Burping the routers at work.
November 25, 2011 9:12 AM   Subscribe

I am at work, at a college, and there seem to be wifi hiccups throughout the day, moments where the connectivity is briefly lost. How can I log these interruptions so I can convince our technicians that there is a problem?

I am using a late model Imac with 10.6.8. I'd like to be able to keep a log file I can email to the helpdesk.

With buffered apps such as Spotify it isn't noticeable, but as I grade papers online I keep momentarily losing the connection as content is loaded into a frame.
posted by mecran01 to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The simplest way to do it would be to use the ping utility to hit a remote server (like google) every second or so, logging the results to a file. What you may discover, however, is that doing this actually prevents the drops, if they're caused by an idle timeout.
posted by sonic meat machine at 9:39 AM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ope terminal.


ping yahoo.com > ~/Documents/ping.txt

Let it run until you have many problems. Mail them the ping.txt file.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 9:48 AM on November 25, 2011

You might like to try this which lets you graph the signal strength. (I have not used this software, just did a quick search)
posted by kenchie at 9:58 AM on November 25, 2011

pingplotter does a good job of graphing latency, route changes, and general performance.
posted by rmd1023 at 10:01 AM on November 25, 2011

There's a freeware app called WiFi Analyzer. The UI is crap, but you can get it to log data.

Give it a try.
posted by Mad_Carew at 10:02 AM on November 25, 2011

Pingplotter is superb but unfortunately it's not a Mac program.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:50 AM on November 25, 2011

Are you sure they aren't aware of it? At my school, we experience the same thing when a lot of people are on, and I just assume they don't have the funding to upgrade (state school).
posted by DoubleLune at 11:40 AM on November 25, 2011

oops. you're right. sorry about that. it looks like path analyzer is a similar program that can be used for free on an evaluation basis and is available for the mac platform.
posted by rmd1023 at 3:00 PM on November 25, 2011

Ditto to the people that said pinging. You might try one continual ping for something outside your network (e.g. google.com) and one for something inside your network, such as the name of the email server (e.g. exchange.university.edu).

I must admit, I'm curious why you're having to use wifi. Can't your school run some cat-5 cable to your office? Sure, there is an overhead cost with running cable from the nearest network closet, installing the network boxes on the wall, etc., but it's a good bit faster and much more reliable.
posted by AMSBoethius at 4:48 PM on November 25, 2011

Is anyone else having this problem? If not, there's probably not a problem with the network, but they might be able to see you losing your connection if they're told when to look for it.

You should consider pinging three things simultaneously (especially if the site you use for grading papers is not hosted on campus): your default gateway, a machine on campus, and a known reliable machine off campus. I'd also put date stamps at the beginning of your ping files so you can easily figure out exactly what times you have any dropped packets.

Use netstat -nr | grep "^default" to find out what your default gateway is (something like Make sure that it, your on-campus machine, and your off-campus machine all normally respond to ping. In three separate terminals, run the following commands:
date >> ping-gateway.txt ; ping >> ping-gateway.txt
date >> ping-mailserver.txt ; ping imap.pancakes.edu >> ping-mailserver.txt
date >> ping-offcampus.txt ; ping www.google.com >> ping-offcampus.txt

If the problem is with the campus Internet connection, only the last of these will go out. If the problem is with the wireless network's connection to the rest of the campus network, the last two will go out. If the problem is with the wireless network connection itself (whether it's on your end or theirs), all three will go out.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 6:17 PM on November 25, 2011

Oh, and if your interruptions occur when the microwave oven is in use in the nearby break room, your problem is nachos.
posted by Mad_Carew at 11:07 PM on November 25, 2011

The interuption could be with the microwave or any wireless phones. There could be another staff members machine that is screwing things up. It could be a whole bunch of things not in the techs control .
posted by majortom1981 at 5:21 AM on November 26, 2011

If it does turn out to be interference (which is pretty common with unlicensed spectrum), ask if they can provision a 5GHz radio in the area.
posted by Mad_Carew at 8:03 AM on November 26, 2011

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