UVMMC resident. Web/Mac developer.
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On Changing RSS Services

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Ben Ubois, founder of Feedbin, writing about the service’s newest feature:

You can now receive email newsletters in Feedbin.

To use this feature, go to the settings page and find your secret Feedbin email address. Use this email address whenever you sign up for an email newsletter. Anything sent to it will show up as a feed in Feedbin, grouped by sender.

There’s been a recent trend of tech-focused weblogs publishing email newsletters with exclusive content. I’ve signed up for a few of them, but I don’t really read any of them. The problem is that my email app isn’t the environment where I want to read that type of long-form prose.

When I open Airmail (my new email client of choice), I just want to check for important messages, take action where necessary, and move on. I certainly don’t want to read a couple thousand words on the newest app release. I do want to read about it, but not in my email app.

And that’s why this new Feedbin feature is brilliant. It helps keep your email inbox clean and puts the well-crafted newsletters in an app that’s better suited for that type of text. And it’s also the sort of feature that has me thinking about switching.

My current RSS backend is a self-hosted installation of Fever, which I’ve been using for six or seven years. It works well enough, but it’s become painfully obvious that it isn’t going to be supported for much longer. The last update was released in September 2014 to add support for the latest iPhones’ screen size alongside a few bug fixes.

I still love Fever — its “Hot” category, which displays popular links based on how many of the feeds you follow have pointed to it, remains as one of my favorite RSS features of all time. But the truth is, I don’t interact directly with Fever much anymore. The vast majority of my time reading RSS feeds is from my iOS devices where Reeder is my app of choice. The only time I use Fever directly is when I’m on my Mac — which is a becoming a rarity — or when I’m subscribing to a new feed using Fever’s bookmarklet.

There isn’t much compelling me to use Fever anymore. I like the idea of self-hosting, but not if the software isn’t actively maintained. I like Fever’s Hot category, but rarely use it because of Reeder’s shoddy support for the feature. And other services offer modern user interfaces and newer, more advanced features — like support for email newsletters — that are beginning to pique my interest.

I don’t know if email newsletter support is the feature that will push me to sign up for Feedbin, but there’s definitely a chink in Fever’s armor. The software has fallen behind its competitors and the rise of native RSS client apps has obfuscated the web-based backend almost entirely.

Given that Reeder supports both Fever and Feedbin, I don’t even need to get used to a new user interface. Once I sign up for an account, upload my OPML file, and login on Reeder, I can continue on business as usual. I suppose the only place for me to go from here is to take a look at Feedbin’s other unique features to see if it’s actually worth making the switch.

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njr
381 days ago
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It's on the list for NewsBlur. https://github.com/samuelclay/NewsBlur/issues/862
Burlington, VT
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2 public comments
angelchrys
382 days ago
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@alasdairrss that is a fabulous idea, thank you!
Overland Park, KS
wreichard
381 days ago
@alasdairrss I'll second that--thanks!
wreichard
382 days ago
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That is a killer feature.
Earth
angelchrys
382 days ago
That would be pretty awesome, I'd love to see Newsblur incorporate something like that.
wreichard
382 days ago
Me too!
alasdairrss
382 days ago
i use blogger to read email newletters in newsblur. I have a blogger blog that i use its "post to email" address to sign up to email newletters with and then subscribe to the resulting rss feed from blogger. Not perfect but mostly works ok,
MotherHydra
382 days ago
Oh man I would love to have this at my disposal.
angelchrys
382 days ago
@alasdairrss that is a fabulous idea, thank you!

Trader Joe’s Ginger Ale Recalled Over Concerns About Exploding Bottles

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Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 9.33.58 AMThe cool, refreshing taste of ginger soda just might be what you need at the table this holiday season (or not, whatever). But if the beverage you have in your cupboard came from Trader Joe’s, you might want to very carefully walk it to the trash bin outside, because that big ol’ bottle might just burst. 

Trader Joe’s announced Monday that it would recall — and remove from its shelves — all Triple Ginger Brew drinks over concerns that the bottles may explode.

The precautionary recall was initiated after the company received reports from customers of unopened bottles shattering or bursting.

Trader Joe’s says that the recall includes all lots of the 24.5-ounce drink sold nationwide between Nov.9 and Dec. 14. It’s unclear just how many bottles of the soda are affected; we’ve reached out to TJ’s and will update this post when we hear back.

“If you have any of this product, please handle it with extreme care and dispose of it immediately in an outside container,” the company said in a statement noting that bottle can be identified by the SKU 51857.

Customers who purchased the drink can receive a refund from the company. Those with questions are asked to call Trader Joe’s Customer Relations at 626-599-3817.

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njr
431 days ago
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Agreed. Tried it once but went back to the name brand (which TJ's still sells).
Burlington, VT
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fxer
432 days ago
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Or you know, just open and drink it. It's not nuclear waste.

Also this stuff is good but I think Reeds Ginger Beer has an even stronger/better ginger punch
Bend, Oregon
ryanbrazell
432 days ago
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This is really sad, I love this stuff :( :( :(
Richmond, VA

News: Apple acknowledges iPad Pro charging problem, doesn’t have fix yet

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In a brief support document, Apple has acknowledged the reported problem of iPad Pro devices requiring a hard restart to resume functioning after an extended period on the charger. The company instructs users to force restart the device if it becomes unresponsive and notes that “Apple is aware of this issue and is investigating.” We at iLounge have yet to experience the problem despite more than a week of working with the tablet....
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njr
459 days ago
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I saw this on an iPad Pro in the Apple Store I visited, so I would imagine that they figured it out pretty soon.
Burlington, VT
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What's Good at Trader Joe's?

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Do yourself a favor, and hear me out on this:


Whatever you do,

do not

buy Trader Joe's Uncured Bacon Ganache Bar.


Instead, allow me to buy each and every one of them out there. Heck, for only $1.99 each, it's at least a somewhat dreamable way for me to utilize the extra bedroom.


Believe me, this would be a service to all of you out there, because in all seriousness, there's only two viable outcomes. You will either: 1) fall totally in love with this candy bar, ruining all others for you for now and ever more, or 2) be totally and completely repulsed by them.


I'm in the first camp, in case that'd be a surprise to any of you. Once I caught wind of these, I knew I had to make a special trip to TJ's just to procure a handful for me, Sandy, and my coworkers to testdrive, and first chance I did, I skeedaddled right on over.


As among the first tasters (as of the time of writing this review, the bars have been available for less than 48 hours), I'm going to guess that these bacon boys will be a true love or hate item, with very few folks in the middle. Bacon and chocolate have been a known combo on the festival/flea market food circuit for years, but this is truly a unique item as far as I can tell.



Here's what I like: First, the dark chocolate. Most bacon/cocoa combos feature milk chocolate instead of dark, in order to play up the sweet/salty dichotomy. While generally I prefer even darker chocolate, 70% is still pretty nib-laden, and goes more for the savory jugular. Love it - it's about time someone pulled it off. Also, the "hint of smoked salt" - it's alderwood smoked salt, at that. That's a pretty nifty little touch that adds a great flourish at the end of the bite to make each nibble even that much more decadent.


What's going to make or break the bacon bar for you is the ganache filling. My original photo didn't do a great job capturing it, so here's a great one courtesy of Facebook superfan Amarantha Medici - each square there's a goopy, caramel-y ganache reservoir that remained soft and fluid even after chilling it in the firdge for over an hour. It's also where the bacon resides, but taste carefully. There's little itty bitty bacon shards, adding a slight, occasionally granule-y crunch, but that's not quite it, either - it's more baconlicious than that. After a few tastes and consulting the ingredients list, it became apparent to me what it is - bacon fat. Chocolate ganache, after all, is basically chocolate, cream and butter - replace the butter with bacon fat, did we? I think so.



The result? In my estimation, there's a well balanced flavor all the way through - savory dark chocolate, a little salt, a little smokiness, with some bacon undertones that hold it all together without overpowering it all. I had some coworkers try it, though, and some were outright repulsed, stating it was too bacon-y/too weird/too out there. There was more love than hate - one of them called his bite "piggy crack", while another one cracked a smile and declared his unabated happiness for the first time in three years I've known him, but I did get a few pretty adamant thumbs down as well.


As for Sandy....she'll be one of the few in the middle, I think. "It's not bad, but I wish this were more like a Nestle Crunch, with bigger bits of crunchy bacon, instead of like a Caramello," she said. I agree, more crunch would have been a welcome addition...but I really, really like how the flavors all came together that it's hard for me to argue too ardently. I haven't been this excited about a debut of a new Trader Joe's product in possibly all of eternity, and by in large, the bacon bar lived up to the hype I made up in my mind. I'm going 4.5, while the wife is going a few notches below.



Bottom line: Trader Joe's Uncured Bacon Ganache Bar: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons
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njr
584 days ago
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Burlington, VT
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Review of the Zojirushi SM-YAE

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Zojirushi is a Japanese company producing the best industrial design the best design company that you’ve never heard of.

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njr
627 days ago
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Probably getting this one (my third, after a SM-DA50BF and a SM-SA48) — great mugs but they aren’t terribly durable in transport. The outer coating scrapes off the SA48 incredibly easily, sadly.
Burlington, VT
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The slowing of US investment in medical research

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The US is facing many critical health problems. An aging population means that there is an increasing burden of cancer and other chronic diseases. Novel pathogens such as the Ebola virus, familiar ones like influenza, and multidrug resistant infections pose growing and possibly catastrophic threats. Mental illnesses are enormous sources of disability, yet we have few effective therapies to counter them.

Finally, despite technological leadership in most areas of medicine, the US lags the developed world on many indices of quality of care. Many tens of thousands of Americans die each year from preventable medical errors. In sum, we do a poor job delivering health services.

In light of these problems, you would imagine that the US would have a robust commitment to medical research.

You would be wrong. In JAMA, Hamilton Moses and his colleagues summarize trends in US medical research:

OBJECTIVES To quantify total public and private investment and personnel (economic inputs) and to evaluate resulting patents, publications, drug and device approvals, and value created (economic outputs).

EVIDENCE REVIEW Publicly available data from 1994 to 2012 were compiled showing trends in US and international research funding, productivity, and disease burden by source and industry type. Patents and publications (1981-2011) were evaluated using citation rates and impact factors.

FINDINGS. Reduced science investment: Total US funding increased 6% per year (1994-2004), but rate of growth declined to 0.8% per year (2004-2012), reaching $117 billion (4.5%) of total health care expenditures.

The decline in the rate of growth is clear below. Note that since 2010 there is not just a deceleration but an actual decline in constant dollar investment (see also here).

Funding

Hamilton and his colleagues are also concerned that the US is losing its leadership in health research.

Globalization: US government research funding declined from 57% (2004) to 50% (2012) of the global total, as did that of US companies (50% to 41%), with the total US (public plus private) share of global research funding declining from 57% to 44%. Asia, particularly China, tripled investment from $2.6 billion (2004) to $9.7 billion (2012) preferentially for education and personnel. The US share of life science patents declined from 57% (1981) to 51% (2011), as did those considered most valuable, from 73% (1981) to 59% (2011).

The decline of the US share in total medical research, however, is a concern only to the degree that the US is doing less than it could. The growth of investment in health research across the rest of the world is only to the good.

But here is the thing that shocked me. The authors looked at what health systems (that is, hospitals and hospital systems) and insurers invest in improving the services they provide. I would have hoped that insurers — who finance health care — and health systems — who deliver care to patients — would have invested significantly in service innovations. This is not the case.

Underfunding of service innovation: Health services research receives $5.0 billion (0.3% of total health care expenditures) or only 1/20th of science funding. Private insurers ranked last (0.04% of revenue) and health systems 19th (0.1% of revenue) among 22 industries in their investment in innovation. An increment of $8 billion to $15 billion yearly would occur if service firms were to reach median research and development funding.

To get a sense of how little health systems (that is, hospitals and larger integrated systems) invest in improving their product, you should know that the median US industry invests about 2% of its revenue in research and development. Health system investment in service innovation is an order of magnitude less than that.

The Ohio State University Medical Center

The Ohio State University Medical Center

This lack of investment in their product is at variance with the images that health systems present as gleaming centers of research. Those images are correct in that many health systems have impressive research campuses. But those campuses are homes to research in basic science, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and so on. These things are not the products of a hospital system any more than lawn mowers or jars of pickles are the products of Walmart. The business of the health systems, like Walmart, is to deliver these products. And they aren’t investing much in delivering them better.

Not investing in improving their products would be okay, I suppose, if US health systems were providing services that were safe, easily accessible, and affordable to everyone. But they aren’t.

@Bill_Gardner

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njr
768 days ago
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Did not realize you can quantify it that clearly. Wow.
Burlington, VT
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