Thursday, August 30, 2007

Will a trans-state railway work in the US ? - Part II

Anyway, back to building a well-connected infrastructure in the United States, called the train or rail. All the documentaries I watched about amazing engineering feats and engineering structures, buildings and bridges - I am VERY SURE the rail-technology is not a limiting issue here. BUT, it would still have never gone through. The only thought or reason that came to my mind is....THERE IS A CONSPIRACY! OK. I am biased. Maybe it does not make economic sense to build a better rail system. Because if they build one, the auto-industry will suffer. Because if they build one, the aviation industry will suffer. These two, are the key pillar industries of America. They can't be building something that will "kill" themselves.

But air traffic in the US has never improved. Read latest article here. In fact, each year...the traffic delays in major airports are getting longer and longer. Aren't they looking for alternatives or looking to solve this problem? (Rail might be a solution). And more and more wild forest fires due to the dry hot weather and high level of pollutants in the air (pollutants partially from driving your vehicles on the road). That's why they have SPARE THE AIR days in California during hottest days in summer to encourage people to take commute to work via BART, VTA, Caltrain and buses - to reduce the number of moving vehicles on the road during a dry hot weather and reduce the possibility of forest wild fires. And once again, FREE transport but nobody is making use of it :O
They always talk about being green, being green (isn't rail - a good rail system, a possible solution to reducing the vehicles on the road, and reduce carbon emission?). If me, a ordinary individual can ponder about this, why not them? It's just avoided on purpose (for OBVIOUS reasons I have stated above).

Anyhow, something to look forward to in many years to come in Asia, and since I will be back at home in Asia one day. The leadership in the committee that advocates the SE Asian railway feels that the railway will facilitate greater travel and people-to-people contact. It will contribute to a freer flow of people across borders. By then, Asean will convert itself into an EU-style economic community. Wow! London to Paris. Paris to Brussels. China to Singapore. Singapore to Manila - all by rail.

TravelWorld - a one-stop shop for RVs and motorhomes

In recent years, motorhomes have become such a comfort vehicle to drive and stay in. Most of them house a cozy living room, a kitchen, a dinette, sleeping sofas/beds, wardrobe, and some even have entertainment rooms. How complete can this get? I don't even have an entertainment room in my own house. If you are like us, contemplating a RV or motorhome/ motorcoach for your next travel, TravelWorld can be your source. What I like about this site is that, this RV website links to a wide and extensive variety and fleet of RVs, or motorhomes for you to view and choose. I especially like the logo that links to the different manufacturers and types of RVs and motorhomes, for example, Beaver Motor Coach, Holiday Rambler, Monaco, Safari, Coachmen RV and Georgie Boy. The TravelWorld RV website practically integrates all the major RV manufacturers and is your one-stop shop - for you to access to these manufacturers' websites. If you are interested in any RVs, this TravelWorld website provides the necessary contact page for you to send your inquiries. You could keep updated with the RV fleet and RV stock list too, by subscribing yourself in RV sales. There is also a video FAQ section which I found very interactive and help me learn more and know more about RVs.

Will a trans-state railway work in the US ?

As I read the news about SE Asia seeking to build a transnational railway eventually from China to Singapore and linking eight countries in the region, I began to ponder on the US rail system. As a developed nation/country, the rail system in the US is not well-developed. Nobody takes the train from coast to coast and along the coast from state to state, for commute or travel. It's either by car or by plane. My hoob who commutes to work via the Caltrain tells me that the train is mostly and usually empty. WHY?

Is the rail/train system so lousy (eg. frequency, comfort, connecting stations or lines etc.) that people just refuse to take it? Or are fares too expensive?

Europe has done it (Eurotunnel, Eurostar etc). SE Asian will do it. Can the US?

What do you think of the rail system in the US ?

Podfitness - MP3 workouts get an upgrade

I do not have a personal trainer in the gym as I feel uncomfortable having a stranger around, in person, while I exercise or work out. Podfitness's system builds audio workouts with the incorporation of a personal trainer on your iPod or MP3 player. Each audio workout will be customized for individuals based on fitness level and equipment. With this flexibility, I will be able to enjoy my own freedom while workout. Check out the Podfitness Homepage for a 10-day trial membership, and for more information. You could also contact Brandon Hays, Customer Communications Director, Podfitness.com, Inc. at brandon@podfitness.com.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Columbia Icefield, Jasper National Park, Canada

Saw the glacier here, can't beat walking on one, right?

Just at the southern end of Jasper National Park is the Columbia Icefield. The ice field feeds eight major glaciers, Athabasca_Glacier, included.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Couponchief is coming to town this holiday season

After Labor Day comes another series of holidays - Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Yay! The season, of Thanksgiving and Christmas, is particularly for giving and sharing. If you have started to think about this year's gifts for your loved ones, here is one online shopping site for you. Not any ordinary online shopping site, but one that offers coupons for savings throughout your shopping "trip". CouponChief is not limited to apparel and electronics, you can save on travel too! Yes! Travel! As I've been traveling more than usual this summer, I found these coupons at CouponChief so useful. The airline I prefer to fly in - Southwest; and the travel site/resource I usually go to when I intend to get a package travel deal - Travelocity. Can you imagine the additional savings you can have in your planned vacation? Well, a shopping gift for your loved ones can always be a holiday getaway. Spring them with surprises while you save on shopping. Isn't that perfect?

Friday, August 24, 2007

GPS and privacy

New York's taxi drivers are making a hoo-ha and threaten to go on strike if authorities insist on introducing satellite positioning systems in the city's yellow cabs. According to some taxi drivers, this "act" infringes on their rights and privacy since taxi drivers sometimes use the cars as "private cars". This satellite system includes a monitor for passengers to follow their route and check news and weather as well as pay their fare by bank card. The devices cost more than $5k to install and will reveal information on where they are, how many trips they have taken and how much they took in fares.

Hmmm...will Singapore's taxis ever implement a GPS or a satellite system ? This would definitely reduce the incidents of NOT being to get a cab at 11.45pm at night (since taxi drivers will be "hiding" somewhere for the magic hour to strike - the clock strikes 12am, and passengers need to pay midnight surcharges!!! ). The next question I have, if the GPS or satellite system were ever plan to be implemented, will there be a strike ?

Terry's Fabrics - curtains and accessories

Are you using curtains or blinds at home? Personally, I find that curtains give the house a "softer" look-and-feel, make the house more like a cozy home. I do have experience buying ready made curtains. I find them more affordable than tailor-made, and of good quality and features such as being able to keep the light and heat out. The one step we did before buying ready made curtains was to measure. Measure the width and height of the area (usually windows) you tend to hang the curtains. Then go to the store to look for what you want based on the measured dimensions. During the shopping and selection process, you could also choose the kind of fabrics and colors to match the design and colors of your house. It is very easy, and less time-consuming than having to wait for curtains to be custom-made. We did not have an online option to purchase then, but Terry's Fabrics has it. You can view their product range and your curtains can be easily bought either at their warehouse or online. Ready made curtains are definitely the perfect solution for your home.

Wildlife in Banff and Jasper



In Banff and Jasper National Parks, you can catch wildlife. Moose, elk, black bear, grizzly bear. We were not so lucky. The tour bus driver-cum guide only alerted us on some mountain sheep along the way, and a black bear hiding in the woods. The black bear must be camouflaging itself so well that I could not find where it is (thus, no pictures!). And something interesting - how to differentiate a black bear and a grizzly bear. According to the tour bus driver-cum guide, not the size, not the color, but you should see a hump at the back (near neck) of the grizzly bear.

Since we did not get a chance to see any moose, I bought myself a fake one and brought him back to California. :)

Johnston Canyon, Banff National Park, Canada

It was a good climb up here. Change of view from mountains and lakes. Since we joined a sightseeing tour, we were only recommended (or rather "allowed") to do the hike to the Lower Falls.

View highlights includes waterfalls and a trail inside a deep canyon. It is easy walking. This is on Bow Valley Parkway, one half-hour west of Banff and one half-hour east of Lake Louise.
Time: One hour return to Lower Falls, two hour return to the Upper Falls.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Sign up as a Team Captain in Alzheimer's Memory Walk


Do you know - the United States will see an estimation of 44% increase in Alzheimer’s disease by 2025? Currently, there are not many treatments that can stop the disease, and there are limited kinds of drugs that help to prevent the worsening of symptoms. Alzheimer’s disease worsens with age. Individuals need total dedicated care when conditions worsen and at this time, they need a lot of support and care from family members and caregivers.

The Alzheimer's Association Memory Walk is the nation's largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer care, support and research. This annual event is held in hundreds of communities across the country, and 2007 Memory Walk is now calling for volunteers of all ages to become champions in the fight against Alzheimer's.

Teams are the heart of Memory Walk, in which people work together to support a worthy cause, and every team needs a Team Captain. As Team captains, your main responsibility is to motivate walkers, build a rapport among team participants and in the process, help to raise funds through donations. As a Team Captain, you could recruit family, friends, and/or colleagues to start a team, involve everyone in the team to walk for a purpose, a common goal; and at the same time, create a platform for family-bonding and friends-bonding. This is also a good opportunity as a Team Captain to demonstrate your leadership skills as a "project leader" - from the setting of team goals, to the executing in achieving these goals. This is an event that is a perfect team-building activity for building esprit de corp in companies and business too.

What are you waiting for? Start a team today!




Bow Summit, Banff National Park, Canada



Lake moraine and Lake Lousie, why are all the waters so beautifully colored. Nature does its work. This is Peyto Lake at Bow Summit.

And if you ask, why is the lake blue ? That's got to do with glacier water, fine particles of rocks, and the works of science.


Mint credit cards

Credit cards that get you in debt due to the high interest rate? That's not true when you have a Mint credit card. With a variable APR of typically 14.9%, Mint offers a low interest credit card - no interest (O%) on credit card balance transfer till 1st October 2008. This introductory offer also includes 0% fixed on purchases until 1st March 2008. There's no annual fee to this credit card and the credit card even offers free travel accident insurance. If you are interested to apply for a Mint credit card, you could now do so online. It's easy and safe using Mint's secure website.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Who's in NAND

They race each other in process-technology and emerging applications in the marketplace including flash BIOS, solid-state storage and flash-equipped television with digital video recorder functions.

Here's the gist and breakdown on who's in -

Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (market leader, with market share 45%+)
~demonstrated 30nm NAND part

Toshiba Corp. (second-largest NAND supplier, with market share 27%+)
~new 300-mm fab in Japan, fab venture with Sandisk called Flash Alliance Ltd
~current transition at 56nm node
~At 56nm node:developing separate 3-bit-per-cell technology with Sandisk, and 24-Gbit flash memory device
~3-bit MLC technology also produces 48-Gbit MLC NAND flash memories in the 40nm generation
~Also developing a 43nm NAND line based on 2-bit-per-cell technology.

Hynix Semiconductor Inc. (third-largest NAND supplier, with market share 14%+)
~plans to increase its sequential bit production growth by 100 percent
~been shifting its DRAM capacity on its 300-mm fab line to NAND for this
~speculated about a new 300-mm fab venture with SanDisk Corp.

IM Flash Technologies LLC (JV between Intel Corp. and Micron Technology Inc.)
~dark horse in NAND
~ramping up a 300mm fab in Utah
~venture is manufacturing 50nm NAND and has a sub-40nm product in development.
~Intel itself increased its NAND bit shipments by 75% while Micron achieved a 72% increase in 2nd quarter

Source: EE Times

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Reading tutors from Score Learning

With reading, children start to learn and strengthen their foundation in spelling, words, sentences and even speech. Reading helps children improve their language skills. I regretted not having developed a deep interest in reading when I was young. My parents did not encourage me much in reading too as they did not know the benefits that reading will bring to my language ability. If there were Score Learning centers then, and reading tutors. The children of this generation are lucky. Score Learning centers have reading tutors who guide and help children with reading. This will indeed develop children's interest in reading from young and help them progress smoothly in their learning road.

Tunnel Mountains, Banff National Park

I took a few deep breaths here, not forgetting I'm in Calgary Canada, one of those places with cleanest air.

I like Calgary for the fact that it is so vast and clean, and it being so close to the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

Calgary is over 2000sq mile in city and metro area and just over 1mil in population
VS
Singapore, just 270+ sq mile and population 4+mil

Don't get a feel - in terms of population ?
Calgary ~ 3,522.9/sq mi VS
Singapore 16,392 /sq mi

See the difference now?

This is taken at Tunnel Mountains at Banff National Park.

The Next Internet Millionaire - first competitive Internet reality show is here!

The world's first competitive Internet reality show -The Next Internet Millionaire, started on August 15th 2007, and I did not know about it. I was one week late. But now I know it, I am going to share it with all of you. You - who enjoy The Amazing Race, The Apprentice, and alike of TV reality shows, will like this reality show too. The reality series that is looking for The Next Internet Millionaire. Hosted by Joel Comm, one of the world's leading Internet entrepreneurs, the The Next Internet Millionaire will win a $25,000 cash prize and a joint venture with Joel Comm. Fans of reality shows, and you who want to learn about making money online, you will like The Next Internet Millionaire.


Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Calgary

Let pictures speak for themselves.

Lake Louise, fed mainly by the Victoria glaciers. Lake Louise - JEWEL of the Rockies.



The glaciers are retreating continuously. They may all disappear one day.
So, make sure you see one in your lifetime.



Indeed a jewel. Turquoise lake, calm and captivating.

As time is short, we decided not to do a road trip this time. We joined a sightseeing tour instead. Driving is usually preferred since free and easy, we could stop by any vista point and walk around where we want to, when we want to. However, decided that usually the driver will be the one NOT enjoying since HE needs to drive and concentrate (so cannot enjoy the scenery along the way), and HE who drives long distances will typically tire out. To take the responsibility off ourselves, we put the responsibility on the tour bus driver-cum-tour-guide. :p

Innovative Tutor with Score Learning

From Pre-K to High School, parents can now have the option to entrust their child's academic and learning progress to Score Learning. The sooner your child begins learning, the better. Score Learning has Innovative Tutor who makes academic learning a fun and exciting process for your child. With an innovative tutoring environment that is highly conducive to a child's learning and development, parents should kick-start their kids with Score Learning to motivate and engage their kids. Kids learn fast, so they should learn right.

The role of public agencies in commercialization of technologies

Read the news in Business Times this morning about the Singapore government offering $17m for research on applications of clean energy. What's key and I thought NEW in this news is "....testbed their clean energy technologies here, using government buildings and facilities". This is long overdue. They should have done this long time ago. When you have fuel-cell out from R&D in Singapore, LTA (or rather...SBS buses) should have been the first testbed for testing. Well, the fuel-cell being researched is still at preliminary stage? Then it's not fit to be marketed to the industry in the first place. Make sure your technology is scalable. Worried about efficiency - there can always be ways to test the capability of the fuel-cell in short-loop buses eg. those that service just the housing estates. Just a (wild) thought. Yes, you may find so many roadblocks along the way but this is the fastest and relatively effective way to prove your technology works. Ok. Today, you invented a super-novel material that coats glass and acts like an insulator and call itself self-cleaning i.e. ensure minimal cleaning required of the glass. Prove it. Find government buildings, or facilities or services (buses, again...errr...and MRTs), apply the coating on it and collect your data. Since most of the R&D are supported by government and part of the government's long term initiatives and roadmap in the first place, the entire government (the technology provider and the end-users) should integrate and help each other out. They are one huge supply-chain, isn't it? For example, most of the technologies developed by scientists and researchers in the US have their technologies adopted by NASA, initially. Use NASA as the testbed and when proven feasible, they can use this as a marketing escalation to the private companies and firm in the industry.

Three key partners on clean energy applications -
R&D organisations: lead and conduct testbedding activities
Technology providers: private sector firms that provide the clean energy equipment and technologies to participate in the testbedding
Implementers: Government bodies that provide the testbedding location and facilitate the project
(See the flow here - R&D should reach the private firms first before it reaches the government. Then I ask - What makes your technology so unique that a private firm should believe in you, even before a non-profit or public agency does?). It takes much more from the private firms to license and commercialize unproven technologies than a public agency.

Personally, I think government bodies can participate in the testbedding too, and not just solely in providing the location, buildings and facilities. Government bodies are the R&D organizations, can be technology providers AND implementers.

And another question is -

"Why can't they adopt this collaboration structure to all technologies ? "

"Why must this be limited to just clean energy?"

Why, why, why....

Monday, August 20, 2007

Megameeting - web and video conferencing software

As businesses become globalized and your business co-workers, partners and clients are located all around the world, the need to hold online meeting has become necessary. Now with a broadband internet connection and a browser to log onto the internet, you can be video conferencing and discussing work plans with co-colleagues at the other side of the continent one minute; and be in serious business negotiation with your business partner, the next minute - video conferencing to clinch deals and contracts.

MegaMeeting has made web and video conferencing services easier and affordable with its new, 100% desktop, browser-based web-conferencing services and webinar software that does not require special installation on your computer. This is especially useful for small enterprises and new start-ups that intend to keep their business costs low. With MegaMeeting's video conferencing software, it is no longer necessary to download and install complicated internet meeting software and buy expensive supporting equipment. Moreoever, MegaMeeting's video conferencing and other web-based services are user-friendly and affordable. Try them today. There is even a live demo in their website.

Lake Moraine in Banff National Park, Calgary





Breathtaking, isn't it? Am prepared for more stunning scenery, are you?
Mountains, and lakes...mountains and lakes. Need to see as much as possible before I return to a place where I will only see buildings and cars...buildings and cars.

This is Lake Moraine in Banff National Park, Calgary, Canada.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Of modern organizations and age-old forests

I read an article somewhere (forgot where?!) and like this analogy relating organization and the ecology of forest and trees. It draws the information environment very similar to a forest where everything is information. Deriving different meaning from the same objects in relation to situations and special context.

Ecology is not to be designed but only be nurtured. Likewise, an organization is dynamic and gain robustness through diversity and non-homogeneity. Find the balance between spontaneity and structure.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Competitive intelligence - technical or not

What is the main differences between Competitive Intelligence (CI) and Competitive Technical Intelligence (CTI) ?

Competitive Technical Intelligence (CTI) -
Analysis and understanding of the external environment in context of internal business environment, with science and technology as added factors.

Tools and techniques will be different - more technical and specialized, definitely. Data collections and source will be different too. Then comes, communication and organizational culture, customers, and time horizon (definitely longer than CI since the entire product development cycle needs to be followed through).

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Largest global supplier of power discretes

A short brief from EE Times concluded that if ST Microelectronics were to ever successfully bid for Infineon, the merger of these two companies would create the largest global supplier of power discretes, with a market share more than current leaders, Fairchild and International Rectifier. Meantime, would this ever happen ? How much will the offer be ? If ever a merger, how will these two different cultures integrate as ONE organization ? Just have to wait and see.

At the other end, Qualcomm is tied to four infringement cases (three with Broadcom, one with Nokia). I wonder how much they have paid out just for attorney fees alone?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Profit is not a metric

Maximize profit - thus, profit is the metric for managing your business success. The best way to choose among competing projects is to determine which one generates the most profit. All wrong. Profit is the byproduct of actions taken in the past. Profit is merely a result. Many contributors to success are not measured in dollars and cents. This was the case at Krispy Kreme Donuts when sales declined in 2003-2004 by measurable levels of customer dissatisfaction.

Customer-driven metrics or traditional cost-accounting controls - you choose.

Ashop Commerce shopping cart software for e-commerce

Ashop Commerce is a major player in the electronic commerce global arena of hosted shopping cart software. It offers a complete solution for merchants to sell online. Whether you are thinking of creating a new online store or upgrading your current e-commerce store, Ashop Commernce has shopping cart software for your shopping cart solutions. Its shopping cart solutions are user-friendly (you can have full control without technical knowledge), affordable, search engine optimized and can be fully customised. Ashop Commerce's shopping cart software features are also engineered with flexibility paramount. Its shopping cart software has the features built right, and built into setup, inventory, layout and design, payment options and shipping and tax. There are features built specially for web optimisation and sales analysis. If you want more features, you can have more, such as service and support, affiliates, sms alerts, database systems, hosting and security. With the range of solutions and features it can offer, Ashop Commerce shopping cart software is surely a turn-key e-commerce solution.

Food and Freakonomics

What do you get when you cut an apple?

You get an orange!

And there, a picture of food, to represent this New York Times bestseller Freakonomics. How appropriate. Sets me thinking, is food the start of being freako ?

This is no recipe or cookbook but if this picture is telling a thousand words, it's asking you to get creative and freako in all your dishes. Does it inspire you - cooks, chefs, and bakers?

Smorty - get paid for blogging

Give your opinion about products and services; people and websites, and get paid for it - get paid for blogging. Is that a good opportunity? I would say "Yes". With every opinion post, you earn money and you can build informative content in your blog. Smorty is a service connecting advertisers with bloggers. Advertisers can pay bloggers to write opinion posts with links back to the advertisers site -they advertise on blogs and you make money from your blog, by writing opinion articles about available campaigns from these advertisers. How does this work? Easy.

Open an account with Smorty, and get your account approved. Wait for suitable campaign offers that Smorty will send to you via email, write your opinions about them and post in your blog. Allow Smorty administration to approve your articles, and wait to get paid via Paypal. With Smorty, you can even post in multiple blogs to earn more, so it's one of the fastest way to get paid for blogging. So what are you waiting for, get started with Smorty right now!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Consumer relationships


Amusing find - what if you had a business/service website and all of a sudden, you lost connection to your consumers.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Intel + "X" , why can't I remember ?

I keep forgetting these names.

Micron Singapore and Intel Singapore: IM Flash Singapore LLP (“IMFS”)

Intel-ST Microelectronics Flash Memory Joint Venture: Numonyx

Friday, August 10, 2007

Intel assembly and test in Vietnam

Intel has announced tripling its investment in a new Vietnam facility to $1 billion, creating the largest single factory in its global assembly and test network.

Construction begins: March 2008
Production expected: 2009
Ramp up: 3 years
Capacity:600mil chipsets/yr

Other firms expanding in Vietnam include Hewlett Packard, Japan's Renesas and Nidec, Singapore's Allied Technologies, and Denmark's Sonion.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Private equity

US buy-out giant The Blackstone Group has announced that it has closed its new global private equity fund, Blackstone Capital Partners V, on a record-breaking $21.7billion. WOW. And this will be invested across various sectors and geographical locations. The most recent tech buy-out is the $17.6 billion purchase of Freescale Semiconductor in 2006. $84 billion - that's the total enterprise value already committed across sectors. To get a snapshot of the big private equity players at the moment, check Businessweek.

Campbell's Soup and Godiva Chocolates

I thought chocolates are not so unhealthy, unless taken excessive. But why does Campbell’s Soup consider selling off its Godiva Chocolatier arm, a move towards focusing on healthier, simpler foods? I do see the point if Campbell's Soup need to streamline its product portfolio on simple meals including soup-baked snacks, biscuits such as Pepperidge Farm, canned soup, ready-made sauces and vegetable-based beverages (V8). Be more focused.

Did you know...Campbell’s acquired Godiva-the chocolatier 40 years ago ? I did not.

Efforts into healthier foods by cutting the amount of sodium in its products by 25% by using a certain type of sea salt, and even their website featuring a “nutrition and wellness” section.

A new "healthy" image to start off a new business strategy, not considered a major overhaul though.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

A bridge between marketing and engineering

Ever heard of the marketing/engineering ratio? It is found that the most successful companies had ratios >1.0, spending more in front-end marketing than in engineering. Companies with low ratios tend to have inwardly focused engineering cultures.

The classic scenario (what I have always seen, observed and experienced) - in which someone who has invented something and has obtained an issued patent subsequently fails to recover the costs that went into the development and patenting process. Most scientists and engineers fall in love with their products and ideas, lack sufficient expertise in the marketing, sales and other key business activities. They will seldom or never kill the bad ideas/products early because they never believe they could ever come up with bad ideas. Ego problem! Wake up. You have to kill the bad ideas, and bring the good ones to market successfully. Let the marketeers do it. If they are not convinced with your ideas/products, that means it's not up to mark to the market.

Now I know most of the scientists and researchers is suffering from something called Inventoritis -A largely psychological disorder, is a root cause of the vast amounts of money spent on innovation R&D leading to no direct correlation between R&D spending and sales growth.

 
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