Remote Computer Assistance
Last night's NEW NET (Northeast Wisconsin Network for Economy and Technology issues) was a particularly beneficial one because of Andy M's demo to the group of the dead-easy remote computer assistance which is enabled free via Zolved (www.zolved.com).
If you've ever needed help with a computer question or problem, or if someone has called you up asking for help, Zolved could be very useful to you. The main caveat is that both your computer and the other person's computer need to be able to connect to the web (don't know if it works via dialup or how well a dialup connection will work) and have a working browser. This beta web service enables two computers to connect via the web. It then allows one person to view or take control of the other person's computer without a lot of messing around with settings on the computer, without permanently installing a VNC such as TightVNC, and without using a paid service such as the technician's license through LogMeIn. Solutions such as TightVNC or LogMeIn are great tools for certain situations, but when someone calls up and says "Help", a quick and dirty free service like Zolved can be just what the doctor ordered.
The person who has a problem goes to the Zolved website and clicks on the 'Select' button in the tab near the top that says, 'Get Help From Your Friend.' When the Zolved Remote Control webpage comes up, the person with a computer problem then clicks on the 'Share my screen' link. Next they'll click on 'Install', and install the temporary connector program. A screen will pop up letting them choose whether to just let the person helping them view the screen, take control or share files. (This is also a handy way to exchange files in certain situations...). The person with a problem gets an eight digit PIN which they'll give to the person who's going to connect to their computer. Write that number down, then click on the 'Share my PC' button.
On the other end of the internet, the person helping out will also go to Zolved, go to the 'Get Help From Your Friend' page, then click on the 'View or Control' link. Go through the same procedures to do a temporary download install that allows you to connect to the other person's computer and put in their eight digit PIN.
Away you go! You can see exactly what's on the screen of the troubled computer, and control that computer if the person wanting help has selected that option when logging in on Zolved.
This might just be the solution you need when friends or relatives call you up asking for computer help, or when you call your more knowledgeable geek friends asking them for help. It's often much quicker to figure out what the problem is and fix it yourself than it is to have someone explain the problem and then have you try to walk them through twenty steps to fix the problem.
One nice bonus feature of Zolved is their attitude, exemplified by this quote from their FAQ about why they provide the free remote control service, "We wonder how other companies get away with charging for it and when Karma will catch up with them. The open source community has been offering this free technology for years."
The Zolved website has lots of other good info on it "to solve technical support issues for your computer, wireless network, MP3 players and more..."