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Friday, July 30, 2010

Available Internet IP addresses are nearly exhausted

By Mark Ollig
Twitter: bitsandbytes
August 9, 2010

Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn probably never thought their new protocol version used for assigning unique Internet addresses would ever be maxed out when they developed the IPv4 for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Internet program back around 1980.

Hey, Vinton and Robert – the Internet is down to just 231 million available IPv4 addresses today.

Most of the Internet utilizes IPv4 (Internet Protocol Version 4) addressing which uses 32-bit or four-bytes (because as we know, there are eight bits in a byte) addresses. The limit using IPv4 is about 4.3 billion unique Internet addresses.

According to the September 1981: Darpa Internet Program Protocol Specification, “The internet protocol provides for transmitting blocks of data called datagram’s from sources to destinations, where sources and destinations are hosts identified by fixed length addresses.”

In 1982, when IPv4 began to be used as the Internet Protocol for addressing, it was thought 4.3 billion unique addresses would be enough for the Internet. We need to note this was a time before web browsers and mobile devices – when the Internet was mostly a smaller text based network used by government and academic researchers.

What is the solution? The IP protocol, called IPv6, which is already being used on some parts of the Internet network today.

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the organization responsible for setting standards on the Internet, previously adopted this replacement protocol standard.

IPv6 is not new. The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority or IANA (which manages IP address allocation), had acquired management for the IPv6 address lists back in 1996.

What about IPv5? Well, it was never introduced for public usage. There is a long story about IPv5 and how it was instead used for something called ST (Internet Stream Protocol), which was developed much earlier for an experimental transmission of voice and video signals.

Your humble columnist was sounding the alarm back in 2007 ,when I wrote a column about the importance of adapting to the new IPv6 protocols to relieve the burden on IPv4 limits. In 2007, China and only a small percentage of other countries had begun this transition.

IPv6, which is also known as the “next generation Internet protocol” will solve this IP address shortage by increasing the number of decimal values in each address from four to 16. This radically increases address length from 32 to 128 bits, resulting in a near infinite number of combinations – enough for every person alive to have about 50 octillion unique IP addresses.

One octillion is 10 to the 27th power, or a “1” with 27 “0’s” following it.

Where’s my bottle of Advil?

One reason the implementation of IPv6 has not been as progressive as it should be by now is because web-connected devices need to be reconfigured and upgraded. They need to meet the new IPv6 standards – this takes time and costs money.

Additionally, Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) and website hosts will need to make certain equipment and software configuration changes to ensure IPv4 and IPv6 compatibility.

As Star Trek’s engineer Scotty would report to Captain Kirk about the availability of IPv4 addresses, “We are down to less than 10 percent!”

Time is getting critical, and I have no doubt we will be hearing more about this situation from the main-stream media as the deadline draws near.

The “doomsday” clock on available IPv4 address availability is ticking.

The “IPv4 Exhaustion Counter” on the IPv6 Forum website estimates IPv4 addresses will run out in about 340 days, or on July 2, 2011 – 11 months from now.

The powers that be need to get serious about IPv6 implementation right now in order to relieve the imminent IP address exhaustion dilemma.

Vinton Cerf, who is known as the “father of the Internet,” believes we are moving too slowly in the conversion to IPv6.

“Plainly, we are at a cusp, I think, in the IP address space for the Internet,” Cerf stated June 10 during a speech he gave at the opening of Google’s IPv6 Implementers Conference held at the Google complex in Mountain View, CA.

I watched Vinton Cerf make this statement and also offer his knowledgeable advice concerning the implementation of IPv6 during the video presentation portion of the Google conference. I created this shortened URL link to it:

Cerf and other experts believe the new IPv6 protocol can work alongside IPv4 for many years through the use of present commercial routing systems. However, the kicker is equipment manufacturers will have to start offering devices which support both protocols, and in the end, folks will probably need to eventually replace their IPv4 home routers and other IPv4 Internet-connected devices.

For more information (including the complete conference agenda and associated links) about the Google IPv6 Implementers Conference, go to

The IPv6 Forum is located at

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Facebook friends remember the old grade school

July 26, 2010
by Mark Ollig

How many of us have been asked this question by a person at work or someone we meet during a social event: “So, are you on Facebook?”

Now admit it, some of us probably will pause for a moment to consider whether we really want this particular person to be reading all of our Facebook postings and viewing the photos we upload.

Let’s face it, when we are on Facebook, we are among our selected friends and so we sometimes let our guard down and become a little silly (well, I do) and just be ourselves on it.

Facebook has now officially reached the 500 million users mark, with each user having an average of 130 friends.

Friends on Facebook are constantly helping each other by connecting and sharing with other users more of the people and interests which matter in their lives.

As our Facebook friends find the pages of their favorite celebrities, community groups, businesses, and public organizations, we tend to see these same pages being recommended for us to join in the “recommended pages” column on Facebook.

I originally joined Facebook to more easily connect with family members and friends.

Little did I know that it would become the medium which allowed me to also connect with former fellow students who I had not seen or talked to in (gulp) decades.

During the recent demolition of the old Winsted Holy Trinity grade school building (where I attended school) Facebook all of a sudden became a popular source for the information being shared among the other former students.

Many of these former students now live in other parts of Minnesota or in different states.

During the last few months, when traveling to Winsted, I would eventually end up at the grade school building. I would get out of the car with my camera to take pictures of the old school. Upon arriving back home, I would immediately upload these photos to my Facebook profile, where all my Facebook friends could see and comment on them.

During May, I uploaded a six-picture photo album onto my Facebook page which included a photo of the school’s southeast corner, where the 1907 corner block had been removed. One of the first comments from a former student was, “Can we get a brick or two?”

Thus, the “tearing-down-of-the-grade-school” conversation began on Facebook.

Soon, other photos of the grade school were being uploaded and shared among other Facebook users and former students.

Facebook quickly became the place to meet and chat about the tearing down of our beloved grade school.

Many former student Facebook users began to reminisce about their experiences attending the grade school, and were posting messages about past teachers and memorable events which took place there.

These grade school conversation memories cascaded – causing a wave of nostalgia to set in.

“It looks very strange to see our grade school gone,” commented one Facebook user under a photo of where the grade school once stood.

“Looking at these pictures kind of makes me a little nauseated. Very sad, progress really sucks sometimes,” were the words written by another former student under a photo showing the school being demolished.

On July 10, yours truly uploaded photos of what was left after all of the brick and mortar walls had been removed. There really wasn’t much left, except for the stone foundation and a few piles of rubble scattered here and there.

Lying on top of a small pile of broken bricks, pieces of plaster, and busted lathes, I came across an item that immediately caught my attention.

I focused my camera and took a picture of a dusty and slightly damaged plastic cover case from an older phonograph record player (looked like a 1970s Fisher Price player) which still contained the paper jacket from a children’s record for grades K-6. The record jacket showed a picture of a small group of smiling grade school children with the words “Music! Music! Music!” written above them in bold colors.

It was eerily quiet as I stood out there alone on that hot afternoon, surveying the remains of my former school.

Seeing that picture lying on top the ruins of what was once a place filled with learning, laughter, and memories caused me to become somewhat taken aback and melancholy.

I then turned to my right and looked at the newly built grade school building, where brand new memories are being made by a whole new generation of children.

As Abraham Lincoln said, “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”

This columnist is thankful to have been able to re-connect with former childhood friends and family who also attended Holy Trinity grade school, and he fondly appreciates reminiscing about the past with all of them.

To see the picture I took and wrote about in today’s column, go to

A video of the grade school’s demolition can be seen at

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Many businesses and individuals still use Windows XP

July 19, 2010
by Mark Ollig

Everyone still running personal computers with a nine-year-old operating system, raise your hand.

Your humble columnist has his hand proudly raised high into the air.

The Windows XP OS (operating system) was released to the public Oct. 25 2001. This same year, I had purchased a new desktop computer bundled with XP.

Microsoft has said XP stands for “eXPerience.”

The next computer I bought (my current laptop since 2006) also came with the Windows XP OS.

In 2007, Microsoft released its new operating system, called Vista, to the general public.

At that time, I was seriously thinking about upgrading my computer to it – until I started reading the horror stories from users who had done this and ended up having nightmarish problems with their programs not working.

However, the folks who bought new computers with Vista already installed did not report many problems.

I ended up deciding to hold off on upgrading my computer.

It is 2010, and I am still deciding on whether or not I really need to upgrade my computer.

I am not alone in staying with XP. Microsoft’s Corporate vice president, Tammi Reller, just released a statement saying their own internal data shows 74 percent of business users still operate with XP.

Why haven’t I upgraded to the new Windows 7 OS yet? Well, a couple of reasons. One is because what I have works. The programs operate fine using XP; and two, just because something gets a little older, it doesn’t mean you should feel obligated to replace it.

As I find myself growing a little older, I have come to like number two a lot more.

Those of us using the Windows XP OS with Microsoft Service Pack 3 (SP3) are still safe for a while, as this OS version will be supported with critical updates by Microsoft until 2014.

It is important to note July 13 Microsoft announced they would no longer be updating Windows XP SP2 with critical security patches support, so if you are using XP with SP2 make sure you upgrade it to SP3.

To check what version build of Windows XP SP you currently have on your PC, just go to the start menu, click “run” and then type “winver” in the open window and click “OK.” You should then see the version and the service pack number.

If you need to upgrade your OS to SP3, just go to Microsoft’s website and download and install SP3 via Microsoft’s Windows Update.

I read, Microsoft will be issuing its next XP SP3 security patch around Aug. 10.

According to Microsoft, continued XP SP3 support includes “. . . security updates that can help protect your PC from harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software, which can steal your personal information. Windows Update also installs the latest software updates to improve the reliability of Windows - new drivers for your hardware and more.”

To find out what you need to do to stay up-to-date automatically with your Windows XP OS, visit this shortened URL link This will take you to Microsoft’s step-by-step procedure.

This next link will take you directly to the Microsoft automatic update web page used to keep all your Microsoft applications (including MS Office) updated

Microsoft says, “a computer’s bit count indicates how much data it can process, the speed with which it can process the data, and the memory capacity. In order to optimize the computer’s performance, the bit count of the operating system that is installed on the computer should match the bit count of the computer itself.”

My computer is running a 32-bit version of Windows XP Media Center Edition with Service Pack 3.

To determine if your Windows XP is running with a 32-bit or a 64-bit version, you can use one of two methods.

Method one views the system properties in the control panel click “start” and then click “run.” Type in “sysdm.cpl” and click “OK.”

Under the general tab, if you see the words “Windows XP Professional x64 Edition Version” the “x64” indicates a 64-bit system. If you only see “Windows XP Professional Version” this means you have a 32-bit system.

Method two is what I used on my laptop. This method views the system information window Click “start” and then click “run.” Type in “winmsd.exe” and then click “OK.”

A “system information” window box appears. Look under the “item” column for “processor.” If the line next to “processor” (under the value column) starts with “x86,” then your computer is operating with a 32-bit version of Windows. If the value corresponding to “processor” starts with “ia64” or “AMD64,” the computer is running with a 64-bit version of Windows.

The new Windows 7 OS has had good reviews, so when I buy my next computer, it will come with it – unless I wait too long again and Microsoft comes out with the Windows 8 or the Windows 9 OS.

“Just because an operating system is getting a little older, as long as it still functions and runs its programs correctly, you need not replace it,” says this grinning columnist.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Connected 'Smart-Cars' capable of reporting our driving activities

July 12, 2010
by Mark Ollig

As the 21st century continues along its high-tech way, more devices are finding themselves being attached to the Internet.

Now the talk is about linking our vehicles to the Internet. What are the potential risks and rewards of having cars and trucks connected to it?

A new test car developed in the labs of computer chip maker Intel Corporation is being equipped with a kind of “black box” hardware similar to the ones used in planes.

The idea is to install “smart boxes” with advanced intelligence in all vehicles and have them permanently linked to the Internet.

At its June 30 Intel Research Day, Intel demonstrated and talked about its new connected “smart-car” technology we may be using one day.

“The intelligent vehicle is what we are talking about here. Once a car is connected, more or less on a continuous basis, all sorts of interesting possibilities present themselves,” said Justin Ratner, director of Intel Laboratories and chief technology officer.

Indeed. Some interesting possibilities (and controversial ones) are being presented here.

Examples of information to be monitored and stored within a connected smart-car will include history records of the vehicle’s speeds, steering, and braking. A driving video history could also be recorded from the outside (as well as the inside) of the vehicle and stored on some Internet connected data server.

It gets better so hang on to those well-read George Orwell 1984 novels folks.

Having vehicles connected wirelessly to the Internet would allow for instant transmission of accumulated data information to insurance companies for, say, resolving responsible parties in an accident.

I am curious as to what other agencies would be sent a record of our driving habits. What if our normal day-to-day driving habit information is automatically sent to some federal or local authority – this possibility gives one pause to think.

Our smart-car will also be using its camera’s “vision systems” to “recognize” different objects – including street signs.

Say we are driving along in our new Intel-equipped intelligent smart-car and become disoriented and make a turn onto a one-way street, or we turned onto a “do-not-enter” side road. The smart-car “sees” and “reads” the sign and “understands” the vehicle is traveling the wrong way and recognizes this as a potential critical problem. The intelligence in the smart-car would “take control” of our vehicle and safely maneuver it over to the side of the road and stop.

This sounds ultra-futuristic, but actually this is not an unrealistic scenario. The 2011 BMW 535i and the Lexus LS 460L parallel park themselves with an onboard “Park Assist” feature.

Intelligent “vision systems” are being developed right now in the labs at Intel.

Minnesotans will love this next one. The connected smart-car will have on-board sensors which would detect those pesky (and numerous) pot holes and automatically report their exact location to local road maintenance authorities. You betcha.

“We have talked to highway maintenance departments about using sensors that are already in cars to report the GPS coordinates for pot holes, in the road to the maintenance department,” said Ratner.

And no more “hand gestures” will be needed when a fellow motorist strays too close to us as we are whistling a tune while driving down the highway. Our new smart-car will be constantly tracking the vehicles around us, and by using its intelligent “accident avoidance” system, it will alert us when another vehicle gets too close.

Information regarding all surrounding vehicle locations will be displayed on the car’s satellite navigation map.

Our smart-car will also alert us of any vehicles hidden in the side-view mirrors’ blind spot when we begin to cross-over into another lane.

An example of the smart-car’s security capabilities: say someone’s smart-car was being vandalized; the car would activate its security measures with not only audio and flashing alerts, but also by sending the owner a text message. A video of what is happening outside of the car would be transmitted to the “cloud” (I hope you remember what Internet clouds are), which would be stored in order to be viewed by the proper law authorities.

I can envision YouTube starting a live-streaming “vehicles reporting in distress” channel.

Having our smart-cars connected to the Internet means we will be able to take advantage of other useful features.

Being able to send interactive commands to our car from a computer, mobile device, or an iPhone app would be nice.

For example, not only could we start the car engine, we could set the interior temperature, too. Or, how about running a complete diagnostics check on our vehicle and having the results automatically sent to the local auto repair shop as a proactive maintenance measure?

Wouldn’t it also be nice if the folks inside the Intel lab would teach this smart-car how to change its own oil?

The Intel video about the “connected car” is at

To watch a Lexus LS 460L parallel park itself go to