Friday, January 26, 2007

Copilot 2.0 supports Macs - at last, at last, at last

For me, this is bigger than anything announced at MacWorld. Yeah, the iPhone is nice — but that’s months away. There’s nothing else that was announced that I want or need. Copilot is another story …

Copilot 2.0 supports Macs - The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW)

…. Enter Copilot, the Fog Creek online 'assistive service' that allows you to connect to a remote computer using a small app and a website. Copilot 2.0 now supports OS X 10.2, and later, as well as both Safari and Firefox. No configuration is required, and the pricing structure is very interesting. 5 bucks will get you 24 hours of unlimited access, and if you find yourself using Copilot more than that there are subscription plans available that should suit your needs.

You can read more about Copilot at this post on Joel On Software, and to get a glimpse into the Mac dev side of things check out this post on Red Sweater blog. ...

Hallelujah. I wrote to the Copilot folks months ago and they said they were going to look seriously at a Mac version, but, honestly, I didn’t believe it. In the meantime I’ve was very jealous of some colleagues who showed me the free version of LogMeIn – XP only. I watched grinding my teeth in frustration at Apple’s determination not to deliver any kind of affordable remote maintenance solution (rumored, supposedly, for the next OS). Joel’s post on the product is, as usual, funny and informative. Five bucks for 24 hours use.

I’m going to ask my mother to put it in place on her Mac, so I can do support whenever it’s needed.

Now if Apple would only deliver the thin client solution that I’ve been whining about for at least 3 years … Alas, I think Jobs is allergic to it.

Update 1/26/07: I've been testing with two machines at home. It's painfully slow; it's running a variant of TightVNC and it's about as slow as VNC. It's nowhere near as responsive as Microsoft's Remote Desktop Protocol or the free active-X service. It works though, I was able to do some basic work. An average window took 5 to 10 seconds to open, typing was slow but not as bad as window work.

There are definite rough edges:
  1. Each time the service is used, both "host" (recipient) and "client" (helper, controller) must download and install a new local copy of the Helper and Host widgets.
  2. They used .zip for transfer, which increases the risk of Stuffit seizing control. They should have used a compressed .dmg file.
  3. When downloading with Firefox or Safari the requestor must download the zip, find it, unzip, then run the app. That's about 3 steps too many. When they're done they must find and discard the zip and the Copilot host widget.
  4. It's slow, slow, slow. (Maybe the server is straining under the press of the new release?)
If there were other options I'd not bother, but this is a class of one. With some finagling it will likely work ...

Update 1/29/07: I sent a support email on this. The reply? They're changing from zip to .dmg.

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