January 21, 2009

How Fog Creek Copilot Saved My Marriage

Imagine this scenario: The night before your wife leaves for an early morning trip to Japan, you fiddle with her laptop, completely destroying her Windows installation. (WinXP was running in VMWare Fusion on a MacBook). No problem, that is why you love VMs, so you spend a few hours and restore her VM, re-setting up Outlook, and send her on her way.

You then get a frantic email from Japan a day or so later saying that Outlook doesn't work, and for 10 days, she has to resort to web email which is exceedingly painful. The hazards of providing tech support to your spouse become abundently clear, and you hope for something simple. But after a day of (slow) emailing back and forth, and eventually some Skype calls, you are stuck, and your wife is starting to get unhappy.

Then, you remember Copilot, and cross your fingers. Copilot is Fog Creek's product that lets you remotely control a computer ($5 for 24 hours, and free on weekends). The concept is old, but Copilot packages up this feature to work well across a wide variety of computer and network scenarios with super simple setup. And this, of course, was the key since I couldn't install any software or set this up in advance.

Long story short, I got to my wife's laptop's screen, could control her VM, and figured out that somehow a network setting on her VM was screwed up. I changed the setting, and everything started working.

Now, the remote control was unreasonably slow, but Fog Creek just announced a major speedup (which I haven't tested yet). But still, there are times when there is no other solution but remote control, and Copilot is the best solution of this kind I've seen.

Anyway, thank you Fog Creek. You saved my marriage - or at least gave me some points back.


leonard said...

I've been a Co-Pilot user in the past, but recently have been a covert to TeamViewer.

It works as smoothly/easily, is free for non-commercial use, performs well, and has some extras like file transfer and chat.

Anonymous said...

Wow! That is surely a true feel good story. It is nice to see companies out there still innovating and providing their tools at reasonable costs.

Keep it up - Matt

fede said...

What was it? A bridge connection problem? Glad you fixed it.)

Ben Bederson said...

Strangely enough, what happened was that the virtual network adapater was *disconnected*! I have absolutely no idea how that happened since it was working when she left, and I'm pretty sure she didn't fiddle with those settings.

Anyway, it was a one click change - once I figured out which click...