> Both at home and at work there are caching DNS on the LAN. So a DNS
> request may come back with a valid IP address when the WAN connection is
> down. I still won't be able to connect to the remote site.

Dig an external server - e.g. dig @a.root-servers.net google.co.uk

If your net is down the query will fail even if the reply is cached locally, 
because you're specifically requesting a response from a.root-servers.net.

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