Remote Assistance With Your Computer
Team Viewer is a remote computer administration program with versions for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. This article describes how a friend at another location can use the program to help a blind or vision-impaired ham install, configure, and test amateur radio software.
UPDATE ADDED 6/6/2016: There are reports that Team Viewer software is the target of malicious hackers. An article in Ars Technica reports that the developers think the problem is with account passwords that users assign to Team Viewer and re-use for another website that has been hacked.
Team Viewer software is free for non-commercial users. The person who is assisting you must have the full version of Team Viewer. You can either install the full version on your computer or download a Quick Support client program that does not require installation for a single session.
Installing Programs Remotely
The following example demonstrates how a partner at another location can install, configure, and test a program on your computer. In the Team Viewer instructions your computer is called the "remote PC," and your partner's computer is the "local PC."
For the screen shots for this example a full version of Team Viewer was installed on two computers, each running Windows 7.
First, open the Team Viewer program on your PC, the machine you want the new program to run on. Your screen (Figure 1) displays a permanent ID number and a randomly assigned password that changes each time Team Viewer runs. Both the ID and password are accessible with a screen reader.
Figure 1. Team Viewer opening window.
Over a phone connection give the ID and password to your partner, who enters them in a Team Viewer window and connects to your PC over an SSL (https) Internet link.
If both computers are using the Windows operating system, your Desktop background color is changed to black during the session. Figure 2 shows the Desktop displayed on your partner's computer.
Figure 2. Your Desktop viewed remotely.
At this point your partner's keyboard functions as if it were connected directly to your computer. When administrative rights are required, either of you can enter your administrative password. There is a menu for file transfers, and the Actions menu includes an option to reboot your PC remotely.
Audio from your computer is also sent over the connection, so both of you can test the operation of programs such as fldigi and HDSDR. If you use a screen reader, your partner can hear the reader voice, but only you can control the reader (eg, to mute the audio).
After a Team Viewer link is established, the phone connection is not required for communication. The program has options for speech (VOIP), text chat, and video transmission between computers.
Remote control of a computer raises obvious security concerns. The Team Viewer Security Statement describes measures the company has taken to increase the security of the software.
An advanced analysis of the Team Viewer authentication protocol at Accuvant Labs concluded that the program is vulnerable to Man-in-the-Middle attacks. The report concludes that the program should not be used on an untusted network. Also, users can and should specify stronger passcodes than the default configuration allows.
Peter DeNeef, AE7PD, is an Extra Class amateur radio operator in the U.S. This Web site has no ads or conflicts of interest.