Sunday, 16 July 2006

There's an interesting story over at the Times of London online that describes the need and future of IPv6, a new number addressing scheme for the Internet that will take the finite IP addressing scheme used today (which is quickly running out of addresses) and replaces it with something significantly huger. The story explains the new addressing scheme without getting all geeky, so it's good for non-technical types. It also does an effective job of explaining the massive difference between the old and new systems.

Only one problem - the math appears to be wrong in the article. IPv6 addresses are 128 bits long. IPv4 addresses are 32 bits long. So, I am not sure where the author's numbers came from...

"When the Internet was developed in the 1980s, programmers had no idea how big it would become. They gave each address a “16-bit” number, which meant that the total number of available addresses worked out at about four billion (2 to the power of 32).

"But as use grew, it became clear that the old protocol, IPv4, wasn’t big enough, so a new one was written based on '32-bit numbers.' That increased the number of available addresses to 340 undecillion, 282 decillion, 366 nonillion, 920 octillion, 938 septillion — enough for the foreseeable future, Mr Kessens said."

Well, the math is off but the article does get the point across that the change is significant. Too bad it's not more accurate, though. Read the story here.

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Sunday, 16 July 2006 07:53:23 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 14 July 2006

Yearinpictures2005I'm in the Toronto airport waiting for my flight home this afternoon, and so I decided to check out what's happening in the world. Wow.

In my cybertravels here, I ran across photo stories on depicting what's happening in the Middle East, and from there stumbled upon their Year in Pictures 2005. I used to work in photojournalism, for about 8 years. I have long since stopped doing professional photography, but I often long to be at it again - especially these days. Pictures can change a world. They can matter so much.

And the pictures in the Year in Pictures 2005 essay are powerful. Check them out.

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Friday, 14 July 2006 11:58:04 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Wednesday, 12 July 2006

Microsoft and Yahoo! have announced they are releasing a combined, interoperable network for beta testing, which will allow uses of each network to communicate with users of the other network. This is a great step in creating a IM infrastructure without (or at least with less) borders.

"Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger with Voice users in the U.S. and more than 15 international markets can register to participate in the IM interoperability beta by visiting Yahoo! at or Microsoft at"

See the press release here.

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Wednesday, 12 July 2006 19:34:52 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Tuesday, 11 July 2006

Google introduced zooming in their maps interface. I went to check it out and in the process discovered the area that includes my home now has hi-res images and that my house, which was built about three years ago, now appears on the map. That's cool. Not that big of deal in the grand scheme of things, but still cool. And I found it by double clicking to step through the maps and visually found my rural home, level by level.


The new zooming feature is a nice addition to the interface. To see how it works, just go to Google Maps and double click on the map and you'll zoom on in. I found I was also able to zoom in and out with my scroll-wheel-like function on my ThinkPad's little eraser pointer control thingie - point the mouse on the spot you want to zoom in on and zoom away. Cool. What's that red eraser thing called, anyhow?

The Google Maps API official blog has the zooming details.

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Tuesday, 11 July 2006 22:38:41 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Microsoft made this announcement today in their Security Newsletter for Home Users. Interesting the email headline they used, since the web site actually says Win XP SP1 support is supposed to stop on October 10th. Support for Win 98 and ME were set to end today. At any rate, if you're running Windows 98 or ME, it's well past time to pack it in:

Effective today, Microsoft no longer provides support for Windows 98, Windows Millennium Edition (Windows Me), and Windows XP Service Pack 1. Customers can access existing support documents through the Microsoft Support Product Solution Center, but telephone and e-mail support and security updates are not available.

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IT Security | Tech
Tuesday, 11 July 2006 20:52:05 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Yesterday at work, I had the privilege of spending a couple hours with this cool kid named Connor. He's the son of a friend and coworker, and is an all-around good kid. Every now and then he'll come to work with his mom for a day and we'll hang out for a bit. It sure beats back-to-back meetings, heh.

Sidebar: For what it's worth, I'd kill to be eleven years old again (if I could stay that age, that is - no point in going through all those intervening years again, heh...).

True to form, he asked if we still have an XBOX. People kind of freak out when I tell them I bought an XBOX 360 for work. We actually have a couple of them on campus. "Video games at work??" they ask me. Heck yeah - it's a great way for creative minds to take an occasional and much-needed brain break (as long as it doesn't become something that's overdone), and some of the best idea-generating conversations happen when you're kicking someone else's butt in DOA4 or some other game. It's also of great interest, it turns out, to eleven-year-old kids. Yeah, go figure.

But most of the time we spent hanging out on Monday was occupied with trying to find a clean whiteboard somewhere in the building that didn't say "SAVE" on it (what the heck is up with THAT anyhow?) and then talking about computers and networks and how they work. Teaching kids something they have yet to learn about is really a lot of fun. I explained the underlying technology basics of how web browsers and web servers work, using analogies like phone books (for DNS), mapquest data (for routes) and phone numbers (for IP addresses) to try to describe some pretty complicated, intangible and abstract stuff in a way that makes some sort of sense. You know - looking up a name in a phone book and finding the phone number is like looking up a URL in DNS and getting an IP address, and using mapquest to figure out how to get from one place to another one step at a time is a lot like finding the route to a web server... We got a little more detailed than that, but you get the idea. His face really lit up when - all of a sudden - he "got it."

Next thing I knew, he was explaining how it works to me. Which was really cool. :)

I used to teach middle school kids back in the day, and there's something about those "getting it" moments that are a lot of fun to watch. Seeing reality expanding itself in a kid's mind is a pretty amazing thing. They sure do learn quickly.

At any rate, Connor will be back again sometime soon, and we'll see who's teaching whom whenever that day comes. For my part, I'm betting on the kid.

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Personal Stories | Tech
Tuesday, 11 July 2006 15:44:02 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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