Old internet address -

New internet address - 2001:db8:0:1234:0:567:8:1

So who cares about Internet addresses? You will if it means things link your cellphone, e-mail, Facebook or Skype don't work. Internet addresses allow devices to talk to each other. Some nations have already run out of old addresses called IPv4. The global agency regulating them announced a month ago there are no more except those already allocated but not in use. Last week Microsoft spent nearly $12 apiece for a few million addresses that Nortel owns. We'll all hit the wall in about two years.

The new system is called IPv6. It can provide trillions of addresses and that's good because we'll likely have 50 billion Internet devices in just a few years.

This prompted Bart Trojanowski, an Ottawa software programmer, to organize an IPv6 conference with more than a dozen experts for April 29 at the University of Ottawa.

Trojanowski says many people in North America are "blissfully ignoring the issue." Unlike the Y2K scare of 1999 there's no specific deadline. We can sort of operate with both systems and some work-arounds, so most Internet service providers, businesses and consumers aren't worried.

"Nobody has found the perfect solution yet but lots of people are working on it," Trojanowski says, especially in Asia and Europe where the lack of addresses is already causing problems.

Consumers with computer operating systems, routers or ISP boxes more than two years old will likely have to replace them.

We'll get an idea of where we stand when on June 8, which is World IPv6 day.

Companies like Google and Yahoo will use IPv6 addresses for the day to see what happens.

BTW - watch out for tomorrow's annual rash of April Fools jokes on the 'net, especially from Google.

Website of the week: ipv6summit.ca
For more on the IPv6 summit.

This Sunday on TECH NOW: Using genetics to reduce the risk of medical problems when conceiving a child.