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Long Distance Competition/Ultracycling, Randonneuring and Endurance Cycling Do you enjoy centuries, double centuries, brevets, randonnees, and 24-hour time trials? Share ride reports, and exchange training, equipment, and nutrition information specific to long distance cycling. This isn't for tours, this is for endurance events cycling

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Old 03-14-14, 08:10 PM   #26
pdlamb
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Thanks for all the discussion. So much to think about! I think I'll go for a ride tomorrow.

One more set of questions. How do the touch-screen models do in rain, as in a day-long steady rain? Any problems with the screen or waterproofing, beyond the plug? Are the etrex any different?
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Old 03-15-14, 09:30 AM   #27
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Are you using routes with that? Is there a max route length you use?
so far I've not run into any issues. The longest route I have loaded was a 400k, but most rides I do get changed at the last minute due to road construction and such, so I quit pre loading routes. It does however track my course for display later in garmin connect for 60 hrs of non stop riding.
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Old 03-15-14, 11:33 AM   #28
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Can I be the old curmudgeon and say leave the computer at home. You don't need it. I've been doing brevets for 20 years and never used one and I can count on one hand the number of times I've gotten lost. We (well at least I) spend all of my week working with confusers, I want to get away from them on the weekend. Part of the adventure is navigating your way through new territory. Anyway, I'll go back to my rocker and yelling at kids to get off my lawn now.

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Old 03-15-14, 01:48 PM   #29
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Can I be the old curmudgeon and say leave the computer at home. You don't need it. I've been doing brevets for 20 years and never used one and I can count on one hand the number of times I've gotten lost. We (well at least I) spend all of my week working with confusers, I want to get away from them on the weekend. Part of the adventure is navigating your way through new territory. Anyway, I'll go back to my rocker and yelling at kids to get off my lawn now.
I was thinking the same thing.

I don't even have a cycle compute on my rig.

I was going to ask advice on what one to buy but all this downloading maps and crap is more than I can be bothered with.

DO they still make ones that just do speed and distance and a have little button that lights it up at night?
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Old 03-16-14, 11:29 AM   #30
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Yes a GPS is unnecessary for the average rider but if you're in new territory, if you're training, if you're doing a 'permanent' randonnee course, if you want to look later on a map and see just where the hell you went wrong then a GPS is handy. Saves trying to find someone in the middle of the night to sign your brevet card and verify your Audax ride.

I have two Bryton GPS units, their 60 and 30. The former has maps but 12 hours life, the latter is more basic but 30 hours. Bryton claims higher battery life but I don't have that luck. Nor did I when I contacted Bryton years back after Garmin did a software update to allow their higher end models to recharge on the go without rebooting, Bryton hadn't considered it and I think still haven't modified their models. If I try to recharge while recording it switches off the recording to reboot. Technically the 60 can hold more ride data than the 30 but will never stay powered long enough, unless my bike has jetpacks I'll never exceed distance over hours running. So I'm working on a solution too.
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Old 03-16-14, 12:53 PM   #31
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If you can navigate without maps, more power to ya.

Unfortunately, that doesn't work for me. I lead a lot of club rides, usually in areas with minimal services. I have to be able to scout an area I don't know at all (usually alone); I need to plan out when we'll stop for services and if possible, find bailouts; I need to know when I've taken a wrong turn; the participants benefit from having the tools to navigate if they get separated from the group. And if I don't know an area well, I'm definitely going to get lost.

Using GPS and mapping, I can plot out a route in an area I don't know at all, with the mileage and elevation I prefer, without worrying about going off track. I can look back on years of data and routes, to help with future planning.

And it doesn't detract from the experience of the ride. With the better units, I can view as much or as little info as I want; I can even set the screen just to show time of day, while still following a route I want and capturing the data I may want to review later on. I.e. I'm not playing Tetris while riding the bike.

Training can also benefit from having the data, though obviously that depends on what style of training works for that individual.

In many respects, it's just a convenience. For me, it's a very useful device that improves my ability to accomplish what I want to do with a bicycle.
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Old 03-16-14, 01:10 PM   #32
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Thanks for all the discussion. So much to think about! I think I'll go for a ride tomorrow.

One more set of questions. How do the touch-screen models do in rain, as in a day-long steady rain? Any problems with the screen or waterproofing, beyond the plug? Are the etrex any different?
Our Edge 800 does fine in day-long hard rain. We don't plug in auxiliary power under these conditions. The touch screen is surprising scratch-free after 3 years of use.

I also pre-plot every ride I do except for my training rides on local roads. I use RidewithGPS and download TCX files. I also print a cue sheet and have that in a BarMap case, too.
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Old 03-16-14, 03:26 PM   #33
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If you can navigate without maps, more power to ya.

Unfortunately, that doesn't work for me. I lead a lot of club rides, usually in areas with minimal services. I have to be able to scout an area I don't know at all (usually alone); I need to plan out when we'll stop for services and if possible, find bailouts; I need to know when I've taken a wrong turn; the participants benefit from having the tools to navigate if they get separated from the group. And if I don't know an area well, I'm definitely going to get lost....
That's not a brevet. On brevets they hand you a route sheet with directions and mileage and you go. It's really not that difficult. Some people like a security blanket and some people just like gadgets, that's fine.
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Old 03-16-14, 05:25 PM   #34
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Did a 200k brevet on Saturday. 10:45 ET. Garmin said it had 1% left. Brought an auxiliary pack but didn't use it. I pre-plot my brevet routes, also. If they just publish a cue sheet, I use that to create a route to download and then print my own cue sheet with my own remarks that fits in my waterproof BarMap holder. My control card with a pen goes into a Ziploc in my jersey pocket.

I like having a cue sheet, too. It is said that you can tell those who navigate only with GPS because they go 50' past a turn, then circle back.

That said, if Chris Ragsdale had been using a GPS, he would have been first to finish at PBP, 50' off route instead of 20 klicks.
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Old 03-16-14, 06:06 PM   #35
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That's not a brevet.
Your comments didn't seem limited to brevets. Unless you do a brevet every weekend. I guess that could be the case.

As to cue sheets, I always carry one as a backup, but... Take a wrong turn, or wind up somewhere with poorly marked roads, or run into a last-minute detour, and your mileage will be off -- and you might not realize you're off cue for many miles. I'd rather not waste my focus and attention with mentally recalculating a cue sheet for half a ride. Cue sheets don't need batteries -- but you can't read one at night without lights anyway. And I'm sure you know people who added time, possibly even DNF'ed, because they took a wrong turn somewhere en route.

Besides, a tool is a tool is a tool. It doesn't matter to me if I'm reading instructions from a piece of paper or a screen; what matters is how well the tool works.


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It is said that you can tell those who navigate only with GPS because they go 50' past a turn, then circle back. That said, if Chris Ragsdale had been using a GPS, he would have been first to finish at PBP, 50' off route instead of 20 klicks.
I was going to say, does that mean you can tell those who have a cue sheet because they go 5 miles off course instead?
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Old 03-16-14, 06:20 PM   #36
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Your comments didn't seem limited to brevets. Unless you do a brevet every weekend. I guess that could be the case.

As to cue sheets, I always carry one as a backup, but... Take a wrong turn, or wind up somewhere with poorly marked roads, or run into a last-minute detour, and your mileage will be off -- and you might not realize you're off cue for many miles. I'd rather not waste my focus and attention with mentally recalculating a cue sheet for half a ride. Cue sheets don't need batteries -- but you can't read one at night without lights anyway. And I'm sure you know people who added time, possibly even DNF'ed, because they took a wrong turn somewhere en route.

Besides, a tool is a tool is a tool. It doesn't matter to me if I'm reading instructions from a piece of paper or a screen; what matters is how well the tool works.



I was going to say, does that mean you can tell those who have a cue sheet because they go 5 miles off course instead?
A couple times, on event rides, I've been suckered off course in the dim early light by 20 riders who all went the wrong way. That's pre-GPS. Only a few bonus miles, though. Sometimes they turn around when hollered at, sometimes they don't.
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Old 03-16-14, 06:34 PM   #37
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Your comments didn't seem limited to brevets. Unless you do a brevet every weekend. I guess that could be the case. ...
Nope, just talking about brevets. I can only think of one or two in the last twenty years who've DNF'd because they went the wrong way. Most people figure out pretty quick if they went the wrong way. I guess if you are directionally challenged you might need one. It's really not that difficult to read a que sheet though. That's what we did for many years before GPS with no issues. Yes a tool is a tool, your car is a tool too but you don't use it to do brevets.
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Old 03-17-14, 06:37 AM   #38
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Thanks for all the discussion. So much to think about! I think I'll go for a ride tomorrow.

One more set of questions. How do the touch-screen models do in rain, as in a day-long steady rain? Any problems with the screen or waterproofing, beyond the plug? Are the etrex any different?
My Oregon is 3 years old, never had any problems in the rain.
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Old 03-17-14, 07:16 AM   #39
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Nope, just talking about brevets. I can only think of one or two in the last twenty years who've DNF'd because they went the wrong way. Most people figure out pretty quick if they went the wrong way. I guess if you are directionally challenged you might need one. It's really not that difficult to read a que sheet though. That's what we did for many years before GPS with no issues. Yes a tool is a tool, your car is a tool too but you don't use it to do brevets.
They're nice when none of the roads have street signs, and there's multiple unmarked roads within the error tolerance of a mileage-only computer. (Especially when the cue sheet was designed assuming riders would be using a GPS and thus didn't call out landmarks.) Freaking Massachusetts. I can't imagine trying to follow a cue sheet without a computer at all.
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Old 03-17-14, 08:53 PM   #40
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I've seen that in Garmin's marketing, but I got to admit I don't understand it. Beyond the (extra cost) bike mount, what does a "cycling-specific" GPS do that any other GPS doesn't to? The eTrex (and the 800) display maps that the 500 and below don't, and I like maps!...

eTrex Vista HCx is my top choice for a randonneuring GPS. I've used a Cx and HCx since 2006. I tried "upgrading" to an eTrex 30, but it has a fatal flaw: If you go off route, it doesn't bother to tell you, it just recalculates what it thinks is your best route to the destination, even if that takes you off the official rando route. And once it's recalculated, you can have a very hard time finding your way back to the official route if you don't even know when you went off it. On the HCx, you can set it to tell you if you go off route, but the morons at Garmin took that out of the 30. So ... boat anchor.

Supposedly, the Edge still has the setting to prevent auto-recalculation. So that means it is still a candidate to be a randonneuring GPS. But for me, the simplicity of the HCx with its replaceable batteries, plus its lower cost, dominates the choice. I know that the Edge can be powered indefinitely with an external battery pack or dyno hub, but that requires running a cable to the GPS's USB port, which introduces a failure vector in wet weather. It's more than theoretical since I've seen several reports of Edge computers that have either failed in wet weather rides, or that have eventually had the USB port corrode to the point that the Edge computer will no longer communicate with a PC and therefore requires replacement.

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Old 03-18-14, 01:18 PM   #41
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eTrex Vista HCx is my top choice for a randonneuring GPS. I've used a Cx and HCx since 2006. I tried "upgrading" to an eTrex 30, but it has a fatal flaw: If you go off route, it doesn't bother to tell you, it just recalculates what it thinks is your best route to the destination, even if that takes you off the official rando route. And once it's recalculated, you can have a very hard time finding your way back to the official route if you don't even know when you went off it. On the HCx, you can set it to tell you if you go off route, but the morons at Garmin took that out of the 30. So ... boat anchor.

Supposedly, the Edge still has the setting to prevent auto-recalculation. So that means it is still a candidate to be a randonneuring GPS. But for me, the simplicity of the HCx with its replaceable batteries, plus its lower cost, dominates the choice. I know that the Edge can be powered indefinitely with an external battery pack or dyno hub, but that requires running a cable to the GPS's USB port, which introduces a failure vector in wet weather. It's more than theoretical since I've seen several reports of Edge computers that have either failed in wet weather rides, or that have eventually had the USB port corrode to the point that the Edge computer will no longer communicate with a PC and therefore requires replacement.
Same experience with the eTrex 20 doing unwanted route recalculations. However I don't have an older unit to revert to, so I still use the eTrex 20 but with tracks instead of routes. The eTrex has the right feature set for maximum battery life; it will go 400k on a full charge and after that you can replace the batteries or use an external pack. Does fine in wet conditions, and once you have the menu system learned the thumb stick is much more easy and accurate to use than a touchscreen.

I also use OSM maps. There is a bit of a learning curve and the accuracy can be a bit off, but the price is right.
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Old 03-18-14, 02:45 PM   #42
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Same experience with the eTrex 20 doing unwanted route recalculations. However I don't have an older unit to revert to, so I still use the eTrex 20 but with tracks instead of routes. The eTrex has the right feature set for maximum battery life; it will go 400k on a full charge and after that you can replace the batteries or use an external pack. Does fine in wet conditions, and once you have the menu system learned the thumb stick is much more easy and accurate to use than a touchscreen.

I also use OSM maps. There is a bit of a learning curve and the accuracy can be a bit off, but the price is right.
With an Edge, I'm told that you can navigate a track and it'll give you the same sort of "turn left" "turn right" audible alerts that an eTrex gives you when navigating a route. Can the eTrex 20 or 30 navigate a track the same was as an Edge? That would be a big plus.
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Old 03-18-14, 03:59 PM   #43
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With an Edge, I'm told that you can navigate a track and it'll give you the same sort of "turn left" "turn right" audible alerts that an eTrex gives you when navigating a route. Can the eTrex 20 or 30 navigate a track the same was as an Edge? That would be a big plus.
In fact I rode a brevet a couple weeks ago and another rider had an Edge which did provide missed turn alerts. The eTrex does not have any alerting with tracks. It sounds alerts with routing, but in my experience you can't hear anything from the unit unless ambient sound is very quiet -- forget it if you're on a busy road or having a conversation.

I should amend my comment regarding the eTrex recalculating routes: if you map your route in BaseCamp and use a shaping point for every turn, it will probably behave correctly. However it will take any opportunity to route you off MUPs or other roads it doesn't like, which might be related to using OSM. It also acts up when you get over around a hundred shaping points in your route, so breaking up the route by controls can be necessary for longer rides.
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Old 03-18-14, 06:23 PM   #44
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Can I be the old curmudgeon and say leave the computer at home. You don't need it. I've been doing brevets for 20 years and never used one and I can count on one hand the number of times I've gotten lost. We (well at least I) spend all of my week working with confusers, I want to get away from them on the weekend. Part of the adventure is navigating your way through new territory. Anyway, I'll go back to my rocker and yelling at kids to get off my lawn now.
When it is 2 am on a 400K in the middle of nowhere & you are by yourself, a Garmin can be your best friend.
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Old 03-18-14, 07:09 PM   #45
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When it is 2 am on a 400K in the middle of nowhere & you are by yourself, a Garmin can be your best friend.
Been there on a 1200k in Europe where I couldn't even read the street signs (if there were any) and it really wasn't an issue. My GPS is between my ears and it works just fine at 2am. Some people are just directionally challenged, need that security blanket or are just addicted to the technology. If that's you, who am I to tell you to leave it at home?
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Old 03-18-14, 07:26 PM   #46
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I used my phone, which lasts about 7 hours without the screen on. I use it to see how far until the next turn and then check it again after that step to see the next.

I bought a double sized battery (Galaxy phone) and that lasts another 6 hours. And I bought an external battery for it. Last weekend I did a 400k, 17.5 hours total time and the phone was almost full at the end (External battery was down to 10%) The external is a 6000mA Anker battery pack
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Old 03-18-14, 10:46 PM   #47
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Really not sure what you're all talking about regarding needing a special cable for charging the Garmin Edge series GPS computers while on a ride. I've got an external battery pack that I use with any old USB cable that I've got lying around, not the one that came with my Edge 800.

To get the GPS to charge or run on external battery power without shutting down and going into the recharge mode, here's all you have to do: Plug the Edge into your external power source while the GPS is already on and started. As long as it's started, when you plug it in, it will just keep running and recording your ride. I've done this many dozens of times over the years that I've owned the Edge and it has always worked, no matter what USB cable I've used. The longest I've ever kept it going is about 40 hours and it worked fine.

My bigger issue with the Edge 800 is that if you have a route loaded and running and at the same time you're recording a long ride, it seems to be a bit more than the 800 can handle. On many occasions I've had the thing crash and lose all the data I've recorded. Nowadays, I'm mostly able to get around this by saving my longer rides in about 100 mile increments as I pedal. I just reach down, press stop, then hold the reset/save button until the data is saved. Then I restart the computer and begin my next 100 mile segment. It's annoying, but at least I get my entire ride recorded, no matter how long it happens to be.

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I've looked into it too, and as I've said twice, the power cord that comes with the Garmin charger is that special cord. It happens to be short, and that's an easy way to tell it from the usual USB cable, however its key attribute is that is comes from Garmin wired like your "power hack" indicates. When I plug my battery pack into my Edge 800, using the Garmin charger cord, I get a lightning bolt symbol on top of the battery state symbol, indicating that an external power source is being used. When I disconnect it, I get a screen saying that the external power source has been disconnected. None of this affects the operation of the Edge 800.

Yes, you are right, plugging the device into a computer is not usually a problem. However, I find using the microSD card for map and data storage to be a tremendous convenience. I can swap multi-gig maps by swapping cards. I also don't need a computer to charge my Edge. I just plug it and the charger into the wall, 110, 220, whatever.

The 800-810 map capability is very nice should something go wrong with the route, finding the road closed for example. One can use the map to find a way back to the route one is following, pick a slightly different route, etc.
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Old 03-19-14, 08:25 AM   #48
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Originally Posted by melgarpoe View Post
Really not sure what you're all talking about regarding needing a special cable for charging the Garmin Edge series GPS computers while on a ride. I've got an external battery pack that I use with any old USB cable that I've got lying around, not the one that came with my Edge 800.

To get the GPS to charge or run on external battery power without shutting down and going into the recharge mode, here's all you have to do: Plug the Edge into your external power source while the GPS is already on and started. As long as it's started, when you plug it in, it will just keep running and recording your ride. I've done this many dozens of times over the years that I've owned the Edge and it has always worked, no matter what USB cable I've used. The longest I've ever kept it going is about 40 hours and it worked fine.

My bigger issue with the Edge 800 is that if you have a route loaded and running and at the same time you're recording a long ride, it seems to be a bit more than the 800 can handle. On many occasions I've had the thing crash and lose all the data I've recorded. Nowadays, I'm mostly able to get around this by saving my longer rides in about 100 mile increments as I pedal. I just reach down, press stop, then hold the reset/save button until the data is saved. Then I restart the computer and begin my next 100 mile segment. It's annoying, but at least I get my entire ride recorded, no matter how long it happens to be.
I never had a problem with my 800 after I figured out the correct settings. My protocols: I never load or record data into the main 800 memory. Instead, I use 4-8 GB microSD cards. The 800 is set to record to the card. My map is on the card. I only have one route at a time on the card. If I'm doing a very long ride, I break the TCX route into 200k-400k segments and load each segment onto a different card. Each card has the correct map on it, of course. When I swap cards, the saved route is also swapped out. This way the 800 is never confused about which route it's supposed to be following and I never run out of memory. I usually use shorter ~200k segments just because its more convenient to map shorter segments on the computer.

I never plug my 800 into a computer. I charge it with a charger. The cards go into a USB card reader for data transfer.
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Old 03-19-14, 09:20 AM   #49
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
I never plug my 800 into a computer. I charge it with a charger. The cards go into a USB card reader for data transfer.
Pardon me for saying this, but you make the 800 sound rather fragile. Don't plug it into a computer, one route per memory card (swap cards en route), short segments?
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Old 03-19-14, 09:33 AM   #50
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Pardon me for saying this, but you make the 800 sound rather fragile. Don't plug it into a computer, one route per memory card (swap cards en route), short segments?
Color me careful. I've never had a problem, unlike melgarpoe. You can do anything you want with yours.

I also run three scanners on my computer, only connect through a router, keep all my software up to date and use complex passwords, different on every website. Fragile things, computers.
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