Friday, December 01, 2006

Tech Tidbits

The College of Business where I work is primarily a Microsoft operation and they take advantage of features of the OS that as far as I know my former EdTech unit didn’t use when. One of these is Remote Desktop, which gets the remote computer to act in terminal emulation mode and run the host computer at a distance. In layman’s terms it gets you to run your office computer from home. I’ve found it quite functional over my cable modem connection. Here is what I needed to do to get it to work.

1. Find the IP address for the office computer. Since my office computer is on DHCP, I had to do this from the command line:
a. Under the Start menu, choose Run…
b. Where it says Open, type in cmd, then push the OK button
c. Type in the command ipconfig at the prompt.
That should do it.

2. At the home computer log in with the VPN client.

3. Then go the Start menu again, All Programs, Accessories, Communications, then choose Remote Desktop Connection. Where it says Computer type in the IP address of your office computer. Then you will have to log into your computer as you do at the office.

Apart from accessing applications you may not have at home, it’s a way to make sure important documents stay on your office machine.

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In the same spirit, I started to wonder about whether I could readily do screen sharing, which could be used, for example, to have the instructor’s Tablet PC on wireless and screen share with the computer that is resident in the classroom or have a TA with a Tablet screen share with a student who is having trouble with a homework problem that has some analytic component.

For this I tried Windows Messenger. I’ve got two accounts and used one on my Tablet and the other on my office computer and I did a little online session between the two. On the Tablet computer I chose Ask for Remote Assistance. It took a little while to connect so people need to expect that if they want to use in this way. And the other computer has to accept the invitation. But once connected it functioned very well. There was essentially no latency. Some time ago I had tried doing this sort of thing with Groove but it chopped off a good part of the screen and there was latency. Perhaps that was the network rather than the application, so I would like to try this more before going out on a limb and saying it’s the best thing since sliced bread. But I will say my initial experiment was quite positive with it.

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Google announced recently that it now has an application to receive and send Gmail (with attachments) on the Cell Phone. If I were a student who walked around with a cell phone but not a laptop, I’d set up forwarding on my campus email account and (this can either be done from the Electronic Directory by specifying the mail server for the forwarding, or from the campus email account) use Gmail for the forward, and then I’d be able to check my mail whenever I want, something I believe many students would like to do. If, in fact, we do witness a big upswing in the number of students who forward their email in this manner, perhaps we’ll reconsider our current stance on outsourcing email.

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I have a new computer at the office (finally, hurray!!) and the guys who set it up have the screen resolution at 1280 x 1024 and so far that has been fine for me even though at home I prefer 1024 x 768. I do not that the monitor is higher at the office and perhaps that matters. I never thought about it before from an eye comfort point of view, only from a back and neck comfort perspective. At home it’s easy to change the angle of the screen, but not its height.


Katie said...

another easy way to find your computer's IP is just to do a Google search for: What's my IP
Among the first that pop up are:
which lists my IP!


Leslie said...

I tripped on your blog this afternoon and notices this post about Remote Desktop and that you thought EdTech didn't use it. CITES EdTech does use Remote Desktop on both PCs and Macs. Mac users use it to access Clarify, a PC-only software that is the ticketing system for the CITES Help Desk. The PCs were located in a room off of our lab area, so staff could stay at their desks, but still have the convenience of a PC right there. Our net admins use it all the time for administering machines remotely, and the developers use it so they can access the expensive developer environments from home as well. So, remote desktop is a very handy application for all of us at EdTech.

Lanny Arvan said...

Leslie and Katie - thank you both. I'm writing this response via remote desktop and I did check out and it worked. Tres bon.

I might not have become a laptop guy if I had Cable modem and remote desktop 6 or 7 years ago when I started getting miffed about having files on one computer but not the other. Also, that the the Outlook Web client is not nearly as good. These are really convenient things that I supposed a lot of folks would use if they were aware of it.