For some reason it hasn't worked in the past. Presumably the combination of strict routers at either end and some problems with the implementation.
There's a bunch of things that can go wrong, but now the messages are much more useful.
Currently I'm running 10.5.6 and taking my Air to a workplace each day. I enabled "Back to my mac" on each end and was pleased to see my home machine - a Mini, show up and be amenable to screen and file sharing while at work.
At home we have an Airport Extreme which is able to do the right port forwarding. In the office whatever they have won't do it, which is fine.
I use chickken of the vnc to access all my macs on my home LAN.
If you're running Leopard you might like to try the built-in VNC client, it's very good. In Finder, pull down the Go menu and choose "Connect to Server..." then enter the address you want to vnc to like this: vnc://127.0.0.1/
Back to my mac works by having the server check in with MobileMe to register it's external IP. It also sets up port forwarding for you.
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