Meraki founders are back with new #IoT Startup Samsara


Having been a fan (and frequent reviewer) of Meraki from way early on, I’m happy to see the innovative spirit that came from the company’s founders continuing on in a new venture.

Thank you to my pal WirelessStew for his blurb on Samsara, and best of luck to those in the new company.

Originally posted on @WirelessStew:


#Meraki founders Sanjit Biswas & John Bicket are back as And at the right time for #IoT.

Samsara is already headlining with some familiar faces you may already know.  I’m really looking forward to seeing what these creative geniuses have in store for us.

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Download Free WLAN Troubleshooting Booklet

If you’re interested in the finer points of WLAN support and troubleshooting, have a look at this excellent freebie. It’s actually a slice from the current CWNA study guide, provided by the good folks at Aerohive, delivered as a swanky booklet for your use and enjoyment.

Put it on your e-reader and use the magic of technology to get ya an eyeful of excellent, easy readin’ content, baby!

Download a free booklet about WLAN Troubleshooting | HiveNation.


That is all.

The Curious Case of Bogus Amazon Sellers

I’m sure I’m not alone in admitting that I generally love Amazon. The access to massive product variety, frequently great prices, the whole Prime feature, and a sense that you can really trust the entire framework just makes Amazon easy to appreciate. But that trust thing… well, lately I’ve had it rocked a little bit when it comes to Amazon. Here’s the executive summary:

  • I have found multiple clearly fraudulent sellers in the “used” category
  • I’ve engaged Amazon’s customer service and investigations staff, had my suspicions confirmed and told by Amazon they’d get rid of the bogus sellers
  • The same sellers keep coming back, and they are pretty convincing if you don’t know better
  • There seems to be no way for Amazon to keep them out
  • Dealing with Amazon in this regard is kind of like talking with children who speak another language, and who also happen to be watching TV or something as you speak to them

Now let’s look at a real-world example.


Please note the instructions for how to engage this seller- you have to leave the Amazon framework and communicate through Gmail. We’ll go there in a bit, but also note the seller’s name “Lin.Martone”. This one has also shown up as:

  • LI N Martone
  • LinMartone

and each variant has a different gmail account to go with it. On this item, there have been NUMEROUS bogus sellers that come and go, all with the same “email me if you want this” and all with a price that’s too good to be true (hence the draw). All of this has been shared with Amazon via emails and calls. In each case, Amazon agrees fraud is in play, yet it it keeps coming back.

Being a veteran of many an investigation, I decided to follow one of these out before enaging Amazon for the first time. Here we go… bogus seller here is (you’ll love the spoofed Amazon page that’s coming):


Realize- we’ve already broken Amazon’s rules here, by leaving the web framework and communicating directly. The response- a sloppy cut and paste of a reply to somebody named Shane.shane



Here is where it gets good- sent in my inbox, a very official looking “Amazon page” complete with bogus order number.  I have to think that at this point, many shoppers might be fooled.reallooking

not valid





This person was trying to get me to buy an Amazon gift card, and read them the number as payment for an item that would most assuredly never come. When I called Amazon and shared this all with them, I found a number of challenges in dealing with customer service.

  • You can’t share any of these sorts of screenshots- only email headers (which I did)
  • When I mentioned fake order numbers and well-crafted fake phishing style pages being provided via email, I don’t know if it even registered with the person I was speaking with
  • I pointed out over multiple calls and online reports at least half a dozen bogus “sellers” on this item alone, all with same methodologyFraud
  •  You get the general feeling that Amazon could really care less, and that you are a bit of a bother when you engage them on this over the phone
  • The same “sellers” keep coming back
  • That anyone can join the Amazon used market as seller and then be allowed to tell customers to go through email and break Amazon’s rules WITHOUT AMAZON THEMSELVES CATCHING IT is bewildering

And that’s it. I’ll still use Amazon for new items, but am thoroughly spooked at how loose and sloppy this end of their used market is. I hope this blog can help even one person not to get scammed by what seems to be pretty common on Amazon.


ADDENDUM- Thanks, Stephen Foskett for taking this issue up on your own blog, and summarizing what to watch out for: (lifted from Stephen):

Here are the hallmarks:

  1. Too-low round-number prices roughly half the retail cost
  2. Items sold as used but with specific notes that they’re actually new
  3. Instructions to email to begin the transaction rather than using the Amazon site, including obviously obfuscated gmail addresses with spaces between letters
  4. “Just Launched” seller profiles with no ratings

Be careful out there!

802.11ac Is A Big Fat Pack of Lies

We’ve been hoodwinked. They snookered us. The wool has done been pulled over our eyes. Ah yes, the snake oil convention came to town, and we all went in the big tent and bought us some. But who could blame us for getting all sparkly-eyed when you breathe in the aroma of those fat numbers promised by 802.11ac? It’s intoxicating stuff, this getting-ever-faster Wi-Fi. But alas… it’s also fraudulent promises, broken hearts, and “Ha! Made you look!” all put in a shit sandwich that we’re willingly nibbling on.

OK- so maybe it’s not quite that bad. But it’s safe to say that with 802.11ac, and even 802.11n, the standards-authors are writing certain checks that the Bank of Reality just can’t cash, despite the giddy marketing folks’ best efforts to convince us otherwise.

Have I bummed you out yet? You might be wondering what could put an upbeat, good-looking fella like myself in this sort of funk. Well, I’ll tell you what sir (or madame)… I just read me an excellent- and I mean excellent- whitepaper from the very smart folks at 7signal, titled 802.11ac Migration: Real World Best Practices. I should have saw what was coming with the subtitle “Learn what vendors won’t tell about 11ac performance in real-world deployments”. Here’s the kicker: there’s nothing really new here, per se. But the cold hard facts of what a given standard “supports” versus what reality allows are presented extremely eloquently in this document. Ideally, it would be required reading for WLAN vendor marketing departments and technical managers and execs not familiar with such things.

Download here)

I won’t give it all away, but here are a few teases:

  • We never did get to the top-end of 802.11n’s promised 600 Mbps data rates, and it’s highly doubtful we’ll recognize 11ac’s hyped 6.7 Gbps either
  • 256 QAM is awesome- if you’re standing close to an AP or have one in your pocket
  • Channel bonding is the stuff of high data rates… but you’re probably expecting too much out of this feature
  • Despite rapid adoption of 11ac, what we’ll see out of it in terms of big, impressive performance numbers will be a mere fraction of what hype tells us to expect
  • There are several other depressing little nuggets

Get the document, read it, and share it. It really is well written and injects a needed dose of reality to the 11ac buzz.

At the same time, don’t be as pissy as I’m making myself out to be in this blog (I’m a writer, and this is called creative license for those of you watching at home). 11ac is still moving the Wi-Fi cheese deeper into the 5 GHz spectrum, which is a huge gain for the greater wireless good. And…we’re still getting better rate-over-range with 11ac versus 11n, and with Ruckus breaking the ice on Wave 2, we’re getting into 4×4 APs with MU-MIMO (though 7signal deflates the MU-MIMO bluster a bit as well in the whitepaper). 

So maybe 11ac isn’t really a big fat pack of lies… perhaps it’s more like a series of Brian Williams-style “embellishments”.  But the truth here does matter for managing expectations, and that’s the point of 7signal’s excellent document.

Contemplating Auto RF Functions In WLAN Systems

Once upon a time, wireless networks were completely the product of the person or persons who designed, installed, and configured them. The WLAN couldn’t think for itself, per se, and important settings like channel and power were determined by the human hands and minds behind each Wi-Fi network. This was mostly a hallmark of the age of Fat Access Points, when our wireless networks were more about general coverage and less the stuff of carefully weaving high-density signal tapestries that support ever increasing client device counts. Now, there is impressive (or utterly maddening, depending on vendor and code version) magic behind the typical modern business WLAN; access points get their configs from some version of a mothership, and mystical “algorithms” choose what power and channel settings each access point will use. 

If you let them, that is.

After a recent spirited Twitter dialogue with a couple of dozen really smart fellow wireless networkers, I found myself a bit taken aback by the general distrust of “auto RF” functionality that comes with almost any new Wi-Fi gear that uses multiple access points to form a WLAN. After all, these systems are not cheap, and the auto RF stuff is a major feature that adds to the cost. I’m not aware of any system that lets you order system code without auto RF to lower the price, yet a lot of WLAN professionals aren’t really embracing it. Is it a matter of general disdain for something that has caused pain for their end users that have lead my colleagues to speak somewhat unflatteringly about auto RF features, or is there something else at work?

From my own experience, I’ve been *generally* satisfied with Cisco’s Radio Resource Management (RRM) and use it extensively in my extremely large WLAN environment. At the same time, there have been a few cases where I’ve had to manually override RRM’s selected values. Usually, I can look at these exceptions and point out a design trade-off that we were forced to make (the real world is rarely perfect) that probably threw the RRM algorithm for a loop. It’s not that RRM failed me- in fact you could say that at times my design failed RRM.

I think this is some of the essence of skepticism behind auto RF from my wireless homies. Auto RF features are not divine cure-alls for bad design, nor can they be trusted to simply come to life and make everything OK with manufacturer’s default values in all cases. You have to learn how they work in your environments and with your design approaches, and realize that not all vendors are going to implement the same way. For me, I’ve got the most experience with Cisco’s RRM (generally pleased), Meraki’s version (can be weird at times), some Aruba (did a building-wide pilot a few years back, Aruba’s ARM did fine for me back then) and Aerohive on a small scale. Making things even more complicated, vendors can change their algorithms as they choose (potentially negating what you think you understand) and some document the technical underpinnings better than others… it gets tricky, yet I can’t imagine trying to keep my own 4,000 AP network up without it.

Here are some vendor links relating to auto RF functions (No slight intended to anyone I left out, this is just a sampling), and I have no clue whether there are newer versions available :

You get the point… some vendors are more explicit in explaining the theory of operation behind their auto RF mechanisms, others seem to have added it because it’s what you’re supposed to do anymore. Regardless, it’s very interesting.

I’d love to hear your opinions on the notion of auto RF, whether for a specific vendor or in general. What have you found that works? That doesn’t work? What’s your advice for people just getting started with auto RF capabilities? Any good auto-RF links to share?

Thanks for reading!

On Twitter and Wi-Fi Minded? Look for #WIFIQ

I was a Twitter skeptic early on. It was confounding to me how this framework could have any professional or organizational value at first pass, but I caught on quick. After inheriting someone else’s support-oriented Twitter mess to straighten out a few years ago, I learned that there is actually something to this social media thing… it really does have an element of value when it comes to learning from, promoting (and being promoted by), and interacting with other IT professionals of all skills and backgrounds.

OK, enough on the Twitter sales pitch. If you’re not using it, I encourage you to give it a try and discover for yourself a vibrant, active, dynamic community of professionals that share your interests. And if you’re already on Twitter and have a yen for wireless networking, I encourage you to look for the daily #WIFIQ – which is the hashtag for the Daily Wi-Fi Question. This is an informal but interesting discussion on an offered topic that has gained steam of late. It works like this:

Every morning (US eastern time) I throw out a #WIFIQ. It may be of my own making, or come from someone else who has DM’d me to have their question asked. Then anywhere from a few to a few dozen WLAN professionals that are interested in voicing their opinion and experience chime in throughout the day. It’s a pretty interesting exercise, and typically several countries, skill levels, and viewpoints are represented.

This is certainly nothing earth-shaking, nor is it meant to be. There’s already a lot of fantastic, viral discussion happening on Twitter, but the #WIFIQ brings just a little bit of something to spark people into a common discussion thread, and it’s all about respectfully sharing and engaging with a lot of really smart, humorous, and friendly folks with a passion for all things Wi-Fi on a daily basis. If you choose to be a regular, good for you. And if you pop in on occasion, your thoughts are equally as valued for whatever is being talked about that day. And by using the #WIFIQ hashtag, you can search on discussions you missed, if you are so inclined.

Interested? Get on Twitter, and get in on the daily #WIFIQ. It’s a little thing that has sparked great dialogue, and is guaranteed to get you talking with others that you may not have another reason to.

We’re in the business of connecting people, after all…

Another Amazing Crop of Products at Unwired Innovation Expo

Having just got back from the annual Unwired Innovation Expo, my head is spinning a bit from all that I was fortunate enough to see. Once again the event took place in scenic Clovis, New Mexico at the Llano Estacado Convention Center, and it was phenomenal. I remember first attending UIE back in 2012, and I once thought that nothing would top the amazing products I saw back then. This year not only exceeded the previous years’ excitement, but left me feeling nothing short of awestruck.

For those who couldn’t make it to the Expo, here are my top picks from 2015’s event:

  • Cisco’s Braco Access Point Modules.  Cisco has done well with add-on modules for 3600 and 3700 APs that add WIPS and small-cell capabilities. Now, to counter growing workplace BYOD anger and violence, the market leader in WLAN has partnered with The Gazer to produce the Braco Module. In addition to client access, APs can now broadcast a soothing energy force brought out by the new TGP (Transmission Gazing Protocol) that delivers the very essence of Braco’s Gaze throughout their coverage areas.  I stood in a Braco cell for about two minutes, and left it feeling mellow as a cello. This is powerful tech.

  • GlobaStar Barby. This fun product was the hit of the consumer side of the show floor. GlobaStar Barby is an upgrade to last year’s model, with improved dance moves (33% more spin), and she drives the cutest little Corvette around on Channel 14 Wi-Fi SUPERHIGHWAYS (additional licenses required).

  • Fit-Pit. Billed as the ultimate “wearable” for fitness, Pits Inc. has mastered a roll-on version of BLE technology that you apply to your underarms. It gets operating voltage from your sweat, and transmits statistics on your workout to a smartphone app. Need help reaching your goals? Fit-Pit also comes with an electrode that mounts on either side of your posterior under your workout attire that applies a mini-taser blast when you slack off. Elegent, integrated, and effective- Fit-Pit sets the standard for what this sort of technology should be.

  • New 802.11baa components. Though still in beta, a raft of products built on this agri-business-oriented wireless breakthrough was on display at UIE. Given the convention center’s proximity to Eastern New Mexico’s high plains, attendees were able to watch real-world demonstrations of livestock equipped with 802.11baa transceivers extending a network to the undeserved in neighboring enclaves like Ranchvale and Ft. Sumner. Also, a big screen showed a live feed from the Scottish highlands, where 802.11baa is also being combined with the experimental MDP (meshed dung protocol) for even further reach over difficult terrain.

  • Phantom Fi. Sometimes simplicity is the best answer to tough or costly technical problems. Phantom Fi’s CTO Howard Hamilton walked me through his company’s approach to a scenario many of us can relate to: you want visitors to think you have a kick-ass wireless network, even if you really can’t afford it. Phantom Fi delivers the appearance of a robust, well-designed WLAN environment with simulated access points. “It’s all about appearances with a lot of people”, Hamilton informed me.Space-age polymer enclosures house a AA battery, a multi-color LED, and a small circuit that changes the light color at random intervals to create the illusion of wireless activity. Depending on customer requirements, Phantom Fi’s Professional Services will work with your staff on perfecting the “yes, we have Wi-Fi, and it’s quite good. But it’s also very secure, and only for important people” scenario, or alternatively will train the help desk staff to deliver real-world messaging like “look at the AP- the lights are on. Maybe you should update your driver?” to round out the real-world edginess of the ruse. With Gold-level support, customers can use either approach, as well as make use of optional simulated external antennas with double-sided tape included in the licensing.

  • Marley Foundation’s Mon-itization Portal. The whole “engagement” thing really rubs a lot of people the wrong way, with the typical promise of some small discount or targeted marketing in exchange for the mobile client’s soul and whatnot. For those of us in that camp, the Marley Foundation is teaming up with dive bars, party barges, and frats to offer their Mon-Itization portal. You hit the web page, select your favorite reggae tune and herbal supplement (delivered via app on latest mobile devices) and soon We be jammin, mon… 
    I tried figuring out the business model on this one, but after a couple of logins on the demo portal I got so baked that I gave up and went to get some mozzarella sticks.

There was certainly more… much more at the Unwired Innovation Expo. From edible client devices to weird looking things that seemingly had no purpose to the latest generation of high-performance flatulence apps, there was just so, so much to take in at this year’s show. I know by now that next year will be even more impressive, but at this point I’m feeling like I have touched the face of our collective wireless future- and it made me warm and tingly.