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Sean

Sean BELVEDERE TIBURON, CA, United States Member Since 2009
HELPFUL VOTES
267
ratings
REVIEWS
72
49
FOLLOWERS
FOLLOWING
27
0
  • "Interesting but not perfect"

    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I found this less compelling than "The Demon Under the Microscope." The discovery is relatively straightforward which requires a lot of "filler" material to flesh out the book.

    The science of nitrogen fixation and it's profound implications for humanity quickly draw in the reader but the plot climaxes too quickly. This creates a prolonged denouement chronicling the remainder of Haber and Bosch's lives. It really feels like three separate books--one about nitrogen fixation and two biographies.

    The performance is good and the characters are interesting but the science is a bit light. I believe most readers come to a book like this expecting to learn some interesting technical details. He talks about the process, but never drills down to the chemistry.

    I would recommend it to anyone interested in the protagonists' lives or science history, but I would recommend "The Demon Under the Microscope" first.

    More

    The Alchemy of Air: A Jewish Genius, a Doomed Tycoon, and the Scientific Discovery That Fed the World but Fueled the Rise of Hitler

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Thomas Hager
    • Narrated By Adam Verner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (577)
    Performance
    (469)
    Story
    (464)

    At the dawn of the 20th century, humanity was facing global disaster. Mass starvation, long predicted for the fast-growing population, was about to become a reality. A call went out to the worlds scientists to find a solution. This is the story of the two enormously gifted, fatally flawed men who found it: the brilliant, self-important Fritz Haber and the reclusive, alcoholic Carl Bosch. Together they discovered a way to make bread out of air, built city-sized factories, controlled world markets, and saved millions of lives.

    sarah says: "Riveting"
  1. The Alchemy of Air: A Jew...
  2. .

A Peek at Douglas's Bookshelf

Helpful
Votes
1115
 
Auburn, WA, United States 270 REVIEWS / 382 ratings Member Since 2008 200 Followers / Following 32
 
Douglas's greatest hits:
  • The App Generation: How Today's Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, and Imagination in a Digital World

    "A Great Companion Read..."

    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    to Nicolas Carr's The Shallows, which I recommend be read first: to get the full warning of what can go wrong when we become slaves to technology and the rapid-fire "information age..." The originator of the Multiple Intelligence Education system, Howard Gardner, and Katie Davis come together to give a very serious look at the "App Generation," those born into a 24/7 "wired" society... I had to be a bit amused at the reviewer who vociferously complains that this book "won't get to the point" and gave up after an hour and a half because the authors wanted to give background for their thesis. (Yes, there is a thorough and necessary historical background of technology's influence on the last few hundred years of human evolution.) Perhaps this person is suffering from some of the negative effects of information at the speed of light: inability to concentrate for long periods of time, impatience, attention deficits...as well as deficits in the areas of identity, creativity and interpersonal relationships. (Again, read Carr first to get the thorough analysis of this foreboding side of the issue in bold letters.) Gardner and Davis are realistic about these side-effects of cellphones, tablets and computers which allow youth to be constantly online and more involved with their Facebook friends than the ones standing right next to them (also busy with their online lives.) But Gardner and Davis also offer hope, showing that, used correctly and wisely--and on a more limited basis, technology COULD help the computer generation to emerge MORE creative, with MORE enhanced self-awareness and with MORE connectedness to others. The key, they say, is being very aware of how one is using the technology: that is, that the human is still in charge and using the machines to enhance reality rather than to replace it. Becoming slave to the machines and their flashing lights and info-bits is what leads to everything Carr warns of in The Shallows... It's a big "COULD," I have to say, and I think I see more Shallows than Depths when it comes to technology use among the young (I teach college English and have for 25 years, and so have seen both sides of the technological divide), but at least Gardner and Davis give us a guideline, a way of becoming aware and helping others become aware of how to control technology rather than letting it come to control us.

  • The Alchemy of Air: A Jewish Genius, a Doomed Tycoon, and the Scientific Discovery That Fed the World but Fueled the Rise of Hitler

    "Another reviewer wrote..."

    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    "how did I not know about this?" I felt the exact same way. This is the remarkable story of a life sustaining process of which I would guess almost no one in the general population is immediately aware. Elegantly and poetically told, this book proves to be enthralling as well as educating. It is a real "page turner," that is, you will want to listen from beginning to end. What every science based tale should be!

  • The Most Human Human: What Talking with Computers Teaches Us About What It Means to Be Alive

    "Human Psychology 4.0"

    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a MUST read for anyone interested in AI or, for that matter, pure human psychology. Christian (who, by the way, does a fine job of narrating!) presents, with StevenPinkeresque style and wit, the reasons why the computer, as it becomes stronger and stronger in the ways of logic and computation, ironically becomes farther removed from us rather than more like us. He helps to shake away the still clinging prejudices left over from the Age Of Reason and makes us aware that being a "creature-computer interface" is not such a bad thing, that the emotional, "irrational" part of us is a good bit of what makes us---well, us! All of this in a rich tapestry of science, case histories and personal anecdotes which makes for a very enlightening and enjoyable read. This is the best writing on the human mind I have read since Pinker's How The Mind Works, which would serve as a great companion to this book.

    Sidenote: 10/8/2012 I took on several on of noted on-line bots, like Cleverbot and A.L.I.C.E., and was not at all impressed. They might be able to fake surface small talk or even argue (as long as it is in insult and not in reasonable debate)--but sustaining conversation on a topic, wondering, showing genuine insight or awe--I would never mistake them for a human at the other end.


Juho

Juho Helsinki, Finland 05-29-14 Member Since 2012
HELPFUL VOTES
10
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21
3
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FOLLOWING
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  • "Extremely disappointing"

    9 of 13 helpful votes

    The early days of game consoles could be such an interesting subject. The pre-publication excerpt from this book I'd read (about the creation of Donkey Kong) was a great example of that. Unfortunately that excerpt was not representative at all, and mostly the book doesn't do justice to the subject. There are a number of minor problems, but two main ones.

    First, the book is largely written in the form of cheesy reconstructed scenes with overly dramatized dialogue that just feels incredibly fake. Even the more factual parts are written with absurdly purple prose. It's just embarrassing to read.

    Second, the book is bloated. This is only partly due to the dialogue-based storytelling method. The other issue is that the author hasn't been anywhere near sufficiently selective with what events to include. It feels like 50% of the book is detailed descriptions of the preparation of chickenshit marketing stunts with little apparent impact (as an example there was probably 20 minutes of detailed description of some kind of a Sega advertising event in 20 malls). Another 25% is human interest fluff with no relevance at all to the main story (often of bit players who really did not need to be fleshed out, so no reason at all for their inclusion).

    Fred Berman does a good job as a narrator, but the original text is not salvageable.

    More

    Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle That Defined a Generation

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Blake J. Harris
    • Narrated By Fred Berman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (134)
    Performance
    (130)
    Story
    (128)

    A mesmerizing, behind-the-scenes business thriller that chronicles how Sega, a small, scrappy gaming company led by an unlikely visionary and a team of rebels, took on the juggernaut Nintendo and revolutionized the video-game industry. In 1990, Nintendo had a virtual monopoly on the video-game industry. Sega, on the other hand, was just a faltering arcade company with big aspirations and even bigger personalities. But all that would change with the arrival of Tom Kalinske, a former Mattel executive who knew nothing about video games and everything about fighting uphill battles.

    Juho says: "Extremely disappointing"

What's Trending in Technology:

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    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Tom Shroder, John Konrad
    • Narrated By Sean Pratt
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    Overall
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    In the spring of 2010 the world watched for weeks as more than 200 million gallons of crude oil billowed from a hole three miles deep in the Gulf of Mexico. Warnings of various and imminent environmental consequences dominated the news. Deepwater drilling - largely ignored or misunderstood to that point - exploded in the American consciousness in the worst way possible. Fire on the Horizon, written by veteran oil rig captain John Konrad and longtime Washington Post journalist Tom Shroder, recounts in vivid detail the life of the rig itself, from its construction to its improbable journey in the year 2000 to its end.

    Shep says: "An incredibly well-told story"
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    Performance
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    At the dawn of the 20th century, humanity was facing global disaster. Mass starvation, long predicted for the fast-growing population, was about to become a reality. A call went out to the worlds scientists to find a solution. This is the story of the two enormously gifted, fatally flawed men who found it: the brilliant, self-important Fritz Haber and the reclusive, alcoholic Carl Bosch. Together they discovered a way to make bread out of air, built city-sized factories, controlled world markets, and saved millions of lives.

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    Ryan says: "A catalog of positive innovations on the horizon"
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    Thomas says: "awesome"
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    (312)
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    (284)
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    (284)

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    Steve says: "Great read! Very informative."
  • 4.3 (220 ratings)
    How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed (






UNABRIDGED) by Ray Kurzweil Narrated by Christopher Lane

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    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Ray Kurzweil
    • Narrated By Christopher Lane
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    Overall
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    Story
    (194)

    Ray Kurzweil, the bold futurist and author of the New York Times best seller The Singularity Is Near, is arguably today’s most influential technological visionary. A pioneering inventor and theorist, he has explored for decades how artificial intelligence can enrich and expand human capabilities. Now, in his much-anticipated How to Create a Mind, he takes this exploration to the next step: reverse-engineering the brain to understand precisely how it works, then applying that knowledge to create vastly intelligent machines.

    Ryan says: "Articulate but familiar brain-inspired AI pitch"
  • Automate This: How Algorithms Came to Rule Our World (






UNABRIDGED) by Christopher Steiner Narrated by Walter Dixon

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    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Christopher Steiner
    • Narrated By Walter Dixon
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (710)
    Performance
    (613)
    Story
    (613)

    It used to be that to diagnose an illness, interpret legal documents, analyze foreign policy, or write a newspaper article you needed a human being with specific skills - and maybe an advanced degree or two. These days, high-level tasks are increasingly being handled by algorithms that can do precise work not only with speed but also with nuance. These "bots" started with human programming and logic, but now their reach extends beyond what their creators ever expected.

    RealTruth says: "good start, book runs out of sustenace"
  • Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think (






UNABRIDGED) by Steven Kotler, Peter H. Diamandis Narrated by Arthur Morey

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    • By Steven Kotler, Peter H. Diamandis
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    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
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    Performance
    (490)
    Story
    (483)

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    Ryan says: "A catalog of positive innovations on the horizon"
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    • By Nate Silver
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    Story
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    Nate Silver built an innovative system for predicting baseball performance, predicted the 2008 election within a hair’s breadth, and became a national sensation as a blogger - all by the time he was 30. The New York Times now publishes FiveThirtyEight.com, where Silver is one of the nation’s most influential political forecasters. Drawing on his own groundbreaking work, Silver examines the world of prediction, investigating how we can distinguish a true signal from a universe of noisy data.

    Grant says: "Hot"
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    A mesmerizing, behind-the-scenes business thriller that chronicles how Sega, a small, scrappy gaming company led by an unlikely visionary and a team of rebels, took on the juggernaut Nintendo and revolutionized the video-game industry. In 1990, Nintendo had a virtual monopoly on the video-game industry. Sega, on the other hand, was just a faltering arcade company with big aspirations and even bigger personalities. But all that would change with the arrival of Tom Kalinske, a former Mattel executive who knew nothing about video games and everything about fighting uphill battles.

    Juho says: "Extremely disappointing"
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    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Steven Levy
    • Narrated By L. J. Ganser
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
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    Performance
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    Story
    (2062)

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    Lynn says: "A Rip Snorting Story"
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    • By Adam Rogers
    • Narrated By Sean Runnette
    Overall
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    Performance
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    Story
    (11)

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    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Viktor Mayer-Schöberger, Kenneth Cukier
    • Narrated By Jonathan Hogan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
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    Performance
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    Story
    (311)

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    Michael says: "Pretty light stuff on Big Data"
  • The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology (






UNABRIDGED) by Ray Kurzweil Narrated by George K. Wilson

    The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Ray Kurzweil
    • Narrated By George K. Wilson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
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    Performance
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    Story
    (470)

    For over three decades, the great inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil has been one of the most respected and provocative advocates of the role of technology in our future. In his classic The Age of Spiritual Machines, he argued that computers would soon rival the full range of human intelligence at its best. Now he examines the next step in this inexorable evolutionary process: the union of human and machine.

    Sean Gately says: "Great Idea, terribly slow and painful listen"
  •  
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    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 49 mins)
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    • Narrated By TBA
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
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    Performance
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    Story
    (145)

    In recent years, Google’s autonomous cars have logged thousands of miles on American highways and IBM’s Watson trounced the best human Jeopardy! players. Digital technologies — with hardware, software, and networks at their core — will in the near future diagnose diseases more accurately than doctors can, apply enormous data sets to transform retailing, and accomplish many tasks once considered uniquely human.

    Chris Lunt says: "Good for the periphery"
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UNABRIDGED) by Matthew Brzezinski Narrated by Charles Stransky

    Red Moon Rising: Sputnik and the Hidden Rivals That Ignited the Space Age

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Matthew Brzezinski
    • Narrated By Charles Stransky
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (389)
    Performance
    (220)
    Story
    (224)

    On October 4, 1957, a time of Cold War paranoia, the Soviet Union secretly launched the Earth's first artificial moon. No bigger than a basketball, the tiny satellite was powered by a car battery. Yet, for all its simplicity, Sputnik stunned the world.

    Thomas says: "awesome"
  • Understanding Genetics: DNA, Genes, and Their Real-World Applications  by The Great Courses Narrated by Professor David Sadava

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    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor David Sadava
    Overall
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    Chris says: "Very good book on genetics"
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    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Christopher Hadnagy, Paul Wilson (foreword)
    • Narrated By A. T. Chandler
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (140)
    Performance
    (126)
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    (131)

    From elicitation, pretexting, influence and manipulation all aspects of social engineering are picked apart, discussed and explained by using real world examples, personal experience and the Science & Technology behind them to unraveled the mystery in social engineering. Kevin Mitnick - one of the most famous social engineers in the world - popularized the term social engineering. He explained that it is much easier to trick someone into revealing a password than to exert the effort of hacking.

    Max says: "Very nice introduction to social engineering"
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UNABRIDGED) by Jeffrey Rothfeder Narrated by Mel Foster

    Driving Honda: Inside the World’s Most Innovative Car Company

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Jeffrey Rothfeder
    • Narrated By Mel Foster
    Overall
    (0)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

    For decades there have been two iconic Japanese auto companies. One has been endlessly studied and written about. The other has been generally underappreciated and misunderstood. Until now. Since its birth as a motorcycle company in 1949, Honda has steadily grown into the world’s fifth largest automaker and top engine manufacturer, as well as one of the most beloved, most profitable, and most consistently innovative multinational corporations.

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    Your Mac Life, July 31, 2014

    • ORIGINAL (1 hr and 19 mins)
    • By Shawn King
    • Narrated By Shawn King
    Overall
    (0)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

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    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Scott Huler
    • Narrated By Bronson Pinchot
    Overall
    (0)
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    (0)
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    (0)

    In our daily lives, we're surrounded by wires, pipes, utility poles, cell phone towers, and myriad other infrastructure that facilitates almost everything we do. Even though these systems are essential, when was the last time you gave them much thought? In On the Grid, Scott Huler sets out to understand all of the systems that shape our society - from transportation, water, and garbage to the Internet coming through our cable lines.

  • Your Mac Life, July 24, 2014  by Shawn King Narrated by Shawn King

    Your Mac Life, July 24, 2014

    • ORIGINAL (1 hr and 15 mins)
    • By Shawn King
    • Narrated By Shawn King
    Overall
    (0)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

    Your Mac Life, hosted by Shawn King, is one of the most popular Mac broadcasts in the world. Download and listen to this weekly, Web-based "radio show" about and for Apple and Mac users. Stay on top of the what's new in the world of Macs, listen to interviews with Mac-related newsmakers, and pick up technical tips to help you make the most of your Mac.

  •  
  • Your Mac Life, July 17, 2014  by Shawn King Narrated by Shawn King

    Your Mac Life, July 17, 2014

    • ORIGINAL (1 hr and 34 mins)
    • By Shawn King
    • Narrated By Shawn King
    Overall
    (0)
    Performance
    (0)
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    Your Mac Life, hosted by Shawn King, is one of the most popular Mac broadcasts in the world. Download and listen to this weekly, Web-based "radio show" about and for Apple and Mac users. Stay on top of the what's new in the world of Macs, listen to interviews with Mac-related newsmakers, and pick up technical tips to help you make the most of your Mac.

  • Computerised You: How Wearable Technology Will Turn Us into Computers (






UNABRIDGED) by Shane Richmond Narrated by Kaleo Griffith

    Computerised You: How Wearable Technology Will Turn Us into Computers

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 38 mins)
    • By Shane Richmond
    • Narrated By Kaleo Griffith
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    From the fitness-tracking Nike Fuelband to the head-mounted computer Google Glass, wearable technology is turning our bodies into the new frontier of computing. In Computerised You, Shane Richmond considers how wearable technology could help us to lead healthier lives and make us more efficient, examines the threat to our privacy and the danger of addiction, and looks to a future of computer-augmented clothing and brain implants that challenge our notions of what it means to be human.

  • Your Mac Life, July 10, 2014  by Shawn King Narrated by Shawn King

    Your Mac Life, July 10, 2014

    • ORIGINAL (1 hr and 33 mins)
    • By Shawn King
    • Narrated By Shawn King
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    Your Mac Life, hosted by Shawn King, is one of the most popular Mac broadcasts in the world. Download and listen to this weekly, Web-based "radio show" about and for Apple and Mac users. Stay on top of the what's new in the world of Macs, listen to interviews with Mac-related newsmakers, and pick up technical tips to help you make the most of your Mac.