Tag Archives: Twitter

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…

Why is Aerohive the Only WLAN Vendor On Twitter?

That’s right- I don’t see any other WLAN vendors on Twitter.

Like really “on” Twitter.

Sure, I see lot’s of other WLAN vendors with a Twitter presence. I follow as many as I can. But it’s all so much marketing and promotion of webinars and other droll foofah. Not that these communications don’t have a place, but there should be so much more… like what Aerohive does.

No, this isn’t an Aeorohive suck-up session. They have innovative product and a fresh story that stands for itself. But what also sets Aerohive apart is how their senior tech folks interact  with us geeks on Twitter, in a way that is not only welcome but also sorely needed in a wireless world that grows ever more hyper-complex.

When folks with titles like Chief Wi-Fi Architect, Senior Wi-Fi Architect, and Director of Product management routinely engage customers and non-customers alike on social media, the information exchange is dynamite. This is what all vendors need to be doing. Aerohive has either purposefully or without realizing it empowered their wireless power people to get the message of their solutions out as vigorously as the marketing team does- but even better, they are providing guidance and facilitating discussion on topics that customers of ALL vendors have a stake in. In other words, Folks like Devin, Andrew, and Matthew are also upstanding citizens in a fairly small wireless community, and we all benefit from it.

As we all march towards 802.11ac, more complicated feature sets, unification of everything under the wireless banner, and an immersion in the Sea of Mobility, we need more Twitter-style interactions from vendors’ tech folks. Sure, it’s risky letting non-marketing employees talk directly to customers and potential customers. But to those of us that read the whitepapers, do the webinars, and visit the vendor booth at the tech shows yet still want more engagement on topics that shape our thoughts and strategies, the more informal interactions we have with the tech folks are invaluable. Sometimes it’s technical nuts and bolts stuff, sometimes it’s theoretical or contemplative, and sometimes it’s silly. But the mutual shaping of perspectives is valuable on many levels.

Come on, wireless vendors, you all have some amazing minds behind closed doors. That’s evidenced by the insanely cool products and features that you put out. At the same time, we can’t typically reach them- and they can’t reach us. It’s not your model. You give us division names for Twitter handles like “xxx mobility” and “yyy solutions”… fine, they have value. But we also want to interact with named people on occasion. Like Devin, Andrew, and Matthew. People who not only represent their employers well, but who are passionate about wireless networking and want to share that passion with others.

To balance the risk of letting your tech folks off the reservation a bit,,, you’d get better reads on what matters to those who use and manage wireless networks, we’d better understand why you chose some of your product decisions and feature sets, and powerful relationships at personal levels would get built among WLAN professionals. Yeah, it might feel weird in the beginning, but if Aerohive can pull it off (and quite nicely, I might add), so can you.

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.

Twitter is Killing The Helpdesk

OK- so it’s not just Twitter, and the Helpdesk isn’t quite dead. But you fell for the hook, so keep reading as social media is definitely reshaping the network support environment.

In a perfect world, a wireless network trouble ticket would minimally include:

– Client device MAC address
– User name, if an authenticated network is in play
– Where the trouble happened (room number, space description)
– When problem happened
– Details on what the issue “felt” like
– Whether trouble moves as the user device does
– Information on whether other users are feeling similar pain
– Device type
– Operating system and version

Obviously, in some environments this may be hard to gather. But you gotta have some meaningful data point to begin with for solving network issues. Depending on the answers to the above, many problems can be dealt with over the phone, without dispatching. Given that on a healthy network, the overwhelming percentage of issues are single-client problems, getting client information is important, as is making sure clients understand hours and methods of formal support.

We usually do well knowing that our important building blocks are down, if we have set up system management and monitoring properly. Most (but certainly not all) system issues that will impact multiple users should be identified through alarms. The individual cries for help are the ones we’re talking about here.

Enter Social Media.

What’s easier- filling out a form with all of the above information and then dealing with follow-up calls/email until someone can finally identify why your device is wierding out, or simply Tweeting that “the network sucks!”?

Tweeting (or grousing on Facebook) provides instant gratification. I complained! I stuck it to the man! I said nasty things about this crappy network! Woo Woo! And all behind a fake name!

But what was accomplished? And what is the expected response?

It’s a fact of life that “living room” wireless networks are exponentially more simple than business wireless networks. Where a single access point is in use, just a few client devices are on, and there is no enterprise-grade security in play things like client stickyness and driver issues are a lot less likely manifest themselves in ways that feel like problems. But in this BYOD world, those same devices that seemed just peachy at home can be problematic when taken to a dense multi-cell wireless network environment that services hundreds or thousands of clients and uses complex security protocols.

When trouble hits, most people in the WLAN support game WANT to help. We take pride in our networks, and know how important they are because we use them too. But we need more than “C’mon network, get your shit together. I hate you” from a funny Twitter handle at 3:17 AM when you are somewhere in a sea of buildings and amongst dozens, hundreds, or thousands of access points.

Please, wireless clients, pause for a minute before jumping right into Complain Gear. No client network device is perfect or flawless, and they all act up sooner or later. Think of any connection problem you’ve ever had, and Google it- you’ll find your are in good company with others that have also experienced the same, on networks small and big, all around the world.

Sometimes a driver update is needed. Or a setting like IPv6 needs to be tweaked. Or the software update you just got from the mothership hosed something in the wireless network settings.

And sometimes, it might actually be a network issue.

The unwritten Social Contract of Networking between clients and those who provide them with services says “bring me a problem, and I’ll solve it”. But solving your problem requires providing good helpdesk-level details- not just a rant on Twitter.

PS- yes I know, Social Media is becoming integrated with helpdesk functions in many environments. It’s a natural evolution. But if anyone thinks a short wise-ass comment via social media takes the place of giving real information, you’re just ripping yourself off.