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Important announcement regarding Shoeperwoman.com April 8, 2011

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Fashion, Rants.
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In support of good blogging friend Amber, author of many hilarious and witty blogs including Shoeperwoman, I am reproducing this blog directly from her website. If anyone can help by further raising attention about this issue, I would be very grateful.

In essence, Amber has joined the unfortunately growing crowd of bloggers who have built their own very popular and successful brands, only to have people come along and piggyback on their success. Rather than starting from the ground up, these “bloggers” (and I use the term loosely) simply copy the name, style and subject of someone more talented and successful than themselves, and then attempt to use their blogosphere popularity to build their own imitation’s success. If is shady, unfair, and above all pathetic, and there needs to be somethign in place to ensure that this cannot happen again.

With no further ado, Amber’s post:

I had really hoped not to have to write this post, but having exhausted my other options I’ve taken legal advice (from the wonderful Caveat Calcei, who you all know from the Shoe Challenge), and feel I have no option but to go public about an issue regarding the “Shoeperwoman” name and this site.

As most of my regular readers will know, I set up Shoeperwoman two years ago this month, having registered the domain in May of 2008 and spent a year planning the site. At the time there were no other sites using the name. Earlier this year, however, a UK-based company launched a shoe blog called “Shoeperwoman” and an associated retail website of the same name.

logo Important announcement regarding Shoeperwoman.com

(Not my blog)

I don’t really want to link to these sites as I feel they are damaging enough to my brand without me helping their Google rank, but you can see the address of the retail site from the image above and the blog can be found at shoeper-woman.blogspot.com (note: all of the links in this post are nofollow, and this is the only time I will link to these sites.) First of all, I want to clarify that these sites have absolutely no connection to Shoeperwoman.com or to Midas Media. I realise it’s confusing for people as they are using the same name, and writing about the same subjects, often in exactly the same way (i.e. using phrases like “shoeperhero”, “Shoeperman” etc.) but there is no connection, so please know that this is the only “Shoeperwoman” site run by us (with the exception of our associated Twitter and Facebook accounts, which also use the “Shoeperwoman” name), therefore if you come across these sites, or any others, please be aware that they have nothing to do with us.

The other company is also using the name “Shoeperwoman” on TwitterFacebook and other sites, which I realise adds to the confusion. If you are in any doubt whether something you read online is being said by me, or by Laura Blake, who is the owner of the other sites, please feel free to get in touch.

domain dispute Important announcement regarding Shoeperwoman.com

(Not me)

When I found out about these sites, I immediately contacted Laura Blake, who tells me that she does not believe there is any issue with her using exactly the same name as me for her two sites (although she has put up a disclaimer today which you can read on her blog). Obviously I’m disappointed about this. I set up Shoeperwoman.com two years ago: it is my livelihood (along with my other blogs), and Terry and I have worked very hard to build up the brand to where it is today. It’s disheartening, to say the least, to find that someone has knowingly decided to use exactly the same name and idea for a very similar project (Laura tells me she was aware of the existence of this site but decided to use the name regardless), and obviously this will make it much harder for both of the respective businesses to thrive, as rather than having our own unique identities, these two new sites have effectively set themselves up in direct competition to us instead.

not terry Important announcement regarding Shoeperwoman.com

(Not my Shoeperman…)

What Laura didn’t tell me during our lengthy email conversations, was that not only has she knowingly used a name which has been associated with my blog for the past two years, she has also applied for the UK trademark to the name “Shoeperwoman”. If she is successful in this application, this would mean that I would no longer be able to use the name I have made mine, and this site will effectively cease to exist. As the revenue from this site forms a large part of my income, I’m sure you can understand my distress at this, and the reason I’m writing this post.

To answer the obvious question that has cropped up in relation to this: no, we do not own the trademark to the name “Shoeperwoman”. We looked into doing this when we launched the site, however the very high cost of this was prohibitive for us, as it is for most other bloggers, and so we were forced to rely on the goodwill and common sense of our fellow bloggers/site owners, and to hope that most people would prefer to create something that’s truly their own rather than to duplicate another brand. Obviously that isn’t always the case: some of you may remember the issues Jennine Jacob’s The Coveted encountered recently when another site launched using the same name, and if this can happen to me, and can happen to a well-known blogger like Jennine, it can happen to anyone.

We have now lodged our own trademark application for the name, which means we’re already hundreds of pounds out of pocket in our bid to assert our right to continue to use a name which has been associated with this site for two years now, and which I have also used on Twitter, Facebook and other sites for the same length of time. Having taken advice on this, we believe it could cost us much more to defend our brand, which is obviously causing us a great deal of stress. This is where you come in:

How you can help Shoeperwoman:

Obviously this is a source of huge concern to us, so we would welcome any support our readers and friends have to offer us, in the shape of comments, re-tweets and advice. If you are a blogger, and would like to mention this is issue on your site, I would be eternally grateful, not just for my sake, but because as I mentioned above, this is something that can happen to anyone, and it is devastating to work so hard on something for so long, only to see it put at risk like this. Also, any links back to Shoeperwoman.com (especially those using the word “Shoeperwoman” as the link text) would be a huge help to us right now as they will help cement our position in search engines and support our right to the trademark when we file our dispute.

I also want to say a big thank you to everyone who has emailed Terry and I with their support over this issue: it really means the world to us to know that we have loyal readers who will continue to support us no matter how many other ”Shoeperwomen” crop up!

Please offer your support!

On Why I Like Zombies (& Other Apocalyptic Nonsense) December 28, 2010

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Life, Chatter & Politics, Rants, Wordy Business.
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Although most people I know understand that I am a contradiction in terms, a dreadful and brilliant mix of many different things, there are some parts of my multifaceted personality that seem to throw people off-balance. perhaps the strongest area of this is my ever-growing obsession with all things zombie and apocalypse related. The strange survivalist side to my nature confuses people, making them pitying or scornful, but above all a little confused.

The reasons for this obsession, however, aren’t quite as silly as you would assume. In fact, an interest in apocalypse tales and reminders of the eventual fragility of the human race can be argued as a good thing, a dosing of preparedness and reality that a generally oblivious person should probably try to have. So, what is it makes the whole topic quite so fascinating to an otherwise well-rounded and intelligent young woman?

Well, firstly apocalyptic tales tell us a huge amount about our societies. Paranoia is rife among people – we are always worrying about the next terrorist attack, the dangers of those evil germs on the flush handle, the possibilities that all of our friends actually hate us and are just putting up with us out of pity. A story depicting the end of the world lets us know about our weaknesses, the issues and threats that are most effecting the populous at that given time. Once upon a time, as the cold war bit deep and alien attacks were the topic of seemingly ever film, we could read much from the silent infiltration of our communities, the stealing and destruction of families. Now our apocalypse films show people’s ever-increasing nervousness about the effect our living is having on the world, with ice ages and rising sea levels. Of course, we can see divine retribution in all its forms throughout all generations, just to show that religion still has its deadly iron grasp on our hopes and fears.

Above and beyond societal observation, I adore Zombies for another reason. They make me feel scared. In a world so cushioned by life and all its accompanying paraphernalia, the idea of our own species turning against us in a feral Id-driven way is terrifying. I watch these films and see the zombies, how they are created, and they make me feel a kind of fear that I never encounter in everyday life. Even more to the point, this is a fear that is always tinged with a vague potential for it to actually one day be realised,  whether through genetic warfare, disease or brainwashing, and that makes experiencing it all the more exhilarating.

So, you see, there is a reason behind my coveting of Zombie films, behind my blind admiration for films that depict the end of days, environmental or otherwise. They make me feel more alive, through understanding the world I live in and through being reminded not to take it for granted. After all, you never know when the next vampire revolution will destroy your village, or when a tidal wave will wipe out civilisation as you know it.

We all fall down November 8, 2010

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Life, Chatter & Politics, Rants.
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5 comments

I have developed a problem recently. It has actually been a problem that has haunted me throughout my entire life, as a clumsy individual with very little in the way of spacial awareness. I have stumbled, wobbled and bumped my way through my many years, with many a bruise and graze as evidence of my physical incompetence. Now, however, the problem has got worse, as my ankles have become really really weak.

wearing heels effect

OK, so it may have something to do with wearing heels. And perhaps on nights out I should really invest in a pair of fold up flats to go in my handbags. However, before I always used to be able to walk places in heels, and now I go tumble at the merest mention of a bump in the pavement. The tiniest imperfection can set my poor ankles a-wobbling, and before I know it I am down on the floor.

This started happening when I was drunk. I became that irritating person who spends a lot of the journey home pulling herself out of ditches, drains and back up onto the pavement. I assumed that maybe I was drunker than I had thought, only one stage off paralytic. I couldn’t work out how it happened. Don’t get me wrong, I was genuinely pissed – but falling down like that is, to me, only one stage off falling unconscious!

Then I started falling in the real world, the sober world. The other day, when heading to Wetherspoons in the salubrious area of Solihull, I face planted myself neatly on the tarmac, splitting my lovely vintage dress in the process. This wasn’t just a wobble – I fully went down, and only a familiarity with the act of falling saved my for certain injury! That same day, I nearly fell 3 other times when my ankle just flopped neatly outwards, without the faintest provocation. Since then, although it doesn’t hurt, I have nearly gone face first in the dirt a number of times, most commonly when completely sober AND wearing flats. How can this be?!

Any suggestions people? How can I strengthen my ankles?

So, if you see me stumbling around town – don’t assume I’m drunk,just assume I’m incompetent!

Money & Secondhand Shopping (a rant about Kirstie’s Homemade Home) November 3, 2010

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Crafting, Rants, Thrifting.
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People know that I am no stranger to a spot of secondhand shopping. I actively enjoy picking my way through an antique fair, and most of my Saturdays are dedicated to trawling the charity shops in hope of a bargain. I grew up going to car boot sales, and finding a great item of exceptional deal makes me very happy indeed. As such, it was with some anticipation that I settled down in front of the TV last night to watch the new series of Kirstie’s Homemade Home. Last season I pretty much enjoyed it, although Kirstie’s right-wing politics and mind-numbing poshness did get to me a little. Oh, and the fact that despite having amazing azure blue tiles around hern orignal fireplace, and going on and on about original features, she still gutted it and threw them away!

This series, however, I was inflamed. There was this lovely couple in this beautiful house, whom it was easy to tell from the first few minutes weren’t exactly rolling in cash. They were sensible with their money, and rather being applauded for their sensible nature and quest for a good deal, Kirstie proceeded to mock them continually about how tight their purse strings are. Yes Kirstie, because we all know that we are as rich as you are. You know how I can tell that you are rich? Because you pay ridiculous sums of money for absolute crap. Yes, crap.

The thing is, more than anything else, that Kirstie’s unshakeable belief in her own secondhand shopping skills involves watching an entire hour of her buying average quality goods for above the asking prices, and then waxing lyrical about her ensuing brilliance. As someone who knows her stuff, I was watching the lack of haggling and the automatic acceptance of pretty much every item she came across with something that rapidly reached anger. I was incensed! Incensed, inflamed – I’ll be running out of ranty keywords soon!

In essence, my problem with the programme is thus: not everyone has money, and that is nothing to be ashamed of.

Oh, and as for including the snobby woman who will only give deals to those who ask in “the right way” (i.e. not those who offer her a price) – well, I don’t have enough words to express my annoyance. Suffice to say that if you choose to work in an industry like that, it is your responsibility to price you items in a way that ensures you can barter and haggle. It is part of the joy of it, and snobbish idiots who have an attitude about it should really just learn to suck it up and deal.

Arggghh.

Sorry guys, I think this programme really annoyed me…

A Little Political Rant… September 16, 2010

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Life, Chatter & Politics, Rants.
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pope benedict

Pope Benedict

I am sorry guys. I have been steering clear of politics for a while now, but I had to put my head above the parapet to have a little rant about, you guessed it, the Pope’s visit.

Firstly, let me state my position when it comes to Catholicism. I don’t like the religion – I disagree passionately with its depressing and heart-wrenching emphasis on guilt and regret. I disagree with its outdated and frankly dangerous  attitudes to homosexuality, contraception, and a myriad of hot topics that really need to be reviewed. I dislike the gathering of immense wealth, and the long studied history of maltreating people. Catholics, however, I have no problem with. It is merely, as is all too often the case, the organised religion and all of its many failings that I protest against, rather than the normal everyday people who happen to believe its teachings. That said, of course, I will happily debate with anyone over the “rights and wrongs” of being gay, or using a condom. Or being gay and using a condom.

Everyone is aware of the Pope’s visit. After all, we should be, as it is the regular tax payers who are funding this trip. This, as you may have realised, is what I need to rant about.

The thing is, you see, that we are a non-secular country. Although Christian (in various different forms) throughout history, in this enlightened age anyone is free to believe in whatever they want, and as such we don’t conform to secular views of a country-wide religious direction. We are growing ever prouder of our multiculturalism, and many many faiths are practised under our grey and overcast skies. Noone should be separated based on their faith.

Why, therefore, is one religion having so much money spent on it? Why, more to the point, is one incredibly rich and affluent religion failing to fund itself? After all, I and many others have no interest in seeing a theologically conservative and thoroughly indoctrinated and old-fashioned man, and don’t see why my money should pay for it. There is plenty of cash in the Catholic churches coffers, let me tell you, and I don’t see why they aren’t coughing it up.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have a problem with the Pope visiting. As the Queen said (good god, I am agreeing with the Queen!) earlier today, freedom of religion is very important in our country. The tax payer’s money funding it, however, seems more than a little cheeky…

The Complexities Of Friendship August 26, 2010

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Rants.
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I understand how relationships work. I understand how families work. But when it comes to friendships, I have to admit that I draw a bit of a blank.

Friends are wonderful people. They, hopefully, look after you when you are down, and they are there for you when you are lonely. They make you laugh, they mop up your tears, and they still like you after that really drunk night when you argued with them over some non-sensical issues for four hours straight. They are, in short, the people that keep us going from day to day, and I owe them a lot.

However, sometimes a friendship falls through. You realise, after years, that the person you knew has long disappeared, and been replaced with a new person whom you aren’t particularly fond of. You simply slip out of contact with someone, with no reason other than distance and the passage of time. You let them down, or they betray you.

The thing is, you see, that friendships are so complicated. They are like a web, all interweaving and interlaced. On friend knows another. An ex knows all of your friends. They have their own set of relationships, and no single friendship exists in isolation. Priorities, preferences and the depth of a friendship seems to be pretty darn hard to pin down.

Recent events have brought this home to me. I have tried very hard to ensure that Ben’s friendships with my friends don’t get damaged by our break up. And, I think, they generally haven’t. I have even gone to the effort of ensuring that I don’t discuss the traumatic ups and downs with them if I can avoid it – because it is only going to make things harder for them. However, recent events have messed all this up. A betrayal in my friendship group has meant that my friendships are fragile now – I am having to avoid a certain person and the unfortunate people in the middle have had to bear the brunt of it. It isn’t fair on them. I don’t know how a friendship is supposed to deal with that. Other friends have thought they were being cut off from Ben – and have responded at me accordingly. This isn’t the case.

Does anyone have any idea about friendships? How on earth do they survive?

As a political child… August 4, 2010

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Art, Life, Chatter & Politics, Rants.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
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I was quite a political child. I knew what I thought was right and wrong, and whilst those bright shades of black and white have been filtered through into a number of greys now I am older I like to think that those days of believing in good and bad as separate entities have in many ways shaped me into the politically minded person that I am today.

I remember, for example, waking up to find that my favourite spot for adventuring, at the top of the wall in my garden, had been obliterated by the council. My beautiful trees, which I spent so much of my childhood falling out of climbing, had all been chopped to allow a nicer view over the valley for the cycle path. We hadn’t been informed of this, and were quite surprised to see this bald patch of mud and grit where our verdant forest had once stood. Angry about this assault on my childhood, what did I do? I wrote a passionate letter to my local newspaper, request vehemently to know “Where have all the trees gone?”.

The Tate Street Art Exhibition

The Tate Street Art Exhibition

One area I have always been passionate about, for as long as I can remember, is graffiti. I don’t mean tags and scribbles and other unintelligible nonsense, but the type of graffiti that involves serious talent, beautiful artwork, and transforming dull concrete urban spaces into different worlds. I remember strolling around Plymouth, captivated by the floor to ceiling street art in the otherwise awful bus station. I wrote regular letters to my local supermarket, begging them to run a graffiti competition in their multi-storey, to turn the dusty white walls into a riot of colour and meaning. More recently artists like Banksy and Ben Eine have started redefining how the art world sees street art, and it has become a much more acceptable form of self-expression.

What I am slightly disturbed about, therefore, is how my passion for street art and my political leanings have recently clashed. You see, David-Bloody-Cameron recently chose a large Ben Eine print as his gift to Obama. Yes, a Conservative leader chose a form of an illegal street art as a gift for the President of the USA.

The thing is, of course, that I have a deep and passionate hatred (and I never use that word lightly) for David Cameron. He is a little shiny faced Thatcherite, and I am worried for my family and the country (in particular education and NHS) under his rule. For me, street art like that of Ben Eine is generally an expression of the feelings of an underpriviledged section of society, a creative outlet for the downtrodden and politically ignored. Graffiti as art, to me, fits more with a working class Labour form of politics, rather than a Conservative outlet.

Of course, such a well-publicised purchase of a piece of art like this is bound to do wonders for the world of street art, and the acceptance of it. And that, of course, is brilliant. However, I can’t help but wish that it hadn’t been instigated by someone whose politics so neatly contrast with the art itself, whose restrictive views would, realistically, be more comfortable with repressing rather than encouraging street art. It just doesn’t seem right.

Judge Me Not June 24, 2010

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Rants.
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*WARNING! This is, I am afraid, going to be a rant. A rant that has been building inside me for a good few weeks now, and which, like a pressure cooker over-heating, is about to explode and cover the ceiling with over-cooked rice. Yum*

gavell judge

I write about fashion. I like fashion. I have a habit of buying shoes, and wearing them. I voted Labour. I think I prefer cats over dogs, but this opinion changes day to day. I could read books on China and Japan until the cows came home. I enjoy dodgy sci-fi. My favourite films range from Die hard to Fightclub with American Beauty in-between. I don’t have a driving license, because I failed twice. I prefer the sun to the cold. I have an obsession with herbology and ancient humanity. My specialist subject in pub quizzes is Science & Nature. I am afraid of wasps and bees. I love social media and think it is amazing! My favourite car is probably a 2007 Ford Mustang GT. I am political and opinionated.

As you may be able to tell, I am a whole host of likes, dislikes and abilities. I am a complex person, as I think we all are, and I like to think I am relatively intelligent. This is why I get so incredibly fed up with people who insist on judging me based on one tiny aspect of my multi-faceted character. The people who look at the fact that I write about fashion, and immediately assume me to be a stupid, idiotic and shallow person. Never mind that the psychology of fashion is fascinating, or that I do actually do other stuff with my life. No, because I own lots of clothes and like to write about them I am neatly labelled and judged.

This, unsurprisingly, pisses me off. Excuse the French, but there is nothing worse than making a snap judgement. We all do it, I know that, but the key is being aware when our minds make those automatic snap judgements, and managing to rein them in before you assume and misjudge. To have people run with those opinions with no intention of revising them is infuriating and narrow-minded, and it makes me pretty fed up with society.

The thing is, you see, that I like fashion because it lets me express whatever side of myself I want to. There are areas of the industry that annoy me, of course, but I also feel that many of the fashion people I know are incredibly astute and intelligent women, with strong opinions and a wealth of knowledge. They, like me, are not vacuous wastes of space at all. I do buy a lot of clothes, that I cannot deny, but whilst people mock and judge for it they forget that actually I can afford to buy this, if I want to, because it is my own money. I save, I budget, and I spend some of my left-over disposable income on fashion – and largely in the format of cheap secondhand bargains. Most people spend money on something, my habit just happens to mean that I own a lot of different outfits.

NEVER EVER assume that I am a fool. Judge not, that you may not be judged.

Entertain Me! April 15, 2010

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Life, Chatter & Politics, Rants.
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4 comments

I have just finished reading the Michael Crichton book, Timeline. I believe we are going to watch the, apparently terrible, film tonight! The book itself is brilliant, and is a wonderful combination of history and science fiction that managed to simultaneously make me interested in the “Dark” ages and Quantum physics at the same time. No mean feat!

Something said within the pages of this book, however, made me think in some depth about something other than knights and scholars. At the end (and don’t worry, this doesn’t give anything away), a character delivers a speech on the ”mania for entertainment” that pervades out modern culture. Essentially he explains that in increasingly safe and repetitive times, the greatest human fear is not about disease or death, but of being bored. Of having nothing to do. Of living our lives from birth until death with nothing but the ordinary in the middle.

The concept got me thinking. It made me think about how odd society is, and how far from our roots we have aimlessly drifted. Don’t get me wrong – human accomplishments, technology and the extended life expectancy are brilliant, amazing, spectacular. However, they do mean that we live in a world where entertainment (the sort of thrills and excitement that life alone would once upon a time have delivered) is delivered through a box in a room. We go to the cinema, we watch TV. Now we have got to the point where we so crave thrills that we go to theme parks to be zoomed around mechanical structures at absurd speed – we do anything we can to keep ourselves entertained.

The book talks about the pointlessness of all this effort. After all, it points out, living this way may be entertaining, but it isn’t authentic. It lacks that certain undefinable quality that makes us feel like we are really experiencing life.

How far have we come from our past, from the reality of life back in the day, that we are no longer entertained?

What an interesting concept!

On wearing hats indoors (& What I Wore) March 3, 2010

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Fashion, Life, Chatter & Politics, Rants, What I Wore.
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10 comments

I have trouble with etiquette. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for being polite. I believe in holding doors open for other people (that is just called being nice!), giving up your seat to anyone who needs it (regardless of gender!), and sharing with other people. However, I have trouble with etiquette that exists purely for the sake of etiquette – which doesn’t serve a purpose or help other people.

For example, I always put my knife and fork together when I have finished eating. This is definitely etiquette, but it serves a clear function – it lets people know that you have finished, and that you wouldn’t like any more thank you very much. The actual symbolism used to communicate this differs around the world, but basically it all means the same thing. In a similar way, I always say my pleases and thank yous, perhaps to the point of overuse. I feel that this communicates the fact that I appreciate other people, and also (on a certain level) that I am a nice person who doesn’t take others for granted.

The things I don’t really see the point of are many-fold, however. After all, etiquette is an age-old art that has built up and changed over time, and the stigma connected with it means that lots of things have remained in practise long since their original cause has faded into the sands of time. These things, in my mind, are pointless, and judging people on whether or not they do it is just reinforcing the class divides that people have fought so hard to minimise.

One of these peculiar etiquette foibles that came up today was the wearing of hats indoors. Some people find this incredibly offensive, and consider people who wear their hats all day to be rude and impolite. Personally I take any wide rimmed hat off when I enter a room, mainly because they restrict my view so much that I can’t see anyone. But with Berets, for instance, and other such little hats, I leave them on so as to keep my outfit together, and avoid the perils of hat-hair. I like the way they look, inside or out.

Do you wear hats indoors? What do you think of people who do? Is it not just another expression of personality and creativity?

What I Wore

Now, onto what I wore today, which did include a hat! I tok it off inside, however, as otherwsie I wouldn’t have been able to see anything!

Hat: Topshop
Suit: Vintage shop in Warwick
Tights: New Look
Heels: Miu Miu (eBay, very cheap!)

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