Sphere of Inconvenience
So... As I was putting together my most recent post regarding IPv6 I got to thinking about how many computers I use every day. It started as I counted up how many things in my house use IP addresses. From here forward I will refer to anything that uses an IP address as a computer for simplicity (yes, that means that in this context my iPhone is a computer, as is my Tivo, and my Linksys wireless access point).
Then I started to think... How many computers do I inconvenience on any given day? If you think of every website you go to in a day, plus the server that serves up those ads on those sites, plus all of the routers in between. And then add in the fact that most sites actually have more than one server behind a load balancer and have back-end services that the front end talks to and probably a separate database (or 3) and your connection gets logged and put in a database for somebody to write reports about and, and and... Phew... That's probably a lot of computers.
So I decided to count what I could. There is no way to know how many servers at google are required for my request, or what google analytics is going to do with it, but I /can/ count the external IP that I hit. So here's what I did. I created a cron job that looked at all established IP connections, logged them, and spat out only unique IP addresses. That took care of all of the things that I connected to. Then I took that output and ran a traceroute to each of those IPs, took that output and spat out the unique IPs there, and counted them up. Obviously, there's a huge margin for error here due to a lot of routers that won't respond to my traceroutes, but it gives me a little insight.
And what did I end up with?
1 Day: 404 connections for a total of 1107 including routers
2 Days: 728 connections for a total of 1744 including routers
Wow. Over one thousand machines per day are touched by my daily activities from my laptop alone. And I don't BitTorrent or Skype or use any other P2P app. I also don't social network. And I don't /think/ I'm a heavy web surfer...