Author Archives: wirednot

About wirednot

WLAN Professional, Writer. thinker of big thoughts. Proud of my kids, love my wife, thankful for my primary employment and good fortune in being able to do other things on the side. I'm a well-travelled homebody, and frequently find that adventure has sought me out to tangle a a bit. Buy me a beer, I'll tell you some war stories.

The Red Hot Cable Peppers

It was only a dream. But it was a c-r-a-z-y dream. There were no chemicals ingested prior to the slumber that contained the dream, either- so just get those thoughts out of your head up front. But it seemed so real. Me and the Red Hot Chili Peppers… doing some cabling work. I kid you not. Here’s what I recall of it, and the lessons that these awesome rockers took away from our imaginary time together.

I was up front at a Peppers concert, and they were just getting into By The Way.

Standing in line
To see the show tonight
And there’s a light on
Heavy glow
By the way I tried to say
I’d be there, waiting for
Dani the girl
Is singing songs to me
Beneath the marquee, overload

And BOOM! All the stage equipment went dead as soon as Anthony got to “overload”.

For some reason, I was suddenly backstage with the band (in my own favorite incarnation- Anthony, Chad, Flea, and John Frusciante). Chad looked disgusted, and before he wandered off he said something like “I’m getting too old for this. Why the hell do run our own data cables any more for these shows?” That was the last I saw of him. Flea (who is not English, but he had a Cockney accent for some reason in this scenario) shouted “I told you wankers to actually LABEL things and test your work!” Then he too disappeared.

Anthony said nothing, but he looked seriously pissed. John asked me “can you help us? We gotta get this stuff going again, man…” Now, I have no idea why a bunch of data cables would have anything to do with the lights and sound on stage crapping out for the Peppers,  and I’m here to tell you that it’s irrelevant. These guys needed my help.

For some reason we had to climb on top of an RV to where like fifty or so UTP cables were hanging, and a bunch had sloppily crimped on ends and were coupled together with RJ45 couplers. Flea was right, nothing was labeled. Anthony continued to say nothing, and John did all the talking. In magic dream speed, he showed me a few patch panels, their patch cables, and lots of odd little things that needed straightening out. We had to rerun a bunch of cables, and even put a new rack in the RV.  John got a roadie to film the whole thing, so he could play it back to Chad and Flea later, which I thought was really good thinking.

Anthony worked with us, still never saying a word and looking really angry, sometimes at me. It was freaking me out, because I was trying to help him.

So how it finished out… We basically got all their wiring issues fixed. John was excellent, and he told me Anthony was just intense, and not really pissed which I was okay with. Anthony actually gave me a hug, and a carton of Dunkin Donut Holes. The band got back on stage to finish the concert, and I got to hang out offstage and monitor their “LEDs”, having no idea what I was looking at. The crowd didn’t seem to notice that the band was gone for however long it took to fix all the wiring. At the end, Anthony said “Goodnight, Poland! We love you!” and I was now mildly worried how I’d be getting home from Poland.

Before we went to what certainly would have a been a kick-ass afterparty, Anthony called us all into a room and wanted to white-board what they would do different on their next cabling job. Here’s what that amounted to:

Alas, I did miss the dream party because I woke up, but felt that I got to be pals with John Frusciante which was pretty cool. And I KNOW that if the dream Chili Peppers keep running their own dream data cables for other people’s dream concerts, they have me to thank for doing it right from now on.

(This is a true story- I bored my wife with it at breakfast.)

 

Learning to Use iBwave For Wi-Fi Design

ibwaveHaving been invited to try out iBwave’s suite of Wi-Fi design and survey tools, I couldn’t help but do what any WLAN pro does: immediately start judging it against my current tool of choice. For me, that’s been Ekahau for a lot of years. It didn’t take more than a couple of practice runs with iBwave to get the general feeling that it definitely competes with Ekahau, and I’m guessing that the AirMagnet designer/survey devotees would also reach the same conclusion. Each product will absolutely have advantages and subtle weaknesses when weighed against the competition, but in my mind that competition is legitimate and good for those in the market for quality wireless tools.

Back to iBwave and my journey through their Wi-Fi Suite.I had the pleasure of spending around a half-hour with iBwave’s marketing exec Kelly Burroughs in person (we were at the same conference), and she got me started with both the PC and mobile versions of the design and survey tools. Kelly is awesome, but after we parted ways and I dug in more on the tools, I found myself needing a bit more help. Part of the problem is that my mind is conditioned to use my current tools, and iBwave’s interface is different. It’s actually pretty well designed, having just been freshened up in January of 2017. But if you’re not used to something new that has some complexity, anybody might legitimately need some help. This is where iBwave’s tutorials are effective, and appreciated.

I already know HOW to design and survey. I just needed to learn how iBwave’s tools are leveraged to do that which is otherwise familiar to me. So… about those tutorials- once you start the PC software, you’re presented with very well-done walk-throughs on the major tasks if you need them (as shown below).

iBwave tutorials
These lessons are handy as heck, and did me up well as I got through my early projects.

As iBwave seeks to make a bigger noise in the WLAN design space, they are also coming out with certification training for their customers. iBwave Wi-Fi Mobile training is available now, with iBwave Wi-Fi (for PC) formal training coming in April.
I think we’ll be hearing and seeing a lot more from the company on numerous fronts in the days to come as they try to grow a following for their Wi-Fi tools and a name as not just a DAS design company.

Read my write-up on taking iBwave for a spin here.

Wi-Fi NOW Conference in April Looks Pretty Damn Good

FINAL_Wi-Fi-logoSo many conferences, so little time. I know that I’m not alone in wishing that I had the time and budget to attend all of the conferences that are available these days to WLAN professionals. There’s one coming up fast (April 18-20) that has my interest piqued, and that’s the Wi-Fi NOW International Expo and Conference, in Washington DC. Given that I just attended the WLAN Professionals Conference in February, my circumstances don’t let me get to Wi-Fi NOW.

But… being a good looking, well-connected gonzo bloggist does afford me certain other little perks- like being able to talk with the man behind Wi-Fi Now to get his perspective on why this event is getting to be very popular. I caught up with Claus Hetting (CEO and Chairman of Wi-Fi NOW, video blogger, and all-around Wi-Fi guy) and gave him a chance to share why he’s passionate about the conference.

Here’s how it went:

ME: I can’t make this one, Claus. But it looks like it’s gonna be awesome.
Claus: we will miss you at the event but very much hoping to get you on board for the next one 🙂

 

It looks like you have great representation from a variety of wireless spaces and interested parties.
Claus: Indeed. We’re covering all of in-home, enterprise, cities, carriers, emerging markets, and security.

That’s awesome. What are you especially excited about for the attendees?
Claus:
 For your contacts this is probably the most important: We’ll be taking a deep-dive into all the new standards including ax, HaLow, and WiGig including presentations & panels with the tech & business leaders in Wi-Fi.

What are the bigger players bringing to share?
Claus: We’ll have keynotes by the Wi-Fi Alliance, the FCC will be there, various well known analysts will present, and we’ll have lots of lively debates & discussions.

Is this one of those events that’s only for big companies?
Claus: We’re very happy that a lot of startups are joining us, too.

Wi-Fi NOW looks like a really decent event for anyone in or interested in Wi-Fi, at any level. What else do my blog readers need to know?
Claus: 
This is the conference agenda. And you can have a look at our Show Guide including main themes here as well.

And there you have it! The lineup of speakers is impressive, and I do look forward to getting to Wi-Fi Now in the future.  If you decide to go, make sure you take advantage of the 25 %discount that Claus has created for readers of this blog. It applies to all ticket types (individual days, expo, Gold pass).

To manually claim the discount, enter this code: LeeBWFN25

Finally, if you have any questions on Wi-Fi NOW or want to follow Claus’ various activities (and he is fascinatingly busy), his contact information is below:

Claus Hetting

CEO & Chairman Wi-Fi NOW
CEO HETTING Consulting
Ph. +45 25 34 17 05
claus@hettingconsulting.com
Skype: claushetting
Web: www.wifinowevents.com

As always, thanks for reading!

Getting to Know Cape Networks

I recently attended the 2017 edition of the Wireless LAN Professionals conference in Phoenix. As usual, it was awesome. Catching up with old friends who are scattered far and wide, hearing information-rich presentations, and meeting new people with their own wireless story made it a very enriching week for me. But part of my learning actually came after the conference. I was saying my goodbyes when a gent named David Wilson asked for a few minutes of my time, and that’s how I would come to know of Cape Networks.

It turns out that Wilson and his travel partner Michael Champanis are two of the co-founders of Cape Networks. These guys were awesome to talk with at the end of a long week, and the conversation flowed easily. I learned that Cape Networks is based in both South Africa and San Francisco, and is trying to raise their brand awareness here in the US. The company is in the business of Wi-Fi performance monitoring and testing through deployed sensors and a deceptively simple cloud dashboard.

I was given a demo of the Cape dashboard and got to handle the low-profile sensors. We talked of how the system finds issues and helps with resolution, and what customers are already using it.None of us was in a particular hurry since our travel arrangements were all later in the evening, so they patiently handled every one of the many questions that came to me during the demo.

I’m hoping to get a couple of sensors in the near future, and to be able to do a proper review. Until then, I can share that the solution looks interesting and of decent quality with the potential to reveal information that other systems I’ve looked at or used don’t really do very well. At the same time, I’m not endorsing Cape Networks here as I haven’t used the solution yet.

But I did find them interesting, with enough potential differentiators that I felt it worth sharing what little I know of Cape so far. Once I do a review on their hardware and dashboard, I’ll be sure to follow up.

Meanwhile, I encourage anyone running business WLAN systems to have a look at Cape Networks’ web site and to learn about a company that you may not have been aware of yet.

How Much Data is Used For Open Mesh Cloud Management?

You got questions, I got answers.

You see, I’m not just a network guy … Nossir,  there’s so much more. My cranium is enormous, I could be a male model, and I’m learning the Ukulele. I’m a CWNE, a newly minted Cisco CHAMPION (that’s right, Bucko- a champion– I might even run in the Kentucky Derby this year), but I’m also a gonzo bloggist. I don’t write the story. I live the story.  Hell, frequently I am the story.

And I ask the tough questions.

Like after I published this article about Open Mesh’s new access points (which I happen to be connected to as I type this, thank you very much) and a cheeky fellow asked me on Twitter something like “how much data do those Open Mesh APs use for cloud management, and would I have to worry about it on small WAN links?” I couldn’t give this gent a straight answer, because I didn’t know. Somehow, my enormous cranium did not have that information stored. But I knew where to go find it, I tellya.

The first thing I did was to go to my Meraki dashboard and look where my Open Mesh switch with four attached APs uplinked into the Meraki environment. (Yes, I’m mixing cloud-managed solutions, and I have never felt so alive!) Anyhow, I saw maybe 27ish kbps of traffic that looked like it was probably Open Mesh admin traffic heading out, and it was happening every few minutes. I shared this with my  inquisitive Twitter pal, but I wanted confirmation from the top. I had to know with certainty, from the source. And I knew just how to get it.

I’d need to breach the Open Mesh corporate perimeter and make someone talk. 

Mind you, I was prepared to go all the way on this mission- if you know what I mean. I’ve run these ops before, and rarely do I come up empty-handed. In this case, I tried the oldest trick in the book; I asked my contact directly.

Evidently she knew the stakes and thought better of trying to wiggle out  of the situation.


Lee, 

Here’s what I got back regarding management traffic: access points check in every 5 minutes and send on average ~5KB of data
Let me know if you were looking for something else. 


BAM! Not only did I brazenly come away with the inside scoop thus showing my style and my energy, I corroborated my own findings-  proving that there’s essentially nothing I can’t do in this wretched, unforgiving world of pain.
Now, what I don’t know, and am big enough to admit: Is Meraki’s cloud management traffic load similar? Is Aerohive? Cucumber Tony? Other vendors? I don’t know, because to date, I have not really cared. My running assumption has been “it’s not enough traffic to care about” on any link. Maybe someone else can step up and put a finer point on it.
But let the record show- we now know, with certainty and style, what the overhead cloud-bound traffic for Open Mesh is.
And ain’t no one taking that away from us.

Awesome Radio Hobby Magazine, and a Bit of Chagrin

A few years back, I looooved a magazine called Monitoring Times. It was awesome, and stood out among radio hobbyist periodicals for how well-written, relevant, and content-rich it was every month. I had the pleasure of interacting a couple of times with Bob Grove, an absolutely wonderful gent and man behind Monitoring Times. I even wrote for him a couple of times- here’s a scan of one of my Monitoring Times articles.

Bob retired himself and the magazine in 2013. He shut down Grove Enterprises, and I hope him and wife Judy are doing well after all they’ve given to the radio community. I went through withdrawal when Monitoring Times  went out of circulation, I was such a radio nerd… Since then, I’ve found some sporadic content that came close on occasion to the type I liked in Monitoring Times- but never really found a replacement.

Until now.

Here’s the rub- a decent follow-on came out RIGHT AFTER my old favorite went away, yet somehow I missed it. I missed the 2013 announcements that Monitoring Times’ Managing Editor Ken Reitz was publishing a PDF-based magazine called The Spectrum Monitor. I feel like a bit of an idiot!

Well, late than never, says I. Now that I have found it, The Spectrum Monitor already feels like an old friend. I subscribed, I bought back issues, and I’m in my glory. Ken has done a fantastic job keeping the essence that worked so well in the old rag, and has built well on it with the new.

If you’re a radio nerd or aspire to be one, I highly recommend filling your preferred reader app full of The Spectrum Monitor.

Surfing the Outernet- a Different Kind of Wireless Network

An excellent fellow named Luke put me on this path. He mentioned this thing called “Outernet”, not realizing I have a mania for all manner of goofy signals receiving activities. From shortwave to non-directional beacons to emergency communications and Over the Air TV, I like to find what’s out there. So when he casually mentioned Outernet, I was hooked right away.

In my own words, Outernet looks to provide news and weather to areas of the earth where there is no easy access to the Internet, and where maybe all you’ll get on local  news radio is propaganda.  The idea that huge areas have essentially no access may come as a surprise to many, but others are also taking up the challenge, as I covered here– this one set in the massive Australian outback. There are plenty more examples if you search around.

Let’s get right to it. Take some very portable, easily powered components:parts

Then, connect them up and aim that square antenna at the right satellite. For us in the Americas, it’s the Immarsat 4 bird at 98 degrees west, off the coast of Mexico a ways. Feel free to chuckle at this cobbed together temp setup.setup

The CHIP computer used in the rig has it’s own Wi-Fi. Find the SSID “Outernet”, and then connect to http://my.outernet.is, enter the credentials, and you’re in. You’ll see the front door of the UI once you toggle itscreenshot_2017-01-29-16-21-22

If you have satellite lock (you aimed the antenna right), you should have lock indication and the flow of data, as viewed in the tuner window.tuner

Transfer speeds won’t be blistering fast, and you get the content that is fed through the satellite from “the carousel” – you can read about all of that at the Outernet web site. As news and weather data download, your onboard library will start filling up. The file system looks like thisfilesys

After you get files automatically downloaded, you can see current events and weather information (maybe you’re out on the high seas)- without any sort of Internet connection at all- from a variety of news sources

Pretty cool, right? You may not think so, actually. I get that.

It’s easy to say “Big Deal”, given that most of us are spoiled silly by an abundance of connectivity options in our day to day lives. But in far off places, this sort of kit can be had for well under $100, easily powered “off the grid” and can bring a sense of connectedness to the greater where there are simply no other options.

Oh- and it’s fun for the geeky radio hobby types.