Newsworthy Turns One

One year ago this week, the bot started ingesting Canada’s local news. In celebration of the site’s one year anniversary, I added two new features: continuous scroll – you can keep reading the news forever; default edition – you can now set your default city.

Out of curiosity pulled some stats from the database.

  • Since September 2012, Canadian online media have posted over 140,000 news items.
  • The busiest news day was July 21, 2013 which was the second day of mandatory evacuation during the Calgary Flood.
  • The second busiest day was May 2, 2013 Toronto posted over 860 stories that day, most important story was the Ontario 2013 provincial budget.

If you’ve never been to the site and you love news, check it out: Follow the site on Twitter @newsworthyca.

Google Reader is Dead. to the rescue! is a project I’ve been working on for the past few months. In a nutshell, it’s a better way to get all the latest local news in one place. Sites like Reddit and Google News are a good way to get the “best” or “most important” stories of the day. But they sometimes fail at surfacing up to date, breaking news. If you’re a news hound like me, I think you’ll find NewsWorthy quite useful.

With Google announcing their intentions to shut down Google Reader, today seemed like the perfect day to pull off the “alpha” wrapper and release it to the wild!

At the moment, NewsWorthy only supports Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal. I’m looking for the best1 news source in every Canadian city. If you’d like to recommend sources in your city, feel free to email me.

  1. “best” means, updated frequently and intensely focused on local news []

Seth Godin Teaches a Good Lesson About Design

[A guest post by Karam Debly]

Through a friend, I learned that Seth Godin put out a call on his blog for developers to apply to build a mobile app.

I wrote the following in my application.

“I’m writing to tell you that I don’t think your blog, which i love, warrants an app.

We believe strongly in responsive design and your site should be designed to look good on any platform.

I have a hunch that if people are asking you for an app they are either responding to trends or telling you your site doesn’t look good on mobile devices and/or tablets.

A solid designer should be trying to solve a problem, not building you shit you don’t need.”

I wrote that quickly. Besides grammar, I would change the last sentence. Solid is vague, I mean responsible.

I have since looked at his site and blog (I should’ve looked before I hit send, I can be impulsive). Both sites don’t work on common mobile and tablet screen resolutions.

There’s a great lesson here.

What do you tell a potential client who is asking for a proposal for something that you think is missing the problem in the first place? Even if that potential client is Seth Godin.

I would ask the client to back up and describe the problem in more detail.

Is the problem really that Seth Godin doesn’t have a mobile app? Or is that a symptom of the problem?

The problem, in my humble opinion, is that his site doesn’t work on smaller screens. It’s very difficult to read. Mobile users aren’t tolerating pinch to zoom anymore. And they shouldn’t. Designers have built a better way to interact with a site on smaller screens.

I think Mobile apps can be useful. It’s just that none of the other details he wrote warrant an app either. He’s not interested in monetization (Let’s be honest, that’s a big reason for mobile app development). The main feature for the app is that it displays articles from his RSS feed and links to sell his books. Oh, and share buttons for social media. These are all features that could be easily incorporated in a responsive site. There’s one vague requirement that I’m just going to interpret as “anything else you think would be cool” and leave it out of this.

Seth doesn’t need a mobile app. He needs a new site. And a responsible design company would tell him that. I’m surprised he missed something this obvious. I’m also surprised that no one around him pointed out his mistake. However, I won’t be surprised that mobile app developers won’t mention that. They are responding to his call after all.

Seth messed up, it happens. Don’t let your clients make the same mistake. They might end up blaming you. They should. You’re supposed to be the expert.

P.S. I put TBD in the Budget field of my application.

Facebook Security Force

A neat little tidbit about Facebook security in this post from The Verge. Good Guy Facebook proactively scans lists of hijacked account and warns users if they appear on one of these lists.

Facebook cross references credential dumps with its entire database of user credentials, then alerts any users that match to change their passwords. By signing up for Facebook, you’ve inadvertently entered yourself into its witness protection program, of sorts. During events like the Gawker credentials leak or Playstation Network security breach last year, Facebook alerted users if their passwords were on the loose.

via The Verge