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Working from 127.0.0.1

As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the world, we thought we’d take a quick look at the famed localhost, and share some best practices for working from home.
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As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the world, lots of people are just discovering the concept of remote work. We thought we’d take a quick look at the famed localhost of 127.0.0.1 and ::1, and share some best practices from the Men&Mice team on how to make the best out of working from home.

Or 127.0.0.1 (::1 for the IPv6-minded), as it were.

localhost is where the heart is

It’s a true testament to how slowly things move in our industry when you consider that the name of localhost has been introduced in 1996, but only achieved ‘standard’ status in 2013.

The standard of IPv4 reserves all 16 million addresses (give or take) of the 127.0.0.0/8 range for loopback. In IPv6, it’s only a single one: ::1. (Read more about IPv6 reserved addresses here.) In IPv4, 127.0.0.1 is the default that most computers use: in the hosts file (/etc/hosts in Linux and Mac systems; C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc\hosts on Windows), which acts as a local DNS resolver is usually empty except for these two lines:

127.0.0.1 localhost
::1 localhost

It is defined locally, as the loopback addresses shouldn’t be sent to public name servers to avoid confusion.

Because of its special status, even machines without an actual network interface (wired or wireless connections, or even the hardware capability for connections) can still use localhost through the networking stack of the operating system. Air gapped computers can run network services (such as web servers like Apache or nginx) locally.

127.0.0.1 or localhost?

In most cases: either work.

There’s one notable case where the two are different: when using a MySQL server, it does matter whether using 127.0.0.1 or localhost in your preferences.

Working from 127.0.0.1 (::1)

Men&Mice is fortunate in being able to encourage employees to work from home. The health and safety of our people are our highest priorities at all times.

Working remotely, however, is a tricky situation. Even under the best of circumstances it creates a disruption, and can take a heavy toll on mental health and productivity. Our team members aren’t strangers to remote work, but even for them, this is new. When the benefit of an optional change of scenery becomes the new status quo that is recommended or even mandated, being smart is essential.

We’ve asked the Men&Mice team to share their tips and best practices — hope this helps all of you struggling to adjust to the new situation.

  • Working from home isn’t the same as working at home. Designate a dedicated workspace, away from your bedroom and (if possible) other home activities such as eating or socializing.
  • Keep your routine. You don’t have to dress up and hold the shower curtain rod, but keeping the motions of getting ready to work, working, breaks, and finally disconnecting from work is important. We’re creatures of habit, and each part of our day acts as a trigger for productivity.
  • Dress appropriately. Sure it’s tempting to stay in pajamas for the day, and put on regular clothes when there’s a video conference. But dressing properly (if more comfortably than usual) is an important cue for our brains to recognize work hours.
  • Take breaks more frequently. There are lots of small disruptions in the workplace. Our brains are used to dealing with them, but also to being regularly snapped out from focus. Working at home offers less of these interruptions, but it’s still important to give ourselves the same amount of rest and avoid burning out.
  • Listen to music. Chances are, you’re stuck in this situation with others who are not used to the structure of your workplace. (Children, for example, who don’t have the concept. Or pets, who are just happy you’re staying home.) You can shut them out with some tunes. Extra tip: video game soundtracks are designed to stay unobtrusive and keep focus, and thus an excellent choice.
  • Stay in touch. Keeping the team spirit is more important than ever. Use whatever tool (Slack, Microsoft Teams, Skype, Zoom, etc.) you can, and make sure you also “virtualize” the watercooler banter. It’s not all business in the office, either.
  • Leave work. Because remote work blurs the difference between “work” and “life”, it’s important to disconnect when the former is done. Clock out in time, and stay away from work outside of business hours.

Anything we missed? Let us know on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook!

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