Tom Reacts to Teens React to Windows 95

We're in the process of updating The Practice of System and Network Administration (read the drafts here) and I discovered an old section that was written with the assumption that DHCP was newish and readers would need encouragement to use it.

Of course, I ripped it out and replaced it with something more modern. However, I couldn't help but include an explanation for new sysadmins what life was like before DHCP (see The Importance of DHCP).

Which leads me to this video of teens reacting to Windows 95 (and associated article). The best quote is, "How do you get Internet without WiFi?"

Also note that when they explain that a modem connects to the phone to get internet access, the teen looks at her cell phone. I think they should have clarified that modems work on land lines, but then maybe they'd have to explain what that is.

It sure makes you appreciate how good things are today. It was worth spending some time watching it, if only to see how youth today describe things.

By the way... one thing I remember about Windows 95 was that the DHCP client was very brittle. If it saw optional parameters it didn't understand, it just would ignore the packet. This is the opposite of Postel's Robustness Principle, which states, "Be conservative in what you do, be liberal in what you accept from others". I can't remember exactly what the problem was, but I do remember reconfiguring our DHCP server so the default configuration was acceptable to Windows 95 machines, and providing host-specific configurations for other machines.

To this day I still hear about devices with crappy DHCP clients that get confused because they weren't tested very well. I imagine they just tried it on their corporate network and if it worked, assumed it was ok. Their corporate network, of course, uses an anemic configuration, and their code ends up untested in real-world conditions. Nine times out of ten these are IP-Phones, which is ironic because you'd think a device that is so network-centric would have an awesome IP stack.

Anyway... I think it would be interesting to make a video where old-timers watch these "Teens React" videos and pause them at certain points to go into more detail about what's going on, or the history of the device, and so on.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli

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3 Comments | Leave a comment

It is too bad they couldn't get a modem and an ISP and have them figure out dial up networking. "OH MUH GERD MODEMS"

Tom Reacts to a 1964 Modem?

React? Heck, that's how my first modem worked and that was in 1981! All phones used to fit that kind of shape so it "just worked".

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