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Apr 03

/ nic.at News - 03.04.2020 06:18
April 1st-RFC by Alex Mayrhofer published by IETF

Yesterday, the so-called "April 1st RFCs" were published by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). One of these Requests for Comments was submitted by nic.at R&D manager Alexander Mayrhofer and deals with the representation of IP addresses.
nic.at congratulates him on this great success!

Every year, about 200-300 "Requests for Comments" are published by the IETF. These numbered documents are the result of the IETF's work on the standardisation of the Internet. Alexander Mayrhofer has been active there since 2003, the currently published RFC 8771 is already his eleventh and deals with the representation of IP addresses: "They should basically neither be read nor used by humans, the domain names take over this function. In the document we therefore propose a notation for the representation of IP addresses which is so confusing that it prevents the direct use of IP addresses". In this context, so-called "Confusion Levels" are defined, which provide information about the potential for confusion of the respective representation (Minimum, Satisfactory and Delightful). "We use the entire range of possible Unicode characters, including control characters and emojis. In our opinion, the mixing of characters with different writing directions has a particularly high potential for confusion," explains Alexander Mayrhofer.

"To be allowed to publish an April 1st RFC is something very special: After all, the text should not only be funny - at least according to the humour of us technicians - but of course it must also have a certain technical quality and be at least theoretically feasible". He had the idea itself  several years ago: "In Jim Hague of Sinodun, I found the perfect co-author to carry it through. He added a good portion of British humour to the text - after all, we invested a few long evenings including drinks ... so we were of course all the more pleased that our RFC was chosen this year."

Talking about humour: Alex is well known internally at nic.at for his brilliant mixture of knowledge and humour and is especially popular for lectures. Apart from his vivid illustrations and statistics, which can also be admired in the nic//report about the R&D team (2019), he also has something to smile about: "My favourite among the April 1st RFCs is RFC 1149 or RFC 2549: This is about the transmission of internet packets by carrier pigeons. The Linux User Group of the Norwegian city of Bergen actually implemented this protocol in 2001 - but of the nine packets sent, only four replies fluttered back".