I am subscribed to the fastest available ADSL 2+ (24Mbps) connection here in Sydney, and my connection at three different houses I’ve lived in has always been unreliable. Currently where I’m living, the connection actually goes down whenever it starts raining! It also frequently goes down just at random, when it’s not raining. P2P seems to worsen the situation (not surprisingly), but usenet is superior anyway, so that’s not a problem anymore. Granted, I am pretty far from the exchange (~4km), hopefully copper will be replaced with optic fibre in the next decade.
So a while back I wrote a small utility that shows an icon in the system tray reflecting whether you can contact (via ping) a remote host (google, or your ISP’s DNS server, for example).
Clicking the icon shows your the history of ping times:
It can be run on startup, passing the name or IP of the remote host as an argument. For example:
You can also specify the period (in seconds) between pings (default is 1 second), so to ping www.google.com every 5 seconds:
"lookalive.exe www.google.com 5"
If you have multiple hosts you wish to ping, you can run the application multiple times and a spearate icon in the system tray is displayed for each host. To distinguish between them, you can pass a colour:
"lookalive.exe www.google.com 5 blue"
Additional arguments allow calling of an external application and/or showing a balloon notification whenever the state changes and customisation of the system tray icon.