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central family PC?

Postby ef37a » Sun Apr 20, 2014 9:48 am

Not music PCs (though eldest grandson is very musical) but my daughter and her family have a problem now that XP is no more...

Over the years I and they have amassed a motley collection of XP desk and laptops which are now of course U/S. There is she and dad plus two teenage grandsons and a block replacement of 4 W8 computers is just not on.

Is it possible to have a big machine in the master bedroom and then some wee boxes that take a VGA lead, mouse and keyboard and slave to the big machine?

Dave.
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Re: central family PC?

Postby DGL. » Sun Apr 20, 2014 10:11 am

It depends weather or not you want the machine to be available to everyone at all times. Yes there are boxes that can pass vga + usb down a single cat 5 and there are dumb terminals that run the software of a main server but that would still be an expensive option.

The cheapest option would probably to either install WIN8 on the xp machines. So long as the hardware is from the past say 7 years it should run just fine. I have a machine here with an old 2 ghz Pentium dual-core (original allendale 64bit version running win8 32bit) and that run fine even on 1gb Ram. Or to buy some refurbed computers with a newer OS.

If you could pick a few dell XPS10's cheap with the keyboard dock then that's another option but they seem to have gone up in price since I got mine.
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Re: central family PC?

Postby The Boogiemen » Sun Apr 20, 2014 10:20 am

ef37a wrote:Not music PCs (though eldest grandson is very musical) but my daughter and her family have a problem now that XP is no more...

Over the years I and they have amassed a motley collection of XP desk and laptops which are now of course U/S. There is she and dad plus two teenage grandsons and a block replacement of 4 W8 computers is just not on.

Is it possible to have a big machine in the master bedroom and then some wee boxes that take a VGA lead, mouse and keyboard and slave to the big machine?

Dave.

Sounds like you want a terminal server.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terminal_Services

You would need a relatively expensive server (server software = $$$) to handle potentially 4 people at a time.
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Re: central family PC?

Postby ef37a » Sun Apr 20, 2014 10:56 am

"The cheapest option would probably to either install WIN8 on the xp machines. So long as the hardware is from the past say 7 years it should run just fine."
Ha! I have just spent the last two days trying to install W7/32 on a Dell 1501 laptop. One trouble is the BIOS is pwd protected and W7 needs to restart a few times but each time the laptop just boots back into XP!

I did think my idea would be impractical or expensive otherwise why would we all pay for multiple Msoft licenses? Now, I am very much a PC numpty but it seems to me that you would not need a stonking PC to handle 4 people doing "office" work and bit of surfing?

They can make and flog TV smart boxes for a tenner, can't see the box I envisage would be a lot more complex?

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Re: central family PC?

Postby Richard Graham » Sun Apr 20, 2014 11:13 am

OK, so here's what I'd do.

Buy a decent PC (i7, 4 physical, 8 virtual cores), running Windows 8, and give it 32GB of RAM. Run 3 Windows 8 VMs on it, one for each user, giving each one 6-8GB of RAM and the use of two virtual cores. Use either Terminal Services or some version of VNC, to connect each of your XP machines to the corresponding VM on the "server". One user (I'd suggest whoever is most knowledgeable about computers) gets direct use of the "server", with one physical core and whatever RAM is left over. Disconnect your Windows XP machines from the Internet. In fact, you can strip everything off them apart from the TS or VNC client.

Obviously you will need to invest in some hardware and some Windows 8 licences. £1500 should see you right.

Can anyone more knowledgeable than me, see a problem with this plan?
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Re: central family PC?

Postby Scope » Sun Apr 20, 2014 11:43 am

My experience of using a single machine in this way, is not one I would care to repeat.
Whilst the concept is sound, In practice, it was a whole other level of crap, above and beyond the usual windows stress inducing issues.
Even with a preconfigured system & terminals, it was nothing but trouble.
The support was epically bad and in the end the whole thing was returned under threat of court action.
It was blatantly "not fit for purpose"

My advice is, unless you are a total masochist,
DON'T DO IT.
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Re: central family PC?

Postby ef37a » Sun Apr 20, 2014 12:01 pm

Scope wrote:My experience of using a single machine in this way, is not one I would care to repeat.
Whilst the concept is sound, In practice, it was a whole other level of crap, above and beyond the usual windows stress inducing issues.
Even with a preconfigured system & terminals, it was nothing but trouble.
The support was epically bad and in the end the whole thing was returned under threat of court action.
It was blatantly "not fit for purpose"

My advice is, unless you are a total masochist,
DON'T DO IT.

Oh! I wasn't thinking of actually doing it Scope, just testing the water to see if there is a simple system out there already. Seems not.

And thanks Graham but £1500? I could get 3 more Lenovos for under a grand and no hassle. I still need convincing that you would need such a gut busting PC to run 3 instances of homework and a bit of Facebook?

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Re: central family PC?

Postby DGL. » Sun Apr 20, 2014 12:36 pm

ef37a wrote:
Scope wrote:My experience of using a single machine in this way, is not one I would care to repeat.
Whilst the concept is sound, In practice, it was a whole other level of crap, above and beyond the usual windows stress inducing issues.
Even with a preconfigured system & terminals, it was nothing but trouble.
The support was epically bad and in the end the whole thing was returned under threat of court action.
It was blatantly "not fit for purpose"

My advice is, unless you are a total masochist,
DON'T DO IT.

Oh! I wasn't thinking of actually doing it Scope, just testing the water to see if there is a simple system out there already. Seems not.

And thanks Graham but £1500? I could get 3 more Lenovos for under a grand and no hassle. I still need convincing that you would need such a gut busting PC to run 3 instances of homework and a bit of Facebook?

Dave.

Yes it is possible on a slower PC but it's still an expensive way to go about it. We were running 1 copy of WIN2000 and WIN2000 Server in VM's on pc's with only 256mb ram! (that's essentially 3 copies of windows on 1 machine at the same time) and yes it worked but it was slow.

Most modern terminal systems use a low end diskless PC as the front end this leverages most of the processing power onto the local machine rather than the server.

Annoyingly Microsoft were doing windows 8 upgrades for £25 for a few months and that's when I took the plunge and upgraded our 2 desktops form WINXP. If you have the 32bit version then there is hardly anything they won't run, hell even the editor form my 05R/W still works.

Basically if you have anything Pentium dual core and above you won't have any performance problems. and you probably won't have any problems on even older hardware, basically if it runs XP well then it should run win8 just as well.
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Re: central family PC?

Postby robinv » Sun Apr 20, 2014 2:56 pm

ef37a wrote:

Is it possible to have a big machine in the master bedroom and then some wee boxes that take a VGA lead, mouse and keyboard and slave to the big machine?

Dave.

This is always what we've been promised through computer futurism - some master computer which we access through dumb terminals. It's almost a reality with a single user in that i can access my main system via Teamviewer on a laptop, ipad and my phone but i've not idea how more than one person would do that doing independent things. Yeah, it's all sci-fi. The closest i think you'll get is for everyone to have their own computer/device and then just have a central NAS drive for media. Lovely idea though - i want it.
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Re: central family PC?

Postby Exalted Wombat » Sun Apr 20, 2014 3:40 pm

You'd be putting in a system that wasn't really what any of the users want. The XP machines aren't going to explode or catch on fire. All vital data is backed up anyway (isn't it?).

Do you realise just how cheap a utility laptop is?
Like this. Share a printer over the wireless network.
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Re: central family PC?

Postby ef37a » Sun Apr 20, 2014 4:33 pm

robinv wrote:
ef37a wrote:

Is it possible to have a big machine in the master bedroom and then some wee boxes that take a VGA lead, mouse and keyboard and slave to the big machine?

Dave.

This is always what we've been promised through computer futurism - some master computer which we access through dumb terminals. It's almost a reality with a single user in that i can access my main system via Teamviewer on a laptop, ipad and my phone but i've not idea how more than one person would do that doing independent things. Yeah, it's all sci-fi. The closest i think you'll get is for everyone to have their own computer/device and then just have a central NAS drive for media. Lovely idea though - i want it.

Sci-fi is it? I always thought really big organizations worked that way? Ok so, we are all sold on everyone having their own, self contained box consuming anything from 10 to 100watts and using valuable, hard won metals and plastics? Of course Msoft and Apple want to sell each of us an OS and it costs the same whether you run the computer 24/7 or just an hour a week! (yes, ok, I am pee'ed off paying a lot of road tax to now do <1500 miles a years!)

Bet they could do it if they REALLY wanted to!"

I know XP computers are not going to explode but this one has crashed since the S/O and Msoft SE is no longer valid for XP (I had put all my daughter's family on SE).I have just got it back after quite some time in the Safe Mode wilderness. 14 and 16 yr olds are NOT going to keep XP clean!

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Re: central family PC?

Postby Richard Graham » Sun Apr 20, 2014 5:10 pm

ef37a wrote:And thanks Graham but £1500? I could get 3 more Lenovos for under a grand and no hassle. I still need convincing that you would need such a gut busting PC to run 3 instances of homework and a bit of Facebook?

You'd better buy the Lenovos then! It'll be less hassle, for sure... I thought you needed 4 of them though, which puts the price into the same kind of sphere.

Alternatively, if you really wanted to go server/client, even after the dire warnings, you could get by with an i7 with 16 GB for £600. I'm sure 4 GB each would be enough for web-browsing and homework.
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Re: central family PC?

Postby Exalted Wombat » Sun Apr 20, 2014 5:17 pm

ef37a wrote: I always thought really big organizations worked that way? Ok so, we are all sold on everyone having their own, self contained box consuming anything from 10 to 100watts and using valuable, hard won metals and plastics? Of course Msoft and Apple want to sell each of us an OS and it costs the same whether you run the computer 24/7 or just an hour a week! (yes, ok, I am pee'ed off paying a lot of road tax to now do <1500 miles a years!)

Bet they could do it if they REALLY wanted to!"

I know XP computers are not going to explode but this one has crashed since the S/O and Msoft SE is no longer valid for XP (I had put all my daughter's family on SE).I have just got it back after quite some time in the Safe Mode wilderness. 14 and 16 yr olds are NOT going to keep XP clean!


I don't think if you'll see many dumb terminals on big office systems any more. The ideal user terminal turned out to be a PC!

It has been announced: "Microsoft continues to supply antimalware engine and signature updates for Windows XP systems which is supported through July 14, 2015." This isn't prominently mentioned in the scare messages they're sending out. Naughty.

There was a bad update last week that broke MSE on some XP and Windows Server 2003 systems. It could also cause very slow general running. Some people would love to believe this was a conspiracy :-) Unlikely, as it broke the paid-for version as well. It's been fixed in another update.
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Re: central family PC?

Postby dmills » Sun Apr 20, 2014 5:42 pm

Yep we USED to have dumb terminals and smart users, these days it seems we sometimes have the opposite!

Centralized computing power rocks for some workloads but sucks for many others, and the others turn out to be the things folks care about day to day much of the time.

What might make sense is having all your users home directories on one machine and serving them over the network, that way any computer can be used by any user and you have a central point to do the backups and run the AV.

Regards, Dan.
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Re: central family PC?

Postby ef37a » Sun Apr 20, 2014 6:13 pm

Richard Graham wrote:
ef37a wrote:And thanks Graham but £1500? I could get 3 more Lenovos for under a grand and no hassle. I still need convincing that you would need such a gut busting PC to run 3 instances of homework and a bit of Facebook?

You'd better buy the Lenovos then! It'll be less hassle, for sure... I thought you needed 4 of them though, which puts the price into the same kind of sphere.

Alternatively, if you really wanted to go server/client, even after the dire warnings, you could get by with an i7 with 16 GB for £600. I'm sure 4 GB each would be enough for web-browsing and homework.

SOOOO Sorry Richard! How very rude of me to use your last name (short term memory not what it was!)They would need 4 Lenovos but that would still come out well under £1000. But that is hypothetical, I don't have that sort of disposable income. My original post was more in the way of a "can this be done?" but the more I think about it the more crazy it seems to have 4 people sitting in the same house with their own PC. Then in ten years time they will get scrapped and the whole thing starts again.
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Re: central family PC?

Postby dmills » Sun Apr 20, 2014 6:46 pm

It can be done, but is easier with things other then Windows, the Linux Terminal Server Project for example would probably work with your existing hardware as terminals for example (Very popular in Greece for some reason).

Doing this with Windows gets you swiftly into Microsoft client access license hell (Also that stuff tends to be very heavyweight).

One word of advice, wired networks are generally better then wireless for this stuff.

Regards, Dan.
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Re: central family PC?

Postby CS70 » Sun Apr 20, 2014 10:47 pm

Yes, it's possible. Check virtualization software - you can have many different separate virtual machines on the same hardware, each thinking it's on its own. Then you use a remote desktop on the individual laptops to access the machine.

It goes without saying that your hardware's gotta be relatively powerful, and if each of you think of playing Battlefield 4 simultaneously, it's probably gonna be cheaper to buy 4 new laptops ;-)

But for regular things like Excel, word processing or the occasional movie streaming it may work.
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Re: central family PC?

Postby CS70 » Sun Apr 20, 2014 11:01 pm

robinv wrote:
This is always what we've been promised through computer futurism - some master computer which we access through dumb terminals.

Incidentally, it's more about computer ..pastism? Terminals (dumb or less dumb) were for decades how you accessed mainframes or main servers. I spent quite a lot of time back in university on X11 terminals - which are anything but dumb . And mainframes (and terminals) are still well alive and kicking.

Then PCs came along, and lo-and-behold, everybody could have *their* own cpu. It's called "personal" for a reason. We are in the future.

Then the first LANs, then client-server, then virtualization, the cloud computing.. full circle! Almost.
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Re: central family PC?

Postby FrankRaz » Mon Apr 21, 2014 11:28 am

The very cheapest thing to do would be to get rid of Windows altogether and install Linux.
Ubuntu and Mint are pretty good these days.

It'd certainly be worth trying them out on one or two of your laptops. What have you got to lose?
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Re: central family PC?

Postby ef37a » Mon Apr 21, 2014 11:47 am

" What have you got to lose? "

Several years of my life and a lot of hair?
I have only grasped about 1% of 10% of XP! THAT is why I hate Microsoft!


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Re: central family PC?

Postby Richard Graham » Mon Apr 21, 2014 12:55 pm

ef37a wrote:
Richard Graham wrote:
ef37a wrote:And thanks Graham but £1500? I could get 3 more Lenovos for under a grand and no hassle. I still need convincing that you would need such a gut busting PC to run 3 instances of homework and a bit of Facebook?

You'd better buy the Lenovos then! It'll be less hassle, for sure... I thought you needed 4 of them though, which puts the price into the same kind of sphere.

Alternatively, if you really wanted to go server/client, even after the dire warnings, you could get by with an i7 with 16 GB for £600. I'm sure 4 GB each would be enough for web-browsing and homework.

SOOOO Sorry Richard! How very rude of me to use your last name (short term memory not what it was!)They would need 4 Lenovos but that would still come out well under £1000. But that is hypothetical, I don't have that sort of disposable income. My original post was more in the way of a "can this be done?" but the more I think about it the more crazy it seems to have 4 people sitting in the same house with their own PC. Then in ten years time they will get scrapped and the whole thing starts again.

Ha Ha! No worries, I get Graham all the time, believe it or not. That's what you get for having two first names.

I suppose the answer to your question is "yes it can be done, but there's a cost involved!". Affordability is always relative.

The best cheap option, avoiding XP, is to stick with your old hardware and get your family to switch to Ubuntu and OpenOffice, as others have suggested. Tell your family it's the latest thing and that they are going to just have to learn how to use it!

To be honest, I sent my mum an Ubuntu disk in the post when her Windows PC went tits-up due to a virus, and she got on aright with it - my mum being no techie. If all you're doing is browsing and knocking together Word documents and spreadsheets, Ubuntu will be fine.

If they moan, tell 'em about the expensive options and to get their hands in their pockets!
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Re: central family PC?

Postby Richard Graham » Mon Apr 21, 2014 1:00 pm

ef37a wrote:" What have you got to lose? "

Several years of my life and a lot of hair?
I have only grasped about 1% of 10% of XP! THAT is why I hate Microsoft!


Dave.

The Ubuntu install disk has an option to just run Ubuntu from the disk, so you don't have to commit to installing it on your hardware straightaway. Obviously it's a lot quicker-running if you do install it.

Ubuntu isn't actually hard to use for day-to-day stuff, either. You should definitely try it.
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Re: central family PC?

Postby ef37a » Mon Apr 21, 2014 1:12 pm

Thanks Richard,
Can't really get that involved. I am stumping up for one W7 laptop and maybe another one later in the year (see what the Proton needs MOT wise!) and that will have to do them.

I know a guy at the amp works that used Linux and he was very keen on it but these is teenagers! They will want to run all the ***t that their friends do!

And Dan. I did ten years with a firm that made passive network equipment, racks, outlets, cables...so I have a houseful of bits and bobs and everything is coppered up except this HP laptop. The wireless is killed on the main TTalk modem but I have a wee netgear jobbie plugged into an outlet just for the lappy which I can shutdown if I want to go totally "off air".

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Re: central family PC?

Postby ef37a » Mon Apr 21, 2014 1:46 pm

Richard Graham wrote:
ef37a wrote:" What have you got to lose? "

Several years of my life and a lot of hair?
I have only grasped about 1% of 10% of XP! THAT is why I hate Microsoft!


Dave.

The Ubuntu install disk has an option to just run Ubuntu from the disk, so you don't have to commit to installing it on your hardware straightaway. Obviously it's a lot quicker-running if you do install it.

Ubuntu isn't actually hard to use for day-to-day stuff, either. You should definitely try it.

Ok, sold! How do I get it?

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Re: central family PC?

Postby Richard Graham » Mon Apr 21, 2014 2:14 pm

Download here !

You'll also need a USB stick or a DVD burner and a blank DVD, depending on what you want to run your install or trial from.

When I did it, the download was in the form of a disk image. You burn the disk, and from there it's a bit like installing Windows, you tell your PC to boot from the optical drive, and follow the instructions.

Detailed instructions here !
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Re: central family PC?

Postby FrankRaz » Mon Apr 21, 2014 4:57 pm

The easiest way to make a bootable USB stick is to use the USB installer which can be downloaded HERE

If you don't like the feel of Ubuntu you can try Mint instead. It has a more familiar Windows like start menu. Download HERE

Both Ubuntu and Mint come with decent Office software but there is also the Software Centre where you can download and install whatever you like. It is very, very easy. Mind you, if you stray off the beaten path you will sink without trace. Keep to the Software Centre and all will be well.
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Re: central family PC?

Postby johnny h » Tue Apr 22, 2014 10:43 am

Richard Graham wrote:
ef37a wrote:" What have you got to lose? "

Several years of my life and a lot of hair?
I have only grasped about 1% of 10% of XP! THAT is why I hate Microsoft!


Dave.

The Ubuntu install disk has an option to just run Ubuntu from the disk, so you don't have to commit to installing it on your hardware straightaway. Obviously it's a lot quicker-running if you do install it.

Ubuntu isn't actually hard to use for day-to-day stuff, either. You should definitely try it.
You should definitely NOT try it! Its a complete waste of your life and will bring you nothing of any substance. If you are a hardcore programmer and enjoy fiddling around reinventing the wheel, do so for your own programming skills, not because you will get anywhere close to the user experience you can achieve on Mac OS or Windows.
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Re: central family PC?

Postby Richie Royale » Tue Apr 22, 2014 10:59 am

dmills wrote:Yep we USED to have dumb terminals and smart users, these days it seems we sometimes have the opposite!

Centralized computing power rocks for some workloads but sucks for many others, and the others turn out to be the things folks care about day to day much of the time.

What might make sense is having all your users home directories on one machine and serving them over the network, that way any computer can be used by any user and you have a central point to do the backups and run the AV.

Regards, Dan.

My work place has had Fujitsu thrust upon us and they are trying to roll out what they call their Thin Client

http://www.fujitsu.com/uk/products/computing/pc/thin-clients/

which I think is essentially a dumb terminal, however; the amount of problems so far experienced mean they have had to install normal computers as the thin ones weren't up to the job.
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Re: central family PC?

Postby ezza » Tue Apr 22, 2014 11:14 am

johnny h wrote:
Richard Graham wrote:
ef37a wrote:" What have you got to lose? "

Several years of my life and a lot of hair?
I have only grasped about 1% of 10% of XP! THAT is why I hate Microsoft!


Dave.

The Ubuntu install disk has an option to just run Ubuntu from the disk, so you don't have to commit to installing it on your hardware straightaway. Obviously it's a lot quicker-running if you do install it.

Ubuntu isn't actually hard to use for day-to-day stuff, either. You should definitely try it.
You should definitely NOT try it! Its a complete waste of your life and will bring you nothing of any substance. If you are a hardcore programmer and enjoy fiddling around reinventing the wheel, do so for your own programming skills, not because you will get anywhere close to the user experience you can achieve on Mac OS or Windows.

This is so 1990s...

Try it for 30 minutes from a Live CD.
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Re: central family PC?

Postby ef37a » Tue Apr 22, 2014 11:19 am

johnny h wrote:
Richard Graham wrote:
ef37a wrote:" What have you got to lose? "

Several years of my life and a lot of hair?
I have only grasped about 1% of 10% of XP! THAT is why I hate Microsoft!


Dave.

The Ubuntu install disk has an option to just run Ubuntu from the disk, so you don't have to commit to installing it on your hardware straightaway. Obviously it's a lot quicker-running if you do install it.

Ubuntu isn't actually hard to use for day-to-day stuff, either. You should definitely try it.
You should definitely NOT try it! Its a complete waste of your life and will bring you nothing of any substance. If you are a hardcore programmer and enjoy fiddling around reinventing the wheel, do so for your own programming skills, not because you will get anywhere close to the user experience you can achieve on Mac OS or Windows.


Oh!FCS! THANKS Johnny! I have just wasted 20p burning it to a disc. In any case my Asus M5A97 LE R2.0 MOBO has just turned up so I am going to be busy for the next few days.....Stand by chaps I may need help!

Dave.
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#They did not listen, they are not listening still...Perhaps they never will?#


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