Telework/Remote Worker considerations

Working from home or on the move being a mobile worker is on the rise. A quick google and countless pages tell of employer/employee satisfaction. Large companies and small business can all thrive from the “remote worker” but providing its done right. For, as many success stories there are, there’s also horrible  fails.

But with the advent of recent hardware/software changes telework is an easy thing to introduce for employees, its benefits for employer office space wise, and employee not facing the dreaded commute are amongst the main advantages. But, how can both maintain good productivity?

Sadly, although some employees may expect “teleworking” as a perk, the productivity can fail. Employers offering the facility working from home can start to notice “failings”. As with anything there’s good/bad practices.

As an occasional teleworker for a continental company I can see these, but good practices get rid of the failings. Bridging the space between the office and home worker is the real key important factor, provision of equipment, and availability on Skype or some other conferencing tool, is not just the answer, there’s some liability on the employee themselves, to be effective and productive working remotely.

 

Internet Access

Sounds a silly, subject to check but even today there are still some blind spots with internet access, slow speeds and unreliable connections. If you’re offering home/telework as an employer, ensure that the user has an adequate internet access speed to be capable of doing the work. Certain providers effectively “block” some some forms of home working by adding security to the router and disallowing VPN types, or recognise your using bandwidth for business not home purposes. Get the employee to check they’ll be able to work out of office. A simple trial connection to the office and the software the user will need over a day or two should suffice, but be prepared for changes too.

Without doubt a good solid base landline /cable connection is needed, although 4G is nice, it’s not reliable. I live near five schools, and come lunchtime try and get a 4G signal as the kids are on lunch, as the local mast gets hammered, is a lottery connection wise. Mobile data is fine, but consider the environment, you should be fine in a town or office, but not if your working in an environment, that’s like a cellar in an old stone building! Check in advance of your visit that internet connectivity is possible for you, or that there’s some alternative arrangements connection wise.

Seeing staff grumble their internet connection is down, on social media when they have no backup is not what employers or clients want to be seeing. After all your expectation is going to be what is this person doing remotely without a connection? Colleagues working for larger companies have the “luxury” of having the internet provided for them by the employer, its not always the case and internet connectivity by the home worker is the top priority, you should not want to hear that “my connections dodgy today” from end users..

Also the watch out for the café culture  free wifi is handy, but firstly sending data over an unsecure connection (more on this later) is a bad idea. Also, be aware of your environment, do you really want a skype call from the local burger joint, where kids are screaming in the background, and the shouts of the bar / café staff? Think how this would look professionally.

 

VPN

Remote workers benefit pure and simple from VPN, not only does it offer a secure encrypted connection (getting around the internet access from free wifi we mentioned earlier). It allows access to the corporate/company domain facailities remotely.

Yes the employee has their company issued machine at home, or may even use their own if you allow BYOD, but do you really want your data saved on a remote machine? Simple answer NO, it should be stored on the corporate network. Or, at least somewhere accessible to the company such as cloud or local domain storage, in the even of loss/thief or accidental damage to the device.

Ok, you can protect a device with for example bitlocker, so if the device gets lost, stolen the information is unusable, but it’s still lost! If stored locally on the device hard drive. Encourage use of cloud storage and saving to the domain, its fine to have a local copy but lose the device, drop and damage it and you’re up the creek without the proverbial just keeping things local.

 

RDP/RDS

For the BYOD brigade use RDS or remote apps, even let the employee remote into a desktop device on the office for security sake. IT should basically not allow external devices onto the network, unless they’ve been checked. Maintaining domain access via a networking method is a good way of avoiding risks, as the network defences are the same both internally and externally for users.

The moment someone has a different machine the toll of IT support starts to rise with the can I have this installed, product X doesn’t work the same when I’m at home. Provision of a familiar environment always sounds like your clamping down on the end user, and to a degree you are. Otherwise, ensure that the end user has some base IT knowledge so they can map to drives they have permission or access  to. They don’t need to be a  Bill Gates of knowledge, work on the car principle as I call it. You need to have knowledge of changing the oil, water and wiper blades to maintain its running, but when something goes wrong, the user has to be able to tell you where the knocking sound is coming from at least, so the mechanic can know where to look at resolve the issue quickly.

Sadly too many remote workers have a lack of Basic IT skills, ensure that you offer training or assess their capabilities, before you let them work remotely. Again this avoids end user frustration not being able to complete tasks, and a whole lot of time for your ICT staff.

 

VOIP

Keeping the remote user on the same phone network eases having to remember mobile numbers, enables you to transfer calls, so you or other clients don’t have to ring or give out alternative home/mobile numbers of remote workers to contact. Remember VOIP will run on phone and device , so the teleworker when away from the device can still be contactable. Voip generally uses less bandwidth as does teleconferencing, if your office uses it, the remote work can simply join in on conference calls as they would frm their own desk.

Again the remote worker should consider their environment, if making a business call listening to “little Martin” screaming in the background, or being on the receiving end of remote workers taste in streamed music is a no no.

 

Skype/Teleconference

This is classed as one of major tools of tele/remote work, but in honesty it’s a blessing and a curse. Some folk simply don’t use Skype correctly, and as such is a constant source of distraction, with the bleep/bloop ring tone breaking the users concentration from their task.

Software has safety features, such as informing others your available, busy etc. Use them, don’t ignore them. Being in contact and knowing what remote workers are doing is essential, the manager should know that they are busy finalising an urgent  report, and therefore keep other minor interruptions clear of the worker.

As with any two edge sword, they should also wonder why the remote worker isn’t available when they’ve or clients have tried to contact them too.

If you’re going to conference with clients, don’t do it from the local burger emporium, or the living room with the tv/radio on.  It sets a very unprofessional presence, if you’re working from home, ideally have a home office, or at least a real quiet corner so you can focus on the call.

 

Collaboration software

Really that’s up to what the user and the company needs. Office 365 is a real boon, with the ability to share work, pick up others work and continue. You’re not bound to the device, and can pick up and work on the bus, from home, hotel etc.

Ensure remote users know how to work with a shared file system, again a number of times there’s been “I can’t edit the spreadsheet, as Fred’s in it” I’ve had to fend off, purely because users left files open and did another task, or the internet connections dropped leaving the file lock marker and IT wasn’t notified.

At the end of the day the worker is remote NOT ISOLATED they should report problems to IT and be able to contribute in their solution.

Remoting the remote worker for “repairs” to issues is easy Windows10 has facilities built in, or other products such as TeamViewer make ICT ‘s job of being their easier. Make sure you facilitate for such events. A remote worker without that the facility to work remotely is a waste of time effort and money.

Cloud provisioning

All of the above fits nicely into cloud, VPN to the corporate domain servers ensures access and security of information, working hand in hand with the collaboration  and ability to share work. DaaS accessibility to workers etc.

Onedrive/Drop box all allow the saving of information securely and remotely allowing other access if required. Cloud is something that should be explored not ignored for true remote working.

 

 

 

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To Sleep, perchance to Hibernate or Shutdown ?

With the wide collection of new Windows mobile computing devices such as tablets and 2 in 1’s the question to Sleep, Hibernate or shut down a machine has become more of a grey area. Is there a right or wrong way?
Well No basically, it really does depend on what and, believe it or not, where/how you use the computer, as users utilising sleep often encounter issues caused by how they use the machine and in what environment.

As the computer that can be used anywhere brings in further problems which users may not even consider, how many users, do the following close the laptop lid, slide the laptop into their case and dash off after meetings. Or, at home leave the laptop on the couch/settee cushion when they work, or lay on the floor carpet.

Basically, blocking the air vents on devices with small footprints that rely on circulation to keep cool, is a bad idea and can lead to hardware problems. Try using a tablet after streaming a movie, and you’ll notice it gets warmer to hold. It really does depend on what you’re doing. Light use such as email, browsing hardly uses any power, so you don’t get heating problem as the processor isn’t breaking a sweat, so closing the lid is less of a worry.
Any way the rules of thumb I’d recommend, aren’t just for battery/power saving but also take into consideration the actual components in your machine.

Sleep
The option to use if you’re away from the machine for a short period of time, and want the device to start up quickly when you return or get to the next location in a short time. As all power except to RAM is effectively disconnected. The system has basically remembered what it was doing, so it can recall that state instantly on power up.
Problem is, leave it for a long time or during lower battery and you have the risk of RAM fail and possible corruption of memory, with the system not waking correctly and having to do a reboot.

Hibernate
The big sleep, the entire state of your computer is saved to disk basically, so when you wake the machine from this state it takes a while longer than sleep as the saved file contents are read back to reinitialise the machine from the state prior to hibernating. So you can you this for long periods, as power save is more effective than napping/sleeping the system
Issue you have here is inexperienced users panic in the time it takes to wake, and start hitting power buttons keys, which can interrupt the reinitialise and therefore they start thinking it broken, when it doesn’t restart instantly.

Power off
For me the better option, yes it takes longer to start the machine in comparison, if it’s taking ages, I’d recommend reviewing the apps you have is start up, are they all necessary?
Why is it better? Re starting the machine, gives you clean disk caches, reloads the registry, and clean RAM, so everything is ready to go with a clean slate. The start clean ensures no memory resident stuff left from apps that you may have run still hogging memory from sleep/hibernate is cluttering, or even more dangerously still holding in memory resident possible threat (malware for example)

Lots of users have ‘bad habits’ my heart sinks when I see folk wandering around the office with an open laptop balance precariously in one hand, mug of tea in the other, knowing that another possible “repair” is coming my way. The above functions work, use them in the correct fashion and you’ll be able to come back to, or transit a machine without a problem. Also note that the battery life is a recommendation not a guarantee when using them 🙂

What is Private Cloud?

Private cloud differs from “public” cloud in that it’s design is to provide access only to ‘authorized’ users.  It still delivers the flexibility and scalability of cloud architecture but in a more secure manner. Private Cloud is the usual choice of business to deliver a more reassured secure method of Cloud deployment.

 
Private cloud can be delivered in two main ways:-

Externally hosted – provisioned from a cloud service provider by means of an accessible virtualized storage server(s), off the network domain.
Internal Provisioning – Deployed virtualized server within the organizations domain network, delivered via HyperV, Oracle’s Virtual Box

 
Either method deployed delivers a service that end users generally access it through web based panels and local applications access it through API integration. The large difference is that there is some form of additional security so that the server service is not directly accessible to all and sundry via the internet.

 
For external hosting a dedicated line via encrypted VPN or SSL connects the cluster(s) to the client network. There is no direct method of accessing the private cloud over the internet without the additional security level of the connection.

 
Internal provisioning relies on the domain link network, and the virtualized server is access via internal IP address or machine reference. End users access can be limited from access via the virtualized server OS security (validating users)

Domain vs Local (The tale of the home/remote user)

There are several releases of Windows but all have a Home version and a Pro(fessional) version. The overall concept is a Pro version has more features to make the computer easier to use in a business/enterprise environment, while the home version has the basic core features providing an operating system that works fine for the individual.

The Home version although cheaper, does not come with the domain features built in, which is underlying problem from a remote user and IT person’s viewpoint. Extra work has to be done to allow the user access to the company network facilities (more rightly the domain).

Unless you have a grasp of the concepts between local and domain user, things can start to get confusing for the user, not only remembering different passwords and becomes a security nightmare for IT and so on.  I could cut this article down by ending it here, saying only purchase Pro versions, but going against “golden rules” it is possible to use local computing within a domain. PROVIDED THE USER AND YOU KNOW THE CONSEQUENCES.

 

The perfect scenario

The company domain requires that the person accessing the domain is recognised. This is done by the bouncer of the domain the domain controller, quite simply if your name is not on the list, you’re not coming in. The user is listed on that domain controller and provided a password, which they can use to get by the bouncer.

The domain controller also has other skills which soften its role to the wedding usher, in that once you’re in it will control (to a degree) where you are allowed to sit in the congregation. Or, more correctly what can and cannot have access to (note there are other factors that can govern this).

Generically there are two base types of domain users:-

Domain admin: These logins are the security pass of the domain, when you log in you have control and the ability to change settings within the domain, this can be to allow access privileges, add devices etc.etc. It makes sense you don’t give domain admin access to lots of folks, simply because they could go around changing settings, without immediately letting other users what they’ve done. It’s an access level that should be held by trusted competent staff.

Domain user: This user is a worker, and therefore has to be given the right tools for the job. The concept being is that they are wrapped in cotton wool to degree, given the access to what they need to complete the task. For example, a production user doesn’t need management or finance information, so they can’t access that information. While a management user may need access to finance to check budgets, so they must cross over into other territory. This can be done easily under a domain.

Control over the domain user allows that user to safely wander about the company network and never into an area they are not supposed to be in. Should they need access to a restricted area it can be requested and provided by the domain admin. This ensure the smooth and safe running of the network domain overall.

 

 

 

The home user ‘threat’.

Although a home version of windows doesn’t come with domain features as standard, it does not prevent that machine from being used on a domain.

And here’s the first disadvantage: The journey through the domain is not a smooth one, unlike a domain account they won’t be presented with the drives that they can access, instead they will have to reference them, and then provide their domain identity, to “prove” they can access.

But certain features will still be unavailable, such as network printers, as they never checked in but sneaked around the DC it never gave them full domain access via policy. The immediate good news security wise is the DC is still the governor and won’t let them wander where they’re not supposed to, provided that their access isn’t domain admin.

And that’s where the problems start users get frustrated and have to start remembering that the document drive P: for example, is actually a directory share off a domain device and is referenced something like

\\machine_name\share_or_directory_name

Although it’s not rocket science, users won’t care that the document drive is really called 192.168.xxx.xxx\finance_documents they just want to access P: drive. Yes, you can create a shortcuts to make it easy to remember, but IT have to provide the name if it’s not known by the user, the link only works when you user is connected to the domain via the company Wi-Fi or remotely by VPN.

The real issue is….

I used the word “threat” in the previous section, at most so far things are a minor irritation to IT and user. But here’s the serious stuff.

When the local machine is set up it’s configured with a local administrator access, and rightly so, as you must install the OS and any applications that you use locally, and here starts the problem.

Unwittingly, let’s say that the user requires a program they need to use (it may well be for business purposes) being a local admin they can download for example adobe pdf reader, but instead of going to the official site, they take one of the many other links that are available, yes the download the application, but they also risk inheriting a load of malware/virus extra’s that they’ve gladly given their permission to as administrator.

AV is not a bullet proof jacket, it can stop most but not all things, and the user allowing things thro as administrator of their own machine as just opened the door to unwelcome quests on their own machine.

Which as we’ve just explained can hop onto the domain, opens up P: drive on the network and your local malware/virus has a whole new section of the menu to start considering to gorge on.

Yes, the domain will have AV, but you’ve forced your way into the domain you’ve possibly sneaked past the protection, and now are running the risk of infecting others, simply by saving files back to the network drives. IT IS THIS THAT IS THE REAL ISSUE

 

Should local machines be allowed?

The scenario above is not limited to enterprise, it’s a serious threat to your company network and others is if you’re a remote user. Although without shadow of a doubt the answer is YES don’t use home versions within a company it’s a sledgehammer to crack a nut solution.

I would put forward that you can safely use home versions within a company, BUT (it’s a big but) you educate and enforce users, it should not be an option to all, and it will create extra work for IT in maintaining such users but here’s the general rules.

Always use a strong AV and scan for infections

Goes without saying, ideally with any BYOD it should be checked by the company IT first to ensure is clean and safe enough to use for company business.

UAC a work account

If you have a local machine, that you need to use for work DON’T USE THE ADMINISTRATOR account. But create a second user account on that machine. Stop and think about what you need for that account and ensure that its loaded/configured by qualified staff, if you’re uncertain ask.

Never store passwords

Two good reasons for this, first one being loss of the machine, or leaving the system accessible, risks others being able to access domain features. The next reason is cached credentials; your local version will remember your domain password. A good network forces users to change the password periodically, so a time will come when you suddenly click on a mapped share you created and you’re asked for your password, you type it in and you’re not allowed access as the domain knows you need to change your password, but your local copy has the old one stored.

‘Fun’ begins and I use the word in inverted commas, as the user doesn’t know what’s going on and IT now have to start unlocking your domain login as the attempted entry with wrong password has locked you out. ! The problem magnifies itself if users start using phones to access email on another device that constantly checks the passwords

The problem can be rectified switching off other devices firstly and with clearing cached credentials on the local machine, so start googling and learning how to do that!

Use RDP / RDS

Safest option is to use the local machine as a simple terminal for office work, don’t use the machine at all for directly working on, but remote desktop to, or call on a remote desktop service to provide you with a domain registered system. There are advantages to this in that a cheap machine can be used as a terminal (so there’s hardware cost savings) which can access a more powerful desktop

Everything is done on the remote machine (be it physical/virtual) and is covered by the network protection. In the case of RDS the VM’s they can be destroyed after their use, so the possible risk of infecting the word macro on that machine is eliminated as its never saved for another user to make use of (again not a bullet proof jacket but a definite extra layer of protection

Linx8 affordable mobile computing

A small bargain price tablet with big value uses.

linx8There are some folks that will snort at the prospect of cheap hardware, and to a degree they’re right! “You get what you pay for”, is a reasonably accurate phrase when buying hardware. Also, there are some “poor quality” devices on the market that really relegate devices to the “toy” section rather then practical for home and work.  But, do you always really need a V8 muscle car as a town run about? Or for the school run? A small budget tablet may not be for everyone with regards to a business machine requirement, but it’s worth taking a look for some business work, especially if you’re a mobile worker,  and you take advantage of Cloud based software, trust me.

Well it was a while ago I ‘won’ in a competition from the very nice folks @microsoftsb a Linx 8 tablet, which I was pleased with, but never really got around to using other than install the OS and my Microsoft account (Truth be known was already using the Toshiba Encore 8 for home and work). But a few weeks ago the need for a spare tablet arose for a work project, and remembering the Linx I dug it out and was highly pleased with the end results with the devices performance , and with the results I obtain in using it.

Although superseded now by a newer larger models, both in screen size and memory, and even OS, the Linx8 is still available to buy, and the OS is upgradeable (if you should so wish) and as I’ll explain quite a handy device to make use of.

Build Quality

First to impress is the feel and look of the device. Yes, it’s a plastic case, but the rubberised edge and back allow for a good hold on the device (and without leaving paw marks!), it’s also a boon if you rest the tablet on your knees and lean to pick something up, the rubberised grip surface on the rear, stops your investment launching to oblivion from your lap like so many other shiny models.

A nice professional black matt finish and incredibily light to hold for any duration of time, the Linx is light, slim and comfortable to work with on the move. At only 8mm thick, its thin but sturdy enough to resist any twist, creaks and groans. I still personally prefer the 8 inch screen over 10 on a tablet when used whilst you’re running about, as its easy to hold in the one hand.

Under the hood

The Linx 8 is a comes with built 1GB memory non expandable, and 32 gb storage the Windows 8.1 with Bing, so you don’t have a Pro operating system but that’s what keeps the price down. There’s ways and means of accessing domain level stuff if you do so need, so missing out on Pro is not as big a problem as it first appears. It’s also 32bit on a x64 processor a slight shame but, the processor is a 1.33Ghz Atom processor the Z3735F which in honesty is quite impressive, and for a small machine allows adequate multitasking of a few tasks without grinding to a halt.

Although you can upgrade the machine to Windows10 the base unit does not hold up well to moving the OS (as Windows10 base requirements have increased since 1067 release). To be honest and as I’ll explain you still can do an awful lot with the machine in its native 8.1 operating system still.

There is an expandable Micro SD slot which on my model has a 64GB card, on which I store the apps, data etc. Leaving the 32gb onboard for the essential OS and occasion apps which fuss about not being on c: drives!

The model also comes with a 12month Office 365 subscription the older Personal version, so an additional £60 worth of software thrown in, adds to the bargain. I’ve since upgraded this to my own Office 365 account, and all of the mainstay applications Outlook, Word, Excel work well even with a small screen, and are responsive enough to do some serious work with. Keeping in touch with the office, being able to work on reports and financial submissions on the go is a distinct advantage.

Screen

Again, in keeping with the price it was never going to be a 4k special. But, the 800 x 1280 TFT LCD provides a high enough quality display for work, and as a switch off it’s a great little screen for watching Netflix  with the addition of the mini HDMI port you can output to a larger screen if you do so wish for presentations etc, and still get a good quality display.

The touch screen is 10 touch points and very responsive, you won’t find yourself jabbing your finger repetitively to get a response form the device. Some may find the screen a tad small for desktop precision, if you have problems I’d suggest you use a touch screen wand/pen as an alternative which  works fine.

Keyboards

If you’re desperate for a physical keyboard, instead of the three onscreen varieties that Windows 8.1 provides, the Linx8 has Bluetooth  to allow you to connect a keyboard, leaving the mini USB free for a mouse should you so wish (or visa versa).

Camera’s

The device has a front and rear facing camera, each of which is only 2MP, again can’t expect miracles for the price. But, the camera is fine for holding skype calls, and as I found out great to use with Office Lens to get default images such as receipts, documents etc with all without getting eye strain!

WiFi

Okay here’s the one minor grumble I found with the device. The device has a single channel Wi-Fi in some circumstances it’s not that great at distance, or pick up on some available Wi-Fi. Again with working here and there I get to notice this, but at home or in the office its solid. When I travel, personally I use my Lumia phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot, and the two are a match made in heaven (time to thank BT for the generous 20gb 4G data allowance!)

So what business can you do with it?

The Linx8 can be a useful piece of equipment for work, granted you’re never going to be rendering 3D or CAD images on it, but is a great little workhorse in that like every tablet, the device is brilliant when you need a computer with you when you’re away from your office desk and usual device. It’s light to carry and it allows you both the tile and desktop interfaces of Windows 8.1

With tablets and no keyboard I’ve a preference for the app over the full blown application, but with the cheap and reliable machine you have the advantage of both

I mentioned the Office365 which comes into its own on long bus/train rides home allowing you the full features to draft documents, produce worksheet reports, catch up with mail and attachments all in a well sized workable screen. My colleagues at another company utilise the Linx 8 with the Access database and have the tablet as a jotter and  terminal for stock control and job checking checking purposes.

Using features such as the RDP app available from the store, it’s a perfect portable terminal/console to use when your away from the desk or machine room, able to connect to the AD, Exchange server what have you, so as to be able to make changes at the location, rather than having to run back to the desk/machine room. When floor walking at work, the tablet is ideal for remotely changing settings for other users (Teamviewer is a great and free app).

The 1GB memory is more than adequate to run an office style VM’s delivered by RDS, so in the event of a laptop failure it can be used as a temporary device delivering an office virtual desktop to work with, or if you need to access your main system from home or other site.

With regards the IT side of its use, I also use two great apps Remote Terminal and Metro Putty for work where  cloud based servers run DMBS, allowing you to work with the TCL /management studio  with great ease, again allowing you to check status’s of servers even correct issues within the DBMS. So again the Linx has a use as a potable terminal/console to work from.

Educational equipment

Let’s face it schools budgets are restrictive on equipment, the Linx is an ideal device for education, cheap, affordable and useful. My colleagues company went and bought 10 of these tablets for the local village school (where his wife works). The budget model gives the school now the ability to teach business computing practices, and let the students explore via the web aiding in delivering education and at a low price.

The USB port and on board Bluetooth will allow keyboard and mouse to be added to make a mini PC as said previously. Or can be used for other connectivity to devices external DVD for loading software for example.

What’s so good about the Linx ?

I never over expected from tablet computing, which is more than likely why the tablet evolved into the two in one, for other people’s requirement for a little more room for more oomph with screen real estate, memory and disk storage, and of course the keyboard. To me tablet computing is on the fly/move work, its short bursts of work needed there and then, not always long arduous sessions. Although with a battery life of approx. 6+ hours that is possible with this tablet.

Like most computer geeks I have a collection of devices, but the Linx is the weekend weapon of choice, when I’m not out and about in at home on the sofa too . I can carry it easily in a coat pocket, and when called on I can work from where ever at weekends provided there’s Wi-Fi  or the trusted hotspot available (including a restaurant with my partner once during an ‘emergency’ (sorry to Louise my other half))

Budget tablets are aimed at the domestic market and its size makes it comfortable as a companion for social media, the skype call to colleagues and friends, perfect for watching the match, a film etc. But the Linx has proven itself in the work environment, and is a fraction of the cost of big brand names like DELL smaller tablets.

As said the Linx8 and the updated Linx810 is been superceeded by newer models introduced this year making use of Windows 10 and having higher 2/4GB RAM and  more 64K storage. Coming in at £200 they’re still cheap and  may be worth your glance, I know I was tempted. But, I can’t really fault the device that I obtained for free from a contest, and now retails for under £99. It’s a perfect tool for mobile SMB use, and thanks again @microsoftSB for opening my eyes to true mobile computing.

Using Quick Assist in Windows10

We’ve all been there whether you’re a support analyst or not, you’re home, comfy and the phone rings with a friend or relative calling to say they have a problem with the computer. Instead of having to call around or do the dreaded talking down a passenger trying to land a 747, as the pilot has passed out. You can put yourself in front of the computer remotely with a built in easy to use feature of Windows10.
This secure connection feature the other person must assist in the initiation. It’s not possible to remote control without their input. Also both machines should be running Windows 10 as Quick Assist in a new take on the older Remote Assistance, if the other persons running an older version of Windows, I’m afraid you’ll have to use that.
Offering assistance
Either using Cortana search or navigating the menu you need to run Quick Assist.
To initiate the connection by wantin to help someone else by remotely accessing their computer, click “Give Assistance”.

qa1

You’ll then have to sign in with your Microsoft account. After you do, you’ll receive a security code/pin of six digits

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This code need to be sent to the person requiring assistance, you can tell them over the phone, or as you can see copy and paste it into an email which you can send them ..
Receiving Assistance

The person requiring assistance needs to run Quick Assist, with one important difference they’ll then need to click “Get Assistance” in the Quick Assist window that appears.

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At this point, they’ll be prompted to enter the security code you received. When this is submitted the other person will then see a confirmation prompt,usually detailing that you (your name is displayed from your Microsoft account) what to remote in, and they’ll have to agree to give you access to their PC.

Once Connected

After confirming the remote the connection will now established, give it some time as your home broadband speed may be better or worst than the person you’re connecting to.

Once remoted you have full access to their computer as if you were sitting in front of it, so you can launch any programs or access any files they could. You’ll have all the privileges the computer’s owner has, so you won’t be restricted from changing any system settings. You can now tinker way to look at the issue….

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The person wanting assistance will see everything that you’re doing, and can snatch back control at any time (typing in passwords) or even terminating the connection once completed

At the top right corner of the window, you’ll see icons that let draw on the screen (handy for the big red arrow!), change the size of the window, remotely restart the computer, open the task manager, or pause or end the Quick Assist connection.

This can be done by the either user by closing the application from the “Quick Assist” bar at the top of the screen.
The “remote reboot” option is designed to reboot the remote computer and immediately resume the Quick Assist session without any further input. This may not always work properly, however. Be prepared to talk the other person through signing back into their PC and re-initiating the Quick Assist session if there’s problem and this doesn’t happen automatically.

The computing world is flat

As the deadline for the Windows 10 update looms quickly upon users, there are still a lot of users that are declining the upgrade.

Folks and companies declining the offer may have good reason to, but in my opinion there’s a few that are creating a “the world is flat” camp, and that by not moving to Windows 10 either by upgrading, or dare I say it buying a new device, will miss out on an awful lot of improvements.

When I say improvements, I don’t just mean the new features such as Cortana (nice as it is). Computing needs have moved on, and Windows 10 is the OS that works well with the needs in my opinion, computing isn’t chained to a desk anymore  (office or dining room) it’s now flexible, the ability to work anywhere is important not just for office work but for the home too.

For example, a touch screen interface instead of a keyboard. Perfect input method for being out and about, or lounging on the sofa. Windows 10 has a native tablet mode to allow you to take advantage of this interface (hardware allowing obviously). Although it’s not impossible in Windows 7 you can use touch if you don’t mind squinting one eye, sticking your tongue out of the corner of mouth as you line up the aim of your finger for just the exact point on the screen.

Mobile computing has rapidly becoming more and more a requirement, Windows 10 caters for it well, offering a linked OS across devices, from the home PC to the tablet/2 in 1 and even on the mobile phone. The ability to convert the phone to a full PC via continuum feature another work anywhere advantage.

But it’s not just new shiny methods of working that that Windows 10 improves on. Work wise Windows 10 offers better ways to perform standard computing.

For example the multiple desktop, allows users to section off areas of work, in that you can have desktop screen open with applications for one customer, and another screen with the same or different applications open for another. This tidy method means that you don’t have a tool bar cluttered with icons, and reduce the chance of losing that open document/file  you’ve been working on by closing the wrong one!

Remote desktop availability via a simple app, a straight forward create and record details allows you to easily build a library of rdp links you connect to via a simple click, no remembering login details/ dns names or ip addresses.

If you’re not a home user, then the availability to run virtual PC’s via the included Hyper-V is an option allowing your computer to become multiple computers, the list can go on and on.

Windows 7 is clocking on for being 8 years old, already there are no new developments on that platform, just updates to attempt to keep away security issues, so with no new features being added, it’s started to get long in the tooth.

At the end of the day some machines just won’t cut it old architecture and hardware has Windows 10 at a disadvantage. (That’s why there’s an update tool I recommend you run first to ensure that the machine will update, not just do it blindly and moan in the forums). Along with older software too it has to be said. But, that’s down to the user and the person/company who built the machine.

When other goods become long in the tooth, you replace them, it may well be time you need to consider hardware replacement if you wish to keep up with changes, and meet the requirements of a changing computing environment.