Saturday, 14 May 2011

No Milk Today

Because I forgot to order it. Not really: I didn’t, because I use Microsoft Outlook (with an Exchange server behind it) at the office to manage both my professional and private tasks and calendar. A friend was looking for similar functionality without having the luxury of an Exchange server: a task list that could be accessed from any PC, and that would even work offline and synchronise with the server when a connection is available, as she carries a laptop around but isn’t always online. I was hoping Windows Live Mail, having a calendar, would provide a task list as well, but alas. Do you know of an alternative?

As the bride said to the groom: I do. And I’ll add: ‘for free’ :) I looked around and found some nice alternatives, most of which came with a price tag. And then I stumbled upon Remember The Milk.

Remember The Milk has a paid ‘Pro’ version, and a free version. Depending on your friend’s needs, the free version might be sufficient, at least to start with; an upgrade is possible later on. The site has a lot to offer:
  • Recurring tasks (e.g. ‘Every Friday at 3 PM’)
  • Due dates
  • Notes (elaborate text, unlike the brief one-liner one puts in the task’s name)
  • Priorities
  • Categories
  • And a lot more – have a look
On top of that, you can set it up to receive notifications via e-mail and other platforms when tasks are due, and you can even send a mail to your Remember The Milk account to automatically have a task generated from that mail. Cool, isn’t it? And again, there’s more; have a look!

I know I didn’t touch upon the offline/synchronisation bit yet, so here goes. Remember The Milk is integrated with Google Gears. That means that if Google Chrome is your web browser, you already have Gears; some other browsers are supported as well (the Remember The Milk FAQ describes which ones; at the time of writing this post, Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari are supported).

As Gears didn’t support Internet Explorer 8 or 9 yet, I went for the Google Chrome option. Notice that you can (but don’t have to) install Chrome for the current user only, in which case it won’t show in other users’ program lists. To get Chrome, surf to Google and you’ll find a button in the top right corner that enables you to install it. Even if, for whatever reason, you don’t like Chrome, I still suggest to use it for Remember The Milk as it comes with Gears included, and it’s small. If you don’t like it, use another supported browser and get Gears.

Get a free (or Pro, of course :) Remember The Milk account by signing up on the site. After signing up, sign in, and the local version will automatically be installed by Gears – if you confirm that it is ok to do so.

What’s next? Nothing, really. You’re all set now. You can take your PC offline and continue to use Remember The Milk: just surf to it in Chrome (or the browser you chose and for which you installed Gears) and things will look like you’re online – except, you’re not. Next time you do this when connected, Gears and Remember The Milk will synchronise the data and the information on the Remember The Milk servers will be identical to your local copy.

Who said life couldn’t be easy...

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