Ages ago I wrote about remote access to your pc via free product called VNC. However I have just discovered that it doesn’t work as well as it used to, as the free product doesn’t work with Windows Vista. And Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Connection software doesn’t work with all versions of Vista (its there, just disabled so you pay for an upgrade).
How did I find this out? Well I got the dreaded free computer support call from family again.
My Dad, who has stated “I know just as much as you about computers, except for the rare occasions where you happen to know a little bit more”, needed help setting up email on his new computer. Now I generally avoid computer support over the phone to senior family members because If I use words like email client, or window or tabs, I’m accused of being difficult and a pedant.
To cut to the chase though, I thought bugger it. I’ll just get him to download VNC then I’ll take control of his desktop and fix the problem without having to discuss it. Unfortunately the version of VNC I wanted wasn’t free and Im hesitant to get my Dad to pay for software if I don’t know whether it will actually do the job. So I went down the Microsoft Remote Desktop connection route and found it had been disabled for his version of Windows (Home Premium). Damn. I then downloaded a TightVNC and UltraVNC. Both of these though were too complex for my father (or the average user) to use. Any time I ask the question “Whats’ your IP address” I know I’m not going to like the answer.
So looking around in desperation, I found a new service called Team Viewer that worked a treat. We both downloaded the software then ran it (obviously we both had a working internet connection). Speaking over the phone he gave me his ID number and password that was shown in the TeamViewer window, I entered it into mine and voila, I’m on his computer.
The non-commercial use version was free so Dad was happy, and so was I.
I managed to fix the email problem in a couple of seconds and regained the wonder boy crown from my brothers.
I wasn’t so churlish though to point out to Dad that the solution was simple, because he knows everything there is to know about computers.