ME and Ophelia

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Getting the net off the ground and internetting

Today, the BBC reports on the fathers of the Internet, Vinton Cerf and Robert Khan. Early attention to security issues might have given us a better internet today - or the project might never have taken off at all, says Robert Kahn. The net's co-inventor tells BBC Click Online how it all began, when, as an assistant professor of electrical engineering at MIT, he took a leave of absence to brush up on his networking theory. He was the system designer of the Arpanet - the very first computer network.


Dr Kahn, pictured above, who never expected to be become part of technology legend, dubbed his project 'internetting'. Also, the BBC report quotes Dr Khan as saying:

"The work that we did was principally on designing what a network would look like. It was me working alone writing memos on the subject. I thought, at that time, that this was about as much practical experience as one would really need, to be a good theoretician back in the university. But it turned out that an agency of the US government, the Defence Advance Research Projects Agency, known as Darpa (it was known as Arpa back then) actually had plans to build a computer network in the country.

At the time, many people didn't think this was a very practical thing to do because it clearly didn't look like a business opportunity and there weren't that many computers around. But I thought it was an interesting technical challenge, so I was actually the system designer of the Arpanet - the very first computer network.

When I got to Darpa, I got involved in the creation of two more nets. One was using satellites, a kind of Ethernet in the sky, on Intelsat-4, and the other one was a kind of a mobile network where the nodes were packet radios that broadcast to each other, so all the nodes could be in motion, in principle, or they could stay fixed as well. The whole goal of that effort seemed pretty straight forward at the time: given that you've got the nets, put them together and get the machines on them to work together. That was the genesis of the project itself."

How to 'internet'?

"When I first started the programme I was talking about what we were trying to achieve, which was netting these different computers and networks, so I called the project 'internetting'." - Robert E. Kahn.


Photo: Vinton G. Cerf, who is hard of hearing, was the other key player in the creation of the Internet.

Further reading:

August 2003 post re my email to Vint Cerf and his kind reply..
Read Click Online's interview with Vint Cerf. Click Online is broadcast on BBC Two: Saturday at 0745 and BBC One: Sunday at 0645.
Website of British physicist Sir Tim Berners-Lee.
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See today's blogs - the latest in chatter in cyberspace - at the Slate.
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Is grounded

Last night, Ophelia went out before bedtime but did not return within half an hour as usual. By midnight, I went out into the back courtyard with a torch, thinking she might be having a stare-out with another cat, like last time. I couldn't see her anywhere and was worried. I stayed up using the laptop to keep my mind off the fact that I couldn't go out and look for her.

At 12.35 she walked in without a word. I got up, said how pleased I was she was home, and picked her up for a cuddle. As I kissed her head, I got a shock in the pit of my stomach. The whole edge of her left ear was dripping with shiny bright red blood and the fur near her ear and shoulder looked like bloodied bite marks but I couldn't see that any skin had been pierced. As soon as I set her down by the fire to fetch some cotton wool and warm water, she flung herself down on the carpet and rolled over onto her side for a cuddle. I guessed she was pleased to be home.

After I reassured and cooed and fussed, she stood up and prowled the hallway, pushed the door open to each room and walked from corner to corner, sniffing as she went. She even looked into her hidey hole under the bed. Maybe she was checking to see if the critter that attacked her was not still hanging around.

I waited up until 1 a.m. to check that she was walking OK and had no other injuries. I waited for her ear to stop dripping blood, which it did within fifteen minutes so maybe she had returned home immediately after the fight. She wouldn't let me bathe her ear so I made her a nice bed for her on the couch and went to bed. Two minutes later she jumped up onto my bed and settled to sleep on top of my feet. As I fell asleep, she stood up for a minute and shook her head hard before settling down again. I imagined blood might have splattered onto my bedcover but I didn't mind because she was home safely and not distressed.

Unusually, she was still asleep by my feet when I awoke at 8 a.m. As soon as she yawned I knew she was OK. For some reason, she always yawns when she awakes. So far today, she has been out once and returned after five minutes. A while later she wanted to go out again but seemed to understand when I said no. I wanted her to stay cosy and warm and heal. Off she went, onto her chair by the temporary fire (new fire might be here within next few weeks) and slept all day.

Right now, it is 5.05 p.m. and the sea is dark gunmetal grey. Heavy dark clouds. Temperature dropping. Feels like snow in the air. Ophelia is now snoozing on her blanket in the airing cupboard, where she goes when bad weather is on its way, so all is well here now. I can't help wondering though what happened out there in the dark last night. I know, through the games we play, she is swift on her feet with reflexes as sharp as a razor. She can race a ping pong ball from one side of the room to the other in a split second. She has a sweet nature, is beautifully behaved and not pushy or a bully. I can't imagine her attacking another cat first but have no doubts that the attacker did not get off lightly. More than likely, there is another cat owner in this neighbourhood somewhere today, nursing a cat with a raggedy bloody ear.

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 3/05/2005
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