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Declan McCullagh
Works at Recent.io
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I'm happy to say that a new version of the beta (build 36) is now published for Android and iOS. Just in case anyone's desperately interested, here's the list of changes:

- Revamped intro screen to group topics
- Reverted to square checkboxes (from round)
- Improved relevance of All Topics tab based on topic frequency
- Added "Sample topics recently read" to account statistics (under Settings)
- Added Journo-mode for journalists (makes source more prominent) by typing ///shanklandization into search box
- Added news outlet name to Compact layout
- Added better crash handling
- Added Android preference (in Settings) to share headlines
- Recommended-required counter decrements as articles are read
- Fixed "0.9 minute" to "Less than a minute"
- Changed intro checkbox text to: "Include more news about"
- Back button no longer exits from proposed topics screen
- Darkened gradient on article screen by 25%
- One-time feature reminders now appear at top of Home screen
- One-time popup introducing features appears on article screen
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I received this feature request via email from an iOS user and was wondering if other folks with iPhones would echo it. The request is: "Would like system share sheet to appear first. Really no need for custom share sheet. I most frequently save to instapaper. Share to email: subject of email should be title of article."

When you share on Android, Recent hands off the data to the OS sharing mechanism immediately. On iOS, a bottom sheet appears with the most commonly-used options first and the OS sharing mechanism under "More sharing choices..."  (See screenshot.)

Is there interest among iOS users in adding an Android-style sharing mechanism immediately as a preference in the Settings screen?
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I'm happy to say that after talking to some iOS users we've added this feature. Here's a screenshot: https://goo.gl/photos/piDLdoj9UmAGuoKx6 It will be in the next iOS daily build.
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Declan McCullagh

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I’m sorry to learn that +Circa has been unable to raise another round of funding. They are a competitor, true, but it’s incredibly difficult and painful to start a company and their app is well done.

I suspect Circa’s experience shows that hiring something like 20 writers/editors to select and summarize a subset of the day’s news may not be the most viable approach. One thing I’ve learned while building https://recent.io/ is that it’s more expensive initially to write code, but less expensive once the recommendation engine is complete (even with Google App Engine frontend instance hour costs!).
Mobile news app was unable to raise new venture capital funding.
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Declan McCullagh

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Via +Greg Sandoval: "Any editors out there need copy and photos from Kathmandu? I know I'm off the news but it was very difficult getting here from Pokhara. I've seen and photographed some of the villages outside the city. I can offer photos of severely damaged..."
Any editors out there need copy and photos from Kathmandu? I know I'm off the news but it was very difficult getting here from Pokhara. I've seen and...
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Declan McCullagh

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If you're interested in material design, or designing for mobile in general, Google's update is worth reading. My own interest is personal: +Recent: News powered by artificial intelligence fully uses -- embraces, really -- material design throughout. (In fact, I just tweaked one of the floating action buttons today based on the revised spec.)
 
April 2015 Material Design Spec Update

Here on the #materialdesign team at Google, we’re always listening to community feedback and looking for ways to broaden and expand the specification to better fit the needs of designers everywhere. Today we’re publishing an update to google.com/design/spec that draws on extensive conversations we’ve had with designers and developers over the past few months. The update includes 7 new sections, as well as refinements to content in existing sections.

Some highlights:

Data tables: guidance on presenting data sets, particularly in desktop products
Units and measurements: a description of the different units used in material design, including guidance on using density-independent pixels (DPs)
App structure: suggestions for top-level navigation in your app
Component sticker sheet for After Effects to help streamline your motion design workflow
Floating action buttons now have their own section, with added guidance on behavior and transitions
• Updated guidance on Typography, Cards, Dialogs, Tabs and Scrolling.

For all the gory details, check out the What’s New section in the spec: goo.gl/3aB3xM
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CIA anti-torture whistleblower John Kiriakou is out of prison but needs a full-time job. If you can help, see his tweet below.

Here's an excerpt from an interview he did with The Intercept from behind bars (https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/01/19/cia-agent-jailed-john-kiriakous-long-road-era-torture/) last month:

Q: Now that you have seen the report, did the “rectal hydration” shock you as another detail you didn’t know? 

A: Sickening. I can’t imagine under any circumstances a justification for something like that. There are ways to hydrate prisoners, there are ways to provide nourishment for prisoners who are on hunger strikes. It’s not by shoving hummus up their asses. That’s not how you provide nutrition for somebody that’s in your custody. That was shocking to me.
“I REALLY need a job. Must be 40 hrs and not from home. I don't want halfway house to send me back to prison just for unemployment. Ideas?”
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Declan McCullagh

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I'm very happy and a little nervous to say we've started sending beta invites for +Recent: Your news, customized, now.

What's a bit surprising is that a clear majority of early adopters use Android: nearly 60%. I would have expected the majority to be iOS.

There's a risk of generalizing from a relatively small amount of data, but the breakdown so far is pretty clear. So we may have been correct to decide early on to develop & release simultaneously for both. If had I picked a single platform, it would have been iOS (perhaps because I'm an iPhone user). And that would have been a mistake.
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My decision to use Android was actually a decision to explicitly not use Apple products. Their business practices are offensive. Their unapologetic use of slave labor in China reprehensible. Their tax dodging practice means I will not give them a cent of my money, not ever.
I would not use their products even if it were a condition of my employment. Windows is no better. Android is barely tolerable and Google is almost as evil, but even in our barely morally adjacent culture, Apple should be condemned. They provide absolutely nothing of value commensurate with their absurd prices. It's overpriced garbage made by slaves.

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Declan McCullagh

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We're planning to release a beta Android and iOS version of Recent​ this week! If you haven't already, you can sign up for the beta list here: https://recent.io/

For anyone keeping track, yes, this took a lot longer than we thought it would (some of you were even brave enough to test a prototype last summer!). On the other hand, Recent is much smarter than it was a year ago and, I hope, more useful as well.
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I'm sorry to hear that Circa​ is on indefinite hiatus. Its founders had the courage to create one of the first companies focused on mobile news, back when it was hardly clear that mobile was eating the world. They devoted years to their vision of helping people learn about the world more easily and quickly—and they influenced other apps that followed.

Circa's iOS app was cleanly designed, fast, easy-to-use, and had innovative features. The obstacle was generating sufficient revenue to pay all those talented writers and editors: Crunchbase says the company has between 11 and 50 employees, which could mean a burn rate of $2M+ a year for 11 employees (perhaps $15K a month with salary, payroll tax, employer tax, rent, insurance, etc.). That adds up quickly.

We took a different approach when building +Recent: News powered by artificial intelligence. AI techniques are now powerful enough, and cloud costs now cheap enough, that an engine to predict what you might want to read can be operated relatively inexpensively—after, of course, the significant engineering costs involved in building it. The Recent engine attempts to deeply understand the day's news; after some 14 months, it has 1.8 billion entries in its index hosted on Google App Engine. And today's operating costs are, as of noon PT, only $10.87.

Our philosophy at Recent is that journalists should be freed from mundane tasks like grouping articles together (which Circa's editorial staff did) or assigning them to different categories based on topics. The Recent engine performs topic assignments and clustering automatically, as you can see in the below screenshot from our iOS app. Journalists' unique talents should be used to research and report.

Some good reporters and editors at Circa may now be looking for jobs. Circa editor-in-chief +Anthony De Rosa has posted more information, and if you're in a position to hire, please take a look: http://www.antderosa.com/2015/06/24/team-circa-editorial/
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So I dropped off the signed signature packet at Fenwick & West (photo below) to incorporate https://recent.io/ as a Delaware C corp. before public release. It's an exciting moment (for me, at least!).

Even reaching this incorporation step took far longer than I thought after I left CNET/CBS last year. Note to founders just starting: Debugging and testing on multiple platforms and a bunch of different devices will take far longer than you expect. Note to journalists: creating a company is a lot harder than writing an article, or investigative feature, or even most books! 
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I took a break from building +Recent: News powered by artificial intelligence (now feature-complete and stable!) to contribute an article to +Reason's May 2015 cover package. My piece describes how, unfortunately, the 1990s are back: "The Feds Want a Back Door Into Your Computer. Again."

I'm in august company: other contributors include +Adam Thierer +Geoffrey Manne +Mike Godwin +Veronique de Rugy, Matt Welch​, Peter Suderman​, and Greg Beato. Thanks to Reason's +Katherine Mangu-Ward and +Nick Gillespie for putting this together! You can find our Don't-Tread-On-My-Internet collection at Reason's fine '90s retro web site (now with spinning GIFs!): http://reason.com/donttreadonmyinternet #cryptowars   #cypherpunks  
Hands Off My Internet! - Reason's special collection of articles, videos, and more!
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Just got back from hearing +Michael Gordon Shapiro's amazing “Identity” guzheng concerto at the San Francisco Symphony -- a memorable way to welcome the Chinese New Year. Mike told me afterward that "Identity" is available on iTunes, and I found it here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/identity-zhongshan-zhuang/id494952482 I took the attached photo as we were sitting down (today's performance was actually sold out).
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Entrepreneur, software developer, writer, pilot. Now creating Recent.io.
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Creating forthcoming news recommendation engine and Android/iOS app -- sign up for the beta at Recent.io. Ex-CBS, CNET Networks, Wired, Time Inc.

Living on San Francisco peninsula. Recent-related email: beta@recent.io. Contact: declan@well.com and http://mccullagh.org/.
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Founder, Recent Media (http://recent.io/)
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  • Recent.io
    2014 - present
  • CBS Corporation
    2008 - 2014
  • CNET Networks
    2002 - 2008
  • Wired
    1998 - 2002
  • Time Inc.
    1996 - 1998
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