New MyPopchecker Functionality

MyPopchecker.com has been updated with a couple of cool new features.  It's been great to work on this project from time to time (especially in seeing it get used by people!), and I've found that I've been using this service myself quite a bit.  So, here's what new in this release:
  • Rich Text Editing! 
Finally, composing e-mails can be done with a rich text editor.  It's a great addition that makes checking e-mails on the road as feature rich as editing them in Outlook.  It's a snap to add links, modify fonts and styles, and even spell check.  How cool is that?

  • RSS!  Yes, RSS! 
    Get your e-mail in your own RSS feed!  Why would you want to use this feature?  Similar to the MyPopInfo webservice, it's designed to automatically monitor your e-mail and let you know when new messages arrive.  What takes this to the next level above MyPopInfo (and other system tray notifications) is the fact that you can also read those messages and see it integrated with the rest of your RSS feeds.   Because of the way RSS works, it's able to distinguish between new and read messages ... so it's a great way to keep tabs on your e-mail.

Not sure how you'd use this?  Check out some of these potential uses:
  • If you use a site like start.com, you can plug in your custom RSS address from MyPopchecker and see your e-mail on your custom start portal.
  • Plug your MyPopchecker RSS feed into a Windows Vista Gadget -- a cool, extensible desktop application that allows for a myriad of plugins (gadgets).
  • Add the MyPopchecker RSS feed to your desktop aggregator, like RSS Bandit or RSS Reader.  While checking headlines or other syndicated content, the aggregator will also show any new e-mails in your e-mail accounts.
  • Still subscribed to some e-mail based newsletters?  Have them sent to a dedicated e-mail account of your choice, and create a new MyPopchecker account that checks this e-mail account.  Add this RSS feed to your aggregator -- it turns e-mail based newsletters into RSS feeds!
  • Use an RSS aggregator on a mobile device to keep an eye out for important e-mails.
  • If your organization needs a way to distribute notices, this may be a solution.  By sending e-mails to a dedicated e-mail account, you can distribute the URL for the RSS feed to any number of people.  This is a great way to distribute one-way communications without maintaining e-mail lists, and allows for greater flexibility of distribution -- mobile devices, desktop aggregators, etc.
There's really a wide variety of how you might find this useful ... and that's the beauty of RSS -- it gets you information in an XML format that's platform independent and usable however you see fit. 

How does it work?  Simple.  After you log into your MyPopchecker account, click Settings -> User Prefs.  At the bottom of your preferences, you'll see the RSS settings, like the one below:



First, be sure the Enable RSS checkbox is checked.  Whenever this checkbox is unchecked, RSS requests to your account will be denied.  The RSS Feed URL is the URL needed for your RSS reader; no authentication is necessary.  A token (using 256 bit encryption) is part of the URL, and will grant access to your account.

But isn't this a security hole?  Not really.  When it comes to RSS Readers, some do not support authentication; those that do may store credentials in clear text, so in some cases it's actually less secure.  Some people have expressed concern with giving their usernames and passwords to third party web-based aggregators.  By using this type of token, it protects everyone involved -- you never need to give out the username or password.   Obviously, you should be careful in using any personal content (RSS or otherwise) on "unfriendly" computers, but you never have to worry about your username and password being compromised.

Any time you change your MyPopchecker password, a new and secure token is generated and you'll need to update your RSS feeds with the new URL.

Want to see this in action?  Visit this link (either in a browser or add it to an RSS program of your choice) -- it connects to a real MyPopchecker account, which in turn polls a real e-mail account and sends the data in an RSS Feed:

Test RSS Feed

These features are still being tested a bit and tweaked for performance.  I've seen some issues with RSS Bandit -- despite have an encoded URL, RSS Bandit seems to implicitly unencode the URL when requesting feeds which may create some invalid requests on the server. If you run into this problem, please let me know.  So far, I think I've solved this issue.

If you've already got a MyPopchecker account, feel free to create additional accounts to keep your syndicated, RSS-enabled e-mail accounts separate from the ones you don't want syndicated.
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