Create your own VNC support package in 640Kb

Like a lot of people, a lot of my friends are computer-savvy - either they are in the field or have grown up with them and like using them. With that comes the expected responsibility, usually family or sometimes friends will say "My computers broken, come and fix it for me"

Assuming you are going to help them (one friend came up with the solution of telling people they need a new PC every single time or taking their PC home with them and never bothering to return it) carting yourself to your parents/family/friends every time they have an issue or question is not always convenient, so remote assistance (of course!) is the answer.

Now, there is a remote assistance built into XP. However, unless both sides are set up with uPnP routers, Windows XP, MSN messenger (and some luck) it can be troublesome.
With this in mind, we created a package at runPCrun using the popular and open source TightVNC. We've used it successfully for many years at runPCrun using reverse connections to get around the problem of NAT traversal and it's always worked very well.

I'm releasing a cut down version of the Inno Setup source we use to package it, along with simple instructions for you to follow to create your own support package.
It's a simple piece of scripting but it can be deployed quite effectively. Now I am aware there are things like UltraVNC Single Click (here is a good Lifehacker article on the subject), and it definitely has it's place and we use it ourselves. However two main limitations apply

  • It can't be run as service, so no logoff/logon can be performed and Ctrl-Alt-Del is not supported.
  • Other useful utilities aren't packaged with it

Contacting runPCrun for support effectively

If you are familiar with an engineer by all means contact them directly if you deem it necessary, but if they are busy, unavailable or on-site please follow the following procedures to be dealt with effectively.

If urgent or a priority call :-

Ring 0845 45 01254 and simply hold. This rings all engineers phones enabling any one of us to pickup (unless all lines are currently taken in which case a voicemail system will activate and this will be emailed immediately to all engineers)
Also out-of-hours you may ring the engineers mobile number, if engaged/busy then leave a voice message or text them.

If it is not an urgent call:-

Please email with your query wherever possible, otherwise phone as above.

Tips for emails:-

Try to explain your problem clearly. Note any error messages exactly.
Where possible use the "PRINTSCREEN" key (on the top right of most keyboards). This will copy the entire screen, and can then be pasted into a blank word document and attached to the email. This will make your life easier when complex errors are displayed on screen and allow us to solve it much faster. The entire PRINTSCREEN procedure can be found in detail here.