After a quick googling I found this article at Sun on finding out what’s going on with your processes from a terminal. Just type:
into a terminal and get a great regularly refreshing task list. There are other commands to do similar things & prstat can do a lot more I’m sure but this is dead handy.
Turns out that Java (probably the Java desktop environment) chews a fair amount of cpu just sitting there not doing anything, its almost always at the top of the list for cpu percentage. It could be because I am using RDP to remote in via Remote Desktop but still, it’s not great.
Although I use remote desktop almost exclusively at work there are times when I’ve needed to do tech support over the phone to people with a VERY basic understanding of windows. To get to their desktop I created a hotmail account and talked them through the install of msn messenger so I could get them to send a remote assistance request from this hotmail account.
In hindsight this was totally overkill but I couldn’t find any way to EASILY get access to their desktop when the concept of windows and desktops was unfamiliar to them. I found this post on Lifehacker with a collection of programs to handle exactly this scenario for Windows, Mac and Linux.