Dino Giacomazzi is the fourth generation to manage his family’s dairy farm near Hanford, Calif. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I recently had an opportunity to visit Chicago for a couple of days. While I was there I changed my milk cow rations in EZ Feed, printed a pregnancy check using DairyComp 305, and created some reports in QuickBooks.
This seems like a pretty normal thing to do if you happen to have those programs installed on a laptop computer, but I don’t. In fact, I did most of those operations using my mobile phone with TeamViewer.
TeamViewer is a Virtual Network Computer (VNC) application. A VNC is simply a way to remote control another computer over the Internet. There are many VNC programs on the market; GoToMyPC, LogMeIn.com, and PC Anywhere are just a few.
I like TeamViewer because it is simple and free for personal use, and was one of the first to offer cross-platform mobile apps.
Here’s how it works. On the computer you want to remotely control, such as your dairy or farm office computer, download and install the TeamViewer program. Once the program is installed it will show you the access code and password needed to remotely control the computer.
Next, install the TeamViewer app on your mobile phone or tablet. Open the mobile app and enter the access code and password of the remote computer. A few seconds later, the office computer will appear on your mobile device. You can now work on the remote computer from anywhere in the world as if you were sitting right there in your office.
I will admit that remote controlling a full-size computer from a mobile phone isn’t an easy task. It takes a little time and patience but if you are in a pinch, mobile devices work just fine. If you want to do more complicated work, you can use a laptop or another desktop computer. I often control my Windows 7 office computer from my iMac at home or my Macbook Pro when I travel.
My nutritionist has access to my dairy computer as well. Prior to his visits, he logs in to gather data that we discuss when he arrives. He uses TeamViewer from his iPad to access Excel spreadsheets on his office desktop. Most mobile spreadsheet programs have limited functionality; things such as macros and conditional formatting don’t usually work. TeamViewer allows him to access the PC version’s more advanced features.
TeamViewer uses a military-grade encryption system for security. The data being sent between your two computers is not viewable by anyone on the Internet. Even though TeamViewer is safe and secure, there are some things you should do to make sure unauthorized users don’t gain access to your computer:
1. Use strong passwords for your TeamViewer account and each computer you install TeamViewer on. See my October 2012 article in Tech Talk for tips on creating strong passwords.
2. Set up password-protected user accounts on your computers.
3. Password protect your sensitive applications, such as QuickBooks.
Dairy farming is a demanding job, but thanks to TeamViewer, even if you are away from the farm you can still be there virtually.