Why Socket Bluetooth cards suck


I am a mobile guy, no doubt about that. So I am always looking for ways to help me do things better, faster, or easier. And if it can eliminate carrying an extra cable around with all my stuff so much the better. That is why I had my eye on Bluetooth for so long. I mean, it is THE cable eliminator protocol, right? So last year I decided to jump on the Bluetooth wagon and make it hum. I started out easy enough and thought I would first hook up my Pocket PC to my laptop for Activesync and to share the Verizon Express Network connection on the laptop. I went with the Socket CF card for the Pocket PC as it is the only one that fits flush with the top of the CF slot. Nothing sticking out is a good thing and it means I can leave it plugged in all the time. On the laptop side I went with a Belkin USB stick adapter, and even though it sticks out a couple of inches it is otherwise very small.Hooking them both up was a snap and I was shortly connected with no wires and sharing the internet connection. No problems at all, it just worked like I’ve always heard Bluetooth should work once it is set up properly. And that is the way it worked until recently. I have always wanted a Bluetooth phone so I can connect wirelessly whenever WiFi is not available but Verizon never offered one until a few weeks back and I jumped on it. I also added the Sony U-70 to my mobile kit which has a nice empty CF slot on it so I thought I had a match made in heaven. Silly me.

First off the Motorola v710 phone with Bluetooth paired easily with my Toshiba e-800 Pocket PC and using it as a modem has been painless from the start. It is so nice to just pop the Socket CF card into the Pocket PC and every time I need to go to the internet it auto-dials and connects. And it hangs up when I close the browser. Sweet. This is what Bluetooth is all about. So the obvious next step is to pop the Socket CF card into the Sony which runs Windows XP and repeat the process. Wrong, wrong, wrong.See, the Socket CF card was sold with Pocket PC drivers only. I can understand that because there are few Windows XP computers that have CF cards. In fact I can only think of two right now and the Sony is one of them. So I have the CF card and just need Windows XP drivers so how hard could that be?Enter the twilight zone. I go (logically) to the Socket web site and after a lot of searching around and traipsing all through their support forums (which have a lot of irate questions by owners but few answers) I figure out that Socket doesn’t provide the Windows XP drivers to buyers of the Pocket PC package. You have to buy the Socket Windows XP package that comes with the same CF card and a PCMCIA to CF adapter for laptops that don’t have a CF slot. If you buy this package you get the WinXP drivers I need. Follow me so far? So I spent more time than I care to admit on the phone with Socket to explain that all I need are the drivers. The end response I finally received from Socket was that they would soon be offering the Windows XP drivers alone for purchase. It would cost me $10 but I had to wait until they put it up for sale on their web site which hasn’t been updated in about 3 years, or so it seems.So I started using the Belkin USB stick in the Sony as a workaround so I could connect using the Bluetooth phone when I needed to. It works flawlessly but it sticks out so far to the right of the Sony that it makes it unwieldy to work with while holding it. Plus, there’s something that snaps in me everytime I see that sticking out when I know the CF card would totally disappear inside the Sony if I only had drivers, which Socket has but won’t give me. Grrrrrrr.A few weeks ago I make one of my periodic stops at the Socket web site and lo and behold the WinXP drivers are available for purchase. I quickly buy them and the download starts rolling in. Life is good again. Do you hear the twilight zone music? I do. I install the software and drivers that Socket provided and quickly discover that they are actually Bluesoleil drivers from a company called- Bluesoleil. But, and this is a big but, these Bluesoleil drivers are sold by a company called IVT who provides them in OEM form to Socket. I’m tired just writing that. But who cares as long as they work properly, right?And they did work, sort of. I was able to install them OK and configure the Bluetooth stuff which was much more difficult than the Belkin which auto-configured everything thanks to WinXP SP2. It took a number of attempts to successfully pair the Socket-enabled Sony with the Motorola phone but it finally took and hallelujah I had a wireless connection. That’s what I’m talking about!I was happily using this set up for a week before I started getting dropped connections. A LOT of dropped connections which I have never experienced with any device like this. And then out of the Blue(tooth) I lost the ability to connect to the Verizon network altogether. Dials out, answers, hangs up in exactly 4 seconds. Now the Socket CF card still works flawlessly in the Pocket PC with different drivers but no go on the WinXP box. So I’m thinking drivers. Just slap me now and get it over with.I search the web and hit both the Bluesoleil web site AND the IVT Bluesoleil web site and sure enough, my current driver is version 1.4.0 and they are up to 1.4.9, and a bunch of issues have been fixed since the original version I have. Both of these web sites have the new version available for download so I said YAY! until I read the fine print (in red so we know it’s bad). Basically it says that the driver download is for evaluation purposes only and any Bluetooth connection made with this version will time out after 5 MB of data is exchanged. About 3 web pages in my estimation, maybe less. Crap! At this point I’m getting the feeling I will be forced to buy the new version of the driver I’ve already paid for. I’m getting really steamed now.But it was pointless getting mad about that because, you see, neither of these two companies will even SELL me the current drivers. They just refer me back to Socket for upgrades. They state they do not sell direct to end-users. Why, oh why, would these companies provide downloadable demo versions of software THEY WON’T SELL to consumers? Do they hope we will like it so much that we as individuals will try and FORCE the OEM to use their software? What are these people smoking?So at this point, today, I have flaky drivers that I paid extra for, a CF card that won’t work properly because of those drivers, and a new version is out that fixes my particular issue but I can’t get it. From anybody. Socket doesn’t provide any mechanism whatsoever for obtaining updates to the drivers that I paid them for. This is the most bizarre set of circumstances I’ve run across in many years of computing and if I hadn’t experienced and in fact still in the middle of I don’t think I’d believe it.So easy to guess I’m dumping the Socket. And other Socket products I have. And will never buy another one because they just don’t support their drivers and software. And to IVT and Bluesoleil- you people are idiots. I can understand why you might make a business decision or be contractually prohibited from selling your drivers direct to the end-user but if that’s the case why do you have restricted demos of the software? Guess I’ll have to get a Belkin CF for the Sony and be done with the problem.



Download this. Universal driver. And remember. In linux is standard driver in kernel. :-)


Omg. This discussion is sooooooooo long. And I’ve just read it, with no interest in any of the related products at all. You two kinda circle around the same stuff for a while there :P

Anyway, since I’ve just spent more than 15 minutes on your site I’m just letting you know.

I need better ways to deal with spare time!


I know it sucks being at the mercy of drivers. Hardware and drivers have to be available for a product to be useful and unfortunately, I’m at the mercy of PalmOne right now. They are unable to tell me when their engineers are going to finish a phone update for the Tungsten T5 to work with my Sony-Ericsson S710a. I had it working with a Sony-Ericsson T68i before but silly me, I responded to one of the many marketing mails I get from Cingular to upgrade my phone for cheap more often than I get a bill. I thought, “Cool! I finally get to upgrade from a decent GPRS phone to a faster EDGE phone.” Boy, was I wrong. Now I can’t even get GPRS. I’m just about ready to throw my Tungsten T5 up on eBay and drool on JK’s Sony U-Series or an OQO! I didn’t want to go up to a larger, less-sleak solution but PalmOne isn’t giving me much choice.


Just to add to my last comment. My dongle was faulty. I replaced it and all is well.

And they say a week is a long time in politics. Try applying that to IT…


Can anyone please please please (!) help me. I’ve got an RFMD Bluetooth 1.2 Class 2 dongle. Until recently, it worked fine with my Nokia 6230 but now, I can’t get any connection. I’ve tried unpairing but it can’t find the phone. I know its not the phone, because it’s paired ok with a headset.

Does anyone know of any software that conflicts with the dongle? I’ve got a few anti spam progs running: Spybot, Ad Aware, MS Antispam and I’m using a kerio firewall? Could these be blocking the signal?

I’m pulling my hair out here. The dongle flashes rapidly when it’s looking to pair and the pc has recognised it. If it was broken, would it still be doing this?


Hi jk, I just felt the need to chime in because it seems a little verification of what you just worked through with the Socket product is in order. I chose the Socket product, despite the price, because I am reliably using their WiFi, cf card. I figure, you get what you pay for…. Well, I started working through the problems you originally laid out in this post. Basically, I was getting flaky, not automatic connections using Thinkpads, and this system will not tolerate resuming from a standby. This is true at least for the serial sevices. I consider this apm, or acpi flaw unforgivable considering the application. 10 meter BlueTooth, low-power… of course standby should be heartily supported for this type of application. I do what I always do when working through isuues like this, and Google search for ideas and info, and that is how I found this blog. I also found others that help verify the apm, or acpi recovery issue. A great help because these posts serve as a preview of what is ahead if one wants to continue working through the issues. btw, I aggree with your conclusion. I think the Bluesoleil facility is the culprit. It is way too big, and uses way too much overhead. The socket hardware is probably very good. Well, back to Fry’s my bt, Socket cards went, and I picked up the Belkin offering while I was there. I was totally amazed when I installed it. It just works. It binds with the systems you want to connect to once, then you are able to forget about it. Really, things get turned off, and on, put on standby, resumed – it all just works. It all works quietly in the background, automatically. This post is probably a little late for you, but maybe it will help steer someone else with the same struggle. Regards, Mark.


I agree, socketcom suck, i for one will never buy their products again.

Bulent Guner

I have just found that cause of GPRS connection problem is my network operator, not Socket. Hereby, my Socket CF Bluetooth card version H is working very well. So I do advise not to hesitate to get it…

Bulent Guner

Eventually, I owned a U750P. In order to keep the miniature size, I used Socket CF Bluetooth card despite complaints on XP driver and lockups. Now, I am facing GPRS connection problem with my K700i like “SS”. But it works well with Z600.


I purchased the Socket CF card (rev H) given its flush presentation with the Sony U for the specific purpose of dial up networking. My phone is a Sony Ericsson T68i.

With the drivers on the enclosed CDROM I was unable to get an http connection over the GPRS network given that BlueSoleil was modifying the DNS servers. Note that DHCP was changed to a fixed set of servers when a DUN connection was established. Not thinking twice I went to IVT and downloaded the new drivers and installed them (deinstalled the CDROM’s drivers first).

The newer drivers also had the identical problem. I found in Config.ini (resides in the BlueSoleil directory) the definition of the DNS servers. Once deleting the lines from the config.ini DUN worked correctly with http. In addition, as cited above, there is no limit to the amount of data these drivers support with the Socket CF card. I have had no drop out problems to date.

Another issue with the current drivers and the type U is as follows. If the U is cycled in/out of standby, a DUN connection failed just after connecting. Given that I really don’t use most of the BlueTooth profiles, I tried disabling the supporting servers (e.g. audio, etc). Thus I was left with one service running – FTP file transfer. The result is that the type U is able to return from standby and properly make a DUN connection.

Thus at this point the Socket CF card / BlueSoleil combination appears to be working properly for my purposes. I must admit that testing is required.

That said one issue still bugs me. While WidComm is able to start a DUN connection when needed, BlueSoleil’S DUN connection must be explicitly started. Basically their shortcut invokes gprs.exe. Using the WindowsXP connect using scheme simply cannot work given that gprs.exe is not called. BlueSoleil is not as integrated with the OS as WidComm.



The latest drivers can be downloaded currently from http://www.ivtcorporation.com and they don’t seem to impose a 5MB limit for Socket CF cards, for now. My Tablet PC (NEC LitePad) does function, but after 500-4000KB of data transfer, the BlueSoleil service seems to lockup and requires a system reboot to become operational again.

I am using XP Tablet Edition SP2. We are not alone regarding the problems with BlueSoleil, Socket CF, and XP–I believe if you transfer enough bytes via BT the problem can *always* be reproduced. BlueSoleil 1.4.9 added nice features such as A2DP, but has the same problem with locking up my GPRS connection on my SonyEricsson K700i and T637 as did 1.4.7. In my case, it will remain connected to the phone, but will not transfer any bytes of data. I also cannot disconnect via software, and must either reboot the computer or pull out the CF card. The *exact* same problems occured when used on an IBM ThinkPad T42 w/PC Card Adapter.

I test BT interoperability between various devices for my clients to make recommendations and sales. I am also a lead technician for a prominent Sony Ericsson Authorized Service Point.

Socket does not seem to follow the industry norms with regards to its software support especially when it comes to its CF BT card (I was snakebitten in a similar manner with their CF In-Hand Scan Extreme card). I cannot recommend this product to anyone wishing to use this product with Windows XP. Socket Support seems to understand the shortcomings of their product yet decides not to acknowledge them or gives their customers the “Let’s wait [indefinitely] and see approach.” In the past they actually sold old Drakar drivers that were known to be *VERY* unstable with any desktop Windows environment. At this point, Socket has lost a lot of credibility in my opinion, and has been demoted to a last/worst case scenario on my buying list for this year.

Bulent Guner

How can I contact to Nick Arnold to ask if Socket CF Bluetooth adapter works with VGN-U70 or not?



Hi James: not sure If you have this fixd. i have the U70 and Socket and had the same problem i managed to download the drivers from http://www.expansys.com/i/drv/btwinfinal.zip
These seem to work ok ….let me know if you have any problem and i can email them. Hope it helps. Nick

Posted by: Nick Arnold | October 29, 2004 04:27 PM


Perhaps the card only works on XP if you use The PC card adapter instead of a compact flash slot?I want to use the card on a tablet without a PC card slot so any confirmations regarding this would be appreciated.

Also, the bluesoleil drivers probably only work with licensed firmwares (I’m guessing based on bluesoleil’s comments on their download page) so maybe that is why the drivers wont work with older cards?



Just one more comment and I’ll give this and you a Sunday rest.Ha!

jk writes, “There are updated drivers that probably address many of the bugs that prevent me from using this card. Socket has created a situation (probably contractually but that’s just a guess)”

Contractually. I’m guessing that your guess is somewhere in the ballpark and more than likely a correct assumption. ; )


James Kendrick

Ron, the Socket driver page will only direct you to the web page for purchasing the WinXP driver (Bluesoleil) when you click on the “Upgrade to Windows 98SE, Me, 2000, XP” link. There is no access that I have been able to find to download updates to this s/w. That is my whole issue. As I stated I don’t fault Socket for charging for the Bluesoleil drivers. It did surprise me but I didn’t fault them for that. But the drivers don’t work well. The Sony is a standard WinXP computer that has no issues with any other peripherals or drivers. The other BT cards or dongles I’ve tried work fine so this is a definite Socket issue with WinXP.

I’m glad you visited the Socket forums to see what I was talking about. How many driver issues that users posted asking about did you see that NEVER got an answer from a Socket rep? I saw dozens. I even saw an apology from a Socket rep who was no longer allowed to answer questions due to internal cost decisions.

The WinXP connection kit that you mentioned is simply the CF card which I have, plus the Bluesoleil drivers (which I bought), plus a CF-PCMCIA adapter for using the card in laptops without a CF slot. That was the part I didn’t need so functionally the CF card plus the additional WinXP drivers are the same as the kit.

I have heard from several people that indicated they could not get the Socket to work with WinXP who have since abandoned it in favor of others that do work, such as I did. Again, I don’t fault Socket for selling the products as they have chosen, but any h/w vendor that does not allow the end-user to update the drivers to use that h/w is unforgivable. That was the driver behind my original article. Hope this is clearer for you now.


Hi again jk,

Thanks also for your calm in-kind response to my thoughts, and am pleased that you found a workable solution to your problem.

Let me make one thing perfectly clear. I am in no way employed by Socket, or for that matter any other company that does business with that company. I’m just an old horticulturist that uses a Jornada 568 to help plan and organize crops, and have not had the need to use either Bluetooth or WiFi in my handheld circumstances.

So, I have no doubt at all that you could talk circles around me with this tech. I just know enough to make me somewhat dangerous but not always correct in my assumptions.

I have also been a keen observer of PPC’s and their history, and the companies that have a hand in developing that same history. Its why I took interest in in your posting. Socket Communications goes hand-in-glove w/ that history, as I’m sure you’d agree.

With that said, I appreciate the time and space you allot me here to make a few more observations, with the last question being of the critical nature.

jk writes, ” The drivers supplied to me by Socket through the purchase don’t work, and their support forum is rife with unhappy customers who have come across the same thing.”

jk, I have just spent time exploring Socket’s Forum and find what you say is true. However, it seems the vast majority are users that bought the cards for use as a modem between their handheld and a Bluetooth enabled phone, which was the original and advertised intention. Where the anger always seems to arise is when these same users couldn’t get the XP drivers as a freebie upgrade to their older version cards. This is where some history plays a role which I will shortly comment on.

jk writes, “While I was surprised that Socket’s position towards WinXP support was to charge extra for those drivers ”

Being in business, this does not surprise me at all when one looks at the circumstances involved. It definitely reminds me of the debate of upgrading differing PPC devices with the latest and greatest without any cost to the end user. This does not make any economical business sense IMO. How trashed would the PPC market be if users could hang onto their devices for 5 years because of free upgrades?

Socket was the first out of the gate with a CF Bluetooth card. They bought much of their Bluetooth tech from Nokia, and their card, which for better or worse, was equipped at the time with Digianswer Bluetooth software. Why? Because it was the same software that Nokia used at the time in their Bluetooth phones. So it was a compatiblity issue even way back when.

In the Present Tense

As time wore on,it was obvious that Digianswer’s software wasn’t the right answer and antiquated for a good user experience. What did Socket do? They had to abandon that software for good reason to strive for a more robust working product. Last I looked Socket was and is not a non-profit organization. When they made the switch to the Blue Soleil software, IVT, ( whom I don’t deem as idiots smoking something they shouldn’t be smoking, and who a month ago offered Free License of the Bluetooth Profile Tester System (PTS), “BlueSoleil-PTS” (previously called “BlueTester”), to all Bluetooth SIG members, in order to improve product interoperability within the Bluetooth industry and to reduce Bluetooth Qualification Costs ) is not a non-profit organization, for sure did not give Socket access to their software and drivers for free. So who’s to pay? If one wants to stay in business, the end user of course. No such thing as a free lunch if one wants to stay out of the bankruptcy courts. This again is all IMO of course.

Now the critical question.

jk writes, ” Unfortunately for others who might want to use this card with WinXP devices this has not changed and those potential customers should consider that carefully before making their purchase decision. ”

Are you saying this product does not work with XP devices, or just with Sony’s, whom never has been very good when it comes to working with third party products?

Are we talking about this product, which states when one goes to the driver information,” Upgrade to Windows 98SE, Me, 2000, XP

If you purchased our Connection Kit for Windows CE and would like drivers for Windows 98SE, Me, 2000 and XP we recommend you purchase the Windows Upgrade Kit for Bluetooth.”


Or are we talking about this product? …


…where Socket remarks when you go to the driver page that… ” Windows CE Drivers and Software
Windows CE 3.0 for Pocket PC 2000, Pocket PC 2002, Windows Mobile for Pocket PC 2003 and Pocket PC 2003 Second Edition in English.”

Nothing about XP. Maybe its where I’m getting confused with the issues you’ve presented. ; )


Hi Ron, First of all let me begin by saying hearing opposing viewpoints is always a good thing but especially so when they are put so rationally, calmly, and very well spoken such as yours. I appreciate your posting this.

I normally don’t rant against any OEM or product unless I feel they have done something that is very negative towards the very customers they are selling their products to. That was my motivation in this case with Socket. You are correct that the Socket serves the original purpose for which I bought the card as it works very well with my Pocket PC. I have no beefs against that as the drivers work well and Socket provides occasional driver updates for it. That’s the way product support should work.

The problem comes in with the WinXP support. You are also correct that I did not originally purchase the Socket card for the WinXP platform. But that doesn’t change the fact that Socket not only chooses to support that platform but in fact sells the drivers to let the consumer use it with that platform. While I was surprised that Socket’s position towards WinXP support was to charge extra for those drivers (the Pocket PC drivers are free for download) I was more than willing to pay for them to be able to also use the card for that purpose.

My main position is if the OEM chooses to support a given platform then they must indeed support it. The WinXP software is not downloadable from any Socket support forum so the only drivers you can get are through the original purchase. Even though the 3rd party driver developers have continued to add bug fixes to these drivers Socket has created a system where it is impossible to optain updates. The drivers supplied to me by Socket through the purchase don’t work, and their support forum is rife with unhappy customers who have come across the same thing.

You can’t create a system where drivers cannot be updated by paying customers, no matter what the situation. The bottom line is I have a Socket card with buggy drivers that prevent the card from working with WinXP. There are updated drivers that probably address many of the bugs that prevent me from using this card. Socket has created a situation (probably contractually but that’s just a guess) that makes it IMPOSSIBLE for the consumer to obtain updated drivers.

That is the bottom line for me and the reason for my original rant. Unfortunately for others who might want to use this card with WinXP devices this has not changed and those potential customers should consider that carefully before making their purchase decision.

I am using the Billionton BT card now with zero problems. I also used a Belkin USB dongle with zero problems. The Socket is the only one that won’t work so my position must remain the same. I only had one BT stack present on the Sony at any given time specifically so I wouldn’t have conflicts, which I didn’t. I have been very careful to make sure there is no pairing conflicts, in fact I routinely use the cell phone with both the Sony and my Pocket PC.

I guess to sum up my main beef with Socket is not that the drivers they supply don’t work, but that they are not offering supported updates for drivers that many customers are having problems with. No support = no customer. At least for me. Thanks again for sharing your POV.


Hiya jk,

I usually really like the obsevations and commentary you make. But in this instance, starting with your provocative headline and ending with your call to abandon ALL Socket products because of your experience, just strikes me as being over the top! So pleawse indulge me a few questions…

jk writes, “First off the Motorola v710 phone with Bluetooth paired easily with my Toshiba e-800 Pocket PC and using it as a modem has been painless from the start. It is so nice to just pop the Socket CF card into the Pocket PC and every time I need to go to the internet it auto-dials and connects. And it hangs up when I close the browser. Sweet. This is what Bluetooth is all about.”

OK. So in other words, you received the capability and functionality that was intended? As advertised? A wireless modem connection between your phone and PocketPC, correct? It seems to me like you want the product to do, or wasn’t advertised to do, something you didn’t buy it to do in the first place. Am I wrong?

Is it possible that your having multiple Bluetooth stacks loaded onto your Sony laptop; the Belkin USB adapter, the Socket/IVT CF card, and potentially the
Microsoft stack? Is this like trying to have too many different telephone services all serve the same number?

Is it a truism that a paired (or trusted) CF card may not work correctly in another device since the other device – say the mobile phone – that already had a trusted relationship with the CF card in one device class (a Pocket PC) is now getting a request from a new class of device, such as your Sony, BUT, is it the same Bluetooth address? Is this a security issue at the roots of the Bluetooth specification? Some devices still work, but others don’t?

Did you buy the CF card kit for your Toshiba and feel that you should just be able to download the XP drivers for free?

Did you email Socket about the cost of upgrading your card to achieve the performance you desire? Is this something Socket offers its product users?

Doesn’t Socket offer two different kits for those that want to just use their Pocket PC and those that want to use a laptop as well?

While I can respect your opinion, your rant is a touch off base and way too harsh in many respects.

Just my opinion. ; )


Err… The web server remembers IP
But I guess you already have that ;p

Not even this driver works correctly for your card? (Saw you said the BlueSoleil is flaky)


Socket: “The new software includes support for the following profiles: Service Discovery, General Access, Dial-Up Networking, Fax, Serial Port Profile, File Transfer, Human Interface Device, LAN Access, and Object Push. Please note that this software works with Socket’s CompactFlash card, Revision G. It is not compatible with the Revision E or F card.”



Victor, sort of. The Billionton does have a headset profile on WinXP but it doesn’t work with my Motorola headset on the Sony. I haven’t tried it with my Toshiba e800 yet because I have the Socket working perfectly with the Tosh and I’m reluctant to remove it to install the Billionton.

This is what I’ve always found frustrating about BT. Once it’s working properly it is wonderful. It’s just getting there that hurts so much. :)


jk, are you planning on using your CF BT with a headset? I’ve been looking for one that will work for e800. I posted a question on http://www.pocketpcthoughts.com and someone wrote that there are no CF BT cards that have a headset profile. I can confirm this with the Socket, do you know if your Bllionton has a headset profile?


No, those drivers were the older drivers that work with older versions of the CF card only. The new Bluesoleil drivers are flaky and I have dropped the Socket CF from use with the Sony. I have a Billionton CF on the way and will see how that works.


After checking out the drivers you mentioned they are sadly the older drivers that wouldn’t work at all for me originally. The Socket CF cards are up to Revision H and my card is a Rev G. The older software above is the driver for Rev F or earlier. The Bluesoleil s/w is needed for Rev G and H cards and won’t work at all on Rev F cards. Confused yet?


Thanks Nick! I’m downloading them now- are these the Bluesoleil drivers or the older ones? I went through the older ones (can’t remember who did them right not) and had many problems with those.

BTW, always good to hear from an IT God. :)

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