Emergent behavior

time to read 3 min | 403 words

About five or six years ago, there were two guys (me and another dev) working from our Israeli offices. We needed some way to setup remote access to the office, and there were just the two of us. We changed the port forwarding settings in the router and got a static IP, and assigned each of our computers a specific port, so we could RDP into our computers. That happened a long time ago, and I pretty much forgot about it. If I was on a new machine, I knew that I had to RDP into a specific URL and port, but that was about it.

Since then, we got a lot more people in the office, and they occasionally work remotely. Until at some point, we run out of room in the office, that was when we were just over 10 people. So we started to look for new (and much larger) offices. One of the things that we did alongside the move to the new offices was take the time to actually setup proper infrastructure. That means that we got a VPN, proper network structure, etc.

The newest guy in the company was having trouble logging into his computer remotely, and I looked into that. It took a bit of time to figure out what the problem was. He was able to VPN properly, but he couldn’t RDP to his machine. The problem was that he was trying to use the default port, but… his machine was configured to listen to a different port, because of the port forwarding setup.

Now, this was a surprise to me, because I never did that, or told anyone to do that. In fact, the one setting it up was the other dev who was there when we first set it up. What happened was that he made sure, as part of welcoming new employees to the company, to set them up with remote access to the office.

The funny thing was, I had no idea that this was happening. Now, to be clear, I have no issue with that, and having stuff taken care of without me having to hand hold everything is pretty much the definition of why Hibernating Rhinos isn’t a single person company, but it still surprised me to see that this was something that was happening for so long that I wasn’t aware of. It just worked.