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FreePOPs is an open source, plugin-based POP proxy that you can run on your local machine. It was originally designed to allow you to use a normal POP email client to read your mail on a multitude of webmail systems. You point your mail client at the FreePOPs server, and it connects and screen-scrapes your webmail account so that you can read your email in the comfort of your favorite mail reader.

The great thing about FreePOPs is its filter plugin architecture. There are a number of different plugins to support the specific requirements of most of the popular web-based email systems. There’s even an RSS plugin that will pull an RSS feed and make it look like a normal POP mailbox. Thankfully, you don’t need to configure anything on the server. Instead, you connect to the FreePOPs server using a particular username and password format to activate the appropriate plugin.

Here’s how to set up an RSS-to-POP mailbox using FreePOPs and the standard OS X Mail.app email client.Download and Run FreePOPs

  • Download the FreePOPs server – Link
  • In OS X, just run the .pkg file and click your way through the installer. It’ll drop the FreePOPs application in your Applications folder.
  • To start the server, just double click the FreePOPs icon. This will run the server on localhost port 2000. You can stop the server by hitting the icon a second time.
  • If you want it to start automatically, add it to your account’s Login Items in System Preferences.

Installation is similar for Linux and Windows. Just refer to the particular installation instructions on the downlods page.

Create a New POP Account in Your Email Client

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The setup is roughly the same for any POP client. I’m using Mail.app as an example. Use any name and email address for your account. Just make sure it’s set to POP (not IMAP, etc.) Set the account description to the name of the site, so you’ll know what it is later.

Configure Account Settings for the RSS Plugin

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The FreePOPs server runs on localhost:2000 by default. Mail.app’s configuration doesn’t allow you to set the port on this screen, however, so enter localhost for the moment and we’ll fix the port later.

For the username, you need to use anything@aggregator to trigger the RSS aggregator plugin.

The password needs to be the full URL to the feed you want this account to pull, for instance, http://blog.makezine.com/archive/hacks/index.xml. You can’t see your typing, so it might help to cut and paste this one.

Change the POP Port to 2000

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Once you’ve saved your account, you can go back and adjust it’s settings to change the POP port to 2000. In Mail.app, just right click and edit the account. The Port setting is under the advanced tab.

Sync the RSS Feed

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Once you’ve saved your settings, just hit the “Get Mail” button, and the RSS for the site will be downloaded as if it’s normal mail. The sender for every entry will appear to be from freepops@your.rss.url. That’s sort of annoying, so I just removed the from field from this mailbox’s display.

Mobile Access?

Now, if you’re ambitious, you can run the freepops server from the command line and bind it to a public-facing IP address on a server machine. You could then easily access RSS feeds using the integrated email client on a lot of internet enabled devices and smartphones. With this setup, anything with a POP client will be able to conveniently pull RSS feeds.


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