im-in-touchYou may be far away, but your computer is always near. The worst thing about that is you’ll never have an excuse to stop working again. For instance, with I’m InTouch, you can control your home or office computer no matter where you are, or when. (As long as it’s not in the middle of the Gobi Desert.)

There are other remote control programs — LogMeIn , pcAnywhere and GoToMyPC are the best known — but we found I’m InTouch to be easy to learn and easy to operate. Easy is a big thing with us. With I’m InTouch you can run programs, get e-mail, print wherever you are, stream video from your webcam and … transfer files! We emphasize this last one because you cannot do that with the popular free version of LogMeIn; you can, however, with the paid version.

I’m InTouch is not free. It costs $10 a month or $100 for a year. You connect with the service, ImInTouch.com, through the Internet, using a Windows computer. The paid version of competitor LogMeIn, which also has lots of features, costs $13 a month, but cuts sharply to $70 if you pay for a year.

LogMeIn has received lots of publicity, so we won’t go into it again right now; check the Web site: LogMeIn.com. If you’re a Mac user, you can try VNC Remote Desktop, which is free at MacApper.com . Search on “VNC.”

I’m In Touch can be run in open or stealth mode. Stealth is a neat feature to use when controlling an office or home computer remotely. You can set the screen of the base computer to remain dark, and nothing will show, no matter what you’re doing with it from your remote location. Anyone walking by that computer would likely think it’s off. If you want to monitor kids at home or colleagues at work, you can do so through that computer’s Web camera and sound pickup, with no one the wiser. (We’ll finally learn who keeps taking our stapler.)

We were impressed with the amount of control I’m InTouch gives the user. You can have lots of other people logged on at the same time to watch a demonstration or work together. You provide temporary passwords to each of them and decide how much control they have. If you allow it, they can control the mouse and keyboard and print copies of presentations and files. You can let them chat on-screen with yourself and each other. To sign anyone off, click on an “X.” Then choose “remove user.” For a full rundown on other features, go to the Web site: www.IminTouch.com.

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