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The ‘Right’ Way To Do Ink Reviews To Serve One's Curiosity And Interests?

ink characteristics review methodology

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#21 A Smug Dill

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Posted 25 September 2018 - 12:26

OK, could I please confirm whether my understanding of shading is correct?

 

Shading is essentially due to the phenomenon of an ink appearing significantly differently at various levels of saturation on the page. If so, then when I'm focussing the review on the ink – and neither the pen/nib nor the paper used – I should be finding some way of applying distinct steps in terms of ink saturation, such as by different numbers of passes with a cotton swab, as opposed to looking at whether my pen/nib of choice and my style of handwriting manages to tease visually differentiable shades out of an ink. I mean, if the ink is capable of appearing differently depending on saturation, then even if my pen is not wet  enough, my nib is not broad enough, my handwriting not large enough or flowing enough, someone else should still be able to get shading out of that ink where I can't, right?



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#22 LizEF

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Posted 25 September 2018 - 13:14

OK, could I please confirm whether my understanding of shading is correct?

 

Shading is essentially due to the phenomenon of an ink appearing significantly differently at various levels of saturation on the page. If so, then when I'm focussing the review on the ink – and neither the pen/nib nor the paper used – I should be finding some way of applying distinct steps in terms of ink saturation, such as by different numbers of passes with a cotton swab, as opposed to looking at whether my pen/nib of choice and my style of handwriting manages to tease visually differentiable shades out of an ink. I mean, if the ink is capable of appearing differently depending on saturation, then even if my pen is not wet  enough, my nib is not broad enough, my handwriting not large enough or flowing enough, someone else should still be able to get shading out of that ink where I can't, right?

 

That seems like a reasonable assumption.  When I see those swab or Pilot Parallels or similar multiple-swipes, I use those to assume whether it will shade.  The writing sample (if done with other than a glass/dip nib) gives me a better idea (or so I assume).

 

I have nibs which bring out shading better than other nibs, but there are also inks which are so dark and saturated that I don't think you could get them to shade without some weird intervention involving either water or scraping.  There are also papers which bring out shading better than others.  So yeah, it's a combination and you shouldn't even think about trying to test a significant percentage - it would be a nightmare and a full-time profession! :)

 

But the swabs, if you choose to do them, would let shade-lovers make an educated guess as to how their own equipment/supplies would perform with the ink you're reviewing.



#23 A Smug Dill

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Posted 25 September 2018 - 14:21

@LizEF, thanks for that.
 

The writing sample (if done with other than a glass/dip nib) gives me a better idea (or so I assume).


I count such things as Zebra/Tachikawa/Nikko G nibs, round hand nibs, etc. inserted into a holder to be 'dip pens', because the nibs are not attached to a feed that is supplied by a reservoir. Something like that might just do a better job of eliciting shading and sheen from an ink, even with single-pass writing only, than any of my 'everyday carry' fountain pens.
 

So yeah, it's a combination and you shouldn't even think about trying to test a significant percentage - it would be a nightmare and a full-time profession! :)


I certainly won't. I'm staunchly against the idea of (pretending or aspiring to deliver) an information service that allows all users to either input, or apply filters on the basis of, their individual choices or preferences of pens, nibs, paper, handwriting style, ambient temperature and humidity in the operating environment, time of the day, phase of the moon, and so on; and then obtain a forecast (much less a promise or guarantee!) of how an ink will perform for them. That isn't what a product review is by its nature, and that also isn't the purpose of producing and publishing a review, as far as I'm concerned. Of course, I shan't presume to dictate to others their purpose and/or reason for reading a product review in their own time.
 

But the swabs, if you choose to do them, would let shade-lovers make an educated guess as to how their own equipment/supplies would perform with the ink you're reviewing.


I like how you put it. :) A helpful review is one that allows others to make better guesses, without fundamentally trying to remove all uncertainty and risk for anyone, including but not limited to the risk of guessing wrong (in addition to ‘natural’ or common variation in different units or batches of any given product).



#24 LizEF

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Posted 25 September 2018 - 14:29

I count such things as Zebra/Tachikawa/Nikko G nibs, round hand nibs, etc. inserted into a holder to be 'dip pens', because the nibs are not attached to a feed that is supplied by a reservoir. Something like that might just do a better job of eliciting shading and sheen from an ink, even with single-pass writing only, than any of my 'everyday carry' fountain pens.

 

I agree - anything in a holder and dipped in ink is a dip pen.

 

In my experience (which is quite limited), dipping tends to yield very wet writing until suddenly it's very dry writing. :)  This is therefore not a good predictor for how a fountain pen with a steady flow of ink will behave.  But it's a very good way to see what an ink looks like going down extremely wet (or perhaps extremely dry - though I don't know how to simulate that except to write the dipped nib dry).  And while I suppose that might could be used to force shading, it seems backward - shading usually is light where the pen starts and dark where it stops, but (again, IME) dip pens seem to write very wet until they suddenly go dry.

 

But it could totally be that I just don't have enough practice with dip pens - that's certainly true as I only use them on occasion to test/sample an ink.



#25 A Smug Dill

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Posted 25 September 2018 - 17:00

I did this just now as an experiment:

 

fpn_1537894628__oxblood_ink_shading_with

 

The teal stars mark where I have dipped the nib before writing. There are two pieces of paper (including the page from a Rhodia notepad) shown in the scan without star markings; I wrote each of those with a single dip of ink.

 

I think you can still get shading without writing the dip pen dry.



#26 LizEF

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Posted 25 September 2018 - 18:52

The teal stars mark where I have dipped the nib before writing. There are two pieces of paper (including the page from a Rhodia notepad) shown in the scan without star markings; I wrote each of those with a single dip of ink.

 

I think you can still get shading without writing the dip pen dry.

 

Yes indeed!



#27 A Smug Dill

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Posted 26 September 2018 - 00:41

Another
 
fpn_1537923265__seiboku_ink_shading_with

Edited by A Smug Dill, 26 September 2018 - 00:55.


#28 crahptacular

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Posted 26 September 2018 - 01:08

On an Evita kick lately? :)

 

And yeah, shading is definitely possible with dipped nibs, but (for me, at least) the same nib performs differently in a FP than in a dip pen, which is why I don't personally find it as useful of a reference. Some inks simply don't play well with dip nibs even if they perform just fine in FPs--off the top of my head, Aonibi has a tendency to slide right off a dipped nib, in worst cases resulting in either a puddle or a doubly broad line. Others, like Kiwa-Guro, behave perfectly when dipped, producing lines more or less identical to what a FP would make. Of course, if you can make dipping work consistently for you, more power to you.



#29 A Smug Dill

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Posted 26 September 2018 - 01:37

On an Evita kick lately?


Going to see it on stage here in Sydney soon. :D
 

Some inks simply don't play well with dip nibs even if they perform just fine in FPs--off the top of my head, Aonibi has a tendency to slide right off a dipped nib,


I can't get J. Herbin Emerald of Chivor to work with my Nikko round hand pen (square) nibs at all, even though the ink writes fine in my Pilot Vanishing Point with an F nib and a (knock-off, grrrr) Lamy Safari with a EF nib.

#30 cellmatrix

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Posted 26 September 2018 - 04:02

One bit of advice is to use the ink for a while and describe both the good and bad. So many here, not necessarily the OP but lots of reviews will gushabout how great an ink is during their honeymoon and then not follow up about drawbacks later on. I value thoughtful experienced comments about inks even if they are negative more than I do unrealistic positive ones given by enthusiasts after the first dip immediately following a purchase.

Also to the OP, I just want to say I really enjoyed my trip to Sydney earlier this month. Remember hanging out at Steyne in manly, watching the surfers and drinking beer, Sydney area is wonderful!

#31 A Smug Dill

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Posted 26 September 2018 - 07:45

@cellmatrix,

 

I certainly have no intention of glorifying and evangelising a particular ink or brand, if and when I bother to produce and publish product reviews. If I enjoy using an ink, I'll say so because that is my experience and my sentiment; whether the retailer or manufacturer sells more of that ink is of neither concern nor benefit to me. If I dislike an ink, or find some aspect(s) of it undesirable or lacking, I'll say so too, without sparing a thought on whether it will affect its sales, or whether someone will disagree with me and like/buy that ink in 'spite' of what I wrote.

 

I hope that is fair enough, pedestrian enough, and doing enough when posting a review. I take on the responsibility for the truthfulness and (to the best of my knowledge) technical correctness of the content, at the time the review is written and published, but not for anything that happens after that point, so I don't think there is an obligation to 'follow up' or keep anyone updated on my views about a product should they change.

 

As both a reviewer and a consumer of reviews, my view and my understanding is that the content of a review is a static snapshot taken at a point in time, not the definitive statement of what the reviewer thinks (or all that he/she knows or thinks) about the subject, if a reader is to ask him/her at the time the reader actually reads the review (thread), which could be weeks, months or even years later; it is not a stand-in for a dynamic information service that offers current intelligence about the subject.



#32 TSherbs

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Posted 26 September 2018 - 10:28

I agree, Dill, but I will add that I don't find much value in reviews written or filmed immediately after filling pens (feed is artificially saturated) nor when only one pen is used. I appreciate the effort, but I acknowledge that what I am seeing is not representative of usual or common performance.

#33 cellmatrix

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Posted 26 September 2018 - 13:21

Dill, the post wasnt about you. Well maybe the last part about how much I like Australia. The rest was directed more generally about ink and for that matter pen reviews around here. Sometimes they seem more like advertising or cheerleading rather than objective reviews. Cheers, C

#34 A Smug Dill

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Posted 26 September 2018 - 14:26

@TSherbs, that's fair enough, and I'm certainly not going to challenge you or argue with you with regard to in what information content you personally find value.

 

However, I must disagree with your assertion of "feed is artificially saturated" if the pen has just been filled. Why the hell would I be filling a pen with the ink at a given point in time, if I wasn't expecting to use it shortly afterwards? If I was only planning on using the ink in two days' time, why wouldn't I defer filling the pen for a day or two? Writing immediately after filling a pen, I would argue, is a far more common user scenario than you're prepared to acknowledge; I'd say more than half the users of the ink will experience it. It is at least as good a use case (or attribute of one) to present as any other in a review.

 

As far as leaving the ink filled in a pen goes, I have maybe 50 or 60 fountain pens here. Some will not start after three days of being unused, regardless of the ink, because the cap sealing mechanism is ineffective. Every of the five Luoshi 3069 pens I have has that problem. My two Parker Sonnets also don't seal too well, so it's not just the cheap Chinese pens. I have numerous Platinum pens that are marketed as not going to dry out even if left filled with ink and unused for a year, but will start writing whenever the user is ready. I have ten or so Pilot Vanishing Point pens here, and some seal better than others. Whether someone is going to get hard starts after leaving his/her pen unused for, say, two days is not a question I can answer, want to answer or will attempt to answer in an ink review; I cannot even say what are the 'typical' circumstances within my own little universe.

 

Anyway, my view is that an ink review ought to be first and foremost about the characteristics of the ink – not the pen/nib/feed, not the paper, and certainly not the person reading the review imagining what it would be like for him/her to use the ink. Of course we're all limited in how much we can isolate or decouple a review and/or discussion of the ink, as a product in its own right, from the pen/nib/feed/paper that the individual uses, but that is why the reviewer is using his/her choices for the testing, not anyone else's pen/tool/equipment and not anyone else's choices (even if we're prepared to assume that all Platinum #3776 rhodium-plated 14K gold SF nibs, say, are created equal and effectively identical – when of course they aren't, in the real world). As a reviewer, I can only articulate a subset of what I discovered, observed or experienced when I studied the review subject, measured it, experimented with and/or used it.

 

The imagined or projected user experience of the individual reader of the review is important to that reader – of course – but no-one else, really. OK, maybe the product manufacturer, who has something to gain by better aligning its products with the target customer base.

 

Even as the reviewer myself, how my writing experience would be if I were to leave the ink in my EF-nibbed pen unused for 103 hours, then taking my pen out from my shirt pocket at a cafe on a fine, sunny day when the ambient temperature is 19 degrees, to make notes in the margins of an article in a "gentlemen's magazine", could not be the subject of the ink review study even if that were a common user scenario for me. (It isn't. I don't carry my fountain pens in shirt pockets.) Yet that seems to effectively be the type of thing some review readers (not you specifically) agitating to know, and want to be catered for before they deign to conclude the reviewer has not wasted their time reading. I find that mentality off-putting.

 

Even if I was performing reviews or assessments professionally for discussion papers, I would still only be giving hard data such as what someone would find on a spec sheet, maybe cite one or two case studies, and possibly a short list of tests and test results, unless it's a study/report specifically commissioned by a single client with a very clearly defined interest and my job is to guide his/her/its investment decisions. If I was reading reviews and product technical reports for professional reasons, it would be my responsibility to try to close the knowledge gap at my 'expense' of time, effort, due diligence and considered risk-taking, to see how my company's or my client's intended application relates to the data and the case studies that have been published.



#35 A Smug Dill

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Posted 26 September 2018 - 14:45



 

But the swabs, if you choose to do them, would let shade-lovers make an educated guess as to how their own equipment/supplies would perform with the ink you're reviewing.

 

 

I was mucking around earlier with some of the Diamine shimmer inks, trying to work out how best to review/study them (at least for my own purposes), when it occurred to me that the swabs would be a key calibration tool for assessing whether an ink flows 'wet' or 'dry' when used in a particular set of circumstances (including choice of pen, nib, paper, etc.), especially for 'shading' inks.

 

fpn_1537972085__shading_scale_realisatio

In the exercise above, I deliberately made each instance of the characters 色, 不 and 死 more saturated with ink, so that they will appear to be a different colour. I did so by slowing down the writing speed for them to between one-tenth and one-quarter of what is normal for me, using the same pen and writing in a single pass, so I could still get the shape of the strokes including the sharp points looking (more or less) like they should. If 'wet' or 'dry' is just a question of how much ink will flow through the feed and the nib to get laid down on the page when writing (or drawing), then short of directly measuring ink volume as the physical metric, some indication of the level of ink saturation when writing is probably a usable indirect measure. That means I have to know what different levels of ink saturation looks like on the type of paper being used. Doing multi-pass swabs will tell me that.



#36 LizEF

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Posted 26 September 2018 - 17:26

In the exercise above, I deliberately made each instance of the characters 色, 不 and 死 more saturated with ink, so that they will appear to be a different colour. I did so by slowing down the writing speed for them to between one-tenth and one-quarter of what is normal for me, using the same pen and writing in a single pass, so I could still get the shape of the strokes including the sharp points looking (more or less) like they should. If 'wet' or 'dry' is just a question of how much ink will flow through the feed and the nib to get laid down on the page when writing (or drawing), then short of directly measuring ink volume as the physical metric, some indication of the level of ink saturation when writing is probably a usable indirect measure. That means I have to know what different levels of ink saturation looks like on the type of paper being used. Doing multi-pass swabs will tell me that.

 

Please help me out here.  I want to see if I'm understanding or if I'm missing something.  (NOTE: I'm not suggesting you do or don't do anything specific in reviews, I'm just trying to explore the theory and see where it leads.)

 

To me, it seems like the above would tell you two things:

 

1) As a stand-alone, it would tell you whether the pen you used tended to write wet or dry (when compared with the swab, you could see that it's letting out only a little ink (pale end) or lots of ink (dark end)).  I suppose you could say the ink is wet or dry depending on how much ink goes down when writing, but of course, the nib/feed have a lot to do with that.

 

Now if you used multiple pens, then you could get an "average" and say the ink tends to flow wetter / drier.  I guess it seems like with one pen and one ink, your result will depend as much on the pen as on the ink.

 

2) If you used the same pen for multiple inks, then you could see, for example, with ink A, the writing is close to the pale end of the swab; but with ink B, the writing is toward the dark end of the swab.  From that you could conclude that ink B is wetter than ink A.

 

In other words, it seems like you need to compare (either multiple pens or multiple inks) in order to draw meaningful conclusions beyond (this ink from this pen looks thusly).

 

Does that make sense?  Is that in lines with your thinking?  Am I missing something?



#37 minddance

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Posted 26 September 2018 - 17:33

@TSherbs, that's fair enough, and I'm certainly not going to challenge you or argue with you with regard to in what information content you personally find value.
 
However, I must disagree with your assertion of "feed is artificially saturated" if the pen has just been filled. Why the hell would I be filling a pen with the ink at a given point in time, if I wasn't expecting to use it shortly afterwards? If I was only planning on using the ink in two days' time, why wouldn't I defer filling the pen for a day or two? Writing immediately after filling a pen, I would argue, is a far more common user scenario than you're prepared to acknowledge; I'd say more than half the users of the ink will experience it. It is at least as good a use case (or attribute of one) to present as any other in a review.
 



Pen will be artificially saturated just after filling, especially when it is dipped in ink and filled. This can take the place of a freshly-dipped dip pen, if you intend to show the most saturated version of an ink.

This saturation can last 1-3 lines, depending on paper, pressure, paper and font size. This saturation will not last. What we will be living with is the remainder of the ink, when the saturation subsides. In terms of proportion of ink in the pen, the remainder of the ink forms the significantly larger percentage, thus of greater value and practicality.

If you are willing to write more than half a page using that freshly-filled pen, I would be more interested to read the second half of the writing when the ink goes lighter.

If you are absolutely insistent on displaying an ink with a freshly filled pen by dipping into ink, and enthusiastic about publishing a public review, I would most appreciate and be grateful if you could indicate so, so that I (and other readers) would not be misled.

Thank you.

#38 LizEF

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Posted 26 September 2018 - 18:58

Pen will be artificially saturated just after filling, especially when it is dipped in ink and filled. This can take the place of a freshly-dipped dip pen, if you intend to show the most saturated version of an ink.

This saturation can last 1-3 lines, depending on paper, pressure, paper and font size. This saturation will not last. What we will be living with is the remainder of the ink, when the saturation subsides. In terms of proportion of ink in the pen, the remainder of the ink forms the significantly larger percentage, thus of greater value and practicality.

If you are willing to write more than half a page using that freshly-filled pen, I would be more interested to read the second half of the writing when the ink goes lighter.

If you are absolutely insistent on displaying an ink with a freshly filled pen by dipping into ink, and enthusiastic about publishing a public review, I would most appreciate and be grateful if you could indicate so, so that I (and other readers) would not be misled.

Thank you.

 

I'm with Smug Dill on this one - I use a pen immediately after filling - I don't fill it and, for example, store it nib up so the ink will drain out of the feed, and then store it horizontal so the feed is "as usual".  Yes, that means it's initially super-saturated, but that's how I use it.  Noting that fact in the review is a reasonable request, though. :)



#39 minddance

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Posted 26 September 2018 - 19:01

I use pens immediately after filling too. But I do not fill pens by dipping the nib into the ink bottle. :)

#40 TSherbs

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Posted 26 September 2018 - 21:54

@TSherbs, that's fair enough, and I'm certainly not going to challenge you or argue with you with regard to in what information content you personally find value.

 

However, I must disagree with your assertion of "feed is artificially saturated" if the pen has just been filled. Why the hell would I be filling a pen with the ink at a given point in time, if I wasn't expecting to use it shortly afterwards? If I was only planning on using the ink in two days' time, why wouldn't I defer filling the pen for a day or two? Writing immediately after filling a pen, I would argue, is a far more common user scenario than you're prepared to acknowledge; I'd say more than half the users of the ink will experience it. It is at least as good a use case (or attribute of one) to present as any other in a review.

 

As far as leaving the ink filled in a pen goes, I have maybe 50 or 60 fountain pens here. Some will not start after three days of being unused, regardless of the ink, because the cap sealing mechanism is ineffective. Every of the five Luoshi 3069 pens I have has that problem. My two Parker Sonnets also don't seal too well, so it's not just the cheap Chinese pens. I have numerous Platinum pens that are marketed as not going to dry out even if left filled with ink and unused for a year, but will start writing whenever the user is ready. I have ten or so Pilot Vanishing Point pens here, and some seal better than others. Whether someone is going to get hard starts after leaving his/her pen unused for, say, two days is not a question I can answer, want to answer or will attempt to answer in an ink review; I cannot even say what are the 'typical' circumstances within my own little universe.

 

Anyway, my view is that an ink review ought to be first and foremost about the characteristics of the ink – not the pen/nib/feed, not the paper, and certainly not the person reading the review imagining what it would be like for him/her to use the ink. Of course we're all limited in how much we can isolate or decouple a review and/or discussion of the ink, as a product in its own right, from the pen/nib/feed/paper that the individual uses, but that is why the reviewer is using his/her choices for the testing, not anyone else's pen/tool/equipment and not anyone else's choices (even if we're prepared to assume that all Platinum #3776 rhodium-plated 14K gold SF nibs, say, are created equal and effectively identical – when of course they aren't, in the real world). As a reviewer, I can only articulate a subset of what I discovered, observed or experienced when I studied the review subject, measured it, experimented with and/or used it.

 

The imagined or projected user experience of the individual reader of the review is important to that reader – of course – but no-one else, really. OK, maybe the product manufacturer, who has something to gain by better aligning its products with the target customer base.

 

Even as the reviewer myself, how my writing experience would be if I were to leave the ink in my EF-nibbed pen unused for 103 hours, then taking my pen out from my shirt pocket at a cafe on a fine, sunny day when the ambient temperature is 19 degrees, to make notes in the margins of an article in a "gentlemen's magazine", could not be the subject of the ink review study even if that were a common user scenario for me. (It isn't. I don't carry my fountain pens in shirt pockets.) Yet that seems to effectively be the type of thing some review readers (not you specifically) agitating to know, and want to be catered for before they deign to conclude the reviewer has not wasted their time reading. I find that mentality off-putting.

 

Even if I was performing reviews or assessments professionally for discussion papers, I would still only be giving hard data such as what someone would find on a spec sheet, maybe cite one or two case studies, and possibly a short list of tests and test results, unless it's a study/report specifically commissioned by a single client with a very clearly defined interest and my job is to guide his/her/its investment decisions. If I was reading reviews and product technical reports for professional reasons, it would be my responsibility to try to close the knowledge gap at my 'expense' of time, effort, due diligence and considered risk-taking, to see how my company's or my client's intended application relates to the data and the case studies that have been published.

 

I don't know what this is all about, sorry. You seem perturbed, but I must say that I can't follow everything you are writing and am confused. I am also tired after a long day's work.

 

I just meant that the reviews that I value most are those that use a pen some 2-3 days after having been inked so that the initial extra ink on the feed from the dip-filling has been removed through use and the pen is operating at more "baseline" conditions. My pens stay inked for a month or so, and thus how they perform most often is not indicated by how they perform after having just been dip-filled in a bottle and the feed is fully saturated from the fill and the immersion. I thought that this thread was asking us to state what kinds of things we value in reviews. Maybe I am mistaken.

 

I appreciate the effort made in all the reviews and review many of them. 







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