Log me in Scotty!

The week started out badly with what turned out to be the shopping trip from hell.

The dealer still hadn’t got a replacement keypad for my crappy cellphone, the bedding shop told me I couldn’t have a lightweight summer duvet, the local gobble and go served me the tiniest burger I’ve ever seen, and the outdoor clothing shop only had two rain jackets in stock; one of which was priced at over R800.

I was just about ready to slit my wrists but, in the nick of time, I recalled an item of information which computer consultant Vaughan Willcocks shared with me when he was last in the office.

My computer is on and connected to the Internet all the time and I’d thought that it would be great if I could access it from wherever I happened to be. I do a lot of my work on it but also spend a fair bit of time working elsewhere and sometimes forget vital files on my home machine.

I was under the impression that the process of organising the connection was difficult and so I never bothered until Vaughan came along with a service called Log Me In.

Nothing could be easier, he said, than going along to www.logmein.com, opening an account, and using it to connect to any computer from anywhere. I was surprised to find that the process is actually very easy and I was up and running pretty quickly.

The way the service works is that you go to the site and establish an account for yourself using your e-mail address and a strong password which would be very hard or impossible for someone to guess.

In general when choosing a password, it is not advisable to choose a proper word that occurs in the dictionary or a sequence of numbers that means something to you. Your pet’s name or your date of birth could be guessed by people who know you but a random selection of letters and numbers is pretty much impossible to crack.

Anyway, once you’ve got your account set up, you go to the computer you want to connect to and sign on to your account. You click the Add Computer button and Log Me In software downloads and installs on the machine.

That does take a while and you will most likely have to enter a new password to protect that particular computer. Once installation is complete however, you can access that computer from anywhere on the Internet by signing on to your Log Me In account and clicking the link to the computer you want to access.

It takes a little while for the connection to be established but once its done, its is as if you were sitting at the remote machine with full access to any programs and files on it. It is great for accessing your own computer or accessing those of friends to offer support if things go wrong or to show them how to do something.

The basic Log Me In service is free but does have some limitations including the fact that you cannot transfer files directly between machines but have to e-mail them from the one computer to the location where you are.

The Log Me In Pro service is much snazzier and costs $69.95 per year per computer but most people won’t need all the bells and whistles. The default installation gives you a limited trial of the Pro service and I have to say it’s great but I will probably convert to the free service.

Log Me In would be a great way to allow your PC support person to access your computer when they need to. Vaughan tells me that a number of his clients use it and give him a new password when he needs access.

Immediately he’s finished doing what he has to do, the clients either change their passwords for security’s sake or disable Log Me In on their machines until it’s needed again.

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