Old Production Takes From an Old Guy

Remote Access with LogMeIn

I’ve been using LogMeIn for a good 5 years now, but I don’t know if I’ve ever written about it. More and more, we church techs are interacting with computers for critical elements of our jobs. Practically all our lighting, sound and video systems can be controlled remotely from a computer, so it makes sense that we be prepared to control those computers from outside the building.

We may be home on a day off when a problem arises, or we may need to access a system at a campus across town (or across the country). There are dozens of ways to do this of course, and if you have a rock-solid full-time IT staff, you can probably get VPN access set up which will work well. 

Often times, getting VPN set up and maintained so it works reliably can be challenging. In that case, a program  like LogMeIn is really helpful. To set it up, you visit www.logmein.com and sign up for an account. I’ve been using the same free account for 4 years now with excellent results. The paid accounts offer some great features, but I haven’t needed any of them.

Once you have the account set up, go to the computer you wish to remote into, sign into logmein.com and select “Add Computer.” This will trigger a small download and install some code on the target computer. Basically, it makes the computer visible to the LogMeIn system. Once the software is installed, you can access your account from any computer anywhere and remotely control that target computer. That’s it. Hard-core IT guys might scoff at this, but for a TD just trying to get by, it’s brilliant. 

I recently added the iPad app, LogMeIn Ignition to my collection as well, and it’s proven to be most excellent. There have been times when I’ve needed to log in to upload a file, fix an issue or change a program on a processor. With Ignition, I can grab the iPad, do what I need to do, then get back to my day off. 

As a real-world example of how I use LogMeIn, I’ll use my video podcast process. We typically post the 9 AM service for our video podcast. I do a quick edit before I go home on Sunday, and send it to Compressor to render. Since it takes a few hours to render the file, I don’t want to stick around and wait. So I go home. Around 4 PM, an alert goes off on my phone (usually waking me up from my nap) reminding me to upload the video. I grab the iPad, log in, launch Vimeo Uploader, drag the file in, hit upload and I’m done. 

I also have most of the computers that remotely control my systems set up with LogMeIn. If I’m out of town and the FOH guy is having trouble with the M-48s, I can log in and take a look at the issue and fix it. I can even access our student room’s lighting board and system/room processor. 

The thing I like about LogMeIn is that it gets right through the firewall and IP address issues that often plague remote access. In fact, even when I’m in the building, I sometimes use Ignition because I have computers that are multi-homed (running multiple NICs with multiple IP addresses), which confuses VNC apps. 

Again, if you have a rockstar IT guy who has plenty of time to help you navigate all these issues, you can make Apple’s Remote Desktop, screen sharing or basic VNC work just fine. But I’m not a hardcore IT guy, and our IT guy is really busy. Given that I can spend 2 minutes installing LogMeIn, and have it just work, I think it’s a great solution for small- to medium-sized churches. 

Oh, and I should mention that it’s totally cross-platform. You can control Macs from Windows, Windows from Macs, or whatever. So if you need remote access to your computers, give it a try.

How do you use remote access in your organization?

This post is brought to you by CCI Solutions. With a reputation for excellence, technical expertise and competitive pricing, CCI Solutions has served churches across the US in their media, equipment, design and installation needs for over 35 years.

14 Comments

  1. Glen Farrell

    Mike,

    Is there a way to share a session on logmein? My only complaint about logmein is that at least how I have it setup, it logs the current user out. This is a problem if I'm trying to help him do something. Is there is a way to share (ala Gotomypc)? If so, I haven't found the setting yet. Gotomypc does seem a bit faster, but I don't think it offers free yet.

    RDP (windows) and Gotomypc both offer audio passthrough although I don't think either will do so on iPad or iPhone. I found RDP with audio to be choppy over a 802.11n wifi network.

    The audio solution I found is to put a VOIP app(Skype, Eikiga) on the logged in computer if there is audio content. You do need a fairly high bandwidth uplink to run VOIP and logmein(Gotomypc or VNC over SSH seems a bit better in terms of required bandwidth). If you frequently log in to fix mixer issues, connect the computer sound card to the monitor/ solo bus. Not tremendously high fidelity, but at least enough to troubleshoot a buzz or make sure changes did most of what you wanted them to.

    Our FOH mixer doesn't currently have connection to support this.

    My ham radio computer allows me to log in, control the radio, and listen via Skype. I can theoretically transmit as well, but it's a little harder to set up and I don't have a great antenna at home.

  2. hook@ps139.com

    I also use LogMeIn to remote into our presentation computer, and it allows me to do all the lyric setup from home. I just recently grabbed the iPad app, but I find the interface a bit hard to use. Have you tried Splashtop? It costs a couple bucks, but I'm going to try it soon and see if it's any better.

  3. hook@ps139.com

    I also use LogMeIn to remote into our presentation computer, and it allows me to do all the lyric setup from home. I just recently grabbed the iPad app, but I find the interface a bit hard to use. Have you tried Splashtop? It costs a couple bucks, but I'm going to try it soon and see if it's any better.

  4. busyscott@gmail.com

    I constantly use Logmein! The version I have is Ignition which was $30, but they just released a version that is totally free! The only difference is that in Ignition you can access files without sharing the screen. Although, I constantly use this feature because I often have to get graphics off of our "media" hard drive when I'm home after hours.

  5. busyscott@gmail.com

    I constantly use Logmein! The version I have is Ignition which was $30, but they just released a version that is totally free! The only difference is that in Ignition you can access files without sharing the screen. Although, I constantly use this feature because I often have to get graphics off of our "media" hard drive when I'm home after hours.

  6. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Glen,
    That is curious about LogMeIn logging the current user out. I don't believe I'm experiencing that, though come to think of it, I've not actually checked while I'm there. I will give it a shot this weekend, logging in while I'm in front of the computer to see what happens.

    The sound card thing is a good idea…I may try that!

    mike

  7. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Glen,
    That is curious about LogMeIn logging the current user out. I don't believe I'm experiencing that, though come to think of it, I've not actually checked while I'm there. I will give it a shot this weekend, logging in while I'm in front of the computer to see what happens.

    The sound card thing is a good idea…I may try that!

    mike

  8. Glen Farrell

    Mike,
    What I just realized is that there is an option on the settings on each computer that causes the screen to lock when you lose connection. So when I sleep my mac, it apparently locks the screen, which looks like it logs out the current user(you need to type username and password to unlock. It doesn't look like it actually logs the user out or kills processes.

    My computer's only upstairs, so it wasn't too hard to recheck. It does imply you may want to be cautious about using it on a live computer managing a show. If there's a chance of the connection dropping, you probably want to make sure the option is off.

  9. jliechty200@gmail.com

    Our IT setup is fairly small – three Windows desktops in the offices and one sound recording and streaming PC. I've had the free LogMeIn Hamachi VPN service installed on the sound computer, which I use with RDC or VNC predominantly for podcast postproduction and uploading. RDC is more efficient over our 3m/512k DSL line, but since Soundforge is disrupted whenever I connect with RDC, I use VNC if I need to start or stop a recording remotely.

    Recently, we switched from a consumer-grade router to a Juniper SRX router. I set up a dynamic IPsec VPN on the Juniper, mostly to learn how to do it, but also to see how it would compare to Hamachi. The dynamic VPN has proven more finicky than Hamachi – not, I suspect, because the Juniper is unreliable, but because IPsec VPNs for client access seem to be rather susceptible to breakage by overprotective firewalls on the other end. That said, RDC is noticeably less laggy over the IPsec VPN than over Hamachi.

  10. jliechty200@gmail.com

    Our IT setup is fairly small – three Windows desktops in the offices and one sound recording and streaming PC. I've had the free LogMeIn Hamachi VPN service installed on the sound computer, which I use with RDC or VNC predominantly for podcast postproduction and uploading. RDC is more efficient over our 3m/512k DSL line, but since Soundforge is disrupted whenever I connect with RDC, I use VNC if I need to start or stop a recording remotely.

    Recently, we switched from a consumer-grade router to a Juniper SRX router. I set up a dynamic IPsec VPN on the Juniper, mostly to learn how to do it, but also to see how it would compare to Hamachi. The dynamic VPN has proven more finicky than Hamachi – not, I suspect, because the Juniper is unreliable, but because IPsec VPNs for client access seem to be rather susceptible to breakage by overprotective firewalls on the other end. That said, RDC is noticeably less laggy over the IPsec VPN than over Hamachi.

  11. yeshua11@me.com

    I use a few different programs depending what I'm needing to do:
    -within domain on windows PC's only, I use Gencontrol. I use this at work all the time.
    -within domain on mac's, OSX's default screen sharing
    -anywhere – TeamViewer – This program is similar to logmein. I haven't looked too closely at the features to compare the 2, nor do I need to use it often, but you can create a free account with TV and add unlimited devices (MAC, Win., some Unix). Also has an iDevice app.
    -another one that I haven't used much, but does general IT stuff, is a program called Spiceworks, it does a lot of stuff that the IT guy likes to know, but I believe the newer version allows vnc….There is an iDevice app for this, although I haven't really tried it out…..if your IT guy needs a good free program to keep track of things, tell him about this one….

    All of those work quite well for me. I've had very few problems with any one of them. At some point I think I'm gonna put together a OSX Server for the Church that will take care of VPN's and other general networking issues, but we don't really have a use for it yet…but one day….

  12. yeshua11@me.com

    I use a few different programs depending what I'm needing to do:
    -within domain on windows PC's only, I use Gencontrol. I use this at work all the time.
    -within domain on mac's, OSX's default screen sharing
    -anywhere – TeamViewer – This program is similar to logmein. I haven't looked too closely at the features to compare the 2, nor do I need to use it often, but you can create a free account with TV and add unlimited devices (MAC, Win., some Unix). Also has an iDevice app.
    -another one that I haven't used much, but does general IT stuff, is a program called Spiceworks, it does a lot of stuff that the IT guy likes to know, but I believe the newer version allows vnc….There is an iDevice app for this, although I haven't really tried it out…..if your IT guy needs a good free program to keep track of things, tell him about this one….

    All of those work quite well for me. I've had very few problems with any one of them. At some point I think I'm gonna put together a OSX Server for the Church that will take care of VPN's and other general networking issues, but we don't really have a use for it yet…but one day….

  13. openid199@gmail.com

    There is one very easy solution to all this – free Ammyy Admin
    http://www.ammyy.com

    It doesn't require installation or specific config. It works behind gateways NAT without port mapping as well as within one LAN.

    Good alternative though!

  14. openid199@gmail.com

    There is one very easy solution to all this – free Ammyy Admin
    http://www.ammyy.com

    It doesn't require installation or specific config. It works behind gateways NAT without port mapping as well as within one LAN.

    Good alternative though!

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