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Archive for March 14, 2013

CaptureNotes 2

G8R Software’s CaptureNotes 2, the app that lets you “capture everything” in any note-taking scenario, has just captured another major update.

The new major update brings several enhancements, one of which is a new page action.

This new page action lets you move or copy a page from one notebook to another notebook in CaptureNotes 2. What’s more, it lets you set up a format that can be easily copied especially in instances where repetitive tasks are involved.

Another enhancement in CaptureNotes 2 is audio file and flag access support for the newly released CaptureAudio for iPhone, which is also developed by G8R Software.

CaptureNotes 2

In addition, the following improvements are included in the latest update to CaptureNotes 2:

  • In-line text editing for Bold, Italic & Underline
  • In-line text font formatting; size, color and multiple fonts
  • List creation with bullets
  • Text boxes are now fixed width when placed – use the handle to make the box wider or narrower to fit your need

Compatible with iPad running iOS 5.0 or later, the new version of CaptureNotes 2 is available now in the App Store as a free update or as a new $4.99 download.

Released in August last year, CaptureNotes 2 is included in AppAdvice’s Handwriting Apps for iPad AppGuide. Also, it carries support for Ten One Design’s Pogo Connect smart pen for iPad.

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Ready for spring’s fresh bounty

Vernal treasure: Closely related to broccoli, nanohana is best eaten in spring, when its buds are yellow-green.Vernal treasure: Closely related to broccoli, nanohana is best eaten in spring, when its buds are yellow-green. | MAKIKO ITOH


Ready for spring’s fresh bounty


After an unusually cold winter, the sight of spring produce is particularly welcome, especially the bright yellow-green of nanohana. While plain-green nanohana is available almost year-round these days, it’s only in early spring when you see the ones picked from open fields that are covered in tiny just-emerging flower buds.

Nanohana is one of the oldest vegetables cultivated in Asia, including Japan. It’s closely related to the rapeseed or canola plant in Europe and the West, and also to broccoli, since all of these are members of the brassica family. While in the West rapeseed is usually only grown for its seeds, from which oil is extracted, in Japan the plant is used at various stages of growth. Each stage is given a different name, too: The young spring shoots are called nanohana, which literally means “flower of vegetable,” and the mature plant that’s used for oil as in the West is called aburana, which means “oil plant.” Rapeseed oil is called natane abura or “vegetable-seed oil” and has been used at least since the Edo Period (1603 to 1867).

While they are not as widely celebrated as sakura cherry trees, fields of yellow flowering nanohana are also a much-loved harbinger of spring, coming in between the ume (plum) blossoms that open in mid-February around the Tokyo area and the cherry blossoms that bloom in April. The word nanohana is a recognized seasonal word in haiku, signifying early spring. There’s also a well-known children’s song called “Oborozukiyo” (“Hazy Moonlit Spring Night”) that poetically describes a misty nanohana field in the early evening with a gentle spring breeze blowing over it.

Nanohana is a very versatile vegetable, high in vitamin C as well as other nutrients. It’s also a very frugal vegetable, since there’s nothing to throw away — the florets, stems and leaves are all edible. Unlike some other early spring vegetables, it has no bitterness or tannic quality, so it doesn’t need any special pretreatment. It both tastes and looks its best when the yellow flower buds are just emerging; once the flowers start to open the stems get a little tough, although you can get around this by cooking it just a bit longer.

As I’ve mentioned, nanohana is closely related to broccoli; I’ve seen varieties sold in the United States as broccolini or baby broccoli. The closest vegetable in the West might be broccoli rape, broccoli shoots that are popular in Italy. So you can use it in the same way you would use broccoli: simply steamed or boiled, stir-fried, in soups and so on. Nanohana is also excellent deep-fried with a tempura batter.

The most traditional way to eat nanohana in Japan, especially at this time of year, is as the side dish ohitashi. Simply cook the nanohana in boiling water until the stalks are just tender. Refresh under cold running water and drain well. Serve in a small bowl with some soy sauce or dashi stock mixed with soy sauce (3 tbsp of dashi to 1 tsp of soy sauce) and top with some katsuobushi(bonito flakes) or toasted sesame seeds. The bright-green florets with a sprinkling of yellow will add a colorful breath of spring to your dinner table.

Makiko Itoh is the author of “The Just Bento Cookbook” (Kodansha USA). She writes about bentō lunches at and about Japanese cooking and more at

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Oxtail Soup with Onions and Barley

Oxtail Soup with Onions and Barley


Oxtail Stock

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 4 pounds oxtails or beef shanks
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 3 large shallots, coarsely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled, coarsely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 sprigs thyme


  • 12 small cipolline or pearl onions
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 large red onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup bourbon
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Prepared cornbread (for serving)


Oxtail Stock

  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Season oxtails with salt and pepper. Working in 2 batches, cook until browned on all sides, adding 1 tablespoon oil between batches, 10-15 minutes per batch; transfer to a plate.
  • Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to same pot. Add shallots, carrots, and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 8-10 minutes. Add garlic; cook, stirring, just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add wine; cook, scraping up browned bits, until reduced by half, 5-8 minutes. Add parsley, thyme, and 4 cups water; return oxtails to pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until meat is fork-tender, 3-3 1/2 hours.
  • Using a slotted spoon, transfer oxtails to a plate. Let cool slightly; shred meat, discarding bones. Strain stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl or measuring cup (discard solids). Skim fat from stock; add water if needed to measure 4 cups. DO AHEAD: Oxtail stock and meat can be made 2 days ahead. Let cool. Cover separately; chill. Rewarm before using.


  • Cook cipolline onions in a large sauce-pan of boiling salted water until tender, 5-8 minutes. Drain and let cool. Trim root ends; peel and set aside.
  • Heat butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add red onions and cook, stirring occasionally, adding water by tablespoonfuls if pot becomes dry, until soft and deep brown, 45-60 minutes.
  • Remove from heat; add bourbon and reserved cipolline onions. Return to heat and cook, scraping up browned bits, until bourbon is evaporated, about 4 minutes. Add chicken broth, barley, and reserved oxtail stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until barley is tender, 45-60 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Soup can be made 2 days ahead. Let cool slightly; chill until cold. Cover and keep chilled. Reheat before continuing.
  • Add reserved oxtail meat to soup. Thin soup with water, if needed. Divide soup among bowls and serve with cornbread alongside.

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Breast cancer drug ‘biggest boost since Herceptin’

Perjeta extends the lives of those with HER2+ breast cancer, but at more than £30,000 for a year's supply - in addition to Herceptin - it isn't cheap.

Perjeta extends the lives of those with HER2+ breast cancer, but at more than £30,000 for a year’s supply – in addition to Herceptin – it isn’t cheap. Photo: GETTY


Thousands of women with a type of advanced breast cancer could benefit from a drug described as the biggest step-change in treatment of the disease since Herceptin was introduced in 1999.

Perjeta has been shown to cut the chance of dying within three years of starting treatment by a third.

It works in combination with Herceptin, for the fifth of patients who are suitable for the established drug. These are women whose cancer cells have particularly high levels of a protein called HER2.

Dr David Miles, a consultant oncologist at Mount Vernon Cancer Centre near Watford, said: “Perjeta has been shown to extend survival and control cancer for longer than the current standard of care – showing a magnitude of benefit that has not been seen since the launch of Herceptin more than ten years ago.

“This marks a significant step forward in the treatment of this aggressive, difficult-to-treat disease.”

Roche, which makes Perjeta, has just been given permission to market the drug across Europe by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). It costs £31,135 for a year’s supply.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice), which rations expensive treatments, has not yet decided on whether to make it available as standard in the English and Welsh NHS .

However, for the moment women in England will be able to apply for it through the Cancer Drugs Fund.

It received the EMA’s approval after a trial found that using it with Herceptin and chemotherapy, cut the chance of dying within three years by 34 per cent, compared to using Herceptin and chemotherapy alone.

The Cleopatra study also found it extended the average time that tumours were stalled, from 12.4 to 18.5 months.

Perjeta works by blocking a method by which tumour cells get around the ‘blocking’ effect of Herceptin.

While Herceptin blocks the ‘survive and multiply’ signals that HER2 receptors send out, often the receptors get around that by sending out even more powerful signals by pairing with related receptors in this family of proteins. The process is known as dimerisation. Perjeta blocks this pairing process.

Despite its benefits the drug, like other cancer medicines, has unpleasant side effects. For instance, when used with Herceptin and chemotherapy, two-thirds suffered from diarrhoea.

Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive of Breast Cancer Campaign said it “should be made available to all women who will benefit from it as soon as possible”.

She said: “Perjeta has the potential to bring a significant, and precious, extension of life to around 2,000 women with advanced breast cancer each year, by preventing the cancer from progressing for longer than we’ve seen with other treatment combinations.”

Dr Emma Pennery, clinical director of the charity Breast Cancer Care said: “This drug, when combined with Herceptin and chemotherapy can provide a more effective, targeted treatment option to delay progression of this aggressive disease than Herceptin and chemotherapy alone, but with comparable side effects.

“The priority now must be that Perjeta is made widely accessible across the UK as soon as possible for patients with secondary breast cancer whose lives could be extended from its use.”

Nice is likely to make a decision on Perjeta next autumn or winter. Roche is working on a ‘patient access scheme’ to bring down the cost to the NHS, said a spokesman.

*Only one in eight women who have pregnancy-related diabetes are later checked to see if they are at risk of developing life-long diabetes, according to research due to be presented in Manchester today.

Telegraph –

Conflicts of interest ‘rife’ among new GP commissioners

The BMJ study looked at 1,179 GPs

More than a third of GPs on the boards of new NHS commissioning groups in England will have a potential conflict of interest, an investigation suggests.

The British Medical Journal analysed 83% of the 211 boards, which will play a key role in from April, and says potential conflicts will be “rife”.

A code of conduct says board members must remove themselves from decisions if they could benefit from the outcome.

The NHS Commissioning Board (NHSCB) says it will issue final guidance soon.

The BMJ says 426, or 36%, of the 1,179 GPs it looked at – who are in executive positions on boards – have a financial interest in a for-profit health provider beyond their own practice.

Their interests range from senior directorships in firms set up to provide services such as out-of-hours GP care, to shareholdings in large private health firms, such as Harmoni and Circle Health.

‘Commissioning difficult’

The information – obtained from Freedom of Information requests and analysis of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) websites – also shows 12% of the GPs had declared links with not-for-profit organisations that could present a conflict of interest with their commissioning role.

And 9% of GPs declared a conflict of interest through a family member.

The GP-led CCGs will take responsibility, in just under three weeks, for organising NHS care worth about £60bn.

The BMJ’s editor in chief, Dr Fiona Godlee, said: “These conflicts will make the commissioning of some services difficult.

“Although board members can excuse themselves from meetings when conflicts arise, this could mean some decisions are made by a group of predominantly lay people.”

This is unchartered territory and GPs are being presented with a tremendous range of new challenges. ”

Dr Clare GeradaRoyal College of GPs

A spokeswoman for the NHSCB said: “CCGs are under clear duties to ensure that they manage any potential conflicts of interest in ways that preserve the integrity of their decision-making processes.

“This is why it is so vital that everyone working for a CCG or serving on its governing body declares any interests they have.”

Six of the eight GPs running Blackpool CCG have declared an interest in the local out-of-hours provider.

The group has chosen to have four lay members – instead of the minimum of two – on its governing body, to help resolve any conflicts of interest.

Dr Laurence Buckman, chair of the BMA’s GP committee, said: “While the majority of GPs have no involvement in private companies, we have long called for stronger safeguards against possible conflicts of interest in the new commissioning process.

“In our view, GPs who are directors of, or who have significant financial interests in, companies who might be awarded contracts to provide services should seriously consider their membership of CCG governing bodies.

“Alternatively, they should consider their position within provider companies.”

‘Blocks’ in the system

But some GP leaders have warned that focusing on possible conflicts could distract from the main tasks facing doctors under the new structures.

Dr Michael Dixon, chairman of the NHS Alliance, which represents organisations and individual professionals in primary care, said: “The priority is to move services out of hospital and into primary care.

“The reason this hasn’t happened to date is because of blocks in the system.

“It’s more important to remove those blocks than be preoccupied with conflicts of interest.”

The shadow health secretary, Andy Burnham MP, said: “Patients and public want those entrusted with making decisions about the NHS to have its best interests at heart.

“They will be shocked to learn that so many have a potential conflict of interest.”

Dr Clare Gerada, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said: “This is what the college warned about as far back as September 2011 when we issued guidance around the ethics of commissioning.

“Clinically led commissioning on this scale is unchartered territory and GPs are being presented with a tremendous range of new challenges.

“If conflicts of interest in CCGs are not managed effectively, the consequences could badly undermine the confidence of regulators, providers and, most importantly, patients, in the system.”


How it became almost mandatory for dads to attend the birth

13th August 1968: Prenatal classes at Margate Hospital in Kent
Prenatal classes in the late 1960s encouraged men to get more involved in the pregnancy

Times have changed and it is now rare that a man does not attend the birth of his baby, but how did it come to pass and could things ever change back?

In the 1950s, the father wasn’t at the centre of the business of birth.

The Sunday Express Baby Book, published in 1950, set the scene for a hospital birth:

“In the delivery room, white with bright lights, you will be taken from a hospital trolley to the delivery table. The nurses will be standing by with the doctor and with their gentle help and encouragement, aided by the science they have studied so long, your baby will be born.”

But where is the father?

Testimonies from the 1950s suggest many men thought it was not a man’s place, says Dr Laura King, a research fellow at the University of Leeds. Her project – Hiding in the Pub to Cutting the Cord – gathered parents’ experiences of childbirth from the 1950s onwards.

“There were quite a lot of men who couldn’t quite cope with the idea. Equally a lot of women didn’t like the idea of their husbands seeing them in that way,” says King.

1st December 1947: Nurses holding babies in a maternity ward at Guy's Hospital, London
Maternity wards were very different 65 years ago

There may have been a social hangover from the Victorian era. “In the 1920s, 30s, 40s you find plenty of examples of couples who talked about not having ever seen each other naked, they’ve got six children, but they’ve never actually seen each other fully naked,” says King.

In Victorian Britain, there were some exceptions to the rule. Prince Albert, for instance, was supposedly with Queen Victoria at the birth of some of their children and aristocratic fathers were more likely to be present at the delivery to greet the arrival of a male heir.

Although some fathers did prefer to remain in the pub in the 1950s, things were gradually starting to change. The arrival of the NHS in 1948 meant more women were having children in hospital rather than at home.

“You had some quite progressive hospitals such as University College Hospital in London that started to encourage men in 1951,” says King.

The real change came in the 1970s.

“It is very hard to find definitive statistics on this, but from the late 1960s to the late 70s it goes from a minority to something between 70-80%,” says King.

The Peel report of 1970 stated that every woman should have access to hospital care when giving birth and the number of home births began to radically decline.

Away from the familiar surroundings of the home, women looked to a birthing partner for more moral support and men started to play an increasing role.

In 1970s sitcom Some Mother’s Do ‘Ave ‘Em, when Frank Spencer’s daughter Jessica is born, the hapless father has to ask the doctor’s permission to attend the birth.

Frank Spencer in Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em attends a prenatal class
Frank Spencer prepares himself for fatherhood by attending a prenatal class

In the 1970s there were three different sets of feelings involved – the woman’s, the man’s and the medical profession’s.

“There is a school of thought that said that doctors feel quite threatened by another presence in the room, another person who’s asking questions about why they are doing what they’re doing,” says King.

There was also initial scepticism from some midwives, but attitudes started to change as the issue began to be discussed more widely in medical journals.

Labour tips for dads-to-be

Newborn in father's arms
  • Download a smartphone app which records and times contractions
  • Prepare a bag in advance with all the things you will need
  • When driving to the hospital, the expectant woman should sit in the back seat to avoid distracting the driver and avoid risk of an accident
  • Walking can speed up labour by 50% and the extra pressure of the baby’s head on the cervix can stimulate hormones that can help during the labour process
  • Practise yoga-style breathing exercises with your partner to help with relaxation and pain relief
  • Maintaining eye-to-eye contact can help with reassurance
  • Don’t read the paper, send texts, play games or look at your watch
  • Never make quick remarks or jokey comments – they will not be funny or warmly received

BBC Health: Pregnancy
BBC Health: Advice for new dads

Changing concepts of privacy and marriage since WWII have also had a big impact for parents, says King. There is now more focus on the emotional bond between a man and a woman.

Peer pressure has grown.

We look back on midwifery in the 1950s with nostalgia today in dramas such as Call the Midwife. Community midwives in vintage costumes cycle through the East End of London with scissors and forceps in their bags, ready to deliver babies in the tough economic conditions of post-war Britain, the father often waiting outside.

Now people watch programmes such as One Born Every Minute. A father can join the mother in the hospital birthing pool, cut the cord and announce the sex of the baby.

People would be surprised if, for instance, Prince William chose not to attend the birth of his child in July. But could we see the tide shift again?

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay has spoken publicly about not attending the birth of his four children, claiming that he thought his sex life “would be damaged by images like something out of a sci-fi movie – skinned rabbits and conger eels coming at me from everywhere”.

In 2009, a French obstetrician, Michel Odent,blamed fathers for an increasing rate of births by Caesarean section. He claimed that a male partner in the delivery room can make a woman more anxious, slowing the production of oxytocin, a hormone which helps the labour process.

But a study in 1962 by US doctor Robert Bradley suggests that the father’s presence actually helps the woman relax.

About 14% of fathers today are still not able to attend the birth of their babies. And there are many who have to steel themselves.

“The main part I have played in this pregnancy was getting her pregnant,” says 19-year-old amateur footballer Callum Coker who decided to go on a five-week crash course for a BBC documentary to find out how to become a supportive birthing partner.

Callum Coker and Laura GriffenCallum Coker and his partner Laura Griffen are the proud parents of baby Layla

Coker is not alone in feeling isolated from the birthing process. One in three men in the UK have said they feel left out of pregnancy and sidelined at the birth.

Women have had time to get used to the idea of being pregnant, they are growing the baby, but the guys they have had nothing”

Community midwife Mary Budd

“I think dads when they come into hospital with their wives in labour it can be a really scary place because they are not in control. We’re trying to arm them with knowledge to help them have a good transition into fatherhood,” says Fiona Laird, head of midwifery at North Middlesex hospital in London.

The more a man can read and discover what changes occur to the woman’s body during pregnancy and labour, the more they are prepared.

Yet for some dads even if they combat the stress and panic, they are often fearful of the dreaded gore – dads like Coker who hate the sight of blood and worry about what will happen at the “business end”.

Anything up to 500ml of blood at the birth is normal, but looking at videos of real life births can help desensitise squeamish fathers and allow them to conquer their worries.

Sharing and talking about your fears with other dads-to-be is also a therapeutic experience, says community midwife Mary Budd from Bristol, who has delivered over 1,000 babies.

Duchess of Cambridge meets well-wishers in Grimsby, March 2013Will the royal father-to-be attend the birth?

A good place to meet fellow dads-to-be is at antenatal classes. In some parts of the UK, men can also attend dedicated Mantenatal and Daddynatal classes.

In the end, Coker was with his partner Laura Griffen at the birth and is now the proud father of a baby girl called Layla.

“I’m definitely over the fear of gore and blood without a doubt, it’s natural. You just have to remember what it was for… now she’s here it just makes it all seem worthwhile. I’m ready for our life to begin now.”


‘Weakness mining’ for tapeworm drugs


Tapeworm parasites have had their genetic code mined for weaknesses in an effort by an international team of researchers to find new treatments.

Infection can be fatal or lead to complications such as blindness or epilepsy, and current drugs are often ineffective.

The study suggested that some cancer drugs, which have already been developed, may help.

The findings were published in the journal Nature.

Tapeworms have complicated lives. The adults of one tapeworm, Taenia solium, live in the human gut. The tapeworm is passed onto pigs through faeces. A larval stage forms cysts inside the pig’s flesh, which are then eaten by people.

Adult tapeworms tend to cause mild symptoms in people, as they stay in the gut. However, people can get the far more dangerous larval stage of the parasite, which forms cysts throughout the body, including the brain.

The World Health Organization lists two tapeworms of its list 17 neglected tropical diseases that need action.


Researchers worked out the entire genetic code of four species of tapeworm parasite.

They then looked for similarities between the parasite and humans, as this opened up the possibility drugs that had already been designed could work on the parasite.

“We mined the genome for targets,” said one of the scientists, Dr Matthew Berriman, from the Sanger Institute in the UK.

He told the BBC: “At the top of the list are the tapeworm equivalent of the targets for cancer drugs.”

He said the larval stage formed “horrible tumour-like growths”, so using cancer drugs may provide a “very attractive vulnerability”.

It is hoped that using a parasite’s DNA to hunt for weaknesses and then finding drugs to match will be more economical than trying to design drugs from scratch.

Dr Berriman said this approach “could save years” of research.

Fellow researcher Dr Magdalena Zarowiecki said: “What we’re trying to do is accelerate the development of these very important drugs.”

Prof Peter Hotez, from the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in the US, said: “We need to take advantage of this genetic sequence data to find new and improved ways of coping with this problem that devastates much of the developed and developing world.

“Open access to these complete genomes will accelerate the pace in which we find alternative tools and treatments to combat tapeworm infections.”

You can hear more from the researchers on Science In Action on the BBC World Service, Thursday at 19:30 GMT.


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