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Everyone seems to have a “go to” geek among their extended family or group of friends — someone who handles all their tech problems for them. But that go-to geek doesn’t necessarily live close enough to drop in whenever there’s a problem. Symantec‘s new “Project Guru” service, which it’s announcing today, gives those geeks a way to provide tech support to friends and family members remotely.

This project — Symantec’s third presentation at the DEMO show in recent years — is a work in progress aimed at setting up a trusted network for family members.

Brian Hernacki, an architect at Cupertino, Calif.-based Symantec, said the service is run through a portal, where the go-to “guru” can log in to create a trusted group, invite the family member or friend needing help to join that group, and then take remote control of that person’s computer to see what the problem is.

In that sense, the service is just like CrossLoop and other remote-help technologies that allow someone to see what’s happening on someone else’s desktop and take control of it. But Project Guru is different in that users simply click yes to accept a remote help session. That is, the guru has fancy computer commands at his or her disposal, but the dummy on the other end simply has to click with a mouse once.

On the guru’s desktop, Symantec will provide a bunch of data about the other PC that can help the guru diagnose any problems from afar. The exact details on this data have yet to be announced, Hernacki said. The connection between the guru and the friend or family member is secured via encryption technology.

Project Guru will include software-as-a-service features, such as the Norton Live online support service. And while some remote desktop services are clunky and slow, Symantec intends this one to operate at high speed. It’ll be interesting to see if the company can deliver on that goal, since commands sent over the internet naturally suffer from time lag. The company has a closed pilot in progress now and will open it up to a public beta test later this year.

The DEMO 2009 conference starts today and runs through Tuesday in Palm Desert, Calif. We will be covering it live throughout the show.



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