20140530, Kenneth Huang, (Introduction to the Internet – C2)

C2-Introduction to the Internet

Kenneth Huang

People today use electronic devices more than ever before, and nearly all of us use the Internet every day. But, do we really understand what it is?
Bryant McGill once said, “Curiosity is one of the great secrets of happiness.” When I first discovered how the internet worked, I was very contented. Today, I wish to share this happiness with all of you.

Today we will be going through these problems:
}  What is an IP address?
}  What are routers? (edible?)
}  Which is faster? Dropbox or NTUspace?
By the end of this speech, you’ll know the answers to all these questions.

[IP address]
Let us first take a look at the basic internet architecture. When we are connecting to the internet, we are connecting to millions and billions of other devices around the globe. These include devices of other ordinary users like you and me, and supercomputers owned by companies such as Google and Facebook. Just like how each house has an address, each of these devices also has an address called “IP address.” So when we want to go on Facebook, our device sends a mail with the address of Facebook.com “To:  Content: give me the login page!” Then Facebook replies with our requested page. [demonstrate] When we type facebook.com and hit enter. It is first transformed into an address with many number and then sent to facebook

[Check list] So now we know that an IP address is the address of devices on the Internet. Let’s move on to the next part.

In reality, we are not directly connected, say, through a wire with Facebook’s supercomputers. Because then there’ll be billions of wires connecting to them, which is extremely uneconomic. We and those devices around us are connected to a local stop called “router,” then this router and a few others connect to another higher level router, forming a tree-like network. Just as sending a letter we would write the address on the envelop and hand it to the post office. When we want to request information from Facebook, we send “packages” with the IP address of Facebook.com with our request inside the package to the router. Then the router looks at the address and decides where the package should be forwarded to. Then the next router does the same. Eventually, the package will reach Facebook’s supercomputers. [demo] This shows the routers between my dorm and Facebook.

[Check list] Routers are the post offices of the Internet world. They manage our digital mails and get them to the right place.

Now that we know the basic physical structure of the Internet, let’s exam what affects the speed of our Internet connections. Just as each post office has a limit of mails they can manage every day, there’s a limited amount of packages each router can handle at a given time. Let’s assume our device is connected to this set of routers. And our destination, Dropbox is on another set. There will be many people who want to connect to places on the other side. So we can see that this high level router takes a much heavier load than those down here. And these are the places that congestion is likely to occur. When this happens, our Internet speed becomes slow. However, if we are connecting to another place let’s say NTUspace in our domain, we won’t encounter the congesting router. So we won’t be heading towards the traffic jam on the highway. We take the freeway instead. This will make the connection speed much faster. When we are on campus, we are in close proximity with NTUspace. This is one of the main factors that makes NTUspace much faster than Dropbox on campus. Here’s a little download experiment that I did at my dorm. We can see that NTUspace is much faster than Dropbox. So next time when you have a very big file to upload to cloud, NTUspace may be your best option.

[Check list] NTUspace is much faster than Dropbox on campus.

Now we have the final check on our check list! Let’s do a quick review. First, an Internet address is the address of devices in the internet. We send mails called packages with these addresses to communicate with other devices. Next, routers are post offices of the Internet. They forward our packages towards our destination. Finally, congestion is likely to occur at higher level routers. Thus it NTUspace is much faster than Dropbox when we’re on campus. Congratulations fellow Toastmasters! You are one step closer to being an Internet expert. TME.




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