Keep an Eye on Another PC
By Jon Kaufthal (8/2/96)
If you think all the Internet is good for is Web browsing and e-mail, Farallon's Look@Me may change your mind. This free applet, based on Farallon's Timbuktu Pro package, lets you watch another computer's screen remotely and in real time.
Look@Me's biggest--though essentially unavoidable--downside is that both machines need to be running either the Look@Me or the Timbuktu software (on either a Windows PC or a Mac). Once you take this as a given, the software works well and is useful for a variety of purposes, such a reviewing documents and providing technical support.
To connect you to a remote machine, Look@Me first requests that you enter the IP address of the computer you wish to view. The program also asks you to provide a name for your own computer, which is then used as an additional identifier. Unfortunately, there is no central database of available users and addresses, something that would greatly help in finding the computer you're looking for. This would be especially useful for dial-up connections, where IP addresses often change with every log-on. To its credit, Look@Me does prominently show you your own IP, right in the main window—an important feature for the many users who would otherwise be at a loss as to where to find this address. Additionally, the software provides several IP addresses so that you can test out the program.
The program's interface is simple, helping to get the job done well without unnecessary clutter. Once you've connected, you'll see a full-size version of the remote screen within a window. If the window does not include the entire screen, scrolling will let you look at the whole picture. Look@Me also gives you the option to turn on auto-scroll, which allows you to scroll the window by just moving the mouse in the direction you'd like to scroll, without having to click and drag on scroll bars. And since there's nothing to click on inside the window (Look@Me is strictly for remote viewing, not controlling, of a PC), auto-scroll comes in handy.
To ensure that your privacy is protected, the program gives you the option of disallowing others to view your screen. One feature not included in Look@Me--though included in the Timbuktu Pro package--is the ability to password-protect your computer, so that only those with a proper password can view your screen. In any case, the viewee is notified as soon as another computer begins to view his screen. The viewer's assigned name is provided, and the person being watched is given the option to disconnect any viewer at any point. Another option allows you not to display your wallpaper pattern when others are watching you, helping to speed up the connection.
Look@Me is available for both Windows 3.x and Windows 95. The Windows 95 version includes a Netscape plug-in in addition to the standalone applet, although the usefulness of seeing a window within Netscape that merely consists of what you'd otherwise be seeing in a separate window (as with the PointCast plug-in) is questionable.
Look@Me takes a great idea and does a good job implementing it. If you can't be there, Look@Me may be the next best thing.
Price: Free download.
Requires: Microsoft Windows 3.1 or Windows 95. Netscape plug-in requires Netscape 2.0 or higher.
Copyright (c) 1996 Ziff-Davis Publishing Company
back to my writings