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Gizmodo Blows Whistle On 4G iPhone Loser 853

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the i-meant-to-do-that dept.
Stoobalou writes "Not content with its iPhone scoop, Gizmodo has probably ruined the career of a young engineer. The tech blog last night exposed the name of the hapless Apple employee who had one German beer too many and left a prototype iPhone G4 in a California bar some 20 miles from Apple's Infinite Loop campus. Was that really necessary?" It also came out that they paid $5K for the leaked prototype and that Apple wants it back.
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Gizmodo Blows Whistle On 4G iPhone Loser

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  • Slashdot: (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @11:06AM (#31910416)

    News For Apple, Stuff That Apples

    • Re:Slashdot: (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bonch (38532) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @12:46PM (#31912202)

      So, I subscribe to Slashdot's RSS feed, and here are the articles:

      Hidden Cores On Phenom CPUs Can Be Unlocked
      Study Finds Fast-Food Logos Make You Impatient
      Gizmodo Blows Whistle On 4G iPhone Loser
      What Will the Browser Look LIke In Five Years?
      History Repeats Itself, Mac & the iPad
      BitTorrent CEO On Net Neutrality
      Amazon Fights For Privacy of Customer Records
      The Nuts and Bolts of PlayStation 3D
      Quantum Cyrptography Now Fast Enough For Video
      An Early Look At Next-Gen Shooter Bodycount
      IE8's XSS Filter Exposes Sites To XSS Attacks
      Source Code To Google Authentication System Stolen
      What Is the Future of Firewalls?
      Adding Some Spice To *nix Shell Scripts
      SEC Proposes Wall Street Transparency Via Python
      Roger Ebert On Why Video Games Can Never Be Art
      Fatal Flaw Discovered In Invisibility Cloaks
      Network Solutions Sites Hacked Again
      EU Piracy Estimates -- Just How Inaccurate?
      Why Computer Science Students Cheat
      US House Passes Ban On Caller ID Spoofing
      Palm WebOS Hacked Via SMS Messages
      George Washington Racks Up 220 Years of Late Fees At Library
      Why Aren't SSD Prices Going Down?
      Cows On Treadmills Produce Clean Power For Farms
      This Is Apple's Next iPhone

      A whopping three Apple articles out of the last 26, and two are from a developing story about a lost iPhone prototype. You people claiming Slashdot is full of Apple articles are full of shit. If you don't like Apple stories, use that thing on the right side of the window called a scrollbar and scroll past them.

      P.S. Nice sockpuppeting in your own thread, AC.

  • What's the point? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nbvb (32836) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @11:08AM (#31910442) Journal

    You know, I find that completely over-the-top.

    If the story is accurate, then what's the point of exposing the poor sod's name?

    What purpose does that serve? The guy's obviously had a rough week; why pile on and make it worse?

    It's likely that he's going to be terminated (from his employment, not physically), if he hasn't been already. I'm sure there's some "handling company materials" guideline or somesuch on the books at Apple that will be enforced.

    So why expose him publicly?

    I don't get it. This just seems like nonsense to me.

    • by gzipped_tar (1151931) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @11:11AM (#31910508) Journal

      If not, he's probably going to be promoted from an engineering minion to mid-management at marketing dept.

      • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @11:15AM (#31910588) Homepage

        If not, he's probably going to be promoted from an engineering minion to mid-management at marketing dept.

        Come on now, it wasn't that bad. He didn't kill anybody.

        • by Locke2005 (849178) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @11:48AM (#31911212)
          Killing someone would qualify him for upper management.
        • Re:What's the point? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by RevWaldo (1186281) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @12:27PM (#31911884)

          Come on now, it wasn't that bad. He didn't kill anybody.

          That reminds me an anecdote from a Apple engineer working on the first Mac (from a PBS special way back when; probably on YouTube somewhere.) Steve Jobs was pressuring him to knock a few more seconds on the time required for the Mac to boot up. They're already trying to meet the deadline for rollout and the guy is completely stressed out and asks Why, it's only a few seconds, what's the big deal? Steve replies that the Macs collectively will be started up hundreds of millions of times over their lifespans. So if we manage to reduce the boot time by ten seconds, that'll add up to decades of time saved amongst all the Mac users. That's the equivalent of saving the lives of one or more Mac users! The engineer says that Steve putting such issues in perspective like that is one of the ways he motivates the folks at Apple to go that extra mile to deliver (for the most part) stellar products.

          So who knows? From Steve Jobs' point of view, maybe this guy did kill somebody.

    • by phlawed (29334) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @11:15AM (#31910584) Homepage

      Exposing the name of the guy likely isn't going to change Apple's reaction to the loss of the device.
      But it sure harms the guy who lost it, and I think that was really, really rotten form.

    • by Chyeld (713439) <chyeldNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @11:15AM (#31910602)

      Because they are assholes and exposing him lends credence to their story, the story that pulled in so many hits that the entire Gawker group of blogs had to turn off comments for most of the day to handle the load being generated. The story that most of the non-Gizmodo sites were calling bullshit on because no one thought that it'd be plausible that they could come into possession of one of the phones in the way that they explained. The story that is likely to get get someone on their staff in trouble for being in possession of stolen goods, industrial espionage, and etc.

      And, since they've realized this, they are doing their best to cover their asses by doing everything they can now to look like they were simply attempting to get it back to him rather than paying $5k to get an exclusive look at it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pacergh (882705)

        And, since they've realized this, they are doing their best to cover their asses by doing everything they can now to look like they were simply attempting to get it back to him rather than paying $5k to get an exclusive look at it.

        The problem is that they're covering their asses by creating additional privacy liabilities. This is an invasion of this poor guy's privacy. The First Amendment likely won't protect them here, either. This guy isn't someone famous and it was not necessary, for the story, to out him.

        The result of this unethical move is that the guy who lost the phone may now reasonably lay down economic losses for his inability to find a future job plus pain and suffering because of the publicity he received. Add on to t

    • by lbmouse (473316) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @11:17AM (#31910646) Homepage

      Exposing him publicly might just save him. Makes it harder for Apple to just sweep this under the rug and he might garner public sympathy. Who hasn't lost something?

      • by suomynonAyletamitlU (1618513) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @11:30AM (#31910892)

        Right. I mean, given how tightly Apple controls these things, it's not like they don't already know who lost it. Poor SOB probably had to face his superior before news got out that it had been leaked, and if he didn't, he wouldn't have survived any decent effort to find out which unit was missing.

        If anything, this just means Apple can't obliterate his career without anyone else knowing why. ...not to say they'd do that, or not, I dunno.

      • Re:What's the point? (Score:5, Informative)

        by CoffeeDog (1774202) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @11:47AM (#31911200)
        Yeah I mean the last guy who lost an iPhone prototype killed himself [slashdot.org]. Maybe this is like a public suicide watch notice. Or the media frenzy may just drive him to the same fate.

        I still think it was a dick move from Gizmodo and feel bad for the guy.
    • by chord.wav (599850) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @11:19AM (#31910690) Journal

      Seems to me that it's all part of Steve's marketing campaign... This guy probably never existed in real life and the guy playing his role will soon start shooting videos threatening to disclose more information, prototypes, etc a la Bin Laden and leaking them to Arab news networks from time to time so everyone at Apple is scared and work harder...

    • by McFadden (809368) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @11:19AM (#31910704)
      Granted he's had a bad week, but it's also generated a reasonable degree of sympathy for the guy. I'd be surprised if Apple would want to court the bad publicity it would bring by firing the guy.
      Make a mistake at Apple? Get fired? Doesn't come over well, especially when the public can now put a name and a face to him.
      An anonymous engineer would have been easy to let go. This might just have saved his bacon.
      • by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @11:26AM (#31910804)

        He didn't just make a mistake. He left a prototype in a bar while out drinking. That's flat out incompetence and he should be fired for it. I have zero sympathy for the guy, this growing trend of business people and government officials leaving sensitive equipment and data behind is just pure incompetence and being lax.

        • by N1AK (864906) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @11:49AM (#31911246) Homepage
          [blockquote]He didn't just make a mistake. He left a prototype in a bar while out drinking.[/blockquote]

          A prototype mobile phone which, assuming he was given it to test, there will always be a risk of losing. If my employer asked me to road test a phone, but I'd be fired if I lost it then I'd pass. If apple couldn't afford the risk of letting the device be lost, why did they give it to someone who has a chance of losing it in a public place?
        • MOD PARENT UP (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Rodness (168429) * on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @12:07PM (#31911596)

          Finally, someone who doesn't think this guy is the victim. HE IS THE WEAK LINK!! (I wish I had mod points. Sorry.)

          When Apple said "here, carry around this priceless prototype phone and test it out" they most assuredly gave him a lecture on being careful and not losing it.

          And he got plastered and lost it.

          If I were Apple, if I didn't fire him outright I sure as hell wouldn't trust him anymore. So on second thought, if I can't trust him anymore, adios.
          And if I were hiring developers for a secretive project, I sure as hell wouldn't hire him either.

          Gizmodo* did us a favor by telling us his name. Now his prospective employers know he can't be trusted to hang onto things entrusted to him.

          (* Gizmodo is totally not innocent IMO, but a discussion of Gizmodo's actions is not the point of this comment.)

        • by Rary (566291) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @12:30PM (#31911938)

          He didn't just make a mistake. He left a prototype in a bar while out drinking. That's flat out incompetence and he should be fired for it. I have zero sympathy for the guy, this growing trend of business people and government officials leaving sensitive equipment and data behind is just pure incompetence and being lax.

          It's a prototype of a new phone. It's not a list of undercover CIA operatives.

          Get some perspective.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Deathlizard (115856)

        Steve Never Forgets. Especially when you Ruin Steve's party.

        If I was that guy and I didn't get fired over this I would be resigning because I guarantee that Apple would make my job such a living hell that I wouldn't fear Satan anymore because I would have first hand experience going in.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by sjames (1099)

        Anywhere else, perhaps. I'm not so sure with Apple. Between the RDF and the teflon nature of Apple, they might just decide they can get away with anything short of holding a public execution. They might even be right.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by farble1670 (803356)

      that being said, if he liked his job, why would he ever use a top-secret prototype as his day to day phone? these things do happen. did apple have a rule against taking the proto off property? out in public?

      unless there was a rule to never bring the phone out in public, then i can't see how they could fire him. simple state the phone was stolen. could he be help accountable for that? there are many ways a phone could be stolen that doesn't involve negligence by the user. i.e., you get jumped outside the bar

  • Still not convinced (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SoupGuru (723634) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @11:09AM (#31910444)
    I'm still not convinced that this isn't a marketing ploy. I mean really, you get entrusted with the Next Most Awesome Device Ever, go out for drinks, show it off to your friends.... you wake up the next morning and you don't have it.

    My wife has called bars, stores, restaurants, and cabbies to track down her crappy LG. You're telling me this guy never thought to call the bar the next day? Or that the bar sold it off before the guy could claim it?
    • by RobertM1968 (951074) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @11:18AM (#31910666) Homepage Journal

      I agree... if it were me, I'd be waiting at the place the next morning the minute they opened...

    • by swb (14022) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @11:18AM (#31910680)

      It sure sounds like a marketing stunt.

      I would expect that a sensitive field prototype would be required to have a 1 minute passcode lock and automatic total device wipe (including firmware) after a very small number of failed passcode entries.

      Relying on remote wipe seems silly, since any serious industrial spy would put it in an RF-proof jacket ASAP and only examine it in a room sealed from outside RF to prevent remote wipe.

      Now it may be that this isn't considered a terribly sensitive prototype -- maybe an early manufacturing sample being used for final testing before they ramp up to final production. They don't *want* it in the hands of the public, but they also wouldn't fire an employee who was let loose in the streets with it.

    • It *IS* a marketing ploy. There is *NO* reason why the apple and iphone names/logos should have been imprinted into this device if it is a prototype/testing device. Without the logos and with a good locking mechanism (as stated by others) this should only have appeared to be some knock-off device. As usual, all the stupid media (including /.) picks up on this and apple gets free publicity. Duh!
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by thestudio_bob (894258)

        Except for the fact that it was designed to look like an iPhone 3GS... hence the fake case and that would explain the *LOGO* on it.

        You guys like to make this out to be some big marketing conspiracy, but I don't think so. 1), I don't think Steve Jobs would approve of this. He's an egomaniac and I'm pretty sure he would think this sort of thing is juvenile. 2) Apple has field units. They have to do this in order to get *REAL* world results with their phones. It's not that uncommon and other companies do the s

    • by sammy baby (14909) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @11:26AM (#31910812) Journal

      My wife has called bars, stores, restaurants, and cabbies to track down her crappy LG. You're telling me this guy never thought to call the bar the next day? Or that the bar sold it off before the guy could claim it?

      The answers to all this and more, when you RTFA [gizmodo.com]! :)

      But the short answer: some guy at the bar apparently tried to figure out who owned it, failed (because the guy who lost it had already left), and started messing around with it trying to figure out the owner. Eventually he found the guy's Facebook page, and thought "Aha! I'll return this tomorrow". Unfortunately, when he woke up, the phone had been remotely bricked, so he couldn't get the contact info back again.

      • by SoupGuru (723634) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @11:47AM (#31911192)
        So, unlike you or me, he didn't think of just returning it to the bar knowing that if the person had lost the cell phone, that would likely be the first place he'd come looking?
      • Yup, and that's why I call bullshit. This guy had the name, home/business phone number, and facebook account. Yet he didn't leave a message on any of those options? Supposing the phone is bricked he *still* has the facebook option.

        It seems pretty obvious that he didn't want the phone to be recovered, but made a half-hearted attempt to cover his ass.

  • Not Quite (Score:5, Informative)

    by imjustmatthew (1164609) <matthew@royhous[ ]ld.net ['eho' in gap]> on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @11:09AM (#31910460) Homepage
    The summary is kind of slanted. Apple already knew who had lost the phone - they knew from the day after when they wiped it - Gizmodo just made that name public and did so in a fairly classy way. As a lot of comments on Gizmodo have pointed out, the public naming of the engineer isn't going to do anything more to hurt him, and could protect him a little from Steve Jobs firing him.
  • by longacre (1090157) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @11:09AM (#31910464) Homepage
    Apple obviously knows who has these prototypes, and they knew this one was lost because they remotely shut it down.
    • by swb (14022)

      No kidding. You don't think that after this made the news, Apple wouldn't go "OK, I need everyone with a field prototype to show up in conference room F at 2 PM today. No exceptions, this takes precedence over anything else unless I have Steve's written approval otherwise."

      And then the guy shows up with no iPhone...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by clone53421 (1310749)

      Correct. Furthermore his career was already done for. Does anyone really think that just because his name wasn’t made public he’d be able to get fired by Apple and go on to work at another tech company without them learning of his involvement in this little fiasco?

      • by Kagato (116051) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @11:58AM (#31911440)

        Sure, Jobs is infamous for firing people who look at him cross-eyed. Given the small team size and secrecy for these kinds of projects he wasn't going to be a household name. The privacy would afford him the opportunity to position his exit from Apple on his own terms. Now when a recruiter types in his name on Google the first thing that will come up the article about him losing the phone.

  • Yeah, right (Score:3, Funny)

    by bcmm (768152) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @11:09AM (#31910468)
    I don't think anyone here thinks he's in any trouble.
  • Most developers are tweakers by heart anyway, and should not work at a company which produces closed, locked down products.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Wyatt Earp (1029)

      So developers shouldn't work at BWM, Daimler, any defense contractor in the world, iPhone/iPad/iPod, Phillips, Siemens or any biomedical developer in the world?

      The list of companies that make "closed, locked down products" is vast and in comparison, Apple is pretty open with the iPad/iPhone, else the jailbreak people wouldn't have been doing it since launch.

  • Apple either already knows who it is or would have known shortly anyway. It's not like Apple isn't keeping track of who has its prototypes.

  • Profit Motives (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tsj5j (1159013) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @11:10AM (#31910498)

    I think the site has done a good job on the analysis.
    Gizmodo was a greedy site who wanted more hits, the author's an asshole who just wanted to cause more trouble for that guy for kicks.

    Sure, he lost a prototype, but does he deserve his career ruined at other firms too? Definitely not.
    Especially problematic in the tech industry where employers are sure to run a Google search on prospective employees.

  • Blog post, about a blog post, about a blog post.

    Somebody get Xhibit on the phone.

  • Shame on Gizmodo. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <taiki@co[ ]et ['x.n' in gap]> on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @11:12AM (#31910522)

    I don't care if it's an iPhone, a new version of the Nexus One, a new USB enabled stapler or what have you, this is really really scummy of Gizmodo and I hope they burn in hell.

    • by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @11:33AM (#31910944)

      It actually probably protects him quite a bit, assuming this wasn't a marketing ploy to begin with.

      Think about it, they know which phone it was because they wiped it the day after it was lost. More than likely the employee himself reported it missing (again, assuming it wasn't a marketing ploy) in order to protect what little chance he had to keep his job. Obviously they've known since day one who lost it, either way.

      By publicly outing the guy, he is going to have a lot of people who think he should keep his job in spite of the mistake. That's what they call "public pressure". Now Apple could harm their public image by firing the guy, or they could improve it by keeping him on. That's a lot more support than a nameless employee is going to get.

      You won't be able to tell if it is a marketing ploy, by the way, unless they fire the guy. If they fire him, it almost certainly is not a marketing ploy. If he keeps his job, it could have been a ploy all along, or it could just be Apple deciding it would be worth more than this guy's job for them to look merciful to their subjects... I mean employees.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by UnknowingFool (672806)

        Now Apple could harm their public image by firing the guy, or they could improve it by keeping him on. That's a lot more support than a nameless employee is going to get.

        The guy made a mistake. People get fired for mistakes. Apple is within their rights to fire the guy. Yes I feel badly for the guy to get fired for making a mistake and he may get a lot of sympathy. Apple may get some bad press but nothing they do is remotely immoral or illegal in any way. If anything it sends a message to other Apple e

  • i feel like taking leaks on apple products....
  • Gizmodo are jerks. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Buelldozer (713671)

    Gizmodo are jerks and I will no longer go to their website. Outing this guy in the fashion that they chose is just reprehensible.

  • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @11:12AM (#31910536) Homepage

    I find it hard to believe that Apple would just hand these things out without keeping track of who had them. It probably didn't take too long to figure out whose phone was missing once the first photos were published.

  • Two Strikes... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by loose electron (699583) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @11:13AM (#31910546) Homepage

    Double Bad Here -
    The engineer breaking company confidentiality was out of line. Getting fired will probably be the outcome.
    The "journalist" (such as it is here) revealed a confidential source. That said, they will never get anyone else to talk to them off the record.

    Both did the wrong thing.
    People on the outside of Apple don't like the "hush hush" way they do product development, but that's part of how Apple functions. If I was getting my paycheck there (and I am not, but friends of mine do!) I would keep that stuff internal as the company wants.

    "Loose lips sink ships" - Good thing its not a defense contract, and just a next generation piece of consumer electronic gadgetry.

    • Re:Two Strikes... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Chyeld (713439) <chyeldNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @11:19AM (#31910708)

      The engineer didn't break confidentiality, he lost a prototype of a phone while out getting pissed on his birthday. That said no one talks to Gizmodo anyway, they are the ass end of tech blogs, about the only reason to go read them is if you are low on your daily kissup articles to Apple. The really amazing thing about this whole story is not that an Apple employee lost a prototype, it's that the tech blog that broke the story is the same one that spends most of it's time jizzing over Apple products to the point that you have to wonder if half the writers aren't working directly for Apple's marketing department.

  • Sources (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ianare (1132971)

    This is a phenomenally stupid move on gizmodo's part. They violated one of the most important rules in journalism : keep your sources safe. Let's see how many anonymous tips they'll get now.

    • by ABasketOfPups (1004562) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @11:19AM (#31910698)
      Their source is the one they paid $5K to, not the poor sap/purposeful leaker who left the iPhone in the bar.
    • Re:Sources (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mrdoogee (1179081) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @11:28AM (#31910840)

      And that really is the crux of the matter. Blogs and websites like to claim that they are as legitimate as broadcast and, dare I say it, print journalism. However, there are real [latimes.com] journalists [rcfp.org] who have done jail time for refusing to reveal names of sources to the government. You have to keep names off the record unless you are given consent by the party concerned. This guy was stupid for letting that device out of his hand, even for a second, but this may have unintended consequences for Gizmodo and its affiliates.

  • by CAIMLAS (41445) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @11:14AM (#31910576) Homepage

    If you let one of these Apple engineers off the hook for their crimes against humanity, then you've got to make exception for them all. It's a slippery slope. First, Apple engineers today; tomorrow, lawyers and political figures. That's a social travesty we can not allow.

  • Semantics, bah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by new death barbie (240326) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @11:15AM (#31910600)

    Okay, I find something, I know who it belongs to, and I choose to keep it, rather than return it.

    How is that not stealing?

    What if... the guy left the bar, so I took his phone. He got to his car, realized his mistake, and came back to get it, but it was gone? Did I 'find' it, or did I 'steal' it?

    What if the guy left it for a few minutes to take a leak, and I took it then?

    Sure, the engineer screwed up, but legal or not, it ain't right to keep the phone.

  • by Bertie (87778) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @11:33AM (#31910936)

    Just look at the note they wrote the guy:

    "Hey man, I know things seem really tough right now. We had mixed feelings about writing the story of how you lost the prototype, but the story is fascinating. And tragic, which makes it human. And our sin is that we cannot resist a good story. Especially one that is human, and not merely about a gadget — that’s something that rarely comes out of Apple anymore. But hopefully you take these hard times and turn things around. We all make mistakes. Yours was just public. Tomorrow’s another day. We will all be cheering for you."

    I mean, honestly, come ON.

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @12:35PM (#31912028) Homepage

    I "find" stuff all the time. It's like... recycling. Just the other week, I "found" a sweet bike in the park, just leaning against a tree near some total douches playing with a frisbee. Bonus, the seat was still totally warm when I jumped on and pedalled hell for leather away. And talk about the great price that I got when I sold my newly "found" bike down at the local pawn shop!

    Heck, I bet if I could get inside Gizmondo's office by "finding" an open window late at night, I could "find" a truck load of great stuff just lying around unattended, free for anyone to take!

  • by jamrock (863246) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @03:13PM (#31914228)
    According to John Gruber, this photo [flickr.com] of Jobs's office was taken early yesterday.

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