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Wednesday, August 24, 2005
  try ar- Remote help via the Internet
You know you’re having a bad day on your PC when your software refuses to follow orders, your mouse is malfunctioning, and your increasing desperate pounding of the keyboard is not solving a thing.

When problems with your PC go beyond your own computer knowledge, expert assistance is called for.

With the help of remote control technology, a technological fairly godmother can theoretically be sitting on the other side of the world.

If you have doubts about Windows XP, then remote support is the solution.

With the help of an assistant called up via “Help and Support” in the Start Menu of Windows XP, an MSN Messenger report or an e-mail message can be created to invite a friendly expert to join a communal computer session.

This mail sends the IP address of the user’s machine and a password.

Windows then opens up the barriers that normally prevent exterior users from logging in, but only for a time span set by user.

The user then need only click on the mail, and the connection is established.

A separate chat channel allows both to discuss the problem while looking at the same desktop.

Where desired, the invitee can restricted to simply looking and commentating. He can also be allowed to take control of the machine.

The mouse point then moves as if controlled by an invisible hand. Remote support only works problem-free if both machines are using Windows XP.

Remote help is not necessarily suited for serious crashes.

The computer would need to be able to function enough that the remote control software can be used.
Remote support is helpful, if a new e-mail programs needs to be set up.

The chance to use remote help is not simply limited to the XP operating system, though: software called Netmeeting can help for older Windows versions.

The software, which was originally developed for video-conferencing, serves the same basic functions as XP’s remote help. It’s a bit trickier to use, however.

VNC (Virtual Network Computer) software, an open source creation, can also aid users on almost any platform.

Remote control functions can also be helpful in another area.

Users who are on the go have forgotten important files at home can access their home computer using another computer on the Internet.

Windows XP Professional calls this the “remote desktop” function. The home version of XP lacks the option.

Unlike remote help, the screen on the home computer turns black during remote access.

The main problem with remote control of a computer is transmission of the monitor contents. To lessen the amount of data to be transmitted, the remote control software lowers the number of colours depicted. This rules out the video and image editing.

Applications that do not rely accurate colour can be used without problem, though.

An ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) connection is enough to be establish a sufficient connection in a pinch.

There are few other questions. It’s still not entirely clear just how safe remote control sessions are protected from third parties.

Microsoft claims that the data are encrypted with 128 bits, but refuses to give more details. Furthermore, what good is the best remote control software if no one is home to turn on the computer?

The answer is power strips that can be controlled using a cellphone or the Internet, although these cost several hundred euros.

If the computer freezes up, though, the power strips at least allow the user to reset the machine and start again. - dpa

-getting help online-

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