Check out the Vtrace app!
The Computer Corner
All you want to know about computers by Charles Miller
Almost every time I visit with someone who owns an iPad I will offer to show them my favorite app. That happened recently with Gregory, the esteemed former president of La Biblioteca. Using his iPad we visited the Apple Store to download the free app named Vtrace. Vtrace taps into the iPad’s geolocation services to present a live map showing the location of the Internet servers through which the current Internet connection is passing. We tested the connection between his house in San Miguel and my test server smaguru.com.
The map clearly showed that our communications left Gregory’s house in San Miguel, traveled to Guadalajara, then back to San Miguel before going on toward my test server, which is physically located in Ohio. Why the detour to Guadalajara? I have always believed that is where Megacable has their bookkeeping department and that half-second diversion might be to check to be sure Gregory’s bill is paid.
The map on his iPad then showed our Internet connection rocketing north at light speed to El Paso, Juárez on the Río Grande where one of the Border Gateway Servers is located. From the border, our Internet connection zipped up to Chicago, and I snapped a screen shot. What the picture shows is that after Gregory’s Internet connection left Chicago it should have moved in the direction of my test server in Ohio, but the Internet backbone server in Chicago mistakenly sent the connection to Berlin. The server there sent us back to Mexico to try again. The server in Mexico automatically tried again and on the second attempt reached the correct destination in Ohio.
We tried next to trace the connection from San Miguel to AOL.com. The map showed our connection zipping from San Miguel to Guadalajara, back to SMA, El Paso, and Chicago to Paris, France. That server sent the signal on to Berlin where that server answered Dummkopf! Mexiko nicht Deutschland! and returned the connection to Mexico. After another transoceanic detour costing a few seconds, we arrived at AOL.com.
Vtrace graphically demonstrated that our Internet connection through Megacable was perfect to Chicago, but there a backbone server was overloaded or for some reason misdirected traffic to the wrong continent. Is that the fault of Megacable? No! The problem was down the line in Chicago. Communications across the Internet are based on a best effort approach. Each server in the chain of connections makes the best effort to send your traffic in the direction it needs to go. Sometimes though, because of network congestion of other factors, a server is unable to send that traffic in the right direction. Such detours are temporary, and not the fault of your local Internet Service Provider.
Charles Miller is a freelance computer consultant, a frequent visitor to San Miguel since 1981 and now practically a full-time resident. He may be contacted at 044 415 101 8528 or email FAQ8 (at) SMAguru.com.