edit: despite the very good answer I once accepted, now I'm look for a simpler tool that requires no installation or preparation. Something like a ping with a timestamp would be of great help already.
Once in a while I get bad Internet connection access points. Be it physical cables, WiFi or 3G spots. And I always figured how good would it be to have a way to monitor it, to determine exactly where's the issue and either consider trying to fix it or just accept there's no way.
My current way of doing it is freaking ping. I ping any Internet IP I memorized and the Gateway. That tells me if the router is bad, eventually. Or that the Internet fell down, and it's not my computer issue, but not for how long it's down. Neither that it did so X hours ago, and that's why my download didn't went through, rather than some torrent issue, or server maintenance. And so on. Ping is a very old tool and not full featured at all.
Currently came to my attention another way of doing it: logmein logs (idea came from looking at console). But I couldn't make much use of any of those logs so far. Anyway...
Here I ask if there is any software, free and/or paid, that can give us those basic stats about our current network connection. And a connection graphic over time would be a big plus!