The News – 06/26/01
To Looking Up Your Old Address, Part 2
Yesterday we examined the problem of finding
people in cyberspace. No one wants a white pages of email addresses
because of spam, but it’s becoming harder and harder to find old
acquaintances and business contacts in an increasingly freelance
Today, we’ll look at a related problem: network
addresses. Any device connected to a network needs one so you
can find it. When you go to www.amazon.com,
for example, the Domain Name System translates that into the IP
address 220.127.116.11. As billions of devices come online (wireless
phones and PDAs, houses, refrigerators, microwaves) the numbering
scheme used to assign network addresses, known as IPv4, will run
out of addresses, as soon as next year or as far off as 2010.
Computer scientists have been preparing for this eventuality by
readying the next generation of Internet addressing, known as
You’d think that a scheme that increases the
address space from 4 billion to 340 undecillion*
and allows users to set up priority circuits for time-critical
traffic like audio and video would be an easy sell.
* (That improbably large number is 2
to the 128th power or 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456;
enough to assign IP addresses to all the grains
of sand on all the beaches on Earth, according to one analyst.
If the address space of IPv4 is equivalent to one inch, IPv6 is
equivalent to the diameter of the Milky Way.)
But IPv6 is not an easy sell. Just like evolution,
the Holocaust, and global warming, there are those who say it
ain’t necessarily so.
The culprits, as always, are money and politics.
First, Microsoft, a member of the IPv6 forum, refused to support
IPv6 in Windows 2000. Then, they declined to support it in the
upcoming Windows XP. Too experimental, they claimed, yet Sun has
IPv6 support in Solaris 8. When the 107 companies in the IPv6
Forum meet at the Global IPv6 Summit Seoul, Korea, on July 3-6,
2001, there’ll be even more gnashing of teeth. At the most recent
summit in May, Cisco
announced it was supporting IPv6 across its product line.
Converting to IPv6 is not an easy thing. For
one thing, every router in the world needs to be replaced or upgraded.
For another, every operating system or other network-enabled piece
of software also needs to be upgraded. (Can you see part of Microsoft’s
rationale in not building in IPv6 support, now?) Plus you need
to make sure the old networks can communicate with the new during
Networks in Europe and Asia are quickly embracing
the new standard, in part because it is friendlier to wireless
devices. But North American networks are dragging their feet,
primarily due to cost, but also because we have 74 percent of
the IP addresses and low wireless Web penetration, and so have
no reason to panic, yet.
Another reason is the popularity of Network
Address Translating (NAT) firewalls. By convention, you only need
a unique IP address if there’s a chance other computers could
have the same address. Many corporate networks assign arbitrary
IP addresses for use within their organizations, and then use
NAT to assign the same external IP address to all users when they
venture out onto the Internet. This works well for corporations
and ISPs, but when we hit a billion cell phones, the NAT technique
is likely to get strained. Besides, NATs make end-to-end security
on the Internet a real pain in the butt, and IPv6 has built-in
Still, there are signs of life, even in the
US, where Japanese telecom NTT has already established an IPv6
network that connects to others in Japan and Europe.
So what should businesses do about these twin
problems: finding people and finding computing devices? With the
new .name domain name due out by year end, perhaps people will
buy domain names and thus consolidate their access. However, only
geeks like me (www.mikeellsworth.com) are likely
to jump on that possibility. Perhaps the big email databases will
eventually get it right and be able to accurately locate business
people whose cards you’ve lost. Maybe unified messaging will solve
the problem, at least for folks who stay put at one company. Or
perhaps some entrepreneur will come up with an ingenious solution.
As far as finding and addressing the torrent
of new computing devices rushing onto the scene, businesses making
new networking purchases should make sure they are IPv6 upgradeable.
You should also plan to include some IPv6 conversion money in
your networking budget over the next few years. And you should
also realize that conversion to IPv6 networks will likely cause
Internet outages over the next several years.
Whatever the solution, we will fulfill the
ancient Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times.”
- Are They Kidding? The World Bank has had some problems holding its
meetings lately. Seems that folks who disagree with their policies
have a tendency to show up and manacle themselves in human chains
and otherwise behave badly. So now the WB has decided to hold
its next meeting online, figuring, I guess, that this will somehow
decrease the amount of disruption. Hello? Can you say denial
of service attack? The WB plans to hold email discussions of
online speeches and other Webcast events. “To have 200 academics
protected by 4,000 police would have been absurd,” said a spokeswoman
for the World Bank. So they’d prefer 200 academics protected
by 4,000 anti-cracker forces? The meeting is next week. Should
- Moore’s Law Still In Business: Intel Chairman of the Board
Emeritus, Gordon Moore, predicted many years ago that transistor
density on microprocessor chips would double every 18 months.
In 1993, he reconsidered, saying there were limits beyond which
chipmakers couldn’t go. Intel busted those limits in the late
‘90s, and now they’ve created experimental chips only a few
atoms thick. This research will enable microprocessors containing
a billion transistors, running at speeds approaching 20 gigahertz
and operating at less than one volt in approximately 2007. But
chances are good your computer will still take 2 minutes to
- The Gov Gets StarOffice: Sun announced that the US Department of Defense
has adopted 25,000 units of StarOffice, Sun’s free, Open Source
MS Office clone. StarOffice works on UNIX and Windows machines
and bundles word processing, spreadsheet, mail and other productivity
tools. It’s Sun’s attempt to hurt Microsoft where it lives,
its Office cash cow. More than 5 million copies of the software
have been downloaded. Nonetheless, the government adoption is
a feather in Sun’s cap.
Knowledge Gap: A recent study from Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS) Telecoms, Europe
found that 89 percent of US internet users with cell phones
say that they are either “unaware” or feel “poorly informed”
about wireless internet technology. This compares with 44 percent
of Germans and 23 percent of Italians who feel “well informed”
or “fairly informed.” Only 20 percent of US users sent messages
via cell phone, vs. 90 percent of Europeans. In fact, email
usage is down 5 percent in the UK due to increased Short Message
Service (SMS) cell phone messages.
- In a Rental, No One Can Hear You Scream: OK, technology has officially
gone too far. Acme Rent-a-Car used Global Positioning System
GPS technology to track a Connecticut customer and then fined
him $450 for speeding three times. Seems the company has a threshold
of 79 mph, and their dangerous behavior policy is stated in
bold at the top of the rental agreement. It’s only going to
get worse, folks, as your wireless carrier will soon be able
to track you wherever you go as well.
- Most Manufacturers Use Trading Networks: The US Census surveyed
40,000 manufacturers and found 87.3 percent had at least one
type of electronic network installed in their plant, with 65.9
percent saying that they operated two or more networks. EDI
was the most popular, followed by the Internet.
- Serious Web Vulnerability in MS Server: Microsoft has acknowledged
that its Internet Information Server (IIS) contains a serious
flaw that could give crackers system level access. If you’re
running IIS, MS has a patch
Can’t Get Enough of ME?
In the unlikely
event that you want more of my opinions, I’ve started a Weblog.
It’s the fashionable thing for pundits to do, and I’m doing it
too. A Weblog is a datestamped collection of somewhat random thoughts
and ideas assembled on a Web page. If you’d like to subject the
world to your thoughts, as I do, you can create your own Weblog.
You need to have a Web site that allows you FTP access, and the
free software from www.blogger.com.
This allows you to right click on a Web page and append your pithy
thoughts to your Weblog.
I’ve dubbed my
Weblog entries “Stratlets”, and they are available at www.stratvantage.com/stratlets/.
Let me know what you think. Also check out the TrendSpot for ranking of
the latest emerging trends.
to Mike’s Take