August 2003


by Volker Weber

cid013.jpg cid014.jpg cid017.jpg

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Bob Balaban in Frankfurt

by Volker Weber

Bob Balaban will have another Workshop for DNUG in Frankfurt touching on four topics:

1. Integrating Sametime with Domino
2. Advanced Programming Techniques for Domino/J2EE Integration
3. Authentication and Single Sign-On Overview
4. WebSphere Studio for Domino Developers

Mark your calendars: 22. Oktober 2003

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Free Instant Messaging is not free

by Volker Weber

Microsoft started sending out notifications via their IM network to non-MS clients yesterday.

.NET Messenger Service Staff: You are running a version of messenger that requires an immediate security update. Please visit to complete the update.

Of course this is not about security. It's all about business:

"Running an (IM) network is expensive,"' said Lisa Gurry, group product manager for MSN at Microsoft. "We can't sustain multiple other people's businesses, particularly if they charge for certain versions of their software. We're introducing licensing processes for third parties like Trillian."

Trillian, Odigo et al. are having a free ride on other companies networks. So, I will have to side with Microsoft on this issue. I understand that it bothers people like myself who use Trillian to bridge the gap between the different networks. In the past AOL tried to lock out Trillian and spurred a number of small, fast updates that took Trillian from 0.74 to 0.74d until AOL gave up. From the Trillian forums:

This message is indicative of Microsoft's recent announcement that all users of MSN Messenger must upgrade to a newer version of the software for security purposes. While Trillian is not affected by the security flaws in question, Trillian does use an older version of the MSN protocol; this is why users of Trillian .74 and Trillian Pro 1.0 are also being alerted to upgrade.

We will be putting out updated versions of all of our product lines to comply with the newest MSN Messenger protocol. Currently, only Trillian Pro 2.0 Beta is up to date, but all versions will be updated before Microsoft's October 15th deadline. In the mean time, this message can be safely ignored.

Microsoft now uses a different scheme: They are offering a license to use the network. It is going to be interesting to see how the people behind Trillian will react. If they try to pull the same trick as with AOL, they can start hiring some lawyers.

For now AOL will take the windfalls from people moving off of MSN onto ICQ and AIM. But when the dust settles, I expect them to follow suit.

Where' s Linux

by Volker Weber

Somewhat belated, an observation that Josh Ledgard made at Linuxworld:

I saw plenty of people with windows laptops and plenty of OS X notebooks, but outside of the booths and Sun sessions I was surprised at the lack of people running Linux. Sure, their slide decks talked a big game, but it looked a lot like Powerpoint and Windows XP underneath for Dan Powers(IBM VP of Grid Computing and Emerging Technologies) and several others. For presenters and general show goers I saw it felt like the order was MS > OS X > Linux. It surprised me enough to mention it I guess.

While Karen Smith, vice president of Linux strategy and market development at IBM, dismisses OpenOffice: "What we haven't seen become available is a full replacement for Microsoft Office", I think both are missing one important piece: There is also Lotus Notes, that keeps IBM on the Microsoft platform.

Is your boss an idiot?

by Volker Weber

Long story on CNN, short conclusion:

"Standing still has no advantages if you're in a bad situation," Lundin said. "You've just got to get out."


Mitch Kapor ist switching to a Mac

by Volker Weber


1. I think it's good to use different platforms. Gives you perspective.
2. Lots and lots of fun, interesting new software on the Mac.
3. I'm tired of Windows.
4. Hoping some of the elegance of the Mac and the iApps rubs off on this old software designer when he works on chandler.

Lots of good software suggestions in the comments.

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Too stupid for e-business

by Volker Weber


Jaguar is not doing very well. Their sales are way below expectations. It makes you wonder because they have very nice cars. The local dealer still has models from 2001 sitting in the lot.

Today I received new materials from Jaguar Germany teasing their new offerings. There was not much hard information in there. Well, I thought it might be a good idea to check their website for more.

Unfortunately they were ill advised to develop the site with ASP. Folks who develop these kinds of applications often don't care for anything but Internet Exploder. OK, OK, I should have tried that as well, or shouldn't I?

Sorry, Jaguar, no business here.

Update: As Hajo correctly points out, this is a server-side error, not a client-side error. I never assumed that and should have made it clearer. What I did not expect however is that the site also fails with the latest and greatest from the Pacific Northwest.

Then I could not help but wake up my dormant XP installation on Lucy. Well, better make sure I have all the required security updates, since this a plain vanilla install that was never used. Now here is the question:

How many critical fixes does a Windows XP Professional installation require as of August 2003?

Find the answer here (Text is german but you will be able to read the numbers). I even found one more gem. How much is 41 MB?

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Robert Basic erklärt RSS

by Volker Weber

Wenn irgendetwas den Traffic auf meiner Webseite wirksam begegrenzt hat, dann ist das RSS. Anstatt immer wieder mal zu schauen, ob es nicht doch was Neues auf dieser Webseite gibt, hat der Newsjunkie meinen RSS-Feed abonniert. RSS-Feed? Robert erklärt, was das ist.

Und hier gibt es meine beiden RSS-Feeds. Einer für die Beiträge, einer für die Kommentare:

rss_excerpts.png rss_comments.png

Arnold ...

by Volker Weber

is coming. :-)

Avoiding the dumbest behaviors of mediocre employees

by Volker Weber

While reading Clay Shirky's piece about Wikis, Grafitti, and Process, I came across this gem:

Process is an embedded reaction to prior stupidity. When I was CTO of a web design firm, I noticed in staff meetings that we only ever talked about process when we were avoiding talking about people. "We need a process to ensure that the client does not get half-finished design sketches" is code for "Greg fucked up." The problem, of course, is that much of this process nevertheless gets put in place, meaning that an organization slowly forms around avoiding the dumbest behaviors of its mediocre employees, resulting in layers of gunk that keep its best employees from doing interesting work

I may add that processes are often designed by people who assume that everyone else is at least as dumb as they are themselves. :-)

Some cigars ...

by Volker Weber

are handrolled. :-)

Learning Unix for Mac OS X, 2nd Edition

by Volker Weber


Learning Unix for Mac OS X, 2nd Edition
By Dave Taylor, Brian Jepson
2nd Edition December 2002
0-596-00470-2, Order Number: 4702
158 pages, $19.95 US

[for Tobias and Oliver :-) ]

Mixxx 1.0 - DJ software for Mac OS X, Linux and Windows

by Volker Weber

Mixxx is a digital DJ system, where wave, Ogg, and MP3 files can be mixed on a computer for use in live performances. Filters, a crossfader, and speed controls are provided. It is controlled by mouse and/or MIDI events. Mixxx is released under the GNU General Public License (GPL).

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Hydra is now SubEthaEdit

by Volker Weber


What used to be called Hydra is now SubEthaEdit. Seven brains are smarter than one became Fourty-two brains are smarter than one, a reference to a famous Mac user, the late Douglas Adams:

When I originally described The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, over twenty years ago, I was only joking. I didn't see myself as a predictive kind of science fiction writer, like Arthur C. Clarke who more or less single-handedly invented the communications satellite. The Guide was just a narrative device which allowed me to run off at tangents whenever the story seemed to be getting a bit dull.

But it turns out that I, inadvertently, had a terribly good idea. The Guide was compiled by researchers roaming round the galaxy, beaming their copy in, which was then instantly available to anybody to read. Over, believe it or not, something called the SubEthaNet.

The editor remains almost unchanged. New features and improvements:
- New name due to legal issues
- Includes new localization for: Dutch, Spanish

Rename your preferences file ~/Library/Preferences/org.globalse.Hydra.plist to ~/Library/Preferences/de.codingmonkeys.SubEthaEdit.plist before you start the new program.

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Is it love?

by Volker Weber


My car is six years old now. Still going strong but I started looking. Saturday we drove a Mini Cooper. Tres spacieuse.. :-)

The power of CSS

by Esther Schindler

Even Web design books have a hard time communicating the power of cascading style sheets. I've never found a better example than this site for showing how powerful CSS is.

And even if you don't care about Web design, it's outrageously pretty. I wish I had the skill to make a site look like this!

Do you use any interesting Eclipse plugins?

by Volker Weber

I have a love/hate relationship with WebSphere Studio. It is an extremely powerful tool but it also uses a lot of resources. Eclipse is a lot smaller, less expensive (read: free). However one still needs to add plugins for things that are missing in the platform. There is a whole lot of those available and I don't want to run around trying them all. Are there any interesting ones that you use every day? Then please hop over to this Wiki page and add whatever you like.

Matrix Revolutions

by Volker Weber


Next Generation E-Mail

by Volker Weber


Maintenance Release 0.4.5 of ZOň came out last week. I picked up this information from Justin.

When IBM announces 2002 that they were working on a next generation e-mail experience, I was hoping for something like ZOň. It can best be described as Google for your e-mail. It takes it way beyond threads, dates and full text search.

As it turns out IBM is not solving my problem with e-mail but instead is creating a Portal-On-Your-Desktop. It will require WebSphere Portal (or some other clever marketing name for The-Mother-Of-All-Fat-Servers) as the backend. I most likely won't have that so there is no need to wait ...

While ZOň is written in Java and runs on anything with a JVM, it neatly ties in with on the Mac:


Almost everything in this header is a link that takes you to ZOň. From there you can follow all kinds of links to other messages touching on the same topics, or related people and companies. If you have not tried this program you are missing out on something.

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Another quiz

by Esther Schindler

Programming language inventor or serial killer? Can you tell the difference?


by Volker Weber


I found it very odd that Apple did not provide a simple snapshot program with the iSight firewire camera. Today I found a neat utility that closes this gap. I was not looking for the all singing all dancing webcam server software but a simple shutter button.

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Speed limit

by Volker Weber


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Rockin' on without Microsoft

by Volker Weber

Sterling Ball, a jovial, plain-talking businessman, is CEO of Ernie Ball, the world's leading maker of premium guitar strings endorsed by generations of artists ranging from the likes of Eric Clapton to the dudes from Metallica. But since jettisoning all of Microsoft products three years ago, Ernie Ball has also gained notoriety as a company that dumped most of its proprietary software--and still lived to tell the tale.

In 2000, the Business Software Alliance conducted a raid and subsequent audit at the San Luis Obispo, Calif.-based company that turned up a few dozen unlicensed copies of programs. Ball settled for $65,000, plus $35,000 in legal fees. But by then, the BSA, a trade group that helps enforce copyrights and licensing provisions for major business software makers, had put the company on the evening news and featured it in regional ads warning other businesses to monitor their software licenses.

Humiliated by the experience, Ball told his IT department he wanted Microsoft products out of his business within six months. "I said, 'I don't care if we have to buy 10,000 abacuses,'" recalled Ball, who recently addressed the LinuxWorld trade show. "We won't do business with someone who treats us poorly."

He spoke with CNET about his experience.

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Lessons learned

by Volker Weber


Today I have moved my internet connection from the ZyXEL Prestige 310 router to my new Linksys WRT54G router and wireless access point. There are a few lessons I learned today:

- If you never have to enter your password, you don't really know it anymore.
- If you write it down, make sure you also write down the changes.
- If you try and use the wrong password more than 9 times, T-Online will lock your account.
- If you make this mistake before 11pm, you can call them.
- If you call them, make sure you have all your account data or at least the last invoice at hand.
- These people are really, really nice and can make a huge difference.
- You can check your password while trying to log into Kundencenter.
- I was able to check a few possible passwords and found the correct one.
- Once you know your password, things improve a lot. :-)

Uh oh. Succeddful.

by Volker Weber


Let me find out whether this is in the change notes for the firmware upgrade. :-)

Reine Definitionssache

by Volker Weber

Der Wertsack ist ein Beutel, der aufgrund seiner besonderen Verwendung nicht Wertbeutel, sondern Wertsack genannt wird, weil sein Inhalt aus mehreren Wertbeuteln besteht, die in den Wertsack nicht verbeutelt, sondern versackt werden.
(Merkblatt der Deutschen Bundespost)

Das Lutschen eines Hustenbonbons durch einen erkälteten Zeugen stellt keine Ungebühr im Sinne von § 178 GVG dar.
(Beschluss des OLG Schleswig)

Eine Pflanze gilt als befallen, wenn sich in ihr mindestens eine Schildlaus befindet, die nachweislich nicht tot ist.
(Der Hobbygärtner)

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Groove Wiki

by Volker Weber

Jeroen Bekkers of Suite75 has opened a Groove Wiki. That is a Wiki about Groove, not one made with Groove.

Which character are you?

by Esther Schindler

Summer silliness, for sure. I'm Yoda.

Extended deskspace

by Volker Weber


Today I have received my VGA adapter for Lucy and I was finally able to put the Sony SDM-M81 back to good use. It has been sitting idle on my desk for eight months now, since I turn on the PC only once a month to do my accounting. You need to enable the iMac to drive a second screen though. The information on how to do that has been around for a while, but c't has published a script recently, that does it all for you.


by Volker Weber


Cyberduck is an open source SFTP (SSH Secure File Transfer) and FTP browser licenced under the GPL.

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W32.Blaster: Download Mirror for Worm Patch

by Volker Weber

The incubation period is over. Until now the activities of the Windows worm W32.Blaster were limited to a rapid propagation across Windows systems. But on August 16, the worm's damage routines will become active. In Australia, it's already Saturday; consequently the worm has already started to hit Microsoft's servers.

At this point, Microsoft's download server and the Windows Update site are experiencing a significant slowdown. Sometimes, the servers won't connect at all. As more continents cross the date border, the attacks are only likely to increase. In the mean time, Microsoft has shut down the DNS resolution for their URL. At this point, the server can still be reached through

After contacting Microsoft Germany, heise online has decided to locally mirror the files needed to fix the security hole on Windows systems. The following patches are available on the heise FTP server, effective immediately ...

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Reviewing Tungsten C, part 1

by Volker Weber

tungstenc.jpgAfter working with the device for one day, I already have some impressions I can share with you. First of all, the C feels a lot cheaper than a T. That is most likely due to the plastic surface and the larger size. I think one tends to judge this by surface and weight per volume. The display however is much superior. As I understand this new screen is shared by the Tungsten C, T2 and Zire 71. It is brighter and has a much greater viewing angle. You can read it from all directions.

I have great difficulty with the WLAN interface. It may be the device is defective, but it hardly connects to any of my WLAN access points. I don't know whether that is due to my Bluetooth network which shares the same "airspace". :-) The connection is bad enough that I can't use the web browser which is supposed to be much better than the Novarra browser on the T.

My other complaints are all related to the fact that I have to adjust my habits. I have been using Palm devices since the original US Robotics Pilot. They all had four buttons with the same functions, they all used the same Graffiti software. With the C Palm has introduced a keyboard. Its operating system 5.2.1 contains the new Graffiti 2 which is different enough to make me stumble.

Finally, adding WLAN is nice, but dropping Bluetooth is not. BT is much more useful for me since it lets me connect to my mobile phone for Internet access or SMS messages. You can dial a phone number from the Palm and you can transfer the complete address book into the phone. All of that could also be done with I/R but then you would have to allign the devices and at the same time make sure it does not see other devices like the notebook for instance. Bluetooth today is a must have for me both on the phone and on the PDA.

To be continued ...

Surprise, surprise

by Volker Weber


When the doorbell rang this morning and the person on the other end of the intercom said "Courier", I was somewhat surprised since I did not really expect anything. Even greater a surprise was that the package turned out to be from Palm containing a Tungsten C. It is currently charging on Clyde's cradle. The next days will show whether this device receives the prestigious "editor refuses to give it back" rating. :-)

A great little Mac utility

by Esther Schindler

I love software like this: simple little utilities that do one thing well. And it's even better when it's free.

Meteorologist is the only free weather program for OS X. It's also the only weather program that allows users total control over their weather viewing experience, including simultaneous interlaced weather reports from multiple weather servers.

The weather sits in the menu bar on top of the screen, and/or in the dock. (Which lets me see that at 6:40am it's already 90 degrees here in Phoenix.) No particular load on my creaking old beige G3 that I can tell.

And gosh, it's pretty.

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IBM Think Parade 2003

by Volker Weber


I have asked IBM for clearance to make this flyer available as PDF. Today I have received this clearance. Download here.

[continued from this post]

Sametime on Mac OS X

by Volker Weber

Ed Wrenbeck is building a Mac OS X client for Sametime based on the Cocoa libraries. He has already written a Java PDA client that you can run on the Mac but he is now going beyond that with native application.

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[via Ben Poole]

Six new Switch parodies

by Volker Weber


Digital Image Manipulation

by Volker Weber

bikini1_01-down.jpg bikini1_01.jpg

Greg Apodaca gives some insights in his work as a photographer and digital artist. If you go this page you can witness the image manipulation even better. Just roll your mouse over the image.

Greg does not stop there. You can can see many more samples here.

Trouble shooter

by Volker Weber


Watch the butter cow being scultpted

by Esther Schindler

...Using 500 pounds of unsalted butter, at the Illinois State Fair. This webcam (and others less interesting) available at their site.

Are State Fairs purely an American thing? They're certainly fun, though I confess I haven't been to the Arizona State Fair (held in October, we're no fools) in years.

Weichei-Wort gesucht

by Volker Weber

Wie könnte man jemanden nennen, der über die Hitze stöhnt, und glaubt, sie nur mit Klimaanlage auszuhalten?

Perfect spot for this kind of weather

by Volker Weber


Natural born losers

by Volker Weber

Although I am 45 years old, have met a lot of people, and worked very well with most of them, I am still missing one concept:

How does one deal with ignorance?

I know how to handle arrogance, I know how to deal with incompetence. But ignorance is a combination of those two failures. And it is the direct road to disaster.

Of course you can let disaster happen and simply document it. But how do you prevent it? Is there any good way to convince an ignorant person that he may be wrong? Even if he feels so superior that he thinks he can safely ignore you?

First American to grasp concept of irony

by Volker Weber

Jay Fullmer, 38, yesterday became the first American to get to grips with the concept of irony.

"It was weird" Fullmer said. "I was in London and like, talking to this guy and it was raining and he pulled a face and said, "Great weather eh?" and I thought - "Wait a minute, no way is it great weather".

Fullmer then realised that the other man's 'mistake' was in fact deliberate.

Fullmer, who is 39 next month and married with two children, aged 8 and 3, plans to use irony himself in future.

"I'm, like, using it all the time" he said. "Last weekend I was grilling steaks, and I burned them, and I said "Hey, great weather."

[seen at Carl Tyler]

Now playing

by Volker Weber


Woodstock now playing on heavy rotation: Annie Lennox, Bare, A Thousand Beautiful Things, Honestly

Science fiction -> Science

by Esther Schindler

Humans as batteries. Shades of The Matrix, anybody?

Researchers in Japan are developing a method of drawing power from blood glucose, mimicking the way the body generates energy from food.

Theoretically, it could allow a person to pump out 100 watts - enough to illuminate a light bulb.

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Why I write about Apple

by Volker Weber

I could not have said it better than Stephen H. Wildstrom, BusinessWeek:

No one questions the viability of BMW, to take an example from another industry, or doubts its ability to influence car design, just because it has less than 3% of the car market.

When co-founder Jobs once again took the helm of Apple in 1996, he promised to return it to a tradition of making "insanely great products." Despite the skepticism of the industry and its observers -- myself included -- he has, to a remarkable extent, delivered on that pledge.

So Apple will go on driving me crazy with obsessive secrecy about its products and its common refusal to make executives available for interviews. And relatively few of my readers will ever use the Apple products I write about. Yet as long as Apple continues to push the envelope and turn out remarkable products, I'll continue to give them a degree of attention that vastly exceeds it minor market share.

And yes, there is one more thing.

IBM Think Parade 2003

by Volker Weber


I have been kicking around this news since last week but I did not want to preempt my customer. Today their site went live and I can break the news:

IBM has hired me to host a roadshow that will travel through eight german-speaking cities in early fall. My role is to be a moderator and advocatus diaboli to make the event more interesting for the customers and partners attending. The roadshow will touch on all new technologies and products coming out of PCD, which sells notebooks, desktops, xSeries servers and all kinds of options, especially screens.

These events can be kind of boring if product marketing managers go through endless slideshows. So IBM is hiring someone independent to ask questions and stirr up the event a bit. That does not mean I am going to eat marketing managers for lunch. Actually I have to finish before lunch. :-)

A friend asked me this morning whether I am turning to show business. The correct answer is both yes and no. I am actually returning to show business. But you must have known me for a long time to remember that. In a former life, you know. That was vowe 4.0. The current release is 7.1.

So, this is the event schedule:

15.09. Köln
18.09. Hamburg
23.09. München
25.09. Frankfurt
30.09. Wien
02.10. Zürich
06.10. Herrenberg
10.10. Stuttgart

I have contemplated about conflict of interests regarding this particlar event. After all, most of my professional writing is about IBM, especially in the collaborative software business. As this event is about hardware, I felt reasonably secure that I can keep those things neatly separated. I actually think that there are more conflicts in my consulting practice since I am a lot better educated about IBM's offerings than those of their competitors.

IBM certainly has a very strong brand, as most of their products. You probably remember this punchline from an IBM advert: "And who gets his Thinkpad?" — What I find most interesting is that IBM tries to leverage my name to raise interest for the event. Am I famous now? :-)

Want to come? No problem, the event is actually free. As in free lunch. You can sign up here >

Lucy still alone

by Volker Weber


Last Friday I had briefly announced that I was going to buy an iBook out of Apple's demo pool. As I was about to transfer the money I quickly checked back on the technical specs. It turned out this particular machine was one generation too old for my specs.

I am holding off my purchase for now and wait for Apple's next move in the notebook space. It is going to be interesting in two respects: What are the specs for the second generation Al-Books, especially my preferred 15" size and second, what is the fate of the iBook. As much as I like the Ti-Book I still think that the iBook would serve my needs somewhat better.

Apple has a few tough choices to make. If they keep the iBook around, then they have three processor architectures to support. They could also discontinue the iBook and lower the price for the entry level 12" Al-Book and introduce a new 15" device to replace the Ti-Book. This move would let them step up 802.11b to .11g on the entry level machines. It would be interesting to know the sales figures for the different machines. I assume that the 12" Al-book is selling like hotcakes. I know a few people that have this machine as well as an equal number with the Ti-Book. I don't know anyone who has an 17" Al-Book though. Not even one contemplating to get one.

Rocky Fellowship Palantir Show

by Esther Schindler

Oh, dear. The Rocky Horror Picture Show meets Lord of the Rings...

All: When Boromir said he traveled here from Gondor You knew he was a no-good kid. But when he betrayed his king over the stupid ring!

What a guy!

Make him die.

And orcs did.

There goes your morning. More >

Quote of the day

by Volker Weber

It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.

— Charles Darwin, The Origin Of Species, 1859

How the mighty (celebrities) have fallen

by Esther Schindler

Ah, the stars of yesteryear -- what are they doing now?

Now For The First Time Ever You Can Have A Real Celebrity Call You Or A Friend For Just $19.95.

Among the people available are Peter Jurasik (Babylon 5), John DeLancie (Star Trek), Tom Candiotti (Toronto Blue Jays). These guys are way too good to have needed to turn to this.

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Old archive pages

I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.


Paypal vowe