Jason Tucker 0:18
By ServerPress, makers of DesktopServer they make local WordPress development easy. Check them out at ServerPress.com and Patreon. Go to patreon.com/wpwatercooler where you could support us over there. We’d really appreciate that. I’m Jason Tucker. I’m an IT director. You can find me at Jason Tucker on twitter.
Steve Zehngut 0:41
Steve Zehngut. I’m the founder of Zeek interactive and I run the OC WordPress meetup.
Sé Reed 0:48
I’m Se Reed and I make WordPress teach WordPress and preach WordPress at SeReedMedia.com on all the things.
Steve Zehngut 0:57
Jason Cosper AKA Fat Mullenwig.
Jason Tucker 1:02
If you help us out, go over and leave us a review on wherever it is that you listen to podcasts, Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, any of those sorts of places, feel free to go do that. Good job.
Unknown Speaker 1:15
Yeah, I’m a computer professional. I know how to work.
Steve Zehngut 1:20
Somebody had to fill in for Jason today.
Sé Reed 1:25
is messed that up every single time. So
Steve Zehngut 1:27
it’s all right. I got you back. Happy birthday, Jason.
Sé Reed 1:32
Unknown Speaker 1:35
It’s his birthday today.
Sé Reed 1:36
Steve Zehngut 1:38
has our clever follow on font on your birthday. I can’t talk it
Jason Tucker 1:41
though. I don’t think so because we moved it in the middle. So we probably screwed it up when we moved it from Mondays to Fridays.
Unknown Speaker 1:49
spending your birthday with us.
Jason Tucker 1:51
I’ve done this twice. Now. This is my second show of the day. So I’m doing great.
Sé Reed 1:57
Well, thank you for this one. And I can’t speak to your other activities for the rest of the day. But I appreciate the time spent here with you on your day of your birth anniversary, not the day anniversary.
Jason Tucker 2:15
So today, we’re gonna be talking about WordPress plugins, the good the bad. And, you know, Steve did something this morning that really cracked me up he shows up and he says I have a list.
Steve Zehngut 2:29
I was I was who I cracked you up that I was prepared. It only took what 381 episodes?
Sé Reed 2:35
I don’t believe I haven’t seen it yet. And I don’t believe it. All
Jason Tucker 2:38
right, well, I’ll share the list for literally did homework.
Jason Cosper 2:44
Now. Now the shows the shows only half an hour and we’re in so
Steve Zehngut 2:50
the real reason is I mean, I asked Jason, how do we organize a show like this? What determines good and bad plugins, right? What categories? Are we going to discuss? Like, some plugins are good and bad? all at the same time I kinda
Sé Reed 3:08
wanted to talk about so can we talk about how this got started? Find our origin stories to be the most interesting part of how did we come up with this random topic. This spawned from two different conversations that we were having one which was Jason sending us a screenshot, there is a screenshot of jetpack, an admin notice from jetpack in in a WordPress install with a flag that said, warning. Some plugins installed in this plug in this repo might affect your security. Get jetpack to like prevent that. And there’s a whole host of conversation that can be around that. But we talked about jet pack a lot so that we lump it in with all the other stuff. And the other conversation that we were having.
Steve Zehngut 4:11
What do we do we talk about jetpack on the show, or do we dedicate an entire show to jetpack?
Jason Tucker 4:18
Oh, man, we totally could.
Sé Reed 4:21
Well, I mean, at least from the admin notification, yeah, point of view. The other conversation that we were having, it was about something that Cosper found, which he shared with us, which was a an article on one of those best of plugin lists that HubSpot had had done, and it was a basically a takedown of one of these. And even though it was supposedly a recent best of article, it was basically a rehash of a very old article, and included as best of options, plugins that you mostly from kokanee plugins that were very old and abandoned, essentially, and would not work with the current version of WordPress, but they’re still being listed as the best of topics together.
Steve Zehngut 5:13
Those articles are my favorite because the Google search always has the article date of today. Right? So you can tell they’re doing something to update it every day. Right? Instead of Google, they tweaked it to the articles, probably five years old. Yeah. Right.
Sé Reed 5:27
They actually from Cosper, do you want to talk about it? Since it was the article you shared?
Jason Cosper 5:33
I mean, I shared it like weeks ago, I can’t remember all of the details. But I it was basically one of those, those general WP news sites that does a lot of you know, here’s the five best this here’s the, you know, 20 best themes for January of 2020. Right?
Sé Reed 6:00
wouldn’t be bad, because it’d be like themes that came out in January, it just be like, you know, but for January like themes to use in the month of January, as opposed to like, themes that came out in June?
Steve Zehngut 6:12
How often do people change their themes,
Sé Reed 6:15
their themes for fall?
Jason Tucker 6:19
My my Bad’s I would rank probably the first thing that makes a bad thing, a bad plugin. For me, it could be a theme too. But a bad plugin for me is when the use of the notification bar is so excessive, that I just can’t figure out how to get this to actually stop. Like, I can’t get these things to actually go away. I’ve tried all sorts of different ways of making them disappear. And I get calls from my, from my my clients saying, why is this thing popping up? There is an update that happened, which now updates are automatic if you have them turned on automatically. And now new things are starting to pop up on the screen.
Steve Zehngut 6:57
Yeah, there’s, I agree with you. Right. So UI interruptions is a great category to I think I interruptions. Yeah. And so I mean, there’s some plugins that will not only give you a bunch of notices, but also try to sell you other stuff inside of the note inside of the notices area. And that’s how I think there’s another plugin that actually allows you to hide admin notifications. Right? So so if you have problem if you have that problem with one plug in, you can install another plugin to hide the other plugins mistakes. But yeah.
Sé Reed 7:38
Good plugins gone bad. Yeah.
Steve Zehngut 7:42
Jason, I’m gonna also lump in there just sort of bad UI, right? Things that things that just don’t make sense from a WordPress standpoint, right. So plugins that alter the UI, or have their own UI, or even worse, add to the UI, right? And one of the one of the ones that I think of when I think of UI flaws is Yoast, right? Because you install Yoast. And right away, you’ve got new UI all the way throughout your dashboard, right? Especially those those additional columns that adds to posts and pages. Those drive me nuts, because what that does it is it changes the column width. And so if you’ve got your post titles become like one letter in a in a, you know, long column all the way down. And and that is that that’s fucked. Frankly.
Sé Reed 8:26
It doesn’t look good to a user using that, for sure. Yeah. Cuz I know what it is. But yeah, it’s bad. But you guys add things to the admin bar, and all of a sudden, there’s stuff in your admin bar. That’s new.
Steve Zehngut 8:41
Well, but it also then now that you’ve added stuff, the admin bar, it now wraps the admin bar into into the top part of your site. Right, so you’ve now got too much stuff in your admin bar. Sorry, you’re gonna say some Cosper.
Jason Cosper 8:53
Now, I was gonna say this little use cartoons are just so cute, though. And they’re not annoying at all. I actually
Sé Reed 9:03
like them. I think that’s really good branding. If you see someone in that style of logo, you know, they work for Yoast SEO like, in terms of branding, I think that’s great. It doesn’t make that for you. I since
Jason Cosper 9:13
Steve Zehngut 9:14
now don’t get me wrong. I’m not knocking Yoast, I use every website I have uses Yoast. It’s one of our go to standard plugins because it is it is the sort of the go to for SEO and WordPress right. But there are Yoast flaws UI is one thing we pointed out, but it also affects your site speed map your dashboard speed.
Sé Reed 9:35
Yeah, I mean dashboard speed Smashwords speed. It also you know, I don’t want to get too far down the Yoast hole but I love I love the I love the the fact that Yoast SEO sort of it’s like a teaching plugin, whereas other plugins are not like that. So this one’s like, oh, let me nudge you to do this stuff. That is wonderful for clients. And I’ve had clients who just get obsessed with their little green lights and like, you know, making it all work. And that’s really good for their site, honestly. So it’s not bad to put that effort in. But it also can be really confusing because especially with Gutenberg, it can be in a different order. Depending on where you, you know, you’ve got if you’ve got custom post types, or if you have a plug in now all of a sudden you like, is at the top and bottom, and that can get really confusing. Now.
Steve Zehngut 10:29
Yoast is aware of these UI issues, because they allow you to turn off the stuff that appears in the admin bar, right. And so, so some of the better plugins that are out there allow you to say, you know, I want this to appear in the admin bar. I don’t, right. So they they give you that option, but by default, they do crowd your UI.
Jason Tucker 10:46
Yeah. And there’s plugins to to Shopify Yoast, as well. So it can hide all those things, if you want to,
Unknown Speaker 10:53
I have them.
Steve Zehngut 10:54
I actually I wrote I wrote a whole set of scripts that I just install with every site that that that undoes some of the Yoast UI.
Jason Tucker 11:01
Yeah, yeah. Well, the ones that really get me Are those code Canyon plugins that you’ll you’ll, you’ll find on a site that will have a bunch of like, use me see that they do a bunch of like before and after things around the around like the menu bar, or sorry, on the left menu, it’ll show like a different color around it, or they’ll put a little sparkle thing. Oh, God, like, going through it. Like it kept trying to, like, get you to like, click on this thing. And I’m like, you’re not that important. Like, you’re, I don’t understand what you’re not doing anything that’s that important. But you’re wanting to have like full presence right on that left bar there in the dashboard. And it’s like, Sure, sure. It’s
Jason Cosper 11:46
like, Bro, I installed you for share icons. And that’s all I need. I don’t need this whole visual flash,
Steve Zehngut 11:56
is that how you address your plugins, bro?
Sé Reed 12:00
Especially your social share icons, for sure. You don’t want like, if you’re using a plugin, you’ve already installed it like it’s there, like you’re trying to. It’s like you took someone out on a date. And they’re like, do you want to go out and you’re like,
Jason Cosper 12:17
Steve Zehngut 12:20
I’ve already installed. You got me,
Sé Reed 12:23
send me an email. You
Steve Zehngut 12:24
know, Jason, along the same lines, there’s a whole category of plugins that that I encounter that I don’t necessarily endorse, but I encounter that allow you to customize the admin interface. Like at minimiser. WP disabled, there’s, there’s a whole category plugins that I just avoid, because I think they do more harm than good. I think the purpose is to simplify some of the admin but sometimes they take out critical things that you need.
Sé Reed 12:55
I’m using add, minimize and minimize, minimize, minimize, where it’s a custom post type that is part of a directory situation. And I needed to strip every last living thing out of the back end of the admin UI had to strip it. So I, I, you know, I tried, we talked about this last week, you missed that conversation. But I tried to make everything at least somewhat doable in the admin. So I am using I suppose I could have used the dense and hard coding to strip that stuff out. But that way, it’s it’s just easier, and it’s in there. So I am using.
Steve Zehngut 13:31
I’m not I’m not saying it’s bad, right? I’m not saying don’t use it, right. I’m just saying by default, by default, it does some things in it easy to it is it is easy to turn things off that you may need. And I also think it’s got a lot of overhead.
Sé Reed 13:47
I think I think that those are that type of plugin, which is also also that custom post types UI, CPT UI those have, they can be so great and so powerful, or even ACF, they can be so great and so powerful, and if they’re in the wrong hands, just literally shred your site. Now you’re like, you’re like I don’t even know what I’ve now destroyed at this point.
Steve Zehngut 14:10
It’s funny you mention that one. So CPT UI, it’s it I actually love that plugin, but I only use it for setting up and having a GUI for setting up the custom post type. But then it’s got a tab that that will write the code for you
Unknown Speaker 14:27
that once once you’re done with
Steve Zehngut 14:30
that, yeah, you you export the code, you put it in your functions file, you get rid of the plugin right you don’t have that anymore. So that’s it’s a it’s a great design plugin is what I was what I consider it. So
Sé Reed 14:42
I agree. I think that a plugin that’s like intended to do its thing and then get out of your way is like the best.
Steve Zehngut 14:49
So at ACF, I have a love hate relationship. I am. acf is a plugin I use on every single website. We love it. We love what it can deliver, but it’s About overhead. I mean, there is a lot of overhead there. And, and in addition, ACF has made some critical mistakes over the years because when they’ve gone from, say version two to version three, I think this happened on version one to version two, their major versions, they actually make major changes that are not backwards compatible, right. So as as you upgrade ACF, you actually may have written stuff in an older version of ACF, that just no longer works. And so that’s my, that’s one of my beefs with ACF. But from a from an overhead standpoint, it’s, it’s pretty beefy. And it does add a lot of additional database stuff that that you just need to be aware of.
Sé Reed 15:39
Yeah, and that’s what I mean when I say like, if someone isn’t aware of that stuff, and just gets a hold of it, and, and a lot of these plugins are almost marketed that way, like, Oh, you can just add a thing, just add whatever you want. But it’s like, these are, they’re more complicated than that. These are like hefty tools. It’s like the difference between a handsaw and a table saw, or have some other fancy saw,
Jason Cosper 16:02
I was gonna, going back to the UI notices. Something that really kind of takes the jam out of my donut is when I have a plugin that’s upgraded. And then it says, it basically says, Hey, I noticed that you haven’t opted in to our telemetry that we’re using, so we can gather data about how this plugin is used.
Sé Reed 16:31
gentle with that. They’re like, gosh, heck, Cush. Here. Did you want to maybe click this button we won’t bother you at all, which is one of the things you do matter. Do you mind? Can
Steve Zehngut 16:43
we just have that thing to which to which Cosper swans bro? Bro, no, bro.
Unknown Speaker 16:51
Sé Reed 16:54
I feel guilty when I say no, but I just I don’t I don’t call them bro. But I’m like, Yeah, no, sorry.
Steve Zehngut 17:02
You know, I want to say one more. Last thing on ACF, before we close that out is is there is a thing. There’s a newer thing in ACF where you can actually create your own custom blocks using ACF. So they have a block creation engine inside of ACF. That’s amazing. Avoid this at all costs.
Unknown Speaker 17:22
Sé Reed 17:25
I thought we talked about this idea that you like you can build your blog. No, it
Steve Zehngut 17:30
doesn’t work. It does work as advertised. But if your site is gonna crawl to a, it’s just gonna slow to a crawl. It’s the overhead on that on the on the way they’ve implemented this is is is big. So yeah, I’m sorry.
Sé Reed 17:47
I haven’t used it. Why the hell would I make another custom block? I don’t want to do that.
Steve Zehngut 17:52
What’s your favorite social plugin?
Sé Reed 17:55
That No, not No, none of zero. Social plugins get bought and re bought and unbought and bought again resold. Like,
Steve Zehngut 18:06
I wrote this, I wrote this as a category. And if I had to pick one, I’d probably go with monarch.
Sé Reed 18:12
Oh, from from elegant baby.
Steve Zehngut 18:14
Yeah, Elegant Themes. That’s probably the most, no pun intended. That’s probably the most elegant one that’s out there. It’s it’s a it’s a it’s a well built, well designed plugin. And it has been for a long time. So
Jason Cosper 18:30
whenever I have had to had a conversation with someone about social sharing buttons, helping friends set up sites, you know, little like client work, I pick up, I ask specifically, I say, Hey, have you ever clicked on one of those sharing buttons on a site? And if they say no, I say you don’t need them on your site, either. Because someone will copy the link from the browser and fire it over in an email or a text message.
Sé Reed 19:02
Or literally just hit the if they’re on their phone, they’re just gonna hit the share button and do it through the phone. Like,
Steve Zehngut 19:09
I do think it’s antiquated. Technology is antiquated. But I have a couple of categories here that I want to ask the same question.
Sé Reed 19:16
categories in this list. This is like literally the most work you’ve done. And we only
Steve Zehngut 19:21
had a half an hour. So I had a lot of I had a lot of notes on this one. What’s your favorite? What’s your form your go to forms plugin?
Sé Reed 19:29
I feel bad about this one, because I had some run ins online with the owner but Gravity Forms.
Jason Tucker 19:37
I still love it. Yeah, I like gravity. Yeah.
Sé Reed 19:40
I use ninja forms for sites that don’t have don’t have a huge form need. Like they’re not just like what not an integral part of some component of their site and it’s just like a contact form or an easy form. Yeah,
Steve Zehngut 19:54
I had that. I have three listed and I actually use all three now. And none of them Contact Form seven. But gravity, Gravity Forms ninja forms is fantastic. And then WP forms. reason I like the last two is I think the interface is just slicker than the Gravity Forms, right?
Sé Reed 20:12
wp forms because same problem with OptinMonster. They’re like, Hello, I’m going to take over you I know and push notifications everywhere
Steve Zehngut 20:20
say they do that a lot. And if that bugs you go to ninja forums because there it’s a great team that is that programs that plugin and it’s a it’s a really slick interface. But what I like about both ninja forms and WP forms over Gravity Forms is they actually give you starting points, right with Gravity Forms doesn’t do that Gravity Forms you set up a form and you just have a blank canvas ninja forms and WP forms they say okay, here’s some forms to start with. Are these are you doing one of these things? So you click contact form and you’re done. Right, so the things that would go into contact form are there, but I also like they’re
Sé Reed 20:54
like a whole three minutes. So yeah,
Steve Zehngut 20:57
I also like I know I also like ninja forms and WP forms third party integrations. So if you’re doing anything with say, Active Campaign or HubSpot or MailChimp, their their integrations are I think personally slicker and better integrated than Gravity Forms. No existing Gravity Forms. But
Sé Reed 21:17
ninja forms is a great integration with a with zap. Your EA no one knows how to say that.
Jason Tucker 21:27
Yeah, they’re providing zaps. So there’s your makes you happier with the way that they describe it.
Sé Reed 21:32
Is it okay, good. I want to always remember that now Zapier makes you happier. So ninja forms has a great interaction, I had to actually loop something through there for a client who was using a text messaging thing. So someone bought a thing. And then those two things couldn’t talk to each other. So I had to run it through zap, but ran it through ninja forms to the zap because we ended all the data, whatever. And then over to the text messaging software. And it was it was it was great. So their integration was that it’s super easy to use. And
Steve Zehngut 22:05
I’ve got three more categories. Yeah, security. Oh, yeah, that
Jason Tucker 22:10
one’s easy. We could get this done real quick.
Steve Zehngut 22:15
There’s a bunch of well, so personally, you know, I still like security, but I’ve got a more kind of recent fondness for I theme security Pro. And I haven’t.
Sé Reed 22:29
Yeah, in a really long time. I
Steve Zehngut 22:31
think security Pro is pretty comprehensive, and really well done. And then I have some clients that use wordfence fence. Oh, I’m not saying I like it. I’ve just brought it up. Right. So for me it’s a
Sé Reed 22:44
How do you hate?
Steve Zehngut 22:46
love hate relationship? But yeah, tell us
Jason Cosper 22:48
it sucks. butthole
Sé Reed 22:52
how specifically does
Jason Cosper 22:56
the overhead on it? People love to set up the activity log on their site, and then they end up just inflating the crap out of their database
Jason Tucker 23:12
on a scale of one to jetpack how much
Jason Cosper 23:20
Ooh, I mean on a scale of one to jetpack it’s at least a contact form seven
Steve Zehngut 23:27
i would i would definitely check out I theme security pro if you haven’t, if you haven’t yet. It’s it’s well built.
Jason Cosper 23:33
I’ve run it on a few sites and it’s nice.
Unknown Speaker 23:37
Jason did they update the jetpack update the text since you took that screenshot.
Jason Tucker 23:41
Oh, no. This is what Matt madeiros I always thought about materials on here. It was maps, it’s maps, you know?
Sé Reed 23:47
So what did they What did they update? Wait, I want to know I didn’t follow this up.
Jason Tucker 23:51
I’ll send you the link so you can take a look at it. Next. Next Next category.
Steve Zehngut 23:57
Jason Tucker 24:00
Sé Reed 24:01
I mean, why are we just chuckling just just jamming through these
Steve Zehngut 24:04
so because we only have four minutes left?
Sé Reed 24:07
Like these are like whole areas.
Steve Zehngut 24:10
exploration is any any any plugins you’d like for for backups?
Sé Reed 24:15
Not no mo I only work on managed servers these days?
Steve Zehngut 24:18
I do I do as well but if you had to pick one I kind of like vaultpress
Sé Reed 24:22
like what they’re doing Oh man, I used to use vaultpress for sites but it got so tangled up with jetpack and then they switched over there was such madness in like oh, you have a jetpack account? No, I have a vaultpress account it like and backed up or stop unhooked itself from a client site without even realizing it. And you know, the so I’m really unclear on what the jetpack vaultpress relationship is now and one I think vaultpress is inside jetpack now. So I don’t want to install all of jetpack just for vaultpress and
Steve Zehngut 24:57
I’m with you on this one. I’m not using any of them. This Just this this, this isn’t recently,
Sé Reed 25:02
my go to because it was so clean and each one thought press. Yeah, until they got submerged into
Steve Zehngut 25:10
my last category is, and I don’t use my last my last category is caching.
Jason Tucker 25:18
Sé Reed 25:18
Oh well, same thing like you’re not installing caching plugins anymore because
Steve Zehngut 25:24
I’m not but if I had to, I probably go to WP rocket.
Sé Reed 25:30
I’ve heard good things about that. I don’t I don’t. Yeah, I can’t recommend a backup or a caching plugin, because, um, my answer would be Get the hell off of your own.
Steve Zehngut 25:43
And I think the reason and I think the reason is what we’re talking about a software caching, right, which none of us really subscribe to, right? We want we want something that’s, that’s, you know, more server level caching, right. So if you’re doing if you’re doing if you have to do caching at the plugin level, WP rocket is probably probably my favorite, right? There’s other ones like, total cache, Super Cache, I just don’t recommend those. Again, for speed. Just for the people who are listening to this on audio only where you shake your head
Jason Cosper 26:18
now is shaking my head at total cash, just Oh, yes. Get away from that. There are too many options. There are too many. Too many options, man. Like it just bogs you down. And the number of things that you can set I have watched people try to set up like, Okay, well, what do I need to set for memcached and Redis. And that, and it’s like, you again, bro, you don’t even plan. And that’s
Steve Zehngut 26:48
and that’s why I like WP rocket because those things it’s way more user friendly than than the other plugins that are out there
Sé Reed 26:53
should be like cash, yes or no? But honestly, seriously, yeah. Who, who’s who’s not on? I guess, who’s not?
Steve Zehngut 27:07
Unfortunately, lots of lots of our listeners.
Sé Reed 27:09
That is a crusade I am on and I will die on that.
Jason Cosper 27:12
You know, I’ve had there’s are a few people who I know use w three total cash just because it has Redis support and all the words in it that know that you ate the state of Redis support if they’re like, okay, I want to enable Redis support on my site, but I don’t have you know, anything to possibly there is a great plugin out there object cache pro till Cruz, who is basically what came at things from the Redis side before he came at things from the WordPress side. I mean, he has made a fantastic plugin, and yeah, Redis Cache. I believe this is free one, right, Steve? Yeah, yeah. Redis object cache. That one is great, too, if you don’t feel like paying for object cache Pro, but if you can float the I it’s like a it’s, it’s so good that he can charge 80 bucks a month for this.
Steve Zehngut 28:23
Wow. And, and unfortunately, when you go to Object cache dot pro right now, it looks like his SSL cert cert needs renewal. So his site’s down at the moment. Open for me.
Jason Cosper 28:36
Yeah, for me, too.
Steve Zehngut 28:37
It’s weird. I get a I get a secure connection failed.
Jason Tucker 28:41
Maybe just tight typing on the keyboard.
Sé Reed 28:45
I really just show charity plugin.
Jason Cosper 28:49
Yeah, but I really, if that’s if that’s the only thing that’s keeping you on a something like total cache, like go grab the free Redis Cache plugin. It’s miles better. And then look at something like WP rocket. Look at something if you can’t afford WP rocket look at speed booster pack is nice for an entry level. There’s cash enabler, which is from the folks that key CDN. That one works well. Like you know, you can
Sé Reed 29:27
have Cosper just talking about all of these is
Unknown Speaker 29:30
great. This is great. We should do.
Unknown Speaker 29:34
We should do
Sé Reed 29:36
catch up. Next week. No.
Steve Zehngut 29:44
We didn’t. We didn’t really talk about it. The worst ones. Maybe we do that on another episode.
Jason Tucker 30:00
We’re hanging out. I appreciate it. Enjoy the podcast i’ve you know, as always really enjoy having you guys leaving us feedbacks and whatnot. If you want to leave us a feedback, send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org tell us
Jason Cosper 30:14
what you think.
Jason Tucker 30:16
And talk to y’all later
Unknown Speaker 30:24
for our Patreon
Jason Tucker 30:27
WPwatercooler folks that are helping us out over there,
Unknown Speaker 30:37
Jason Tucker 30:40
You are notified when we do go live on YouTube. And lastly, listen to us as our core.com subscribe to this podcast, audio format. Hey hey
Sé Reed 31:03
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