This is a picture of my son when he was young.

The Audio Code 97 (ACí97) specification defines the digital link that is used to connect a mixture of audio codecs (ACs) and modem codecs (MCs). This allows for cost-effective audio and modem connects, which do not involve the ISA bus, and are configurable by software.
Isn't that interesting?


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Rambling on Networks

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Many of the great inventions/developments of our time were things that were not really predicted, such as CD -ROMs , RADAR , silicon  transistors, fiber-optic  cables, and, of course, the Internet . The Internet itself is basically an infrastructure of interconnected networks  which run a common protocol. The nightmare of interfacing the many computer systems around the world was solved because of two simple protocols: TCP and IP. Without them the Internet would not have evolved so quickly and possibly would not have occurred at all. TCP and IP are excellent protocols as they are simple and can be run over any type of network, on any type of computer system.

      The Internet  is often confused with the World Wide Web  (WWW ), but the WWW is only one application of the Internet. Others include electronic mail  (the No. 1 application), file transfer, remote login , and so on.

      The amount of information  transmitted over networks increases by a large factor every year. This is due to local area networks, wide area networks and traffic  over the Internet . It is currently estimated that traffic on the Internet doubles every 100 days and that three    people join the Internet every second. This means an eight-fold increase in traffic over a whole year. It is hard to imagine such growth in any other technological area. Imagine if cars were eight times faster each year, or could carry eight times the number of passengers each year (and of course roads and driveways would have to be eight times larger each year).

      Networks have grown vastly since the 1970s, and most companies now have some form of network. At the beginning of the 1980s, PCs were relatively complex machines to use, and required application programs to be installed locally to their disk drives. Many modern computers now run their application programs over a network, which makes the administration of the application software much simpler, and also allows users to share their resources.

      The topology  of a network is all-important, as it can severely affect the performance of the network, and can also be used to find network faults. I have run a network for many years and know the problems that can occur if a network grows without any long-term strategy. Many users (especially managers) perceive that a network can be expanded to an infinite degree. Many also think that new users can simply be added to the network without a thought on the amount of traffic  that they are likely to generate, and its effect on other users. It is thus important for network managers to have a short-term, a medium-term and a long-term plan for the network.

      So, what are the basic elements of a network? I would say:

•         IP  addresses/domain names  (but only if the network connects to the Internet  or uses TCP /IP ).

•         A network operating system  (such as Microsoft  Windows , Novell NetWare , UNIX  and Linux ). Many companies run more than one type of network operating system, which causes many problems, but has the advantage of being able to migrate from one network operating system to another. One type of network operating system can also have advantages over other types. For example, UNIX is a very robust networking operating system which has good network security and directly supports TCP /IP  for all network traffic .

•         The cables (twisted-pair , fiber-optic  or coaxial  cable s). These directly affect the bit rate  of the network, its reliability and the ease of upgrade of the network.

•         Network  servers , client /server  connections and peer-to-peer  connections.

•         Bridges , routers  and repeaters. These help to isolate traffic  from one network segment  to another. Routers  and bridges  are always a good long-term investment and help to isolate network traffic  and can also isolate segment faults.

The networking topology  of the future is likely to evolve around a client /server  architecture . With this, server  machines run special programs which wait for connections from client    machines. These server programs typically respond to networked applications, such as    electronic mail , WWW , file transfer, remote login , date/time servers , and so on.

      Many application programs are currently run over local area networks, but in the future many could be run over wide area networks, or even over the Internet . This means that computers would require the minimum amount of configuration and allows the standardization of programs at a single point (this also helps with bug fixes and updates). There may also be a time when software licensing is charged by the amount of time that a user actually uses the package. This requires applications to be run from a central source  (the server ).

      The Internet , networks and increased computing   power  will  have  great  effects  on  all areas of life, whether they are in commerce, in industry or in home life. The standardization of networking technology has allowed for the standardization of systems, especially in electronic mail , and remote working. The key of this success is the worldwide acceptance of the TCP /IP  protocol , which allows different computer systems over the world to communicate, no matter their type, their architecture , or their operating system .

      The Internet  is likely to have a great effect on how companies do business. It is likely in the coming years that many companies will become reliant on electronic commerce for much of their business, whether it is by direct sales over the Internet or the integration of their financial operation in an electronic form.

      Electronic commerce involves customers using electronic communications to purchase goods, typically using the Internet . This will change the way that many businesses do business, and the way that consumers purchase their goods. Society is now moving from a cash based society to a cashless society. Most  consumers  now  use  ATMs  (Automatic  Telling Machines) for cash withdrawals, and debit and credit cards to purchase goods. The future is likely to see an increase in consumers using electronic methods to pay for their goods. An important key to the acceptance of Internet-based purchases is that they must be secure, and cannot be used by criminals to make false purchases, or criminals setting up companies which take payments for incorrect services.

      Computer networks are a crucial part of many organizations and many users now even have a network connection in their own home. Without networks, there would be no electronic mail , no Internet  access and no networked applications. It is one of the fastest growing technological areas and brings benefits to virtually every country in the world. With the interconnection of networks to the Internet, the world has truly become a Global Village. For many people, especially children, the first place to search  for a given topic is the World Wide Web  (WWW ).

      Who would believe the pace of technology over ten short years, such as:

∑          From networks of tens of computers operating at speeds of thousands of bits per second to networks with thousands of computers operating at billions of bits per second.

∑         From organizations that passed paper documents  back  and  forward,  to  the  totally paperless organizations.

∑         From people who sent one letter each month to people who send tens of electronic mail s every day.

∑         From sending letters around the world which would take days or weeks to arrive, to the transmission of information  around the world within a fraction of a second.

∑         From businesses that relied on central operations to ones that can be distributed around the world, but can communicate as if they were next door.

∑         From the transmission of memos which could be viewed by people and organizations  which were not meant to read the message, to the transmission of messages that can only be read by the intended destination (and maybe, by space aliens). Not even the CIA can decrypt these messages.

∑         From written signatures that can be easily forged, to digital signatures which are almost impossible to forge, and not only authenticate the sender but also all of the contents of a message.

These days virtually every computer in a company is networked and networks are key to the effective working of an organization . Without them, few people could work effectively. They provide us with:

∑       Electronic mail .

∑       Networked application software.

∑       Remote connections.

∑       Shared printers.

∑       Networked video  conferencing .

∑       Remote control of remote equipment.

∑       Remote data  acquisition.

∑       Shared disk resources.

© W. Buchanan, 2000