Still Being Amazed after 20 years in Technology

I really go out of my way to not take advances in technology for granted.  I’m still continually amazed at what we are able to do with tools that have been around a very long time.  Take VNC for example.  I’ve been working with a client (whom I’ve never met in person) in New York, who has very tight security around their network access.  For reasons that aren’t interesting, we needed to set up a windows XP machine that would be able to VPN into their network so we could write web services to integrate into their applications.  The challenge is that with only one RSA key fob to share among myself and my other awesome developer.  Here’s how we solved the problem:

Installed VNC on the XP machine
Installed the VPN software on the XP machine

Any time the VPN loses connection, you have to authenticate using the number on the key fob.  If you don’t have it on your person you have to call whoever has it and have them login or give you the number.  Here’s where it gets fun.

We Installed a webcam pointed at the RSA key fob that is only visible when you VNC in.

To connect, we VNC into the machine, look at the webcam displaying the key fob number in real time, put that in the authentication box and away you go.

This was particularly interesting the other day, when the client called and needed to demo the software urgently and I was sitting in a restaurant.  I fired up vnc on my EVO, authenticated through the VPN and brought the app back up.

In New York, NY
by way of Pleasanton, CA
from a restaurant in Dublin, CA

Ain’t technology grand?