Magazine article Online

Remote Control Software: Online from Micro to Micro

Magazine article Online

Remote Control Software: Online from Micro to Micro

Article excerpt

Editors Note: Online searchers are well-versed in using communications software and hardware for dial-up access to DIALOG, BRS, and other major online services. Not many of us are equally adept at using modems for other purposes, such as directly transferring files or remote access to other microcomputers. This article will clue readers into some handy additional ways of "communicating online." -NG

For information professionals, the ability to access our computers remotely can be a welcome one. When my facility was using a single-user program, much of what needed to be done with our library software could not be done during normal business hours. There simply was not enough time. By using remote control software, however, overdues, shelf-lists, missing titles, updates - all items which were time-consuming - could be done after hours remotely. Admittedly, this was not always welcomed by other staff, who found work waiting for them the following morning!

Outreach to patrons by the library or information center is another use of remote control software. With careful attention to the size of the application and device drivers, some CD-ROM products can be operated remotely. Access to many CD-ROM products can boost the library or information center in the eyes of patrons, and the ability to do so remotely is especially useful for different departments or divisions which are physically removed from the library.

An example is our Family Medicine resident clinic, located approximately five miles from the Medical Center. The residents have walk-in access in the Medical Center to the comprehensive MEDLINE files on SilverPlatter. At the clinic, they have access to a core MEDLINE product (Digital Diagnostic's BiblioMed) by using remote control software. They can search remotely, view remotely, and print locally. This means that when they find an item they want to print out, the software sends the signals to their own printer In many ways it is like a computerized fax machine. Our attending physicians can dial into the CD-ROM from their offices, or more commonly, from their homes late at night. Allowing this access 24 hours a day, seven days a week increases our services without adding staff.

Assisting users remotely with other software questions is another form of outreach for the library. For facilities with experienced staff and computer expertise, assisting patrons by dialing into their personal computers is a wonderful service.

WHAT IS REMOTE CONTROL SOFTWARE, AND WHAT DOES IT DO?

Any telecommunications software that solicits information remotely could be considered "remote control." When connected with DIALOG, for example, the caller is "controlling" the DIALOG mainframe remotely. For clarity, I will break up communications software into three levels of remote control:

* Level One - query and display: simple telecommunications software, i.e., Smartcom, ProComm, Telix, CROSSTALK. This level allows callers to manipulate a host computer such as BRS, DIALOG, NLM, LEXIS, or other mainframe databanks. This software might be used to read and leave messages, or search a database for information.

* Level Two - query, display and limited control: allows one computer to take partial control of host functions. The caller might be able to access disk drives, look at ASCII files, or even load and run generic text-based software that does not write directly to the screen.

* Level Three - full control: allows one computer to take full control over a host computer. The caller can run any software which would be accessible if he were actually sitting at the host computer. Full file transfers should be possible between remote and host computers, and ideally this can be done "in the background," while the user is doing something else.

WHY IS FULL CONTROL NECESSARY?

The screen display of most "text-based" programs, e. …

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