Saturday, November 05, 2005
Whenever there is a computer problem in my family or circle of friends, I'm the first person they call. It's kinda like what Jay-Z describes as the gift and the curse. I'm gifted to know all of this computer stuff, but I'm cursed to spend the rest of my life doing tech support for everyone.
The problem was that it was hard to get people to click on the right things to diagnose the problem over the phone. I spent a lot of time just figuring out basic informaton about their setup before I could actually fix the problem for them. I wanted a way that I could just remote desktop into their computer and while on the phone with them find and fix the problem, and explain what I'm doing at the same time, so that they understand and can fix it themselves the next time.
Up until recently there were two ways to do this. You had to install a VNC or Remote Desktop type program on the person's machine then forward all of the ports in their router (and hope nobody messes with them). Or you could pay for an expensive service such as gotoassist.com which sets up an online helpdesk.
Here is the best (free) way to do the same thing that GoToAssist charges hundreds for...
There is a program called UltraVNC which is a great remote desktop program. It has a unique feature of being able to generate a single click EXE file which sets up a server on a remote computer.
Now, whenever people need help I just send them to the webpage. It instruts them to run the EXE file. The EXE sets up a VNC server on their computer and sends a request to my computer to connect to it. I now have remote access to their desktop and can quickly go in and fix a problem they are having. When the session is closed the program is automatically removed from memory. If the person needs help again they can just run the EXE file again.
Here is how to set up your own helpdesk operation:
-Download and Install UltraVNC
Once installed, run the VNC Client in Listening mode
Go into your router and forward port 5500 to your computer's locak IP address.
Now goto http://www.ipchicken.com or however you want to get your external IP address
Now you need to Create your Single Click EXE:
Go to the following URL and download custom.zip
open helpdesk.txt in a text editor
Modify the file however you want, making sure the first section has the external IP address you found on IPChicken.com
This step is optional, but you can modify the BMP graphics with your logos and change the text for the installer in helpdesk.txt. More instructions on this can be found at the above URL
Once you are finished, zip up all of the files and rename the zip to something other than custom.zip
Open a web browser to the SC UltraVNC Creator Tool:
It asks you for a password, at the time of writing this it was:
If that doesn't work, visit their site and find the new password:
The first Creator tool based on RC23 did not work for me. I used:
UltraVncSC based on REL1.00 (TEST)
Hit Browse and select the zip file with your updated BMP and helpdesk.txt
This will generate an EXE file. Download this to your computer, then upload it to your webhost. Alternatively, you can run a webserver on your own computer which can host a small webpage and a link to this EXE file.
Now, whenever people need help I just send them to the webpage. IT instruts them to run the EXE file. The EXE sets up a VNC server on their computer and sends a request to my computer to connect to it. I now have remote access to their desktop and can quickly go in and fix a problem they are having. When the session is closed the program is automatically removed from memory. If the person needs help again they can just run the EXE file again.
Now, here is where you can make some $$ with this and put GeekSquad out of business. Set up another webpage on your server as a "Thanks" page. At the bottom of the page include a paypal donate button. Whenever you solve a problem for someone, as they're thanking you, just open up a web browser to your "Thanks" page and sign off. Most people will be so happy you fixed their computer problems they'll throw you a few bucks (or more). Of course you could always take it a step furthur and actually generate an invoice through their browser which they can pay at their convience.
I have also been using this at work to provide tech support to customers who use our products. There are about 4 main people that do tech support, so we mapped a different IP address to each one of their computers, and generated an EXE for each person. Then on our webpage we have the EXE's linked by the person's name. Customers can go in and request remote support from one of our techs, and we can instantly help them through their problem.
Now if I could only figure out a way to help someone set up their new wireless network remotely, i'd be set.
If someone knows of similar single click VNC server installers for OSX and Linux, let me know.
Posted by LiquidIce at 8:54 AM
I'm been searching for a while for a program or mechinism where I could take a screenshot, then paste it into a WYSIWYG blog editor resize the image thumbnail and have it link to the full image when clicked.
Blogger does something close because I can select a bunch of text and images in the browser copy it into the clipboard, then paste it into the Blogger Editor window. This is nice, but it's likely just copying the HTML portion that is in the clipboard.
What I would want to do is have the textfield where you are typing able to accept image data from the clipboard. When it senses image data being pasted in, it automatically sets up an upload process where the screenshot gets stored on a webserver somewhere. Then it brings up sizing tools to adjust the size of the thumbnail. Once accepted, the thumbnail sized image is regenerated and cached, and HTML is inserted into the blog with the addresses of the uploaded screenshot and the thumbnail image.
Picasa is helf way there. They provide the image uploading and automatic HTML generation. All they really need to do now is more closely integrate some HTML editing functionality into blogger to handle the pasted pictures from the clipboard.
I use a free screenshot program called Screenhunter 4.0 and it saves a JPEG to my hard drive and saves a copy of the image to the clipboard every time i press the screenshot button. The resizing and thumbnail creating is done manually until I find a better solution. Is this even possible with AJAX? or could it be done with a mozilla extention?
Posted by LiquidIce at 7:40 AM
Monday, October 10, 2005
I'm trying to use google reader but it seems really clunky. The server is very slow, and it take sforever to add my rss feeds. Why not make it a textfield like adwords, i'll never know?.?.?
Has potential, but it's not quite ready yet. Give me te ability to paste a list of RSS urls. I have yet to find a better way of reading the news besides firefox's rss bookmarks.
Posted by LiquidIce at 8:28 PM