Eric, ScreenHero has been closed for new accounts for a long time. Not sure what happened to it. I would love to try it out but I missed the signup by about one month before the Slack acquisition. I have tried Foobits with Hangouts with a positive result. I usually use this setup to mentor more junior programmers a couple times a week but not more than that.
To understand why I like pair programming but tend to limit it’s use on my teams I will give you a little background. I was a budding programmer in the original dot com boom and had read Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book on Flow and had also been to a programming workshop with Ward Cunningham and Martin Fowler in… must have been in 1999 or 2000, can’t remember exactly now??, right before the first books on XP were published and with excitement listened to Martin, as he gesticulated, and explained the ideas of test first, pair programming, etc.
I brought those back to the accelerator I was working at and tried to disseminate them to no avail. However, I did have some influence on my own projects as I had become a team lead and on new projects I could experiment a bit. I did find that co-locating a team had a positive effect, duh, and that if we set general quiet hours that it often worked well. I would often pair with my teammates, but didn’t call it pairing, on one project where I had authored the API they were implementing, and was a more experienced programmer than they were.
Over the years I have personally found getting into flow states the primary productivity tool that I have at my disposal. My personal penultimate level of productivity has been when I rented a closed office space with a view of a garden, from an Attorney friend of mine in the back of his office, and was working remotely with a team in South America. I was able to turn off all distraction and just flow…..
I actually hate to discuss this subject as it conjures so many opinions. In lieu of the ability to sequester yourself and achieve a flow state (which Slack has killed for most programmers I know) a few times a week. I suppose that in an environment such as an open workspace with a moderate degree of distraction, that a high degree of pair programming would definitely provide productivity increases. I myself have used CodeMentor successfully and loved the experience even though my preference is for the closed office.