Obey Your Mother In Law (But Control Her, Too)

My column in yesterday's Seattle Times is about a familiar familial problem: providing technical support. Now, while it's possible to offer suggestions by phone, and a little in-person consulting, all of us who have more technical ability than any other family member (or friend) has found themselves asking someone to read off menu names, and then performing audio body English--willing them to click the thing you're trying to tell them to click.

I discovered that Timbuktu Pro, remote-control computer software, coupled with Skype, is a reasonable, albeit expensive solution for long-distance tech support. The expense is high--a two-user license is $180 to $200 depending on platforms. But once you have Skype and Timbuktu Pro installed on both machines (yours and the supportee), you can literally seize control of that foreign machine and show the other person what to do, or accomplish the task for them.

I've been calling it the mother-in-law solution because it solves the remote tech support problems we've had trying to give advice to Lynn's mom, and my officemate Jeff has already done the magic to help his mother-in-law.