Every other week or so, FOXNews.com tries to solve your most vexing technology-related problems. Send your questions to TechQuestions@foxnews.com and we'll reply to selected ones in our next installment.
Hope all of you had a wonderful Independence Day.
Out here in California, we're in the middle of the year's second scorching heat wave. Earthquake weather, it's sometimes called, because the worst ones seem to occur when it's hot. Half of the state seems to be on fire.
Not so long ago, it was rain and mudslides. We may not have four distinct seasons, but we do seem to have the natural disaster du jour.
And now the Times of London is reporting that the end of the Internet is nigh. What could be more frightening? Send a plague of locusts, but let me keep my Internet!
The End Is Near!
Q: I read recently that the Internet is about to die. What does this mean? Will we really be unable to access the Web in 2011? What about my e-mail or my Facebook page?
A: As Mark Twain once wrote, "The report of my death was an exaggeration." So it is with this story, which first appeared in the Times of London.
There is a factual basis to the story: The Internet is, in fact, running out of addresses. We have known this for at least a decade and a replacement for the current addressing scheme has already been developed and tested.
It's called IPv6 (Internet Protocol, version 6) or sometimes IPng (Internet Protocol, Next Generation). Some of the folks who worked on the new standard were big Star Trek fans. The current addressing scheme is IPv4.
How will it affect you as a standard, garden-variety, one-each, olive-drab Internet user? Not very much.
Consider what happens when all of the phone numbers in a given area code are used up. Some of the people in the old area code get a new one.
Does that mean that people can no longer give names to their children? No, because there is no link between a person's name and his or her telephone number.
Similarly, there is no link between a domain name (FoxNews.com, for example) and the Internet addresses of the various Fox News servers. We're not running out of names — we're running out of addresses.
Does it change the way you use the telephone? Again, no. You will still pick up the receiver, dial the number, and be connected.
Similarly, you will still open a browser, type in a URL (Nerdspeak: Uniform Resource Locator, http://www.foxnews.com, for example) and see the Web page.
So what changes? Mostly, it will be behind-the-scenes stuff.
When a user on the old Internet (let's call it Internet I) types in the URL of a server on the new Internet (let's call it Internet II), his browser will be directed to a connection point between Internet I and Internet II which will do the address translation.
Why haven't we made the switch yet? Simple economics. There's a lot of money invested in the infrastructure of Internet I. A lot of training will be needed for the systems administrators and technicians of Internet II. A lot of new network tools will have to be developed.
So until we can drag all of the Internet service providers, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century, sit back and feel safe, knowing that Internet I will be around for a long time to come. After all, many people are still using dial-up, right?
Toshiba Laptop, Black Screen, Revisited
A couple of installments ago, I answered a question from the owner of a Toshiba laptop who was experiencing a black screen and a system freeze at random times.
I got a few responses to that. Feedback, as always, is welcomed here at Tech Q&A!
Several of you wondered why I didn't think it was a hibernation problem.
To be honest, I did consider that, but it seemed from the wording of the original question that this was happening at random times while the laptop was being used.
The most interesting response:
I purchased the same computer in November and was having the same problem. I returned one of them and the second one was doing the same thing. I have since figured out that there is a BIOS upgrade from Toshiba that has resolved my issue. They provide the software to do the upgrade without screwing up the computer. Here is the link to the page — just click on the "Downloads" link and find the most recent upgrade of the BIOS. If you have the most current one they will tell you when you try to install it. http://www.csd.toshiba.com/cgi-bin/tais/su/su_sc_home.jsp
If the original reader is still with us, it's worth a try! Thanks, and a hat tip to Jerecho in Idaho.
The Sounds of Silence
Q: I have a problem when running Audacity or Adobe Audition in Vista.
When I'm recording, the live playback is delayed a half-second or two. This makes it difficult when recording with pre-recorded tracks. How can I fix this?
I have a Dell Inspiron 1525, and I thought it may be related to that model, but my brother has a Toshiba and has the same problem, so I'm guessing it is a Vista issue.
I do not know if this is common with other Vista users, and since everyone is slow at upgrading to Vista, I do not know if this problem has been brought to light yet.
A: Is the problem getting sound from a USB microphone? In this case, the problem is that there is no direct path between the microphone and the sound card.
By the time audio gets from the microphone, through all the various audio buffers and then back to the sound card, a noticeable amount of time has passed.
Not sure why this would be more noticeable in Vista than in XP.
If possible, try a setup where the microphone interfaces directly with the sound card. Let us know if this solves your problem.
Guy R. Briggs is a member of the Nerds On Site international IT service team and is based in Los Angeles.
Got questions about computers and technology? Send them to TechQuestions@foxnews.com and we'll answer selected ones in our next installment.
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