Once again I’d like to thank Seedling for sponsoring the RSS Feed this week. Seedling — which just launched last week — is a website full of recommended websites worth reading. It’s user contributed, yet each listed site is hand chosen by a small team of curators. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you may well find some new reading to kick off the new year with. And, as I mentioned last week, while you’re on the site, be sure to submit all of your favorite reads so the rest of us can discover them.


I knew that NetNewsWire had an Attention Report, which would tell you which sites you interact with the most. But just tonight I discovered that NNW can automatically sort your subscription list based on the attention you give each feed. The feeds which get the most activity and attention from you are put at the top of the subscription list.

Go to View → Sort Subscriptions By → Attention.

Patrick Winchell points out that if you keep your subscriptions within a folder hierarchy (I don’t) that NNW will sort the folders based on total attention per folder.

NetNewsWire Will Sort Your Subscriptions Based on Attention

A cool iPhone utility app for skiers and snowboarders. It uses GPS and altitude changes to keep tracks of your runs throughout the day and will also talk to you, giving you speech updates on your speed and what time it is.

It seems the only thing missing is access to your iTunes library. And I’m curious how it affects the battery life — 8 hours on the slopes doing GPS tracking seems like it may be a bit much for the average iPhone.

(Via Jorge Quinteros.)


Nathan Alderman reviews Postbox 2, the contender against Apple’s Mail app. Everyone I know who uses Postbox raves about it, including Nathan here. I’ve tried Postbox a few times (once when it was 1.0 and again when it was in 2.0 beta), but after each time I still switched back to Apple’s Mail app.

I spend a lot of time in email during my day and the highlight features of Postbox 2 seem to be right up my alley: better threaded conversations, better attachment handling, and a quick-reply feature. But the app itself just never felt right to me. I seem to be one of the last people on earth who still likes Apple’s Mail app, so perhaps I should give Postbox another spin.

Macworld’s Review of Postbox 2

iPhone’s Group Messaging in iOS 4

When the iPhone first came out in June 2007, you could only send one text message to one person at a time. No pictures, no videos, no audio. Only a Short Message (SMS).

Six months later, in January 2008, Apple added the ability for our iPhones to send an SMS message to multiple people. This was a feature of iOS version 1.1.3.

Eighteen months after that, in June 2009, Multimedia Messaging (MMS) was introduced to the iPhone as part of iOS 3.0. However, MMS was only available to people using an iPhone 3G or 3GS, and only to those who were not on AT&T. If you had an original iPhone from 2007, or if you lived in the United States, you could not yet send or receive any MMS messages.

In September 2009, AT&T released a carrier update and iPhone users in the U.S. got MMS messaging.

And the most recent update for group messages came when iOS 4 shipped in June 2010. For those on AT&T sending a group message no longer defaults to many individual SMS or MMS messages. Rather, sending a group message on iOS 4 sends it as a single MMS to many people; even if you are only sending a plain text message.

The easiest way to see the difference between sending a group message that is sent as an MMS instead of an SMS is in the top “Sending” status bar of the message’s window. For a group MMS message the bar steadily progresses until it’s done. For a group SMS message the bar progresses in spurts, as several messages are sent back to back to each individual recipient in the group.

This new functionality by AT&T is called “Group Messaging” and has some benefits for the sender:

  • If you’re sending a group message to other iPhone users it means everyone in the group can see everyone else in the group and join the conversation by replying all. In essence, it’s a group chat.

  • A group SMS can only go to 10 recipients. A group MMS can be sent to 100.

  • Sending a group message as MMS counts as just one message sent. Whereas a group message sent as SMS means you are charged for each recipient in the group.

There really is no disadvantage for sending group messages as MMS from your iPhone.

However, with Group Messaging there can be disadvantages for those receiving your messages:

  • Since Group Messaging means messages are sent as MMS no matter what, if you’re sending to people using Blackberries or non-smartphones then they have to open and download your text message as if it contained a media attachment. They think you’re sending a picture, but you simply sent some words. I’ve been told by my friends and family members who use Blackberries and non-smartphones that this is often misleading and always annoying. They were expecting to get an entertaining image from me and instead they got a bland text message. (Perhaps I should be more entertaining with my texting.)

For recipients on Android phones it’s the same issue. They receive your message as an MMS with the subject “No Subject” (unless of course you’ve turned on the “Show Subject Field” option and you’ve written a subject line).

And nobody sees any of the other recipients in the group you’ve sent to except for those on iPhones. It’s only a “group chat” if it’s iPhone users exclusively.

  • And lastly, if by chance someone in your group message is using a phone that doesn’t accept multimedia messages at all, then they will simply not get your text. Instead they get an annoying note — sent from you but written by the carrier — that says something along the lines of, “Hi! I sent you a Multimedia Message. You can log onto a website and enter this long password to see it.” (Remember, during those years when your iPhone could not send or receive MMS messages and you would get that annoying message telling you to log in to a website to see the message?) So very annoying.

How to Turn Group Messaging Off

If you’re so inclined, your AT&T iPhone has a setting to adjust the manner these group texts are sent.

Even though these group messages are sent as MMS messages, you can still leave MMS turned on while turning “Group Messaging” off. This means: (a) you can still send media-rich MMS messages; and (b) group text messages are sent as many individual SMS messages instead of a single MMS. Consider it a favor to your non-iPhone-using friends and family who don’t like downloading your text-only MMS messages.

Simply go to Settings → Messages → “Group Messaging”.

iPhone's Group and MMS Messaging Settings for AT&T

According to the good folks on Twitter, the option to turn off “Group Messaging” in the Messages Settings is only available to iPhone users on AT&T. For example, here’s what the Messages Settings pane looks like for an iPhone on Canada’s Rogers network:

iPhone's Group and MMS Messaging Settings for AT&T
(Screenshot courtesy of Pat Dryburgh.)

Though iPhone users on the Rogers network cannot turn Group Messaging off, group messages are still sent as an MMS message just like on AT&T.

For iPhone users on carriers other than AT&T and Rogers I am not sure if group messages are sent as a single MMS message, or as multiple SMS messages. If the former, it seems as if the only way to disable group messaging as MMS is to turn off MMS Messaging altogether. Therefore forcing a group message to be sent as several individual SMS messages.

Turning MMS Messaging off in the Settings only means you cannot send an MMS message (no texting of video, images, or audio). You can still receive an MMS message from someone else.

iPhone’s Group Messaging in iOS 4

As director of marketing for the International House of Prayer my team and I have been working hard for the past 12 months to promote this event. More than 25,000 people will be coming to the Kansas City Convention Center today (25,511 to be exact).

The conference starts at 2:00pm CST today, and all four days will be webstreamed live for free. Requires flash, or will work on your iOS device.

onething 2010

A fun piece by Andy Ihnatko on the good and bad of Apple’s iterative approach to software features:

I recently read something about Walt Disney that seemed very familiar. A man who worked with him said (I’m paraphrasing) Walt wanted to make sure that if you came to Disney World, you would have a fantastic time. And he succeeded. But he also wanted to make sure that you wouldn’t even have the option of having a bad time.

“The Special Relationship”

Rob, writing about switching to OmniFocus from Things, makes great point against tinkering in general:

The point of all this is simple: if the tool you are currently using works well for you, consider yourself all set. Shiny new tools will always come along with new features. You can go learn new tools, or keep using your tried and true tools that have never let you down.

I couldn’t agree with Rob more. It’s the age-old saying, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. For Rob, Things is an app which still works great and he has no need for switching. So he’s not.

I’m a big fan of this type of attitude. It’s so easy to spend your time tinkering with something new rather than learning what you currently have. My reason for switching from Things was not because I wanted to try something different just for the sake of trying it. I switched because wi-fi syncing was no longer practical.

If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Switch