DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

March 7, 2017

Surface Pro

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:54 am

I am testing a new type of computer, at least for me.  They first came into the public view in early to mid-2013 depending on where on the globe you are located.  You know the one as the marketing for this “new” computer was worldwide and abundant.  You know all the happy people dancing around to a “snappy” tune, and flipping/closing their small computers in rhythm like they were in a euphoric trance.  Yeah, you have it now, the Microsoft Windows based, “Surface Pro.”

First was the Surface, next the Surface Pro, then a 2, and 3 which has progressed into the current Surface Pro 4.  Of course, that is not all Microsoft now has. The Surface Book, Hub and in December, 2016 the Surface Studio rolled out.

First what is different about it?  It is smaller than a usual notebook, more the size of a tablet with a very thin keyboard.  Approximately 11″ x 7″ x 0.6″.  When the keyboard is attached, it is closer to an inch thick.  There is a foldout section on the back to provide a stand to keep it upright with a couple of positions.  You need that “wedge” to support the actual screen/computer as the keyboard is only a hinge with no support like you may be used to with a regular notebook.

Surface Pro 2

Surface Pro 2

The keyboard is slightly smaller than some other brands of notebooks but not significantly.  It also includes a touchpad – similar to all the others.  I choose to use a wireless USB mouse with this one which functions well.  I have been typing on it regularly for a couple of days.  I am having no problem hitting the correct keys – other than caused by my regularly average typing.  (Hallelujah, for auto-spell checking in word processors!)

You have three keyboard options.  First, you can use the keyboard like any other notebook and type on it.  Next, you can fold the keyboard over to become the back surface of the notebook. It then becomes a tablet.  When in tablet mode your screen rotates when tilted like any other tablet and you can use the touchscreen.  Finally, you may choose to detach the keyboard all-the-way and have a Windows tablet.

It has good response and speed although nowhere near as quick as some larger notebooks I have used.  I have been using spreadsheets, word processing, web browsing, email, a very few online games (no pc games or Steam) and everything works as it should.

I cannot really find a lot to nitpick about with this nice little notebook/tablet combo.

Well, OK, there is one major issue for me, the price.  For the top of the line Surface Pro 4 today you may figure about $1,400.  Oh wait, that does not include a keyboard which may be had for an additional $55 – $130.  I am currently testing an older (2014) Surface Pro 2 which again I find to be a very decent system.  The price on one of these is around $550 and again that is without a keyboard.  I pulled these prices off of Amazon so you may be able to find others elsewhere.

Surface Pro 4

Surface Pro 4

My problem is at that price I can find two equally decent regular notebooks or tablets (with Bluetooth keyboards included.  If money were no object, sure, I would not mind owning one.  However, not currently for me.

 

 

February 28, 2017

IE Tab for Chrome

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:51 am

My friend, John and I were talking a couple of weeks ago about a geek hassle we have all faced.  Usually this happens at work but on occasion anywhere.  Some specific websites are designed to open and function properly in Microsoft Internet Explorer…only.  SharePoint seems to be one of the main offenders.  They may open in other browsers; however, they will not function properly.

Since I am an advocate of the Google Chrome browser I hate when I am working on something in deep thought.  I open a site in anticipation of reading something, completing a process or researching information and poof, it fails to respond properly.  Then we all do the same thing, copy the URL from the failed site and paste it in MSIE to get where we need to be.  What a hassle!  IE Tab logo

Enter IE Tab.  Chrome as well as other browsers, have extensions or add-ins depending on what they are called by each company.  These allow additional features to be added to the browser that were not available originally.  There are many types available which perform a wide variety of functions.  They help you with your shopping, find articles, check the weather, help you navigate in your browser as well as your car and do hundreds, if not thousands of other things.

IE tab was built originally for Chrome but now comes in a version for Firefox as well.  You can get it for Chrome while in the browser.   Go to the three vertical dots in the upper right hand corner, when you hover there it will show “Customize and control Google Chrome” and click.  Go down to “More tools” then “Extensions.”  At the very bottom of the window you then click on “Get more extensions” and search for “IE Tab.”  Finally click and install the extension.  (As a shortcut, you can type “chrome://extensions” and skip many of those steps.)  After IE Tab installs and you use it the first time you will be directed to install “IEtabhelper” which is needed to make it work.  Do not worry, this is a safe app too.

Once all is done you will get a dark blue extension icon with an “e” to the right of your address bar.  Right click it and then click on “Options.”  Then scroll down to “Auto URLs” and start by entering an offending URL and click “Add.”  The next time you go to that site which would not work correctly in Chrome it will now function flawlessly.  It will continue working any other time you go there in the future.  The makers of IE Tab say that it will properly use Java, Silverlight, ActiveX, SharePoint, and other Microsoft browser features.

One thing my buddy John mentioned is that he uses the Safari browser.  Yes, even though he is my good friend he uses a MAC!  I found this about Mac’s lack of IE Tab.  It has it built in, sort of.  While in Safari go to Safari, Preferences, Advanced Tab and check “Show Develop menu in menu bar.”  This will place the Develop tab in the menu where under it you will find “User Agent.”  There is a list of browsers so select the browser you would like Safari to emulate, then go to your web address.  The only problem with this is that you must do this each time you need to visit that site again.

Safari Browser logo

January 31, 2017

Facebook Safety, Part 2

A long time ago (on the “feels like index”) last year we looked at some Facebook security settings you should check on your account.  If you need a refresher on what I said go here, rd.dblclx.com/2hVbumC, to take a look again.

Today we will take a look at some of the personal things you need to think about before sharing.  First, I will mention your kids, grandkids, you know those little people in your family.  I cannot encourage you enough to not post many pictures of your kids.  You may think they are innocuous and cute but you may be giving away a lot of information. Especially over time.  Take the family whose young son was kidnapped.  They had only posted pictures about him on FB and other sites for his first few years of growing up.  The first day to school.  Many little league shots.  They mentioned a couple of his great teachers in elementary school.  Mom talked about how Wednesdays she had worked out at the local gym with pics of her friends and herself. Over time the kidnapper found out, even though it was never specifically mentioned, the boy’s school, his grade level, what position he played on the team, what days/times he practiced, his friends, his mom and her friends and where he was supposed to go on Wednesdays after school.  Put it together and you know how that worked.  Be very, very careful what you are posting.

Next, do not accept friends you do not know.  Many people are just selling you stuff on FB and will blanket as many people as they can for friend requests.  When you accept, you and all of your friends can be blasted with offers.  Use common sense, if you do not know or remember their names they are not quite up to being a "friend" anyway.  If the guy is from Gondwanaland and you do not know anyone there – ignore him, you will not hurt his feelings.

Keep in mind that if you secure your Facebook site to not allow anyone but friends to see your posts that is good.  However, their friends can see their comments on your posts and their friends can see theirs and on-and-on.  Your posts can end up anywhere.

Now time for one of the biggest no-nos.  Never, never post pictures or talk about your vacation until you are back.  Why?  Because there are sites out there that just look for people talking about  being away from home so that the nefarious bunch out there can remove your TVs, motorcycles or anything else in your home while you are away.  At one time, there was a site, "PleaseRobMe" that had a search going on Twitter and Yelp, letting burglars know what houses were empty.

The last concern is not just limited to what you post on FB, Twitter and Yelp.  Think about when you are out and publicly post about a great restaurant you are at, or how you are meeting some old friends for bowling…or whatever.  You are letting the world know you are out and where you are.  Be safe out there, would you? 

January 24, 2017

2016 Sites in Review, Part 3

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:42 am

This will be the last week of our look back at the links we talked about in 2016.  After that we get back on track with more good tech news and information.  So here we go with the October through the end of the year columns. 

  • OneNote.com, one of the best (secondary) applications that Microsoft has ever come up with.  If you are researching, planning or taking any type of notes you should check it out.  Online and downloadable versions are available and it comes pre-installed on Windows 10. 
  • Google Keep, keep.google.com – This is a great note-taker for short notes where you can set alarms for times and locations if you also use it with your phone and PC. 
  • iTunes.com, Apple’s music player app and you know it well if you have an iPhone or most any of the other Apple products.  You can also use it on a PC for your music.
  • Amazon.com, Hulu.com, and Netflix.com, three of the most popular video streaming apps/sites for TV shows and movies…current ones, some in the past and some only produced at those sites.  
  • RevoUninstaller.com, a much better program uninstaller for your PC than has ever come built into Windows.  It has extras, too, and I have actually bought this one (you know how I do not like to spend $.) 
  • WinDirStat.net, a program that searches and tracks your hard drive usage helping you decide what you may be able to remove.  Sorts your files by size, number and type.
  • Microsoft Games, rd.dblclx.com/2evl0en – Yes, they make games also and not just for Xbox.
  • Steam, steampowered.com – Probably one of the largest gaming sites out there, some free, some not so shop around.
  • Duolingo.com, a site where they say you can learn a language (choose from over 20) in just a few minutes a day. 
  • MultCloud, multcloud.com – First make sure you spell it correctly, there it is no "I."  This site allows you to combine all of your online cloud storage areas in one site.  Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, etc. All there.
  • The following are silly, unimportant, and relaxing sites. (I posted these after the 2016 Presidential Election).  Take a look at them and see what they do or look back at the November columns and read about them first. Akinator – en.akinator.com, MyFridgeFood.com, Rock-Paper-Scissors-Game.com, WeirdorConfusing.com, PointerPointer.com, ThisIsSand.com, TheInternetFireplace.com, GeoGuessr.com, YouTube.com and hmpg.net.
  • Here is a list of some reputable online sites for purchasing… well just about anything.  I am sure you have heard of them all before.  Audible.com, Ebay.com, Overstock.com, NewEgg.com, PayPal.com, VistaPrint.com, Blinq.com and ShopGoodwill.com.
  • Facebook.com, you know the site and basically what it does.  Last year we looked at some of the security settings you should check on your account.  Next week we continue looking at that topic.  Go here to review with that column, rd.dblclx.com/2hVbumC.  

January 17, 2017

2016 Sites in Review, Part 2

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:30 am

Today I will continue with the start of the 16th year of "Double Click" by providing more of last year’s links. If you missed it last week and would like to catch up use the following link to start at the beginning: rd.dblclx.com/p1-2016. If the site addresses are too long for print, as the previous one, I have shortened them using the "bit.ly" app. The links are preceded by "rd.dblclx.com" followed by various letters and numbers. Copy them, then paste them in your browser’s address bar to visit the sites. By visiting DoubleClicks.info you can click the links and go directly to the sites.

Let us begin in order of appearance.

  • Leoh Chrome Extension, leoh.io – a good looking new tab page for your Chrome browser (only), pictures, time, weather, links, etc. with a new picture every time you open a new tab in the browser.
  • Google Maps (maps.google.com) and My Activity on Google (myactivity.google.com) both by Google, both of these are excellent apps. If you have an Android phone or log into a Chrome browser, they will not do much. But if you do, check My Activity and see what they have on you.
  • Google Opinion, rd.dblclx.com/GoogleOpinions – make a little pocket money that you can spend at the Google Play store by answering questions.
  • Open Live Writer, OpenLiveWriter.org – an excellent replacement for the defunct Windows Live Writer (for writing in your WordPress sites), maintained by the same developers.
  • DoubleClicks.info – you know this is my site, come on out and explorer (shameless ad).
  • Unlocker, rd.dblclx.com/unlocker192 – unlocks and allows you to delete those stubborn files that are supposedly in use by another application.
  • Google Duo, play.google.com – found in the Play Store is a decent, newer app that is a communication app by you-know-who.
  • Facebook Messenger, found directly from your phones FB app or your phone’s store. A much better communication app that Google Duo and I am not even a fan of FB but I am of this app.
  • Ninite.com – a site you should use when you set up your new computer which allows you to get many of the free programs you may want in install and more.
  • Google.com/Chrome and FireFox.com – my two favorite browsers in order of preference.
  • Libre Office, libreoffice.org – a free Office Suite which is just about as good as Microsoft Office but free.
  • CCLeaner and Defraggler, piriform.com – two great utilities for your Windows computer and others at the site.
  • Malwarbytes, malwarebytes.com – the malware fighter no computer should be without.
  • VLC, videolan.org – the best video and audio player out there which is far superior to your computer’s default player.
  • Dropbox, rd.dblclx.com/use-Dropbox – in my opinion this is currently the best cloud file storage out there.
  • Thunderbird, rd.dblclx.com/1ejd3ax – a great free mail application which I prefer over MS Outlook which you will have to pay for.

Last year contained a lot of places to check online so next week we will have a final look at the last of them. See you then!

January 10, 2017

2016 Sites in Review, Part 1

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 6:06 am

Welcome to the start of the 16th year of "Double Click."  Thanks so much for reading the hundreds of articles that I have spun up over this time.  Thanks also for the emails I continue to receive regarding every one.  It is very much appreciated so keep them coming. 

This January (as every year) I will be reviewing the sites I wrote about during the previous year.  If the site addresses are too long for print I have shortened them using the "bit.ly" app.  The links will be preceded by "rd.dblclx.com" followed by various letters and numbers.  Copy them, then paste them in your browser’s address bar to visit the sites.  If you visit DoubleClicks.info you can click the links and go directly to the sites.

So, here they are in their order of appearance with short descriptions of each.

  • Instance Mail, InstanceMail.com – a place to get a temporary email address, use once and toss it.
  • GO Contact Sync Mod, googlesyncmod.sourceforge.net – the best Google/Outlook Calendar syncing program I can find since the demise of the original Google app.
  • Dropbox, rd.dblclx.com/use-Dropbox – yes, that same old name I talk about every year.  But if you want to store files online (the Cloud) this is my recommendation.
  • Preventing Windows 10 Updates, rd.dblclx.com/1XpVqHN – MS changes their pages often, this is now for preventing driver updates but was originally for stopping W10 from updating.
  • Google Maps, maps.google.com – the name says it all for this great map app. 
  • Waze, waze.com – the name does not say it all for this one but in my opinion, it is an even better map application than Google Maps; even though they are both owned by Google.
  • Two apps that disappeared in 2016, Google’s Picasa photo editor/viewer and Copy.com a competitor to Dropbox, both are greatly missed.
  • VideoLAN, videolan.org – the best free video player application out there.  I recommend it over the built-in video viewer in Windows 10.
  • What if you do not upgrade, rd.dblclx.com/stopW10 – one of the guesses made as to what would happen if you did not take the Windows 10 free upgrade?  In reality nothing much, you can still get it but you will not be continually bothered by pop ups nagging you to do so.
  • Startup Delayer, rd.dblclx.com/startupdelayer – you can use this app to delay apps which start in the background when you power up your computer.  It could make it boot much more quickly.
  • KeePass, keepass.info and LastPass, lastpass.com – These are both good password keepers or vaults.  I use Keepass for my main password vault; however, LastPass seems an easier choice for many and has many extra features. 
  • Avast!, avast.com – one of my past favorite free (and paid version also) antivirus applications.
  • Avast Clear, rd.dblclx.com/avastuninstaller – this is a link to software you may need if you try to totally uninstall Avast from your computer. Sometimes any of the antivirus apps can be hard to uninstall.
  • Audible, audible.com and Podiobooks, podiobooks.com – these are two audiobook sites for those of you who may have a longer trip to work than most, or are traveling on a trip.  They give you the opportunity to listen to a book.  Audible, not for free, has the most recent titles out.  Podiobooks has authors who have not yet been discovered so you may find a great unheard of author.

See you next week for the last half of 2016 in review. 

December 20, 2016

Facebook Safety – Part 1

I have a few suggestions this week of a few steps you may want to take to make your Facebook account a little more secure.  Just think if someone took over your Facebook account which has been known to happen to people in recent times.  To your friends, it may appear that you have starting posting very inappropriate comments and/or pictures on your account. 

First, I will be giving these settings as they are on a computer.  Yes, you may also get to these settings from a tablet or phone.  However, it is my belief that it is much easier to make settings and entries from a larger screen, the choice is yours.  Also, note that some of these settings may be slightly different on different devices.

Privacy ShortcutsGo ahead and open up Facebook in your browser of choice.  In the upper right corner look for the lock with three lines next to it.  When you hover over it you will see "Privacy Shortcuts." Click it.   There are basically three settings you can work with under "Privacy Checkup." 

Privacy Checkup

First, Posts.  Here you should choose who you want to be able to view your posts.  You can easily choose between the Public, your Friends (you have friended in FB) and Only yourself.  Why you would choose only you could see your posts I have no idea, but it is available.  Next, are Apps.  If you have ever used FB to log into a game it will be listed here. So, if you stopped playing a particular game or no longer wanted to be associated with it you can again choose who can see your scores.  I set it for just me or the "Only Me" option. 

Privacy Checkup Options

The next option is for your Profile which is very important.  Here you can decide who to allow to see very personal things.  First your phone number may be listed here if you gave it to FB when you set up the account.  If you did add your number here you can choose who can see it.  Again, that is either the public, your friends on FB or yourself…yeah go figure on that last one.  As with  all of the choices you can customize it to allow separate groups to see your information, not just the general three choices.  Other items in your Profile area are Email, Birthday and Hometown and who gets to see them. 

Last you can click either Finish Up which is self-explanatory or My About Page.  Clicking on the My About Page link will show you what people can see from your Profile in Facebook.  You can make other adjustments from there if you see changes that need to be edited. 

More next week and have a very Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

December 13, 2016

Several Words of Warning

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:53 pm

I have noticed a lot of scam emails coming to my inbox lately and thought I should mention a few to you.  Since they could very easily hurt your credit, finances, reputation, etc. you should be aware and very careful.

I have received many that were easy to spot.  They were text only, looked very simple, unlike an email you would expect from a big retailer and sometimes sounded if they were written by someone whose native language is not English.  One other very obvious tell with scam emails… there were several spelling errors. 

For instance, I received one this morning which said, "we incorrectly specified your information in the recent invocie #8858345." It went on to say, "please see the revisions, is in the attachment and make corecctions."  This one was text only.  Notice the spelling errors, they addressed it to lowercase "ron" and also notice they attached a file for me to review.

Red Alert! Especially regarding the attached file.  I am pretty sure I have expressed it a million times before and maybe I should again.  NEVER EVER open an attachment from someone you are not expecting an attachment from.  Even a friend or relative.  It could be totally innocent and it could be horrible.  The attachment I received was a zipped file which is even worse as it could contain anything. 

I say again open no attachments unless you know the person was sending it to you. 

Next, during the Christmas season I have received multiple emails from eBay, Amazon and one or two others.  They sadly inform me that my orders cannot be shipped due to some sort of problem.  In reality once a company has your money, especially Amazon, the product is good to go and I do not believe anything could pop up to create a problem. To solve the "problem" I will usually be requested to click a link and fill out some much-needed information.  This is also a scam as the first things they will ask you for on the site is your username, password and possibly your secret question.  The site can look exactly like a real business page so do not let that fool you.  As a matter of fact, I got a scam email from a PayPal look alike one time that had links to the PayPal security information page, home page and all other sorts of actual PayPal affiliated pages.  They can put a link to anything in a professional looking email. 

And the last thing for me, which I suggest for you:  I only transact purchases online with one email account.  That is all I use it for.  You know, presents, items we need at home…you know just stuff.  That way when I get an email concerning a purchase at any other email address but that one I know it is a scam since I have never purchased anything from that address.  Email accounts are free so get one for online purchases only to add one more step to your security path. 

You can report an email scam, hoax, or phishing scheme to several places like the Federal Trade Commission but I imagine they have more than enough to keep them overworked.  However, I do suggest you contact the company who supposedly sent it to you.  I have been successful once or twice but unfortunately most times they seem very nice but do not care.

Stay safe, be careful online.  They are out to get you and they make those fake emails look very good!

November 29, 2016

The Party is Not Quite Over

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:44 am

Santa under packagesI hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and visits to the stores on Black Friday to get the very best deals.  By-the-way, it is said that the phrase “Black Friday” started in Philadelphia when the heavy traffic after Thanksgiving Day disrupted traffic around 1960.  Then in the early ’80s it started being used for the same day but demonstrated the point in the retail year when business owners began making a profit…moving from being into the “red” then moving into the “black.”  I.E., profits were made in many businesses that day and the weeks following for the entire year.

Then yesterday was “Cyber Monday.”  This one was started by Ellen Davis with the National Retail Federation, to influence people to shop online to get even better deals than the Friday before.  Whether that is true or not I cannot say, that is for you to determine.

But now they are both over so I guess you should have finished all of your Christmas shopping by now and not buy anything else. NOT!

The sales will continue on.  Stores both brick and mortar and online have lots of “stuff” they need to get rid of.  But today I have a few techie words of advice for you.

First, continue with most of your shopping in the local stores.  That way the money stays in our area not going to who knows where for the online shop owners.  Online shopping many times will be sending your money to other countries.

Online SantaI think one of the most important things to keep in mind while shopping online, which most all of us do occasionally, is to use major retailers and well-known online retailer sites.   Of course, I cannot mention them all but you know the ones.  The large stores you see in all the shopping centers all have websites and they should be considered safe.  They spend a huge amount of money to make sure that your transactions are performed as safely as possible. They make a lot of money on them and do not want to jeopardize the public trust and lose any time not making more money from the sites.

But what about the “only online” stores?  For instance, Amazon, Audible.com, Ebay, Overstock.com, New Egg, PayPal, Vista Print and many, many more.  Again, these should also be safe and trustworthy.

But what about RonsDeals.xyz?  First thing to do for the “iffy” sites you have never heard of is to search for reviews of them.  I would go to Google.com and search, “review ronsdeals.xyz” then read reviews from other sites – not from the reviews at the actual site. Read them carefully and consider what you see before you purchase…do not impulse buy from unknown online sites, or anywhere else for that matter.

I have discovered a couple of good sites that way.  Blinq.com is a site I found which has some good discounted prices on occasion.  Then ShopGoodwill.com which is pretty much what the name implies.

Last two tips.  Always know what you are looking at and are considering what the retail price usually is so that you will not overpay.  And last, make sure whenever you are dealing with money online that the URL for the site starts with, “https://.”  That “S” is very important meaning that the site is secure and protected from prying eyes.

November 22, 2016

Malware Strikes

Before I start today I will tell you that I run all the security software you normally would on a computer.  I also only run software that I recommend to you when you ask or when I write.  That way I know what you can do for free and how well it works. I have always been satisfied with this arrangement.

Now, back to the story.  I was on my desktop computer and up pops an alert from my antivirus application.  I will not mention the name of it since it is an app that I have been testing for several weeks.  BANG, I had malware!!!

I told it to take care of it by removing the offending malware files as I have done only a couple of times over the years.  Then predictably the warning went away.

After anywhere from 10 seconds to five minutes I get another warning and another and another, etc.  After a dozen or two of them I just let them go to watch what would happen.  I figured my computer was probably already ruined so why worry about it further.

After a hundred or so alerts I ran Malwarebytes to take care of the problem.  That application (which still does a good job in most areas) found them but it could not remove them either.  At this point, I am starting to perspire.

You should turn this on if you have no other antivirus softwareI then shutdown my “now proven worthless” antivirus app and uninstalled it.  I then install a more proven, reputable antivirus app.  After it finished its set up it also found the malware but could do nothing with it either.  I now shutdown this antivirus application and ran Windows Defender.  Always keep in mind that you should run only one antivirus app on your computer at a time.  Also, Windows Defender switches itself off automatically when you install a third party anti-virus app.

Windows Defender is the antivirus application that comes built into Windows 10 and has been available since Windows XP.  For the past years, most geeks say to run a third-party antivirus app in its place since Windows Defender (WD to save space) is not as good as the others.  I trusted the pros as I had never proven it to be good or bad for me.

Windows Defender on Windows 10

The second I started up WD it found the malware and asked if it should remove it.  I responded, “Heck yeah, kill it my new little friend!”  Well not exactly but you know what I mean.

About five minutes later all of the malware was apparently gone and my computer was running smoothly once again. I rebooted it, ran the “dependable” antivirus software again and it said that everything was safe.  I ran Malwarebytes again and it too reported everything as being safe and secure.

Now I have uninstalled all of the antivirus apps and let Windows Defender take over the heavy lifting.  As far as I am concerned that is all I need now along with Malwarebytes.

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