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Savings rate rises have ‘started to slow’ as savers take millions out of NS&I – what to do

“There’s also a reasonable chance that at some stage someone will decide to nudge the rate up slightly to stand out.

“Mortgage lending is also still strong, which is helping to underpin the savings market. Net mortgage volumes were at £6.6billion in May, while approvals for house purchases remained elevated at 87,500.

“But competition in the mortgage market has pushed rates to record lows, which will put savings rates under pressure.

“Savings rate rises have started to slow, which is a useful reminder that there are no guarantees they’ll keep creeping up indefinitely. If you’re planning to switch, the key is to find the best possible rate in the market right now, rather than hanging on in the hope of finding rates that might not be on the cards for years.”

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This post originally posted here Daily Express :: Finance Feed

Nintendo Has Started A New ‘Ask The Developer’ Interview Series

Nintendo© Nintendo

During Satoru Iwata’s time as Nintendo president, he had a special series known as “Iwata Asks” – where he spoke to developers like Shigeru Miyamoto and EarthBound’s creator about the company’s hardware, series and games.

His book ‘Ask Iwata’ was recently localised and now Nintendo has started a new series ‘Ask The Developer’. In the first volume, the focus is on the Switch release Game Builder Garage and features a discussion between the game’s director (and programmer) Naoki Masuda and subdirector Kosuke Teshima.

This content was pre-recorded in accordance with Japan’s current COVID-19 health and safety guidelines and the article itself was translated from the original Japanese content.

“To kick off this Ask the Developer series, in which Nintendo developers convey in their own words Nintendo’s thoughts about creating products and the specific points they are particular about, we are talking to two people who were involved in developing the Game Builder Garage game.”

While we won’t go into specifics, the conversation between the two covers the reason behind the development of this standalone piece of software, various insights, and also touches on the joys of programming.

It’s definitely worth a read, and being volume one you can expect to see more interviews like this in the future. Are you glad to see Nintendo uploading developer talks on its website again? Have you picked up Ask Iwata yet? Leave a comment down below.

This post originally appeared on Nintendo Life | Latest News

They Hacked McDonald’s Ice Cream Machines—and Started a Cold War

As their problems mounted, they went so far as to mount Nest cams in the Frobot cabinets to capture video of what might be going wrong inside. On one occasion, they watched as the ingredients mixture inside a Tesla-factory Frobot bubbled up and out of the Taylor machine, catastrophically hemorrhaging liquid yogurt into the surrounding cabinet. Seven hours later, they saw a Tesla food service worker casually open the cabinet, leave the sticky mess untouched, and quietly replace a missing plastic paddle component he’d forgotten when cleaning the machine.

Their business, it soon became clear, was the very opposite of automation: No one at Levi’s Stadium or Tesla seemed capable of setting up or maintaining a Frobot without the constant hands-on help of Frobot’s founders. And the problem was the Taylor machine at Frobot’s core. “Holy shit,” O’Sullivan recalls realizing. “These machines just suck.”

It began to dawn on O’Sullivan and Nelson that they would need to pivot. And they had already unwittingly built the prototype for a different product, one that offered a solution to the very problem killing their current business.

For the next year-plus, they honed the little computer component of Frobot that eavesdropped on the Taylor ice cream machines’ data, building features that allowed visibility into and control of all the machine’s variables—including some that automatically bypassed the the 5-2-3-1 code to access its service menu—a software interface for diagnosing and troubleshooting the machine’s many hiccups, and a sleek case for the Raspberry Pi mini-computer that powered it.

In the spring of 2019, they relaunched their company, this time as Kytch. (In a sign of the grandeur of their ambitions, they chose a name that suggested the idea of an entire connected kitchen, leaving open the possibility of products that went well beyond Taylor’s ice cream machines.)

When Kytch launched in April of that year, Nelson drove around the Bay Area looking for any restaurant that used a Taylor machine, pitching the franchisees on LinkedIn, and offering a six-month free trial before a $ 10-a-month subscription kicked in. After finding a few initial customers at Burger Kings and Super Duper Burgers, they finally began to tap into their real target market, the franchisees who not only represented the biggest single collection of Taylor machine owners but the ones who used the most complex, most often borked digital version of Taylor’s product: McDonald’s.

In the fall of 2019, as they began to penetrate the baroque inner workings of the McDonald’s world, O’Sullivan and Nelson were stunned to learn that most restaurant owners had never accessed or even heard of the service menu that unlocked variables like the temperature of the machine’s hoppers or the glycol used for its ultra-fussy pasteurization process. “It was a real ‘aha’ moment,” Nelson says. “Why are these features that are so important hidden behind this menu that most people don’t know about?”

Meanwhile, many McDonald’s owners were paying thousands of dollars a month to Taylor distributors in service fees, often for making simple changes locked behind that menu. So they added a feature to Kytch called Kytch Assist that could automatically detect some of the machine’s common pitfalls as they happened, and tweak those hidden variables to prevent some of the mishaps before they occurred.

One franchisee, who asked that WIRED not identify him for fear of retribution from McDonald’s, told me that the ice cream machine at one of his restaurants had been down practically every week due to a mysterious failure during its pasteurization cycle. He’d scrutinized the assembly of the machine again and again, to no avail.

Installing Kytch revealed almost instantly that an overeager employee was putting too much mix in one of the machine’s hoppers. Today he wakes up every morning at 5:30, picks up his phone, and confirms that all his machines have passed their treacherous heat treatment. Another franchisee’s technician told me that, despite Kytch nearly doubling its prices over the past two years and adding a $ 250 activation fee, it still saves their owner “easily thousands of dollars a month.”

Andy Greenberg

This article originally appeared on Backchannel Latest

Charlotte Smith health: ‘Started feeling breathless’ Presenter's first sign of condition

Countryfile presenter Charlotte Smith, 57, opened up about her diagnosis with Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM), which is a rare lung disease. The star candidly discussed her health concerns after being told the shocking news by doctors that she could only have 10 years left to live in an interview from back in 2016.

Charlotte explained to The Mirror that she sought medical advice when she “started feeling breathless” following her brother’s wedding in 2010.

Charlotte said in the interview: “I saw a specialist at London’s University College Hospital and an MRI scan identified multiple cystic air spaces in both lungs. They realised it was LAM.

“LAM is the abnormal growth of smooth muscle cells, especially in the lungs, which can lead to loss of lung functions. In the States, it’s classed as similar to cancer but grows very slowly in comparison to lung cancer.”

READ MORE: Diabetes type 2: Out of control blood sugars could cause the Somogyi effect – what is it?

LAM is found almost exclusively in women, said Medline Plus.

The health site continued: “It often occurs as a feature of an inherited syndrome called tuberous sclerosis complex.  

“When LAM occurs alone it is called isolated or sporadic LAM.

“Signs and symptoms of LAM most often appear during a woman’s thirties.

“Affected women have an overgrowth of abnormal-like cells (LAM cells) in the lungs, resulting in the formation of lung cysts and the destruction of normal lung tissue.

“They may also have an accumulation of fluid in the cavity around the lungs (chylothorax).”

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LAM occurs in approximately 30 percent of women with tuberous sclerosis complex.

Sporadic LAM, which occurs without tuberous sclerosis complex, is estimated to affect 3.3 to 7.4 per million women worldwide.

This condition may be underdiagnosed because its symptoms are similar to those of other lung disorders such as asthma, bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

“When I heard I probably had this very rare, potentially serious disease with an unpronounceable name I went into shock,” Charlotte said.

“The doctor was honest and told me all the stats, including it being 10 years, on average, between diagnosis and needing a lung transplant – or even death.

“He went on to say that this was the worst-case scenario and probably wouldn’t be me. But all I could focus on was the thought that I could die in 10 years.”

Lymphangioleiomyomatosis manifests itself in a wide variety of ways, so it is sometimes difficult to diagnose, explained the LAM Foundation.

It added: “The difficulty of the diagnosis is compounded by the fact that many of the symptoms of LAM are similar to those of other lung diseases such as asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis.

“Chest x-rays are not usually sufficient to detect LAM, but high-resolution chest CT scans can detect the characteristic cystic structure of LAM, thus providing an accurate diagnosis especially if other manifestations of the disease (e.g., benign kidney tumour, lung collapse, or fluid in the lungs) are present.”

This article originally appeared on Daily Express :: Health Feed
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Covid vaccine side effects: Man says 'stinging' skin started to peel off after the jab

“It all just happened so fast. My skin peeled off,” Richard explained. “It was stinging, burning, and itching.

“Whenever I bent my arms or legs, like the inside of my knee, it was very painful where the skin was swollen and was rubbing against itself.”

Richard spent five days in hospital, where the medics diagnosed him with a rare reaction to the Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine.

Dr Fnu Nutan, a dermatologist at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Medical Center in Richmond – where Richard was treated – commented on the incident.

READ MORE: Covid vaccine update: Trials for Pfizer vaccine begin for children under the age of 12

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Gareth Southgate's tough England talks have started as Euros squad starts to take shape

England boss Gareth Southgate has already begun the “horrible conversations” with players, telling them their Euro 2020 journey is potentially over.
Southgate must submit his official squad with the rest of the nations in the finals on June 1 – 10 days before the tournament starts.

The final two friendlies, against Austria the following day and Romania four days later, will be a honing session for the selected 23.

In the past, Southgate has always preferred to select his squad as early as possible, and to that end he has already spoken to some of the players who he is already confident will not be part of his plans.

“That of course is a difficult message, very difficult and nobody looks forward to that,” Southgate said.

“Whether it’s for one squad or for a big tournament, of course it will feel worse for the players because it’s a big tournament.

“But the reality is whenever you’re delivering that difficult news, it’s a horrible conversation to be having.

“I’ve always got to remember that it’s worse for those receiving it than it is for those giving it, so you’ve got to have that empathy with how the players are feeling.

“I’ve spoken to quite a few already this week and I will do over the next couple of weeks, so that they know exactly where they sit because I think that’s helpful.

“You’ve got to manage expectations and have some reality about what they might need to do between now and the end of the season.”

Injuries to key personnel such as Jordan Henderson, Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish remain a factor so Southgate will not be able to iron out every wrinkle just yet.

But with England’s young internationals that have been called up for recent games all exceeding expectations, Southgate faces some agonising choices.

To that end, he has vowed to continue to monitor form right up until the end of the season.

“We have got to be fully up to speed with where they are physically and what their form is,” he said.

Fans at test events at Wembley will meanwhile be forced to agree to two Covid tests in the hope it could lead to the biggest possible crowds at Euro 2020.

That could even involved a minor invasion of the Tartan Army for the group game between England and Scotland on June 18 even though UEFA have technically banned away fans.

In January UEFA announced that fans would only be able to travel to knockout matches in limited numbers. But because both England and Scotland are part of the UK, the restriction is unlikely to be applied.

In general, culture secretary Oliver Dowden spoke about 10,000 supporters being allowed into group games at Wembley, but that will only be possible if stringent tests are successful.

To that end, fans coming into test events at the FA Cup semi-final between Leicester and Southampton and the Carabao Cup final a week later between Manchester City and Tottenham will be forced to undergo tests both before and after the event.

Authorities want to check that the event itself has not caused a spike in infection rate and will expect those wanting to come into the stadium to make their own arrangements with regard to getting a properly-registered test.

Brent Council have asked the local residents who will be invited to those first two games to register their interest in a scheme.

The area lies just seven miles across north London from White Hart Lane, however, and there is likely to be a strong bias towards Jose Mourinho’s side from the neutral contingent.

It could see Spurs fans outnumber their City counterparts significantly when he first silverware of the season is up for grabs.

For both the Carabao Cup final and the second FA Cup final, 4,000 local health service workers, council staff and teachers, as well as residents, will be chosen to attend the events.

In addition, it is hoped that 2,000 fans for each of the clubs will be able to boost the Carabao Cup attendance to 8,000 – although it is not clear whether it will still be restricted to supporters living in London.

When Texas ended its mask mandate, the event cancellations started — and the losses are adding up

Need to stay updated on coronavirus news in Texas? Our evening roundup will help you stay on top of the day’s latest updates. Sign up here.[1]

At least four organizations canceled conferences or conventions in Austin, citing health concerns after Texas ended its statewide mask mandate earlier this month. The cancellations cost the Hilton Austin hotel $ 350,000 in revenue, according to Austin Convention Enterprises, a city-created corporation that owns and manages the hotel.

“These were rooms that were already on the books, and largely what we saw was fallout, ironically, from the governor opening the economy,” said Joe Bolash, Hilton Austin general manager, during a March 16 Austin Convention Enterprises board meeting. “It was groups that were not comfortable returning to a fully opened economy where there was no mask mandate in place.”

Gov. Greg Abbott[2] ended the statewide mask mandate and capacity limits on businesses on March 10[3], pointing to fewer COVID-19 hospitalizations and cases in the state. Public health experts and political opponents lamented the move, saying it was too soon before the majority of the state was vaccinated against the virus or even eligible for a shot.

Jimmy Flannigan, ACE president and former Austin City Council member, said these cancellations are the latest blow to the hospitality industry in Austin, which has already suffered severe losses due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Flannigan declined to share the names of the organizations that canceled the events. However, he said three of them “had relationships in the medical field” and were concerned with “the message that medical groups might be sending” if they hosted events in Texas.

“This is the worst possible time for any part of the hotel industry to be [losing] business,” Flannigan said. “We’re at the very first few upticks of the recovery of the hotel industry and tourism, which is both important to the hotels themselves, and to the many, many, many jobs that those hotels create in Central Texas.”

Flannigan said consumer sentiment and confidence in their safety heavily impacts business.

“Nothing will help the return of the economy more than the prevention and the public health requirements to arrest the spread of this virus,” he said. “And I hope that the governor lifting the mask mandate ends up not being a horrible decision as it relates to the health of Texas.”

Abbott did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Thursday, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology announced it was canceling the in-person portion of its annual conference that was to be held in Austin due to the end of Texas’ COVID-19-related precautions.

Conference organizers were working with Hilton Austin, the JW Marriott Austin and Fairmont Austin, but it’s unclear if it is one of the four events that ACE said were canceled.

Devin Jopp, CEO of the organization, said in an interview that it’s already a challenge planning safe events during the pandemic, but the masking mandate ending “felt like the rug being pulled out from underneath us.” He said there was no way an organization dedicated to preventing the spread of infectious diseases could risk bringing its members to a state without a mask mandate.

“The policies that Gov. Abbott moved the state into just created a condition we couldn’t work around,” he said. “We think it was premature, and I would say that goes with a lot of other sentiment out there.”

The event was to be held partially online and scaled back from its usual projected attendance of 6,000 to 1,000 due to the pandemic.

Greg Casar, an Austin City Council member, said the lack of a mask mandate isn’t just driving business from the state, but it is putting pressure on public-facing workers, including those in the hospitality industry, to enforce mask-wearing in businesses.

“Greg Abbott didn’t help the economy when he lifted the mask rule, he only helped the virus,” he said. “That’s clearly bad for workers, but it’s bad for business, too. And you can see that clearly with the cancellation of these conferences.”

Even after Texas ended its mask mandate, Austin and Travis County have continued to require masks[4]. In response, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton[5] filed a suit demanding that local officials end the mandate. A final hearing to decide the case will be Friday.

Both Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Travis County Judge Andy Brown have said even if the mask orders are shot down in court this week, they are glad they were able to keep the mask mandate in the meantime, allowing more residents to get vaccinated.

Casar says the city will continue pursuing ways to keep masks on Austin residents.

“We will not stop doing everything we can to protect health and safety. So even if our mask rules get taken down, we will continue to try to find other ways to require masks,” he said. “We will continue to work to make sure that everybody wears a mask or that every business requires masks.”

Disclosure: Steve Adler, a former Texas Tribune board chair, and Fairmont Austin have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here[6].


  1. ^ Sign up here. (www.texastribune.org)
  2. ^ Greg Abbott (www.texastribune.org)
  3. ^ ended the statewide mask mandate and capacity limits on businesses on March 10 (www.texastribune.org)
  4. ^ Austin and Travis County have continued to require masks (www.texastribune.org)
  5. ^ Ken Paxton (www.texastribune.org)
  6. ^ here (www.texastribune.org)

Reese Oxner

MSC Cruises confirm ship fire started in lifeboat but everyone onboard is safe

While MSC Cruises returned to sailing towards the end of summer 2020, UK guests have not yet been welcomed back.

MSC Grandiosa is already back and sea in the Mediterranean.

MSC Seaside are is due to join the Mediterranean itinerary with seven-night cruises starting from May 1.

The cruise line warns: “At this present time and until further notice, our two ships sailings will only welcome guests who are residents in Schengen countries (Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Greece, Spain, France, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland, Sweden and Switzerland) and in Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania.”