How many times have you been asked to go a friend's gaff to fix something in their computers? It has happened to me so many times, and I bet you are as fed up as I am about it.
Not a long time ago I realized that I could use VNC to do remote connections to their desktops and fix their problems from the comfort of my own house, (how sweet is that; your friend will be happy and so will you).
There are many options out there, but the most common ones are http://www.tightvnc.com/and http://www.realvnc.com. I will use the latter for this example.
There are two sides in this kind of connection: client or viewer(http://www.realvnc.com/products/free/4.1/winvncviewer.html) and server(http://www.realvnc.com/products/free/4.1/winvnc.html).
The first thing you have to do is download and install the vnc in your own machine (client and server are bundled together). Then tell your friend to do the same.
Normally, the way this works is, your friend starts the server and you connect to it using the client. However this could be quite tricky for them, and I am assuming that your friend isn't the sharpest tool in the box when it comes to computers. So, we will do it the other way round.
First of all, you start vncviewer in listening mode by doing vncviewer.exe -listen. A green icon will show up next to the clock in your task bar. At this point your machine is ready to go.
Secondly, you have to find out your external ip address. If you have a static one, you probably know it already, and if it is dynamic, then there are a number of ways of finding it out (tracert, router console, standalone programs, ... ). Use the one that suits you the best.
Once you know your IP address, you can phone your friend, or start a msn, gmail, yahoo, ... chat, or start your smoke signals, ... whatever method of communication you normally use, and tell them that they have to start the VNC server. Again, when they start it, they will see a blue icon next to the clock. If they double click on it, a window will prompt them and they will see the configuration window.Tell them to set the VNC password and let you know what it is.
We are almost there, only one more step is needed. Tell them to right-click on the blue icon, and select Add New Client. A new window with two fields will pop up. Only the first one is required, and this is your external IP address. Once they type it in, and click OK, you should see a new window, and you will be able to control their machine.
Hope this works for you, and if it doesn't, just give me a shout!!! And please, if you use it, leave some feedback!!