Wednesday, December 31, 2008


CERT Leadership Training classes in Vestavia Hills

CERT Leadership Training

This program educates willing citizens about disaster preparedness for hazards that could affect our area and trains volunteers in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization and disaster medical operations. Participants must be at least 18. The next training class in Vestavia Hills starts March 3. Space is limited. Information: 978-0225.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Places to eat New Year's Day brunch

Looking for traditional New Year's Day eating in Birmingham? Want corn bread, black-eyed peas and (shiver) turnip greens for superstitious fun and supposedly luck?

I'm going to post a few places to eat as I find them, hope you have a safe and fun New Year's in Alabama. Be careful out there!

Cahaba Heights:

If you know any more, comment here!

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TV Installation Tip: Don't bend your cables

Whether it's HDMI, coaxial, component, whatever, it's always a bad idea to have hard bends in your cables.

Within that smooth, flexible rubber outside is some kind of copper (probably) wire or wires, and these can easily break if you bend the cable to far or at too sharp an angle. Sometimes the cable's innards are a bunch of wires around a central core, and each one of those little wires can break. This can impact on the quality of signal transmission along the cable.

If you must use twist ties or lock ties to contain the extra cable length, keep your loops fairly loose and do not tie the ties too tightly. This too can cause damage to the inside of the cable. Actually, it's best not to coil the wire at all, so try to pick a cable length that is long enough for what you need a maybe a foot or two longer.

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Don't have your analog digital TV converter box yet? Read this.

Here's a little news release from the NTIA about the analog to digital transition on February 17th. If you don't have your converter box and you need one, read this now (Bold text enhanced by me):

WASHINGTON, Dec. 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --
The Commerce Department's
National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) today announced more than 153,000 over-the-air households in Alabama, those that rely on an antenna for broadcast TV, have requested coupons from the TV Converter Box Coupon Program. With two months until the nation's full-power TV stations transition to 100 percent digital broadcasting, the agency is urging consumers who rely on over-the-air television and need a TV converter box coupon to apply by the end of the year.

"There may be two months until the digital television transition concludes, but consumers who want to buy a TV converter box with a coupon should apply for it in the next two weeks or possibly risk losing use of their analog TV temporarily," said Acting NTIA Administrator Meredith Baker. "It takes approximately six weeks to apply for the coupon, buy the box and try it out so it is imperative that consumers take action by December 31 or look at other options to make the transition prior to February 17, 2009."

Below are the percentages of coupons requested by over-the-air households for each DMA in Alabama.

DMA % OTA Households Who Requested Coupons
(Data as of December 14, 2008)
Birmingham, AL 84%
Dothan, AL 95%
Huntsville-Decatur, AL 83%
Mobile (AL) -Pensacola (FL) 96%
Montgomery-Selma, AL 120%

For a complete listing of the markets and their participation rates by "over-the-air" TV household, go online at and for more information about the Coupon Program, go to

The Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005 requires full-power television stations to cease analog broadcasts and switch to digital after February 17, 2009. The Act authorized NTIA to create the TV Converter Box Coupon Program, which is funded by the $19 billion airwaves auction and not tax dollars. The Act funded the Program at $1.5 billion, including $1.34 billion for coupons. Currently, NTIA has obligated $1.1 billion in coupons. This obligation is a combination of coupons redeemed as well as coupons that have been ordered.

Digital broadcast television offers consumers a clearer picture, more programming choices and will free up the airwaves for better communications among emergency first responders and new telecommunications services.

Consumers receiving free, over-the-air television on analog TV sets will need to act now to ensure their televisions continue to work when full power television stations go all-digital. Viewers of over-the-air television need to look at each analog set in their home that is not connected to cable, satellite or other pay television service and make a timely decision. They can connect their television to cable, satellite or pay television service; they can replace it with a digital TV; or they may keep it working with a TV converter box.

For consumers choosing the converter box option, the TV Converter Box Coupon Program permits all households to request up to two coupons - each worth $40 - toward the purchase of certified converter boxes. Coupons may be requested while supplies last, and only one coupon can be used to purchase each coupon-eligible converter box. Consumers can purchase a converter box at one of the more than 34,500 participating local, phone or online retailers.

Consumers will receive a list of eligible converter boxes and participating retailers with their coupons. Coupon applications can take several weeks to process and mail so consumers opting to purchase a converter box should act now, and should call stores before shopping to ensure the desired converter box is available. Converter boxes generally cost between $40 and $80, and coupons expire 90 days from the date they are mailed.

Consumers who choose to transition to digital television by purchasing a TV converter box with a coupon need to follow three steps and act by the end of the year because the process may take six weeks. Consumers should immediately apply for their coupons, buy a converter box when the coupons arrive and try the box with their television to address any potential technical issues before full-power broadcasters switch to digital.

Some viewers watch programs over translators or other low-power stations which
may continue broadcasting analog signals after February 17, 2009. Those viewers may wish to select a converter box that will pass through analog signals.

Households may apply now for coupons online at, by phone at 1-888-DTV-2009 (1-888-388-2009), via fax at 1-877-DTV-4ME2 (1-877-388-4632) or by mail to P.O. Box 2000, Portland, OR 97208-2000.

Deaf or hard of hearing callers may dial 1-877-530-2634 (English TTY) or 1-866-495-1161 (Spanish TTY).

Nursing home residents may apply with the paper application available downloadable at

For more information about the Coupon Program, please visit and for questions about the DTV transition, go to or call 1-888-CALL-FCC.

NTIA is responsible for the development of the domestic and international telecommunications policy of the Executive Branch.

SOURCE United States Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications and Information Administration

Todd Sedmak, +1-202-482-7002,, of United States Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications and Information Administration

Monday, December 29, 2008


How big should your flat screen be?

I think this would be pretty darn helpful to anyone trying to figure out how big their television should be (in relation to the distance they have between where they are sitting and where the television will be mounted/sitting).

Check it out, let me know if it's helpful.

Viewing Distance Calculator


Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Local area (Birmingham Metro) Post Offices closing early

This news comes a little late, but it might save someone a trip to the post office. Most are open on Christmas Eve, but the majority are closing early. This should not come as a surprise, but you never know... after all, we're open until 6 pm. (But then we're practically always open).

Here are the hours posted:

Cahaba Heights 8:30 am - Noon
Center Point 8:30 am - Noon
Crestline Village 8:30 am - Noon
Homewood 8:30 am - Noon
South Highland 8:30 am - Noon
Eastlake 8:30 am - Noon
Ensley 8:30 am - Noon
Fairview 8:30 am - Noon
Forestdale 8:30 am - Noon
Greensprings Finance 8:30 am - Noon
Vestavia Hills Finance 8:30 am - Noon
Hoover 8:30 am - Noon
Bluff Park 8:30 am - Noon
Irondale 8:30 am - Noon
Meadowbrook 8:30 am - Noon
Midfield 8:30 am - Noon
Mountain Brook 8:30 am - Noon
Tarrant 8:30 am - Noon
North Birmingham 8:30 am - Noon
West End 8:30 am - Noon
Woodlawn 8:30 am - Noon
Main Post Office Window Unit 7:00 am – 1 pm

The Riverchase Galleria Post Office will be open until 6 pm for any late mailers out there!

Hope this helps!

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Brooke Kelly of Leeds to represent Alabama at gymnastic "Nationals" in Orlando, Florida

Taken verbatim from

Local gymnast to take part in national competition
Staff Report/The Leeds News

Brooke Kelly resides in Leeds and competes for The Mountain Brook Gymnastics Team. She is the daughter of Karen Kelly and the late Kenny Kelly. Proud grandparents include MaryBeth Wingard, Sherwood, Mitzi and Dr. Bill Kelly. Sisters are Brittany and Alyson.

Brooke is only 12 but already has high hopes and dreams of being on the 2016 United State Woman's Olympic Gymnastics Team. She will represent Alabama at “Nationals” in Orlando, Fla., on January 3.


Congratulations to Brooke, wishing her success in Orlando!

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Birmingham mayor Larry Langford's trial date set

The federal corruption trial for Larry Langford's 101 count indictment has been set for May 4, 2009 by Magistrate Judge Paul Greene. He has pleaded not guilty.

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The RCA Dome in Indianapolis Imploded

The RCA Dome, also known as the Hoosier Dome, was retired by implosion Saturday, December 20th, 2008. This link goes to an interesting story about the RCA Dome's history and a neat video of the implosion:

RCA Dome Implodes

There are other videos out there online about the RCA Dome implosion if you search for them.



Is your TV ready for digital?

There will undoubtedly be some people who lose television when the broadcasters all switch over to digital. But will you really be affected?

If you have cable or satellite, the cable or satellite companies are responsible for making sure you can connect. You are fine. There is no need to upgrade your television if you have cable or satellite, unless of course you'd like to dramatically improve your television picture. But if you're happy, you don't need to upgrade.

But if you are depending upon antenna, over-the-air signals (you know, rabbit ears, etc) to watch TV, you're in for a surprise if your television is older than a certain year.

If you will leave us a comment with your Brand (Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, etc) and your full model number, we at Service Care would be happy to check and see if your television is ready for the digital switchover (it's really just an issue of whether you have an analog tuner only or digital). Just leave a comment below, and we'll look it up and post it here.

Hope we can help out.

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New Year's Eve in Alabama dinner plans

For some nice (and admittedly fancy/pricey) dining on New Year's eve, has listed a few restaurants in the Metro area with some New Year's Eve special dinner plans. Perhaps you're looking for a nice place to ring in the new year?

They've got what look to be good restaurants for the anyone in Forest Park, Cahaba Heights, Highland/Southside, Mt. Laurel in Greystone, Liberty Park and Trussville.

Check it out! New Year's Eve Dining

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Friday, December 12, 2008


Christmas book features Alabama authors

On Friday, December 12th, eight Alabama authors will read their submissions to Christmas is a Season! 2008. This is a collection of stories about Christmas, most of which are from Alabama authors. I believe it's also printed in Alabama.

The Dec. 12th reading (and signing) will be at Jonathan Benton Booksellers in Mountain Brook Village. There's also another session scheduled from noon-1 p.m. at Little Professor bookstore in Homewood.

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Snow in Alabama

I'm glad the kids got to experience snow this season. It's unusual for Alabama to have any accumulation, and although it didn't last I'm sure the children had fun. I'll bet the dogs had a blast, too.



Alabama's swiftest miniature schnauzer?

"BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Dec 11, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Ready. Set. Go! An Alabama man and his award winning Miniature Schnauzer will be among contenders when the swiftest, most agile dogs in the nation vie for the top spot at the prestigious American Kennel Club(R) Agility Invitational. Webb Anderson of McCalla, Alabama and his Miniature Schnauzer, Nigel, will compete against the top dogs in the country at the Dec. 13-14 event in Long Beach, California.

During the event, Webb and Nigel will run the timed agility course, off-leash, striving for a perfect score of 100. Any missed obstacles or other mistakes result in penalty faults which are deducted from the score. The AKC Agility Invitational will air on cable television's Animal Planet in 2009. "

Found article here

I love dogs.


Thursday, December 11, 2008


Barbara Robinson's: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

This Sunday, December 14t at 2:30 pm, there will be a production of "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" by Barbara Robinson at Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church. It's said to be a "humorous and heartwarming production that shows how the true meaning of Christmas can come through the unlikeliest of sources." The production is directed by Martha Summey.

The doors will open at 2:00 pm for open seating, with the performance beginning at 2:30.

This is a FREE event, offered "as a gift to the community," but donations will be accepted at the door to provide Christmas dinners for clients of the Oak Mountain Missions Ministries.

For info, call 205-822-9631. The Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church Sanctuary is located at 2061 Kentucky Avenue in Vestavia Hills.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Sony closing Pennsylvania LCD television plant by 2010

Tuesday Sony made an announcement about an overhaul of their operations, and it looks like the first change will be the closing of one of their LCD TV plants. The plant manufactured LCD TVs, and provided repairs and logistics services. Sony appears to be tightening up their operations in the wake of poor economic conditions worldwide.

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Congratulations to top Alabama schools

In U.S. News & World Report's "America's Best Schools" issue, several 54 Alabama schools were highly ranked for "college readiness" in a study of schools in the U.S.

Loveless Magnet High School of Montgomery got a gold medal, which means they were in the top 100 schools in the college readiness index.

Mountain Brook High School, Vestavia Hills High School and Grissom High School received silver medal scores. This means they're in the group of schools that ranked in the top 504 positions below the gold medal schools.

There were 50 other Alabama schools that received bronze medal scores, a tier below silver that contains a group of 1,321 schools.

Service Care congratulates these top Alabama schools and hopes we see even more school excellence in the future.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Hoover wins bid to host 2010 USA Track and Field Junior Olympic National Cross Country Championships

Service Care sends our congratulations to Hoover for bringing this event to Alabama.

The meet will be held at Veterans Park, which is near Spain Park High School, on December 11, 2010. There will be a few thousand athletes competing in this event, along with supporters and coaches.

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Birmingham News reports: Birmingham metro area residents doing better than nationwide averages

According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics, 77 percent of cities and towns with more than 20,000 people had income drops since 2000. Not so for Birmingham metro.

"None of the eight cities in metro Birmingham with populations of more than 20,000 had a decline. They saw increases between 9 percent and 26 percent, according to a Birmingham News analysis of the Census data, collected from 2005 to 2007. " These included Birmingham, Homewood, Hoover, Bessemer, Mountain Brook, Pelham and Vestavia Hills and others.

I think we're doing something right.

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Trinity Medical Center buying unfinished Healthsouth 280 hospital

Of two minds.

This was a blow to poor Irondale, who really could have used a strong infusion of traffic and money.

Probably good that the formerly abandoned 280 building is going to be utilized. That was a lot of wasted money.

Unfortunately, it's just going to make 280 traffic worse. Which is amazing.

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Cable connector broken off?

It's tempting to assume that this is a simple solder job that you can do yourself, and maybe you can. But be aware of the following:

There's not a lot of room to work. The connector attaches to the tuner and it's a tight fit, and most likely you'll have to open up the end of the tuner itself... carefully.

Inside the broken off connector is a core of nylon, high heat will melt this quite easily. This kind of repair requires a delicate touch and experience with a soldering iron.

Be patient. This is not a quick repair. Too much heat for too long and you've ruined the connector and have to start over.

Most importantly, UNPLUG THE TELEVISION FIRST! Even if you do that, televisions can hold a terribly powerful electrical charge for many days. This much power can knock you down or even kill you. Stay away from the tube or any wires connecting to it. (If you're really nervous, and you don't know how to discharge the power, unplug the television for a week and still stay away from the tube.)

If you still want to fix it, please observe these cautions. If you live in Alabama and you don't want to bother with it, let us schedule you a service call or you can bring it in to our shop. Just be careful.

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Monday, December 8, 2008


LG, Samsung and others might have local TV on their phones in the future

"The U.S. digital TV system got a big boost late last month when the ATSC approved a preliminary, or “candidate,” standard—ATSC-Mobile/Handheld, or ATSC-M/H—for a mobile DTV system that will allow local stations to broadcast to cellphones and other portable devices."

That means a television signal, built for mobiles, within the signal for regular digital TV, that you will be able to watch on your phone. The future's so bright... well, you know the rest of that line.

Read more about it here:

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Alabama School of Fine Arts - Concerto Delle Donna

Enjoy this free Holiday music program from the Alabama School of Fine Arts, this Saturday (December 13th, at 11:00 AM).

It's at the Whole Foods Market at 3100 Cahaba Village Plaza, Mountain Brook 35243. Kids are welcome, and it's handicap accessible.

Call (205) 252-9241 or go to for more info.

Did I mention it's free? C'mon, what else are you doing? Support these talented students, and enjoy yourself.

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Sunday, December 7, 2008


Philo Farnsworth, 1906-1971: The Father of Television


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Remembering Pearl Harbor

It was today, December 7, 1941.

12 American ships damaged, capsized or sunk. 188 American aircraft destroyed, 63 damaged. 2,327 American servicemen killed and and 1,143 wounded. 70 civilians killed.

Sixty-seven years ago.

Makes you think.


Article says: More Consumers Opt To Repair Instead Of Replace

I'm not sure that's true for appliance repairs or television repairs in Alabama, but the tightness of the current economy's dollar certainly makes you think about it.

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Christmas 2008 open house at the Alabama Theatre, Hill Arts Center and Lyric Theatre

On December 7, 2008 (Sunday) enjoy a free tour of the historic Alabama Theatre, the new Hill Arts Center Ballroom, and the 1914 Lyric Theatre with Christmas music and holiday decor.

It's promoted as "kid friendly" and handicap accessible, and it'll probably be a fun activity for a Sunday afternoon from 2pm - 4pm.

Call 205-252-2262 for info or go to the Alabama Theatre website.

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Saturday, December 6, 2008


PC World Readers rate different television brands for reliability

Among the brands covered by the reader survey were Sony, LG, Panasonic, Samsung, Sharp, Magnavox, Philips, RCA, Toshiba, Hitachi, JVC, Mitsubishi and others.

This isn't a scientific study of the actual reliability of these televisions, but a survey of owner impressions of their own experiences with these television brands.

Still, it's worth reading to get a sense of what other buyers think about the brands you might be considering for purchase.

PC World article on reliability of various television brands

Service Care was not involved in this survey, and we make no claims about which brands are more or less reliable than any others. We've included this article because our customers might find it of interest.

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Friday, December 5, 2008


LCD versus Plasma TV

This is a very thorough guide about the differences between Plasma and LCD televisions.

Very helpful if you're trying to decide:

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Old News: Panasonic 150 inch television

"A high-tech tradition is about to come grinding to a halt: There won't be a new record set for "largest TV on earth" at this January's Consumer Electronics Show. Panasonic's 150-inch plasma television, unveiled last year at the show, is almost certain to retain its title as the largest TV on earth. "

Oh... my... goodness...

I'm having trouble picturing this in my head. As a servicer, I've stood fully inside the cabinet of an extremely large television. This was maybe 10 years ago, and it was a ridiculous monster of a wooden cabinet.

But 150 inches? Any bigger, and I can't imagine the impracticality of delivering this to a customer. Are they going to build it inside the home? Construct the home around it?

This is NOT the future of television, frankly.

The TV of the future will be rolled up in a tube, delivered to the home, rolled out onto the wall and plugged in. See OLED if you want to see what's coming.

Read more about the 150 incher here:

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What's up with the nonsense blogs?

I'm noticing a lot of blogs on blogspot that are full of nonsense.

Now, now, before you think I'm being superior and rude, I specifically mean that I keep finding blogs that appear to be full of random strings of words shoved together. Sometimes they look like sentences that have been chopped in half and then scrambled back together.

I'm really not sure what the point is with these, but I'm guessing the intentions can't be honest.

I could be wrong, perhaps there's a market for this style of writing.

Here's a url that leads to such a page. I'm not making it a link, because I don't want Google thinking I'm connected to this in any way. You can cut and paste it into your browser (in front of the http://) if you're curious:


Toshiba REGZA television gets PC Magazine's first GreenTech Award for an HDTV

Apparently, this Toshiba REGZA television, an LCD TV, exceeded energy efficiency requirements (as did all involved in the manufacturing process).

It also helped that Toshiba, Panasonic, and Sharp have joined forces to recycle old electronics.

You can read more about the testing process here:{35E776C4-D530-4487-BAAF-416A26D35B5F}

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Thursday, December 4, 2008


Felix the Cat on TV, original pictures

Check this out, very cool early television pictures. See what the first TV viewers got a glimpse of, and learn to appreciate your HD:

Could it be Madness-this?: First Television Broadcast: Felix The Cat, 1928



Huntsville hosting student rocket challenge

This sounds like fun!

" HUNTSVILLE, Ala., Dec 02, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ -- NASA has invited 14 groups of ambitious young rocketeers from 11 middle schools, high schools and youth organizations around the country to light up the sky over North Alabama during NASA's 2008-2009 Student Launch Initiative rocketry challenge.

The rocketeering challenge will be held April 15-20, 2009, when student teams will converge on NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., for a professional review of their rockets by NASA engineers. Day-long launch activities will take place at nearby Bragg Farms in Toney, Ala.
The annual event, which Marshall manages, is designed to inspire young people to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics -- fields important to NASA's exploration mission. "

More here:{0720A059-8A70-4671-A23C-47F49EBC2268}

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Tweeter's has called it quits.

I looks like Tweeter closed it's remaining stores yesterday. As you probably know, they pulled out of Alabama a few years ago, and I guess the whole operation is finished.

From what I've read, Tweeter's employees were locked out with their stuff inside the stores, and told that they weren't going to be getting paid... even though they stuck with the dying company and helped them in the long and ugly process of liquidation.

Apparently, if you put money down on equipment that's still locked up in the store, the fate of your cash is up in the air, to be settled by a judge. If you had a television in there for repair, that's also gone. The extended warranty you bought is also probably not worth anything, either. Ugly, ugly business.

I'm pretty sure that the extended warranties sold to Alabama customers a few years ago still are okay, it's just too bad that Tweeter's went out this way. It's the Campo's story, all over again.

In these bad economic times, I can't blame a company for going out of business, but this kind of misbehavior is terrible, and I hope their customers and employees are treated fairly during the expected bankruptcy process.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Turntables, record players, etc.

I regret that Service Care almost never has any used or repaired turntables anymore. Sign of the times, but I understand that albums and the equipment used to play them are making a comeback of sorts.

If you're looking for needles, turntables and such, try the needle doctor. Looks promising.

Hope this helps!

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