Intranet Remote Desktop Connection

Discussions around the setup, operation, replacement, and disposal of clerk computers, not to include using MLS
drepouille
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Intranet Remote Desktop Connection

Postby drepouille » Fri Sep 06, 2013 6:36 am

Sorry if this has been discussed before.

Some clerks have suggested/requested remote access to their administrative computer from outside the meetinghouse, but the VPN connection and other factors make that impossible.

Other clerks have desired the ability to host a second copy of MLS on a laptop so they don't have to run to the clerk's office in the middle of a presidency/bishopric meeting. Hoever, the financial side of MLS is disabled on such copies. I have noticed that a Restore operation now asks if the backup is being restored on a Primary or Alternate system, but I am not sure what that means.

So how about this? Establish a Remote Desktop Connection from a personal laptop anywhere in the meetinghouse to the administrative computer via the Intranet provided by the firewall. We would not be crossing a VPN boundary -- just two computers talking to each other in the same subnet, similar to what we can already do with the peer-to-peer sharing of the printer connected to the administrative computer.

All my admin computers are still running Windows XP, so that might be what kills this idea in my stake. But if both computers are running Windows 7, would it not be possible to establish a Remote Desktop Connection within the Intranet of the meetinghouse firewall?
Dana Repouille, Plattsmouth, Nebraska

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aebrown
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Re: Intranet Remote Desktop Connection

Postby aebrown » Fri Sep 06, 2013 7:43 am

You didn't mention exactly why you want this remote connection, but it sounds like you want to have a second computer access the MLS on the administrative computer. If that's your goal, we can stop right now. The database access for MLS is designed to run only one instance, for one user on the computer. If MLS is running for one user on the computer, you can't switch users and start up MLS again; that's essentially what a remote desktop connection for a different user would be doing anyway.

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Re: Intranet Remote Desktop Connection

Postby eblood66 » Fri Sep 06, 2013 8:23 am

aebrown wrote:You didn't mention exactly why you want this remote connection, but it sounds like you want to have a second computer access the MLS on the administrative computer. If that's your goal, we can stop right now. The database access for MLS is designed to run only one instance, for one user on the computer. If MLS is running for one user on the computer, you can't switch users and start up MLS again; that's essentially what a remote desktop connection for a different user would be doing anyway.

I assumed that the purpose was the one stated here:
Other clerks have desired the ability to host a second copy of MLS on a laptop so they don't have to run to the clerk's office in the middle of a presidency/bishopric meeting.

However, personally, the information provided by Clerk Resources covers pretty much everything I've ever needed during a meeting. Now I can even immediately move a record in or out if someone gives me the information in the meeting. I guess there have been a couple times when someone has asked about a budget balance during a meeting and that isn't available yet. But that's very rare.

One of the problems I'd have with enabling remote desktop on an administrative computer is that the password for the Clerk windows account is pretty widely know. That isn't much of a problem when there is physical access restrictions. But with remote access enabled it would allow a much larger group to access the computer when they're at the church. Without careful setup to restrict remote access to the standard Clerk windows account and to maintain another account for remote access and change the password periodically it sounds too insecure. Safer to just not allow remote desktop and be patient until the rest of the MLS features are available via Clerk Resources.

drepouille
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Re: Intranet Remote Desktop Connection

Postby drepouille » Fri Sep 06, 2013 8:46 am

eblood66 wrote:
aebrown wrote:If MLS is running for one user on the computer, you can't switch users and start up MLS again

One of the problems I'd have with enabling remote desktop on an administrative computer is that the password for the Clerk windows account is pretty widely known.


I don't believe I would be changing users or running multiple copies of MLS. I would establish a remote desktop connection from my laptop to the admin computer, using the standard Clerk login. The remote connection allows me to take control of the desktop and be as if I were sitting at the admin computer.

As far as security, I would only enable and establish the connection during the specific times I need it, and close the session and disable the remote control function when I don't need it. Yes, there is still a security hole there during the time I am using the connection, but I would hope it only allows one session at a time.
Dana Repouille, Plattsmouth, Nebraska

eblood66
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Re: Intranet Remote Desktop Connection

Postby eblood66 » Fri Sep 06, 2013 9:03 am

drepouille wrote:
eblood66 wrote:
aebrown wrote:If MLS is running for one user on the computer, you can't switch users and start up MLS again

One of the problems I'd have with enabling remote desktop on an administrative computer is that the password for the Clerk windows account is pretty widely known.


I don't believe I would be changing users or running multiple copies of MLS. I would establish a remote desktop connection from my laptop to the admin computer, using the standard Clerk login. The remote connection allows me to take control of the desktop and be as if I were sitting at the admin computer.

As far as security, I would only enable and establish the connection during the specific times I need it, and close the session and disable the remote control function when I don't need it. Yes, there is still a security hole there during the time I am using the connection, but I would hope it only allows one session at a time.

That would certainly reduce the security risk. But I'm still curious about what you need in MLS during meetings that isn't available from Clerk Resources.

drepouille
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Re: Intranet Remote Desktop Connection

Postby drepouille » Fri Sep 06, 2013 9:37 am

Last night the stake presidency asked me for a Custom Report of all high priests in the stake. Then there are financial statements.

It's funny because they all use LDS Tools on their iPads, and I use Clerk Resources, which is much better.
Dana Repouille, Plattsmouth, Nebraska

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Re: Intranet Remote Desktop Connection

Postby russellhltn » Fri Sep 06, 2013 10:50 am

drepouille wrote:but I would hope it only allows one session at a time.


It does, but a new request can take over from a old one, so you could lose your connection mid session to someone else - who then might have access to MLS under your login. Likewise, your session can be "hijacked" by someone sitting down at the computer to input HT/VT. (Cool! no one is using it. Now is my chance!)

Bottom line, I think this is insecure and therefore a bad idea.
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Re: Intranet Remote Desktop Connection

Postby Gary_Miller » Fri Sep 06, 2013 1:57 pm

drepouille wrote:Last night the stake presidency asked me for a Custom Report of all high priests in the stake. Then there are financial statements.

But you still have to leave the room to get the report off the printer.

I always ask how soon they would like the report, more often than not its not it usually can wait for a time I can print it and but it in their mail box

drepouille wrote:It's funny because they all use LDS Tools on their iPads, and I use Clerk Resources, which is much better.

I like using clerk resources in a meeting that way I can open a membership record and give the Bishop all the details on the member.

drepouille
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Re: Intranet Remote Desktop Connection

Postby drepouille » Fri Sep 06, 2013 4:11 pm

In this case, I printed the custom report to a PDF, and distributed that. I hate printing paper reports. With the recent attention on the New and Returning Member Report, we have printed a whole ream of blank forms for training purposes. I nearly cried, since I had already e-mailed the PDF to everyone on the stake council. Nevertheless, nobody seems to be able to find that form when they need it. Sigh.
Dana Repouille, Plattsmouth, Nebraska

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Biggles
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Re: Intranet Remote Desktop Connection

Postby Biggles » Thu Feb 06, 2014 1:41 am

Going from memory! The use of programs like Teamview etc., to access MLS is not permitted by Church policy. I wish it was, but it isn't.

In fact I think the use of this type of access to Clerk computers is totally prohibited, except by GSC.

Apologies if I've misunderstood maryylon35's response.


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