A lot of us hear the word ping used a lot in gaming and when we are having network issues, but what exactly is ping?

ping

ping is a command line tool that is used to measure the round-trip time for messages sent from one computer to another. This is often used to test if there is a connection between your computer and a website.

Command Options
WindowsLinux
Option Description
-t Ping the specified host until stopped. To see statistics and continue – type Control-Break; To stop – type Control-C.
-a Resolve addresses to hostnames.
-n count Number of echo requests to send.
-l size Send buffer size.
-f Set Don’t Fragment flag in packet (IPv4-only).
-i TTL Time to Live.
-r count Record route for count hops (IPv4-only)
-s count Timestamp for count hops (IPv4-only).
-j host-list Loose source route along host-list (IPv4-only).
-k host-list Strict source route along host-list (IPv4-only).
-w timeout Timeout in milliseconds to wait for each reply.
-S srcaddr Source address to use.
-c compartment Routing compartment identifier.
-p Ping a Hyper-V Network Virtualization provider address.
-4 Force using IPv4.
-6 Force using IPv6.
Option Description
-a Audible ping.
-A Adaptive ping. Interpacket interval adapts to round-trip time, so that effectively not more than one (or more, if preload is set) unanswered probes present in the network. Minimal interval is 200msec for not super-user. On networks with low rtt this mode is essentially equivalent to flood mode.
-b Allow pinging a broadcast address.
-B Do not allow ping to change source address of probes. The address is bound to one selected when ping starts.
-c count Stop after sending count ECHO_REQUEST packets. With deadline option, ping waits for count ECHO_REPLY packets, until the timeout expires.
-d Set the SO_DEBUG option on the socket being used. Essentially, this socket option is not used by Linux kernel.
-F flow label Allocate and set 20 bit flow label on echo request packets. (Only ping6). If value is zero, kernel allocates random flow label.
-f Flood ping. For every ECHO_REQUEST sent a period ”.” is printed, while for ever ECHO_REPLY received a backspace is printed. This provides a rapid display of how many packets are being dropped. If interval is not given, it sets interval to zero and outputs packets as fast as they come back or one hundred times per second, whichever is more. Only the super-user may use this option with zero interval.
-i interval Wait interval seconds between sending each packet. The default is to wait for one second between each packet normally, or not to wait in flood mode. Only super-user may set interval to values less 0.2 seconds.
-I interface address Set source address to specified interface address. Argument may be numeric IP address or name of device. When pinging IPv6 link-local address this option is required.
-l preload If preload is specified, ping sends that many packets not waiting for reply. Only the super-user may select preload more than 3.
-L Suppress loopback of multicast packets. This flag only applies if the ping destination is a multicast address.
-n Numeric output only. No attempt will be made to lookup symbolic names for host addresses.
-Q tos Set Quality of Service -related bits in ICMP datagrams. tos can be either decimal or hex number. Traditionally (RFC1349), these have been interpreted as: 0 for reserved (currently being redefined as congestion control), 1-4 for Type of Service and 5-7 for Precedence. Possible settings for Type of Service are: minimal cost: 0x02, reliability: 0x04, throughput: 0x08, low delay: 0x10. Multiple TOS bits should not be set simultaneously. Possible settings for special Precedence range from priority (0x20) to net control (0xe0). You must be root (CAP_NET_ADMIN capability) to use Critical or higher precedence value. You cannot set bit 0x01 (reserved) unless ECN has been enabled in the kernel. In RFC2474, these fields has been redefined as 8-bit Differentiated Services (DS), consisting of: bits 0-1 of separate data (ECN will be used, here), and bits 2-7 of Differentiated Services Codepoint (DSCP).
-q Quiet output. Nothing is displayed except the summary lines at startup time and when finished.
-R Record route. Includes the RECORD_ROUTE option in the ECHO_REQUEST packet and displays the route buffer on returned packets. Note that the IP header is only large enough for nine such routes. Many hosts ignore or discard this option.
-r Bypass the normal routing tables and send directly to a host on an attached interface. If the host is not on a directly-attached network, an error is returned. This option can be used to ping a local host through an interface that has no route through it provided the option -I is also used.
-s packetsize Specifies the number of data bytes to be sent. The default is 56, which translates into 64 ICMP data bytes when combined with the 8 bytes of ICMP header data.
-S sndbuf Set socket sndbuf. If not specified, it is selected to buffer not more than one packet.
-t ttl Set the IP Time to Live.
-T timestamp option Set special IP timestamp options. timestamp option may be either tsonly (only timestamps), tsandaddr (timestamps and addresses) or tsprespec host1 [host2 [host3 [host4]]] (timestamp prespecified hops).
-M hint Select Path MTU Discovery strategy. hint may be either do (prohibit fragmentation, even local one), want (do PMTU discovery, fragment locally when packet size is large), or dont (do not set DF flag).
-U Print full user-to-user latency (the old behaviour). Normally ping prints network round trip time, which can be different f.e. due to DNS failures.
-v Verbose output.
-V Show version and exit.
-w deadline Specify a timeout, in seconds, before ping exits regardless of how many packets have been sent or received. In this case ping does not stop after count packet are sent, it waits either for deadline expire or until count probes are answered or for some error notification from network.
-W timeout Time to wait for a response, in seconds. The option affects only timeout in absense of any responses, otherwise ping waits for two RTTs.
Note: Linux uses ping and ping6 to distinuish between IPv4 and IPv6

Use Case

If you are having issues connecting to the internet many will try to test the issue by sending a ping request to a known working website. We will use google.com in this example.

If we run the command ping google.com we should get the following output:

Successful ping
Pinging google.com [172.217.5.78] with 32 bytes of data:

Reply from 172.217.5.78: bytes=32 time=22ms TTL=53

Reply from 172.217.5.78: bytes=32 time=26ms TTL=53

Reply from 172.217.5.78: bytes=32 time=23ms TTL=53

Reply from 172.217.5.78: bytes=32 time=68ms TTL=53

Ping statistics for 172.217.5.78:

   Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),

Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:

    Minimum = 22ms, Maximum = 68ms, Average = 34ms

If all our packets get replies then we have a good connection. If some of them are lost it could mean that there is some network interference preventing a stable connection. If all of them are lost then we are looking at three different possible issues:

  1. The website is down.
  2. You are not connected to the internet.
  3. You are having DNS problems.

We can test number 3 by typing in the IP Address of the website you wish to ping. If you get no packets then the issue is not likely a DNS issue. If you receive your packets then we may be able to fix the issue by flushing our DNS Resolver Catch with ipconfig /flushdns. To learn more about ipconfig look at our article here.

Sometimes we need to know our IP Address or troubleshoot internet connection issues. How do we do that? Well we have a handy tool built into Windows, ipconfig.

ipconfig is a Windows command line utility and network troubleshooting tool. To access it you just need to open the windows command line by pressing start and typing in cmd.

ipconfig has many arguments and follows the syntax:

ipconfig /argument [adapter]

Arguments

Many command line programs can be given additional options called arguments. These arguments usually start with a /. Here is a list of all the arguments that ipconfig has:

Argument Description
/? Displays Help File
/all Display full configuration information
/release
/release6
Release the IP address for IPv4/IPv6 for specified addapter
/renew
/renew6
Renew the IPv4/IPv6 address for the specified addapter
/flushdns Purges the DNS Resolver cache
/registerdns Refreshes all DHCP leases and re-registers DNS names
/displaydns Display the contents of the DNS Resolver Cache
/showclassid
/showclassid6
Displays all the IPv4/IPv6 dhcp class IDs allowed for adapter
/setclassid
/setclassid6
Modifies the IPv4/IPv6 DHCP class id

With these commands you can find a lot out about your wireless and wireless connections. A lot of connectivity issues can be fixed simply by using /renew and /flushdns.

We will continue to cover command line programs in the future.

The majority of what you will be doing online will involve Google and Email to some extent or another. Your email is more than just a way of contact, it symbolizes your online identity. To get the most of the internet you need an email address, just like you need an ID to get the most out of citizenship in most countries. Many of the services that you will be using will be run by Google, this will require an email address. Fortunately Google provides both.

Google

Google is the largest internet search engine and one of the largest advertising agencies online. At first Google was just a website that indexed other websites to make it easier to find others, but now it has its hands in every corner of the internet. Unfortunately this makes it difficult to avoid their almost omnipresent eyes. Fortunately this make things easier to manage.

Google’s main uses will be searching the internet and for email. Google also runs other services such as YouTube and Android’s main development branch. You have been touched by their influence, even if you have never touched a computer before. It is best to be acquainted with them.

Setting up a Google Account

Google Home

Making a Google account is easy and quick. The first thing you need to do is open up your web browser (Firefox/Chrome/Etc.). In the search box just type up Google.com. At the top right of the screen there should be a blue button that says “Sign in”. This will take you to a page where you can sign into an account or make a new one. Underneath the login prompt asking for an email address is a “Create account” button, click it.

Google Account CreationThis page asks for some basic information. Your name, the username you wish, a password, birthday, gender, Phone#, and email. Remember that you do not need to use your real name, but what name you use will be an important identifier for many online actions.

You can omit the phone# and email. You will need a phone that can receive text messages or a call to verify your account on the next page. This is a safety measure that cannot be avoided easily. They will not use your phone # for any other purpose unless you allow them. They will send you a verification number. Enter the number and continue on.

Congratulations on your new Google account. Your email will be what was entered as the username with an @gmail.com.

Gmail

You will be given a short tutorial on what each button does and be sent back to the Google home page. If you look at the top right of the screen, in place of the login button, there is a icon of the first letter used for the name of your account. Near that button is an array of 9 squares set in a 3×3 arrangement, click it. This will bring up a list of Google services that are available. You will want to check your email first. Over time we will explore what these other services do in detail.Gmail

Click Gmail. This is Google’s email system. A short promotional slide presentation will play. Afterwords you should get access to your inbox. As you can see the interface is quite simple. On the top of the page you have a search box for your emails and the same options on the right as everywhere else on google. Underneath is your inbox and options for each option such as moving messages between folders and deleting them. On the left sidebar is a list of folders. Some will contain messages automatically, others you will have to populate yourself.

The Inbox is where all messages that you receive are stored. You will want to keep this as empty as possible by always organizing your email into other folders once read. The Starred are emails that have been marked as important, sometimes messages from people you often write back to will automatically be stared. As you can see the message that is in our inbox right now has a white star next to it, if you click it the message will be stared. Sent Mail is self-explanatory, these are messages that you have sent to others. Drafts are messages that have been started, but not completed. If you click the More button you can see the spam mail you receive and create a new folder by clicking the “Create new label” button.

Above your Inbox is a couple of tabs that are designed to help organize the inbox. This can be both helpful or a hindrance depending on how much email you receive and how you teach Gmail. Depending on how you read and write messages and what you mark them as for organization will determine the effectiveness of organization. You can move an email from one of these tabs to another by clicking and dragging it over to one of them.

Click an email to start reading it.An emailYou can see who the email is from and their email address, the day and time the email was sent, and some options for staring and replying to the email at the top. Then follows the email’s contents. The email that is resting within the inbox by default is just a promotional mail for other google products, but it is a good example. After the contents of the email there should be a little reply box. This email is auto-generated so you should not reply to it, but if you are emailing your friends it is much easier for organization to reply instead of starting a new message.

Composing a Message

Go back to your inbox and then click on the compose button.Email

You type the email address of the person you wish to write an email to in the first line. If  you already have them in your contacts you can just type their name and it will automatically type their email. Then you have the subject line. It is important that you fill this out. Most email that lacks a subject will be regarded as spam and even then it is rude.

The main body of the email is after the subject line. You fill this out just like a letter. By the send button you have text options to modify the font and create bullet lists. Next to that you can upload attachments using the paper clip button, this is an easy way to share small files. Other options are to include files for google, send money, insert a picture, link photos, and emoticons. At the end of the screen there is the option to delete the email and the arrow has more options like moving the email to other folders and checking for spelling mistakes.

Once you hit send, the message will be sent to the email address you intended. You can send an email to multiple people by entering more than one email in the subject line.

For more information on how to use Gmail you can look at the account setup option underneath your inbox.

Not that was a long and boring track, but now we can get into the more fun parts of computers. Look forward to more articles in the future.

A Complete Email

Now that we have an understanding of how to get around, we will go over installing software and the internet. We will only cover the minimum here, in the future we will go over email, Facebook, and other things.

There are a couple of programs we will be installing to get you up and running properly on the internet. These would be a web browser and a firewall.

An Overview

The internet is, in its most basic form, a connection between computers. These computers can send data between one another. For our purposes your computer and a web-server will be communicating.

These servers hold the data that makes up websites and other things that you download.

Why access this data? For many reasons: The Internet holds vast amounts of information from encyclopedias to movies and games, you need to know how to use it effectively to hold a job and there is much fun to be had as well.

Getting Online

Wireless Icons

Wireless on the Left and Wired on the Right

Before you can do anything related with the internet you need to be connected. In the notifications area you should be able to see your connection status and if you are not connected, connect to a network. The icon for this will very depending on whether you are using a wired or a wireless connection.

If you are connected by Ethernet then you have nothing more to do, but if you are using wireless you will need to click the wireless icon. A new menu will appear showing all available networks. You will need to click on the network that belongs to you and enter the password for it.

If you do not know the password it may be on the router that you are using. A router is a devise that routs wireless connections, either your service provider sent you one or you will need to buy one to get wireless.

Now we have one more step, that is open up a web browser. We will be using Microsoft Edge at the start of this tutorial, but will be changing that really soon. There are multiple ways to open Edge, the ‘e’ icon that is on the task bar and start menu, in the start menu you can click all apps and find “Microsoft Edge”, or you can open the start menu and start typing “edge” and hit enter when it appears.MS Edge

Getting Around and Installing Better Programs

Now there are a couple of things you can do now; you can check the weather, make a Facebook account, or watch a movie, but we will be getting a new web browser and an anti-virus.

“Why do I need another browser?” Though Microsoft Edge is far better than what Microsoft had in the past, it is not powerful and is completely controlled by Microsoft. As said previously, we want to keep dependence on them to a minimal.

There are much better options out there than Edge, the two I recommend are Firefox and Google Chrome. This depends on your philosophy and how much power you wish over your browser. Firefox is founded on the principle of privacy and freedom to control the browser as you see fit. Google Chrome is controlled by one of the largest data collection organizations in the world, who just so happens to control a large amount of the internet. With Chrome you do not have control like in Firefox and privacy is questionable, but you have full integration with Google’s services and an easy to use interface.

I will be using Firefox for this tutorial, but the same principles apply to both browsers.

In the search box, the box on the top of the page, you should type wish to find, in this case “Firefox”. A web page should appear with a list of search results. Click on the blue text “Firefox Web Browser – The Official…”, this will take you to the Firefox website. There should be a button that says “Free Download”, click it.Firefox Bing Search

At the bottom of Edge there should be a download status that gives you information on the download.

The first thing you wish to do once the file is downloaded is click “Run”. You will see a green extraction bar and then a warning asking if you would like to run the file, say yes.

Installing Firefox

The installer is a fairly self-explanatory, click next once it opens. You are then presented with options for a Standard or Custom install. For most programs you will want to do a Custom Install when it is an option, as some software will do undesirable things to your computer unless you disable them. Firefox will not do said things, but it is best to get in the habit of doing things this way.

7 Firefox_Install_0

Next you will be asked where you wish to install the program. You are best leaving this alone, but take note how things are set up. You are given the folder that the program will be installed into, how much space is required for the program, and how much you have on your hard drive.8 Firefox_Install_1

The next option given you is to install the “Maintenance Service”, you will want to have this. You should always have your software up to date, this keeps it secure and keeps you from getting a virus.

There will also be the options to have an icon on your Desktop and in the Start Menu. You will want to have the start menu, but there is no need for a desktop icon as we will have a quick launch icon on the task bar shortly. Thus you will want to uncheck the desktop option.

You will be given a summery of the installation, where the program will be installed. All you need to do is click “Install”.

A green progress bar will show you how things are going and then you can just click “Finish”. Firefox will start automatic unless you unchecked it.Firefox, Gateway to the Internet

Follow similar steps if using Google Chrome.

Firefox and the Internet

You are finally here, you have a competent web browser and are connected to the internet. Now there is some simple setup needed for Firefox.

11_Firefox_Search_OptionsWithout a little work, Firefox is not as powerful as it could be. So we need to go into the menu and click on options. This menu is on the far right of the browser, just under the close button. Within the options you will find a tab that says Search, under that tab you will have the option to change search engines. You will want to change it to Google under the drop down list that says Yahoo. Just click on the button and it will open this list, then click Google. Yes, that Google.

Then you just close the options by clicking the ‘x’ on the tab that is in the top of the browser. These tabs will become very important in the future.

Windows comes with a simple Firewall and anti-virus, but they are rather simplistic and lacking in some areas. If you are comfortable with that, you are set for the internet. However we will be covering anti-virus software in our next article.

Sadly our short attention span culture means that this website would suffer if I continue here. Keep an eye out for our next step, installing an anti-virus and exploring the web.

Many know that a court stated that the FCC lacks the authority to enforce Net Neutrality. This means that the FCC holds no power to prevent ISPs from discriminating against websites. The main fear that many who use the internet have is that this could lead to stronger censorship in the United States. This fear is justified in that, without Net Neutrality, ISPs could slow down connections to content that they do not like.

Net Neutrality is an idea that I don’t think exists in reality. ISPs may respect it, but nothing is really preventing them from slowing down connections. Back in the early years of faster internet, companies like Comcast were slowing down internet connections to their enemies sites. Net Neutrality can not really be enforced, who is to say that the website is not just slow? Unless there is an investigation, no one would know.

Net Neutrality is one of the lesser concerns of internet freedom; it is important as an idea to uphold, but it does not really hold any real value other than preventing the taking of more freedom. That being said, we should fight for it, just not for having it, but rather to prevent them from taking more away.