Episode 224

posted in: Show Notes


Like free stuff? Logitech’s 100% cashback promotion defies sanity
Logitech’s 100% cashback promotion defies sanity The promotion is limited to February only – and to a budget of $300,000


Microsoft: ‘We do not copy Google’s results’ | ZDNet
Microsoft: ‘We do not copy Google’s results’ Bing Sting – copying search results

Google Music is on its way… but where, when and how?
Google Music is on its way… but where, when and how? Google Music will use a cloud model to store music centrally and make it available for listening online – whether via a web browser, a mobile phone, or what could very well be a range of third-party desktop clients providing access to the online music library through a set of rich APIs.

Early reports suggested Google Music would launch before Christmas 2010, but other reports had it pegged as a major feature of Android 3.0 – which is still some ways off. Given the complexities of negotiations with the record labels, a later 2011 release seems more likely.

Apple is by all accounts getting ready to breathe new life into Lala.com, the streaming-music provider it bought a year ago and quickly shut down. A Lala revival could come as an adjunct to MobileMe or as an extension to the iTunes Store,

Monster cyclone knocks out weather radar – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Monster cyclone knocks out weather radar Yasi has knocked out the weather bureau’s radar system on Willis Island, about 450 kilometres east of Cairns in far north Queensland.
The weather bureau’s radar and wind speed measurements on the island failed just before 9am (AEST).
The bureau says the maximum wind speed recorded before the equipment went down was 185 kilometres per hour.

Test city’s switch-on due, but rebuild may be needed | The Australian
Test city’s switch-on due, but rebuild may be needed Townsville — which is one of the five mainland centres that were chosen to test the NBN — was in line to be pummelled by the category 5 cyclone’s 300km/h winds

Ergon Energy has been working under contract for the NBN Co since last July to connect 2700 premises to the new network using overhead cables strung from power poles

NBN Co opted to deploy fibre cables from power poles to reduce costs and because the company had not yet secured the rights to use Telstra’s underground ducts.

When construction of the NBN is complete, 25 per cent of the network will be connected with overhead cables, according to the company’s three-year corporate plan.

The NBN Co has forecast that reducing the percentage of overall aerial deployments to 10 per cent would result in a reduction of its rate of return to 6.8 per cent and would require a further $1.8bn in total funding.

The Daily to ‘belong’ to Apple for two years, says Rupert Murdoch | The Australian
The Daily to ‘belong’ to Apple for two years, says Rupert Murdoch NEWS CORPORATION today launched its latest push into paid content – an “all media” news service called The Daily, in a move that paves the way for a long-awaited subscription model on Apple’s iTunes store.
cost readers US99 cents (98c) per week or $US39.99 per year, and will be only available on Apple’s iPad for the time being.

The Daily would “belong” to Apple for the next two years, he said, but would be available on other tablet devices after that.

The Daily will not put its content on a website, in keeping with New Corp’s philosophy that people should pay for quality digital content. But subscribers will be able to share articles on Facebook, or email, while some of the 100 pages published each day include real-time Twitter feeds.
Subscribers will also be able to leave comments on The Daily stories in either written or audio form.

BBC News – Last blocks net addresses set to be shared
Last blocks net addresses set to be shared the central pool of net addresses will be down to its last five blocks of 16 million addresses each.
When those five run out in the Spring there will be no more of the current generation of addresses available.
A policy drawn up by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) states that when only five blocks of addresses remain they will be quickly distributed to regional agencies.
A ceremony to mark the handing over of the last five blocks of addresses, known as /8s, is set to take place on February 3rd.
IPv4 has room for about 4.3 billion addresses. The rapid growth of the net has quickly depleted that stock and the entire address space is expected to be exhausted by September 2011.

“It is now more vital than ever that ISPs, organisations, governments and all other internet stakeholders begin to deploy IPv6,” he said.

Check out the monster cyclone in North Queensland from webcams in its path

Check out the monster cyclone in North Queensland from webcams in its path

A number of webcams operating in the Cairns and Townsville areas in northern Queensland are witnessing the devastation of cyclone Yasi – few are left standing..


Innisfail street

Gorge Creek Orchard side-by-side webcams

Cairns webcam
Townsville city
Mackay Harbour
[NOW OFFLINE – We’ll keep checking to see if it comes back on]
A view of the yachts moored in the harbour of Mackay, another of the big north Queensland town in the path of the cyclone. This will be interesting.. (From the CoastalWatch webcam network).

Port Douglas – 4 mile beach webcam
A view of 4 Mile beach, refreshes ever 20 seconds.

Castle Hill – Townsville
A view of the Cairns suburb of  Castle Hill From North Ward.

A view over neighbouring houses.

Townsville Skycam
Shows sky above a line of trees. Not much detail, but gives a sense of the storm. Needs page refresh.

Cairns backyard
Someone’s backyard showing the neighbour’s trees going crazy.

Atherton Tablelands

Intel’s Cougar Point recall: what we know so far, who’s affected, and how bad is it?
Intel’s Cougar Point recall Intel yesterday announced that it had discovered a “design issue” in the Intel 6 Series Express chipsets and Intel Xeon C200 chipsets (codenamed Cougar Point) which ship with some of its early-model Second Generation Intel Core processors (more popularly known by their codename, Sandy Bridge).

Intel: “In some cases, the Serial-ATA (SATA) ports within the chipsets may degrade over time, potentially impacting the performance or functionality of SATA-linked devices such as hard disk drives and DVD-drives.”

it seems at this point that the dual-core Core i3 and i5 Sandy Bridge processors set for release in PCs later this month will not be affected. To repeat: the issue is limited to the initial release of quad-core Sandy Bridge CPUs in i5 and i7 variants.


Ready for deployment image – Making gas from trash in the office parking lot (photos) – CNET News

Making gas from trash in the office parking lot (photos)

January 28, 2011 4:00 AM PST

WALTHAM, Mass.–Two years after showing off a prototype, IST Energy is ready to ship out the first demo unit of its Green Energy Machine to Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California. The machine uses gasification, rather than combustion, to turn garbage into electricity and heat. The gas that it produces can be used in a slightly modified natural gas engine or a diesel generator with some diesel to make electricity. The gas is fed into a boiler to make heat, and heat from the machine can also be captured and used to heat a building.

Study: By 2030, world can run on renewables | Green Tech – CNET News

Study: By 2030, world can run on renewables

by Candace Lombardi
Mark Z. Jacobson
(Credit: Stanford University)
Scientists from Stanford University and the University of California at Davis have crunched the numbers and come up with a plan for how the world might economically and feasibly make the move to renewable energy in the next 20 to 40 years.
In a two-part paper (Part 1 PDF, Part 2 PDF) published in the journal Energy Policy, Mark Z. Jacobson and Mark A. Delucchi show in great detail the who, what, where, and how of implementing a renewable energy-run world. It includes solutions to economic, material, and transport issues.
Jacobson, an atmospheric scientist and professor of civil and environmental engineering, is director of Stanford’s Atmosphere/Energy Program and senior fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment and the Precourt Institute for Energy. Delucchi is a research scientist with a background in economic, environmental, engineering, and planning of transportation systems at the Institute for Transportation Studies at U.C. Davis.
This latest study is an in-depth analysis of a plan originally put forth by Jacobson and Delucchi and published in the November 2009 issue of Scientific American.
The most interesting determination made as a result of the team’s due diligence to the world of energy creation and use was just how much energy the world wastes producing and transporting other energy.
The scientists estimated that the world could reduce its overall energy demand by as much as 30 percent just by transitioning away from combustion processes to more efficient electric processes for producing energy and hydrogen fuel cells.
Jacobson and Delucchi claim that the world’s energy could be originated from 50 percent wind, 40 percent solar, 4 percent geothermal, 4 percent hydroelectric, and 2 percent wave and tidal power. They also agree that financial incentives and management systems aimed at conserving energy during peak demand times would be key.
Much of the plan revolves around the use of electricity and hydrogen fuel cells. That hydrogen would be produced by electricity which could be generated from wind and solar power.
The duo breaks down, step by step, which energy would be most efficient for a given use and how their idea of a world using renewable energy could work:
• Vehicles, train, and boats would run on electricity and hydrogen fuel cells.
• Airplanes would run on liquid hydrogen.
• Home heating and cooling systems would run on electricity.
• Hot water would be heated by solar.
• Commercial processes would run on a combination of electricity and hydrogen.
They address the intermittent nature of wind and solar in their plan as well. The study determines that wind and solar really could provide for the bulk of the world’s electricity production needs as long as they were connected to a grid with non-variable supplements like hydroelectric power.
But all of this change hinges on one very big component being successful. It’s a recommendation that will likely have smart grid hardware and software executives dancing in their chairs when they read about it:
“With a system that is 100 percent wind, water and solar, you can’t use normal methods for matching supply and demand. You have to have what people call a supergrid, with long-distance transmission and really good management,” Delucchi said in a statement.
The plan drills down into what it would really take to for implemention including: the number of wind turbines and rooftop photovoltaic cells that would have to be manufactured; how many geothermal, hydroelectric, tidal and wave energy, and solar plants would have to be built; how much of each earth element would need to be sourced and mined; and the costs of transmission and kilowatts produced by each source.
“The actual footprint required by wind turbines to power half the world’s energy is less than the area of Manhattan,” said Jacobson.
Jacobson noted that most wind turbines could be placed offshore, and that others could be implemented on land already used for agriculture as is already the case with many large-scale land wind projects in the U.S.
Jacobson and Delucchi have created an online interactive presentation that explains some of the details of their proposed plan, as well as several other detailed reports, presentations, and a spreadsheet detailing their calculations (Excel file). They can be found here.

Internet Explorer users at risk as Microsoft moves to address major security flaw | News.com.au

Internet Explorer users at risk as Microsoft moves to address major security flaw

A screenshot showing Pinned Sites on the desktop, one of the features of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 9. Picture: Supplied

MICROSOFT has issued a critical security alert that affects 900 million people using its Internet Explorer web browser.
The computer giant warned of a newly-discovered flaw in Windows that could be exploited by hackers to steal personal details or take over computers.
The glitch is so severe it potentially affects every user of Internet Explorer.
Firefox, Google Chrome and Safari browsers are all unaffected by the threat because, unlike Internet Explorer, they don’t support MHTML files, where the problem lies.
The loophole only seems to affect the way Internet Explorer handles some web pages.
Microsoft just said that the bug was inside Windows, presumably because they don’t want users to migrate to other browsers.
This means it affects all versions of the operating system currently supported including Windows XP (SP3), Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008 (R2).
A Windows update to fix the bug has not yet been released. In the meantime, Internet Explorer users are being urged to patch their browser with a Microsoft Fix-it patch available here.
All Windows users, particularly those who use Internet Explorer, are being urged to install the patch as the company’s security team work on a way to permanently fix the problem.
The company has described the flaw as a serious threat, although no hackers are thought to have yet exploited the vulnerability.
Microsoft spokeswoman Angela Gunn announced the flaw in a security advisory published online on Friday.
She said: “An attacker could construct an HTML link designed to trigger a malicious script and somehow convince the targeted user to click it.
“When the user clicked that link, the malicious script would run on the user’s computer for the rest of the current Internet Explorer session.
“Such a script might collect user information (e.g. email), spoof content displayed in the browser, or otherwise interfere with the user’s experience.”

Suicide bomber blown up prematurely by spam text | News.com.au

Suicide bomber blown up prematurely by spam text

A “BLACK Widow” suicide bomber who planned to detonate explosives in central Moscow was killed when a spam text message from her mobile-phone company set off the device early.
News of the botched New Year’s Eve operation emerged yesterday as Russian security sources said they had identified the suicide bomber who killed 35 people at a Moscow airport last week.
He was a 20-year-old man from the North Caucasus, a spokesman for the national investigative committee said.
It was also revealed that the explosive belt the man was wearing had been remotely activated. Terror attacks in Russia have ramped up during recent years, with suicide bombings becoming more common.
The “Black Widow” bomber, who has not been named, had intended to detonate the explosives in a busy square on January 31.
But a spam message wishing her a happy new year caused it to go off earlier than planned, instantly killing her but not harming others, security sources said.
The woman had been at a safe house in Moscow with two other bombers when the device exploded.
Mobile phones are often used as detonators by Islamist terrorist groups in Russia.
A “handler” who watches the bomber as they move into the target area sends them a text message to detonate the explosives.
The phones, which have not been previously used, are usually kept turned off until the last minute.
The woman’s handler has been named as Zeinat Suyunova, 24, whose husband is in prison for being a member of a radical Islamist terror group.
Security services believe the failed bomber may have been part of the group that targeted Moscow’s Domodedovo airport last Monday.
Thirty-five people were killed and hundreds injured when explosives were detonated in the baggage hall.
Both groups of bombers may have been part of a squad that was trained at al-Qaeda camps in Pakistan.
Immediately after the airport attack, investigators blamed militant Islamist groups from the North Caucasus, which includes the republics of Chechnya and Dagestan.
For more than a decade, radical Islamic groups have been fighting for an independent “emirate” in the North Caucasus, a region that has long been plagued by poverty and high unemployment.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered Premier Vladimir Putin to put forward proposals for improved security on public transport throughout Russia.

‘We’re f..king bringing it’ on May 6, Duke Nukem Forever’s creators promise in trailer | Online

We’re f..king bringing it’ on May 6, Duke Nukem Forever’s creators promise in trailer

They’re getting sweary about it, so the rumours must be true. (Swirl added to protect innocent eyes). Source: Supplied
EVEN with an official release date and trailer, fans are sceptical.
But then, this is arguably the most famous piece of vapourware – software that never materialises – ever.
After 14 years of promises, Duke Nukem has made another step in an interminably long series of steps closer to reincarnation, after rescuer Gearbox Software committed itself to a global May 6 release for Duke Nukem Forever.
It’s released a proper trailer even, and while it’s hard to tell from such things, it certainly looks the business.
The voiceover tells the story of the one man “whose very presence sent aliens running back to their mother ships”, before he disappeared without a trace.
Frustrated fans of the Duke would know he never really went away – just hung around in the wings, promising to return in a follow-up to the hugely successful 1996 hit Duke Nukem 3D.
According to the new trailer, the invaders took advantage of his absence and came back to Earth.
“They tore our planet apart, bit by bit,” it says as aliens can be seen tearing down a statue of the Duke himself.
“But, they made one mistake – they shouldn’t have gone after our women.”
Cut to scene of pole dancer and lesbian schoolgirls, the type of crudity that made Duke Nukem 3D such an original title back in 1996.
Then, for the first time in 14 years, the Duke speaks.
“Dammit,” he says. “Why do they always take the hot ones?”
Cue highlights – punching giant aliens in the groin. Cheesy one-liners. Triple-breasted she-monsters.
“You want it?” Duke Nukem Forever’s creators ask. “We’re f..king bringing it.”
Indeed. On May 6, apparently, if you believe the final screenshot.
US fans get it on May 3, so we’ll confirm it then.

Conroy’s NBN spruiking to deflect attention from tax leakage in online shopping | The Australian

Conroy’s NBN spruiking to deflect attention from tax leakage in online shopping

SOLLY Lew and Gerry Harvey can rest easy, with Communications Minister Stephen Conroy hosting a seminar later this month on how to exploit the internet shopping revolution.
This blatant NBN spruiking helps deflect attention from what most see as legitimate concerns about tax leakage from online imports — an issue being handled by the Productivity Commission.
Harvey and Lew have helped to create interest in online shopping, which delights the government, given it is laying down the infrastructure to make it easier.
NBN Co and Telstra are still some weeks away from finalising their agreement on just how the whole package will work, complete with the $11 billion bribe to Telstra to compensate it for being forced to split its business.
The government and Telstra may want to see more progress in their talks, but the end of February is a more realistic deal time, assuming all goes to plan.
This would still allow Telstra to put the deal to its shareholders around August this year, which will give Telstra’s David Thodey something to talk up in what still promises to be lacklustre profit growth this year.
Forget attempts to pick how much bandwidth consumers will want; the reality offshore suggests that demand will grow into whatever supply is offered.
Forecasts for online shopping by 2014 vary from Frost and Sullivan’s $17.7bn to PayPal’s $33.8bn.
Southern Cross analyst Paresh Patel issued a report last week exploring the trends and debunking the myth — pushed by Lew et al — that tax leakage was the main factor behind the growth in online shopping.
As much as Lew and Harvey may scoff at the mere notion they should attend a government seminar to learn the benefits of internet retailing, the reality is that Australia lags the world, with online sales for listed retailers a fraction of their international peers.
Woolies has grown fastest last year and now claims to be some 20 per cent ahead of industry stalwart Coles.
Coles has some 85,000 active online shoppers, who place 23,000 orders a week with an average order size of $200. It has total annual grocery sales of $200 million.
To put these numbers in context, 13 million people visit Coles supermarkets each week and 1.5 million its liquor stores, with annual food, liquor and petrol sales of $28bn.
The revolution has to start somewhere.
Wesfarmers boss Richard Goyder noted on Monday that with the exception of Bunnings, his retail brands were way behind.
Target hopes to launch its online offering this quarter and Kmart has had other priorities.
David Jones has just woken to the opportunities while Myer is well ahead of its rivals, with its MyerOne loyalty offer exploiting social media and other channels.
Some 40 per cent of all online purchases are through foreign sites or retailers, underlining the battle ahead for Australian retailers.
Higher wages, property costs and lack of control over supply lines are the key barriers that are holding back some Australian retailers.
That much is well understood by retailers large and small, but the barriers to entry are being broken down — and if you want to hear about the benefits of the NBN, then Conroy will be only too pleased to help you learn.
ASIC falls short
ASIC boss Tony D’Aloisio has fallen well short of his aim to recover $388m lost through the Westpoint collapse.
Yesterday’s settlement with KPMG and unnamed directors raised $67m, of which the audit giant contributed $65m-plus, which was short of the $200m in compensation sought.
Both sides also copped a rebuke from High Court Chief Justice Robert French, who was reportedly not impressed at a commercial settlement that wasted the court’s time.
The headline numbers claimed from ASIC are probably an overstatement when you consider that some have complained that while their adviser was due to pay them money, one or more went into receivership, which meant no money was recovered.
Understandably the punters want revenge and, while D’Aloisio hasn’t said anything about further action against founder Norm Carey, it seems strange no action was already on the table.
His CFO Graeme Rundle is already facing criminal charges.
D’Aloisio’s long-stated aim was to first try to recover money, then see what action could be taken against the promoters.
The KPMG action was part of this dual process, aimed at holding the audit firm to account for its allegedly negligent audits.
Other advisers have lost their licences, but it’s nothing like the big jail terms the US imposes.
D’Aloisio’s priorities are right, because many of the punters were helpless, but that still doesn’t negate the need for trophy heads as a demonstration of what can happen when people are ripped off.
The Federal Court for one thinks ASIC is using civil penalties as a low-barrier route into a quasi-criminal world. It would be preferable if ASIC went straight to criminal penalties, no matter the complexities involved.
The door is still open for claims in the Westpoint matter now the compensation rounds have been exhausted.
At this stage, ASIC is still trying to recover money from the Storm collapse from the likes of Macquarie Bank but criminal actions are now off the table.
If the regulatory outcome is less than satisfactory, then hopefully at some stage the message will get through to punters that returns that seem too good be to true often are.
Those who ignore that are the ones who scream the loudest about ASIC’s admitted failings.
Super heroes
NO ONE will accuse Assistant Treasurer Bill Shorten of not consulting with industry, but whether he actually listens remains to be seen. His Cooper superannuation review implementation committee, unveiled yesterday, includes all the self-serving interest groups Jeremy Cooper talked to in his 12 months on the job.
Shorten’s plan is to have the “experts” on tap to comment on proposed changes as he works through the package.
While on the job and hosing down the self-serving big business lobby, Shorten would do well to enforce more disclosure of the industry’s pay packets, given the super funds and management are the ones voting on behalf of the punters at the annual meetings.
One reader noted a manager with $3bn under management on a fee of 0.4 per cent would be earning $12m a year, spread among 10 people, which after expenses means most fund managers can afford to pay the rent.
If fund managers face the same level of scrutiny as company executives, their attitudes may change.

Politician, caught surfing escort site, blames iPad | Technically Incorrect – CNET News

Politician, caught surfing escort site, blames iPad

We can all recognize that being a politician is largely boring.
Equally, we can all recognize that the iPad exists in order to make our lives a little less boring.
So how can we possibly criticize Italian politician Simeone Di Cagno Abbrescia, who happened to have been sitting in parliament with a few scantily clad ladies on the desk in front of him? Well, to be precise, on the iPad in front of him.

(Credit: Simeone Di Cagno Abbrescia Facebook page)
The Telegraph reports that Abbrescia didn’t deny the images on his iPad were, indeed, images of ladies who were scantily clad. The paper also reports that he didn’t deny that the ladies who were scantily clad were scantily clad on an escort site.
Indeed, the magazine Oggi helpfully identified two of the ladies as Dollyy [sic] and Daisy, and mentioned consultation fees of 400 euros per hour, or the bargain price of 2,500 euros for a weekend.
Abbrescia, however, would like people to understand that he in no way premeditated his viewing of Daisy, or for that matter, of Dollyy. He reportedly said he simply had difficulty getting used to his iPad.
The Telegraph quoted Abbrescia as he outlined some of the horns of his dilemma:
“Normally I use my iPad to keep myself informed and to read the news agencies,” Abbrescia said. “But one can end up lingering over these sorts of, let’s say, pornographic images, which once in a while appear. It was just curiosity, I’ve never used the services of escort girls.”
I’m sure many of you iPad users have endured these, let’s say, pornographic images appearing in a random manner on your new machines. I’m sure you’ve found it so disconcerting that you’ve penned e-mails to Steve Jobs, begging him to stick to his promise to outlaw these, let’s say, pornographic images.
Perhaps you’ll wish to offer stiff criticism of Abbrescia, who, curiously, is a member of the same party as Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, a man with something of a reputation when it comes to the female of the species.
But please remember: It must surely be difficult to listen to a debate about the future of the culture minister while keeping track of whatever important cultural news happens to pop up on your iPad.
Abbrescia should surely pop along to his nearest Genius Bar for a little corrective training.

Egypt gets its Internet back | Deep Tech – CNET News

Egypt gets its Internet back

by Stephen Shankland
Data from the European IP registry service RIPE shows the resumption of Internet access in Egypt.
(Credit: RIPE)
Egyptian authorities have restored Internet service to the country after anti-government protests last week led to a five-day Net blackout.
“Egyptian Internet providers returned to the Internet at 09:29:31 UTC (11:29 a.m. Cairo time),” said a blog post by Net monitoring firm Renesys today.
Indeed, a variety of Egyptian Web sites, including the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, the Central Bank of Egypt, and the Egyptian Stock Exchange are available. And Twitter activity relating to Egypt is surging.
“The Internet is back in Egypt! FINALLY!” tweeted Cairo-based human rights activist Dalia Ziada today. “I have more than 500 e-mails in my inbox! Oh my God!” she added.
Egyptian Internet statistics from RIPE, the European organization that oversees Internet address allocation, showed the restoration of Egypt’s Net operations as the routers that steer traffic onto Egypt’s Internet announced their return to service.
Internet access was restored the day after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak pledged not to seek re-election after 30 years in power.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian army today called for an end to days of protests.
“Your message has arrived, your demands became known… you are capable of bringing normal life to Egypt,” the BBC reported the army said on television.
Egypt’s Net crackdown was met by creative ways around the electronic roadblocks, including a Google-Twitter voice-to-tweet system. It also raised concerns that an Internet “kill switch” in the United States raises the prospect of a similar government-initiated shutdown.

IPv4 Internet addresses: 251 blocks down, 5 to go | Deep Tech – CNET News

IPv4 Internet addresses: 251 blocks down, 5 to go

APNIC, which doles out Internet Protocol addresses in the Asia-Pacific region, got two of the remaining seven blocks of 16.8 million IPv4 addresses from central authority IANA.

Yesterday marked an important step toward the end of Internet plumbing as we know it.
Specifically, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) allocated two of the last seven blocks of Net addresses that use today’s Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4). That will trigger the automatic distribution soon of the last five, one each to the five regional Internet registries (RIR) that oversee the distribution of the numbers farther downstream, to the Internet service providers and other companies that actually need the IPv4 addresses.
It’s hard to predict how long it will be before these eventual customers of IPv4 addresses will be unable to get them easily.
“The rate of further regional assignment will depend on regional demand, which is accelerating faster in some parts of the world (Asia/Pacific) than others (Africa),” said Alain Durand, director of software engineering at network equipment maker Juniper Networks. “Some service providers may exhaust their IPv4 addresses within 3 to 6 months, while others will exhaust them perhaps over a longer period, depending on the rate at which they are allocated.”
It looks like the remaining five blocks will be allocated this week, if press invitations involving just about all the central overseers of the Internet are anything to judge by. “On Thursday, 3 February 2011, at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST), the Number Resource Organization (NRO), along with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the Internet Society (ISOC) and the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) will be holding a ceremony and press conference to make a significant announcement and to discuss the global transition to the next generation of Internet addresses,” said an alert today from American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), one of the five regional registries.
IP addresses are required for one computer to send data to another over the Internet. IPv4 allows for 4.3 billion addresses–2 to the 32nd power–but its successor, IPv6, allows 340 undecillion–2 to the 128th power, a vastly higher number. To be precise, 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 addresses.
That new capacity excites network engineers, mobile phone carriers, and others running into IPv4 limits–but unfortunately the transition from IPv4 to IPv6 is a difficult one, because the two communication protocols are incompatible.
“The transition to IPv6 is not an easy one, not for ISPs, device makers, software developers, major websites, or customers themselves,” said Jason Livingood, executive director of product platform engineering at Comcast, basing his opinion on the IPv6 trials Comcast ran with thousands of customers in 2010.
Experts expect a years-long transition to move fully to IPv6. During that time, Web site operators, Internet service providers, and others will have to gradually shift infrastructure from handling one protocol to handling both.
IPv4 address exhaustion drives this expensive transition. ISPs have long handled IPv4 constraints by sharing addresses dynamically among customers, and private networks can use a technology called network address translation (NAT) to share a single IP address among multiple computers. But the limits are worse for those who need fixed IPv4 addresses–a company launching a new Web site, for example.
IANA hands out IPv4 addresses in blocks of 16.8 million slash-eights, or /8s. That may sound like a lot of addresses, but in 2010, the RIRs went through 19 such blocks of them. That means that any efforts to conserve or redistribute remaining IPv4 addresses postpones the inevitable rather than fundamentally fixes the shortage. And some stopgap measures, such as “carrier-grade NAT” offered at the larger scale of an Internet service provider, can limit some Net services and impose bottlenecks.
“Having native IPv6 access is superior to tunneling [in which IPv6 data is sent over IPv4 networks] or doing one or more NATs in the network; direct, native access is faster and does not break certain applications, therefore resulting in a better end-user experience,” Livingood said.
Some companies that got involved in the Internet early own entire /8s themselves and therefore have lots of unused IPv4 addresses–Hewlett-Packard got a second through its acquisition of Compaq, for example. Others with a /8 to themselves include the U.S. Postal Service, airline operations support company SITA, Prudential Securities, pharmaceutical giants Merck and Eli Lilly, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, IBM, Apple, Xerox, AT&T, Level 3 Communications, General Electric, Ford Motor, and Halliburton.
The two slash-eights were distributed to Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC), the RIR for the Asia-Pacific region.
To give the world a chance to wrestle the IPv6 bull directly by the horns, the Internet Society is helping to organize the World IPv6 Day. On June 8, content providers such as Google and Yahoo and content distributors such as Akamai and Limelight Networks will offer their services over IPv6 for 24 hours for a collective evaluation and troubleshooting session.

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