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The Computer Corner


By Charles Miller

It was not by design, but I seem to have found myself in a position of being able to tell when one of the local Internet Service Provider (ISP) in San Miguel is experiencing a temporary outage. It is usually easy to tell this is happening because my phone starts ringing with people complaining that they cannot get on the internet.

Another thing that happened not by design but quite unintended is that the newest cell phone I bought keeps a running log of all my phone calls including how long each lasted. Looking at the record I can see that those phone calls from internet-deprived users each took about 15-20 minutes. Obviously not everyone who tries to call me is getting through. The same situation exists at the office of the ISPs. When their internet service goes temporarily offline it is possible that hundreds of customers might try to call the ISP resulting in most callers getting a busy signal.

Then to add to an already frustrating situation, if you do get through to me by phone there is a chance I will have to tell you that there is nothing I can do because you need to call your ISP. Or, your call gets through to your ISP (cable company or phone company), and they could tell you there is no problem on their end and that you need to call a computer tech to come check your computer or home network.

Would it not be nice if there existed some way to tell whom you should call? Well, there is, and it is called “Trace Route.” If you are a smart internet user you will take time to learn how to use Trace Route and learn this right now while your internet is working okay. Then you will be prepared to troubleshoot any internet outage that occurs and not waste your time dialing phone numbers that are bound to be busy.

Trace Route is a diagnostic utility already built into every computer Operating System (Mac, Windows, Linux) and can be added to any smart phone or tablet using iOS or Android. If you are using one of the latter I suggest you start by visiting Apple’s App Store or the Google Playstore to download and install one of the free Trace Route apps on your tablet or smart phone.

Next you should open up your web browser and search for “Trace Route tutorial” along with the name of your OS (Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, etc.). This search is sure to return a long list of tutorials explaining how to use the Trace Route diagnostic on your computer, tablet or smart phone. I just went to the popular site where I searched for “trace route” to find thousands of videos explaining how to use this most basic network diagnostic.

So, my point for today is smart internet users will take time to learn one basic skill, and you can become a smart user by watching a short video today while your internet is working. And if you do not want to make the effort to become a smart user, well, you had better get used to hearing “Your call is very important to us, please hold…”

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)


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