Tag Archives: Network Computing Magazine

A Bit More on Drones, Wi-Fi, and Beyond

It started with a routine signature update to Fluke Network’s AirMagnet Enterprise. Add in a little media engagement and the fact that drones are all over the news for a number of reasons, and you have a lot of buzz around AirMagnet being the first WIPS to detect the presence and activities of the market’s favorite drone. 

Some in the WLAN industry are saying of drones “big deal, it’s a minor threat”. Others are calling it a timely recognition of a new concern to network security. Wherever you come down on the threat to businesses and business Wi-Fi from intrusive drones, here’s a couple of articles on the AirMagnet signature topic to pick from.

Now beyond AirMagnet calling the AR drones a threat, there are activities afoot that provide further food for thought. For example, Darren Kitchen and crew at Hak5  have parlayed technolust and interest in drones into some interesting activities.

There’s more from this group, but I caution you: watching Hak5 videos is addicting.

To get a glimpse of just how rooted drones of various types and sophistication are becoming rooted in our culture, do a simple Google search on “drones and higher ed” and you’ll find fascinating examples of students formally learning all about drones on the way to their eventual careers, and here’s an example.

And in case you’ve been living in a bunker under a gravel pit in Missouri, Amazon is proceeding with their seemingly goofy idea of package delivery with drones.

Sure, big drones can blast the bejeezus out of bad guys hiding in difficult terrain in far off places, and that’s where the bigger drone story has it’s roots. But there is a bigger drone story, and sooner or later it’ll touch ever more facets of every day life.

This is gonna be a wild ride whether you buy into drones as a threat to Wi-Fi or not.

A Hearty Welcome To The New Network Computing Web Site

Way back in 2000, Network Computing Magazine just happened to have a Real World Lab in the basement of the building I still work in at Syracuse University. I was fairly new to my campus network support job back then, having started in 1998, but I found the “NWC” lab utterly fascinating. As one of only a few such facilities in the world, there was also sorts of serious performance testing afoot here, on everything from servers to network switches to KVM systems. I hit it off with the gents running the lab (who actually were way up there in the magazine management structure, too), and was invited to try my hand at a bit of freelancing based on my previous writing experience (a lot of technical stuff in the Air Force) and my love of networking.

And my life was never the same after that.

The first piece I wrote for NWC was a single-page review of the original Fluke Networks’ Net Tool handheld tester. I went on to do hundreds of pieces for Network Computing, ranging from a couple of hundred words to dozens of pages. I gained exposure to networking components from every side and niche of the industry, got mentored by incredibly talented editors, and felt electrified every time I saw my own “stuff” go from draft to polished print and e-version.

My freelance career with Network Computing has enriched my life and networking knowledge in countless ways over the last fourteen years, and is up there with things  in life I’m most thankful for. Being able to write professionally was actually one of my childhood goals; being able to write for Network Computing made that more rewarding than I could ever imagine. Sure, there has been a freelancer’s paycheck along the way, but it’s always first and foremost been about working with awesome people, developing my critical thinking and technical analysis skills, and being able to have ins to the networking industry in ways most geeks can only dream of. It has been simply wonderful. Though I’ve also picked up all sorts of other writing work along the way, Network Computing has always been my proudest affiliation. I’ve learned as much from my own writing projects and in editing and reading the work of other NWC writers as I have from all of my other sources of training and education.

Now, Network Computing is reborn.

Though the Lab and  the print version of NWC have long been casualties of the same forces that have reshaped the greater media landscape, the tradition of quality industry analysis continues with a fresh web presence and new talent in the mix. As with the NWC of days gone by, it’s still about the people to me. Content is what we consume, but the people behind the content at Network Computing are really smart, and good at what they do. They make it worth following. The writers are still rooted in the real world, the editorial staff are great at their craft but also have keen technical acumen themselves, and Network Computing remains one of my favorite resources for staying on top of a fast-changing technical world.

Congratulations on the new site, Network Computing! Here’s wishing you (and us) well!


We Might Be In The Business of Technology, But It’s The People That Make It Great

For many of us, the journey to working in IT has been guided by a love of technology. Some people dig routers and interconnecting big LANs, others get jazzed by application development or wireless technology. Then there are those like myself, with wide-ranging interests and multiple specialties that we are happiest working in. I personally lay claim to the best jobs in the world, (prime wireless functionary for a large university, adjunct faculty member, and professional writer), but technology is only half the story.

It’s the people that make working in technology great. The people I work for and with (a wonderful team), the students I meet in the classroom or on projects I advise on, the customers I serve as a networker, or the wide range of technology-focused people I have the pleasure of interfacing with as a free-lance media type.

Take Jeff Pulver, whose technology journey could be the subject of a kick-ass graduate class. Jeff is a VoIP pioneer and multi-dimensioned technologist, and you have to catch one of his #140 “State of Now” conferences if you have the chance. Jeff lives at the intersection of Technology Road and Human Street, and how he sees the world and social media- enabled by technology- is awesome. I saw his event in Syracuse, and recommend it.

Then there are the young men and women that I run across at a vendor’s site or on LinkedIn that were once students of mine or involved with projects that I also touched. The smiles and the words spoken not only say “it’s good to see you again” but they also convey an unspoken pride that sends the clear message: “I MADE IT! I’m sitting at the same big table that you are! How do you like me now?” It’s great running into people in this group, and is wild just to watch the IT talent pool refresh itself with each graduating class.

Then there are the customers. Like clients that curse you because “the network sucks” that become your friends and allies when you solve whatever it was that they had going on with their device that made it feel like the network sucked. Or the sales engineer that you beat up  for licensing costs or some such, but also can’t wait to hear how his kids are doing with some cool thing they are involved with. And the vendors– especially the ones that employ experts that not only shape technology, but that don’t mind sharing what they know about their realms, for the greater good. 

And folks like Stephen Foskett, an accomplished tech professional in his own right, who also runs the Tech Field Day events with his army of “delegates”. I’m proud to be counted as part of this family, as Foskett has a way of assembling people that are both incredibly technically-minded, but also an absolute blast just to be around. To become one of Foskett’s delegates is to meet the kind of people that become “old friends” in a matter of hours, and to gain inside access to industry giants that many geeks would give their right arms for.

In my tech world, there is my editor at Network Computing Magazine, Andrew Conry-Murray. Drew is one of those rare editors that is good at what he does (like taking my stuff and polishing it up nicely before publication or making me work at being a better writer), but he also has his own IT experiences and perspectives and frequently makes compelling cases out of them in his articles. And he’s a darn nice guy, to boot.

I’m sure you have your list of people that come to mind, those that really make whatever it is that you do in IT enjoyable even beyond just getting your hands dirty with the latest gear. The folks I mention are by far not the end the story for me, but just examples of those that take work that I already enjoy and really make it a pleasure. I can’t end this piece without mentioning the power of social media in this regard. I have found that higher ed tech discussion lists, Twitter (mostly) and other social media frameworks have provided access to the absolute most incredible mix of experts, fellow users, smart-asses, knowledge-seekers, and sharers on all topics (sometimes all rolled into one). You know  who you are, and I thank you for the running value you bring to my own body of knowledge as well as the frequent smiles you provide. Not everybody can swiftly adapt the conversation from lofty topics like antenna technology and modulation to bacon and silly slogans, but these groups can. And I’m glad for it.

It’s the people that make technology work fun.

Great Resources on Muni Wi-Fi

Municipal wireless network initiatives have been proposed, attempted, shut down, celebrated, maligned, and utilized since Wi-Fi went mainstream back in the day. Each attempt at Muni WiFi is it’s own case study of politics-meets-technology, and many have done OK while others have tanked hard. In the aggregate, this is an interesting space.

Through the last decade or so, I’ve written a number of pieces on municipal wireless for Network Computing Magazine (NWC), and the now defunct Cabling Business Magazine. As I was researching for a recent NWC blog on the new Ruckus Wireless/San Jose, CA Muni Wi-Fi initiative, I came across a number of resources that are dynamite for anyone interested in the whole municipal wireless thing. Again- it’s politics, technology, different use cases, and people when it comes to Muni Wi-Fi, which also means it’s pretty darn interesting.

Muniwireless.com is my new favorite place to follow goings on in this space, followed by the Community Broadband Networks web site. Going through each, I was floored to see just how contentious the topic of community wireless is at the state level in many states, usually where carriers lobby hard to eliminate perceived competition. Both of these sites get into the political foofa at the right depth, and are easy reads while giving a lot of information.

I really do hope that the San Jose network powered by Ruckus Wireless can end up as a good example of contemporary Muni Wi-Fi done right technically, with proper political handling. There’s just so much potential for wireless to serve communities, and given that we all live in a wireless-minded culture that didn’t exist during earlier unsuccessful attempts at community networks, it would be nice to see more in the muni win column.

The GovTech.com web site did a nice piece on San Jose’s project.