Friday, July 24, 2009

LIS 5990

In Chapter 3, "Accessing the Internet: Connection Technologies," Miller does a very thorough job of explaining broadband technology. The good news is that access to broadband is expected to reach 80% of the population by 2010. The bad news is we are already viewing so many bandwidth hogging videos that Internet service providers are considering assessing a surcharge on folks who overindulge and exceed a set bandwidth limit. Not good! The section on DSL was interesting because it broke down the distance limits for each type of DSL connection. That made it all very real to me. As a cable broadband user, I was astonished to read that I'm sharing available bandwidth in my neighborhood with all the other "nodes" in the area. As more of my neighbors connect to the Internet through Cox cable, I can expect my connection speed to degrade. Again, not good! Sometime in the next few months, I'm planning to purchase a laptop. With that in mind, I am intrigued by the potential of WiMax technology to provide increased connection speed and more secure signa. I'll try to keep an eye on developments in that area. After reading the section on routers and proxy servers, I was still confused but Miller explained that more fully in the next reading.

In Chapter 4, "Internet Technologies: TCP/IP," Miller does a great job of explaining packet switching and Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol. I was already familiar with this concept but only on the most elementary level. I knew every transmission was broken up into packets and scattered like buckshot into the Internet but I didn't know that TCP encoded every single packet with instructions for the receiver to reconstitute the stuff into the proper display. I appreciated Miller's explanation of the overhead involved in IP packet address headers. When he described it in terms of the MARC record, a tiny light bulb came on in my head. This analogy worked for me--and that kind of creeped me out because now I know this LIS indroctrination is starting to stick. (lol) Although I tried to follow the section on IP addressing, when Miller started going all Math Ninja on me, I had to go get a beer out of the fridge. ;) The section of proxy servers clarified TCCL's Web access for me. When I use a staff PC, I have access to our subscription databases through automatic authentication based on my domain address but our customer PCs require authentication through a proxy server via a library card number. The section on managing IP address assignments was a big chunk to try to digest but I can see that it would be very useful for someone charged with designing a library's Internet connection. The section on routing and subnet masks was a bit more accessible for me. Routers direct Internet data packets toward their destinations. These destinations are either a host within the router subnet or a host in the outside world. Subnet masks aid in this process by separating the the network part of the address from the host part. (Please don't ask me anything else about that!) The section on domain names was enlightening. I never knew that the URL was just a facade; the real IP address is a number. (Who knew?! Probably everybody but me.) The section on command utilities was good; I always wondered what ipconfig was. Basically, there was a lot to chew on in this chapter.

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