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How can I help — remotely?

I get a lot of phone calls from friends and family about what to do when something goes wrong with their computers, but I’ve received very few inquires from readers about how to help others with computer problems.

I get a lot of phone calls from friends and family about what to do when something goes wrong with their computers, but I’ve received very few inquires from readers about how to help others with computer problems.

Usually, I try to see the problem first hand — and try to solve it then and there. But that’s not always possible.

Just ask Sherri Moorer of Lexington, SC:

“My in-laws own a computer and frequently call my husband with technical questions about it. The problem is, they live two hours away, and sometimes he can’t answer their questions without seeing what they’re looking at.  

I recently saw an article on some software that will allow you to remotely access another computer and see what they are looking at on a small window in our own computer. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find it again. It was something produced by Microsoft. Any idea what it could be?

Sherri, you’re right.  There are ways to access another computer remotely to help solve a problem.  The technology experts here at have helped me when my computer starts acting up while I'm on the road.

That’s why I asked Tech guru Scott Blanchette to help explain the best ways to attack the problem:

“My favorite way to remotely control a PC is to use Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Connections (RDC) available in Windows XP Professional.

To access RDC you go to Start/All Programs/Accessories/Communications/Remote Desktop Connection.  Once you’ve launched RDC you’ll need to know the IP address of the target computer then select Connect.

On the target machine you need to ensure that it will allow remote connections. This can be done by right clicking on the computer icon, Properties/Remote Tab/Select Allow users to connect to this machine remotely.

For Windows 2000 users, or if for some reason you can’t find RDC, it can be downloaded for free from the Microsoft Web site.

The most popular way to remotely control a PC is NetMeeting. It’s perfect for Windows XP Home Edition users. Think of it as a way for one computer to call another.

A NetMeeting window can be opened by clicking on Start/Run and typing in the word ‘conf’ then hitting the ‘Enter’ key.  This needs to be done on both the host and target machines.

Next, the host can simply enter the public IP address of the target computer — hit the CALL icon — and begin the session.

There are more methods available to remotely control a PC but these are the easiest ways I assist family members who do not live in the immediate area.”

Maurice Charles from Brooklyn, NY asks for my opinion on a particular smartphone.

“I just want to know what you think of the Treo 700 and why Verizon the only carrier that sells it. Would Cingular have it anytime soon?”

I usually won’t answer questions about which particular device I like — but I’ve written about the Treo 700 — so I don’t mind reminding a reader what I said.

There are actually two Treo 700 smartphones. The Treo 700w runs on the Windows Mobile operating system and is currently sold by Verizon. The Treo 700p runs on the Palm OS and is currently being distributed by Verizon and Sprint.

Both are similar in size, shape and features. Both have the latest technological advances. Both send and receive phone calls, Microsoft Outlook emails, can surf the Web, take and send photographs and sync with your PC.

Both are wonderfully capable smartphones. It’s up to you to choose which operating system you prefer.

As for availability from other U.S. cellular carriers — I have to assume there’ll be a world phone version of both models in the near future. Most other countries use the GSM cellular standard and I believe Palm would like to sell Treos everywhere on the planet.

Finally, Blanche from Bangor, Maine asks:

I know big companies like AOL, Yahoo and Google are tapping into the internet video service; but smaller companies like offer similar service. 

Does mean that TV writers and other professionals who work in the television industry have to expand their skills to include Internet television writing and production?”

I would think so. Someone will have to work on these ventures. Why not you? It doesn’t hurt to ask.