...or perhaps a computer that is not so distant
The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.
Remote control software for desktop and laptop computers has been available for years. All systems administrators of large data centers are familiar with these programs, as are many "work from home" individuals who need to control computers at the office on nights and weekends. However, the same technology is available to everyone; you do not need to be a systems professional in order to access the computer on your desk at the office when you’re not there or the one at home when you are traveling.
With remote control software, you can connect to your home or office system to check your e-mail. You can use a database, word processor, or other program that is installed on your home system but not on your laptop. You can connect to the office to run business applications. Want to check your genealogy program when traveling? You can do so from many miles away, even if you are using a different operating system.
I use one of these remote access products frequently. When traveling, I can connect to my computer at home and use it just as if I was seated in front of my computer at home.
I well remember the momentary panic I had several years ago when I flew to a distant city to give a presentation to a local genealogy society. About a half hour before the scheduled presentation, I discovered that I did not have my PowerPoint slides loaded on the laptop computer I was carrying. In desperation, I searched my luggage to see if I had it on a floppy disk or a jump drive. I found zip. Zero. Nada.
Not to worry, as I remembered that I can connect to my computer at home and retrieve the presentation. The lecture hall had wireless wi-fi networking installed, so I connected to the Internet via wi-fi, opened my favorite remote control software, and was soon looking at the screen of my computer back home. Everything I typed on my laptop's keyboard was sent to my computer at home. Likewise, moving the mouse on the laptop resulted in exactly the same action on my home computer. It was as if I was at my home computer except that I was 1,500 miles away. Of course, operation is a bit slower when your keystrokes must travel over a wi-fi network, but that’s a tiny factor compared to the convenience of accessing a computer that’s miles away.
In my case, this convenience was augmented with a good dose of relief. I located the PowerPoint slides on my desktop computer at home and then performed a file transfer to the laptop. I was soon ready to go, with twenty minutes to spare. The audience was unaware of my earlier panic.
I also use remote control software to fix various problems in the computers of friends and family members, some of whom live many miles from me. While remote access cannot help with hardware problems, I can fix most software problems remotely.
Finally, I also use remote control software to demonstrate programs and to show someone else how to use a particular application on their computer. Are you often helping older relatives or non-computer-literate friends? If so, you need remote control software!
If the computer owner gives me permission, I can connect in remotely and “take control” of their computer. I handle the mouse and the keyboard, and we both see exactly the same thing on our computer screens. Typically, I am simultaneously talking with the distant computer owner by telephone or by Skype. This makes for a great classroom environment for one-on-one coaching. Do you need to train someone on how to use a program or a web site? It makes no difference if the other person is across town or in Australia: the process is easy and very effective.
You can find many remote control programs available for Windows, Macintosh, and Linux. In fact, I even have one installed on my Apple iPhone so that I can remotely control distant Windows and Macintosh computers by wireless connections while traveling.
Best of all, many of these remote control products are available free of charge.
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