If your parents (or other loved ones) are connected to the net, but can’t seem to keep their machine humming, instead of trying to troubleshoot over the phone, direct them to Copilot.
The Fog Creek Copilot service allows people to help their friends, relatives, and customers fix their computer problems by connecting to their computers via the Internet.
Unlike other remote assistance services, Fog Creek Copilot is secure, easy to use, works through virtually all home or office firewalls, and requires no installation or configuration.
It costs $5 for 24 hours. My parents and I are both running Mac OS X- which very few services support. I was able to fix our Skype video connection this afternoon in about 20 min.
I can’t recommend it enough. There’s also a free “demo” service available that lets you try the service for 5 min – just to see that it actually works. I know Apple will be offering something similar in the upcoming 10.5 release- but until then, Copilot is for me.