Thursday, February 24, 2011

The new Frenzy

(The title is obviously a reference to The Ophiuchus frenzy.)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011. 2:41 PM. The Computer Science student lounge.

A group of students are trying to make sense of the instructions to a Computer Networks exercise, when one of the guys' cell phones vibrates. The guy reaches for his cell phone and reads the text message.

"Hey," he announces, "you remember how the professor was saying there weren't enough IP addresses; that one day when our computers would try to connect to the Internet, they wouldn't be able to?"
"Yeah?" answers one of the girls, who had obviously heard the professor say that a million times.
"Well, it's happened. Just now. The professor says, 'do not turn your computers off' … they may not be able to connect afterwards."

"Preposterous," I thought. I immediately input "IP addresses" into Google news. I got only two results: a report from Cornell and business news. It obviously was the former, which had been published exactly two hours and one minute previously –while we had all been eating lunch.

The report, however, doesn't say anything different to what the professor did: The IP addresses will eventually run out, and it will be sometime this decade because so many of them go unused and cannot be reclaimed for several reasons. When this finally happens, we'll have to get rid of the current Internet Protocol (what computers use to send things to each other – essentially the reason why the Internet works).

This was forseen in 1998, and a new protocol was drafted up and (over the following three years or so) implemented on all computers. Individual computer users should not have to do anything when this happens; their computers should automatically start using the new protocol when they see that's what the Internet Service Provider has switched to.

But there is the catch: ISP's haven't switched over yet. And this is what the guys (or rather, the guy) at Cornell are calling attention to. ISP's need to perform this switch manually, and they need to do it soon; says Robert van Renesse.

But if you ask me, he just had a deadline to meet; so he pulled something out of his lectures.

I showed this to the group struggling with the instructions on the Networks exercise.

"Oh? We already forgot about that. We're working on the next exercise."

1 comment:

  1. Life is no longer possible without the internet. Perhaps this will be the true cause of the end of the world.