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Friday, 11 January 2013


I'm reading this as I stand in front of my DIY stand-up desk solution, comprised of Ikea office cabinets, topped with one of their white, long desktops. Monitors sit on an Ikea metal shelf over my audio monitors which serve as pillars for the shelf. The cabinet hides all the wire and provides under desk storage.

It takes a while to adjust to standing - your back will revolt - but if you power through, the benefits are well documented. Use a stool as a backup and alternate between standing and sitting until you are most comfortable standing.

Good luck Mike.

The Apple store employee who claimed you couldn't connect two keyboards (or mice) to the same computer and sold you an expensive new keyboard, should be fired. With USB keyboards, you can connect as many as you can connect USB devices, even chained, if you want to.

As for the wireless keyboard giving problems with time-machine, I see two possible explanations: If your TM backs up to a USB drive, it may be saturating the USB host controller that also hosts the keyboard.

If it does it over Wifi, it may be simple radio interference. Try not to sit between the computer and the access point :-)

Either way, try moving the receiver for the keyboard to another USB port.

Good thing we have computers now. My normally awful handwriting becomes utterly illegible, even by me, if I try to write while standing.

Of course, what they don't show is the cables that most people have hanging off the back of their desks. I've got 14 power outlets under mine and all but two are in use. As someone who installs medical equipment on adjustable height tables, I know the problems of not making sure all the cables are routed in a way they don't get caught up, get trapped or leave big loops that can cause trip hazards.

Just something to be aware of Mike.

How wonderful. Or maybe go back to the Amish and see if they'll make you a high tech one - at least, one you wind up by hand.

Another Scandinavian sit-stand desk maker is Kinnarps. Well made stuff which stands up to institutional use and has lots of options. They have a hand crank version if the electric motor one is Nikon-compromised.


About a year ago my wife had me make a riser for her office desk. She now stands 90% of the time at work. This has helped with her shoulder fatigue and surprisingly her feet. She is 54 and so is close in age to yourself. Now if I can just get her to go for at least a short walk every day.

I could never type for more than a few minutes with my elbows suspended in air as depicted in that video. Also Donald Rumsfeld used a standing desk, that's enough reason for me to never try one. :) I'll just set a timer and go walk on my treadmill every 90 minutes or so.

I worked for a company a year or two back where motorised standing / sitting desks were available. Certainly a good solution that I can recommend from a functional point of view - though expensive for the private individual I suppose. But how do you put a price on your health? (Speaking as someone who has suffered an embolism .... )

Many people in my office (myself included) use these. Not sure how well your iMac would work with it. Do iMacs have VESA mounts?


Mike hope things are improving on the health front,with regards to the stand up desk I agree with your choice but would caution that it is only a partial cure, sitting or standing or a combination of both in front of a computer screen for 14 hours a day is a recipe for disaster.
You need to cut back on time spent at the desk and get out more with the Big Dragoon or whatever it takes, life is short Mike go and live it fella!!



> Too many choices. Indecision will turn me to stone...It moves up
> and down...

That made me laugh (well, smile at least). My car has a motorised seat, and really, it is just an infinity of choice. How I long for the old sliding / locking type adjustment.

I hope you don't end up like me: "Forward just a little bit, nope, back a bit, nope, back a little more, nope, forward again, nope, a little too much, back a bit, nope forward just a smidgen, nope, a little more, nope, just back a bit, nope. Maybe up? Nope, down and back a bit, nope..."

Mike, I use Logitech K360 wireless keyboards for my home PC and work laptop. They've been rock solid in daily use for over a year. I've had past Logitech wireless keyboards that have been equally solid.

I tried ergonomic keyboards but found they weren't particularly helpful ... breaks, stretching, and ergonomics being much more useful and helpful.

Hope this helps.

Google 'ergonomic office furniture' and you will get several catalogs with selections of stand/sit desks, which may (or may not) be better/cheaper than the one you saw.


I've been looking for a standing desk, too, and am mostly Miata-repairs poor at the moment. Found this link to a possible budget-saving solution: http://lifehacker.com/5934906/standing-desks-on-the-cheap-the-ikea-guide

--Charlie Ewers

I've been thinking about this a lot lately as well. The data on the ill effects of sitting all day are very convincing. Thanks for sharing this with us. There are many similar solutions out there.

The main problem that I can see with a desk that you frequently adjust the height on is that cable management is likely to be a problem. My set up includes a Mac Mini, separate monitor, RAID storage, DAC and speakers, a scanner, and the power supplies for all of these things. There is a real tangle of wires behind my desk and on the floor below it. I suppose I could solve it by attaching a power strip to the desk that will go up and down with it, plug all the power supplies into the power strip, and then make sure the cord for the power strip itself is long enough to allow everything to rise and fall as needed. Excellent cable management of all the interconnecting cables would be required so that they don't constantly pull out when the desk changes position.

I have a kidney shaped desk here at work that lifts up and down with a simple hand crank - it should cost less than a motorized desk. It has ample space for a notebook computer in a docking station, 25 inch monitor, keyboard, desk fan, mouse, and coffee cup (looking at what's on it this moment). Unfortunately there is not a name brand tag in sight.

I periodically stand at work to help my 58 year old back and 2 year old artificial hip. Recently I saw a news headline that suggested sitting all day is worse than smoking - yikes!

Oh, and I do miss those frequent darkroom sessions till the wee morning hours. I don't remember getting sore then. Could fixer fumes and silver gelatin act as painkillers? Something to think about :)

Good idea. I'm seeing people at work convert their cubicals to standup work areas.

it's just a thought but I have another solution for you to consider. Not as sexy perhaps but much more economical.
I use an old architect's drawing table/stand. I can sit at it or stand and it has the added advantage of a large surface area that will adjust to any angle. I'm using it to sort slides while standing at the moment but it works in so many ways.
Architects no longer use drawing tables much so they're easy to find s/hand. Mine is a fairly cheap one I bought from a friend and has a slight wobble up high, but there must be thousands of elegant versions languishing unused, just waiting for a new purpose in life.
Good luck!

Fascinating. The thing that made long darkroom sessions workable for me was getting a tall stool, so I didn't have to be on my feet the whole time.

I should not comment because, one, I didn't read the entire post, and two, I'm probably not qualified!
But here's what I think. Break up your day, and throw in a little excersise when you can.
If you don't have one, get one of those stationary bikes. or a treadmill.
Eat lighter, less starch, and sugar.
Don't throw away the desk and chair yet!
We've both been around for the last twenty or so years, and we've seen coffee, bacon, salt, ice cream, alcohol, demonized;– only to come back and be "okay"!
(In moderation, of course)
But whatever you decide, – good luck!

Hi Mike,

By strange coincidence, one of my staff yesterday pointed me to an article on the BBC website ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-20947605 ) and wondered if we might be able to have a height adjustable desk so that he too could stand up to work. After some discussion we came to the conclusion that removing a floor panel and creating a hole to stand in might even more effective!

I completely fail to understand the point of a sit-stand desk. They are expensive as cuss, and if you really wanted to sit down, why not a counter-height chair? They even make those in "ergonomic" office chair styles.

And I don't see what's so hard about sizing a standing desk. Cooks all work at the same counter height despite being a wide variety of heights and arm lengths. Try typing on your kitchen counter while standing. Too low? Add a couple books until you get the right height, measure, and you're done.

Hi Mike,

we've got adjustable consoles at work and you have to make sure that cables are long enough if the distance between monitors and PC is variable (and that they don't snag on things), although I'm guessing when you'e set you won't be adjusting much.

I definitely agree that standing during part of the day is great - I feel a lot better at the end of the day if I have stood for an hour or two.

While it wouldn't work for you, if others are (like me) students that still read books or printed papers a lot, I've found that there's a very cheap way to stand up for part of the day - buy a music stand (not the super-cheap wire version, but something like an "On-Stage Orchestral Music Stand" or my favorite, the much-better-quality Peak SMS-32).

Then when I'm using the computer, I'll sit down, but to read a book or a paper, even with writing and highlighting, I'll stand up and use the music stand as a desk that is plenty sturdy. It feels great, it's easily adjustable, and it only costs $30!

"you can't connect two keyboards to the same computer, at least as far as I know."

Of course you can they're just USB HIDs (human interface devices). The computer doesn't care where USB input events come from.

You can connect multiple mice (or mouse like devices e.g. mouse and a tablet and a trackpad). I've done it on many occasions.

The wireless does help the wiring (and Apple's profit margin!) though :-)

First - thanks for you blog & posts. I enjoy them.

Second - Being Nikon poor myself, I find the Jesper is a bit too pricey. I have been looking at various makers, and here's some selections I found that may help you.

my fav - conset - another company from Denmark

All the best

You might also want to check out the adjustable desks at http://www.geekdesk.com/. They seem pretty reasonably priced. I have almost bought one several times, but haven't yet (so I can't comment on the quality). Like you, I spend way too much time sitting in front of a computer.

Found a review site, whic among other things does standing desks



2 inches a second? Mind you don't injure yourself!

FYI, you can connect multiple keyboards to one machine (works fine on both Mac OS X and Windows).

You know, I'm thinking that a stand-up workstation might just be the best printer stand ever invented.

Macs are perfectly happy to use two keyboards and mice, either USB or wireless. If you want them to be wired, each keyboard/mouse "set" will need to plug into a USB port on the machine itself (or a powered hub) as must Mac USB ports don't have enough juice to run two Apple keyboards and two optical mice.

Of course some cheap blocks will raise the existing desk to the correct height for less than the cost of many things. A Barstool will work well for as seat for the initial adjustment period.
A friend of mine made a temporary standing desk out of a cooler for the keyboard and mouse and a couple of milk crates for the monitor. It didn't look great but it worked for him. Now that he has had back surgery, he is back to sitting at his desk with a lot of walking breaks interspersed during the day. Of course, his job requires him to move away from the desk...

I have used stand up desks for almost twenty years. I've never found an off-the-shelf desk that was exactly what I sought, but I have been satisfied with Anthro Technology Products stand up desks. (www.anthro.com) (Disclaimer: I have no relationship with Anthro.) Hope you're feeling better.

Another possibility is the Haworth "Eddy" desk from Crate & Barrel if you don't need a large surface. Although being closed out (no longer available by web), they are still in stores. The Mayfair Mall C&B in your area has a floor model on display, and one can be shipped there, per the C&B website. Surface is 37.5" x 20.5" and height can range from 27 to 40 inches. Has gas lifts, so essentially infinitely adjustable within that range.

We just bought one at the sale price of $199, the original $499 seemed high for what you get, but under $200 it's worth a shot. Haven't set it up yet, so can't comment on how well the height adjustment works with stuff such as a computer on the desk. In the store (with top bare of course) it was okay, not the smoothest action, but you didn't have to wrestle with it either.

Sitting around all day is bad. What about sports two times the week? I recommend training with weights, but not a la Schwarzenegger. The improvements for the general constitution and health are enormously.... :-)

I find the whole "sitting is bad" trend to be a bit of an overkill. The real problem is not sitting, per se, but falling into bad repetitive habits with your posture.

I tried using a standing desk for a few months until, guess what, it started giving me problems with my legs and hips. Standing at a desk causes just as many bad posture habits as sitting, once you get over the novelty of it.

Now I use a regular old desk again. I just try not to slouch or put my legs up too often, and make sure I get up and move around a lot throughout the day.

Cool! I've been musing about trying a stand up desk since I read Michael Ondaatje's "The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film" wherein Murch extols their virtues. I haven't made the change yet though.

The Microsoft Natural keyboard I did adopt right away, as soon as I got a twinge of pain in the wrists. My keyboard is so old, it was the white model. It's... uh... not so white anymore. I credit that keyboard, and forcing myself to become mouse-ambidextrous, with saving my wrists.

There are conversion desktops, the kangaroo ones are spoken of well, that are adjustable and turn your regular desk into a standing one. They're less expensive than buying a complete, adjustable standing desk and can let you try it out first.


No affiliation...

Mike --

You know that once you get the stand-up desk, you'll need to get the Danskos or similar shoes that are good for people who spend long amounts of time on their feet . . . .

I used to have constant back pain for years. It got better with treatment but it allways came back after a while.
When I bought a recumbent trike (ICE Sprint) to replace my old mountain bike nearly two years ago my back got better, then the pain vanished. Since 1.5 years I'm pain free.
Recumbents are not cheap in general, good ones tend to be rather expensive, but boy the tikes are fun!
I tell everybody that trike is the most enjoyable toy I bought in my life.

Get well soon!


I use a Versa Center as a standing desk.


It's not on-the-fly adjustable, but it can be set up to whatever height you need and is much more affordable than most other options. I have a drafting chair that I use when I need a break from standing.

Keep in mind that with a standing desk you'll likely need to elevate your monitor(s). The included shelf on the Versa Center works great for this.

Just get a stand up desk and a really high chair :-)

I too tried one of those Microsoft Natural Keyboards but I found the keys to be stiff. Now I'm using a mechanical switch keyboard and greatly prefer it, even though it isn't ergonic. There is no numpad either which means the mouse isn't as far away (Filco Majestouch-2, Tenkeyless).

Kinesis make ergonomic keyboards with mechanical switches, though I haven't tried them.

Oh and if you're serious, you should also learn Dvorak or another more ergonomic layout of course :-)

The problem is being stationary, not whether you are standing or sitting. My internist says that if you do not sweat it is not doing you much good. We need a morning and evening walk, like the dog.


I use an L-shaped, motorized stand-up desk I bought from Workrite ("Sierra HX"). The desk occupies a corner of my office, with an Apple 27" monitor at the apex. There's plenty of space on either arm of the L for my usual piles of paper, books, etc. I adjust the height depending on how much elbow support I want when typing while standing up. About half the time, I want a little bit of gluteal support, and for that, I have a saddle-shaped HAG Capisco stool (no back), against which I can lean, or sometimes sit on outright. I got the stool with slides, rather than casters, to make it easier to lean against it (my office is carpeted, so the stool stays put when I lean against it). The vertical adjustability of the desk and the stool makes it possible to fine-tune this combination exhaustively. When I want to slouch, I bring my desk all the way down, and pull up a conventional chair. The combination of a stand-up desk and a stool has done wonders for my back.

That's very cool, Mike. You're working just like Rumsfeld now! If you start to waterboard the dog you might want to go back to sitting. (Or just lie down.)

Hi Mike,
An industrial design blog I read has made a standing desk shootout some time ago;
At the end of the article there's links to the other models.
Hope it helps.

I have something very similar to that desk in my office at work. Very sturdy and well-made. The problem with it (the reason I don't use it) is the off-center curve. If your are right handed, like me, the majority of the empty top space, once there is a computer on it, is to the right of the keyboard, and the computer must be placed at a certain spot to coincide with the "chair curve." So all papers and books, etc., must go to that right side when using the computer, but I naturally always want to look to my left as I'm typing and reading but there is too little space to the left. It is very frustrating, so I don't use it except as a straight-on, sit-down desk without a computer.

I always thought it would be perfect if the curve were placed the other way around, or had no curve all. It's almost like it was built for left handed people. Maybe it is just me (in baseball, I bat left and throw right).


"it won't work right when Time Machine is updating. What's up with that?"

What's up with that is Time Machine seems to suck the life out of Bluetooth connections. The same problem exists with my wireless trackpad. I have no idea why Time Machine would hog that resource. My backups certainly aren't going through that channel.

Good idea Mike!

And here's the over the top, not quite sure of the solution, haaaa :)


Another thing to consider in a stand up desk is a bar to rest one foot on as you stand up. The reason bars have bars are because it is more anatomically comfortable to drink longer if a person is comfortable. Standing with one foot on the bar, straightens out the lower back and a person can stand comfortably longer. I am sure a mobile bar could be rigged by some creative person.

Just a thought that might work.

A follow up/addition to my earlier response.

Re observations that standing all day can be bad. Yes, it can and having some cushioning beneath your feet rather than a hard surface like a cement slab can help but you don't want it too soft.

Another thing that can help is a foot rest at around the height of the old foot rails you used to find (maybe still do find) in bars. Just being able to raise one foot slightly can help ease low back strain, and you can alternate the foot you raise along with standing with both feet on the floor for some of the time, and sitting.

Postural variation is good because we aren't normally aware of the muscles that maintain posture and maintaining any posture without some movement or variation over time will leave some muscles engaged for too long. Postural variation gives different groups of those muscles the opportunity to recover while engaging a different set of muscles.


You can still sit doing "mission-critical" work (writing).

Do try standing up when doing everything else besides. Starting with editing comments...

Going 'round the web...

Looking at pictures...

Watching TV (besides (foot)ball games, movies)...

Listening to up-tempo music (dance to it, too)...

Reading books...


Using your phone (walk around, too)...

You can stand it.

We wants you to be our last man standing.

(P.S. If you're using your "lectern" as a stand-in, immobilize its rollers by putting jar lids or lens/body caps(!) under them locking 'em down.)

Me too, Mike. Same problem. My doctor keeps telling me to get my legs up higher and get more exercise, but we all know how hard it is. I've had an idea - a seat like a car seat (not as heavy duty) with nylon wheels in steel channels. Pedals linked to the seat to move forward, which lifts the front wheels, elevating the legs and letting you sit back, with adjustable lumbar and head support. Your keyboard and monitor slide in on adjustable tables with various arm rests etc.

But wait, there's more :-) The pedals disengage from the chair movement and engage a timer. You have to pedal, with adjustable friction, to keep your monitor powered. The timer would be random. You need to keep pedalling for some of the time otherwise your monitor powers down. If it does, you have to pedal hard for a short period to switch it back on. Flick a lever to re-link the pedals to the chair movement back to the start position to get up.

Million dollar idea, I reckon. Like it? It's yours. I'll get around to it one of these days.

one more happy Anthro user here; i bought an adjustable desk from them in 1995 and still use it daily (mostly sitting, but i fairly often raise the forward portion to stand at it); they don't make my model, the Anthro Console, any more, but it is similar to the current Fit Console model; the main idea is the whole desk needn't be adjustable, only the front part with the keyboard and mouse

i also have my Apple monitor on an Ergotron LX arm, which makes it easy to reposition (and also to rotate to portrait orientation on occasion); Apple sells an adapter to mount its monitors and iMacs on VESA arms, but the LX arm is not spec'd for the weight of a 27" iMac (unless the newest ones are lighter)

in the end, though, i usually sit, and sometimes set software to tell me to stand up and stretch every 20 minutes or so; a couple of years ago i attended a presentation by a youngish man who did web development at a treadmill desk; he was full of optimism for the benefits of it, but i foresee knee trouble for him …

I want to second Paul Davis' recommendation of ConSet. Conset/America has a very large range of sit/stand desks. I live in Madison and found Jesper but the local prices were awful. But on a whim I went into Century House & found this brand. Check out the info on their website . You can design your own. I ordered one of the cheaper tops & leg sets and it was about half the comparable Jesper. Given that they have a retailer in Madison there must be one in Milw. I cannot tell you how much I love this desk. Just varying the height when sitting and varying the height of my desk chair makes a huge different. I have one combination for merely watching videos & reading. Of course another for working with the Wacom on photos.

Another option is a used drafting table. Most of them are metal, but you can occasionally find wood ones. Hamilton and Mayline made them (probably still do). They come in all shapes and sizes, both fixed height and adjustable – motorized too.

They are generally quite spacious, plenty of room for a monitor or two, though you might want to consider an adjustable are or wall mount to get them up to an EC (ergonomically correct) height. After you get the drafting table swing by your local low priced tool emporium and see if they've got some foam rubber floor mat tiles in stock. Add a drafting chair for those moments when you need to sit and you'd be set to go. I wouldn't be surprised if you could do it for under $200.

I bought a Jesper Sit-Stand desk last April. It is a quality piece, it's like a rock even when fully extended. I use it with an Alvin Synchro-Tilt Painter's Stool and Herman Miller Aeron chair so I can really change up my positions during the day. This setup has worked out really well.

I've found it necessary to wear comfortable shoes when standing a lot. Slippers don't have enough arch support. Aching feet can result!

You may be interested to know that the Ikea GALANT cable tray fits perfectly along the back edge of the Jesper desk.


The GALANT tray is wide enough to hold a large auto-switching surge-suppressor/power strip. This makes for a very neat-looking installation. There is only one cord plugging into the wall outlet - everything else is out of sight, and yet very easy to get to! And I have a lot of stuff on the desk: a tower computer, two monitors, speakers and a couple of external drives.

Rubbermaid makes "Mobile Computing Carts" designed to be used standing or sitting. The price gives an indication of why healthcare costs so much.

Separately ... I find that spending time sitting on a high stool at a high table or bar (drinks not allowed) is a good way to change position for part of the day.

About 4 or so years ago, after having some problems with my back and knees, I moved the laptop to a kitchen counter*, which is not precisely the correct height. It works just fine for reading and writing, but not working on photographs. The ergonomics are questionable - I find myself spreading my legs sideways to get my hands to the correct level, but standing up properly to read. Years of having "standing" jobs, like teaching, making coffee, doing print production work make this kind of thing feel better. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about.

May I suggest getting good shoes? Look for non-skid soles in black or white - they typically made for waiters and nurses, and really saved my feet when I was teaching.


*we have an odd shaped kitchen, with a section of counter far, far, away from where we cook. It's a mystery.

Very interesting; keep us posted on how this goes. I've been thinking about this as well.

By the way, you can connect as many keyboards and mice to a computer as you want since the dawn of USB. They all work at the same time, so if you move both mice, their movements get added; you don't get more than one cursor, of course.

Several people, including myself, have Geekdesks at work. They're a godsend for stressful work days, and so easy to adjust with the motor. I'm trying to figure out how I can get one at home.

I also just entered a contest at the artofmanliness.com for a Vertdesk, but I've never used one: http://www.beyondtheofficedoor.com/vertdesk.php

60 answers later; time to look at the solution from a different stand-point (pun intended).
For only $61.77, yes folks sixty bucks, your posture problems solved, and from Amazon too:


Tell us how well your back feels after a while ...

Well, as I will be building a brand new darkroom (after more than 2 decades of not having one,) I won't have this problem. And Eastman House is offering classes in emulsion-making, with a new session for making glass plates coming in March. It's not cheap, but would be loads of fun. I may just spring for it.

At work I did get a chair that could be adjusted to my specific needs. It has made a large difference.

A motorized desk is nice since it's very easy to get the right height with it and to go to sitting height when needed. Drawbacks are cost and weight. One thing to watch out for is control button placement; I used one that was very easy to trigger with the armrest of a chair, causing a nasty feedback loop where the table lowers on top of the chair trapping it further.

There are plenty of cheaper alternatives too, cheapest is to make a stand or box to put on your table and put the monitor and keyboard on top of that.

Finally, while a good working position that can be varied is important, regular cardio workout should not be forgotten. Since you are self-employed, you have the luxury to go out in the middle of the day -- use it.

Hey Mike,
Can't vouch for the website but I saw that they are having a drawing for a free electric standing desk - http://artofmanliness.com/2013/01/11/vertdesk-standing-desk-giveaway/


Mike, if you're sitting 8, 12, 14 hours a day, you need to...well, stop sitting for 8, 12, 14 hours a day. $1500 is not much money at all because it's your HEALTH that's at risk. Don't cheap-out on your own health!
By the way, I have ordered, but not yet received, a "Next Desk"...one of the $1500 ones. I only wish to be at the desk doing digi photo work for three or four hours at a time, but I can't tolerate being immobile in a chair for that long.

Good enough reason to pick up a camera and make some photographs.

A few people at work nw have standing up desks.

We certainly didn't pay $1,500 for them though. They were made out of whatever we had already.

The fault is not in the keyboard, dear Mike, but in our Macs.

Ted Durant's explanation is spot on. I do really like my 2-1/2 year old 27" iMac, but it does have its quirks.

For example, I bought a mini-Display-to-VGA adapter for hooking up an Acer 19" LCD as a 2nd monitor. The Acer only has a VGA input, but that worked perfectly with all my PCs at its native 1440x900 resolution. The iMac just couldn't "see" 1440x900 as one of the options for the Acer.

So I tried an newer Acer 22" LCD (it has both VGA and DVI inputs) with the VGA adapter. Again, my iMac could not "see" the native resolution, only lower, sub-optimal modes. This LCD also works perfectly via VGA with all my PCs.

I had to get a mini-Display-to-DVI adapter in order to get the 22" Acer to work properly with my iMac. That LCD had been dedicated to one of my PCs, and now I have to use the 19" Acer with it, which is not what I wanted to do. Thanks, Apple.

Ever consider more than standing? Treadmill desks allow you to walk from .5 to 3mph while working on your computer. I work at mine between 60 and 90 minutes each evening. I'm normally at 3 mph but I've heard of people who have them at work that walk at 1mph all day. I've lost almost 40 lbs in the past year ...


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