Friday, 8 March 2013

Networking on networking

It seems games have to be networked these days. You've probably heard that EA have had problems with the latest version of SimCity which led to Amazon temporarily suspending sales of the game. Heavy use of the servers to which the game had to be connected (always) were to blame.

Getting more traffic than you bargained for is not uncommon in setting up networks. It's got more of a problem as people's files have got larger and the halcyon days when we could hold our life on a 100 megabyte disc (that cost several hundred pounds!) are long gone. However, setting up our new network here at ATSF Towers with a new router after our recent move taught me a completely different lesson about networks to do with addressing,and what you could learn by sharing knowledge on the network.

The forum for my sharing experience was the estimable MacInTouch, which I have mentioned before. The problem I had is explained (by me) on their Help Please page, although in this case I was the one offering to help anyone who had suffered the same frustration I had with IP addresses on your local network. In brief, my devices had bad trouble connecting to the network and it turned out to be a somewhat esoteric problem with how my router gave out IP addresses.

I mention this here because a couple of the responses discussed addressing on virtual private networks. More and more companies now use VPN tunnels to connect a remote computer to the office network securely and as if the computer really was in the office. What I hadn't realised (because I'm not a VPN user) is that when a remote computer is on the office network it's sharing the office address space and you have to be careful that the addresses don't clash. This is all explained in the MacInTouch discussion linked to above, so I won't go into it here.

Since the network configurations for even your smart phones have to fit into this space it is worth knowing a little about how it works ... or making sure someone in your office knows.