The missing 800 million
I had finished eating my dholl-puree and was crumpling the wrapping paper to throw it into the bin when I noticed some printed characters. I smoothed back the paper and looked closer. Right at the bottom, in the left hand corner, was the following : IP 18.104.22.168. Now, to most people this might mean nothing, but to any computer programmer the symbols “IP” followed by a string of numbers are highly meaningful. IP means ‘Internet Protocol’ and the numbers indicate the unique address of a computer on the Internet.
I looked at the dholl-puree seller and shook my head in disapproval. Instead of spotless white paper, that guy was using computer stationery for wrapping his dholl-purees! “Must have picked it outside some office,” I thought, and I had a good mind to tell him that he should be more mindful of his clients’ health.
But my irritation soon gave way to curiosity. That string of numbers kept floating in front of my eyes and I was burning to know what computer they were referring to. Apart from the IP address of Harper & Dayle (the company where I was working), I knew of no other IP address. And it was this IP address, precisely, that I was using from home to access my mail from the office computer. (I was using a File Transfer Program, or FTP, for this purpose.)
As soon as I arrived home, I switched on my computer, logged on to the Internet and clicked on the FTP icon. I got the usual log in prompt that asked for an IP address, and with my eyes glued on the dholl-puree wrapper, I carefully entered the string of nine numbers and pressed ‘Enter’.
Immediately, the following message appeared on the screen: “You are now logged on to the Republic Mercantile Bank” and just beneath was another message: “Please enter Username”.