Opinion » Cybernaut


Best of CES, worst for your eyes



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There are perceived health risks to a lot of technology - cell phones causing brain cancer, Blackberry phones causing tendonitis in thumbs, laptops burning laps, headphones making people go deaf - and most of the risks are somewhat overstated, though they most certainly exist. And while most of the concern over glasses-free 3D is probably the result of an excess of caution, it's still a new technology - do you really want to get in on the ground floor of it, only to discover that this time the risks are actually worse?

My own inclination would be to sit on the sidelines when this hits stores in March and wait to see what happens. Early adopters make the tech world go around, but for every iPhone sure thing there's an HD-DVD gamble. Why gamble with your eyes?


The IPv4 countdown

Invisible to most Internet users is a layer of protocols that are based on numbers. Every time a new registry is added, such as a new ISP, another number is added to the list maintained by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority.

As of Jan. 1, some 97 per cent of the four billion IPv4 addresses were accounted for, and sometime in the month of February the IANA is expected to run out of addresses altogether. That pretty much caps the expansion of the web and cellular network, with no addresses to identify and route traffic to new networks or server banks.

It might seem shortsighted now, but consider that the registry was last updated in 1982. Who predicted then the vast international networks that would be in place by 2011, or the billions of people that would be hooked to the grid? Or the uses that we would put the network to?

To remedy the shortage, the IANA started work on the IPv6 protocol a decade ago, and while that seems like it should mitigate the crisis it's still very much in development. There's nothing stopping people from using IPv6 now, except for the fact that it requires a huge amount of investment for some larger users to make the switch as the new addressing system needs to be applied throughout their code. For that reason the protocol is making its biggest inroads in Asia with new customers, while traditional IPv4 customers sit on their hands - and their addresses.

What will happen when we reach the IPv4 wall? Nobody is really sure, but the demand for the addresses remains high so it's a certainty that we'll reach that point in the next month or so.