sense of creativity lagi hebat dari designer tu sendiri. Memang sakit hati. Nak ikut web tu, web ni. Xde identiti sendiri. Then nak fancy2 mcm bdk tadika. Arghhh!!. Tapi bab payment xnak release tu PM aku la yg pening. Haha

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Alique Azmi wrote on December 8, 2009 #24

Not only in your industry, but in law industry as well, we do face the same kind of attitude from ‘sick’ clients. Work first pay later. Shaiiitz. The noblest trade profession so far is the doctor. By hook or by crook, you gotta pay the bill first or pay big deposit before being treated or upon given the meds. (This reminds me to keep on searching for a doc – for myself.)

In my case, I have to threaten them to sue them for the outstanding bill. Or delay in doing the work which then will give them the headache to pay for the penalty. Sometime we gotta be cruel to be kind.

But I hate the one who love to compare our fees..shopping around for cheaper price but demanding to have the service as if they paid us million bucks. Dayemm.

But strangely, I admire those who are not so rich or not a well to do person and who are striving to work to earn a decent living…coz they accept your fees, never ask for discount and always pay in full, even that means installment. And they make prompt payment too! Unlike the rich one..the richer you are, the stingier you become to depart with your money.

*sigh*

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NoktahHitam replied #1

You know, sometimes Law industry is rather weird. E.g. S&P. Gosh, that thing always give me goosebumps. I kinda expected somewhere around 3k, then all of a sudden, whoooppps 9k! And all the lawyer did was chop, sign, and run some peon, Wahlau, your paper is ready for collection. Do bring your check also. But when I asked for the lawyer’s number from the secretary to clarify, she denied me. HELLO? I’m paying 9k for something I AM UNSURE OF. Worst, I can’t take it elsewhere! I do (sometimes) feel like I’m being cheated.

There was once a patent issue. I was helping my client with their IPs. So we sat with a lawyer, just to clarify the service etc. Next thing we knew, we got a bill (rather my client) for consultancy charges! Aiyo yo!

Maybe I’m just unlucky when it comes to lawyers. But docs, ehem ehem, always got meds for FREEEE~

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zara replied #1

hahaha.. we gotta follow the scale fees, dear. But then again, there are some who love the practice of undercutting which explains the existence of the term ‘shopping around for better price’.

Consultancy charges ~ even a doctor charge for their consultation fees! Walau pun lepas tu bagi panadol dua hengget beli kat kedai..

*any available doc who can give free consultation with free meds? hehehehe…

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NoktahHitam replied #1

Any gov docs. Free consultation, RM1 meds :D Tak poon suruh kawan2 check kan.

Consultancy charges. I don’t think there’s a clear guideline for this. Up till what point should we ask until being invoiced? That’s why, when it comes to lawyer stuff, I’d just ring my uncle. Malas nak pening2 (or my friends)


zara wrote on December 8, 2009 #25

this happens all over the world, in all industry..
they want the best in quality, at the shortest time possible and at the lowest cost, best if, the consultant be covering all the costs…. want all in, eh, ini u cover, itu u cover… alah, i oni add small changes maaa… wink2..

they came in all genders, races…. semua sama… in all industry

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NoktahHitam replied #1

this happens all over the world, in all industry.. < err.. No. Don't jump to conclusion easily.

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naim jonn wrote on December 9, 2009 #26

“Quote: Customer is always right”

That is why sometimes the ‘Client’s always right’ website goes straight to hell. Ada juga yang masuk longkang dan parit. Nak mengaku design website itu pun terasa malu. Tsk….

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/design_hell

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famia wrote on December 10, 2009 #27

salam. nice entry. most of what you say is true about the local industry.

1 thing i always remember is, the quality of the website design depends on how much your client is willing to pay. quality comes at a price.

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myadlan wrote on December 24, 2009 #28

Leave a comment, I won't bite ;)

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