Thursday, August 02, 2007

SoftwareCompanies.getByName("Fog Creek").getProductByName("Copilot").getUsers().getSatisfiedUsers().increment;

Fog Creek CopilotI have been reading "Joel on Software" for years, but I have not until this week used a Fog Creek product.

Until my sister's laptop crashed right as we were trying to set up a Skype video chat. :(

My wife and I live in Tokyo, and have a three month old baby boy who has not met my parents, my sister, or her nine-month old baby girl, since all of those relatives live in Virginia. So Skype video chats (which are few and far between, unfortunately) are basically the only way we have to connect.

I am a Linux user, and my wife uses a shiny new Mac Book. But I seemed to remember Joel mentioning that Copilot supported Mac OS X, so I grabbed the Mac, browsed on over to, found after a few missed clicks (usability tip: stick the product links *above* the support links, as I would assume the crushing majority of "Joel on Software" readers are not--yet!--Fog Creek customers, so most people want to buy or try before they need support).

I clicked on the "Help Someone" tab (beautiful, functional layout, BTW!), snagged a free trial, and read my sis the code over the phone (well, SkypeOut from my wife's Mac to her phone). After a pause of 20 seconds for the 980K app bundle to download, mount (on my end), and execute, we were connected, and I saw that I had 90 seconds to work! :)

I have not used Windows since 1999 or so, so Windows XP is a little unfamiliar to me, but I blasted over to the Control Panel, then "User Accounts". Created a new user, turned on the "Welcome Screen" so my sister would not be auto-logged into her borked account, and restarted the computer. With 30 seconds left in my free trial. From over 10,865 kilometres away! On a Mac! Without knowing Windows from a hole in the ground, really!

Now *that* is software that Just Works.

And then I look into the purchase options, and see that I can buy a Day Pass, for $5.00 US, that gives me unlimited usage for one day. And I can pay with PayPal! Needless to say (so why am I saying it?), I grabbed one right then and there for the next time somebody in my family needs my help.

And I hate giving free tech support, usually. But Copilot makes it so easy to help on my terms: when I want to, from the comfort of my own home, with "Joel on Software" and other fine blogs loaded up in Firefox, sipping a fine beer.

Thanks, Fog Creek! Now I feel a burning need to purchase the Project Aardvark DVD! :)

1 comment:

MentatJack said...

I approve of the post title almost as much as I agree with you about copilot! My boss and I end up doing tech support for NOVICA offices in 8 countries from here in Los Angeles. We've tried many different solutions, but copilot always seems to win out. That and it's free on the weekends now!