GOODIES TO GO! (tm)
May 10, 1999 -- Newsletter #27
GOODIES TO GO! (tm)
May 10, 1999 -- Newsletter #27
Greetings, Weekend Silicon Warriors...
Well, I've found a new expensive hobby. Yesterday I had the pleasure of flying a single engine Beechcraft Musketeer airplane. The pilot let me take off and fly around central Pennsylvania for an hour. Of course, I had to make that stupid "I can see my house from up here" comment. I did everything but land it. I guess that was the end of the trust factor. I've probably read 15 books on how airplanes fly, but that was the first time I actually got to do it. I'm hooked.
Do you hate SPAM? No, not the pink meat in a can... the unwanted e-mail offering everything from psychic help to ways to beat the tax man. Well, soon SPAMMING may be illegal on the grounds that it's... get this... trespassing. A former Intel employee, Ken Hamidi, was sited for trespassing when he sent former workmates six mass e-mails. Apparently, the judge thinks whose e-mail gets through to a server is the server's business and thinks the server owner should be able to block whomever he/she wants. Huh.
Now onto this week's topic:
Internet, meet Abiline. Abiline, meet the Internet.
Have you heard of Abiline? No, it's not the latest virus from a guy in New Jersey. It's Internet2. (Spelled correctly. There's no space before the 2).
Abiline is one of several very high-speed backbones running around the country. She happens to go from New York to Seattle and can run at the speed of 2.4 Gigabytes per second with the capability to go to 9+ Gigs per second. Zoom. That's enough speed to make listening to MP3 music on line something worth actually doing.
But I don't think Internet2 will be coming to a portal near you anytime soon. The Internet2 system is funded by the U.S. government, 130+ universities, and the computer industry. Microsoft just joined the fold last week, putting up a cool million bucks. You'll also find IBM, Cisco Systems, and 3Com on the Internet2 donation list.
In fact, IBM already has its connection to Internet2 (Abiline, actually) and is working on applications that will be most useful under this very high-speed network. As far as I read, IBM seems to be leaning toward creating digital video delivery and display software. With a 2.4 Gig-per-second speed, you could easily send broadcast- quality images over the system.
Internet2 is a SONET, a Synchronous Optics Network, using Qwest Communications fiber optics and routing equipment provided by Nortel Corporation. It's overseen by the University Corporation for the Advanced Internet Development Group. Plus, it's a closed system so data transmission can be given a guarantee of delivery. It never leaves the loop. I'm not sure that bodes well for security, though. Sounds like it might make thievery a little easier.
Very soon, 70 of the 130 universities will be attached to Abiline. This kind of a backbone would allow for almost instantaneous transfers for mountains of data. An entire encyclopedia could be transferred in under 3 seconds. Wow.
If you haven't taken it by now, Internet2 is mainly a North American effort, but I have to believe that as soon as they get this stuff running smoothly it'll be strung across the oceans and down to South America. And who knows, maybe South America, or China, or Africa will start their own high-speed Internet2. Some already have. That may the best way to go about it, hooking them all together, that is. There's already talk of attaching Internet2 to the Asia- Pacific Advanced Network.
But first we need to figure out what to do with this thing. I probably thought the same thing you're thinking: "Wow, all that speed. I could surf so fast with that!" But that's not really the purpose of this system. Yes, you could surf using current TCP/IP protocols, but that would be like driving a Ferrari at 25 mph. It'll do it, but where it really sings is when you rev it up to 120 in third gear.
Internet2 is little more than a testing ground at the moment. Even those attached admit it's currently just a place where new technologies can be tested. Think of it as a mini-Internet where things can be played with before unleashing them on the current Internet. Have you heard about moving Internet IP addresses from 32-bit to 128-bit? That's part of new IPv6 (Internet Protocols version 6) protocols that have yet to really be tested. Now with Internet2, there's a place to play with it before it gets to the general Internet public. Hopefully, that means smoother operation right out of the gate.
So, when do we get to play with it? I don't doubt that costs will allow some very important people to pay for an attachment, but I don't see the latest Hanson Fan Page going up anytime soon.
Here's the rub: The Internet is an open system. There's really no one out there who can tell you what can and cannot go on the Web of phone lines. With a few loosely enforced parameters, if you pay your $19.95 a month on time, you can post almost anything.
Internet2 is just the opposite. It's a closed system that was built specifically for the purpose of testing. But will it stay closed? This stuff costs money, a lot of money. Plus, if this really is a testing ground, one of the biggest testing areas will be Internet commerce. Can you see my prediction already?
I can see Internet2 becoming a very upscale mall. It's going to cost a healthy chunk of change to get attached, but soon you'll be able to hook up. Once there, I don't doubt there will be high-end merchants who paid the price to put their wares on line. Imagine driving the 2001 Chevy Camaro using virtual reality, then being able to buy it right on line by having a two-way digital meeting with a salesperson. You could use a special pen and sign the contract right on the computer screen.
Maybe it's clothing. For a bit of cash, you could send your measurements and get a scan of your face. Then you could sit and "try-on" clothes and see exactly what you'd look like in them.
Will there be home pages? Yes, but I'll bet they will be closely monitored. If the powers that be don't like what you're posting, you're gone. Internet2 is not going to be a democracy.
I know it sounds like I'm trivializing this system, but I'll bet I'm right. Internet2 is a great idea. Too good, and too expensive, to keep to yourself. Part of me hopes I'm wrong. I'd like to see the system be used for high-end research, data-transfer, and a way to make the current Internet better, faster, stronger -- like Steve Austin. But on the other hand, I'd also like to see what capabilities this thing holds for the business of business.
And you know it's only a matter of time before smaller Internet2 knock-offs start popping up. Maybe in the future you won't attach to the Internet for sports, you'll attach to the Sports Internet, an entire system devoted only to the love of sports. Oh, it'll cost you, but the ability to catch multiple college games all at the same time will be more than some fans can stand.
I'm getting happy just thinking about it.
And that's that. Thank you for reading.
Joe Burns, Ph.D
And Remember: Gentlemen, did you ever turn your ties over and look at the lining for a series of stripes? I remember in high school we thought that if you had more stripes, you had a better tie. Not so -- the stripes indicate the lining's weight (or thickness). The more stripes... the thicker. It has little to do with the make of the tie.