“The Future” As Seen In 1961

1961 Vintage Motorola Ad

Images of what the future would look like have long been a fascination. 1950’s and 1960’s always focused on a sleek, minimalist future with a very retro (by today’s standard) color palette. It’s easy to dismiss them as silly, until you realize the basis of them is pretty spot on.

Take the image up top of Motorola’s vision of the future from a 1961 set. The two main themes in these images actually happened:

  1. Media Everywhere – A reoccurring theme in the set is that there’s media (in the form of a TV) everywhere. It’s the centerpiece of every home. This isn’t shocking for an electronics company. For the 1960’s when not everyone owned a TV, this was pretty bold. Of course today that’s true. It’s even a step beyond. Most of us now have phones that can play video. We have laptops. Media is everywhere.
  2. Transparency/Lack of Privacy – The other strong theme is the lack of privacy. From open floor plans to glass walls. The future is out in the open. This is hardly just a Motorola idea. Glass House was built in 1949 and Case Study Houses were often built in this style including the notable Stahl House. The illusion to Facebook and social media shouldn’t be lost here. The transparency that’s normal in this modern age was unthinkable in the 1960’s.

Of course part of Motorola (the Motorola Mobility part) is now part of Google, and had an influence on both of those changes as cell phones played a big role in both trends.

When you really think about it, TV’s are flatter and we cram more things into the same square footage, but these aren’t terribly far off concepts of what the future holds. From a high level they are spot on. These are really the biggest changes to the American home.

Network Perils

It’s been a week of networking pain. For the past few weeks Comcast has been using a low DHCP lease time. 30 minutes to be exact. This is typical of when they are doing network upgrades/repairs and is what a normal network administrator does. It’s similar to lowering the TTL for DNS.

Renewing the DHCP lease is normally a pretty transparent process, but this time around it’s been causing network connections to drop. While this process is relatively quick, it still resulted in a brief network outage that would kill connections. Occasionally it created a spike when things came back online, which made it feel even longer due to the resulting lag.

No configurations have changed in a long time other than a firmware upgrade a few months ago. Strange I thought. Why is it insisting on on loosing the IP and rediscovering, rather than just renewing? I let it go for a few days hoping Comcast’s low DHCP lease time would be temporary. After 2 weeks I decided to dig deeper.

After a few emails with Motorola’s tech support (Motorola bought Netopia in 2007) they came to the conclusion that the renew-lease ACK packet wasn’t reaching the router. They suspected the firewall wasn’t allowing it to pass, as a result it was dropping the IP, and requesting it again from the DHCP server. They suggested opening up UDP/67 and UDP/68 on the firewall. This seems to resolve the problem. I’m still seeing the lease drop at about 1:00 AM for the past 2 nights, but that’s really a low priority issue and may indeed be on Comcast’s end. It’s possible the router was renewing the hard way every 24-72 hours for a few months, but I know Comcast’s DHCP lease time has been lowered before and the router didn’t exhibit this behavior. Perhaps the firmware upgrade changed the firewalls behavior? I don’t recall that in the docs. Regardless, it’s fixed.

Now today, the UPS for the router, modem and file server’s battery died. Yet another pain. I was able to swap the battery with a similar model UPS from another computer for now. I can deal with that other computer later.

Now maybe I can take my networking hat off for a little while.