I need what ExpertCity offers with its GoToMyPC service. I was sold - until I saw that, for enabling the service on just two target PCs (my minimum), I'd have to pay $30 per month. (They offer a 25% discount for annual contracts.) I had the same reaction to this as I do to Columbia House CD club mailings - go away. By definition, application service providers offer a service.\u00a0Salesforce.com\u00a0offers CRM,\u00a0Corio\u00a0serves enterprise application services, and\u00a0GoToMyPC\u00a0offers remote desktop access. But what if the service is really just "convenience"? Might self-service be the way to go? Let me explain.I need what ExpertCity offers with its GoToMyPC service. Frequently enough, I need to access several PCs that are miles from where I am. The free trial proved that the service could deliver. (While response time could have been better, I couldn't pinpoint that the application service provider was the bottleneck.) I was sold - until I saw that, for enabling the service on just two target PCs (my minimum), I'd have to pay $30 per month. (They offer a 25% discount for annual contracts.)I had the same reaction to this as I do to Columbia House CD club mailings - go away. I could see myself signing up for an annual contract, using the service infrequently, forgetting about it and paying forever. Then my thoughts turned to self-service. Do I really need what ExpertCity can offer, or can I just cobble it together myself?It was easier than I had imagined. And, while it doesn't have all the functions ExpertCity offers, it also doesn't cost me a dime. And, setting up the whole thing took less than an hour.Before I started, I knew the solution to the remote desktop problem. What was needed was a piece of software like PCAnywhere with a "server" component that runs on the target PC, and a "viewer" component that runs on the PC I actively use. Oh, and, of course, it had to be free.At The Tolly Group, our free remote-control software of choice is called\u00a0VNC, short for Virtual Network Computing. This software was written by programmers at AT&T Laboratories Cambridge (U.K.), which has been folded into Cambridge University's engineering department. There are versions for Windows, Linux, Solaris, Macintosh and even Windows CE.After a quick install, which includes a mandatory assignment of a server access password, you are up and running. It doesn't offer encrypted datastreams or file transfer but it has all the functions I need.For these requiring the aforementioned features and more, there is\u00a0Famatech's Remote Administration (Radmin) program. The $35 you spend to buy it is less than the cost of two months of GoToMyPC service.The beauty of the GoToMyPC architecture was that I didn't have to worry about knowing the IP addresses of the target machines. Being on DSL connections, they changed frequently - sometimes daily. Because the GoToMyPC client is always reaching "outbound," knowing the address is not an issue.A few minutes on Google solved this problem. I came across a company that offered free domain name services with a client component that periodically checks the client's IP address and automatically updated the DNS.The service, provided by Vitalwerks is called\u00a0No IP Free. They have fee-based value add services for those that need to run their business Web sites on DSL or cable modem connections, but the free service provides the up-to-date domain name mapping I needed. Setup, again, was a breeze.While this column won't put GoToMyPC out of business, I hope it will make you think a little harder about the meaning of value.