New Update Blip: a tool for seeing your Internet latency


Level 4
Thread author
Jun 7, 2022

Too long, don't read:

  • Go to Blip
  • It should work on any PC, laptop, tablet, phone, or iPod with javascript and HTML canvas support (which means almost everything nowadays).
  • X axis is time. Y axis is milliseconds of latency.
  • Green blips are your ping time to (a very fast site that should be close to you wherever you are).
  • Blue blips are your ping time to ("a site on the Internet"). It should be slower than How much slower depends on how lucky you are.
  • Red blips mean something sucks.
  • A good Internet+Wifi connection should have no red blips. And lower latency is better than higher latency.
  • We send blips out as fast as they come back, up to 100 per second, so you can notice very small variations.
  • If you watch the blip output while you do different things (switch wifi networks, start Youtube videos playing, walk around), you can immediately see what impact that change has on the quality of your Internet connection
Here are some observations I've made using blip:

  • If there's a red blip more than once every minute or so, your web browsing will be noticeably more annoying than if there isn't. Yes, real wifi connections exist, even in crowded buildings, with zero red blips. That should be your goal.
  • One of my tablet devices produces red blips even when another device, sitting right next to it, on the same access point, does not.
  • Some wifi routers give decent results most of the time, and terrible results other times. This is usually because they get angry and start losing packets at random times, which is easy to see with blip.
  • You can walk around your apartment or house and find out exactly where the wifi "dead zones" are, within seconds. It's kind of like a geiger counter; wave it around and see what happens to the clicks.
  • "Wifi signal strength" meters are all a bunch of evil liars. Don't trust them. Wondering why your Internet is slow even with 5 bars? Don't believe the hype. Blip will show you the truth.
  • For me, on a wired ethernet network I can get about 15ms (or less from some locations) green blips. On wifi it's more like 30-50ms. On 3G cellular, with a really good signal (eg. outdoors with no obstructions) the best I get is about 100ms. With obstructions, it's normally more like 200ms. And yes, the ratios between these numbers really do seem like the performance difference I see when web browsing.
  • 3G cellular networks, surprisingly, seem to have far fewer red blips than typical "public" wifi signals (eg. ones in malls, parks, etc), even in moderately crowded area. So even though the latency ("ping time") might look better on public wifi, the packet loss (shown as a nonzero number of red blips) means web browsing will be cruddy. That matches my experience, but now I can measure it for real.


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