Thursday, January 20, 2005
There are four kinds of Homicide: felonious, excusable, justifiable, and praiseworthy
Minor conundrum here, in that a couple of family friends have taken it upon themselves to designate me as Official Help Desk And Fix-It Guy. Ordinarily I would say no, however, these are close friends and it's a difficult situation, especially considering their normal support avenues are lesser than satisfactory. While they recognize the difference between shifting gears from say an Oracle implementation to making their desktops work, sometimes the phone rings a bit too often, and the situation is PEBKAC (Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair). However, I gotta draw the line somewhere, and since neither party is inclined to put in a VPN router for me (and frankly, finding a consumer-grade one that works is of course a huge PITA. I had very high hopes for the Linksys WRV54G but after reading some of the horror stories about it decided to pass. I hear Netgear is the way to go, however, to make a long story very short, Family Friend 1 won't spring for a new router considering their current SMC works just fine, and Family Friend 2 is on a cable modem and had some acquaintance configure their router, who didn't have the courtesy to tell them the router's password (nor for that matter the MAC address registered with the provider) - they've been through a PC upgrade or two before I got tapped to help, and as such it'll probably be a pain to replace their router (scheduling an on-site with them can be tough).
That leaves a remote access solution, my cheaper instincts wanting to go with QNext (at least until the public beta ends), however, since that needs ports opened on a firewall, we're back to square one as far as site visits go. Both RemotePC and GoToMyPC are possibilities, but if they want me to do that, they've got to fund it. I like RemotePC's pricing plan better, but since GoToMyPC is Citrix and a known commodity, I'd probably prefer the latter. QNext's integrated desktop and voice messaging approach is quite cool, and I will check it out as a remote support tool for Mom (I might take a crack at it tomorrow to see if it works; I hear generally good things about it, however, it's Java, so performance is porcine, and sooner or later they're going to start charging for the remote access function, so future prospects may be an issue).