Category Archives: Wireless Networking

Bender- Stay This Far Away From Me at WLPC

I take my conferences seriously. My travel opportunities are not unlimited, so I want real value out of the one or two events a year I get to go to. The first aspect of ensuring a quality experience is focusing on excellent content- I could give a rat’s arse about having some blowhard Hollywood type as a keynote speaker, and I don’t need to be “treated” to a concert or amusement park (that I’m actually paying for) at the end. My better events are also thin on vendor sales pitches, and beefier in real content. That’s why I’m excited to once again be going to WLPC, aka the Wireless LAN Professionals Conference, in Phoenix in a few days. It’s the one conference that’s BY wireless networkers FOR wireless networkers, and it just gets better every year.

But there is more to WLPC success than just signing up. I’ll be presenting a couple of sessions, I know what sessions are of particular interest to me, and I have a list of people I’m looking forward to catching up with.

Then there’s Bender. Shaun Bender.

This blog serves as notice to Bender about the Rules of Engagement- or rather the rules of Non-Engagement- for he and I during this event. I will spare you the details of the generations-deep blood feud between the Badmans and the Benders, but I can assure you that Shaun’s people are and always have been at fault. To keep the peace at WLPC, I’ve developed a few simple rules to help Lil Shauny stay out of trouble with me.

The 20-Foot Rule

Below is the schematic for the Ballroom at the Doubletree Hotel in Phoenix.

Simple math using the formula Area = Length x Width yields 3,510 square feet in this venue. This gives plenty of room for Shaun to stay at least 20′ feet away from me. Now let’s look at a couple of examples. The next image shows a typical conference room layout. What we’re after here is the seating pattern, and what Shaun needs to keep in mind when I’m in the room. We’re going to call each per-person seating area a 30-inch width, and the gap between tables 42 inches. I’ll talk about Positions 1, 2, and 3 in a minute.

Remember, Shaun needs to stay the hell away from me by minimally 20 feet, which equals 240 inches. Simple references that may be helpful:

  • 8 chair spaces = 240 inches/20 feet
  • 6 “table gaps” will ensure the 240 inch/20 foot separation as well
  • You’re thinking “yeah, but the aisle should count too”. Well, it doesn’t, so shut up.

Now, about those red position indicators. These are the three places I am likely to be while participating in the event. #1 is me at the podium, #2 is my favorite seat, and #3 is the Special Aisle Case. So how does Bender stay in compliance in each of these? I’ve made it as simple as I can- and I am NOT open to trigonometric formulas that may work the hypotenuse in Bender’s favor to get him closer to me, so we can rule that right out.

#1 Position: This is simple. When I am presenting, Bender needs to stay at least 6 rows back from the stage, AND 8 seats over from the shortest imaginary line formed between the podium and the back of the room.

#2 Position: Again, easy-peasy. When I am in my favorite chair, Bender needs to be no less than 8 full chair-spaces away from me in either direction (remember, the aisle does not count in this measurement). Preferably, at least one or two large people would be in the between-area so I don’t incidentally have to see him in my periphery. If this can’t be achieved for lack of seating, then Bender needs to follow the 6 row rule AND the 8 chair-space rule for minimum required separation.

#3 Position: This is somewhat complicated, and requires Bender to be paying attention. If I’m simply getting up to pee or to grab coffee and I transit the aisle without pause, Bender can stand fast wherever he is (as long as that location is otherwise in compliance). But, should I run into someone interesting in the aisle and end up talking for more than 60 seconds then Bender needs to adjust for proper separation between my aisle location AND my seat that I will return to after my business is finished.


It’s quite probable that Bender and I will no doubt be eating meals at the same time, and in many cases, in the same general area. This can’t be helped, and I would expect that we can both be mature about this. As long as no eye contact is made and no words are spoken (including muttering), the serving line can accommodate both of us. But I don’t want him handing me a plate or silverware, and any attempts by Bender to put dressing on my salad will result in immediate fisticuffs, and/or a call to hotel security. Once through the serving line, I need at least a two-table buffer between Bender and I, predicated on the tables being minimum 12′ round.

Hotel Lobby/Common Areas

This gets a little complicated, as the common areas are finite resources, and Bender can only get so far away. Here, the formula changes a little bit out of necessity. For every 5-foot increment that Bender needs to encroach on the 20′ buffer, the penalty is an adult beverage of my choice, to be awarded within 4 hours of the offense. The hotel bar serves as a neutral zone, and is the ONLY place where the buffer distance is suspended for the purpose of settling penalties.

Hopefully this simple overview can be of tremendous assistance in keeping the conference experience satisfactory for both Bender and I, and should the bottom fall out it will be his fault.

Here’s wishing everyone a great WLPC. If it wasn’t obvious, this was satire! Me and Lil Shauny are pals. There is no generations’ running blood feud, but if there was it would be the House of Bender’s fault.

Jake Talks Wireless Code Quality- and It’s Worth Hearing

Jake Snyder is a smart guy. He’s got experience, credentials, and is just a well-rounded networking gent no matter what other descriptors you assign him. In this video, Jake spends about a dozen minutes contemplating the current state of code cranked out by WLAN vendors. Give a listen, and see what YOU think.

My own opinion: the more complexity that vendors cram into their code, the more we’re going to deal with bugs. That’s a pretty simple equation. And… the basic notions of reliability and providing access for clients are getting deprioritized for more exciting features that read well in marketing materials.

So- we’re doomed.

Nah- I’m kidding! It’s not that bad.

Except maybe I’m not kidding.

Quick Hits: Bradley Chambers Blog, FrontRow Update, Ventev, Edgewater Wireless

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m not a huge fan of “aggregation” blogs. At the same time, every now and then you find yourself with an interesting mix of topics that you want to share, so what the heck. See if you find value in any of these…

Bradley Chambers Blog

I’ve never met Bradley Chambers, but he seems like a nice bloke. Brad is nice enough to occasionally respond to the daily #WIFIQ exercise on Twitter, and always has well-reasoned input (he’s @bradleychambers on Twitter).  For that, I thank him- but I also just found Brad’s blog Chambers Daily, and it’s worth reading if you are unfamiliar but have an interest in technology.

FrontRow Wearable Camera Gets a Neat Upgrade

Voice Memo ULabs (part of Ubiquiti) keeps making their FrontRow camera more feature-rich. yesterday, I upgraded mine to get the voice memo capability, which I’ve been waiting for. It works well, and it’s awesome that ULabs is listening to customer feedback.

There’s so much going on in this little gem, it’s pretty impressive. From a range of camera functions and live social media streaming to multi-language translation, Wi-Fi speed test, Spotify and stopwatch capabilities, it just keeps getting better.

Ventev’s VenVolt

Speaking of things getting better, Ventev has answered the demand for a new site survey battery pack nicely with it’s VenVolt product. This one is rightfully getting a lot of buzz among WLAN professionals that do active surveys, and among it’s other features it supports 802.3at PoE for latest gen access points. I’ve not used one yet, but can still safely say- well done, Ventev.


Edgewater Wireless Scores Kroger Grocery Stores as Customer

If you’re not familiar, Edgewater Wireless is a Canadian company that has actually been around for a while. They call their magic WIFI3, and I’ll admit to having struggled at times to understand some of their performance promises as I’ve read their PR announcements. But this one is easy to digest- Edgewater has landed the American grocery retailer Kroger as a customer. That’s big stuff.

And with that, I’ve emptied my buffers. Thanks for reading!.

A Little Quiet Please- The Jabra Evolve 75

Jabra 75 EvolveFew things are more annoying when you’re troubleshooting in a noisy environment while trying to work with technical support or a coworker over the phone and you can’t hear them (or they can’t hear you). There’s usually enough stress in play to begin with, and having to repeat yourself and say “what? I just can’t hear you…” over the exhaust fans of network equipment in packed racks only makes it worse. Enter the Jabra Evolve 75.

Quiet Down!

Marketed as “the best wireless headset for concentration in the open office”, the Evolve 75 from Jabra is impressive for a number of reasons.

I don’t work in an open office environment so I can’t validate Jabra’s claim in that regard, but I can tell you that the Evolve 75 impresses in the noisy data center and telecommunications closets frequented by network technicians and administrators. I recently took an evaluation unit for a spin, and the timing was perfect for a real-world test under extremely loud background noise conditions. Not only could I hear the support engineer on the other end perfectly, but he also said my audio was clear despite the Evolve 75 mic being  inches away from blowing server fans. It’s hard to ask for more than that, but there is more to talk about.


Jabra has always made fairly elegant Bluetooth headsets for cellphones, in my experience. This was my first outing with a professional grade Jabra product, and it blew the doors off of other headsets I’ve tried to use in similarly noisy situations. The Evolve 75 is fairly light, but substantive. It feels good on my big head, and the mic raises and lowers smoothly, and in both positions is unobtrusive. The overall look and feel whether it’s on your head or in it’s beefy charging cradle is one of quality.


I’m finding that the Evolve 75 has really, really good battery life for my usage patterns- but I also do not wear it as long as a call-center person or the like might. The ANC (Active Noise Cancellation) functionality works like a dream, and these may be the absolute quietest phones I’ve ever used. I manipulated the volume buttons and mute functions on WebEx, Skype, and simple phone call without having to fumble around, and it doesn’t take long to feel at a disadvantage when you take a call without the benefit of this headset.

I also made use of the unit’s ability to pair with two Bluetooth devices at once, which proves handy more often than you might think. When paired simultaneously to my computer and my smartphone, the new-found mobility and seamless transitioning between the two was just a joy to experience. I’m not one to gush, but I kinda fell in love the Evolve 75 and don’t mind saying so.

Nice Bonuses

I’m not sure that I qualify as an audiophile after all the beating my ears took working around loud fighter jets in my Air Force days, but I do enjoy music and the occasional podcast. Jabra makes both activities more enjoyable with the sound quality, volume, and purity that the Evolve 75 delivers. It also comes with a really nice travel case.

The only downside I see with the Evolve 75 is that it’s one of those really, really nice tools  that you miss greatly when you don’t have it.


So, I’m a Drone Guy Now…

Drone.pngYes I am. I came into possession of a previously loved unit from a gent who I trust to not have abused it, and suddenly I’m in the game. I’ve got maybe eight minutes of flying in, as it’s been a fairly brutal Central New York winter and there haven’t been any decent opportunities to get out and exercise my newfound droneness.

So how is this blogworthy?

I’ll tell you, I’ve learned (and realized) a lot just getting ready to get into the drone thing, and I want to share that with others  who may be contemplating following the same path. But first, let me explain why even though I’m new to FLYING drones, I’m not a complete babe in the woods when it comes to the bigger drone story.

Drone Stuff I’ve Written About

For the past few years, I’ve been following commercial drone goings on as they make my radar. Here are are a couple of examples

Countermeasures Against Drones

I spent over ten years in the US Air Force in a career field broadly referred to as Electronic Warfare. The short version is that it’s a discipline that seeks to leverage the electromagnetic spectrum to our advantage, while doing nasty things with it to ruin the bad guys’ day. Fast forward to here and now, and the Drone Countermeasures industry has a lot in common with my old line of work. Take a look at:

There are others, and I have no doubt that anti-drone countermeasures are now part of my old military job as well. Fascinating stuff, no?

But Back To Me, the Drone Guy

As I get ready to be one of the bazillion people out there posting cool and/or utterly-boring-to-other people footage and pictures taken from my own drone, here’s what I’ve picked up about the whole thing in the last couple of weeks.

  • The FAA’s drone registry is back. Just do it and stop whining.
  • If you fly a drone, you are either a hobbyist (Section 366) or making money with it (Part 107). Don’t game the system and sell your drone services without meeting all of the Part 107 requirements/qualifications. It’s just not worth the likely fines.drone rules
    (Scraped from FAA’s drone registry pages)
  • There are a universal set of rules for recreational use of drones. I recommend learning them, and maybe printing out a copy to have in your drone kit to help keep you on the straight and narrow.
  • There are sooooooooooo many places you might like to fly, but probably can’t- at least without getting explicit permission. Like state parks and such… it is what it is. Look into the rules, make some calls, etc before you drive all day to get somewhere that won’t welcome your awesome quad.
  • There are a ridiculous amount of “airports” out there. I live out in the sticks, and my home address is within 5 miles (a magic number for drone operators) of a handful of “airports”. Each is a 1500-foot grass strip that may see one small aircraft a year, if that. But they are registered, active operational entities that I’m not supposed to fly a drone within 5 miles of without tracking down the owner/manager and notifying them before every flight. I’m guessing this is one of the more frequently ignored rules. (There are many apps that show this airport/contact information, designed just for drone folks.)
  • Anyone who’s into photography will understand this: it doesn’t take long before you start looking at the terrain around you a little differently as a drone person… how might I fly to that pond? I wonder if I could get over those trees, etc.
  • Like many hobbies, the drone thing takes time but can easily become a mania. Make sure you balance it with other responsibilities and family time.
  • A lot more laws concerning drones are pending at many levels of government, most at local/state levels- despite the FAA being the law of the land. It’s gonna get messy.

And on the Technical Side

Paging my wireless networking homies!

  • Most drones operate in 2.4 GHz and need line of sight between the controller and the drone.
  • Yes, the satellites likely come into play, but that 2.4 GHz link is critical
  • We all know how crappy 2.4 GHz can be in congested areas. Keep that in mind, lest you make poor choices about where to fly and find it hard to maintain control.
  • It’s still Wi-Fi, at least between the controller and your smartphone/tablet used for many drone apps. (Between controller and drone it may be different modulation that normal Wi-Fi.)
  • As with Wi-Fi, you can get jiggy with higher-gain antennas and experimentation with better signal capabilities.
  • Regardless of what model drone you choose, there are likely active forums with lots of participation by fellow owners. And in these forums you’ll find a mix of decent people out to both learn from and to help their fellow man, and some individuals who seem to measure their own self-worth by how condescending they can be to others. Ignore the dicks.
  • Regardless of what drone you choose, there will ALWAYS be a better, fancier, more expensive one right around the corner. You can covet these things like the next iPhone and spend endless dollars, or just enjoy what you have until the motors wear out (then replace the motors). Just know that you’ll always have new ones hitting the market that can make yours look stale.

In closing, I’m really looking forward to the drone thing for one more reason: way back when, I finished a BS degree in Aeronautics. I’ll probably get the Part 107 qualifications in case I choose to add professional drone services to my skills docket, and I’m looking forward to getting back in touch (even if just a little bit) with all things aeronautical via the drone lifestyle.

I am a drone guy now, after all.

Looking Forward to Cisco’s New WLAN OS

The market-leading WLAN company has all kinds of exciting stuff coming down the roadmap. SDN, DNA Center, intuitive stuff. It makes for great PR. But what REALLY excites me is the thing that no one is talking about.

The thing that has me most jazzed simply MUST be being worked on.

I’m talking of course about the new WLAN operating system that Cisco must be developing ahead of trying to hook their customers up with APIs and automation wizardry.

They couldn’t be planning on using the current controllers and horrifically buggy WLAN operating system as building blocks for a fresh Digital Network Architecture- could they? Could they?

For the love of cheese, they just couldn’t.  Which means, there MUST be a new OS coming.


I’ll even be happy to be a beta tester (kinda like I am already, without ever volunteering to be).



NDP and You; A Continuing Saga

Do you use Cisco WLAN solutions? This one is a must-read.

Thank you to Jim and Rowell for the depth, and for Nigel to getting this in front of me.

I Don't Know Squat About Networking

So a couple of months ago I wrote a blog about how I came to discover the Wi-Fi community of CWNP, Wireless LAN Professionals, and WLPC.  In that blog I discussed a different blog that I found about Cisco NDP that was written by Rowell Dionicio from Packet 6.  That blog was the start of a journey that led me to CWNP and my 9 month struggle with Cisco TAC.  Since I know enough to not say this is the conclusion of that journey, I will just say this is the next part of my NDP journey.

For starters, read this blog by Rowell.  It’s what started my journey and it is the basis for the experience I went through over the past 9 months, fighting with TAC, learning more about background processes that happens in a Cisco Wireless LAN deployment.  Read this, then come back and I’ll attempt to…

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