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Articles: The New Face of IT, It's in the Mirror.

Just like in many businesses, most families have an IT person. One person that will always get "the call" when technology stops behaving. It often starts out as a compliment: "you're so smart at these things," they say. But then the calls keep coming. Because you're reading this, you may be that person. So perhaps you should come to grips with your new, non-paying, IT job and start using some professional IT tools.

The most valuable Mac-to-Mac support tool is Apple Remote Desktop. This is often described as a classroom tool because of its ability to observe users screens. Or, it's sold as a corporate IT utility that streamlines upgrades across hundreds of computers. However, what it excels at is taking control of client computers remotely and allowing an IT type (remember... this is you) to fix a software issue or give hands-on instructions without being there. There are other multi platform (i.e. Win/Mac) software titles that have been doing this for years. Timbuktu from Netopia, for example, has worked wonderfully for me over the years, but requires server and client software to be installed and setup before using it. Apple Remote Desktop (ARD) client is already installed on most OS X Macs and is easy to turn on in the System Preferences.

To turn on ARD client in OS Tiger, go to System Preferences and click on sharing. Under the "Services" tab is a window. Click the check box next to "Apple Remote Desktop" in that window and it will start ARD in the background. To the right is another check box that should get checked. It's labeled "Show status in menu bar." Checking this box will add an ARD icon somewhere to the left of the menu bar clock. Below the check box, push the button that says "Access Privileges..." A new window will open. In it will be a list of users contained within a window. (Most likely there is just one). Click the check box next to the user name and then check all the check boxes to the right of the window. Then click "OK." You have now given that user account control of your system from the Admin version of ARD. Anyone using ARD to control or observe the computer will need to have that user account's name and password to access it.

If you can talk a family member through the above, then you are set to use ARD. Just do the setup once over the phone. Then every time that person needs your help you can just go to your computer, fire up ARD and take control of their system. The interface is easy to learn and allows you work on several computers at once. The most difficult setup will be finding out the client computers IP address but that can be done at a website like or similar site.

Apple Remote Desktop Admin software is $299 for the ten-client version, which is all you will need. This may seem like a large expense to support people for free but it will cut every tech call to a tenth of the time (your time) and saves you from that sweaty ear feeling you get after being on the phone for hours. After all, you're the family IT guy now, so get yourself the tools that will make your "job" easier!
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