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The Sixth Flag Introduces Cell Structure Security To Secure Cloud

The Sixth FlagRaleigh, N.C., February 4th, 2016 – The Sixth Flag, Inc. today revealed its model of Cell Structure Security to secure its Workspace-as-a-Service in the Cloud. Recognizing traditional approaches to securing the cloud and enterprise networks are still falling short, Pete Kofod, founder and CEO of The Sixth Flag, has found that this concept, which he developed from experience in the military, to be highly effective in securing his Workspace-as-a-Service.

“A cell structure is a system that is highly resilient to external compromise and severely limits the ability of an attacker to further exploit the organization beyond the cell.  Should the cell be compromised, the parent organization immediately isolates and collapses it. This is a concept regularly employed in clandestine warfare, which we have adapted to the securing of our virtual workspace,” says Pete Kofod, Founder of The Sixth Flag, Inc.

The industry response to advanced persistent threats (APT) has been to continue to focus on hardening single points of failure, including central authentication systems.  While this is certainly a worthwhile activity, little has been done to mitigate the consequences of inevitable compromise.  “It’s not good enough to harden a system against an attack,” Kofod explains. “You must also have a process that contains the effects of an inevitable breach.”

Pete likes to point out the following paradox:  “If the systems that employ multiple layers of security all rely on the same single “Central Authentication” mechanism, the question that never gets asked is whether those systems actually provide independent layers of defense, or ‘Defense in Depth.’ This is not an academic exercise.  Recognizing the criticality of authentication systems, attackers have spent significant resources on compromising them, often successfully.”

The remote user is often an initial target and while systems such as Time-based One-Time Password (TOTP) protect against compromise of user login credentials, they do little to protect the underlying authentication system.

The Sixth Flag applies Cell Structure Security to its virtual workspaces, transforming the Cloud into a security asset. In a bold prediction, Pete Kofod states that “2016 is the year the cloud will be considered an asset rather than a liability.”

About The Sixth Flag, Inc.

The Sixth Flag Inc, is a Raleigh, North Carolina-based Workspace-As-a-Service firm for global teams and organizations in need of Remote Desktop Management solutions.  Launched in 2015, TSF provides a web-based, cost effective and secure throw away desktop for today’s global, mobile teams. Its cloud-based, HTML-rendered Workspace-as-a-Service requires no dedicated hardware, thereby eliminating the need for organizations to spend on capital outlay. With nothing more than a browser, users can access their corporate desktop from anywhere in the world, whether from a laptop, desktop, or tablet.  Because user data is not stored on the local device, loss of a device does not represent compromise of sensitive organizational data. For more information, visit www.thesixthflag.com

BOXX Introduces Most Advanced Computer Workstation New for 2016

BOXXAUSTIN, TEXAS, Jan. 26, 2016— BOXX Technologies, the leading innovator of high-performance computer workstations and rendering systems, today introduced the redesigned APEXX 5, the world’s most advanced professional workstation. Built to accommodate demanding engineering, architectural, VFX, and animation workflows, the newly upgraded and highly configurable APEXX 5 is designed to maximize I/O expandability with up to 5 dual-width GPUs with a sync card, a single-width GPU, or any combination of seven, full-length expansion cards while reaching new levels of rendering and simulation performance.

“In many cases, architects, engineers, or visualization professionals have very specific workflow issues that can only be solved with the ultimate hardware, said Chris Morley, BOXX Sr. Product Marketing Manager. “The redesigned APEXX 5 delivers maximum performance and a whole new level of I/O expandability not found in any other workstation.”

The most advanced x86 workstation on the market, the liquid-cooled APEXX 5 can be custom-configured with a multitude of expansion cards, hard drives, memory, and CPU cores. Featuring dual Intel® Xeon® 2600v3 processors for up to 36 cores (72 threads) and the most full-length expansion slots of any professional workstation, the previous APEXX 5 model featured simultaneous utilizations of four full x16 PCI-E 3.0 expansion slots, (1) PCI-E 2.0 x8 (x4 electrical), (1) PCI-E 3.0 x16 (x8 electrical), (1) PCI-E x8 (x8 electrical), along with eight full-size hard drives. The new 2016 model goes a step further by elevating three expansion slots and adding risers so APEXX 5 now accommodates a fifth full-length, dual-width GPU, and a sixth, single-slot, full-length GPU, or any other full-length single-width PCI express expansion card.

Another addition to the 2016 APEXX 5 is a hot swap drive cage which accommodates up to eight 2.5 inch drives, while internally, the system houses up to five 3.5 inch drives or twelve 2.5 inch drives. APEXX 5 is ideal for GPU rendering in V-Ray® RT, NVIDIA® Iray®, Octane Render, or CATIA Live Rendering or with simulation software like ANSYS, ANSYS Fluent, FluiDyna, and SIMULIA .

“The redesigned APEXX 5 addresses a specific market segment,” says Morley. “But as a solution provider, that’s a key element of the BOXX mission—providing the power and performance that creative professionals and organizations need and can’t get from other workstation providers.

For further information and pricing on APEXX 5, contact BOXX at 1-877-877-2699 or visit the APEXX 5 product page. Learn more about 3DBOXX workstations, BOXX rendering solutions, BOXX Finance options, and how to contact one of their worldwide resellers, by visiting www.boxxtech.com.

About BOXX Technologies

BOXX is the leading innovator of high-performance workstations and rendering systems for visual effects, animation, product design, engineering, architectural visualization, and more. Combining record-setting performance, speed, and reliability with unparalleled industry knowledge, BOXX is the trusted choice for creative professionals worldwide. For more information, visitwww.boxxtech.com.

Getting fit with Withings Activité Pop and Activité Steel Fitness Tracker Watches (Review)


Activité Pop
Activité Pop and Activité Steel Fitness Tracker Watches
Withings
$149.95 (Pop) and $169.95 (Steel)

When I first heard of so-called wearables, I was skeptical–skeptical of the hype, the price, and the practicality. I was curious though, so I decided to check out the Withings Activité Pop (Pop) Fitness Tracker Watch–or rather I decided to let my wife check it out, since she’s the avid walker/half-marathoner in the family. I’m also a walker/runner, but I am more in the category of fan/support rather than competitive walking and running.

I reviewed the black Activité Steel (Steel) Fitness Tracker Watch. I believe that the Pop and the Steel are very similar in functionality, workmanship, features, and look. The Pop came out first and we had time to work with it a bit before I received the Steel.

Activité SteelOne word of caution before I start the feature overview and review. The Activité Fitness Tracker Watches might make you obsess over your activity to the point where you are cognizant of every step you take. I’m not kidding.

Here’s an example: One day I went to the local Sam’s Club store to shop. Of course I had on my Steel, because I seem to wear it 24 hours a day now and I haven’t worn a watch in years. Anyway, I walked around pushing a shopping cart for about an hour, when I realized that I hadn’t received any steps (I’ll explain later) for this activity. I was annoyed. After I came home, I told my wife about this. Apparently, she had already solved this problem, by pulling the cart and not pushing it.

You see, the way most of these fitness trackers record your steps is by recording your arm swings as you walk. It is pretty accurate too. At first, the Pop was not so accurate, but there’s been an update since that time and now it’s spot on. If you walk 1,000 steps, the watch registers 1,000 steps. I’ve tested it, so you can trust that you have walked the number of steps that shows up on your watch and on your app.

Unlike some fitness trackers, the Withings ones do not have to be tethered to a phone. In fact, I never carry my phone on a walk. It’s too heavy and it just bugs me, so I leave it at home, while I torture…I mean while I walk.

A Journey of a Thousand Miles begins with a single Step

Daily Step GoalI set my daily steps goal at 10,000. That’s a convenient and widely accepted target. You set your daily goal when you setup your Withings app on your mobile device, but you can also change it at any time by swiping in a new number. Whatever number you select for your daily goal will be fed into the watch and split into tenths. As you can see on the dial face, there is an analog tracker that shows how close you are to your goal. Since mine is 10,000 steps, each large tick mark is 1,000 steps or around my block one time. It’s good that I know my target goal and a simple milestone, such as my block, that way I can compare the two results to be sure that I’m tracking correctly on walks in which I’m not sure of the distance.

Downtime

Sleep AnalysisThe Pop and the Steel both also track your sleep patterns. This is a bonus feature because sleep patterns are directly related to health. And the Withings products give you a sleep pattern assessment for each night’s sleep and then a weekly assessment. By assessment, you can see how long you slept, how many times you were awake during a night, and even see your sleep patterns of deep and light sleep.

Oh, and it knows when you take a nap. On a recent trip, I took a nap and it knew. One hour and thirty-three minutes of monitored bliss.

Take it for a Swim

App and SteelAnother bonus feature that surprised us is that the watch knows when you’ve gone for a swim. My wife went for an hour-long swim one day and exclaimed, “It knew I swam for an hour!” She didn’t have to tell it, nor do you have to do anything special when you sleep. I call these the Santa Claus watches because they know when you’ve been sleeping, they know when you’re awake, and they know when you’ve been bad (not reaching your goals) or good (when you have reached your goals). The watch is water resistant to 50m/150ft.

Get a Move On

To encourage you along the way, you win fitness badges at milestone distances. You also receive encouraging messages along the way, when you achieve your goals. Seriously, it becomes a personal competitive thing once you get into this whole fitness tracking shtick. You’ll find yourself taking more steps, making sure that your arm is swinging appropriately for the steps to count. You’ll self deprecate when you don’t reach your goal, but the app no longer scolds you for missing a goal. Originally it did.

Although I’ve never done it, you can set a wake up alarm on the watch. My daughter and my wife did this on the Pop, through the app.

Stylistically Speaking

I want to turn your attention to the look of the Withings Fitness Tracker Watches. Personally, I think they’re the best looking ones out there. They look like normal watches. They’re normal watch sized and they don’t have any unnecessary do-dads on the face or on the body of the watch. If people don’t know that you’re wearing a fitness tracker, then they don’t know from the Withings watch. They’re stylish, come in many colors, and all perform the same functions.

Withings Fitness Tracker Watches

I’ve looked at several different fitness tracker type watches over the past year and I really like the Withings ones. I like that they don’t have that blocky, ugly look of some fitness trackers or a huge profile. I like the watch-sized footprint and the fact that the watch itself is analog. I’ve never thought digital readouts looked like watches. It’s a personal thing. I love watches. I have a whole collection of different ones and they’re all gloriously analog. Not a digital readout in the bunch.

The Bumsters

What I don’t like in these fitness trackers is that I have to have a free swinging arm for it to measure my steps. But, to do it any other way would require a GPS unit and that would spoil the small, watch-like footprint of the Withings watches, so maybe that’s only half a bummer.
The app won’t update unless it is in the foreground on your mobile device–or at least it doesn’t on mine, although I receive messages that I need to open my Withings App to get background updates. Mine won’t do background updates. Be aware of that and your mileage may vary. I have an Apple iPhone 5 with iOS 9.x on it, so maybe that’s the issue.

Pricewise

At 149.95 for the Pop and 169.95 for the Steel, I’d say that they’re a little high for me. I’d prefer something a bit more competitive at say $99.95 and maybe as high as $129.95 for the Steel. When I see a price for a watch/fitness bad that approaches the $150 mark, I tend to drift away and look at the other options available to me.

The watches themselves are quality made. The bands are made of a silicone rubber material that seems durable and sturdy. The watches are certainly not afraid of water and that’s worth something too. The Withings watches would make great gifts, especially for those who want a simple fitness tracking experience. There’s no plugging in of the watch to sync it, no charging, no messing about with any on-watch apps, and no need to always have the phone nearby.

Bottom Line

The Withings watches do exactly what they say they’ll do. They accurately measure your steps, your sleep, your swimming, and they record the whole of your activity into an app that does not have to be constantly tethered to your phone. The watch connects via Bluetooth when in range and updates for you. I suggest not letting it go more than a couple of days without updating so that you don’t lose any data. If you take the steps, you want them to count.

There are features of the watch and of the app that I’m positive that I’m not using. I have simple needs. I want it to measure my steps and my sleep and it does.

The Withings Fitness Tracker Watches are simple to use and that’s a huge plus for me. If you know someone who wants a fitness tracker, but is afraid of all the complexity, these are the ones you want to buy–no doubt about it.

A well-made, well-supported, simple-to-use wearable that’s both stylish and functional.

Rating: 8.5/10

Recommendation: Buy as a gift or for yourself. At half the price and size of other fitness trackers, you’ll like it a lot.

IK Multimedia debuts iLoud Micro Monitor – the smallest studio reference monitoring system in the world

January 20, 2016 IK Multimedia is pleased to present iLoud® Micro Monitor, the smallest active studio reference monitoring system in the world. The latest addition to IK’s iLoud range of portable monitoring solutions, iLoud Micro Monitor is a serious and reliable sonic tool that provides high-quality sound in a small enclosure at a price that everyone can afford.

It comes with two bi-amplified speakers that deliver an expansive stereo image, an ultra-accurate true linear frequency response, superior bass and plenty of power in a truly portable package.

With iLoud Micro Monitor, musicians and producers now have a way to critically listen to their music no matter whether they’re mixing in a small makeshift recording space, mastering in a hotel room, producing in a larger studio or just listening at home.

iLoud Micro Monitor

Powerful and portable
iLoud Micro Monitor delivers stunningly clear and accurate audio. It’s able to do this thanks to its impressive technical specifications and smart design: Its two speakers are powered by four ultra-efficient class D power amplifiers that push out a combined 50 W RMS of power. Each speaker sports a ¾” silk dome tweeter, a 3″ paper cone performance woofer and a large flaring front-firing bass reflex port. Its sound is characterized by pleasing high frequencies, an exceptionally “open” midrange and a solid, controlled low end.

Sonically transparent in any space
iLoud Micro Monitor provides a flat and linear speaker response in any listening environment. It’s able to do this thanks to its on-board 56-bit digital signal processor (DSP). This DSP handles the frequency and phase response of the monitor and also manages the dynamic range so that the drivers are always controlled. It also acts as a digital crossover allowing for invisibly smooth transitions between the drivers themselves. This DSP can be adjusted to suit different listening environments thanks to three EQ switches: One for treble, one for bass and a “DESKTOP” toggle that lets users optimize iLoud Micro Monitor for use in either a free field or desktop setup. iLoud Micro Monitor can also be physically positioned at two angles of inclination.

iLoud Micro Monitor’s flexibility allows it to deliver stunningly accurate and detailed sound for mixing in any space – from cramped bedrooms to large studios – without the compromises in sonic quality normally associated with small monitors. Simply put, iLoud Micro Monitor’s sound is so good that it’s nearly inconceivable for a speaker system of this size and at this price point.

Sound that travels
Beyond its technical specifications, iLoud Micro Monitor is also incredibly portable. Its two speakers are small enough to fit in a gig bag or backpack – which makes it an essential travelling companion for anyone who needs to critically listen while on the go: musicians, producers, engineers, videographers and more.iLoud Micro Monitor can also be used with a variety of audio input options. It accepts both RCA and 1/8″ wired connections and can also be paired for Bluetooth streaming with all Bluetooth audio streaming-enabled devices. With its portability and comprehensive input options, iLoud Micro Monitor is able to provide ultra-linear sound anytime and everywhere.
iLoud Micro Monitor

Pricing and availability
iLoud Micro Monitor will be available early Q2 2016 from music and electronics retailers worldwide, and from the IK online store, for only $/€299.99 (excluding taxes).

For more information, please visit www.iloudmm.com

The 24/7 Messenger Bag from Adorama (Review)

24/7 Messenger Bag24/7 Messenger Bag
Adorama
$79.95

Joseph (thevideoguyjoe) Butler and I created a video review of the 24/7 Messenger Bag from Adorama on our My Technical Romance YouTube show. In the video, you’ll see our complete take on the Messenger Bag (Messenger) that is part of the 24/7 Traffic Collection. I was the primary reviewer of the Messenger. Joseph’s first time to see the bag was just before we performed the review on camera, so his impressions and commentary are all from his first impressions of it.

In the video, we discuss the bag’s style, its contrasting colors, its interior features, its 3-in-1 bag feature, its wearability, and its composition. We demo the bag’s fully and quickly adjustable shoulder strap, its protective raincoat, and its capacity to carry photography and computing equipment.

The Messenger is a classic style bag that is dual-purpose designed as a walkabout bag and as a bicycle rider’s bag. Since Joseph is an avid bicyclist, he takes the bicyclist’s perspective on photography gear and accessories. I’m more of a walkabout street photography with a tendency toward stealth and a bit of guerilla photography and filming. I snap candid photos of people on public transportation, on the street, in restaurants (often to my wife’s chagrin), and I love to catch people sleeping in public places. Carrying a visible camera isn’t always the best method for capturing unposed, impromptu shots. With the Messenger, I can “hide” the fact that I’m going to take your picture by posing as a random hipster with a cool bag.

The bag’s main flap either is coated with or completely composed of a water-resistant material, plus the Messenger has a built-in raincoat that pulls out of a bottom compartment. I really like that the raincoat, as I call it, does not detach from the bag. Being permanently attached means that you always have it available. Additionally, when the raincoat is tucked away in the bag’s bottom flap, it provides extra cushion to everything inside the bag. An added bonus for sure.

Messenger Bag and Bonus BagsThe Messenger is actually three bags in one. That is to say that within the large Messenger bag, there is a small mesh bag and a small camera and lens carrier. In the video, you can see the relative sizes of each bag. The mesh bag is for cables. It keeps your cables, chargers, and other items organized so that they aren’t lost by getting attached to other items that you’re pulling out of your other bags.

Camera BagThe camera bag is a smaller bag with a handle and double zippers. It will comfortably hold a DSLR with a lens attached plus at least two other lenses. This smaller bag is for quick camera access that doesn’t include a shoulder strap and a lot of accessories. For street photography, run-and-gun, or a bit of open-ended shooting where lugging around a larger bag won’t work.

The entire bag is well put together with very strong stitching and materials that are easy to clean, water resistant, and very sturdy. I feel like this bag would be one that could last for ten years or more even with very harsh handling and less than desirable conditions. You’ll change cameras long before this Traffic Collection series wears out. I’d love to see one of these bags five and tens years out to observe the type of abuse they can take. My guess is a lot.

I like the size of the Messenger. It’s not bulky and stiff like some messenger style bags are. It’s supple, but sturdy. It feels good in my hands and I have no fear of placing my most valuable equipment into it for a full-on street run.

24/7 Messenger BagNow the tricky part. There is possibly only one thing that I don’t like about the 24/7 Messenger, and honestly it won’t bother everyone, but it bothers me: The shoulder strap isn’t removable. I would prefer to have a removable strap that I could tuck away into a pocket or slot until I’m ready to use it again. At the ridiculously low price of $79.95 (Seriously, I thought it was a misprint until I called Adorama for confirmation), it’s a must have. If you ride a bike, motorcycle, or if you walk and shoot, I’m not sure that you could find a better bag at a comparable price. I’m actually not sure if you could find a comparable bag at twice the price.

If you check out our review of the 24/7 Sling Bag, near the end of the video Joseph says that he wishes the Sling had more room in it. Well, the Messenger is the bag with extra room, so guess who now has the Messenger bag as well as the Sling? If you guessed Joseph, you’d be correct. He convinced me that the Sling and the Messenger are two different bags (duh) with two different applications. Fifteen minutes later I’m too exhausted to argue, so he walks away with two bags. That’s OK, because he’s the one who usually carries around the DSLR and various accessories. For larger shoots, I have a small pullman bag that is part of a set of luggage my wife bought me last year. The luggage is really ugly, but at least this way no one would steal it. And if they do, the thief will be easy to spot.

Ken’s Review: 8/10

Recommendation: A great big bag bargain that’s actually three bags for an excellent price. One of the best values every. Buy it.

Atlantis Computing’s Software Defined Storage, Hyperconverged Infrastructure, and Data Center Design

Atlantis ComputingAtlantis Computing‘s Hyperscale appliance sports an all-flash array for storage, plus adds compute and virtualization to your remote office/branch office (ROBO) sites without the need for on-site IT staff. Its Hyperscale solutions offer your company:

  • Data reduction
  • I/O acceleration
  • Data management
  • Data mobility
  • Data protection
  • Unified storage

Its “turnkey” appliances offer simplified setup with enterprise-class all-flash storage that anyone in your ROBO can setup in minutes at a lower cost than competitive hyperconverged solutions. Starting with a two-node, 4 TB appliance, your Atlantis Computing-based solution can grow with you. You can read my article on ZDNet about Atlantis Computing’s latest announcements and listen to the podcast.

To find out more about how Atlantis Computing’s Hyperscale solutions can help your business, check out an in-depth article complete with supporting statistics and data: From the Field: Software Defined Storage and Hyperconverged Infrastructure in 2016.

Atlantis Computing is also offering you a free ebook so that you can have a look into the building of a modern data center.

Learn how agile IT principles and emerging data center services, such as software-defined storage and a hyperconverged infrastructure, will play an important role in meeting increasing business demands.

Sign up to reserve your copy.

Other free resources from Atlantis Computing:

DeepStorage Report on Atlantis

Atlantis Computing also helps companies setup and manage virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) implementations. If you want your VDI to work like you’ve dreamed it would without spending your company’s retirement fund to do it, check out Atlantis’ solutions for VDI.

Atlantis Computing

Disclaimer: This is a non-sponsored post.

Sponsorship: If you would like to sponsor a post or have me review a product, contact me via Twitter @kenhess.

 

 

The 24/7 Sling Bag from Adorama (Review)

24/7 Sling Bag24/7 Sling Bag
Adorama
$99.95

Joseph (thevideoguyjoe) Butler and I created a video review of this bag on our My Technical Romance YouTube show. In the video, you’ll see our complete take on the 24/7 Sling Bag (Sling) from Adorama.com. The Sling is the perfect street photographer accessory. Not only is it comfortable for carrying while you walk, but you can also ride your bike with it on, which Joseph describes in the video. He’s the avid bike rider and he thoroughly tests items that are touted to be “bike friendly.” He also doesn’t mind telling you what’s wrong with an item. I’m also known for that too. We try to tell it like it is so that if you purchase an item from one of our reviews, you aren’t surprised or disappointed by what we think are negative aspects of it.

The focus of this review is really from Joseph’s perspective because he tested it himself. I only saw the bag for a very short five minutes before he grabbed it, read about it, put it on, and then disappeared on his bike with it strapped on him like it was his first-born child.

A few days later, we caught up with each other for the review video (below).

In this 12 minute video, Joseph tells you everything you need to know about the Sling and how he used it. In fact, he has to unpack all of his stuff from it during the video. Among the items he packed into it are his Canon 70D with the 18-135mm lens, bike tools, camera battery charger, and a few other items. After all that, I’m not sure he had room for a sandwich or even a candy…I mean energy bar in it.

The many faces of the 24/7 SlingHe’s the kind of guy who packs everything he needs, and then some, for his bike-powered photographic excursions. So, if you can believe anyone on how well this bag is made, how much stuff you can pack into it, and how it works on a bike, it’s him.

Joseph also demonstrates the adjustable strap and how to maneuver the bag once you have it placed comfortably on your body.

During the video, we discuss the workmanship, the design, the materials, and we demonstrate all aspects and features of the bag including its built-in raincoat that doubles as a reflective visual notification to drivers that you exist.

If you’re not a person who likes to watch videos or video reviews, let me spoil the surprise for you. He really likes the Sling. I really liked it too after seeing it in action. As I wrote, I didn’t see it or touch it very much when it first arrived, so I was as excited as everyone else to see it reviewed. If I were a bicycle rider, someone who walked to work, rode a bus or subway, this is the bag that I’d have. It has room for a tablet or laptop, plus a camera, lens, and accessories.

I actually wish I’d had such a bag when I was trapped in a thunderstorm a couple of years ago in Vedauwoo (Wyoming). My Canon DSLR got very wet even though I ran bent over for about two miles with it under my shirt. The outcome of that was that now my onboard flash doesn’t pop up when I need for it to. It just clicks and then gives me an error. Sometimes I can pull it up manually, but it’s a problem that I can’t solve. The Sling would have prevented that, plus I could have held the bag over my head during the downpour for a bit of protection. Unfortunately, I didn’t have such a bag because they didn’t exist yet. My normal camera bag, had I had it with me, would have been drenched too because it has no waterproofing.

The Sling also has plenty of interior padding to prevent breakage from accidental drops, plus the stitching and materials are really tough. Trust me on this point, because if they weren’t up to a very high standard, Joseph would have mentioned it. He puts items through their paces for these reviews in order to give you an honest, non-marketing, real world view of the product.

Joseph’s rating: 7.5/10

Recommendation: Strong buy. You’ll love the Sling for its compact size and big capacity.

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Phoenix Republic - The Lone Star Gambit / Sovereign's Journey

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