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Facebook Messenger is now integrated with Instagram – MobileSyrup

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Way back in 2019, Facebook announced a plan to integrate Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram DMs into one cohesive messaging platform that could be used to let people communicate regardless of what app they preferred.

The company is starting to roll out this platform today, and it appears that Instagram’s message section has been overhauled to look and act just like Facebook Messenger.

This is a very cool update and should allow people who don’t have Facebook or Instagram to message one another easily.

Beyond just moving the platform over, Facebook has added new features such as disappearing messages like Snapchat and animated message effects similar to what iMessage offers.

Other features include the cool custom background feature from WhatsApp, a ‘Watch together’ mode for taking in Instagram Reel with friends via video chat, and more.

Overall, this is a significant update, but questions still linger regarding if people will keep both Facebook Messenger and Instagram on their phones if both apps do the same thing.

Facebook says that the feature is rolling out now, and users can choose to opt-in or out once the update presents it to them when they try to open Instagram Messages.

Source: Facebook

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iPhone 12 Pro Review: Low-light powerhouse – MobileSyrup

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Just like with every modern smartphone release, the most significant question surrounding Apple’s new iPhone 12 Pro is if it’s worth the upgrade, especially on the heels of last year’s impressive iPhone 11 series update.

First, it’s important to note that the iPhone 12 series is the most significant refresh to the iPhone’s design since the release of the iPhone X, though it’s not an entirely new look. So, if you care about your smartphone’s aesthetic, the iPhone 12 could offer a worthwhile update depending on how you feel about the device’s more squared-off design.

iPhone 12 Pro on a desk

The other major change relates to improved low-light photography performance primarily powered by the iPhone 12 Pro’s new Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) sensor and slightly redesigned camera array. While most of Apple’s claims regarding the iPhone 12 Pro’s camera improvements are accurate, they’re incremental. Still, if you’re a budding smartphone photography enthusiast, these updates could be substantial enough to warrant a purchase.

Then there’s the question of whether you prefer the 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max over the 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Pro, or if the impossibly cute 5.4-inch iPhone 12 mini is more up your alley. If that’s the case, you’ll need to wait until the Max and mini release in early November. While Apple hasn’t come out and explicitly stated this, it likely was forced to drop its two highest selling smartphone models first due to COVID-19 manufacturing restraints.

In fact, there’s also the question of whether the ‘Pro’ series of iPhone 12 devices offer enough advantages at this point to even make them worthwhile for the average iPhone user.

There’s a lot to unpack with this year’s iPhones, so let’s get into it.

Note: I don’t have an iPhone 11 Pro, and, as a result, the image comparisons in this review are between the iPhone 11 Pro Max and the iPhone 12 Pro. Photo samples are also compressed, though generally still represent the image quality the iPhone 12 PRo is capable of. 

Specs

Don’t call it a throwback

iPhone 12 Pro app gallery

Despite the subheading above, the iPhone 12 Pro is an obvious throwback to the iPhone 4-era of squared-off edges. However, it also clearly takes inspiration from Apple’s more recent iPad Pro design and the iPad Air (2020).

At first, the iPhone 12 Pro’s squared-off look is jarring and feels equally strange when you’re holding the smartphone in your hand, but it’s grown on me over the last couple of days.

It gives the smartphone line a clear new design; place the iPhone X, iPhone XS or iPhone 11 Pro beside the new iPhone 12, and you’ll instantly recognize Apple’s new smartphones.

iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max

The squarer sides also make the device feel more substantial and easier to grip in your hand, which is great in this ongoing era of slippery smartphones. The power button remains on the device’s right side, with the volume buttons on the left. The buttons themselves have a fair amount of bounce to them, though they are flatter than those on the iPhone 11 series.

While the excellent, grease-resistant matte rear featured on the iPhone 11 Pro is back, complete with a new ‘Ceramic Shield’ construction the tech giant claims features four times better drop resistance, the stainless steel band running around the edge of the smartphone is an unfortunate callback to the iPhone X’s shiny border.

iPhone 12 Pro Apple TV app

This means it attracts smudges and grease. Most people might not care about this, but it’s a strange blemish in an otherwise solid refresh of the high-end iPhone’s design. Strangely, the iPhone 12 doesn’t suffer from this same issue despite its lower-end aluminum sides.

It isn’t easy to verify Apple’s statements regarding the iPhone 12 Pro’s improved durability regarding the new Ceramic Shield build.

“Overall, I like the new look of the iPhone 12 Pro and view it as a positive step forward”

I’ll leave that up to wealthy YouTubers brave enough to test these claims out. However, what I can say is the iPhone 11 Pro Max I’ve been using for the last year is one of the most durable smartphones I’ve ever encountered, and, if Apple says it’s improved on that design, that is definitely a good thing.

With all that said, I’ve continually contended that everyone should at least be putting their smartphone in a case, with a high-end glass screen protector, also being a good idea. Smartphones are pricey, and accidents happen. Most tech YouTubers, bloggers, and journalists who claim they don’t use cases get sent so many smartphones that a broken device isn’t a big deal. This isn’t the reality for the average iPhone owner.

A LiDAR sensor now flanks the triple rear-camera setup with the same substantial camera bump as the iPhone 11 Pro. The display notch, which still isn’t as noticeable as some people make it out to be, returns with Face ID functionality that feels just as reliable as it was with the iPhone 11 Pro — this means it works roughly 95 percent of the time.

Regarding colours, the iPhone 12 Pro is available in ‘Graphite,’ ‘Silver,’ ‘Gold,’ and ‘Pacific Blue.’ As you can see from the photos in this review, I have the blue iPhone 12 Pro, which actually seems deeper than last year’s now-dead ‘Midnight Green.’ Though I like the new Pacific Blue colour, Midnight Green will likely forever go down as my favourite smartphone hue.

Side view of the iPhone 12 Pro

Overall, I like the new look of the iPhone 12 Pro and view it as a positive step forward.

Processor Power

iPhone 12 Pro Instagram

Apple’s new A14 Bionic processor is an absolute powerhouse. The A13 was a leap above anything Qualcomm has produced and the A14 pushes that power even further.

For those who care about benchmarks, the iPhone 12 Pro comes in at 1,597 for single-core performance and 4,232 for multi-core. On the other hand, the iPhone 11 Pro hits 1,328 for single-core and 3,397 for multi-core.

iPhone 12 Pro Geekbench benchmark

My experience with the phone, whether I’m playing games like REKT, doing quick photo edits with Lightroom, browsing the internet or watching content on Netflix, has been extremely smooth.

I haven’t encountered a single instance of lag during my time with the iPhone 12 Pro.

There’s also the new LiDAR sensor that improves the iPhone 12 Pro’s augmented reality functionality, just like the iPad Pro (2020), while adding faster autofocus in low-light and other camera improvements (more on this later).

“Everything from watching Netflix, to gaming, to just browsing the internet looks stellar on the screen”

I’ve always preferred Apple’s ‘Max’ model of iPhones. I appreciate the additional real estate the devices offer, so moving to a 6.1-inch smartphone has been a somewhat strange experience for me. I don’t necessarily find the iPhone 12 Pro too small, especially since it’s an increase over the 5.8-inch iPhone 11 Pro, but I miss how easy it is to type on the larger display with two hands. Along with the increase in size, the iPhone 12 Pro’s screen measures in at a slightly higher 2,523 x 1,770 pixels compared to the iPhone 11 Pro’s 2,436 x 1,125 pixels.

iPhone 12 Pro rear

The display itself matches Samsung’s recently released Galaxy Note 20 Ultra in terms of vibrancy and colour, thanks to its P3 wide colour gamut with a 2,000,0000:1 contrast ratio and 1200 nits max brightness with HDR10 support. Everything from watching Netflix, to gaming, to just browsing the internet looks stellar on the screen.

Unfortunately, rumours surrounding the iPhone 12 Pro’s display featuring a 120Hz refresh rate proved inaccurate. Whether there were concerns that 120Hz coupled with 5G would result in poor battery life or COVID-19 related manufacturing issues, the iPhone 12 Pro’s screen comes in at just 60Hz.

iPhone 12 Pro with Spotify open

In some ways, this is totally unacceptable. Most high-end — and, in some cases, even mid-range Android devices — have moved on to smoother 90Hz and 120Hz displays. Even the iPad Pro features Apple’s great-looking ProMotion 120Hz technology. In 2020, it seems strange for the tech giant’s flagship not to include a higher refresh rate display.

On the other side of this argument, while 120Hz is great, it’s not a feature most people will miss given the difference isn’t drastic and really depends on the type of content you’re consuming. Still, it would have been great to see Apple bring 120Hz refresh rate technology to the iPhone this year.

iPhone 12 Pro Lightning port

Storage size starts at 128GB compared to last year’s 64GB, which is a good move on Apple’s part considering the tech giant’s smartphone line lags behind most of its Android competitors in the storage department.

Another spec worth noting includes that the iPhone 12 Pro is still IP68 rated, though this time to a maximum of 6 metres for up to 30 minutes instead of 4 metres for 30 minutes like last year.

And, of course, the iPhone 12 Pro still features a Lightning port and not USB-C. At this point, it’s more likely Apple will ditch a connector port and go entirely wireless rather than switch to USB-C. I’ve tested out Apple’s MagSafe charger briefly and can confirm that it attaches to the iPhone 12 Pro’s rear extremely easily. The charger, unfortunately, doesn’t come with a USB-C charging brick. I haven’t tested out other MagSafe accessories yet, including Apple’s new cases. I can, however, confirm that MagSafe does work through third-party cases. I’ll have more on Apple’s new MagSafe accessories in the coming weeks.

iPhone 12 Pro with MagSafe charger

Regarding battery life, I found that the phone comes in at roughly a day with moderate use, which matches my experience with last year’s iPhone 11 Pro Max.

Incremental but still worthwhile camera upgrades

iPhone 12 Pro taking a picture

Camera-wise, there are several minor improvements to the iPhone 12 Pro’s array of shooters. First, the main wide 12-megapixel camera now features a wider f/1.6 aperture and a seven-element lens compared to the iPhone 11 Pro’s six-element f/1.8 lens. Apple says this improves the lens’ ability to gather more light by 27 percent.

In my experience, I didn’t notice a significant difference in performance, but this lens does seem to shoot slightly less noisy photos.

The left image is shot with the iPhone 12 Pro, and the image on the right is shot with the iPhone 11 Pro Max. The iPhone 12 Pro photo features far more accurate colour tones than its iPhone 11 Pro Max counterpart.

On the other hand, the 12-megapixel f/2.4 ultrawide angle and the f/2.0 with 2x optical zoom lenses still measure in with the same technical specs as last year.

The real camera improvements come from the smartphone’s Smart HDR 3, the latest version of Apple’s behind-the-scenes image processing technology. Photos taken with the iPhone 12 Pro feature more detail, slightly greater contrast, more accuracy, greater colour vibrancy and, in general, look better than those shot with the iPhone 11 Pro Max, but only by a small margin.

The images, just like last year, also look more true-to-life than the over-saturated photos snapped by smartphones like Samsung’s Note 20 Ultra.

The iPhone 12 Pro’s standard wide camera is on the left, and the iPhone 11 Pro Max’s shooter is on the right. The photo shot with the iPhone 12 Pro features more vibrant, accurate colour and more detail in the foliage.

The iPhone 12 Pro’s regular wide camera is on the left, and the iPhone 11 Pro Max’s shooter is on the right. The iPhone 12 Pro photo features more accurate white balance and tones. It’s also slightly sharper than the photo shot with the iPhone 11 Pro Max.

The other major upgrade this year thanks to the new LiDAR sensor is that it’s now possible to snap night mode photos with the ultrawide and 12-megapixel selfie shooter. Night mode with the ultrawide is a welcome addition and can result in truly stunning vistas. It does occasionally blow out highlights, however.

On the other hand, I don’t personally find taking night mode selfies useful, but this feature could come in handy for some people and produces decent shots as long as you’re able to keep still. The difference in quality is really drastic despite it giving skin a plastic look to it.

iPhon 12 vs iPhone 11 Pro Max selfie shooter

The iPhone 12 Pro’s selfie shooter in night mode is on the left, and the iPhone 11 Pro Max’s selfie shooter is on the right. Though night mode selfie shots give skin a plastic-like tone, they’re still usable, unlike the dark images the iPhone 11 Pro Max takes.

The most significant upgrade is the speed at which the iPhone 12 Pro autofocuses when under low-light. This is something even the best smartphone cameras often struggle with. Regardless of what I was shooting, I was easily and surprisingly quickly able to focus in on the area of the subject I wanted to shoot.

The iPhone 12 Pro’s ultrawide camera is on the left, and the iPhone 11 Pro Max’s ultrawide shooter is on the right. The iPhone 12 Pro’s ultrawide camera overall lightens the image and, in most cases, doesn’t feature blown-out highlights.

The iPhone 12 Pro can also shoot 4K/60fps 10-bit Dolby Vision footage in real-time, a first for any smartphone camera. Dolby Vision utilizes dynamic metadata to map accurate colour and brightness of a scene, which typically requires extensive editing and grading.

“It’s great to see Apple taking RAW photography more seriously, though it’s strange the tech giant still doesn’t offer manual controls in its own camera app”

While the results look impressive and somewhat comparable to my experience watching content on Netflix that supports Dolby Vision, you’ll only be able to actually experience the benefits the high-end HDR format provides on supported monitors and televisions. Even then, YouTube doesn’t support Dolby Vision content.

It’s important to note that the new Apple ProRaw filetype announced during the tech giant’s keynote won’t be available at launch, and it’s unclear when it’s releasing. Similar to ‘Deep Fusion,’ it’s likely going to appear at some point in November.

That said, it’s great to see Apple taking RAW photography more seriously, though it’s strange the tech giant still doesn’t offer manual controls in its own camera app. What will likely end up being more interesting is how third-party developers take advantage of the ProRaw SDK with their own camera apps.

iPhone 12 Pro vs iPhone 11 Pro Max selfie shooter comparison

The iPhone 12 Pro’s 12-megapixel selfie shooter is on the left, and the iPhone 11 Pro Max’s selfie camera is on the right. The iPhone 12 Pro more accurately matches my real skin tone and the sky is slightly less overexposed.

Finally, I haven’t tested out the iPhone 12 Pro Max yet. This is notable because the smartphone features a larger primary sensor that’s 47 percent bigger than its predecessor, amounting to 1.7-micron pixels. Other changes include sensor-shift image stabilization, a technology commonly found in DLSRs, and 2.5x zoom with its telephoto lens.

All this means is that if you’re interested in camera performance, the iPhone 12 Pro Max might be worth the extra cost.

Don’t upgrade just for 5G

iPhone 12 Pro camera

You may have wondered why I didn’t mention 5G as a pivotal new feature at the top of this review. It’s because as much as the Big Three Canadian carriers want you to believe 5G in Canada is a massive jump forward in network speed, the reality is that it isn’t — at least not yet.

I live in Burlington, Ontario, a city that Rogers says it expanded its 5G network to back in late September. I ran several speed tests from my home office, and in nearly every instance, my iPhone 11 Pro Max hit 24.3Mbps download and 10.4Mbps for upload on Rogers’ 5G network, compared to Telus/Koodo’s LTE network hit 61.7Mbps for download and 3.72Mbps for upload.

iPhone 12 5G test

The 5G Rogers test with the iPhone 12 Pro Max is on the left, and the LTE iPhone 11 Pro Max test with Telus’ LTE network is on the right. This test was performed in Burlington, Ontario.

That said, I ran several tests in different areas of Oakville, Burlington and Hamilton and across the board, Rogers’ 5G network was typically 10 to 15 percent faster. Still, in the ongoing era when many of us are working from home, the actual speeds you get from your smartphone in your house are important.

Of course, the speeds you receive will shift depending on where you live and whether Rogers’, Bell’s, or Telus’ 5G network is active in your area.

Further, Apple removed the mmWave antenna featured on the side of the U.S. version of iPhone 12 Pro from the iteration of the smartphone sold in Canada. Canadian iPhone 12 smartphones are capable of the n78 5G band (TD 3500), which will likely launch across the country at some point in the next few years.

The Canadian government’s auction for the 3,500MHz spectrum band is set for mid-2021 after being delayed roughly six months due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Canadians won’t see the blazing-fast speeds that 5G promises until the 3.5GHz spectrum is auctioned off and deployed in the next few years. The carriers are currently offering 5G by adding 5G channels on top of their existing LTE core. It’ll be some time before Canadians will be able to see the full potential of the technology.

The iPhone 12 Pro won’t always be connected to a given carriers’ 5G network, either. Apple’s Smart Data Mode automatically saves power when 5G speeds aren’t needed to improve the smartphone’s battery life. Apple says the device switches between LTE and 5G depending on what you’re doing with your phone. For example, Smart Data Mode could switch to LTE when your screen is off, but if you’re watching Netflix, it might jump back to 5G. That said, you can turn this feature off and lock the iPhone 12 Pro to solely 5G if you want.

Should you just buy the iPhone 12 instead? 

Though Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro is impressive, does it offer enough advantages over the iPhone 12 now that both smartphones feature nearly identical Super Retina XDR OLED displays? Unless you absolutely need the best of what Apple has to offer and value 2x optical zoom — and in that case, you might be better waiting for the iPhone 12 Pro Max — the answer is probably not.

There are also several things still up in the air about the iPhone 12 series this year, including whether Apple’s new ProRaw format is worthwhile, and if the company’s cool-looking MagSafe accessories solve Qi wireless charging’s most significant pain points.

 

Still, the iPhone 12 Pro offers an impressive smartphone package thanks to its worthwhile but incremental camera upgrades, coupled with its excellent design revamp.

The iPhone 12 Pro starts at $1,399 in Canada for the 128GB version
. The 256GB iteration costs $1,539 and the 512GB iteration costs $1,809.

“The iPhone 12 Pro offers an impressive smartphone package thanks to its worthwhile but incremental camera upgrades, coupled with its excellent design revamp” 

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Health Canada encouraging British Columbians to download COVID Alert – Up News Info

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Health Canada is encouraging British Columbians to download the COVID Alert app, despite the fact that the province has not yet agreed to support it.

The agency has said that the use of the app could still be useful in curbing the spread of COVID-19.

“It’s still helpful to download COVID Alert from anywhere in the country, even if you can’t use it to report a diagnosis. That way, you’ll be notified if you come into contact with someone from a reporting province or territory or when people in your area are able to report a diagnosis,” a Health Canada spokesperson told Postmedia News.

For context, even though people in the province are unable to submit a positive diagnosis on the app, they can still be notified if they come into contact with someone visiting from a reporting province like Ontario or Quebec.

British Columbia and Alberta are the only two provinces that have not yet signed on to adopt the exposure notification app. Health Canada notes that it is working with provinces and territories, including British Columbia, to roll out the app.

COVID Alert is currently fully functional in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island. The app has reached more than 4.6 million downloads.

The app can be downloaded for free on Android and iOS.

Source: Postmedia News

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Not spooked by the pandemic, haunted houses find ways around COVID-19 – Yahoo News Canada

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TORONTO — Psychotic clowns. Axe murderers. Bedrooms possessed by poltergeists.

Many of the frights greeting visitors of horror attractions this Halloween will be familiar, but the thrill-creators behind them say one terrifying experience is squarely off-limits: the terrors of COVID-19.

Before the pandemic shook our lives, haunted houses sometimes dipped into the fears of contagion, splashing themed rooms with signs of a viral outbreak, hazmat suits and contamination warnings.

But with those experiences uncomfortably close to reality this year, horror masters like Shawn Lippert say reminding people of the virus is one line they’re not willing to cross.

“We use the analogy: Treat ‘COVID’ like the F-word in church,” said the owner of Scarehouse, an industrial-sized indoor haunted house in Windsor, Ont.

“It’s too real and so close to home. It’s almost like when you tell a joke and they say, ‘Too soon.’”

Lippert said that’s one of several rules he’s introduced at his haunt in order to keep people feeling safe and heath authorities satisfied. Ticketholders arrive at staggered times, and everyone is required to wear a mask.

Creepy objects that once brushed against visitors have been removed, and the giant airbags that evoke the feeling of claustrophobia have been stowed away to decrease the potential spread of germs.

Lippert describes those as small changes in a challenging year.

Many haunt operators were jittery about moving ahead with their usual Halloween festivities, considering health authorities could shut down the houses without much notice if the region experiences a surge in local cases. That would leave a brutal dent in their investments.

“If we can keep our doors open for the full run at this point, that would be a success for us,” Lippert said.

Several Toronto haunted houses decided the risk was too high. Casa Loma’s Legends of Horror and 28-year pillar Screemers at Exhibition Place were among the operators who decided to sit this year out, even before the city introduced tighter restrictions that would’ve closed them anyway.

Some organizers have used the pandemic to imagine ways to scare the living daylights out of people from a distance — often from the safety of their own vehicles.

The Pickering Museum Village put a historic spin on its spooky experience with a drive-thru tour that urged visitors to creep their cars along a roadway checkered with old houses, as ghost stories played on their FM radios.

Others have gone online with virtual group parties for kids or, for those of legal drinking age, what’s being sold as Canada’s first Virtual Halloween Cocktail Crawl.

Mentalist Jaymes White decided to embrace the digital world this year for his annual Halloween seances. His new Zoom experience, called Evoke, invites a small circle of friends to channel a spirit through video chat. He admits the idea goes against the traditions of a séance, where people usually hold hands around a table, but he’s confident the spirits will still be ready to unsettle his guests.

“They don’t care that we have a pandemic,” he said.

Paul Magnuson, one of the leaders at Calgary artist collective Big Art, will take over a downtown self-serve car wash for three days for a drive-in of the dead later this month. 

Scare Wash is described as a trip to hell and back that begins when a wash attendee’s seemingly normal car rinse spirals into a nightmare.

Magnuson came up with the idea when it was clear plans for his usual neighbourhood spectacle wouldn’t be possible in the pandemic.

“Last year I turned my garage into a Dexter killer room where we did performances all night. In previous years I’ve had an interactive cemetery,” he said.

“I’m not going to let COVID take this holiday.”

Robby Lavoie felt a similar conviction for keeping Terror Train on track this year at the National Ontario Railroad Museum and Heritage Centre. The annual Halloween event draws thousands of people to Capreol, Ont., part of Greater Sudbury, and provides the museum with a healthy dose of revenue.

Lavoie said he drew inspiration from videos he saw of a Japanese zombie drive-in haunted house over the summer. He knew there was a way to tone down the gore and make the idea a bit more Canadian.

After speaking with museum organizers, Lavoie secured the board’s approval for “Inferno 6077,” an immersive drive-in horror experience inside the garage of the fire hall. 

Pulling from his own knowledge of working in live theatre and movies, Lavoie began thinking on a grand scale. He hired a local writer who penned a story about townsfolk who seek revenge on an old man, and built rolling set pieces for the spectacle, which reaches its peak when the space is engulfed in flames, an illusion created with lights and projections.

“We’re putting you almost in an interactive movie, and it all came together within a month,” he said.

“I see myself doing this again next year, even if there isn’t COVID.”

Kathrine Petch understands the urge to keep Halloween on the calendar. As the general manager of Deadmonton Haunted House in Edmonton, she’s laid down strict COVID-19 precautions for their Area 51-themed haunt.

“The absolute, pure excitement of the customers is contagious to us,” she said.

“As long as we can pay the bills and have some money left over to make a different haunted house next year, I think we’ll be pretty happy.”

Petch said keeping Deadmonton open during the pandemic was important to everyone who runs the show.

“One of our biggest goals was to provide people with some kind of escape from all the crappiness that is 2020,” she said.

“And when they reach the end of our haunted house, at least they know the scares are done.”

Follow @dfriend on Twitter.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 20, 2020.

David Friend, The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version misspelled Robby Lavoie’s given name.

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