The following is a Plus Edition article, written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.I was recently asked to help a family member troubleshoot a virus-infected computer. I was in my motor home at the time, enjoying the Florida sunshine. The infected computer was about 1,200 miles away so I couldn't easily drive over to help in person. In fact, the virus was on a Windows computer, and all I had in the motor home was a Macintosh laptop. How could I help? As it turns out, the solution was easy.
I was able to connect my laptop to the infected Windows computer (which happened to be a desktop system) and operate it in almost the same manner as if I was seated in front of the infected system itself. I was able to "take over" the Windows system, to type on its keyboard, operate its mouse, and to view what was being displayed on its screen. I was able to do almost everything except insert a CD-ROM disk or to press the power switch. (I could power it off, but not on.)
In fact, I use the same solution to access my own desktop Mac back home. Whether I am in the motor home, in a hotel room, or most anyplace else, I can connect my laptop computer to the Internet and access my desktop computer back home. I can run programs on it, copy files, edit word processing documents, or perform almost any other task that needs to be performed on the desktop.
I find many other uses for the remote access software I am using. When a friend or family member needs a bit of "over-the-shoulder" instruction on the proper way to use a specific computer program, I find it convenient to remotely connect to his or her computer and demonstrate the program in question.
You can do the same for a friend or relative who is not a computer guru. Helping an elderly parent or a son or daughter who is away at school and encounters a computer problem can be difficult. However, the use of remote access software installed on both computers greatly simplifies the technical issues.
Both the person I am helping and I can view the same information simultaneously on our computer screens. We can both operate the mouse, and we can both type on the keyboard. I also find it useful to have a voice connection in operation, either a fancy computer voice chat application or an old-fashioned telephone. As long as we can talk with each other, we can have a student/teacher relationship. This is far more effective than my old method of helping someone on the phone by closing my eyes and saying such things as, "OK, now click on the icon, click on the data screen, do you see the data entry form? Good. Now tab down to the third box and click on... What do you see now?"
With remote access software, I see what he or she sees, and we both look at it simultaneously.
Over the years, I have used perhaps a dozen or more remote access programs, and the results have been variable. Some of the programs I used worked well but were expensive to purchase. Others were low cost or even free of charge but had significant restrictions. Some could not access computers that used a different operating system. Yet I often find that I need to help both Windows and Macintosh users, regardless of the operating system I use. Many of the programs I have used in the past could not "punch through" wi-fi routers, firewalls, and other network devices located between the two computers. Free programs, such as VNC at http://goo.gl/QMVNd, work well when both computers are on the same network (typically within the same building), but these cannot easily connect across the Internet to a computer that is hundreds or thousands of miles away.
I also wanted a program that has industrial-grade security. I don't want any "hacker" peeking at what I am doing. Also, nobody should ever be able to access any other computer without the knowledge and permission of the other computer's owner.
Finally, I needed a program that is easy to install on both ends. Sure, I have some computer expertise and usually can install any program. However, when working with a computer novice over the phone, coaching that person on the steps required to download and install a remote access program onto the other computer can be difficult and frustrating for both of us. Again, I cannot drive over to do it myself; I am dependent on the other person being able to install the program. For a non-computer-literate person, this can be a significant problem with some programs.
I wanted a solution that I could install on my laptop, but the computer novice at the other location wouldn’t have to install – at least not beyond simply visiting a website and accepting a certain plug-in installation. I finally found the perfect, free remote support solution. I can use it to access a remote computer only if the person who normally uses that computer is seated in front of it and explicitly gives me permission to connect. In addition, that person then sees everything that I am doing. Best of all, the program I selected is free for personal use.
The remainder of this article is for Plus Edition subscribers only. SUBSCRIBE NOW to read this article.
If you have a Plus Edition user ID and password, you can read the full article right now at no additional charge in this web site's Plus Edition at http://eogn.com/wp/?p=23027. This article will remain online for several weeks.
If you do not remember your Plus Edition user ID or password, you can retrieve them at http://www.eogn.com/wp/ and click on "Forgot password?"
If you decide to subscribe to the Plus Edition right now, you will be able to immediately read this article online. What sort of articles can you read in the Plus Edition? Click here to find out.
For more information about subscribing to the Plus Edition of Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter, visit http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/plusedition.html.