Remote Control

For years we’ve read thousands upon thousands of words about remote working, road warriors with laptops and the paperless office. The paperless office seems more remote now than it ever has before and the advent of videoconferencing software — whether you’re at the pro telepresence end or the consumer Skype end — makes travel in these financially constrained times a lot less likely or necessary.

Still, the need exists for persistent data access for those times when you’re out of the office. There are solutions that rely on storing data and documents in the cloud (my personal choice being Dropbox), but it’s not always necessary (or prudent) to stick all your documents on somebody else’s server.

I’m writing this from a kitchen bench, far far away. In London, to be precise, but it’s being written and saved on the computer that sits at my desk in my office. And that’s a 27″ iMac. At 13.8kg, not exactly a portable computer. There was no way I was going to get away with having that as carry-on luggage, even if I’d wanted to.

A quick disclaimer: I’ve travelled to London as a guest of mobile phone company HTC for a phone launch, but that’s not germane to the point I’m going to make.

Still, I’m typing this that way, because I can. Specifically, I’m using a piece of remote access software called LogMeIn, running both on my office computer and then accessed via the web on the computer right in front of me, although it could conceivably be a tablet, iPhone or Android handset as well. LogMeIn’s not the only game in town; software from Cisco, Microsoft, VNC or Apple can handle this kind of remote computing just as well.

The advantage of remote computing versus cloud computing comes down to trust. Sure, I could stick most of the documents I actually need onto a cloud server, and either way I’d still need net access to get to them, but by accessing my computer rather than somebody else’s server, I’m guaranteed to have everything, not just some things I may or may not need. I can also do anything else I’d be able to do from that machine, such as check mail, schedule tasks — I could even, as I’ve done here, create remotely.


2014-08-28

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