Shedding COVID Boredom Through Tech

When I say “shedding”, I mean, as in using an actual shed. And getting techno-freaky with it in the name of staying sane. It’s just a 12×20 nothing-special storage shed. But to me, it has become an operational platform, I tellya. When I need more to do than self-train or read up on new stuff, I gotta have some hands-on challenges.

Opportunity Recognized

One day I was pouring through some high-res aerial shots my tight homie Elon sent me from his satellites, and I came across one that sparked my interest. Ignore the numbers for now, but we’ll need them in a minute.

In the lower left, under the swimming pool is where you’ll find what has become one of my COVID-inspired manias… It happens to be strategically placed for all kinds of geek fun.

Foundational Stuff

Given where the shed sits in relation to the pool, I was able to leverage the extra electrical circuit I ran like 20 years ago when I did the pool back in the day. A little bit of poor-man’s direct burial, and we got juice. Now, take your eyes to the top end of the house, where you’ll find the blue number 1.

The house had an old-style TV antenna mounting pole that was well-attached when we bought it. Being a ham radio operator, I was able to lengthen it a bit, and it has been the middle-point for countless wire dipole antennas through the years. It also happens to be the root side of a decent Ubiquiti 5 GHz mesh connection that uses the red line to connect to number 2, which is how we feed network to the shed- using an old flagpole that happens to be wonderfully placed for it’s current tower duties. The far end Ubiquiti AP connects to a small PoE switch, and the whole link is managed as part of my bigger Ubiquiti environment.

The shed now has power, it’s got network. IT’S TIME FOR THIS SHED TO UNDERGO IT’S DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION.

It’s no Shed, Its a Freakin Technology Nexus!

Now let’s consider numbers 3 and 7… IP CCTV cameras (Ethernet). I live in one of the safest crime-free areas on the planet. But remember, this is about DOING as much as it is using. Here’s #7 on the picture- El Gato cam.


Occasionally, a neighbor’s cat transits our yard behind the pool in a daring feat of trespass. These movements are strictly unauthorized, and if I take that cat to court someday I will have mountains of video evidence. Sometimes we see deer, too. The cameras are recorded in the house on a Ubiquiti Cloud Key acting as a DVR. (I’ve thought about adding webcam capabilities, but we have an anemic upstream ISP connection.)

OK, so cameras are no big deal. Everyone’s doing cameras… but is everyone putting a Raspberry Pi transformed into an aircraft monitoring sensor out in their shed? I think not. Here’s what I’m getting RIGHT NOW (kinda quiet at the moment) out of number 4:


This is actually pretty cool. I live along the flight path for a couple of airports and military air routes, so I see some different entries to ooh and ah about. My sensor feeds its received data out to multiple aggregation sites for increased accuracy of the whole system. Yeah, buddy.

By now, I know you can’t wait to find out what number 5 is… and it’s gonna blow your mind. This one doesn’t use the network. We got a little legal FCC Part 15 low-power FM radio station filling the yard and house with music. My music.- and I’ve got great taste. Here we’re using an old Android phone with VLC player, and this little gem from C. Crane. If you go down this path, know that you can get in trouble real fast if you don’t abide by some pretty strict rules. Read the FCC’s rules, and don’t be stupid about blasting out pirate radio.

Let’s round out the current set of shed capabilities with number 6. my personal weather station that feeds it’s data to several weather networks. Have a look at one of my feeds.

So What Comes Next As I “Shed” My Boredom?

It looks like we may be in for a long, stay-at-home winter. The ingredients in this geek soup will keep me going for a while. Now that it’s all out there, optimizing comes next. ANYTHING with an antenna can be made more effective by better placement, antenna tuning, adding a ground plane, removing obstacles, etc. The network itself in the shed is horribly cobbed together at the physical layer, I need a shelf and some serious wire management. A UPS is absolutely in order. I’ll be iterating…

Also- with all the data being monitored, I got a lot of graphs, statistics, and such to digest and ponder in the days to come. Brain food.

I’m also looking for other value adds for my humble shed- probably get some sort of ham radio beacon going as well, minimally.

Frequencies in Use So Far

-5 GHz, the wireless mesh from house to shed, and WLAN at the shed itself
-2.4 GHz, WLAN at shed and weather station console (in house) to Wi-Fi for outbound data feeds
-1090 MHz, used by aircraft positioning transmitters (ADS-B)
-900 MHz, used between weather station and in-house console
-FM Broadcast Band

What about you? What are you doing to shed your boredom and stay sane?

WWII Vet Grave Marker Travesty

This is NOT a technical blog, but one of my occasional detours into a subject that interests or bothers me. If you have no interest in veterans’ affairs, please excuse my diversion and stay tuned for my next article. Otherwise, read on about this very odd situation I have discovered in regards to WWII vet grave markers. I’m publishing it to help others who may be researching WWII vets.

Howard Badman- where it all starts

Let me start by showing you my grandfather’s grave marker, located in Moravia, NY.

I never knew my dad’s dad, as he passed away when I was a baby. Thankfully, I had many good years to enjoy and appreciate my grandmother and the extended Badman clan. I heard enough stories through the years about the man I was middle-named for that naturally I’d be curious about his service time. He shared very little of it with my father and the aunts and uncles, evidently. I hear that a lot about WWII vets- they did what they had to do, came home and got on with their lives and didn’t say a lot about their experiences.

I do know that Howard was a Prisoner of War, and figured out what camp he was held in. I found some details about his service timeline in various federal archives. But that grave marker doesn’t square with what I found.

And his marker is just one example of the bigger story of WWII vets having their service experiences reduced to a governmental convenience that, to me, borders on being a sham.

About the 9201 Technical Service Unit

Given that PFC Badman’s government-provided marker says he served with the 9201 Technical Service Unit (often referred to as 9201 TSU), and that his service started at Fort Dix, New Jersey for training and then was exclusively spent in Europe during the thick of the fighting, I assumed that the 9201 Technical Service Unit was the organization he was assigned to in the field. Like this would be the unit fighting, with men being injured and killed, taken POW, or living to see another normal US Army day all under the banner of the 9201 TSU. That’s what’s on his grave marker, yes?

The 9201 Technical Service Unit is shown on thousands of similar markers for other vets. Those markers tell the world “This soldier was assigned to that unit, now you have a sense of their service”.

Not even close. It’s BS, and really kind of strange.

The 9201 Tech Service Unit was real, but it was simply an administrative unit at the New York Point of Embarkation– the place where Howard and huge numbers of other vets filtered through on their way home from Europe. SOME soldiers were certainly assigned to the 9201 Tech Service Unit, but if you dig into the actual details relating to those whose grave markers say “9201 Tech Service Unit”, you’ll find that they had a much different story.

One Example of Truth

PFC Howard Badman actually served with Company C of the 134th Infantry Regiment, which was part of the 35th Infantry Division. At the time of his capture, he was involved in fighting near Habkirchen in Germany.

Here’s the original Battle Casualty Report that reported him Missing in Action on December 12, 1944 (eventually found to be POW). With just these bits of information, you can see the organizational patches that he wore on his uniform. You learn that his unit’s battle cry was “All hell can’t stop us” and wonder how many times he heard or read that along the way. You get a sense of what his ACTUAL unit did in the war. You can feel the emotion of whoever had to type up those grim Battle Casualty reports. And you get more context to this veteran’s service than just “he passed through NYC coming home” as conveyed by his grave marker.

So Why Is it This Way?

I researched at least a dozen other vets that all have the same “9201 Technical Services Unit” on their markers, foolishly thinking that maybe some of these gents were in battle with my grandfather. It’s a reasonable assumption if you didn’t know better. But in each case the veteran, like PFC Howard Badman, had their own ACTUAL organizational and battle history, but their grave marker doesn’t come close to telling any of it- only that these men all came back through a common entry point to the states.

I’m a veteran. Over my 10 years and multiple units served in around the world, I get that the military does odd things. I’m assuming that the 9201 Tech Service Unit is the last organization shown in all of these soldiers’ records as they processed away from the military, and so that’s all that the VA cared about when putting out these markers despite the fact that it distorts each person’s actual military history. I’m guessing that Howard got off the boat from Europe, spent HOURS doing paperwork at the 9201 TSU, then boarded a bus for home. It’s far more convenient to grab the last, meaningless line in a military record and say “this sums that person up” than to actually put anything personally significant on each grave marker, evidently.

The travesty is that there is very little history on the 9201 Tech Service Unit itself, and nothing of real value as a launching off point to look into the history of any of the men and women who have that unit mentioned on their grave markers. If you are researching a WWII vet: know that that if the 9201 Tech Service Unit is mentioned on their grave marker, it is an absolute dead end and provides no real information on the veteran’s service.

Emblems of the 134th Infantry Regiment and 35th Infantry Division.

Its Time to Let the WAP Rage Go and Move On

It’s an often-repeated cycle: someone says WAP in reference to a wireless access point, while those of us who consider the device to be an AP (no W) recoil viscerally. Maybe a lecture ensues about the PROPER way to refer to an WLAN access point, and it’s not uncommon to get a lot of YEAH WHAT HE SAID! and maybe some DAMN RIGHT! thrown in as we all work ourselves up to a froth over this oddball, seemingly important topic.

I said “seemingly” important.

Except it’s not. It’s actually kind of snobby, and kind of foolish. Don’t we have bigger things to worry about?

Those we quibble with in the epic WAP vs AP Thousand Years’ War often come from different backgrounds, where they learned that WAP is correct, prudent, and A-OK. One example- I work with a really smart BICSI-certified RCDD (that’s Registered Communications Distribution Designer, kind of like the CWNE of the wiring world) and guess what? He learned that WAP is a standard term on his professional journey. BICSI’s ICT Terminology Handbook uses WAP no less than 14 times!

Then there’s the WLAN market leader- Cisco. “WAP” occurs in enough Cisco documentation to be considered a valid term, at least by me. An example:

Are you AP-Purists feeling silly yet? I fully realize that this is one of those religious debates that polarizes people. Some of us will NEVER stop clinging to AP is good and WAP is evil because the notion has become ingrained in the fabric of their WLAN professional beings.

Whatever.

Wikipedia says both are OK. If you Google <Wireless Access Point WAP> you’ll find well over a million results, many from vendors who call their stuff WAPs.

This shouldn’t be one of those triggers that make us drop what we’re doing to school our fellow men and women about what they SHOULD call a wireless access point, yet it is. It doesn’t make us look smart or superior. Au contraire, it makes us look kinda petty, closed-minded, and dare I say silly.

Just stop it already.

Dipping Toes in the Consumer Gear Pool- Netgear AC2300 Wireless Router

I don’t frequently kick tires on consumer grade gear, but occasionally it is good for us Enterprise folks to go that path. Certainly, this space continues to advance- as measured by features offered, complexity under the hood, and promises made that often can’t be kept.

This is an interesting router, and I’ll try to approach my narrative from the consumer-centric focus. That being said, even the consumer wireless space needs to be handled by vendors with common sense. That is lacking in spots with this router, but likely no more so than with it’s competitors who also fixate on grand performance claims over substance. Sigh… the data sheet for the AC2300 is ambitious, to say the least.

Why so Many Model Numbers?

I have NEVER understood this about Netgear (and others in this space). On the box, it’s the AC2300. On the vendor product page, it’s the R7000P, as well. Then when you access the admin pages on the router itself, it becomes the RS400. Just kick me in the groin.

Getting Started, Choices
I’m old and stodgy. I just want to connect to the router, and start poking around. But Netgear would prefer that you download the Nighthawk app, which I did. But to run said app, you need a Netgear account, and in my opinion they want too much personal information. Nyet says I despite the fact that the app might be somewhat handy. Negatory on that. Also, the same account is needed to activate NETGEAR Armor which is a subscription-based security suite (Netgear gives you three years free with the router purchase). Given that I don’t plan on making this eval unit my daily driver, I’m going to pass on Armor- but here’s some interesting chatter among IT folks about it.

I opted to simply connect to the device over Wi-Fi, using the password provided on the router, and head for good old 192.168.1.1 admin page. I also opted not to bite on another subscription- Disney’s Circle parental controls, which were offered one click in . If I was at a different place in life (my kids are grown and live elsewhere), I may welcome something like Circle but would need to evaluate.

Netgear touts the AC2300 as a CYBERSECURITY router, which is OK. Even without the app, Armor, or Circle there are some decent security-oriented features available, as you’ll see in the screenshots.

As a Switch/Router, Looks Decent Enough

See the screenshot dump at the end- you’ll get a sense of the usual offerings that come in better model routers. VLAN support, firewall functionality for device access, URL blocking, protocol controls, etc are handy, and the switchports are 10/100/1000. Also USB3 connectivity to storage or whatever floats your boat. Nothing earth-shaking, but a well-rounded feature set.

Wireless Performance Good- But the Approach is Maddening

It’s funny that the data sheet mentions “interference avoidance” in at least one spot, but your neighbors might not agree given that the AC2300 comes up blasting away on 80 MHz wide channels in 5 GHz (gotta be so to bring the jigabits!) and squatting on channel 9 in 2.4 GHz. How about the power level? Out of box it’s 100% on both channels. 100% of… well, something. but mere mortals aren’t privy to such details. I am not a mere mortal hover, and so I know where to find the power output levels for this router – if you know what the values mean, you’ll agree that this router is quite the flamethrower. Depending on where it’s used, you may not be able to get the power LOW enough.

For some reason, Netgear also decided to expose a couple of settings you can ruin your own day by manipulating wrongly…

Some things are better left hidden, says I. But it is nice that you can schedule the radios for on/off as desired.

I’d Buy It, and Then I’d Get Wise About Configuring It

If I was shopping for a normal consumer router, the AC2300 would be a good candidate based on booming radios and decent features, with or without the subscription stuff and Nighthawk app. It’s a nice enough looking router. The wireless defaults are ugly, though and  can do more harm than good. At the same time, consumer grade stuff is set up out of the box to THEORETICALLY meet the bold promises made in marketing (good luck getting 1625 Mbps in 5 GHz out of this or any 802.11ac 3×3 router) on the assumption that all consumers operate in their own little vacuums.  

 

 

 

5G: Welcome to Crazy Town

It’s sooooooooo fast. Latency is sooooooooo low. Capacity is sooooooooo high. It’s all that, and a big fat multi-billion dollar bag of chips. WOO HOO, GET YA SOME!

However, all is not what it seems. As with many wireless technologies (AHEM-COUGH… Wi-FI… COUGH…LIES AND HYPE… COUGH), much of 5G’s marketing relies on what might come to be, and what the 5G future may look like if the planets align. Meanwhile, the truth can be hard to find.

Today’s Truth

Of late, I’ve had professional reasons to dig in more on 5G, to understand it’s building blocks and implementation challenges and benefits. Though I’m not poo-pooing the impressiveness of the technology’s promise, I can’t help but observe how speculative and fraught with caveats it all feels at this point. Here’s a dose of reality: this article published on September 11, 2020 by PC Mag.com gets to the meat of it:

Our annual Fastest Mobile Networks report came out this month, and it had some shocking results for the race to 5G. We discovered that AT&T’s 5G network is actually slower than its 4G network in almost all of the 26 cities we tested, and that T-Mobile’s low-band 5G network, while faster than 4G, isn’t very fast at all. Verizon’s network, meanwhile, is compellingly fast but its 5G was only available in a single-digit percentage of our test locations.

I encourage you to read the whole article, as it bubbles up a lot of nuance that both clarifies and clouds any current discussion about 5G.

Will Some Areas Get Left Out in the Cold?

Last year, the Electronic Frontier Foundation made a rather grim prediction in their “Enough of the 5G Hype” post about one possible aspect of our collective 5G future- one of those little potential bummers that the carriers themselves won’t offer up:

A recent FCC report on competition found that the future of high-speed broadband for most Americans will be a cable monopoly. Without a plan to promote fiber to the home, that’s not likely to change. In fact, because the 5G upgrade relies on fiber infrastructure, even 5G will be possibly limited to areas that already have FTTH – meaning, they already have a competitive landscape and, therefore, better service. The rest of us get monopolistic slow lanes.

I don’t know enough about the various regulatory and larger network intricacies afoot to sanction the prediction, but it is minimally thought-provoking.

Do Your Own Digging

At the risk of going hyperlink-happy, let me share one more with you from Security Boulevard. This piece does a decent job of providing both skepticism and hope for what 5G might do for us in the years to come.

To me, it’s a safe bet that when and where it reaches maturity, 5G will be generally impressive. Beyond that, I really can’t tell yet what the overall paradigm will ACTUALLY amount to. For that matter, their may not end up being “an overall paradigm” when it comes to 5G, We may be looking at local or regional winners and losers when it comes to the question of “How 5 will my G really be?”. There’s just a lot left to play out.

Hopefully it will be as glorious as the hype, but meanwhile the hype needs to be scrutinized.

Ventev Products Make the WLAN Better

As I watched the Ventev presentations being delivered as a delegate at Mobility Field Day 5, I couldn’t help but think of my own positive experiences with the company’s antennas, enclosures, and site survey power supply products.

A quick aside- if you didn’t realize: Ventev=Terrawave=Tessco. All same-same. It is what it is.

Problems Solved.

To me, Ventev has frequently been the answer to “We got a unique wireless network situation, we need a unique solution” scenarios. Sometimes i’s a mounting issue, other times its a question of pushing signal in a specific direction. One thing I LOVE about Ventev in this era of hyper-complicated WLAN systems, licensing, and code bugs is that their products play in the “No BS zone” of wireless networking. You need a thing, you need that thing to work right and for a very long time, you pay for it once, and you enjoy the fruits of making a good choice. 

That zone is getting smaller when it comes to enterprise WLAN, sadly… as the space ventures deeper into Marketing And Gratuitous Complexity That We Can License The Hell Out Of Above All for certain vendors. Thankfully Ventev  is outside of those games, and will be an important player in reliably putting the icing on any vendor’s wireless cake.

A Look Behind the Technical Curtain

I have made my share of antennas. Some have worked fantastically, and some were complete duds. I’ve been doing Wi-Fi since the early days, when making your own Pringles Can antenna for 2.4 GHz was a thing, and have been a licensed amateur radio operator (KI2K, Extra Class) for longer. Pieces of wire, coaxial cable, copper pipes,  threaded rods, and all sorts of bits and pieces have been fashioned into antennas by my my hands. When you make your own then test for performance, you get a different appreciation for antennas that do what you want and need them to.

img_5076

During the Mobility Field Day 5 presentations, Ventev gave us feel for how they approach antenna design, then iterate that design for whatever important criteria is in play. For example, sometimes an antenna is big, sometimes it is small with the same general coverage- this comes about by manipulating wavelength fractions and other parameters to end up with similar electrical characteristics despite antennas having different dimensions and shapes. Modeling the designs is imperative, and Ventev uses the very cool CST suite for that.

There is a lot more to Ventev’s presentation at Mobility Field Day 5, and I don’t want to give it all away. Suffice it to say that they are an important player with a lot to offer to any WLAN environment, and to be familiar with their offerings is to be equipped with what you need to make your wireless projects more successful.

Here are the links to Ventev’s sessions at MFD5:
Not All Antennas are Created Equal
Antenna Innovation With Dennis Burrell
Taking the Telecom Closet Outdoors

 

 

The “Not to Be a Jerk, But…” Mist #MDF5 Blog

I write this piece fresh on the heels of Day 1 of 2020’s Mobility Field Day 5. Mist (Now a Juniper company) talked for about six years yesterday, and it was fairly riveting, end to end. It was one of those marathon sessions that needs a little time to settle in your brain before you can resolve it, figuring out what you actually liked to hear and what maybe raised some red flags. Let’s talk about those red (well, maybe a pale red, sorta orangey-pink) flags that sprouted in my mind as I slumbered on the whole thing.jerk

Mist Systems has had a fantastic run as a late-comer to a competitive industry filled with incumbents. That’s not easy, and their AI-inspired story has served them well. Now, we see the company moving i’s own cheese, and I can’t help but think about maybe  a few areas of concern.

  • Mist is no longer its own little WLAN product line bubble. Mist started off as a wireless-only product line. That let it focus on one discreet area with all of its development and quest for excellence. Sure, AI has been a key ingredient. But AI is not a magic wand. Just because you use it, doesn’t mean you have the Golden Ticket forever. NOW, Mist is spreading its methodology into the Juniper LAN side of its new house… the bigger you go, the more places there are for things to go wrong. The more opportunities there are for code bugs…
  • Mist has finally introduced a respectable AP product line. Again, Mist has had the luxury of not offering many APs to date. Life has got to be easier on the development side when your product set is smaller, I’m guessing. We see it frequently from other vendors- certain model APs are prone to issues and bugs. Will Mist bump into the same sort of customer-facing shame now that they have some diversity of AP lineup? Or will their promised self-debugging whizz-banginess eliminate that as a potential? Time will tell.
  • The um… well… uncomfortable thing to mention. I have the utmost respect for Mist’s senior leadership. Their results to date with injecting the AI/higher reliability story into an industry often fraught with overpriced buggy code suck speak for themselves. However- some of Mist’s senior folks come from that world of buggy code suck. They helped to author the very realm they now take potshots at. I mention this only to make the point that nobody is  perfect with a perfect past, and that history sometimes repeats itself. In the buggy code suck world, complexity only exasperates the buggy stuff, and Mist, as an overall operational paradigm, is very much becoming more complex as it matures. Ergo… more opportunities to stumble? Hopefully, they can keep it on the rails and not fall victim to the past woes that some of their own Bigs have at least partial ownership of elsewhere in the industry.

That little burst of sunshine aside, it really was a thought-provoking session. See it for yourself here, and feel free to leave me a comment below.

 

Mobility Field Day 5: The “Morning of”

In just a couple of hours we’ll dive deep into Mobility Field Day 5. I’m a delegate- one of those blogger/analyst/whatever folks fortunate enough to be part of this unique experience that lets us interact directly with Industry companies. Normally, this would be a week of limos, conference rooms, deep discussion, good food, and lots of fun. Instead, we’re all home-bound because of a pandemic. Whatever…

So what am I- the World’s Most Interesting Delegate- thinking about as I sip my coffee and contemplate the hours and days to come during hashtag #MFD5? Take these for what you will.

  • Please No Politics. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear one CEO is running for public office based on their Tweet volumes related to political issues. I don’t want to hear it this week, personally. Not as a delegate, not as a customer. Move those communications to internal channels.
  • Sensitivity to Budgets During COVID. Somewhat related to that first bullet… you don’t have to look very deep into the news to find that individuals, businesses, colleges, and organizations of every type are struggling or folding because of COVID. Budgets have been decimated for many out there. Now is not the time for the companies doing Field Day to be “giving” millions away to political causes while turning the screws on customers with heavy licensing that gets ever more granular with each product or feature announcement. You’re already making us rent what we bought in many cases. Read the headlines and show mercy.
  • The Big Lie.  By my reckoning, we’re years-deep into what I call The Big Lie in the wireless industry. A new standard comes out, yet many of the more exciting and heavily-marketed features simply can’t be used “yet”. Sometimes “yet” turns into “never”, but the marketing machines convince customers that by not going to the new stuff they are missing out on something. That something, as we’re seeing with the so far absent sexy features in 802.11ax, may or may not  ever get here. Hopefully this week we hear some honesty and some hope in this regard.
  • Super Systems are Nice- BUT RELIABILITY TRUMPS ALL. Year in and year out vendors come to these industry events to show off their most exciting innovations- as determined by them. Generally architectures get ever more complicated, ever more closed to assure Vendor Lock, and maybe a little more functional for day to day operations if we’re lucky. In some spots, corporate cultures never really embraced that QUALITY COUNTS. Our end users simply want to use the networks without constant bugs biting, and we on the network support side have long grown tired of playing Code Roulette. Maybe somebody will acknowledge that stability and reliability are as important as new features this week. That would be refreshing.
  • APIs as a Copout? Let me start by saying that I understand and appreciate the general value of the API when it comes to wireless and networking systems in general. It’s a nice option. But… I also fear that certain vendors will skew the API paradigm in their own favors by giving us shitty Network Management Systems and touting that “oh that important feature is in the API” and then even worse charging us to be our own coders by requiring licenses to use the API to get at the features that should have been in the NMS to begin with. I hope I hear that I am wrong about that this week.

OK, so maybe I’m a little grumpy in the morning. At the same time, I’m guessing a lot of you reading this can relate. Agree? Don’t agree? Leave me a comment below.

Looking forward to an excellent remote Mobility Field Day.

Joe South Foresaw Bad-Fi Slam Culture in 1969?

JoeSouthOne of my favorite singers is the late, great Joe South. This Georgia boy could sing and play the guitar like nobody, and though his heyday happened when I was in diapers I still love his tunes to this day. If you’re curious, start with “Games People Play”, then “Don’t It Make You Want to Go Home”. You’ll see what I’m saying… but back to the point of this blog: Joe South had a big hit in 1969 called “Walk a Mile in My Shoes”. It was covered by Elvis and dozens of others, and was arguably meant to address the social unrest of the times.

But I think Joe had something else on his mind. He admittedly was fond of certain drugs (hence the song “Coming Down All Alone), and I think that during one of his trips to places unknown he had A VISION.

I believe Joe saw into the future, saw that Wi-Fi professionals could be arrogant and assume the worst in each others’ installations, and it saddened him. THAT’S where the inspiration for “Walk a Mile in My Shoes” came from, says I. Don’t be so quick to walk into a building, find an AP mounted where YOU would never put it, and assume whoever did mount it there is an idiot guilty of… BAD-Fi.

If I could be you
And you could be me
For just one hour
If we could find a way
To get inside
Each other’s mind, mmm
If you could see you
Through your eyes
Instead of your ego
I believe you’d be
Surprised to see
That you’d been blind, mmm

See, Joe starts by saying “get off my case… I basically had no choice in this auditorium but to do it this way. I presented the best design, then got overruled by architects and interior design people. I wanted to use directional antennas and to not have APs be mounted flush to the wall. It is what it is, and it still works so get over your judgmental self.”

Walk a mile in my shoes
Walk a mile in my shoes
Hey, before you abuse, criticize and accuse
Walk a mile in my shoes

This is where Joe says “yes, there is an AP closer to a big metal pipe than any of us would like. And guess what? THERE WAS NO OTHER PLACE TO PUT IT.”

Now your whole world
You see around you
Is just a reflection
And the law of karma
Says you’re gonna reap
Just what you sow, yes you will

Joe cautions us here- “sooner or later you too are going to have to put one more SSID than you’d like in the air, or to re-enable some crappy data rate and thus open your fool self up to the very stuff you ridicule others for”.

Ah preach on, Joe.

So unless
You’ve lived a life of
Total perfection
You’d better be careful
Of every stone
That you should throw, yeah

Yeah, brother. The Wi-Fi implementation world many of us live in is complex, imperfect, and doesn’t always map to the best practices that we’d like to be able to judiciously follow. If you’ve had the good fortune to never have to deviate from perfection, then you live a charmed life indeed.

Sing us out, Joe…

Walk a mile in my shoes
Walk a mile in my shoes
Hey, before you abuse, criticize and accuse
Walk a mile in my shoes

Hear “Walk a Mile in My Shoes” by Joe South.

 

 

Introducing Netool.io Pro

Let’s get right to the cliche, as it’s unavoidable: good things sometimes come in small packages. Netool.io proved that a few years back when they introduced the original version of their feature-packed pocket-sized network analysis and support platform, and now with their Pro version I guess we can say BETTER things also come in small packages.

The Original

Netool.io is a small US-based company, and I have been following them since Day 1. They are responsive to customer requests, quick on the support response, and quite active in their development. The visual on the original white version, then the no-slip grip black, for reference:

netool

The quick value proposition for those not familiar: using Android or iOS apps, you connect to Netool.io via it’s built-in Wi-Fi, then rapidly demystify a slew of network goings on ranging from the config parameters of the Ethernet port you are connected to, overall information on the connected switch, key network performance indicators and more. The original feature set is detailed here.

Now, the Pro Model

With their initial offering, Netool.io proved that a legitimate piece of network support gear could fit in your pocket with room for your phone left over. Now, the company takes it up a significant notch with Netool.io Pro. The visual:

Note- the USB drive is NOT included, but I’m showing it connected as I was doing packet capture on my Netool.io Pro. That is one of the many features that came from the Standard version, and it worked very well in my test environment as part of the new platform. So what was added in Pro? The official feature overview is here, but the short version is configuration and automation interactions with network switches on an impressive level. From IF/THEN templates that can be imported and exported to other Netool.io devices (for supported switches) to log gathering and views to other configuration automation capabilities, the little Pro version looks to make it’s mark in an industry that is thirsty for labor saving (and error reducing) automation. It’s impressive to see this sort of capability in the Netool.io on top of everything else it can do, and the company has managed to make the UI fairly intuitive throughout- even for the more complicated operations.

There is a lot here to take in, but this video will help you to understand all that has been added in the pro edition:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jkGhYP_qWL0

Here are the current supported switches, with more to be added as updates hit:

One wonderful thing about Netool.io: you buy high-function, fairly priced products, get a slew of features and capabilities (including Netool.cloud remote share if you choose to use it) without the headache and nickle-dime licence-heavy mentality of other toolmakers.

If you are in the business of network support at all, Netool.io should be of interest to you. And if your duties include switch configurations and automation is on your radar, the Pro version is definitely worth looking at.

Other screen grabs: