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Sharp Boombox Repair


Tom Petty - Freefallin'

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DVD Ripping


The Wipeouters - Ravin' Surf

Another note for myself for later, and boy this is dumb.

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TV History Time


Mojo Nixon & Jello Biafra - Nostalgia For an Age That Never Existed

So this is super interesting. You know, interesting to me anyway.

I'm compiling another week of vintage TV shows, this time from 1963. It's remarkable how easy it is to get the exact episode of many of these even compared to getting episodes from 1980's shows. I'm making a playlist for each night and mixing in 1963 commercials throughout, should be fun. But first, see if you can spot why this week's playlist may present a particular challenge:

As I started out on Sunday night (TVue is boldly not adhering to the TVGuide dictate that Saturday is the first day of the week), I found that while I could find the episode of whatever show I was looking for, the air date listed in IMDB was for like, several months in the future, in some cases as far as March 1964. What the balls IMDB. So it made it kind of tricky to pin down given episodes.

After the 3rd or so show with this happening, I kind of noticed a pattern. Sunday, November 24, 1963 just doesn't seem to exist. IMDB consistently showed "Nov. 17" and then the next episode aired was 'Dec. 1".

So seriously what the he... Oh. Right. Yikes.

My TVue, from the Boston Advertiser, is listing the TV schedule for the week after the Kennedy assassination. I am building playlists to recreate a week of TV which ... ... never existed.

For the record, this being the 24th, we chose Mister Ed, My Favorite Martian and The Judy Garland Show. I got all the right episodes on those, but I'd have liked to have seen the Ed Sullivan Show, but since that's live I imagine it was just canceled altogether. It was supposed to have a Stiller and Meara sketch, so I just picked one of those sketches from another Ed Sullivan. Growing up with Seinfeld it's just so easy to see "SERENITY NOW!", or "I've got a lot of problems with you people!". Genius.

As in my previous week of vintage TV, if I can't find a thing, I'll go for the nearest I can get. So for instance What's My Line on Sunday, Nov. 24 Instead I opted for the December 1 episode with Colonel Sanders. I don't know what was scheduled for that episode, or indeed if it was ever actually shot.

In addition to the JFK assassination horror, one thing that bums me out about this week is that I don't seem to be able to find any episodes of Grindl with Imogene Coca. I really want to see Aunt Edna, but young ('er, she was still in her '50s).

So here's to building a playlist for a TV Guide week that never happened. Obviously this is going to be oddly similar to 9/11/2001, and ... that's about it really. I can't really think of any other week where the machine of commerce would have simply ground to a halt entirely.

xrayspx's picture

Lots of RDP


Annie Lennox - Why?

Do you do lots of RDP? Like lots and lots? I do, and even with password management it's annoying. I tend to use generated passwords for all my normal user, Domain Admin user and obviously Administrator accounts. That means lots of workarounds to deal with those passwords while doing bulk RDP sessions.

A typical use case for me is to RDP to 20 machines at a time, run a thing, wait, and log out. I've always scripted this, but not always in strictly the safest way. Plaintext passwords stored in a script, or read off disk. The philosophy is "if someone can read this script, I've already lost the game anyway", but still it's ugly and sick, and so I fixed it. In my defense, the Red Team never did pop my laptop...

I already use gpg-agent to facilitate unpacking of log files. On my syslog servers I roll logs over hourly, gzip them and then gpg encrypt them to my key. Then I can download a bunch of them, run my logunpack script, enter my passphrase once and since gpg-agent caches that credential for a period of time, decrypt all my files in one go.

What I wanted here was basically a way to have keepassxc.cli "hold the door open" and cache the passphrase like gpg-agent does. So what I've done is to use gpg-agent itself for that purpose. I have a GPG encrypted file containing my KeePass-XC passphrase, and I open it using gpg-agent, so it can be reused until gpg-cache-ttl expires.

I've also always had slightly different copies of this script for use cases of "Fullscreen on my laptop" and "fullscreen on larger displays", so I have a switch here for "resolution" as well. "fs" for fullscreen or "fsbm" for "big monitors". Since I'll never go to my office again, that's pretty much never going to get used. The default for the $res value will remain 1280x960. Reasonable enough.

I also added prompts so that it'll ask for host, domain, user and password if you run the script with no prompts from a shell. So /that/ will be super useful to me when I have to do a one-off connection to some remote host but don't need a whole launcher for it. While I'm at it, I put in the -b switch so that you can have it generate a launcher based on that input. That saves me hand editing a template when I add a new RDP host.

I use Linux, but this should work with minimal-if-any changes on Mac and Windows/Cygwin, both of which can run xfreerdp and gpg-agent. I have a good automated ssh-tunneled RDP setup for my Mac, so I might try using that with this so I can use a 4k display for those "busy RDP days".

Being that I do run Linux, here's how I launch this. KDE desktop files like this:

xrayspx@dummyhost:~/rdps$ cat windowsmachine
#!/usr/bin/env xdg-open
[Desktop Entry]
Exec=/home/xrayspx/bin/rdplauncher.sh -h windowsmachine -d domain -u xrayspx

So anyway, here's the thing: RDPLauncher

xrayspx's picture

Dog Day Afternoon


Dogs are swell.

Today, Natalie and I we were just starting our daily walk, so we were only like 2 streets away when this dog kind of started running around. The guy said "He'll bite you", so we just stopped and stood still, and yeah, he really did bite Natalie pretty good. We were kind of shaken up so we didn't do what you're supposed to do and get the information about vaccinations and stuff and just kind of staggered Natalie home.

Fixed Tags:
xrayspx's picture

Rippin' DVDs


Dana Carvey - Choppin' Broccoli

Today in Lattice of Convenience news, here's how to rip DVDs.

I barely understand the mencoder command that is the backbone of this thing, and there are many better ways to do lots of the stuff in this script, in fact I know several of those better ways, and looking at it fresh, I see some redundant stuff that cancels out other stuff. But it runs, and I use it, so here goes.

Ripping DVDs isn't fun, the disk labels are iffy at best, even within a single box set you might go from the Gold Standard "TV Show - S1D1" to "DVD_VIDEO" as a disk label. So it can get kind of ugly. To mitigate that I create an output folder based on the DVD disk label + a timestamp. If you get a run of disks with the same name, at least they're not overwriting each others files because the timestamp will shift. I currently have a dvdrip-output directory with the following DVDs in it:


Those are all from the same box set. So that's 3 naming conventions from one series. To be fair I think that while it's the same company producing them they probably came as separate "season" boxes rather than one big set. Still. Come on. Jesus.

Another big gotcha I've hit, again mainly with TV series box sets, a single show might exist on the disk as many as THREE times. Once as a "standalone episode", once as "episode with commentary track" and once as part of a massive concatenated file of all the episodes on that disk. In the case of the commentary track, that audio seems to be separate, so the actual episode rips to exactly the same filesize, the commentary track seems not to be something I have access to, so you just get two identical files at the end.

So as you're ripping, that's going to triple the rip time.

The way I'm trying to fix that is to rip the first 30 seconds of every Title on the disk, then do a SHA sum on those ripped sample files. As a Title rips, when it's done I'll drop its clip checksum into a "rippedchecksums" file. The next TItle starts the first thing it does is check to see if its checksum has already been ripped. If it has, skip it. It seems to catch 100% of repeated Titles, and probably 70% of the "Big Concatenated File" cases will match the sum for Title 1. Saves a shitload of time.

In this case, Title 1 is a standalone episode, and Title 21 is the Big Concatenated File of all the episodes on the disk. Title 21 will be skipped. Since I get about 70 or 80 FPS on my Mac Pro, that probably saved 90 minutes of rip time or so with 3 hours of video on the disk:

763b6035c4bf239b4425fb8f484018387574baca /Volumes/Filestore/dvdrip-output/DVD_VIDEO-090720202337/1-sample.avi
59cca1b18759647e13e3e1b6a4facace0520fc06 /Volumes/Filestore/dvdrip-output/DVD_VIDEO-090720202337/10-sample.avi
125add4181b9dc6eee57c32c07568765b8e4483b /Volumes/Filestore/dvdrip-output/DVD_VIDEO-090720202337/11-sample.avi
4daae35d014032964fe57e70e2cc3450f7dac4e5 /Volumes/Filestore/dvdrip-output/DVD_VIDEO-090720202337/12-sample.avi
a942f31a9ee42c5839772f733b2c666195397ad5 /Volumes/Filestore/dvdrip-output/DVD_VIDEO-090720202337/13-sample.avi
8c9473a940a9bc685d84e0ac29c66f53efa6667d /Volumes/Filestore/dvdrip-output/DVD_VIDEO-090720202337/14-sample.avi
29d2200d8c46ac11417119b4b7179e4b526d99cf /Volumes/Filestore/dvdrip-output/DVD_VIDEO-090720202337/15-sample.avi
466860b79bba6d132fcc97d6dc7c0c3a20dd771c /Volumes/Filestore/dvdrip-output/DVD_VIDEO-090720202337/16-sample.avi
f4ae11cca0752956c4d6025a8760a260a59fe79b /Volumes/Filestore/dvdrip-output/DVD_VIDEO-090720202337/17-sample.avi
00753d529f4bbf4081f647056cf44db7c630c198 /Volumes/Filestore/dvdrip-output/DVD_VIDEO-090720202337/18-sample.avi
b7f9c9087fed6b00d22de5033c153f9ffb3cd3b1 /Volumes/Filestore/dvdrip-output/DVD_VIDEO-090720202337/19-sample.avi
14efcb6164f1424b894cc28200ab621ec805ecd0 /Volumes/Filestore/dvdrip-output/DVD_VIDEO-090720202337/2-sample.avi
6c411c8869f1e6bc9a6ec298ba9b6a5c9eefc9ae /Volumes/Filestore/dvdrip-output/DVD_VIDEO-090720202337/20-sample.avi
763b6035c4bf239b4425fb8f484018387574baca /Volumes/Filestore/dvdrip-output/DVD_VIDEO-090720202337/21-sample.avi

At the end of it, I still end up with just a directory full of files labeled 1 through whatever.avi. I have to take a few seconds per file to get it to "TV Show - S01E01.avi". But from there FileBot can mass-rename them with episode titles.

So here's the full ugliness. You'll want to adjust all the paths. I should have made variables, but I don't care, I maybe have 3 or 4 ripping trays running at a time on various machines, so I don't mind just changing the paths for each host. Works on OSX and Linux, and probably Windows with Cygwin, but I don't care about Windows so I'm not going to test it.

#! /bin/bash

timestamp=`date +%m%d%Y%H%M`

id=$(drutil status |grep -m1 -o '/dev/disk[0-9]*')

if [ -z "$id" ]; then
echo "No Media Inserted"
name=`df | grep "$id" |grep -o /Volumes.* | awk -F "Volumes\/" '{print $2}' | sed 's/ /_/g'`

name=`df | grep "$id" |grep -o /Volumes.* | awk -F "Volumes\/" '{print $2}' | sed 's/ /_/g'`
echo $name
mkdir /Volumes/Filestore/dvdrip-output/$dir

maxtitle=`/Applications/mencoder dvd://100 -o bob | grep "titles on this DVD" | awk '{print $3}'`

for title in {1..100}
if [ $title -le $maxtitle ]
/Applications/mencoder dvd://$title -alang en -ovc lavc -lavcopts vcodec=mpeg4:vhq:vbitrate="1200" -vf scale -zoom -xy 720 -oac mp3lame -lameopts br=128 -endpos 30 -o /Volumes/Filestore/dvdrip-output/$dir/$title-sample.avi
shasum /Volumes/Filestore/dvdrip-output/$dir/$title-sample.avi > /Volumes/Filestore/dvdrip-output/$dir/$title-checksum
touch /Volumes/Filestore/dvdrip-output/$dir/rippedchecksums.txt

cat /Volumes/Filestore/dvdrip-output/$dir/*checksum >> /Volumes/Filestore/dvdrip-output/$dir/allchecksums.txt

for title in {1..100}
if [ $title -gt $maxtitle ]
chmod -R 775 /Volumes/Filestore/dvdrip-output/$dir
sleep 3
drutil tray eject
exit 0
sum=`cat /Volumes/Filestore/dvdrip-output/$dir/$title-checksum | awk '{print $1}'`
match=`grep $sum /Volumes/Filestore/dvdrip-output/$dir/rippedchecksums.txt`
if [ -z $match ]
/Applications/mencoder dvd://$title -alang en -ovc lavc -lavcopts vcodec=mpeg4:vhq:vbitrate="1200" -vf scale -zoom -xy 720 -oac mp3lame -lameopts br=128 -o /Volumes/Filestore/dvdrip-output/$dir/$title.avi
echo $sum >> /Volumes/Filestore/dvdrip-output/$dir/rippedchecksums.txt
rm /Volumes/Filestore/dvdrip-output/$dir/$title-checksum
rm /Volumes/Filestore/dvdrip-output/$dir/$title-sample.avi
chmod -R 775 /Volumes/Filestore/dvdrip-output/$dir

xrayspx's picture

Bouncing from Kodi to EmulationStation, and back


Ninety-Nine And A Half (Won't Do) - Wilson PIckett


As pointed out on the RetroPie forum, just add the loop in autostart.sh, duh: I searched for a while before writing this thing and if I'd seen anyone mention that I'd have just done that instead.

while :

I also think it makes a more sensible default for RetroPie to implement. That's all I actually wanted at the start.


Now I've added Features. I can hijack my loop and add one-off commands.

So now there's a Desktop button in my Kodi main menu that will touch a file to cause the loop to gracefully exit Kodi and send me to a desktop session. When I leave the desktop session, it takes me back to Kodi. So that's pretty goddamn convenient.


Because if there's one thing I love, it's having to sysadmin my TV.

Like most reasonable people I use a Kodi mediacenter to run my TV. Lately this has been on a Raspberry Pi 4 running RetroPie. Generally people boot RetroPie into EmulationStation and use it as an emulator, such as on an arcade cabinet. I'm also one of those people.

But in this case I primarily use the TV to watch TV shows and movies, but also want to run console games, so I upgraded to a better RPi and migrated from LibreElec to RetroPie.

RetroPie lets you choose whether to boot into EmulationStation or Kodi, which is fine, and the idea is that if you quit Kodi, it loads ES so you can play games. That works fine. Once. The trouble is in going the other way. If you quit EmulationStation, you exit to a shell. If you run Kodi from within the Ports menu in EmulationStation, well, now you're running both ES and Kodi. This also changes the behavior the next time you quit Kodi to play a game. You end up back in the Ports menu with Kodi highlighted, because ES never quit.

So, that's what I fixed.

The way the RetroPie tool works is they create a script at /opt/retropie/configs/all/autostart.sh. If you have Kodi booting first, it will have two lines:


That script gets run at login time for the pi user. Basically it runs Kodi, and autostart.sh is still running. When Kodi exits, it runs ES and autostart.sh exits. If you wanted to you could just put 1000 lines of:


However that's ugly, so I kind of daemon-fied it with a bash script of my own that I wanged together in like 10 minutes, and then I launch that through their autostart.sh. I didn't want to replace their script with mine because the RetroPie one could get regenerated with an upgrade or if I hit something in RetroPie-config. It's safer to have their script call mine.

So what I do is I start with whichever application is passed to me in the command line:

autolaunch.sh -f kodi

Then I start an infinite loop and, based on what application the script is called with, it will start the first application. When that app exits, I change the value of the variable so that the next time it loops, it runs the other one:

#! /bin/bash

while getopts f: name
  case $name in
    f) fval="$OPTARG";;
    ?) printf "Usage %s: [-f application to start] args\n" $0
    exit 2;;

while :
  if [ $fval = kodi ]
  elif [ $fval = emulationstation ]

Downsides and ToDo's:

Obvious downside is that this makes it difficult to get a shell at the console of the machine. However, I can count on one hand the number of times I've had to do that in the last 6 years or so of running my TV from a Raspberry Pi, so I really don't care.

A definite ToDo is to add some level of process control and general safety so I don't somehow end up running a bunch of instances of Kodi and ES. I did test with "Restart Emulationstation", so it would pick up new games, and it seemed to work as expected. It didn't launch another instance of Kodi or anything.

My main ToDo is to have the ability to use more launchers. Basically right now I have a "Games" menu item in my Kodi main menu, I hit it, it just runs the Kodi "Quit" command, which causes ES to start. Same thing in ES, though I'm just quitting it using the context menu at the moment.

I'd like to be able to add a "Desktop Session" button to quit Kodi or ES and launch a desktop with a browser for those very rare times I want a browser on my TV. This would also solve the "can't get a local shell" problem, at least mostly. I could add a "quit to shell" in this way obviously as well. I think the best way to do this is to stop the script as I exit Kodi and restart it with a new starting value, like -f startx. Kind of like if it were a real system daemon.

However I think in my case, since I'm not a very good programmer, I'm going to just bang this out with a file in /var/tmp or somewhere which carries the "Next Command", so rather than update $fval as I am now, I'd check that file and have it read in each loop to set fval. That would allow me to hijack it from outside the loop.

So I'm in Kodi, if I quit, it's going to set $fval to "emulationstation" and load ES. However, if I run a shell script, and /then/ quit or killall kodi-standalone, that shell script can populate /var/tmp/nextcommand or whatever with "startx".

Then, when Kodi quits, it sets $fval to ES, the next loop comes, but instead of just launching ES, we check to see if there's a value in nextcommand. If there is, set $fval to that and run it instead.

Then you'll start an X session, and when that quits, it should take me back to Kodi.

I seem to recall Kodi's internal tools are pretty good, and I can combine "run this external command" with "run this internal 'quit' command" and assign that to a menu "Action". Just need to remember where all that stuff is.

xrayspx's picture

Hello Woodgrain My Old Friend


A couple of weeks ago Natalie bought an Atari 2600 for me as a present. It came with 60 games, two joysticks and paddles, so it was a pretty good deal. She did ask the seller if it worked, and she said it did.

When Natalie got it home, I took the 2600 apart to make sure nothing had leaked all over the place or was otherwise obviously broken or loose and it was SUPER clean, which was encouraging. Just some minor nicotine film everywhere, but it was even dust-free inside. So I hacked together a super crappy cable to convert from the Atari's RCA RF cable to coax to get it hooked up to the TV. Unfortunately it didn't seem to work after all. Natalie was pretty bummed out, but I decided that she'd tried to get me a present, and instead got us a project, and so I convinced her not to bother the seller or leave negative feedback or whatever. After all, as far as the seller knew, the last time she saw it hooked up, it probably did work.

As it was, it did the same thing whether there was a cartridge in or not, just various interference patterns:

The 2600 is like the VW Bug of electronics. There's not that much in there to break, what can break is relatively easy to repair even for rank amateurs like us, and they sold 30 million of them, so there are loads of parts. We'd make it work, and we'd learn A Thing. And if it didn't work at the end, just dip in and grab another console and try again.

To that end, we bought a $5 RCA -> Coax converter, a 2600 re-cap kit, and went way overkill on a swell Hakko solder station to replace the garbage iron I had and hated using. I also grabbed some junk electronics to show Natalie what we're trying to do. We're gonna heat this stuff up, get these components out, get all the old solder out and put new components in. I thought of doing a composite video conversion at the same time, but I kind of wanted to take it one step at a time.

There are only like 5 caps in here to replace, and they also sent a replace voltage regulator. I had previously tested the voltage regulator and it was fine, (near enough) 12V on the input and 5V output, so I opted not to replace it. We split the re-cap duties so both of us could get in some practice on the new soldering iron. It worked great, 0 -> 600 degrees in seconds. We pulled the 3 socketed chips out and hosed the sockets with contact cleaner along with all the switches and the cartridge port.

After that work, I hooked it back up again and....Definite Progress:

A staticky display, but definitely playable. Joysticks work, paddles work (after a hosing out with the brake cleaner). I decided to stop touching anything until the RCA->coax converter showed up, since I was 90% sure the problem was probably that janky as fuck cable I gooped together. Natalie had tracking on it, and they said it was delivered "Today" to our same street address, but 3 towns away. It turns out they'd sent the wrong tracking number, however the correct tracking number showed it as having been delivered a week ago. A quick harried rummage through a week's worth of opened shipping envelopes and we found it. Hooked it up and, yeah, I'd say this is pretty much handled:

I see no point in doing a composite conversion. This is 100x better than any image you'd ever get off of one of these when they were new. If the RF modulator starts to fail, it's always an option later on.

So now the 2600 is in its place along side the arcade cabinet. Of course all of these roms are available in emulation, and I've got an archive of nearly all 2600 games. If we really want to play some serious Fishing Derby, we can do so there. But it's really nice to have a functional 2600 with original games. Natalie is totally enamored with this whole thing and is already stacking up her favorite games. It's totally likely that we'll flip the whole game-time layout and put the arcade cabinet on music video duty while we play Atari on the main TV.

There are still games that don't work, and we often have to switch the console off and on once or twice to get a game to start. Some are also pretty susceptible to any nudge to the console, so we'll probably get it back apart, clean the cartridge port properly, make sure all the contacts are good and re-tin them if they aren't, and see if that helps. But really, this instability is par for the course for 8 year old me. It's part of the charm


I have a very close long-time friend who's been trying to mentor me into doing electronics projects since...1988 or so? I never got any good at it. I only ever had one of those garbage un-regulated plug-it-in-and-wait-10-minutes soldering irons that never really got hot enough. I couldn't be bothered at the end of the day. I was too busy playing games to care. I think he was pretty happy to see me tackle even such a simple project and dip our toes in.

At the end of it, his only comment was "Working with electronics takes on a different dimension if you have a scope. Fun to see what is happening in a circuit.".

So I guess we gotta get project-ing.

Fixed Tags:
xrayspx's picture

Going to School


I get that I have no dog in this fight at all, but I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I definitely get why even Democratic governors are eager to have some in-person school, and I really wish the issue hadn't been politicized by the asshole President, yet again, but I don't think it's inherently bad.

There are kids for whom school lunch and even breakfast are the best meals they get in a day. I had reduced cost or free lunch for the entire time I was in school, and I seem to remember breakfast at some point, maybe over a summer? I'm not certain. My mom certainly couldn't have stayed home with me in any case, so it likely would have been a question of me going to school or us having money for food and mortgage.

I also get that there is definitely institutional racism, but there is also definite institutional classism. There are poor kids and kids whose parents both /have/ to work a job for the family to get fed.

My perspective is that if parents can afford to keep their kids home and teach them remotely, DO IT. Do it even if it requires some lifestyle changes and added burden. Do it for the kids who have to go in-person. Do it so they can get a good meal, do it so their parents can work, and so the classes don't have to be crammed in as tight as usual. I see lots of parents complaining about how hard it is to deal with their kids and still work from home. Figure it out. There are people who aren't in that position and who /have/ to send their kids to school. Many of these people seem to see their kids as accessories rather than as their responsibility as humans, so I guess their shitty attitude makes sense.

xrayspx's picture

Music Video Sorting?


Teddybears ft. Robyn - Cobra Style

Anyone have any Deep Thoughts about how videos should be categorized? If not, skip it, this is really that boring.


Let's say for arguments sake that I'm building a playlist of
videos from 120 minutes (Like say from this comprehensive list right

I've already decided that any band that gets one of their songs on 120 Minutes one time gets all of their songs in this folder. Because I don't want to have 3 different places where I can find songs of one band. It gets unruly. The only exception to this is the "Arcade Pizza" folder. These are songs that ubiquitous on the radio when I was a kid, especially in arcades and pizzerias of the '80s and '90s. For that case I have /videos/Arcade Pizza, as well as /videos/120 Minutes/Arcade Pizza.

Question is, should I only put stuff that appeared on the actual show, or should I put bands that /should/ have been on 120 minutes, but weren't, because MTV could show neither the full name of the band nor the full name of the song involved?

Or what if they're too new, like this video philosophically belongs to 120 Minutes, but it's only a year and a half old:

I think they should go in, but I'm holding off. Teddybears would have been HEAVY ROTATION on 120 minutes if they'd existed then.

Should I kick Evan Dando out because he spoiled my Juliana? These are questions that require fucking answers.

I'm nearing 3000 music vids now, so these things are starting to become problems I have to think about. I need to nip this shit in the bud before I have 20,000 videos and no damn plan at all.

The Bonus Question is: Do I change the name of the Youtube video to fit a rational style, or leave it alone? For instance:

I Was A Teenage Zombie (2016) [heHh9EIlAbw].mp4

Should be renamed to:

The Fleshtones - I Was A Teenage Zombie (2016) [heHh9EIlAbw].mp4

The "[heHh9EIlAbw]" is the only actually important part of that filename anyway, since that's the video ID on Youtube, so it'll be youtube.com?v=heHh9EIlAbw. That is there for pattern matching, so I think that makes it OK to rename shit.



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