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The Internet is Full. Please Move On.

If you've been following the news or if you're one of those unfortunate people who have to work with computers for a living, you'll probably have heard by now that the Internet is running out of space. But not, as you might expect, due to petabytes of pornographic images of fatties. No, it's actually running out of IP addresses, which are the numerical labels we use to locate specific fatty-porn reservoirs.

What that actually means is a fucking mystery to everyone who sees the light of day regularly. But if you were to pin down an expert on network architecture, he will, excited at this human contact, eagerly tell you that this could either be:

- A small deal, or

- A "climb on to the roof of your house with a lot of ammunition" sized deal ...

... depending on how a few things work out. Which doesn't tell us much at all. And to save my readers the trouble of learning on their own time, I knew I had to get to the bottom of this. So, after doing very little research, I climbed on top of my desk, where a vigorous session flexing the twin muscles of my writing talent (Oversimplification and Fabrication) resulted in the following article dropping from between my legs, fully formed. I present it to you now, so that you might handle the coming addresspocalypse as you best see fit.

#1: It means nothing

The reason the Internet is running out of addresses is because the current format for addresses, IPv4, has simply run out of numbers. A new format called IPv6, which can handle more than twice the number of addresses as IPv4, has long since been developed to deal with this problem. So we'll simply transition over to this new format over the next few months and years, which shouldn't be that big a deal, again unless you're one of those awful people who have to work with computers. Most of the software we already use is capable of supporting IPv6 addresses, and there are similar hardware solutions in place that will allow both addressing systems to work in parallel during this transition period. The Internet, and the cat related image trading that drives it, shall go on.

What You Need To Do:

Nothing. (Nothing regarding Internet usage that is. You will still need to eat and poop.)

#2: We'll have to learn to share

If the transition to IPv6 doesn't go smoothly, it's possible the Internet will have to get by with its limited supply of IP addresses for an extended length of time. With limited addresses to go around, some form of address sharing may be necessary. This would involve a single IP address being shared amongst several users, similar to what we already do with routers, but on a larger scale. A single IP address per neighborhood, or per city, rationed much in the same way lawn watering restrictions are currently implemented. When it's not your turn, you'll simply have to watch the Internet passively, while other people check their email, run raids in WoW and browse Latvian bride catalogs.

What You Need To Do:

Buy two houses on opposite sides of the street, or at a minimum, move to a side of the street with hotter webcam girls.

#3: Nobody new gets to use the Internet

Another option on how to allocate limited IP addresses is to simply stop letting new people online. This is pretty troubling from an ethical standpoint, as it would mean poor people and Africans would be discriminated against. But also no grandparents. It's what ethicists would call "an OK deal."

What You Need To Do:

Presumably you're in OK shape, because you're online already, reading this. But what if you're not? What if you're reading this on a printout found in a restroom, while you wait for something interesting to start happening on the other side of that gloryhole (our webstats indicate 1.5 percent of this column's readers are actively using a gloryhole). If that's you, and you don't have Internet access already, then you'd better get on that immediately.

Or you could finish up there first. Yeah. You'll be in a bad mood all day if you don't finish up there first.

#4: Cold Turkey

Elements of the Internet infrastructure rely on the ready availability of new IP addresses, and if that situation changes, there is a slim chance that large chunks of that infrastructure might cease functioning, crippling the Internet entirely. Harrowing visions of a world without the Internet have been written before (short version, things don't go that fantastic) as it's hard to imagine the world adapting well to a sudden weening from this delicious electronic teet. Although riots and trident-based death sports are an unlikely end result from all this -- smaller annoyances, like conversations on the phone, or fucking goddamned CD stores might start cropping up.

What You Need To Do:

Prepare yourself mentally for a world without the Internet. For my older readers (ages 25-27) this should come easily. For the younger, you'll need to do some homework. Depending on where you live, find a regionally appropriate television program from the recent pre-Internet area (i.e. if you live in New York, pick Seinfeld; if you live in the Los Angeles underground, pick the A-Team) and PVR as many episodes of them as you can. And, if you do happen to have a trident handy, it probably wouldn't hurt to practice your forms.

#5: Oh Yeah? Well maybe we'll just start our own Internet!

Way back when the Internet was a lot uglier a few eggheads got together with the intent of making a better, sexier Internet. And, thanks to an absolutely laughable lack of creative abilities, they decided to call it Internet2. (The correct name for an Internet sequel? Laser-Mesh.) Internet2 was going to be a separate but parallel Internet operating atop a different and supposedly superior architecture, which would allow all sorts of incredible egghead things to be done, without all of those distressing nip-slip pictures cluttering it up.

The idea did not prove popular.

But, as we lurch into 2011 with Internet Classic full to the brim, the door for Internet2 may have finally opened up. Users who find themselves shut out of the original may choose to flock to the new version, promoting a healthy sense of rivalry between the two networks, allowing the faerie magick of free-market competition to cause both networks to improve.

What You Need To Do:

Internet2 still isn't terribly popular, so you have a real opportunity to get in at the ground floor. I'd suggest getting an Internet2 box immediately and stake out the good site names before they're snapped up. google.com2 and facebook.com2 and oprahsexvid.com2. You'll also have the opportunity to get the first post on everything, as well as the power to bitch endlessly that you were there first, and how everything was so much better before everyone else joined.

#6: Skynet

One of the primary reasons the Internet ran out of IP addresses so rapidly is the massive amount of small hardware devices which have demanded dedicated addresses to themselves. One potential solution would be to segregate these hardware devices to the second, lamer Internet (the one with the eggheads, and I guess also the poor people and grandparents). That way the rest of us sweat-leaking Internet users could remain on the original Internet and laugh it up as per usual, with our recipe trading and cyber-bullying and Buffy fanfic reviewing.

The downside to this, as history tells us, is that segregating robots to their own corner of anything is a recipe for a war that destroys the sky.

There's also the chance that whatever this is could happen.

Worse still, this plan provides the machines natural allies -- the poor and elderly denizens of their Internet ghetto. If the vision of a homeless man riding atop a flame spewing Internet enabled killdozer, screaming, "Do you have any change now, bitches?" doesn't keep you awake at night, well than congratulations on being a bigger man than me, you magnificent hardass.

What You Need To Do:

Practice making jerky, angular motions while wrapped in aluminum foil or read up a bit on how batteries work, so that you might better fit in to this new world. And, if you happen to own one of those Internet enabled sex toys, you might want to bury it deep in the ground, because when the sky turns to ash, it will remember what you did to it, and it will want to do it back to you, at a very high frequency and amplitude.

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Chris Bucholz

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