I have a new malady: it’s called Intermittent Packet Loss.
It started last Thursday when I was told that the phone bleeped three times in the afternoon as though the electricity supply had been disrupted.
I didn’t think much of this at the time but now I wonder. Three times. An omen. A portent. Three times the cock crowed. Bad luck comes in threes. (Actually, it turns out the cock crowed twice, but this doesn’t fit in with my story so humour me.)
The next morning I had the ‘You Cannot Be Serious’ experience which I put down to glitches in WordPress’s Gutenberg editor. But now I think the inability to save may have been caused by the less glamorously named ‘Packet Loss’.
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In case you are wondering ‘packet loss’ is
Packet loss occurs when one or more packets of data travelling across a computer network fail to reach their destination. Packet loss is either caused by errors in data transmission, typically across wireless networks, or network congestion. Packet loss is measured as a percentage of packets lost with respect to packets sent.Wikipedia
Symptoms of Packet Loss
- Slow internet connection
- Loss of internet
- Bad temper
- Stress and tension (particularly if you work from home)
- Feeling of hopelessness
- Inability to save a vital comment about ‘Little House on the Prairie’ on Our Little Red House in the Country’s blog
I diagnosed my packet loss by pressing Ctl Alt Delete and choosing task manager. Clicking on the Performance tab the Wifi box showed that 0 kbps were received and 0 kbps were sent. Kbps are kilobits per second. I had to do an internet search to find that out. The internet search took a while as my packets were continually lost but occasionally found, much like the lead up to Christmas in the Royal Mail sorting office.
This situation affected all computers/phones in the house. The situation persisted. Every morning I would wake and after a few seconds the realisation would hit me and I would remember the problem. In trepidation I logged on to my tablet and all would be well for a few minutes and then my Kbps would dwindle to nothing. My packets were in a Hermes van, being driven around and then chucked over someone else’s back gate.
I emailed my Internet Service Provider; the email sent in a rare period of connection. The automated reply said they would respond in 5 to 10 days.
So I waited.
During the intervening days between the original email and the phone call from Simon at the ISP, I received many calls from people offering to fix my internet connection. These people were insistent that I should let them log on to my computer to fix my problem. If they had said they were from my own ISP company, I may have been taken in by this scam. They said they were from another ISP so I wasn’t taken in and amused myself by randomly humouring them and keeping them chatting for a while before breaking it to them that I didn’t own a computer, putting the phone down, offering to cut to the chase and give them my pin number, pretending I was deaf and asking them to repeat every sentence etc. A strange coincidence (?)
One day, Simon from the ISP phoned. He was in Technical Support. I explained my symptoms. Sadly, he did not possess a good bedside manner. He kept interrupting me and he had a rather peremptory sneering approach to my description of the problems. I explained about my IP address changing all the time. ‘That’s normal’, he snapped. ‘Your IP address will change every time your internet session finishes.’ But that’s what I was trying to demonstrate – that my internet was disconnecting about 5 times during a 10 minute internet session.
I got the feeling that Simon was not taking my internet illness seriously. He thought I was a hypochondriac. He thought I was making the symptoms up. He thought I had Munchausen’s.
Reluctantly, he agreed to run tests. He would test the line and call me back in five minutes.
I put the phone down and paced the room, chewing my nails, nervously waiting for the results.
Eventually, the phone rang. It was Simon. I had to pass a few security questions again before he could reveal the results.
‘It’s good news!’ he announced. ‘You passed all the tests with flying colours.’
‘Oh,’ I said. That wasn’t really good news. I still had a problem and I could see it wasn’t going to be fixed.
Simon told me the line outside my house was fine. He lowered his voice slightly. ‘However,’ he said. ‘There are signs of some packet loss between the router and your computer’. (At least I think that’s what he said.)
He then explained that this was normally caused by a faulty micro-filter. He said he would credit my account with £5 and I could buy some replacement micro-filters. He said I could buy some in the Pound Shop and they would be just as good as any that were being sold at a higher price. All micro-filters are essentially the same; if I bought expensive micro-filters I would just be paying extra for the housing.
He ended the conversation by saying ‘you have been talking to Simon from the ISP; you enjoy your day now.’ I think he probably was a frustrated DJ.
I didn’t go to the Pound Shop. I went upstairs to one of my cluttered bedrooms and, after a couple of hours searching, I unearthed two spare micro-filters in a box of cabling and wires.
I replaced the micro-filters and logged back on to the internet. The connection kept dropping out. As I suspected there was nothing wrong with the original micro-filters.
What You Can do to Help Yourself
I’ve looked up packet loss. I found that it can be caused by:
- High latency
- Inconsistent jitter
I found this informative article. I wonder if Simon’s read it?
Apparently, packet loss is very bad if you are a Gamer. Well, thank goodness, the only game I play is the occasional game of Monopoly requiring a board and some dice. Not a packet in sight.
I’m either going to have to ring Simon again or just learn to live with my inconsistent jitter.
If you want to read a serious article about Packet Loss please see this one: Packet Loss Does It Really Matter or you could look at my Zazzle shop instead!