Remember The Milk: Posting Directly from Your Desktop

In a recent post, we talked about 6 Ways to Add A Task to Remember The Milk. While the methods discussed were varied and useful, I was not satisfied with any of them. This post will show you another quick method to handle this.

I have very simple criteria for being able to add tasks to my ToDo list:

  • It must be quick
  • It must not disturb my current work flow
  • It must be reliable

I had almost satisfied all of these using the solution involving Launchy, Curl, and Twitter. Launchy is probably the fastest desktop launcher available for Windows. So the procedure went like this:

  • Launchy pops up instantly when I hit ALT+Space
  • I type in “rtm<TAB>Task Description<ENTER>” (rtm is just a batch file in my path)
  • The task is added to my Remember The Milk Inbox list via Twitter

If we review the last item on my list of criteria, we see that our posting method needs to be reliable. Well, Twitter shouldn’t even be in the same sentence. I have actually been burned before using this setup, as you can read about in my post How Twitter Keeps Me from Getting Things Done.

So, how do we make it better? I had to find a way to get Twitter out of the picture. If you recall, You can add tasks to Remember The Milk via email. All I needed was a way to shoot off an email to RTM from within Launchy. Problem solved, right? Well…not really. GMail apparently makes this slightly more complicated.

This is about to get pretty technical, but I will try to break it down as simple as I can. If I don’t do a good job, please leave a comment and I will be happy to help 🙂

Download, Install, and Configure “Stunnel”

We need Stunnel so that we can communicate with the Gmail server securely. From the website:

Stunnel is a program that allows you to encrypt arbitrary TCP connections inside SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) available on both Unix and Windows.

So, here is what we need to do:

  • Download Stunnel from the Binaries Page. The version I used is 4.25 (direct download link)
  • Run the installer and hit “Close” once complete
  • Now, edit C:\Program Files\stunnel\stunnel.conf
  • Replace the “Service Options” section with the following:

[SMTP Gmail]
accept = 127.0.0.1:1099
connect = smtp.gmail.com:465

[POP3 Gmail]
accept = 127.0.0.1:1109
connect = pop.gmail.com:995

  • From the same directory, run the command “stunnel -install”
  • Then run the command “net start stunnel”

Download, Install, and Configure “Blat”

We need Blat so that we can send email right from the command line.

Blat is a Win32 command line utility that sends eMail using SMTP or post to usenet using NNTP.

  • Get Blat from here: http://www.blat.net/
  • Open the archive and stick “blat.exe” into C:\Windows\System32\ or somewhere else in your path
  • Run the command: blat -install smtp.gmail.com yourusername@gmail.com

Configure Launchy

You already have Launchy, right? If not, you are probably not working very efficiently, you are on a MAC, or both. Go ahead and fire it up now.

  • Open Launchy’s Options dialog (click the gear), go to Plugins and click Runner.
  • Hit the “+” button to add a new command
  • Enter something nifty for the Name (“rtm”, maybe?)
  • In the Program field, Enter the path to the Blat executable: C:\Windows\System32\blat.exe
  • In the Arguments field, Enter the following:

– -body ” ” -subject “$$” -to [Your unique RTM Email Address] -u [Gmail Username] -pw [Gmail Password] -f [Your Gmail Address] -server 127.0.0.1:1099

  • Hit “Ok,” we’re done here

Make sure you include the preceding “-” and the space between the quotes for the body argument. To find your unique Remember The Milk email address, login to RTM and go to Settings->Info. You want the Inbox Email Address.

Conclusion

Now, you can hit ALT+Space (or whatever key you have it set to), type “rtm<TAB>task<ENTER>” and you have just added a task to Remember The Milk without even breaking stride.

Being able to quickly dump tasks/ideas out of your head and into your organization system of choice is pretty important. Without doing this, you will never get anything done because you won’t ever know what to do.

More often than not, you are going to be in the middle of something when an idea strikes you for something else that you need to capture. As we all know, if you get interrupted, it takes about 10 minutes or so to find your place and get back into the groove.

This is why I have been so anal about this specific facet of my system. I don’t believe there is a faster way, short of direct brain-to-computer communication, to capture your thoughts to your to-do list.

How do you make sure you can capture things at all times? Do you have a better method than me? I’d like to hear about it. Leave me a comment.

  • Victor

    hey rasheen!
    thanks for the great tutorial, but I'm a bit of a noob and I cant get it to work.
    I'm pretty sure i've done everything correctly except for the "net start stunnel" which tells me everytime I run it that the stunnel server is down. This is the error log i get:

    2008.11.29 11:26:09 LOG3[1760:3928]: -net: No such file or directory (2)

    Syntax:
    stunnel [ [-install | -uninstall] [-quiet] [<filename>] ] | -help | -version | -sockets
    <filename> – use specified config file instead of stunnel.conf
    -install – install NT service
    -uninstall – uninstall NT service
    -quiet – don't display a message box on success
    -help – get config file help
    -version – display version and defaults
    -sockets – display default socket options

    2008.11.29 11:26:09 LOG3[1760:3928]: Server is down
    Is there anything I could do?
    Thanks in advance!

  • Downloaded and works for me great thanks for your useful post Rahsheen.

  • thanks!

  • Excellent. I agree with you in this regard. There are lot of tasks that i want to do daily but could not manage my time. I will try this.

  • LBSurfer

    This is a great tutorial. It took a little bit of tinkering (thanks to mwg3c for the pointer to the Yahoo! group), but I got it working perfectly. It really is the end-all, be-all for mind-dumps as far as I'm concerned. Let's me immediately mind-dump w/o losing pace in what I'm doing.

  • Thanks. Glad you got it working. I still find this to be the best method for
    not forgetting anything 🙂

  • LBSurfer

    This is a great tutorial. It took a little bit of tinkering (thanks to mwg3c for the pointer to the Yahoo! group), but I got it working perfectly. It really is the end-all, be-all for mind-dumps as far as I'm concerned. Let's me immediately mind-dump w/o losing pace in what I'm doing.

  • Thanks. Glad you got it working. I still find this to be the best method for
    not forgetting anything 🙂

  • Tracy

    Much better to include the username and password during your blat -install, so that it gets kept in the registry and encrypted there.. rather than supplying it in your batch files in plain text. I found a good article on it here: http://www.jeffkastner.com/2010/01/blat-stunnel
    …Though he seems to be using it for a different purpose.. same basic setup.
    Love it though! Works great!

  • NG

    Much easier solution, which uses your GMail account to send tasks to RTM…

    Create the following custom command in Runner:
    Name: rtm
    Program:
    https://mail.google.com/mail/?view=cm&ui=2&tf=0&fs=1&to=“yourusernamegoeshereandreplacetheplussignwitha%2B@rmilk.com”&su=$$&body=$$

    That’s it. rtm subj body

    And use the Smart Add functionality to write the whole task in the subject line. Save the body for the notes. See here for more details: https://www.rememberthemilk.com/services/email/

  • NG

    Not sure why the link is getting cut off. Here’s the source of that long URL:

    http://sourceforge.net/projects/launchy/forums/forum/677087/topic/3341020/

    Look for the post on this thread that starts, “Thanks for the hard work. Unfortunately, you didn’t have to do it. Gmail runs from the runner plugin. Simply name it something like ’email’ or ‘compose’ and put the following into the “Program” column in runner”

    The URL to use is right there. The only thing you need to change is to find to=$$ in the URL and change that particular instance of $$ to “yourprivateRTMemailhere” and make sure you INCLUDE the quotes around that. Replace the plus sign (+) with %2B and you should be good to go.

  • I’m glad you finally got it working. I’m sure others will benefit from your 
    research. I’ll be sure to update the post a little later to reflect your 
    findings.  

  • I’m glad you finally got it working. I’m sure others will benefit from your 
    research. I’ll be sure to update the post a little later to reflect your 
    findings.  

  • It sounds like it may be an issue with stunnel. Try doing a “net stop
    stunnel” and then “net start stunnel” and see if you get any errors.