Moved to Chicago (virtually)

29
Mar
2011

This morning I awoke to find myself in Chicago. How did I get here, you might want to know? I woke up in my bed in Manhattan as usual, and went to wake up my computer from its sleep and check my email. I noticed I didn’t have any internet connectivity, so I rebooted my router. That fixed the problem of connecting, but something was off. I now had been assigned a new IP address (the unique identifying network address that every computer connected to the internet has) by my cable company, after a full year of it never changing. And this new address was from their Chicago block of addresses, and so everything from facebook to google to geolocation apps were telling me that I was now in Chicago. Without getting too technical or geeky, let me try to explain it to you in layman’s terms. Every IP address on the internet can be looked up by any number of databases that tie that IP to a geographic location somewhere in the real world. This is useful for all sorts of reasons. For example, if you have ever traveled with a laptop and noticed how google will change your default maps location when making suggestions, this is why. And there are many, many other sites and services that are much more useful when they know where you are coming from. Hulu (and a lot of network streaming shows) won’t work, for example, if it detects an address that is coming from outside the country. Many bandwidth speed testing tools use this info to locate servers near you for testing. Google will change your search engine version and language if you are in another country as well. All of these things are based on a looked up location for you based on your IP. Sometimes these databases agree with each other, sometimes they don’t, and they have to be updated constantly as blocks of addresses can be reassigned anywhere at any time. So although I don’t have anything against Chicago per se, it is kind of annoying that the internet now thinks I am there. I called my cable company to report the problem, and they are looking into it. Worst of all, it doesn’t even think I am in one of the nicer neighborhoods (say, by the lakefront). It put me in some lumber supply warehouse at the end of a dead end street in some place called Pilsen. Hmmf.