It’s happened to you. You know it has. You were just starting to relax when the phone rings. It’s you father/mother/in-laws/girl who you knew in highschool that kept asking for your new number each time you moved. And they, sounding kind of guilty, say “I’m having a problem and I was wondering if you could help me…” And so begins a 3 hour long discussion involving phrases like”OK tell me each letter you typed” and “No I meant hit the space bar, not type s-p-a-c-e” and ending with philosophical discussions of which button really is the “right” mouse button anyway.
While up in New York at my in-laws, I even got a support call from their neighbor down the street. Because they knew I was out visiting and had heard so many good things about me and couldn’t I help them with one quick thing?
No don’t get me wrong, I am glad to help and am eager to do it. But that doesn’t mean it is without pain! I have even gone to extent of installing Ultra VNC on my both of the computers at my in-laws house. I’ve modified their router to route a custom port to each and created a custom page so they could tell me their current up address. (http://myip.thecodecave.com btw. Feel free to use it and even scrape it for use in custom apps for determining the external port if you like. It will always only return the ip. No ads or other junk.)
That works swell, but had to wait till I was there to put everything in place. Now there is another solution
Citrix has started a public beta of a program called GoToAssist. This application goes pretty far beyond what all other custom solutions can do. Benefits include
- All is started from a single url that can be emailed to a person.
- No software pre-install is required (There is an app that sends the invites to the computers to be controlled – available only for Windows). The person needing help only clicks on the url, accepts the certificate and a small client is automatically installed. 1 startup registry entry is added.
- You can view/control not just PCs but MACS! from your Windows computer.
- No firewalls were harmed during the production of this program. You don’t need to open any ports.
- Advanced features like send/pull files and request diagnostic report are available across all platforms. (I don’t even know how to determine which programs start automatically on a Mac, but the report can tell me which they are)
- Permanent/unattended sessions are supported. There does not need to be any interaction to resume sessions if that’s how you want it to be.
So, the public beta is open at http://express.gotoassist.com and you should go check it out! They are wide open to accepting new testers at this point and chances are that strong beta testers will get a good discount on the software. And really good beta testers might get a really good surprise. Citrix even has a good paid tester program that is worth your investigation.
Hat tip to Chris Pirillo for pointing out the beta program.
Here’s something neat… a screen shot of me supporting my own machine as it shows me supporting my own machine which shows me… well you get the idea…
I decided to report that one, but it actually handled it fairly well.