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Issue #809: January 22-28, 2023

Q: A very simple way to describe bandwidth is this way. Consider a two-lane highway that carries cars one at a time east and west. Then consider expanding the highway to 6 lanes. Viola, triple the bandwidth. Same speed, more traffic.

 – Grady R.
Destin, Florida

A: I have to be honest here, Grady.  Given the lack of context, I really had no idea why you wrote this to me.  So, I started looking backwards through columns that published immediately before your question was submitted, and the closest thing I found to something you might have been commenting on was from early December (Geek Note: I.G.T.M. #802, December 4, 2022) in which reader Meredith T. was asking about her Internet service going out during high-traffic periods, and how her neighbors were knocking out her signal because they have “stronger” equipment than her. I used the word “bandwidth” multiple times in my reply to refer to the potential capacity of her Internet connection, and more important, that part of the network she shares with her neighbors.

Your analog of a highway is somewhat interesting, but it doesn’t translate well from moving cars to moving data. You’re correct in saying that you can move more cars by making the lane wider, but you can’t practically improve your home internet bandwidth by laying more cables. Moving data is more like moving water through a pipe.  You can move the same amount of water by moving it slowly through a big pipe, or quickly through a small pipe.  The “bandwidth” is the amount of water you can move over time.  It is the same with data. 

By the way, if this was indeed a comment on an issue of the column, you could have made it directly on the column in question by visiting the column’s website.  There I maintain a searchable archive of every issue of the column to-date, and yes, the site allows you, the readers, to share your insights and ideas right in-context with the columns.  Check it out!

 Q: A while ago my laptop was hacked. I cleared the system of any problems except one. I use the Microsoft program Mail for my email. Microsoft has blocked my IP address from sending email. It’s just moved to the outbox and sits there. If I move to a different location with a different IP address it works fine. How can I get the blocked IP address cleared?

 – Robert V.
Destin, Florida

A: This will probably come as a surprise to you, Robert, but although Microsoft is the vendor who wrote and provides support for your e-mail client, unless you have an e-mail address, they have nothing to do with controlling or managing the flow of e-mail in and out of your account.  They certainly don’t make decisions such as black-listing an individual IP address, which is what you’re describing – not blocking.  If your IP address was somehow blocked, you would not be able to connect to the Internet.

A more likely culprit to look toward is the ISP that provides your e-mail address.  If your system was hacked, and your computer was being used to send out lots and lots of SPAM (the usual activity that gets someone blacklisted) then word probably got back to your provider about “your” activity, and a subsequent blacklist was enacted. 

Now, you say that it works from a different location and with a different IP address, so that doesn’t fully comport with what I know about blacklisting.  Nevertheless, I do know that Microsoft has absolutely no role in this process.  I recommend that you start by contacting customer service at your ISP and telling them what you told me.  If anyone is “blocking” you, it’s them.

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