Articles

Garmin Index Smart Scale WiFi “Incorrect Password” RESOLVED

My Garmin Index Smart Scale suddenly refused to connect to our home WiFi network.

Symptoms

  • Garmin Index Smart Scale attempting to upload weight history over the existing (previously configured and working) WiFi connection, then showing an “X” to indicate that the connection failed.
  • Garmin Connect App showing “Incorrect password” and “Enter the WPA2 password for this WIFI_NETWORK_NAME network” messages when attempting to reconfigure the WiFi network settings for the Garmin Index Smart Scale device.
  • Garmin Connect App showing “Network Not Found” message when attempting to reconfigure the WiFi network settings for the Garmin Index Smart Scale device.

Solution

I resolved this problem by changing my network DNS servers.

My network was configured to use the “Quad9 filtered DNSSEC” upstream DNS servers in my Pi-Hole configuration. I temporarily configured my home network to use different public DNS servers (Level 3) and the issue cleared up immediately. The next time I attempted to reconfigure the Smart Scale WiFi network in the Garmin App, it connected right away.

Troubleshooting

I noticed the scale connected via my phone hotspot immediately. I was using an iPhone with with iOS 17.2.1 at the time. Unsure if it matters, but I enabled the “Maximize Capability” setting in the Personal Hotspot settings (Settings > Cellular > Personal Hotspot).

Someone else mentioned the scale had to connect to Garmin services before the scale would verify the wifi connection, which made me suspicious of network filtering.

I disabled my Pi-Hole filtering, which did NOT resolve the issue. If it had, I could have looked at the query log to figure out what hostname lookups were being blocked and I could have added those hostname(s) to my filtering whitelist.

I temporarily changed my Pi-Hole upstream DNS servers. I had to try a few different servers before I finally found servers (Level 3) that worked. Garmin Index Smart Scale failed to connect while using these upstream public DNS servers:

  • Quad9 (filtered, DNSSEC)
  • Quad9 (unfiltered, no DNSSEC)

Missouri Special Fuel Decal Renewal by Mail

Missouri requires annual renewal of a “Special Fuel Decal” for Electric Vehicle (EV) owners. The renewal can not yet be performed online, and must be performed annually at a DMV office or by mail.

I am sharing the EXACT steps I followed when I prepared my “Special Fuel Decal” renewal by mail. I received my renewal decal 14 days after mailing my renewal form and payment using the instructions below. I also included extra step-by-step detail for anyone who might be new to writing out checks or mailing envelopes, which is completely understandable since we have been living in the digital age for a while.

DISCLAIMER: Please keep in mind that I am only sharing my personal experience here. I do NOT work for the DMV and I am NOT a lawyer. If you have questions about how to complete the form, please contact your local DMV with questions or renew the form at your local DMV. I will not be held liable of you follow these instructions and your paperwork is not accepted.

Items Required

  1. Missouri Vehicle Registration Receipt
  2. Missouri Form 2300 (aka Application for Special Fuel Decal)
  3. Bank Check (Tip: Don’t use checks? Most banks will print 4-6 “counter checks” for a small fee OR you can buy a money order with cash at the post office for a small fee.)
  4. Envelope
  5. Postage Stamp (Tip: Don’t use stamps often? Buy “forever stamps” that will be valid even after stamp prices change OR pay for a single stamp at the post office.)
  6. Printer (Tip: No printer at home? Nearby options might include work, school, library, FedEx Office.)

You’ve gathered all of the items listed above? Great, let’s get started!

Missouri Vehicle Registration Receipt

First, find your most recent Missouri Vehicle Registration Receipt. You need to include a copy of this with your decal renewal. This also includes most of the information you will need when you complete the form for your decal renewal.

Here is a redacted version of the registration receipt you are looking for:

Missouri Form 2300 (Application for Special Fuel Decal)

Download Missouri Form 2300 and complete the form as follows:

  1. Header Section
    • Applicant’s Name: This should match the name shown on your Vehicle Registration Receipt.
    • Federal Employer Identification Number: Leave blank unless vehicle is owned by a business.
    • Driver License Number: This should match the number shown on your Drivers License.
    • Street: Current street address. This will usually match the name shown on your Vehicle Registration Receipt, unless you have recently moved.
    • County: Same as above. NOTE: This is your local COUNTY (e.g. St Louis, Jackson, St Charles, Greene, etc), not our COUNTRY. Do NOT put “United States” here!
    • City: Same as above
    • State: Same as above
    • Zip Code: Same as above
    • Telephone Number: Current phone number. I assume they will call you at this number if they have questions about your form.
  2. Vehicle Information Section
    • Year: This should match the info shown on your Vehicle Registration Receipt.
    • Make: Same as above
    • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN): Same as above
    • Type of Fuel: Same as above
    • Current License Plate: Same as above
    • Exp. Year: Same as above
    • Kind of Vehicle: Same as above
    • Farm Plate: NO (Why? If you had a farm license plate, the vehicle should be exempt from road fuel taxes and should not need a fuel decal. This only applies to vehicles that rarely/never leave the farm and rarely/never use public roads.)
    • Weight: This can probably be left blank. I looked up my vehicle curb weight in pounds and entered the exact amount in pounds (e.g. “4567”). Search online for something like “2023 Tesla Model 3 curb weight”, and replace “2023 Tesla Model 3” with your vehicle details. Tesla Models S/3/X/Y weigh between 3,500 and 5,500 lbs. If you lookup your weight and it is lower than 3500, check to see if the weight is being shown in kilograms (kgs) instead of pounds (lbs). You can convert kilograms to pounds by multiplying KG x 2.2 (e.g. 2,000 kg x 2.2 = 4,400 lbs).
    • Zone: Leave blank
  3. Decal Section
    • New or Renewal: Renewal (NOTE: If you were able to register your vehicle without a special fuel decal, you should be able to choose “NEW” here and leave the next two field empty.)
    • Previous Decal Number: You can find this on your current decal OR this number is shown as the “Inventory Number” on your “Alternative Fuel Decal Receipt”
    • Previous Exp. Year: Same as above
    • New Decal Number: Leave blank
    • New Decal Exp. Year: Leave blank
    • Decal Fee: Find your fee on the second page of Missouri Form 2300.
      • Example: If you are reading this, you are most likely driving a “Passenger” electric vehicle so you would look at the first few rows of fees under “Passenger” and find the row for “Electric” fees. Example: If renewing a decal between 01/01/2023 and 12/31/2023 for a Passenger Electric Vehicle such as Tesla Models S/3/X/Y, you would enter a total “Decal Fee” of “$111.00”. NOTE: The fee increased on 01/01/2024 and is scheduled to increase every year for several years. Be sure to find the correct fee amount.
      • TIP: The amounts shown in the table on the second page of Form 2300 include the actual decal fee ($105) plus the processing fee ($6). You do NOT need to add a processing fee.
  4. Signature Section
    • Signature of Applicant: Sign your name
    • Printed Name: Printed version of the name you signed above (e.g. “Jane Smith”)
    • Date: Date you signed the form (e.g. 12/22/2023).

All of the other sections should be left blank. The notary information is NOT required if you are renewing your decal.

Here is a redacted version of the completed form that I mailed to Missouri Department of Revenue:

TIP: When I fill out PDF forms, I like to PRINT the form to a PDF file for my records rather than clicking SAVE. If you PRINT the form to a PDF file, the “Reset Form” and “Print Form” buttons at the top of the form should disappear.

You made it this far? Great! You’re almost finished. Only a few more steps.

Printing Instructions

You need to print these two items:

  1. Your completed Missouri Form 2300
  2. Your previous Missouri Vehicle Registration Receipt

TIP: I print TWO copies of Missouri Form 2300 so I can keep one copy of the renewal form in my glovebox until the decal arrives.

TIP: No printer at home? Nearby options for printing might include work, school, library, FedEx Office. You can save the forms to PDF files and email them to yourself (or save them on a USB thumb drive) so that you can access/print them from a computer with a printer.

Payment Instructions

Write out a check to “Missouri Department of Revenue” with memo “Special Fuel Decal Renewal“. I also included my license plate number (shown on Vehicle Registration Receipt) on the memo line, in case my check is misplaced.

New to writing out checks? Here are step-by-step instructions:

  1. Date: This will normally match the Date you put on your Form 2300 (e.g. 12/22/2023)
  2. Pay to the order of: “Missouri Department of Revenue”
  3. $ (small box): This should match the Decal Fee you put on your Form 2300 (e.g. “$111.00”)
  4. Dollars (large line): This should be written out version of the amount above (e.g. “One Hundred Eleven dollars and 00/100 cents”)
  5. Memo: “Special Fuel Decal Renewal” (TIP: I also included my license plate number from my Vehicle Registration Receipt on the memo line, in case my check is misplaced.)
  6. Signature: Sign your name. This should match the name printed on your checks. The bank may compare this to the signature card you signed when you opened your checking account.

TIP: Don’t have/want a checkbook? If you have a checking account at a local bank, they will usually print a few “counter checks” for a small fee (e.g. 1 page might contain 4 checks and might cost $2-$5). OR you can use CASH to purchase a money order at the post office for a small fee (~$2).

Mailing Instructions

Mail the following items to the “Mail To” address shown on the bottom of Form 2300.

  1. Missouri Form 2300 — Completed as described above.
  2. Missouri Vehicle Registration Receipt — If you have multiple vehicles, make sure this is for the same vehicle listed on Form 2300.
  3. Payment — Check or Money Order completed as described above. Do NOT send cash.

TIP: Make a COPY of your completed Missouri Form 2300 and a COPY of your Payment to keep in your glovebox until the renewal decal arrives (or take a photo of both items). If your current decal expires before the new decal arrives, these copies (or photos) can help show that you are waiting for a new decal.

New to mailing envelopes? Learn more at USPS. Here are step-by-step instructions:

  1. Write your return address in the upper left-hand corner of the envelope. If you are using a small envelope, you can write your return address on the BACK of the envelope. If the envelope cannot be delivered, they will try to return it to your address. The address should be written as 3 lines, similar to the following:
    • Your Name (e.g. “Jane Smith”)
    • Your Street Address and Optional Suite or Apartment (e.g. “123 Sample St. APT 456”)
    • Your City, State, and Zip Code (e.g. “Springfield, MO 65806”)
  2. Write the recipient address in the center of the envelope. Use the “Mail To” address shown on the bottom of Form 2300. The address should be written as 3 lines, similar to the following:
    • Recipient Name
    • Recipient Address
    • Recipient City, State, and Zip Code
  3. Place a current postage stamp in the upper right-hand corner of the envelope.
    • Tip: Don’t use stamps often? Buy “forever stamps” that will be valid even after stamp prices change OR pay for a single stamp at the post office. If you have old stamps, you will need to add “penny” (1-cent) stamps to make up the difference between the old stamp price and the current stamp price OR you could waste postage and put two old stamps on the envelope. Avoiding this is why “forever” stamps were introduced.
  4. Place the 3 items listed above inside the envelope.
  5. Seal the envelope. Most envelopes use moisture-activated adhesive strip along the inside edges of the envelope flap to seal the envelope. Lick the adhesive strip or use a wet sponge to activate the adhesive, then close the envelope and press along the adhesive strip to make sure it is sealed.
  6. Mail the envelope.
    • Home mailbox: If you have a single mailbox with a red flag at your home, you can put the envelope in your mailbox and raise the red flag to let your postal carrier (aka mail man) know that you have an item ready for pickup.
    • Collection boxes: Lookup a nearby mail collection box on the USPS website. Each post office has a collection box, but many businesses and neighborhoods have collection boxes as well. If you work in a large office or live in a large apartment, you likely have a collection box at work or at the apartment.

Processing Time

Expect to receive your new decal in several weeks. Consider keeping a copy of your renewal paperwork in your vehicle if your decal expires before the renewal arrives.

I received my decal 14 days after mailing the renewal form and payment.

  • Friday 12/22/2023 (Day 0): Sent my Form and Payment (Bank Check) by mail
  • Thursday 12/28/2023 (Day 6): Renewal Processed, per date on Renewal Receipt
  • Tuesday 01/02/2024 (Day 11): Bank Check debited from Bank Account
  • Friday 01/05/2024 (Day 14): Received my Alternative Fuel Decal and Renewal Receipt by mail

Feedback

Did you find this helpful? Would you recommend any changes? Please use the form below to provide feedback! I would love to hear from you.

DCC from Scratch (Model Train Layout)

I enjoy trains. I enjoy software programming. I have experience with model trains, but did not have any model trains of my own. I want to build a small N-scale layout with DCC so I can combine trains and software programming. I am just getting started, but hope to be able to build a larger layout where I can automate running of a handful of trains running on a layout that would not normally be large enough to accommodate them through the use of various sensors and timing.

I started my DCC (Digital Command Control) journey from scratch with the following 5 items for about $500 a few years ago. This allowed me to better understand how DCC could control multiple locomotives separately and how I could setup a consist (two locos in tandem) before I started thinking about a more complex layout with switches and sensors.

If you’re new to model trains and are wanting to make your first DCC purchases, I hope my initial shopping list will provide you with some guidance or inspiration…

  1. Kato DCC Loco Santa Fe SDP40F 5250 1769211DCC — DCC loco w/o sound
  2. Kato DCC Loco Santa Fe SDP40F 5253 1769212DCC — DCC loco w/o sound
  3. Kato UniTrack Starter Set M1 — Small loop of track
  4. Kato UniTrack 24-825 (or 24-826 ??) — Wire from UniTrack to DCC controller
  5. Digikeijs DR5000 DCC Controller

Locomotives

New DCC locomotives are expensive compared to regular powered locos! I was looking for specific locos and was able to find some nice deals on eBay. The locos above do NOT have sound. If you want sound, be sure to find that option or plan to add sound after purchase.

Track

I rate UniTrack a 1/10 for realism, but I also rate UniTrack 10/10 for being able to quickly and easily setup, run trains, and tear down again. I’ve done this many times without any track connection problems. UniTrack is great if you don’t have dedicated space for a layout and want to be able to quickly/easily setup and run trains on the weekends! ๐Ÿ™‚

DCC Controller

I chose the DR5000 after reading positive feedback from several members of our local MRR club. The $200 controller is definitely more than I need for my initial loop layout, but was purchased with the intention of growing my layout. I like that the controller supports so many different protocols.

I can start/stop DCC engines from a Mobile app (on my tablet or phone) or from a Windows app (on my laptop). I can connect to the controller via USB, LAN, or WIFI. I like that their Windows app runs fine on my MacBook M1 (ARM CPU) in a Windows 11 ARM virtual machine using the “Parallels” VM software. I assume you could use VirtualBox instead of Parallels without any problem.

Train Store Recommendation

Our local train store below (Iron Planet) had great pricing on the track and DCC controller when I purchased them a few years ago. Please consider buying from them online if you don’t already have a preferred train store…

Iron Planet Hobbies in Springfield Missouri
https://www.ironplanethobbies.com/

I don’t have any affiliation with this train store. I am only recommending them because I like to support local stores, I was impressed that they had competitive pricing, and their staff was very friendly when I had questions.

Feedback

Was this helpful? Do you have questions? Please reply below to let me know! ๐Ÿ™‚ Also, please share any DCC tips you have for me or anyone else new to DCC.

Brewing Loose Leaf Hot Tea at Home

I began enjoying hot tea many years ago at our local tea house. They have a wonderful selection of teas and they are always glad to answer questions about tea or recommend new teas! They even had tiny containers with samples you could smell prior to the pandemic. In early 2020, I invested in several items so that I could enjoy the same hot tea at home.

I will share my experience purchasing loose leaf teas, storage containers, an electric kettle (used to heat water), and the disposable tea bags I use to steep my tea along with cleaning tips. I hope this helps others who would like to begin brewing loose leaf hot tea at home.

Loose Leaf Teas

There are many different types of teas! You can buy loose leaf teas from local coffee shops and tea houses, or you can buy online. I prefer purchasing locally because I can try the tea first and because they can recommend steep time (e.g. 3 minutes) and temperature (e.g. 205*F). We typically purchase 3-4 ounces of tea and store each kind of loose leaf tea in a separate 12 ounce glass jar.

Storage

You could store your loose leaf tea in a resealable bag. We store 4 different types of tea in glass jars. They are heavy duty, seal great, and look very nice. Each jar can hold about 3-4 ounces of bulk tea, depending on the kind of tea.

Le Parfait Super Terrine Glass Jar w/ Rubber Seal and Glass Lid 350ml 12oz (Pack of 4) $39
https://amazon.com/dp/B07M5HDRZZ

Bags

I pour a teaspoon of loose leaf tea into a disposable bag and cinch the bag closed. I then place the bag into a 12-16 ounce mug and fill the mug with hot water. I will usually brew 2-3 cups of tea in a morning using the same bag and same leaves. If the tea calls for a steep time of 3 minutes at 205F, I will usually brew my 2nd or 3rd cup a little longer (e.g. 3-1/2 or 4 minutes) at the same temperature of 205F.

I purchase disposable bags in bulk (e.g. 500 bags for $12). The following bags have worked well for me. Many people seem to prefer unbleached bags. Read product reviews when trying to find decent bags. Some bags are very thin and tend to fall apart, especially if brewing the same bag multiple times. Some people prefer a reusable/washable filter instead of a bag.

500 Pack Tea Filter Bags (3.15 x 3.94 inch) $13
https://amazon.com/dp/B07SQX416X

Kettle

I heat water using a small electric kettle with an adjustable temperature. After I fill the kettle with cold tap water and adjust the temperature (e.g. 165F or 205F), this kettle takes about 3 minutes to heat the water.

Bonavita 1L Digital Variable Temperature Gooseneck Electric Kettle, Stainless Steel $129.99
https://amazon.com/dp/B005YR0F40

Cleanup

Occasionally remove hard water buildup from kettle by heating a vinegar+water solution (e.g. 2 oz vinegar + 20 oz water) to 205F. Let heated vinegar/water solution sit for a few minutes, then pour solution down sink and rinse kettle. Good as new! :sparkles:

I sometimes pour the hot solution from the kettle into cups or mugs with stubborn stains and brush the cups/mugs clean with ease after a few minutes.

I leave COLD water running in the sink when I pour the HOT solution into the sink so that I donโ€™t risk damaging our drain pipes. Probably not necessary, but better safe than sorry.

Summary

I hope you enjoyed learning about how I brew hot tea at home. Please comment below if you have specific questions or if you have any recommendations for me!

Troubleshoot ISP Performance (Internet Latency and Packet Loss) with Ping, Traceroute, and MTR

I have managed networks for the past 20+ years. I am able to use my experience to very quickly diagnose ISP problems that arise with my own home Internet connection. I am documenting my basic troubleshooting steps for the benefit of anyone else who is having trouble with their Internet connection.

IMPORTANT: If you are troubleshooting a problem with your Internet connection, be sure to disable any VPN connection before you run any of these tests!

Terms

The most important terms to understand when troubleshooting problems with your Internet connection are “Latency”, “Packet Loss”, and “Bandwidth”. I also defined related terms, including the tools we will use.

Latency: This is the round-trip time it takes for a “packet” of information to travel from your device, to the remote host, and back to your device. Usually measured in milli-seconds (ms). 1000 ms = 1 second.

Ping: This tool sends one or more “packets” of information to a remote host (aka “Echo Request”) and expects to receive the same number of packets back from the remote host (aka “Echo Reply”). Ping will display the Latency for each packet, or will tell you that a reply was not received.

Packet Loss: This indicates the number of “packets” that were lost when pinging a remote host. Packet Loss is measured in %. If 10 packets were sent and only 9 responses (90%) were received, Packet Loss would be 10%.

Traceroute: This tool maps each “hop” between your computer and a remote computer (and collects Packet Loss % and Latency for each “hop”) by taking advantage of an IP feature called “Time to Live” (aka “TTL”) which limits the lifespan of a packet on the Internet. Traceroute sends 3 pings with TTL value of 1 to the remote computer, which causes the 1st “hop” between your computer and the remote computer to reply 3 times. The process is repeated with a TTL of 2 to collect information from the 2nd hop, and so on until the entire path is mapped showing Packet Loss and Latency for each “hop”.

MTR: This tools is very similar to Traceroute, but provides a continuous realtime view of Packet Loss and
Latency at each “hop” between your device and the remote host. Instead of sending 3 pings to each TTL
value and expecting 3 replies from each “hop” like Traceroute, MTR continuously sends 1 ping to each
TTL value and updates the Packet Loss and Latency stats for each hop.

Bandwidth: This is the maximum amount of data that can be transferred per second between your computer and a remote host. Bandwidth is usually measured in “bits per second” or “bytes per second”. 1 byte = 8 bits. “Download” speed (from the Internet to your device) and “Upload” speed (from your device to the Internet) are usually measured separately. For example, a Gigabit Cable connection may have a “1 Gig” download speed (aka 1000 Mbps) and a “40 Mbps” upload speed, while a Gigabit Fiber connection may have a “1 Gig” download and “1 Gig” upload speed.

Ping

This is the first tool I reach for when troubleshooting problems with my Internet connection. This tool can tell me the following:

  1. Do I have any Internet connectivity?
  2. How frequently am I losing Internet connectivity?
  3. Do I have any Internet latency issues?
  4. How often am I having Internet latency issues?

Begin by pinging a reliable remote host such as “google.com” or “aws.amazon.com”. To run a continuous ping, type “ping aws.amazon.com” in a Mac/Linux Terminal or type “ping -t aws.amazon.com” in a Windows Command Prompt.

In the example above, I ran “ping aws.amazon.com” then pressed CTRL+C after 10 pings to stop the ping and show a summary. My latency ranged from 34ms to 44ms. My packet loss was 0%.

Your latency will vary depending on the type of Internet connection you have, your location, and the location of the remote host. The further a remote host is from your location, the higher the latency. If you are in the United States, latency to another host in the U.S. (e.g. “amazon.com”) will usually be much lower than latency to a host in Europe (e.g. “amazon.de”) or Asia (e.g. “amazon.cn”).

If you only get a “Request timeout” instead of the normal replies shown above, try to ping a different hostname or IP address. Here are some personal favorite hostnames and IP addresses:

  • google.com
  • aws.amazon.com
  • 208.67.220.220 (DNS resolver operated by OpenDNS)
  • 208.67.222.222 (DNS resolver operated by OpenDNS)
  • 1.1.1.1 (DNS resolver operated by CloudFlare)

TIP: If I am having intermittent problems with my Internet connection, I will leave a Terminal window running a continuous audible ping in the background (e.g. “ping -i2 -A google.com” on Mac). This command will run a ping every 2 seconds and I will hear a bell sound anytime a packet is dropped. Anytime I feel like a website or app is not responding normally, I can switch to the Terminal window and look at the ping output to see if any recent pings are showing high latency or dropped packets.

TIP: If you can ping an IP address but you cannot ping a hostname, review your DNS settings. Incorrect DNS settings can prevent you from accessing ANY websites by hostname, but would still allow you to browse to a website by IP address. For example, here is a website you can browse to by IP address even if you are having DNS problems: https://1.1.1.1/.

Traceroute

When ping is reporting high latency on my Internet connection, I can use traceroute to determine where the high latency is occurring. The issue is almost always the first “hop” outside of my home network, indicating a problem with my home Internet connection. However, the latency issue could be further upstream between my Internet provider and another network.

Here is an example of output from a traceroute. In this example, I ran a traceroute to IP address “1.1.1.1”, but you can run a traceroute to any hostname or IP address. In this example, I used the “-n” option to skip name lookups, which helps the traceroute run a little faster. However, showing names can help you determine which network each hop belongs to (e.g. your ISP, AT&T, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, etc).

Note: Mac/Linux users type “traceroute 1.1.1.1”, Windows users type “tracert 1.1.1.1”

Observations from the traceroute output above:

  1. Hop 1 is an IP address inside my home network. The best ping time is 2.655 ms, which seems reasonable for a ping to a device on my home network.

    Wireless: If I was seeing very high latency (e.g. >50 ms) to this very first hop on my network and I was using WiFi, I would switch from wireless to a hard-wired network connection by plugging directly into my home router and I would run the test again to see if the latency issue disappears. High latency that only happens on WiFi could indicate a wireless interference problem, an older WiFi access point or router that cannot handle the number of devices or your bandwidth needs, or a failing WiFi access point.

    Wired: If I was seeing very high latency (e.g. >50 ms) to this very first hop on my network and I was using a hardwired network connection, I would suspect a problem with my network wiring, a network switch, or my network router. The performance problem is likely inside my network and no fault of the ISP.
  2. Hop 2 is the first internet device outside of my home network. It is not unusual for one or more hops in a traceroute to not respond. There are a number of reasons why this hop might not respond, including IP addressing or IP filtering.
  3. Hop 3 is the first internet device outside my home network that I can ping. This is a router at my ISP. The best ping time is 8.521 ms, which seems reasonable for a ping to a local/regional ISP router outside my home network. If I see a significant increase in latency from Hop 1 (inside my network) to this next hop (at my ISP), I would suspect an issue with my router, my cable modem, or my ISP connection.

    Tip: Plug directly into your cable modem with a network cable and repeat the test to eliminate the possibility that the latency issue is being caused by your router.

    Tip: Perform a cable modem swap and repeat the test to reduce the possibility that the latency issue is being caused by your cable modem. I say “reduce” instead of “eliminate” because I’ve swapped cable modems, only to find that my brand new cable modem was also faulty.
  4. Hops 4, 6, 7: Notice that these hops show latency for 2 or 3 different IP addresses. This is very common and happens when traffic can travel multiple redundant paths to the same destination.
  5. Hop 8 is the remote host. It is NOT unusual for the remote host to block ping replies, so do not be surprised if the last hop(s) show no response (* * *).

TIP: If I want to determine who an IP address belongs to, I perform an IP WHOIS lookup on the ARIN website (https://www.arin.net/). The results will tell me who is responsible for that IP address (e.g. my ISP, “Amazon”, “Google”, etc. If the result mentions another IP registry, repeat the lookup on their website. e.g. RIPE (https://www.ripe.net/), APNIC (https://www.apnic.net/), etc.

MTR

This free tool performs a continuous traceroute. I usually reach for this tool instead of traceroute because of its speed and because of its continuous nature.

Here is an example of output from MTR after 30 seconds. Because MTR requires special permissions, I had to type “sudo mtr 1.1.1.1” in my Mac Terminal. I stopped MTR by pressing CTRL+C.

Observations from MTR output:

  1. Overall, this output is nearly identical to the traceroute output. See traceroute observations above.
  2. Because I did not skip name resolution, I can see that Hop 6 belongs to Equinix, likely in Chicago (chi). I can also see that my final hop (1.1.1.1) has a vanity reverse name of “one.one.one.one”.

Bandwidth

I can identify the cause of most Internet performance problems using some combination of Ping and Traceroute (or MTR), but it can be helpful to perform bandwidth tests. For example, I used a bandwidth speed test to confirm that my service was only upgraded to 500 Mbps when I upgraded to a Gigabit plan. The ISP was able to find/resolve the issue right away.

Here are a few of my favorite tests:

  • Ookla Speed Test (https://www.speedtest.net/) — I like that I can easily save an image of the results
  • Google Speed Test (https://www.google.com/search?q=Internet+Speed+Test) — I like that this is built into the Google search result page
  • Your ISP Speed Test — I like to use these test results when working with my ISP to troubleshoot speed issues. If these results are significantly better than one of the other speed tests, I’ll share both results with my ISP.

If you need to measure the available bandwidth between two Linux hosts, consider using “iperf”. You must be able to install the tool on both hosts.

Thanks for Reading!

I intend to update this article with example outputs when my Internet connection is having issues or some point between my Internet provider and another network is having issues.

Did you find this helpful? Let me know by sending me a comment. I tend to update and maintain posts more frequently if I know others find them helpful. Thanks for visiting!