On a moonless night, under the starless sky, I was leaning on my desk in front of my laptop, playing the codes, programmes and widgets around in the backend of my website. When saving my Chinese blog, my browser page suddenly turned white — with only a sad-looking face on a sheet of paper.

The sad face

I did some refresh but it did nothing other than making the face to flash for a few times. Oops. Something bad happened. I knew it. Hundreds of thousands of ideas went through my head — am I disconnected from the WiFi? No way, google was loading normally. Was my domain name blocked by daddy again? I recalled a few years ago, I was too into blogging that daddy blacklisted my whole domain “becomingcelia.com” in the WiFi settings. With this thought in my head, I visited my google-hosted blog in a hurry. This blog has the same domain name as my Chinese blog, but it is hosted on blogger. The blog loaded normally. So no. It was nothing to do with the domain.

Is it something to do with the ip then? My Chinese blog was self-hosted, I bought a web hosting service in South Africa, since the blogger hosted blogs are not accessible in China and hosting my own blog was the only way that I can show my blog posts to my friends in China (or else if I keep posting posts on the blogger blog in Chinese and the blog is no accessible in China, what’s the point of it?). The web hosting service I chose was laoxuehost, the cheapest hosting service that I could find at SGD 18 / month. Anyway, my personal webpage, Chinese blog and English blog are both hosted on this server under the same ip, meaning that if one of them isn’t working and the problem is to do with the ip address, then the other websites wouldn’t work too. I tried my English blog. Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t working too. There was only one explanation — daddy found out that I bought a web hosting service and wanted to stop me from maintaining these self-hosted blogs and to keep me within the blogger platform! Oh dear. Does that mean that I will have to use my precious 4G network to access my blogs secretly in order to avoid the WiFi of my house?

Perturbed, I walked out of my room. “Dad, did you block my blogs’ ip!?” He thought for a while, “No. Why?” “Then why couldn’t I access my blogs?”

Dad went directly into terminal on my laptop and typed in a command:

Liang-Chuxin-10:~ liang81077$ ping blog.becomingcelia.cn

To someone who knows nothing of the Linux commands, like me, this is magic. We waited for one sec, two sec, three sec, nothing seemed to be happening. Ten sec, fifteen sec, terminal finally returned the following:

ping: cannot resolve blog.becomingcelia.cn: Unknown host

Dad “pinged” becomingcelia.com and nightingale.becomingcelia.com respectively. The results were the same.

Oh no. Something bad actually happened.

As these website could load if the 4G network was connected, dad thought that our WiFi was broken. The seriousness and priority of this problem immediately rose to the next level. As dad was anxiously seeking for the source of the problem, I browsed on the web for what the command ping does.

I found this website. It gave some basic info of ping.

So ping is used to test the connection between devices, for example, between a laptop and another laptop, or a server, sometimes even a printer. It can be used like this:

ping <server>

Server can be a hostname (for example the domain the website is connected to) or an ip address. If the website is working normally, it should be something like this:

Liang-Chuxin-10:~ liang81077$ ping blog.becomingcelia.cn
PING blog.becomingcelia.cn (103.144.218.157): 56 data bytes
64 bytes from 103.144.218.157: icmp_seq=0 ttl=49 time=47.494 ms
64 bytes from 103.144.218.157: icmp_seq=1 ttl=49 time=47.995 ms
64 bytes from 103.144.218.157: icmp_seq=2 ttl=49 time=51.040 ms
64 bytes from 103.144.218.157: icmp_seq=3 ttl=49 time=59.267 ms
64 bytes from 103.144.218.157: icmp_seq=4 ttl=49 time=47.459 ms
64 bytes from 103.144.218.157: icmp_seq=5 ttl=49 time=47.401 ms
64 bytes from 103.144.218.157: icmp_seq=6 ttl=49 time=47.408 ms

Stop ping by typing Ctrl+C:

^C
--- blog.becomingcelia.cn ping statistics ---
7 packets transmitted, 7 packets received, 0.0% packet loss
round-trip min/avg/max/stddev = 47.401/49.723/59.267/4.082 ms
Liang-Chuxin-10:~ liang81077$

Now I finally knew what Ctrl on mac does. Before this, I always thought that, since Ctrl is already replaced by the “command” key, what is the point of it being there? It turned out that it could only be used in terminal. That is like a very useless design. Putting that key over there is (to me) a failure in design.

So… Not even ping can return info about the connection between my laptop and the server, what was the source of the problem? Dad was talking to someone in his phone, trying to explain something to that person in influent English on the other end of the call but that person didn’t seem to understand. I thought I could help him to explain, but I didn’t even know what he was doing. It was ok. I went back to my room.

The next morning, my website still didn’t load. In the afternoon, it finally loaded successfully. I then asked dad what happened yesterday. It turned out that, the provider of our family WiFi, Singtel, couldn’t connect with ip addresses starting with ‘103’ for some reason, which directly caused our WiFi to be unable to access my blogs. Daddy was too smart that he decisively denied that the problem was caused by hardwares in our house and call Singtel right away. It was so rare that Singtel could have such a big problem. Tada~ Problem solved! I continued to work at the backend of my sites.