February 21, 2005  ·  Lessig

So in response to my request for a simple hack to enable me to advance a slide remotely, I got lots of great advice about installing VNC on whatever machine I wanted to do this on. That’s a great suggestion, but a bit of overkill (and likely to create some suspicion with some network administrators), though it did show me how to make it easy to help my Mom on the Mac I bought for her (and why doesn’t Apple sell a version of Apple Remote for kids helping parents learn how to use Macs?).

But what I was hoping for in a hack was something simpler than a system to take over all control of a machine. Murray suggests a Java solution, which seemed the right sort of solution. But Kevin Reynen of SidewalkTheory has written some scripts that get run through iChat. This is an elegant little solution to the problem — just facilitating the advance of the slides and allowing the iChat to be used for the voice part at the same time — and in exchange for my promising to give a talk to a class he’s in (via remote), he’s offered to make on for a Win platform as well. I’ve accepted, and I’ll post that code too when it’s done. But thanks to Kevin for giving me a real chance of more time with my kid.


  • http://htmlfixit.com Don

    and *way* doesn’t Apple sell — why

    *which* get run through iChat. — that

    he’s offered to make *on* for a Win platform — one

    Congrats on the solution.

    Question, if I check remember me once, and don’t check it the next time does it forget me? If it remembers me, why have it ask me if it should remember me again? You should be able to remove that if it knows me.

  • peter

    sounds like a nice, simple hack. i would like to ask you to tell us how it really went. i imagine that i would feel a little lost without the visual feedback which slide is actually visible on the other side.

  • http://www.insors.com Jonathan Arnold

    I work for a Chicago company (remotely even, from my house in the Boston area), inSORS Integrated Communcations, that does collaboration software. While it may be overkill for your solution, you might check into it at our web site. We do audio, video, web, picture and file sharing. One of the speciaized apps we have watches a PowerPoint presentation on your computer and automatically updates snapshots on everyone else’s computer who is in the meeting. So it’s a little different – more a a push then remote control. But it works very very well.

  • http://www.insors.com Jonathan Arnold

    Of course, I have a typo in our name :-( It is, of course, supposed to be inSORS Integrated Communications, and you can find us at insors.com.

  • mikeperlman

    Hey Larry,
    How are you? You didn’t mention what program you are using but AppleScript could be made to do this one way or another.


  • Lisa Slater Nicholls

    You might want to try NetMeeting. It’s what I use in a Windows environment to support users remotely. It’s available in every Windows environment, although typically MS is trying to downplay this effective tool in favor of more “modern” solutions. (I know you’re on a Mac, or your Mom is — keep reading .)

    You can talk somebody through finding the durn thing (not as easy in XP but it is still there) and setting it up. Then you give them your IP address to place the call, and ask them to share their Desktop. Easy to talk them through that too, including requesting control if you need it. I do this maintaining a phone connection, I don’t bother with sound setup, it’s easier to talk.

    You may have to open the appropriate port for NetMeeting on your end, but that’s about it.

    On a Mac, you can use NetMeeting via VirtualPC. Doing this is discussed here with some additional information you might like.

    FWIW, I do this professionally, but feel your pain… I have a Dad to support, too… and used to be across the Pacific from him. ;-)


  • http://www.dcainc.com Mike Barnett

    I’ve used WebEx service (www.webex.com) for presentations. It’s more flexible than what you specifically need for this presentation, but you can use it to present your content in a “Webinar” (I hate that word). They have PC and Mac clients. On the PC, the client software is pretty straightforward, well-behaved, and firewall-friendly. You use client software on all participants’ machines. If there’s a group on the other end of the conference, I usually pre-arrange someone to install the client software and connect it to a projector.

    It’s a paid solution instead of free, but it works well. And the price is a bargain compared to travel & expenses. We use pay-per-use meetings for our sales force meetings and the occasional software demonstration.

    I know this sounds like a promo, but I’ve used it and I’m pretty happy with the results.

  • http://www.bbcity.co.uk/user/Tom Tom Morris

    Here’s the solution I would use, and it reveals my tendencies completely. In built Apache server in OS X. Make sure PHP is running. Make a PHP script which triggers an exec command. In the exec() you can use the osascript command (check the man page – it’s a long time since I’ve used it) to trigger AppleScripts. Write a short AppleScript that does what you want done. Get the osascript command to do it. You can also just SSH in and run the AppleScripts via the Command Line Interface. The PHP web software is there simply to build a UI with – put some links in. The advantages? You can, firewalls permitting, control it over the Internet and using mobile devices (WAP, mini HTML things so you can run it on Palm Pilots, PocketPC’s, mobile computng stuff). The disadvantages? You might get lag. Lag is bad.

    I’m using a similar solution for my newsfeeds. I’ve got a Mac which I read offline RSS on, and I’m just trying to code up an AppleScript-slash-shellscript-slash-PHP hack that lets me ‘flag’ headlines (NetNewsWire style) and make those flagged headlines available on my Linux machine – probably by publishing an HTML file with links.

    The PHP-Shell-AppleScript combo is really quite powerful. Some kind nerd could probably hack up what Larry wants with it in a few minutes.