Hardware




  • I'm walking through the office yesterday morning, freshly brewed coffee in hand, and I hear a strange beeping that I've never heard before. Beep beep beep beep...beep beep beep beep. Hmm. WTF is that? As resident "computer guy" I know that it's probably something that concerns me. To no one in particular, I muse: "What the fuck is that beeping?"

    "It's my computer," comes up from under a desk. "It won't turn on." Sigh. "It worked fine on Friday!" At least I already had my coffee.

    Now, hardware is not my speciality. I know more than the average bear and have built a handful of computers, but that's about it. Let's see. Dell tower, fairly standard, won't turn on. Orange power light and four beeps. Smells like a mobo code, off to the internet!!!

    Hmm. That was... less than helpful. The internet tells me "it's a hardware problem." No shit. Combing through a handful tech support forums, I narrow it down to either bad ram or a bad PSU. Since I don't really feel like screwing around with the PSU right off the bat, I start by removing all the ram sticks but one. No good, still doesn't boot - bad PSU I guess. In a flash of inspiration, I decide that I'm going to swap out the hard drive in with our spare tower (yes, singular - which is only spare when we don't have an intern. Yes, my company is that cheap) so this guy can at least do some work while I futz around with a broken computer.

    So I swap out the HDs, set up the tower and... halfway through booting it fails. "Your computer couldn't turn on, please run startup recovery." Alright then. Let's do that.

    "Startup recovery was unable to determine what the problem was." Shit again. Check the internet real quick... looks like some people actually have had success just by running startup recovery multiple times until it worked. Worth a shot, I guess?

    Long story short (too late), I did everything I could think of and couldn't get the computer to boot for the life of me. Eventually I was able to get to cmd and figure out what the problem was - for some reason the computer was trying to boot Windows from disk partition X:\ which did not exist - but I had no idea how to fix that.

    So double shit with extra fuck. Now I have two broken computers and it's been several hours of headache for both me and the poor bastard who's been standing around on his phone waiting for me to fix his computer. Fine. I'll put the HD back in his original machine and swap out the broken PSU with the working one from the spare machine - unplug every goddam thing, un-mount the PSU, try to get it out without breaking the mobo, and do the same in reverse on the other end.

    Beep beep beep beep...beep beep beep beep.

    WHAT THE FUCK? Great, so it's not the PSU, some other piece of shit is broken. Fucking goddam. Computers are the worst, hardware is all the worst, and this POS is the worst of the worst.

    So swap out all the hardware back into its respective PC of origin so we at least only have one broken computer. Start with the one with functional hardware, again, so maybe this guy can get some work done and today isn't a complete wash for him (I did manage to get a copy of his local files earlier while trying to fix the computer-won't-boot problem, so there's that at least). At this point it's been several hours, and we've both broken down and started drinking vodka tonics in the middle of the work day.

    So, finally, we have a working computer with this guy's local files. Thank fucking God. Now I just have to watch over his shoulder while we re-configure Outlook, his VOIP system, FileMaker, etc (aside: for those of you who are lucky enough not to know what FileMaker is, it's basically the Apple version of Access. It's a steaming pile of shit and you should avoid it at all costs).

    So he's back up and running. I take a long look at the pile of computer guts in the next cube that I need to put back together, and instead elect for a long overdue cigarette.

    Nicotine deficiency addressed, I start putting this fucking thing back together. Re-mount PSU, start connecting everything, and what that? Hmm, the SATA cable for the DVD drive fell out. Go to put it back in...wait, the socket is...hmm. Why do I see gold pins instead of the usual L shaped socket? Look at the end of the SATA and.... cocksucker. The cable is blocked. The fucking socket broke off the DVD drive and stuck in the cable. 8 mm of fucking plastic cost me six and a half hours.

    So anyway I removed that cable and the thing booted fine.

    Other fun fact: Dell towers are designed in such a way that I can't remove the broken DVD drive with damaging the case. So this tower is always going to have a broken drive in it.



  • @mikeTheLiar said:

    Other fun fact: Dell towers are designed in such a way that I can't remove the broken DVD drive with damaging the case.

    I can't think of a way you could build a case that allows you to put in a drive but not remove it.  Can you explain how they did this?



  • @mikeTheLiar said:

    Other fun fact: Dell towers are designed in such a way that I can't remove the broken DVD drive with damaging the case.
    You're not trying hard enough - I can think of lots of ways to remove a DVD drive with damaging the case. Some of them sound fun, but not very grammatically correct.



  • @locallunatic said:

    @mikeTheLiar said:

    Other fun fact: Dell towers are designed in such a way that I can't remove the broken DVD drive with damaging the case.

    I can't think of a way you could build a case that allows you to put in a drive but not remove it.  Can you explain how they did this?

     


    The may have built the case around the drive.



  • @locallunatic said:

    @mikeTheLiar said:

    Other fun fact: Dell towers are designed in such a way that I can't remove the broken DVD drive with damaging the case.

    I can't think of a way you could build a case that allows you to put in a drive but not remove it.  Can you explain how they did this?

    Glue?

    Plastic clips (also known as plastic snaps - Why, yes plastic does snap.)



  • @Qwerty said:

    @locallunatic said:

    @mikeTheLiar said:

    Other fun fact: Dell towers are designed in such a way that I can't remove the broken DVD drive with damaging the case.

    I can't think of a way you could build a case that allows you to put in a drive but not remove it.  Can you explain how they did this?

    Glue?

    Plastic clips (also known as plastic snaps - Why, yes plastic does snap.)

    Let's not forget welding, rivets, and metal flanges folded over after the drive was in place which don't allow it to slip out.


  • @locallunatic said:

    I can't think of a way you could build a case that allows you to put in a drive but not remove it.  Can you explain how they did this?

    You get lost when it’s not a software problem, then?



  • @anotherusername said:

    rivets

    Ding ding ding! One of the side panels is riveted in place, so I can't get at the screws on the other side of the drive.



  • @mikeTheLiar said:

    Ding ding ding! One of the side panels is riveted in place, so I can't get at the screws on the other side of the drive.

    What Dell model?

    I do not believe you. HP I'd believe. Apple? Damn straight. But Dell? No way. Not even on their compact desktops.

    EDIT: I bet you have one of the models where the whole CD drive assembly swings out on a hinge. That sounds most likely. That, or the back panel comes out very easily and you didn't even try it.



  • @mikeTheLiar said:

    @anotherusername said:
    rivets

    Ding ding ding! One of the side panels is riveted in place, so I can't get at the screws on the other side of the drive.

    There may be some way to slide or swing the drive or the drive encasement into a position where those screws are accessible...


  • @blakeyrat said:

    @mikeTheLiar said:
    Ding ding ding! One of the side panels is riveted in place, so I can't get at the screws on the other side of the drive.

    What Dell model?

    I do not believe you. HP I'd believe. Apple? Damn straight. But Dell? No way. Not even on their compact desktops.

    EDIT: I bet you have one of the models where the whole CD drive assembly swings out on a hinge. That sounds most likely. That, or the back panel comes out very easily and you didn't even try it.


    Linky.


  • @anotherusername said:

    @mikeTheLiar said:
    @anotherusername said:
    rivets

    Ding ding ding! One of the side panels is riveted in place, so I can't get at the screws on the other side of the drive.

    There may be some way to slide or swing the drive or the drive encasement into a position where those screws are accessible...
    This might be the case, I didn't try that. However, I'm not back at work until Thursday, so I can't verify.


  • The XPS 8500 user manual says that you have to open the case, remove the front bezel, and remove the cables and two screws. Then the drive should be able to slide out through the front of the case. There shouldn't be any screws on the other side of the drive.

    [IMG]http://i.imgur.com/3Fjb2bn.png[/IMG]



  • @anotherusername said:

    The XPS 8500 user manual says that you have to open the case, remove the front bezel, and remove the cables and two screws. Then the drive should be able to slide out through the front of the case. There shouldn't be any screws on the other side of the drive.

    Tried that, it didn't budge. Maybe I didn't push hard enough.



  • Wait. You said your company was cheap. Why are they buying XPS models!? I CAUGHT SOMEONE IN A LIE!

    But yes, the optical drives are easy to remove in that model.



  • @mikeTheLiar said:

    @anotherusername said:
    The XPS 8500 user manual says that you have to open the case, remove the front bezel, and remove the cables and two screws. Then the drive should be able to slide out through the front of the case. There shouldn't be any screws on the other side of the drive.

    Tried that, it didn't budge. Maybe I didn't push hard enough.

    When all else fails, use more force... maybe your case was assembled by the newbie who didn't know not to screw in the drive on that side...



  • @mikeTheLiar said:

    double shit with extra fuck
    Damn - may I use that?



  • @snoofle said:

    @mikeTheLiar said:
    double shit with extra fuck
    Damn - may I use that?

    Sorry, it already belongs to literally every 14-year-old in history.



  • The Optiplexes are dead simple to tear down and rebuild. That and their ubiquity are pretty much their only redeeming features.

    Also, why aren't you letting your domain take care of Outlook setup? Unless he's got some weird signatures or (shudder) PST archives, it should be seamless to the end-user. I think Exchange even sets up the GPs for you.



  • This is why, when a system doesn't boot and you've tried reseating RAM etc, you unplug everything from the board except power, (and CPU and RAM, of course) and try again. I'll often try it without RAM to make sure that the computer is at least getting to the stage of checking for the RAM's existence! If it starts, then reconnect things in rough order of importance until the problem returns. That would have revealed the broken SATA cable fairly quickly.



  • @robbak said:

    This is why, when a system doesn't boot and you've tried reseating RAM etc, you unplug everything from the board except power, (and CPU and RAM, of course) and try again. I'll often try it without RAM to make sure that the computer is at least getting to the stage of checking for the RAM's existence! If it starts, then reconnect things in rough order of importance until the problem returns. That would have revealed the broken SATA cable fairly quickly.

    That isn't a 100% guarantee though. I once had a computer with a broken front-USB port (I guess it short-circuited or something) which caused the computer not to boot at all. But only if the front audio was also connected...

    It's very frustating to have just replaced the front audio (which had already cost some hours to find out) only to find out that it still didn't work when everything was assembled, but did work when the computer was bare-bones with only the front audio connected to the mobo.



  • @mikeTheLiar said:

    @anotherusername said:
    rivets

    Ding ding ding! One of the side panels is riveted in place, so I can't get at the screws on the other side of the drive.

    Dells very rarely require you to unscrew things. They're all clips and hinges and slides and weird-ass catches that you only find by prodding and poking everything in sight or looking up the service manual for that model; all the Dell service manuals for everything they've ever made are online.


  • @mikeTheLiar said:

    The fucking socket broke off the DVD drive and stuck in the cable.

    Broken from new, and just waiting to finish falling apart on a Monday morning, or has someone been rooting around inside the case previously?



  • @Daniel Beardsmore said:

    @mikeTheLiar said:

    The fucking socket broke off the DVD drive and stuck in the cable.

    Broken from new, and just waiting to finish falling apart on a Monday morning, or has someone been rooting around inside the case previously?

    Since I'm the only case-rooter here, it's probably the former. That being said, the computer is a few years old. My guess is it was semi-faulty from the start, and just too many warm/cold cycles broke it. The user told me that he had left his computer on during his vacation (2 ½ weeks) but shut it down on Friday. But that's a just a guess.


  • @Nexzus said:

    Also, why aren't you letting your domain take care of Outlook setup?

    "No, wait a second. That will auto populate. Click next. Enter your initials, click next. Click yes. No, you don't want your RSS feeds to sync with Outlook. Click finish. Now give it a minute or two, Outlook needs to set up your local mailbox, so it's going to need a little bit to copy all of your messages, calendar events and folders from the server."

    My users require quite a bit of hand holding.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Wait. You said your company was cheap. Why are they buying XPS models!? I CAUGHT SOMEONE IN A LIE!

    Someone called "mikeTheLiar". Nice work, Chief.



  • @flabdablet said:

    Dells very rarely require you to unscrew things. They're all clips and hinges and slides and weird-ass catches that you only find by prodding and poking everything in sight

    They don’t make everything that can be loosened or removed from bright green plastic anymore, then? (My experience with Dell PCs has mostly been with ones from about ten years ago, when it was very easy to find what you could remove just by opening your eyes.)



  • @flabdablet said:

    Someone called "mikeTheLiar". Nice work, Chief.

    He's named after an Elder Scrolls character who only tells the truth! M'aiq says so himself. M'aiq knows much and tells some!



  • @blakeyrat said:

    @flabdablet said:
    Someone called "mikeTheLiar". Nice work, Chief.

    He's named after an Elder Scrolls character who only tells the truth! M'aiq says so himself. M'aiq knows much and tells some!


    Mike knows many things others do not.



  • @mikeTheLiar said:

    @blakeyrat said:
    @flabdablet said:
    Someone called "mikeTheLiar". Nice work, Chief.

    He's named after an Elder Scrolls character who only tells the truth! M'aiq says so himself. M'aiq knows much and tells some!


    Mike knows many things others do not.

    Holy shit. I've walked past that kahjiit at least a hundred times but I never drew the connection.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    He's named after an Elder Scrolls character who only tells the truth!

    Anyway, nope, gonna call bullshit. M'aiq's mythos is that you can't trust anything that he says. A small part of it is true, most of it is nonsense, and the rest is meta-commentary. Depending on the game - in Morrowind, almost everything he said was nonsense, there was only one thing (well, 1.5 things if you're being exceptionally generous) that were even close to being "true". In Oblivion/Skyrim almost all of it was commentary, rather than something that actually had any relevance to the world at hand.



  • @Ben L. said:

    @mikeTheLiar said:
    @blakeyrat said:
    @flabdablet said:
    Someone called "mikeTheLiar". Nice work, Chief.

    He's named after an Elder Scrolls character who only tells the truth! M'aiq says so himself. M'aiq knows much and tells some!


    Mike knows many things others do not.

    Holy shit. I've walked past that kahjiit at least a hundred times but I never drew the connection.

    Wow. I always knew you were thick, but not that thick. Or is my username really that hard to get? </p?



  • @mikeTheLiar said:

    @blakeyrat said:
    He's named after an Elder Scrolls character who only tells the truth!

    Anyway, nope, gonna call bullshit. M'aiq's mythos is that you can't trust anything that he says. A small part of it is true, most of it is nonsense, and the rest is meta-commentary. Depending on the game - in Morrowind, almost everything he said was nonsense, there was only one thing (well, 1.5 things if you're being exceptionally generous) that were even close to being "true". In Oblivion/Skyrim almost all of it was commentary, rather than something that actually had any relevance to the world at hand.

    Are you saying I might have said something not technically true to... I dunno... make a "joke" of some kind?

    What a shocking revelation!



  • @mikeTheLiar said:

    @Ben L. said:
    @mikeTheLiar said:
    @blakeyrat said:
    @flabdablet said:
    Someone called "mikeTheLiar". Nice work, Chief.

    He's named after an Elder Scrolls character who only tells the truth! M'aiq says so himself. M'aiq knows much and tells some!


    Mike knows many things others do not.

    Holy shit. I've walked past that kahjiit at least a hundred times but I never drew the connection.

    Wow. I always knew you were thick, but not that thick. Or is my username really that hard to get?

    I got Skyrim as a christmas present (2013) from one of my friends who found out I hadn't played it.



  • @Ben L. said:

    I got Skyrim as a christmas present (2013) from one of my friends who found out I hadn't played it.
    My favourite part is the way you can shoot holes through your own shields so the little wriggly bombs have a chance to drop on you even when you're hiding.



  • @mikeTheLiar said:

    Long story short (too late), I did everything I could think of and couldn't get the computer to boot for the life of me. Eventually I was able to get to cmd and figure out what the problem was - for some reason the computer was trying to boot Windows from disk partition X:\ which did not exist - but I had no idea how to fix that.
    X: is WinPE ramdisk that's used by system recovery (you can also see X: if you go to command prompt when booting Vista and newer install DVDs).



  • @Ben L. said:

    Holy shit. I've walked past that kahjiit at least a hundred times but I never drew the connection.

    @Ben L. said:
    I got Skyrim as a christmas present (2013) from one of my friends who found out I hadn't played it.

    Bullshit again. I find it hard to believe you've walked past him a hundred times in the last week.



  • @flabdablet said:

    @Ben L. said:
    I got Skyrim as a christmas present (2013) from one of my friends who found out I hadn't played it.
    My favourite part is the way you can shoot holes through your own shields so the little wriggly bombs have a chance to drop on you even when you're hiding.

    Did you change your avatar just for that joke?



  • @mikeTheLiar said:

    I find it hard to believe you've walked past him a hundred times in the last week.
     

    He's a random encounter, right?

    Sometimes the RNG gods get drunk and have ideas like "lol what if we made every spawn a mudcrab???".



  • Bootloaders are a piece of shit

    @mikeTheLiar said:

    Long story short (too late), I did everything I could think of and couldn't get the computer to boot for the life of me. Eventually I was able to get to cmd and figure out what the problem was - for some reason the computer was trying to boot Windows from disk partition X:\ which did not exist - but I had no idea how to fix that.


    I'm not an expert in Windows' boot process, though I've had my struggles with it, but I don't think partitions even have a letter assigned during boot time. X: is just the unit where the recovery environment mounts the "main" partition. AFAIK the Windows (Vista and up) boot loader just looks for a partition marked as "active" (or "boot flag") and loads its first sector (the VBR), which in turn looks for a "system volume" (usually either the main partition or the small secondary partition that Windows creates when you install it on an empty disk. I have no idea how exactly it chooses which one though) and loads the BCD (Boot Configuration Data, a file in the same format as the registry) from there, which tells it where to find the actual system files.

    Editing the BCD is a major pain in the ass, so you best hope it doesn't become corrupt. If any part of the process before that is broken, a "quick and dirty" solution that sometimes works is just grabbing any Linux disk and letting it install GRUB.



  • @mikeTheLiar said:

    Did you change your avatar just for that joke?
    I never change my avatar.



  • @anotherusername said:

    remove the front bezel

    Derp. Skipped a step. It came right out. Funny thing though, I couldn't get it to move at all before I took that part off - not even backwards. Oh well. It's out now.



  • @mikeTheLiar said:

    @anotherusername said:
    rivets

    Ding ding ding! One of the side panels is riveted in place, so I can't get at the screws on the other side of the drive.

     

    In my experience with Dell cases (which is extensive), if you can't get to the screws on one side, you don't need to. They're a guide to keep the drive from getting out of place, not to hold it in place. Remove the screws on the other side, and it should slide out.

    If it's an old Dimension case, you'll also have to figure out how to unclip the front plastic piece on the side you can remove, and the whole front will swing to hte left on a hinge.

    The WTF here isn't the case, it's you not having opposable thumbs.

     


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @mikeTheLiar said:

    @Ben L. said:
    Holy shit. I've walked past that kahjiit at least a hundred times but I never drew the connection.

    @Ben L. said:
    I got Skyrim as a christmas present (2013) from one of my friends who found out I hadn't played it.

    Bullshit again. I find it hard to believe you've walked past him a hundred times in the last week.
    You should be aware that M'aiq is a recurring minor character that has appeared in preceding games in the series.



  • @anonymous234 said:

    Editing the BCD is a major pain in the ass, so you best hope it doesn't become corrupt. If any part of the process before that is broken, a "quick and dirty" solution that sometimes works is just grabbing any Linux disk and letting it install GRUB.

    I don't know whether I mentioned this here at the time. A week after purchasing a Windows 8 PC, which I hibernate each night, the hibernation process broke the BCD. I would get a sad face BSOD immediately on boot.

    One problem was that the BCD file was not where anyone said it was, not with UEFI anyway — it was trivially accessible within Knoppix if you knew where to look, but to get Windows 8 to see it (to run bcedit to remove the broken hibernation entry), I needed to mount the hidden partition with it on. I also had no Windows 8 media to begin with, required to get the recovery console up. The end result was that it took me a week to resurrect the computer. I learnt that my old P4 laptop might suck for the Web, but it runs Inkscape quite competently (and the 1400×1050 screen also helps).

    I have only one word for whoever designed this Heath Robinson contraption: "gloves".



  • @dkf said:

    @mikeTheLiar said:
    @Ben L. said:
    Holy shit. I've walked past that kahjiit at least a hundred times but I never drew the connection.

    @Ben L. said:
    I got Skyrim as a christmas present (2013) from one of my friends who found out I hadn't played it.

    Bullshit again. I find it hard to believe you've walked past him a hundred times in the last week.
    You should be aware that M'aiq is a recurring minor character that has appeared in preceding games in the series.

    I am aware of this fact*. However Ben L. specifically referenced Skyrim.

    *I have logged an embarrassingly large number of hours playing TES games (and Bethesda games in general). >=400 hours each for Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim. Fun fact: Ben L. was 8 years old when Morrowind came out.



  • @taustin said:

    @mikeTheLiar said:

    @anotherusername said:
    rivets

    Ding ding ding! One of the side panels is riveted in place, so I can't get at the screws on the other side of the drive.

     

    In my experience with Dell cases (which is extensive), if you can't get to the screws on one side, you don't need to. They're a guide to keep the drive from getting out of place, not to hold it in place. Remove the screws on the other side, and it should slide out.

    If it's an old Dimension case, you'll also have to figure out how to unclip the front plastic piece on the side you can remove, and the whole front will swing to hte left on a hinge.

    The WTF here isn't the case, it's you not having opposable thumbs.

     

    Did you miss the post directly above yours where I freely acknowledged the fact that I didn't remove the front panel and once I did that the optical drive came right out?


  • @mikeTheLiar said:

    I am aware of this fact*. However Ben L. specifically referenced Skyrim.

    No he didn't. He just said he'd walked past M'aiq a hundred times. You could easily do that in Morrowind or Oblivion before having touched Skyrim.

    @mikeTheLiar said:

    *I have logged an embarrassingly large number of hours playing TES games (and Bethesda games in general). >=400 hours each for Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim.

    I just beat 1000 hours in the last couple of days. My numbers for Morrowind and Oblivion are probably roughly on-par-- problem is Oblivion I played 80% on Xbox (which doesn't track time, AFAICT-- Steam shows it as 80 hours) and Morrowind I didn't count in any way. Also: despite that number of hours, I'm still finding new quests I've never seen before. (Did you know for example, each school of magic has a special quest when you hit skill 100? Even the shitty, useless schools?) Given, this is over several different characters and a lot of that is just dicking around with mods.

    I also recently beat Wizardry 8, which I've been playing on-and-off since it came out in 2001. According to Steam it took 70 hours, but man it felt like 700. (The level scaling is dumb. As you gain more levels, instead of spawning fewer, stronger enemies it spawns bigger and bigger and bigger encounters... until you're in the Rapax castle fighting literally 27 of the fuckers, half of which are spell-casters, and just watching them move a single turn is like a minute and a half.) So I've beat 2/3rds of the Dark Savant trilogy. Whee.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    No he didn't. He just said he'd walked past M'aiq a hundred times. You could easily do that in Morrowind or Oblivion before having touched Skyrim.

    @Ben L. said:
    I got Skyrim as a christmas present (2013) from one of my friends who found out I hadn't played it.

    O RLY?
    @blakeyrat said:
    I just beat 1000 hours in the last couple of days.

    Damn. That's impressive. I doubt I'll ever get that far.
    @blakeyrat said:
    Did you know for example, each school of magic has a special quest when you hit skill 100? Even the shitty, useless schools?

    Yes. Did you know that apparently the Uderfrykte made an appearance in Oblivion? I never found that quest myself, but apparently it's in there.
    @blakeyrat said:
    Given, this is over several different characters and a lot of that is just dicking around with mods.

    Same. Typically I will have around three playthroughs - mage, barbarian, stealth. Each playthrough usually comes in somewhere between 100 - 150 hours. I just started my barbarian for Skyrim. I haven't got to the Dragonborn DLC yet, but I'm planning on it for this playthrough. I'd really like to get around to Skywind at some point, I just never felt like putting in the effort to get it properly set up.



  • @mikeTheLiar said:

    @blakeyrat said:
    No he didn't. He just said he'd walked past M'aiq a hundred times. You could easily do that in Morrowind or Oblivion before having touched Skyrim.

    @Ben L. said:
    I got Skyrim as a christmas present (2013) from one of my friends who found out I hadn't played it.

    O RLY?

    What the fuck is it with people on this forum and being unable to read.

    At the risk of being your 4th grade schoolmarm, in the context in which Ben made the statement we're discussing, there was no mention of Skyrim. He mentioned it in an entirely different post hours afterward. Apparently your 4rd grade science teacher also forgot to mention that time moves forward.

    Now go hunt down your 4th grade schoolmarm and hold her accountable for the fact that you can't fucking read.


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