Saturday, 5 December 2009

Powerful magic

I've been experimenting with remote control software, to control my Mac from my PC or vice versa. The first I tried was VNC, which is a tried and well known application. As expected, it works fine to control my Mac - I had trouble connecting from Mac to PC, but in the middle of the night I woke up saying to myself "Windows firewall". I bet that's the key, though I haven't tried it yet. (Update - yep, that was it - now I can control in either direction.)

In the meantime, I have come across LogMeIn, which also allows remote control between machines. The neat trick is that it's web based, and the remote window opens in your browser. I had to install a Firefox plugin, but apart from that and a quick user account setup, it worked first try.
Screen shot shows my PC running Firefox. In a Firefox tab is the screen of my Mac. I have full control, once I've passed two levels of authentication. (Logmein.com and the Mac account.) I guess Logmein do some clever protocol translations on the way through, but surely the traffic doesn't go via a server in the US - it has to be RDP direct between machines. More investigation required...

If you have a home PC and a work machine, it's worth setting up some way of connecting the two, and Logmein is easy to set up. I frequently get to work and remember a file I want from my home PC - now it's easy to connect and email the file to myself at work.

I suppose that soon we'll be storing data in the cloud, but somehow I think that will be an extra, not our primary data store. I could be wrong, though, habits are changing rapidly at present.

UPDATE - It turns out that LogMeIn's free version is a 30 day trial. An ongoing registration will cost you over $US60 per machine - per year. It's a nifty trick, but I think I'll stick with VNC, thanks.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Gregor, thanks for your post about LogMeIn. I'm thrilled you've found our remote access software to be quick & simple.

I wanted to offer some insight on a few things.

As far as the connection between the two computers, all the traffic is encrypted with end-to-end 128 to 256 bit SSL encryption. (This is the same technology used by banks to allow secure online banking).

Also, regarding price: LogMeIn Free is free forever. When you download LogMeIn Free, we offer you a complimentary trial of our Pro2 version (remote access with more robust features like remote sound, remote printing & file transfer). If you opt for simple remote access with LogMeIn Free, you'll be automatically changed to our Free product after 30-days and can continue to use our Free product for free, forever!

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Kevin Aries
Community Relationship Manager, LogMeIn Inc.
Twitter.com/LogMeInNews
Facebook.com/LogMeIn

Red Nech said...

Hi Gregor,
Sounds nifty.
I recall the radio station running PC Anywhere years back so I could dial in from home to kick stuck servers. I think in the dozen times I tried it it worked perhaps... once.

Put the boss here onto Logmein... handy for him as he tries to keep the hawks off his Bishon Freis dogs in Bannockburn.
Cheers