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We have a contractor working offsite. We would like to set everything up so that his screen is recorded to our Windows Server 2008 R2 machine in real time.

We've been using TeamViewer, but we've run into limitations.

What would you recommend?

p.s. Constraints:

  1. The contractor needs to be able to initialize the connection himself, from his end.
  2. The recording needs to be in realtime.
  3. The video must be recorded at the server end.

p.p.s. I've been a programmer for 15 years. I understand how programmers work, its more to see his coding style and to keep the investors happy, rather than anything else. I trust my contractor.

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Jeez, just short-circuit the situation, tell him you don't trust him worth a damn and give him a copy of all your confidential data on DVD, to save him stealing it for himself. –  womble Nov 1 '09 at 11:48
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Erk! I seem to have touched a nerve here. I've been a programmer for 15 years, I know how it works. I'm more curious to see his coding style than anything else, and I need to keep the investors happy. Any solutions guys? –  Contango Nov 2 '09 at 0:45
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For the record, I encourage my programmers to take breaks. I don't actually care what happens, as long as they perform. This setup is no different to having an open plan office. –  Contango Nov 2 '09 at 1:14
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Also, the 'open plan office' comment - not quite. This is like having an open plan office, with a guy standing behind you looking over your shoulder all day. I kind of understand where you are coming from, but I don't think you can do this without the remote guy thinking you're a complete control-freak. Honestly, if my boss told me he wanted to do this, I'd be looking for a new job ASAP. –  Michael Kohne Nov 2 '09 at 16:15
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If you want to see his coding style 1)Ask for samples of his previous work, 2)Have him solve a lab problem of your choosing and review his work, 3)Peruse the code that he writes on the job AFTER he writes it. How would you like it if someone leered over your shoulder while you coded? The "I've been a programmer for 15 years" is a useless argument from authority. Just because you've been doing it for n amount of time doesn't mean you've 1)Been doing it right and 2)Received a "Get out of Jail Free Card" to be draconian in your management style and be the office Charrington. –  Wesley Nov 2 '09 at 16:19

4 Answers 4

up vote 1 down vote accepted

A lot of remote access software can do screen recordings, I don't know how they would be designed for saving the file, they would either be local (to his machine) or if its more a central management type there might be a server it could be sent to.

Since you wanted to him to initiate it, I'm assuming this is because of somewhat flex hours of work incase there is no one at the office to start it from your end.

You might need to do something like having a computer in the office that he remote logs into first, console session login, then establishes a remote session to his work station using something like GotoMeeting or GotoMyPC, hits record. Then he logs off the workstation in your office and just works away for the day, if you want to see what's up just check out the local workstaion. Because it was initiated from the office the file when the recording happens should be stored on the local PC.

It has a 30 day trial so you can see if that setup would work for you.

Another idea if you didn't need "real time" would be ad hoc, where you put in remote access software on his workstation and you can login anytime you want to see what's happening and record using any local screen recording software needed. This might be easier since LogMeIn free would work for this. Then you can do spot checks say a couple of times a week to keep the investors happy.

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I would recommend that you learn to trust your developers and judge them on the amount of good code they produce, not whether they stopped working to play a few rounds of Solataire while mulling over a problem.

Anybody who would work in an environment where they are so untrusted that screen captures of their screens are stored on a server for other people to spy on them is either desperate for work or secretly knows that they can't be trusted. Either way, they won't be any good at their jobs, or they'd go someplace where they were treated like human beings.

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Can't agree with this more than voting it up once. This is a developer that you've hired to write code for you. If you don't trust him, you've no business having him write code for you. –  GregD Oct 31 '09 at 19:43
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+1 here also. You can't expect a developer to sit there banging out line after line of code for X number of hours unless they're 1) plagiarising something or 2) freaking awesome in which case you're probably not paying them by the hour –  squillman Oct 31 '09 at 19:50
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Erk! I seem to have touched a nerve here. I've been a programmer for 15 years, I know how it works. I'm more curious to see his coding style than anything else, and I need to keep the investors happy. Any solutions guys? –  Contango Nov 2 '09 at 0:46
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And if you want to see his coding style, tell him he has to check in to source code control regularly and look at it there. –  Paul Tomblin Nov 2 '09 at 1:21
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-1 since he was not asking the ethics of doing this, but how it could be done. –  SpaceManSpiff Nov 2 '09 at 13:34

What about http://www.timesnapper.com/

I've no particular experience of this product, but does it do what you want ?

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You might be able to build a solution around vnc2flv. However, I'm not sure how the contractor would initiate the connection on his end, because your server would need to launch a VNC client to connect to his machine when he started to work.

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