FLoC

Ask questions and give answers about computers, mobile devices, game boxes, PC security and all manner of geeky stuff.
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yogi
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Re: FLoC

Post by yogi »

You probably have been on servers that host Dark Web sites and never knew it. Frequently it's just a matter of knowing what the correct URL is for the entry point to a chat forum. I stumbled upon a couple in my days and was nearly terrified by what I was reading. In one case I found a forum just like this one where people were placing orders for specific typed of viruses and malware. They got into quite a bit of detail about what they wanted and how it was supposed to act. Another time I found a data dump of some police department being doxxed. I think it was in Texas. All the employees were listed, their addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses and the names of relatives in some cases. I downloaded the file and may still have it buried somewhere just to see if I could. That document was free, but the more interesting stuff goes for high prices. Neither one of those two that I found by accident existed after about a month or two. I have read in more than a few places that the Internet you and I know and love represents about 5% of what is actually out there.
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Kellemora
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Re: FLoC

Post by Kellemora »

Back in the days of UseNet Newsgroups, I landed in many very odd ones when trying to get to one a friend moved to.
Here were all kinds of posts on how to build everything from bombs to ways of adding poison to products on store shelves.
Don't know you remember how many were just listed using number and letter combinations.
Trying to type a long string without messing up could end you up in some weird groups, hi hi.

Even back in the days of BBS services, where you had to dial them up by telephone number, I hit a couple by accident when calling my sister. I transposed a couple of numbers and got the modem sound. So when I was on my computer later, I tried calling again with the reversed number pair and got in. Seems like it wasn't nothing strange, but did have a bunch of school exam questions on it, or something like that.

I'm sure the Internet is used for thousands of things other than web browsing. I know it is used for TV and Radio stations now, phone carriers, and tons of different types of communications.
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yogi
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Re: FLoC

Post by yogi »

The Dark Web has some pretty nefarious characters behind the scenes negotiating anything from teenage sex slaves to nuclear weapons dealers. There are some other more legitimate databases such as libraries of doctorate theses from obscure universities. Some very interesting research can be done if you know where to look. Many years ago I read an article that published a couple portals to places unknown. Once you get involved with that kind of thing there frequently is no way out. A lot of information not generally known is out there, but do you REALLY want to know?
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Kellemora
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Re: FLoC

Post by Kellemora »

The way my luck is, the day I decide to land on one of those places, will be the same day the Feds crack down on it and come haul us all in, hi hi.

Heck, I got in enough trouble just trying to see if I could find my medications cheaper elsewhere, hi hi.
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yogi
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Re: FLoC

Post by yogi »

Today I am writing to you with a heavy heart. I am more or less being forced to replace my laptop computer. No, it's not Microsoft. LOL In fact I am fully certified to run their latest brainchild and stay in their beta testing program. The problem is with the keyboard and not the software. I have a couple of those inane Microsoft games that I like to play just to waste time. Both games make extensive use of the arrow keys and I often thought that they would be the first things to break on that computer. As it so happens the MSI computer has a Steeleseries keyboard built into it. That is the same company that made this gaming keyboard on which I am typing this message. The laptop doesn't have all the programmable features that this stand alone keyboard has, but the keys are not your typical laptop variety. They actually have some travel and are comfortable to use. They STILL are flat and not sculptured, but on a laptop you can't have everything, I suppose.

While playing one of my games recently I noted that the down arrow key was not doing what it should. Being a game from the Microsoft store I figured that was the problem, and especially so when the key for no reason at all started to function again. Well, I vacuumed the software and reinstalled the game and it worked fine for a few days. In the meantime I had reason to fire up the Ubuntu installed on that laptop. This involves a detour through the Microsoft bootloader to select an operating system. It also involves use of the arrow keys in order to navigate. The arrow keys worked flawlessly at that time which lead me to believe it's the software. Maybe even Windows 11 Beta. While messing around in Ubuntu that arrow key started to go flaky again. Hmmm, so it's not Windows or the game. Plus when I tried to execute an "ls -l /boot" command the "l" key started to do what the arrow key was doing. My first thought was that the keys were experiencing a mechanical failure, but the upper case "L" worked fine.

Back in Windows I decided to look up the issue in the MSI technical forums. That was a heart breaker. It seems to be a problem in a variety of laptops built by MSI. It's not just my model or my version of keyboard. The consensus of all the self-proclaimed experts was that the keyboard had to be replaced by MSI in order to fix the problem. Several people gave examples of what they experienced; some under warranty and some not. Well, mine is not under warranty. I took care of that when I broke it open shortly after I bought it. LOL I've now been playing with these two key failures for a week and am getting very frustrated. Those games are addictive after all. So, very reluctantly I decided to investigate what a new laptop would cost, if they are available at all.

MSI is a big vendor and has a huge presence in the gaming computer market. The cheapest computers for gaming start at around $1500 if I want one with a 17' screen, and that is what I want. The configuration of the components are pretty standard. It's either an Intel or an AMD processor, 16GB RAM, 500 GB of M2 (PCIE) memory, and an nVidia graphics card. You can easily go up to $5000 for a laptop that is so hot it will burn your fingers if you try to use it. I've seen them with 8 cores and 5GHz clocks. Truly amazing specs. Well, I am not really using the laptop for gaming so that I don't need all the bells and whistles. I looked at workstation laptops and they were typically $500 more than the equivalent gaming machine. They don't have the graphics, but they got mucho processor power. Then there are the general use ones for under $1000. Those gave me a sick feeling in my belly. I might as well stay with what I have if I had no other choice.

So ... given I don't have good vibes for MSI anymore, I found myself a great ASUS laptop that had all the umph I need without going nuts about it. It will come with Windows 10, immediately to be upgraded to Windows 11 for free. If that works out, then I'll try to install Linux again. I feel that being an ASUS computer I already have some experience with their version of UEFI/BIOS. That was a big factor in my decision, but as you know they never ever say anything about BIOS in the ads.

My heart is heavy because I was not intending to replace the laptop so soon. The repair of the keyboard would approach half the price of a new machine not to mention I'd be without for a few weeks. More than half the computers I looked at were not in stock and most said they had no idea if or when they would be. That's another reason I went with this ASUS from an Amazon dealer. So on October 20 I will have a new laptop in my possession. It's always fun setting up a new machine, but this one is setting me back 2 grand. I was hoping to put less than that into my new tower. Now I'm wondering if that is even remotely possible.
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Kellemora
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Re: FLoC

Post by Kellemora »

I don't know much about laptops. But would it be possible to use an external keyboard with your laptop to play your game?
Or possibly get a replacement keyboard?

Debi has a girlfriend who has an upscale laptop computer, of which I don't know anything about it, but when she has some serious work to do, she comes over here and uses one of our desktop computers. When she's done, she will use her laptop WiFi to download her work from Debi's computer.

Have you thought about trying to clean the keyboard on your laptop? I'm not sure what type of keys it has, if they make an electrical contact or use a slot and light. Dust can get in those slots fairly easily. Contact cleaner might help if they are mechanical. But I don't know about the membrane type with their black salve that builds up blocking the contacts.
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yogi
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Re: FLoC

Post by yogi »

MSI Laptop Keyboard
MSI Laptop Keyboard
KBD_forum.jpg (132.77 KiB) Viewed 29 times
There is a closeup of the keyboard. It sure looks a lot different through the camera lens and not quite as clean. LOL The key caps can be removed but the trick is putting them back together. A few comments in the forums from people who tried to clean and repair the malfunctioning keys is what convinced me this is a replace item and not a repair item. If these are the same switches as I have in my tower keyboard then there are no contact points. It's all done by proximity. That's how they get away saying the life expectancy of such switches exceeds 10 million closures. I did read up on Steelseries switches for my external keyboard and presume the same technology went into the laptop keyboard. The bottom line is that there are no contacts to clean. That too was supported in some of the comments I've read. The only fix is replacement of the keyboard and whatever electronics that go with it. I'm not even sure I can buy a keyboard from MSI even if I wanted to.

I have thought about using an external keyboard connected to the USB port. I have a spare one laying around so that some day I might experiment. However, that is not how I want to use the laptop. It's primarily for use while traveling, and experimentation with multiple operating systems at home. In an emergency I would in fact use the external keyboard, but then I have this desktop. Why bother? And on the road that sort of defeats the purpose of a portable device. I've also seen dual wrap around monitors that I can plug into the laptop if I wanted to go that route. Those additions are all cute toys, but if I want to get serious on a computer it would not be with a laptop.

The greatest disappointment in this whole fiasco is that the purchase of a new laptop would prevent me from upgrading my clever phone. A newer and much improved version is coming out this month. Google is now using a CPU made in house and AI to power it. As much as I want one, I might have to put that off a while.
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Kellemora
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Re: FLoC

Post by Kellemora »

I'm probably wrong, but just removing the key caps probably wouldn't help.
Every keyboard I've seen has a soft plastic panel under the keys to keep dust and water away from the electronics.
I was thinking of getting to the keyboard from the back so you can blow the dust out from back there.
I've had to do that with a few keyboards in the past, and I couldn't believe how much microfine dust was inside the keyboard and under that plastic sheet.

I hear ya, nearly everything of necessity we buy is up around 15% right now. So my 89 bucks a month don't go very far anymore.
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yogi
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Re: FLoC

Post by yogi »

I took this laptop apart to replace the HDD with an SSD and to increase the RAM to max. The battery is sealed inside and designed not to be serviced by the average computer user. The intention, I am certain, was to keep people from servicing their own equipment and to have them send it back to the factory instead. I'm pretty sure that is illegal, or there is talk about it becoming illegal. Apple is notorious for that in that they glue their cell phone together so that the battery cannot be replaced. You need to buy a new phone when the battery goes. No doubt MSI has something similar in mind.

At any rate, when I was inside the forbidden zone the keyboard was not accessible. It was mounted in such a way that blowing air across the circuit board was impossible. I was not interested in removing the keyboard at the time but my experience with other laptops suggest that it's downright difficult, if not impossible to do without breaking something. When I get the new one in a few days I'll transfer all the data and then decide what to do with the old laptop. I might try to sell it for parts or at least with a warning about the sometimes not working keys. If I can't dispose of it that way, then I will try to disassemble it and find out exactly how that keyboard is put together. I'm speculating that I will discover individual key switches mounted to a pc board, in which case blowing air across the board would be pointless. If that's not the case and there are contact points on the pc board ... I might cry :cry:

This morning I attached my spare gaming keyboard to the laptop and the arrow keys worked as expected. When I thought about it, it seemed kind of crazy that the laptop would work with TWO input keyboards active. Both keyboards worked fine in tandem, except for the obvious parts that don't. I also disabled the Num Lock on the laptop and used that keypad for navigation. Those arrow keys worked perfectly. So, it really looks like I wore out the arrow keys in spite of the fact there is nothing to wear out. I would think it's all a mechanical problem if it were not for the people in the MSI forums reporting otherwise. They claim MSI not only replaces the keyboard but also some kind of electronics/firmware. Speculation is that the heat from the processor is messing things up.


I haven't checked my SSA account yet, but word on the street is we are getting something like a 6% pay boost. That won't cover the 15% inflation boost you claim you are seeing, but it will soften the shock slightly. Since it's open enrollment time now we've been looking at alternatives to our grandfathered Plan F for medical coverage. Apparently Plan G is the next best thing and significantly cheaper. There is a deductable with Plan G that we don't have in Plan F, but the reduction in premiums will cover that and more. I'm not sure what we are going to do with the drug plan yet, but AARP and Walgreens are not my favorites.
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Kellemora
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Re: FLoC

Post by Kellemora »

Only a few things can void a warranty, and opening something they say voids the warranty will do just that.
Even so, there is nothing illegal about repairing your own equipment, and is what most folks do after the warranty is up anyhow.
They cannot void your warranty for using 3rd party components, such as aftermarket ink cartridges with printers and the like.
Magnuson/Moss Warranty Act.

No reason not to have more than one mouse or keyboard connected to a computer. I've been doing that for eons. In fact, I have two meeces hooked up to the Silver Yogi right now. I don't like the wireless mouse much, and there are a few things that the wireless mouse makes more difficult to do.

On both plans F and G you can select the low or high deductible, the high is like $2,370.00 in 2021.
I have plan N for me and the frau!

I don't like AARP/Walgreens either, but it is the cheapest. I now get my drugs from Kroger under the same plan.
There are only two of my drugs that cost 2 dollars more at Kroger than at Walgreens, but it is worth it not to deal with Walgreens.
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yogi
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Re: FLoC

Post by yogi »

My wife, the former insurance lady, did all the investigation of insurance plans. Apparently she came to the conclusion that Plan G and it's deductable are our best alternatives to plan F. She never mentioned that the deductable amount can be selected in Plan F. We have no deductable there at the moment and I will be asking her if she took that option into account.

Aside from my general objections to the AARP organization, I have discovered that Walgreens, the one in O'Fallon anyway, is nothing short of incompetent. I do all the transactions I can over the Internet and use their website freely, but that has proven to be the greatest source of irritation I have with those people. The information on their website is not the same as the information inside the store. Part of that has to do with the pharmacy not bothering to check my instructions posted on the website. I would think that is all automatic, but apparently it's not. Unfortunately, I had similar problems with CVS when I uses their plan. CVS, however, did seem to catch on that I was a computer customer and finally correlated at just about the time I got fed up with them and switched. LOL We don't have a Kroger here but we do have a WalMart which a lot of people favor. They may have a great pharmacy, but I have to go through the rest of the store to get to it. I think not.


I agree that it's not illegal for me to service anything I purchased regardless of the manufacturer's warnings. It does seem illegal, however, for the manufacturer to build a product that cannot be serviced without breaking it. That is what Apple computer is doing and MSI seems to be attempting. Unless the computer arrives dead electronically I doubt that I would ever have a reason to make a claim. There are so many exclusions and conditions that most warranties are useless.
You do some strange things over there and I'm not surprised you need two mouses on a single computer. To me it represents complications and potential trouble. LOL
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Kellemora
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Re: FLoC

Post by Kellemora »

I do know that Plan F is one that is not available to new folks coming to Medicare supplementals.

I don't belong to AARP, don't like them either.
But when I was searching drug plans, I picked the one that covered the drugs I was on at the lowest monthly cost.
What irks me is after your anniversary date passes, the companies can upgrade their Formulary and you can't do anything about it until the following year. Nearly all of my drugs got moved up a tier last year.

Kroger has a single drive up window, and I've never seen cars waiting in line to pull up to it.
While Walgreens with two lines, sometimes the wait is over a half hour. And they are further away from me than Kroger.

Many things are considered disposable these days, and some of them are not repairable even if you can get to their guts.
I had a rather expensive clock one that a button went bad on. I took it apart to see what type of button it was so I could fix it.
The circuit boards computing system hand ONE big black blotch on it, like a blob a black plastic poured over the computer area, or it could have been the computer itself, who knows. Around this black blob were little gold dots with a another gold ring around them. All the buttons were just plastic with a black tip on the end of the rod going to the button. The button that did not work, the black button on the end was leaving some black reside on the gold dot and ring. I cleaned that off and put it together and it worked again for another year. After that I tossed it and bought a new one.
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yogi
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Re: FLoC

Post by yogi »

Those unrepairable things are what we know as planned obsolescence. Clocks are something you don't expect to break, but cell phones are a bit different. Even if they don't break, they become obsolete due to rapid changes in technology. Apparently Apple Computer discovered that people do not replace their cell phones every three years as they would like you to do. A lot of old phones work just fine, but that does nothing for the bottom line. So, in their infinite wisdom, Apple came up with a battery that can be recharged a limited number of times. Since the phone is sealed, the battery cannot be replaced easily. Taking it to the fix-it shop for a new $10 battery will cost you a few hundred dollars. And then you still have old technology. So, people who are dedicated to Apple products just buy a new one on schedule. It's not illegal to do that, I understand. Apple is just taking advantage of people's vanity. Only a certain class of people can afford an Apple phone in the first place, and then to replace it every other year makes the group even more exclusive.

I had a kitchen timer with three count down clocks built into it. There are occasions when three timers came in handy so that I really grew to like that device. It had a metal case and an LCD display. They number keys were some kind of soft rubber. It ran off a single AA battery. The timer lasted a few years before it simply went dark never to light up again, replacing the battery notwithstanding. I tried taking it apart, but it is build like the iPhone. No screws. The housing was glued together and made the keypad nonaccessible. I'm sure some cooking oil got inside and gummed up the works, and that would have been easy to fix. Well, I succumbed to the planned obsolescence scheme of OXO and bought an identical replacement. That is, it was pictured as identical but was not. The new improved model now had a plastic housing and an electro phosphorescence number display that only stayed lit for one minute. Apparently it took a lot of current to make it glow and the single battery would not last long if it stayed on as did the LCD version it replaced. Fortunately, the display lit again one minute before the time was up, which served its purpose but was a PITA because I like to watch the countdown to see how much time I have left. Needless to say I was disappointed with this improved model. To add to the flawed design of this cheapened timer, that electro phosphorescence display stopped working all together after about a month. New batteries didn't help and this box too was glued shut. Apparently OXO is the only company that offers a 3 timer clock. In fact timers in general are not prolific. I did find an off brand dual timer that is LCD and stays on as I want it to, but it's not the same.

My guess is that those soft keys have a carbon coating on the bottom that complete the circuit on the PC board when the key is pressed. That carbon erodes after a while and after enough use it disappears entirely. It's a cheap way to make a switch, and conforms well to the principle of planned obsolescence.
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ocelotl
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Re: FLoC

Post by ocelotl »

I've had the patience to check how to repair some of that planned obsolescence stuff. For rubber buttons, foiled based keyboards and glass backed circuitry, Conductive ink is very helpful. Then, the issue is mainly the way to open the circuits to service them. In several cases, the guides published by Ifixit also are very helpful regarding glued stuff. Then, the patience to take the time needed to do the repair is the game changing point.

I've used the one in the last link, but is very expensive, so I posted alternatives.

https://www.ifixit.com/

https://www.digikey.com/en/products/det ... L/11656714

https://www.digikey.com/en/products/det ... 54/7349643

https://www.digikey.com/en/products/det ... STP/307002
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yogi
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Re: FLoC

Post by yogi »

Thank you for the link to the iFixit website. I want to buy all of those tools. LOL In fact I would have done just that in my earlier days if I then knew where to find them. I don't do a lot of fixing these days but when I do having the right tool makes or breaks the project. Conductive ink is a genius solution to the rubber button erosion problem. I have a tendency to replace rather than repair, but now I have one more weapon in my arsenal that could save me a lot of frustration in the future.
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Kellemora
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Re: FLoC

Post by Kellemora »

I bought four Taylor timers for $1.00 each at Dollar Tree. The have a magnet on the back, and a BIG display.
They use a button battery which costs more than the timer did, hi hi.

I also have a $5.00 timer I wear around my neck (although it does have a pocket clip), it is going on like 6 years old now, uses a single AAA battery.
Works just great, and the battery lasts close to a year.

I have two pulse oximeters (did have three). The most expensive one, around 150 bucks finally died. The second one was around 15 bucks, now going on 6 years old also, and the battery lasts forever. The newest one cost like 40 bucks, eats batteries like they were M&Ms but works well also, and for about 4 years now.

Taylor has a 4 display timer with a whiteboard and pen for like ten bucks.
AcuRite has a 3 display timer for around 15 bucks, but I've bad luck with AcuRite products.
The way they are made, you have to use a spacer with some battery brands with short pins on the top. And unless you use something made of gold, everything else tarnishes fast and the item quits working until you clean the contacts again.

I have an AcuRite weather station, which I took the case apart and cut off the plastic where the battery holder is so the batteries can touch the plate on the pin side of the battery. Even then it decides to just up and quit quite often, and after a reset it takes 15 days for it to become accurate again.
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yogi
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Re: FLoC

Post by yogi »

Wish I knew about Taylor Timers before I bought the junk I have now. They look pretty good but I didn't see a model with three timers built in. Then, too, I only looked for about three minutes. Next time around they will be the first folks I check out. I think Google and its cousins have me profiled for O'Fallon and thus only show me stuff that can be purchased at WalMart. Once in a while when I feel particularly strong about how I'm being treated by robots Ill fire up the Tor browser and use it for searching. There are no filters or profiles there and it's amazing how different the search results are for any random item. Unfortunately a lot of places will not allow the Tor browser to use their websites so that the process can get complicated quickly.

My AcuRite weather station has not disappointed me with its need for batteries. They recommed lithium batteries because those work down to a lower temperature than the normal batteries. The batteries seems to last longer than two years, but then there is a solar panel built in to help drive the motor. I'm not too particular about the accuracy, which might be the reason I'm satisfied with it. The temperatures and winds on my deck never match those I find on the web or those reported on TV. They all are within a few degrees and that's good enough for me. I like the rain gauge more than anything else about the system. I wish it had a way to measure snow too, but then, we don't get much of that white stuff in these parts.
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Kellemora
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Re: FLoC

Post by Kellemora »

Here is the Taylor one I mentioned with 4 timers and a small white board and pen for 10 bucks.
https://www.amazon.com/Taylor-Precision ... 2558&psc=1

Here is an AccuRite 3 line display for 15 bucks.
https://www.amazon.com/00482-Triple-Dig ... 4786&psc=1

And here is one that displays SECONDS and goes up to 99 hours for only 13 bucks.
https://www.amazon.com/PAICLOUD-Channel ... 7819&psc=1
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yogi
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Re: FLoC

Post by yogi »

Thanks for all that information. I just bought a few things from Amazon, but I think I'll tell you about that in another thread.
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