Yesterday I was stumped while not managing to download any package from CTAN. While I could navigate and browse the directories, any time I selected a file to download the request would time-out. A web search reveled nothing. No-one else seemed to have the same problem, and I was stumped. After while, I realized that CTAN is distributed on many mirrors across the globe and most likely the actual downloading is undertaken by an automatically selected mirror. What I didn't manage to find out was how to control the mirror I am downloading from.
So: my questions are:
How can I download a file from CTAN from a manually selected mirror rather than the automatically selected one? How can I find out which mirror is automatically selected for me?
I guess I could use this as a platform to suggest a possible improvement to the powers (at CTAN.org) that be: Add a little randomization to the mirror selection algorithm. Even if you don't know whether the best mirror for me is up or down, if you have 5 mirrors close to me, I don't need the closest one all the time, I'd rather not risk getting stuck with a broken mirror for 12 hours...