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IPcalypse Now

Between birds falling out of the sky and epic snowstorms in the US, people are starting to wonder whether the end of the world is upon us. But even if the apolcalypse isn't night, the IPcalypse certainly is.

'The wiggity-wiggity-what now?', we hear you cry. Gosh darn it, haven't you been paying attention? We told you last week that the last few IP addresses, the string of numbers that identify every single PC, tablet and phone connected to the internet, were about to run out. And now, well, they have.

OK, the well hasn't actually run dry yet - what's happened is that the head honchos of internet-world, ICAAN, have handed the last blocks of addresses over to regional organisations to distribute. We can't know exactly when they'll all be given out, but it'll be in the next few days or weeks.

Then what?! Well, the good news is there's a replacement system of IP addresses - IPv6, as opposed to the current IPv5, ready to go. (No, we don't know what happened to IPv5 either. Maybe like Babylon 4, it mysteriously vanished only to be later revealed to have travelled thousands of years back in time. Though, seeing that written down, we realise it's unlikely. Anyway.)

The problem, as is always the case, is transition. By no means all the internet's service providers have updated their systems to the new, er, system. That means that those connecting through these laggard ISPs could find they're unable to get new devices onto the network - and new websites might be invisible to millions of users.

Users of Windows XP might also have to fiddle with some settings to get IPv6-enabled. We'll explain how to do that in the next story. Stay tuned, folks!

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