Joel Kleier's Electric Froth

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rss2email

by Joel Kleier on 2014-03-26


March 13, 2013 -- Google announced the shutdown of Google Reader. Honestly, I became a little pissed. I mean, I certainly didn't use Reader a lot, but it was so convenient to keep track of my podcasts and news, especially the ones that weren't updated often. It also, usually, gave me a pretty good history of posts, beyond what was listed in the feed.

Alas, it was not to be, and, in the end, it's probably a good thing. The shutdown did one great thing: it forced me to find a better solution for my use case.

At this point, the hunt was on. I tried Feedly, but it didn't fit my wants. I had a problem with the plugins and how you viewed feeds. Then I moved on to The Old Reader, which was mostly a clone of Google Reader, but a clone of the good parts before Google started futzing with it!

For awhile, it was nice and useful. Quickly, though, it became apparent to me that it was another service I had to log into, and it didn't have a great mobile offering. It was a little slow due to the massive attention it was getting, and they even announced that they would have to shutdown at one point.

That announcement and the troubles I was running into with the app made me realize -- I had gone from one service that held the keys to the information I wanted, into to the hands of another.

This realization forced me to work a little harder on a side project: slicerss, which has since been pretty much abandoned. This project let me really customize how I wanted to read my rss feeds. I setup a very minimal UI, and it had all the (minimal) features I needed out of it. But, it was slow... and bound to my home server.

Ultimately, I discovered the key to what I want: I don't want to even check another service, and most of the time I just want to view the original article anyway. I don't want to share (most of the time) or organize my feeds.

I just want a river of news that makes it easy to mark or save an article and a link to the original.

Enter rss2email - a project which has been in development since at least 2006 (that's the date of v2.56 in the changelog). What does it do? Very simply, it downloads a set of RSS feeds, keeps track of which ones it has sent you, and emails the ones it hasn't.

Super, super, simple. Zero dependence on 3rd party services or proprietary software, an active project, and minimal system requirements. Plus, it's available anywhere I can access my email! I can use my email system to flag/pin/star or save any particular articles I want to, and I can just delete the rest.

Why I didn't do this sooner? Beats me. Now I just have a cron job that runs r2e run once a day, and then, when I want to, I can just check my email.