Estimates vary widely but some credible sources think we could run out of new IP addresses as early as this February.

Go ahead and try to sleep now. I dare you.

Historically, every gizmo – PC, networked printer, IP telephone – that communicates with other gizmos over a computer network has been assigned its own, unique number (something like 172.17.60.22) called an IP address.  That identifying number is how the InterWeb knows to display this blog post on your laptop, and not on your colleague’s iPad.

Don’t panic.  This does not mean that your iPhone will stop accepting texts sometime late this winter or that you won’t be able to buy any more shiny Internet-enabled gadgets.  Network engineers are smart folk and they have foreseen this inevitability for years.  In fact, the new addressing protocol, called IPv6 (don’t ask about IPv5) was standardized way back in 1998 and allows for 2128 addresses.  That’s an unimaginably big number.  In fact, it’s enough to assign a unique Internet address to every single atom on the planet according to this web site, which provides some other amusing comparisons.

Heads-up… Keep an eye out for what Bob Twitchell and hearty and ferocious band of engineers are doing over at Dispersive Network Technologies. Sharzing is naught less than bad-ass, and wicked-cool.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

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