Remote Assistance

You may think you’ve experienced stress in your lifetime: deadlines, breakups, downsizing. But absolutely nothing approaches the frustration of an expert trying to help a PC beginner over the phone—for both parties. The expert is flying blind, using Windows terminology that the beginner doesn’t know. Meanwhile, the beginner doesn’t know what to look for and describe to the expert on the phone. Every little operation takes 20 times longer than it would if the expert were simply seated in front of the machine. Both parties are likely to age ten years in an hour.

Fortunately, that era is at an end. One of Windows XP’s biggest big-ticket features is something called Remote Assistance. It lets somebody having trouble with the computer extend an invitation to an expert, via the Internet. Through Remote Assistance, the expert can actually see the screen of the flaky computer, and even take control of it by remotely operating the mouse and keyboard. The guru can make even the most technical tweaks—running utility software, installing new programs, adjusting hardware drivers, even editing the Registry (Section 15.10)—by long distance remote control. Remote Access really is the next best thing to being there.

Remote Assistance: Rest Assured

Of course, these days, most people react to the notion of Remote Assistance with stark terror. What’s to stop some troubled teenager from tapping into your PC in the middle of the night, rummaging through your files, and reading your innermost ...

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