I’ve gone a little VNC nutty
I’m actually quite late to the game when it comes to having a bunch of machines around the house that aren’t connected to keyboards and meeses. When I first tried hooking up the Mac Mini to my HDTV, which I disconnected since the DVI port is broken on the first gen, it was a little annoying to connect a USB cable and extension to drag it out to the couch where I could work with it without sitting on the floor. I looked up alternate means of control and VNC worked pretty well. It had its quirks, but it was a good solution.
After replacing the Mini with my HTPC, I had a wireless keyboard and mouse, so it wasn’t that big a deal except that my living room chair and couch are all comfy squooshy, which isn’t conducive to anything other than mobile computing, really. The HTPC runs Vista (I know, the devil) so I had trouble finding a VNC server application that wouldn’t disconnect every time UAC kicked in. Until UltraVNC, which seems to work really well and even has a web client and file transfer. For a free application, it makes me happy. Until I got VNC Lite working on my iPhone, which makes me giddy-happy.
I have to admit that it isn’t terribly practical, but practical isn’t a word you’d really apply to lot of free apps on the iPhone. But I was able to connect to my PC, start up a movie, open up iTunes (after which I used the regular Remote application), and check on other apps and processes. I haven’t tried more interesting things like sending the machine to sleep or restarting it because Vista is a bit wonky even about services that should run on startup. A reboot might lock me out until I get back home!
I’m also pleased with UltraVNC’s web client, a java-app that works through the web browser. I resigned up for my DynDNS account, which my Linksys router nicely keeps up-to-date, so I have an easy to remember address to get to my home network and while it isn’t perfect, it could certainly take care of those days where I’m given a task at work that I don’t have the software on-site to complete.
I’m very tempted to take a page from my friend Paul and install this on my mother’s PC, with instructions on how to activate it when she needs help with something. With her kind of “support calls” it isn’t that I need to do it for her, I just need to be able to see what she’s looking at when she talks about it and even though both Apple and Microsoft have screen-sharing type applications, VNC just seems to follow the KISS principle.