I love the immediacy of email. To send off a message to a friend or colleague and get back something in minutes or hours rather than the days it would previously have taken to use snail mail. My kids know no other way. No longer do parents have to force their children to write their thank you letters, now they have to be forced to send their thank you emails. Even that is getting old fashioned now. My two can Skype their uncle to say a quick thank you and then get on with their lives.
Problem is too many others love how easy it is to send an email and consequently my mail box if overflowing with people wanting to make one part of my body bigger while others want to make parts of it smaller! It has also opened up a whole new world to me– previously the only begging letter I would get would be from the Readers Digest wanted me to enter their prize draw – now I get begging emails from people I don’t know in Nigeria and Iraq. Stocks, time shares and prize draws – there’s a whole world out there just waiting for my money. To overcome this torrent of junk in my inbox I use a service call Spam Arrest. This works on a challenge/response basis. All my mails are routed via the Span Arrest servers and when it receives a mail sent to me from someone it does not know it sends an email in return. This email has a click through link and a captch for verification. If the original email was from an automated mailer then they won’t be able to respond. However, if the send verifies themselves then the email is automatically forwarded to me. This is a one off process and works extremely well.
So now that I have my spam problem licked the next thing is to make sure I can get the easiest access to my mail when and where I want it. Of course I have the obligatory web mail access but somehow it doesn’t seem right that I have to go and check to see if I have new mail. Surely it would be better if it told me when new mail had arrived and even better would be if it could do it to my RSS reader. So I did a little Google to see what was available and while there were one or two email to RSS solutions they either didn’t work (for me) or require components that weren’t installed on my web host. So it had to be a DIY job.
Long before web hosts started to add any value to their accounts with web mail access I was using a third party Perl script called QDPOP which was very simple, elegant and insecure but did the job. So I dusted this off and converted it to output XML in RSS format rather then plan old HTML. I piped this though my RSS reader of choice, SharpReader, and this is the result:
I get a single line telling me who the message is from and when it arrived and if I click the associated link I get the whole message displayed. Neat, even if I say so myself. You can take a look at the code here but it requires the rest of QDPOP to work and could do with a tidy-up. I will see if I can did out the download and repost as the original site seems to no longer exist.