Monday, December 19, 2005

Remote Control Software

The other day, I was required to provide some support services for one of our clients. While debugging some problem on their machine, I found that I needed a software that would allow me to connect to their machine, run some commands and see the output of those commands. Enter remote control packages. While researching some such packages, found the following 2 to be very useful. The first one is TightVNC. This one is free, and they even provide VC++ source code, so you can see what is being done. This was born out of some AT&T research done in England. This is a very good software and had loads of customizable parameters using which you could choose between fast response or a good clean and crisp display of the computer you were logged on to. Best of all this software is Free. The only problem I had with this software was I could not figure of an easy way to connect to our client's machine as they were beheind a NAT. Enter FogCreek's CoPilot. I first heard of this software when I was checking out a documentary made by this firm on the development of a software product. This documentary was about some interns who were followed as they created CoPilot. CoPilot is a remote control software that is so easy to use, that basically anybody can start using it. Best of all, it can work with computers that are behind firewalls/NATs/what have you. All I had to do was create an account, then send my ID to my customer. The customer then had to come to the site, enter my ID, and were then prompted to download a small software piece. Once that was done and they had the software running, I was able to log-in to their computer, see what their installation was and run commands, all the while seeing what was happening on their computer. It was pretty fast too. The only downside, you have to pay for using their service. Its not very expensive and they use a subscription model, so you pay for what you use. For any firm engaged in software development I think FogCreek's Copilot is a great tool for providing support. And best of all its easy to use and not too expensive. FogCreek's Copilot: TightVNC:

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