Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Kraftwerk All The Things

Kraftwerking all the things started with the driver's license photo, then our wedding and our version of the We Are The Robots video All these led us to visiting Düsseldorf (several times!!) and meeting Harald Naegeli & Wolfgang Flür (bonus!!). 

Kraftwerk mash-ups

Here is the Flickr photo album of the creation process!

Friday, March 6, 2020

The Three Gates of Speech

I recently attended the Wireless LAN Professionals Conference in Phoenix and the conference itself was professional and informative on all things Wi-Fi. Many photos were taken, many groups gathered and did various activities. The women attendee count was up substantially since the last time I was at a WLPC (in 2018) and the ladies who wanted to be in the group photo for 2020 gathered on the stage before lunch for a photo.

The morning after the photo was tweeted, a long time member of the wifi community called this photo self-segregation and that it made the statement that we wanted to be treated differently. Well, a twitter shit-storm unfolded. My initial response wasn't pretty but I refrained from tweeting what I was thinking and instead sat on what I wanted to say in response until I'd had a while to think about it.

I kept coming back to a quote I'd read recently in a couple different books about the Three Gates of Speech. The concept is that before you speak, check your words at each of these three gates before you speak out loud.

Is it true?
Is it necessary?
Is it kind?

Twitter allows anyone to "say" anything to anyone (on Twitter), I get that. We are each ultimately responsible for how we comport ourselves in this short life we're living. Just because you can say/do a thing doesn't mean you should

It is my opinion that the original commenter on the photo was making up a story of what they were seeing in the picture and trying to use shame to turn a photo of a gathered group of women into something that it was not by using the hashtags of #selfsegregation #treatmedifferently #imspecial.

This all started because another long standing member of the wifi community is a woman and chose not to be in the photo because she doesn't want to be singled out and treated any differently than men in the industry and wants to be celebrated for her accomplishments and not her gender. 

None of the other photos from the WLPC event garnered this level of commentary/opinion sharing and it was my takeaway that this whole thing wouldn't have happened if the original commenter had let his words pass through the Three Gates. I believe that his words would have gotten stuck at the first gate. He was inferring things from the photo that weren't accurate, sharing his opinion on the photo was not necessary and many of the subsequent tweets he replied back with were not kind.

I did learn quite a bit about the personal values of many people in the wifi and infosec community as others weighed in with their opinion via replies, likes and retweets and for that, the whole kerfuffle was instructive.

Just because you have an opinion on a thing, does not mean that your opinion is truth. Just because you have an opinion does not mean it is your duty to share your opinion. Just because you believe your opinion to be the truth does not mean it is a Universal Truth.

I'm so glad that we had a group photo taken in 2020 and I'm glad this photo below was taken in 2018. In 2018 there was no shit-storm about this photo being self segregation or that the people in the photo were asking for special treatment. The two people who were at the epicenter of the WLPC 2020 Twitter shit-storm were at WLPC in 2018, but obviously their opinions were held in check and not shared as a Universal Truth.

To sum it up: Yes, you have opinions. Opinions are not hard truths. They may be true to you because you believe them to be true. This does not mean that you have the right or duty to beat others over the head with your "truth". 

Use the Three Gates to check your words for true, necessary and kind. This world needs more kindness and less opinions wielded as bludgeons.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Technology for Travelers

Navigating a new city can be pretty stressful. After spending 9 days in Tokyo & 4 days in Manchester (by way of Heathrow LHR), I can definitively say that having fast, free wifi can make a world of difference in the experience of navigating public transportation systems.

I was able to navigate with Google Maps all over Tokyo with no problems whatsoever. The PASMO train card kiosk was easily switched to English so we could get PASMO cards. Topping up the card with more Yen throughout the week was also easily done.  Tokyo had fast, free wifi in and/or on every train we were on during our stay there.

Landing at Heathrow and attempting to find the correct kiosk to print the train tickets I purchased online was a runaround of bad directions from several different train line employees. Finally I got the tickets, got directions and went down to the Underground station. What I saw on the platform didn't line up with the directions we'd been given so I tried to connect to Google Maps and compare. No such luck. No cell coverage, and the wifi charged me £5 and then it didn't even work. Eventually we made it to the National Rail train which purported to have onboard wifi. The Speedtest app said it was 1.86 down and 10 up, but it was worthless in my experience of trying to use it.

Now that I've had time to decompress after returning home, I did some digging to find out WHY there was such a huge difference in my experience. Here are some facts about the Tokyo train system: built around 1927 or so, current daily rider numbers hover around 8.6 Million people. Tokyo has had free wifi in/around their trains since 2016. London's Underground was built around 1863 or so and currently moves around 5 Million people a day. Back during the Olympics in 2012, there was some limited (an hour a day) wifi on the platforms, concourses and escalators. Now it is all pay-as-you-go (but it doesn't work even if you pay).

Initially I was worried about my language barrier in Tokyo, but that proved to be no issue at all because I had constant Internet access from my phone and didn't have to ask anyone for directions. Comparatively, getting directions in an English speaking country proved to be much harder because of conflicting information and no Internet connectivity to verify what we'd been told was correct or not.

In short - go to Tokyo. Get on the train, use the wifi and go have an adventure wherever you've chosen for your destination. It'll be a lot easier than you might think. Word to the wise: if you've got luggage of any kind - don't use the Underground. Take a taxi or better yet, fly into Manchester instead of taking the tube/train to get there from Heathrow. Trust me on this.

I took about ten million pictures in Tokyo. Here they are.

Friday, June 7, 2019

What Is A Predictive Survey?

It would seem that somewhere along the line the rumor got started that predictive surveys are magical, mythical things that are conjured out of thin air by the power of an 'easy' button.

If I had a nickel for every time I've had to level set someone's expectations on how long a predictive survey should take, could take or will take; the stack would be pretty high.

I made an informational video explanation on what a predictive survey is and the difference in the length of time to define all of the RF obstacles when the wireless engineer has a CAD file of the floor plan vs. any other image file of the floor plan. The video is eight minutes long and has a disclaimer at the end for all the YouTube people that feel the need to tell me what I left out, or how I didn't explain it right (according to them).

This video is not intended to be an all-encompassing explanation of all of the phases of a predictive survey. The content is solely my opinion. Do not attempt to perform a predictive survey without having attended an Ekahau training class, preferably the Ekahau ECSE Design course. Any and all images used retain the copyright of the original creators.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Combating Lying While Being Civil

I recently became aware of several people in the wireless industry who have been besmirching the character of someone I care about. The things being said are fabrications, lies, character assassination and outright slander. The things that are being said are intended to undermine the character of my friend and perhaps the people spreading lies are also attempting to disrupt my friend's employment or perhaps attempting to bully my friend out of the wireless industry.

I will not stand by while friends of mine are mistreated. I definitely will not stand by while women in the wireless community are being mistreated. What you say about her, you could just as easily be saying about me and I won't support this behavior with my silence.

News flash: women are human beings, just like men - and as such, have the right to being respected as a human being. Period.

What you say about one woman in this industry, you are effectively saying about all women in this industry. I am no different than her. I am a woman and the things being said about her are lies and hurtful and would be hurtful to any woman human being.

The number of global wireless engineers is quite small. The number of wireless engineers that attend IT industry events is smaller. The number of wireless engineers who attend wireless focused IT events is even smaller still. The community that you interact with; that you do business with should not tolerate your behavior. Your comments, made when no other women are present are cowardly. Casting your aspersions on her, in the company of men speaks volumes about the nature of your character. I am disgusted that you and your coworkers would stoop to such levels to attack the character of a woman I consider a friend and a peer.

Being a woman in a male dominated industry is challenging.

We are judged for what we wear or do not wear.
We are judged for how pretty we are or are not.
We are judged for how much we drink or do not drink.
We are judged for how much we eat or do not eat.
We are judged for how much we know or do not know.

I get that "that's life". Humans are constantly judging other humans at the blink of an eye.

What I do not get is why a person would put words to a judgment of another person, knowing that their words are lies. Judging someone in your mind is one thing, spreading lies about another person is a whole other thing.

I refuse to let you and your coworkers force us to live our lives from the outside looking in. Second guessing who we choose to hang out with and for how long. Second guessing having a drink or two with friends. Second guessing what we wear. Second guessing if it is somehow our fault.

I don't need to name names. I am not the human behavior police. You know who you are. You know what you have said and continue to say. I want you to know that I see you. I see you trying to take down another woman with your lies. She could just as easily be me.

I wonder if you are lashing out from a fear of scarcity. Your behavior does not serve your best interests and will only ever cause division in our small community. I'm asking you to be up to something bigger than yourself. Come from a place of kindness, generosity and altruism for other human beings.

If you aren't sure how to begin the process of undoing the damage and hurt you have caused, begin by examining your behavior objectively (this is difficult work) and from there you will find the strength to cease your slander of another human being and possibly make amends.

I will close with a link to compassion training from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Compassion Training
Compassion is the feeling of caring for and wanting to help others who are suffering. The following audio files and scripts were created as part of a study into the effectiveness of compassion meditation conducted by Principal Investigator Helen Weng with Drew FoxAlex Shackman, Diane Stodola, Jessica Kirkland Caldwell, Matt Olson, Greg Rogers, and Richard Davidson at the Center for Healthy Minds.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Outdoor WiFi is Smaller, Sleeker and Faster #HPE #Aruba #MFD3 #AP387

 Once upon a time, I found myself doing a lot of outdoor WiFi. Not the type of outdoor WiFi you hear people talking about now (stadiums or arenas), but college campuses, outdoor mesh and point to point links.

Recently at Mobility Field Day 3, I ran across this sweet little access point by Aruba. They call it the AP-387. I call it tiny, portable and FAST. It's their new flagship 802.11ac/ad outdoor access point.

They've designed it for maximum distances between APs of 300 meters (that's ~980 feet) and that is just about perfect for most outdoor bridge links. Notice, I said most. We all know of at least one or two bridge links that are pushing a mile long or more. This AP-387 has a 60GHz and a 5GHz radio built into this tiny, outdoor rated package and it is capable of multi-gigabit link speeds. Oh, and it can handle 'rain events' that might make a 5GHz link less than useable.

It has the ability to self-acquire a link by using the electronic scanning capabilities of the 60GHz antenna. It uses existing mounting hardware from the AP-270 (AP-270-MNT-H1/H2). If the link becomes disrupted or block, the radio can scan plus or minus 40 degrees horizontal and plus or minus 10 degrees vertical to re-establish the link. It can even re-engage the link through an RF bounce off of a flat smooth surface (should one exist) between the two ends of the link.

The narrow beam-width of the 60GHz radio lends itself to being co-located within 4-5 meters of another AP-387 using the same 60GHz channel. The AP will power on with the 60GHz radios backed off by 3dB if the AP is getting 802.3af power, which is way better than it not working at all unless it gets 802.3at power. You can see the full product demonstration in this Mobility Field Day 3 video and witness the graceful failover of the link from the 60GHz to the 5GHz radio without dropping the link. Skip to the 15 minute mark to see the link demo.

All of this is bringing me to this point. Doing outdoor mesh/point-to-point site surveys just got that much easier. The AP-387 weighs a fraction of the 17 pound (7.7 kilo) Cisco 1522 I used for my last outdoor survey (circa 2010).

I'll leave you with this video I made to document the insanity of me getting that 87 pound (40 kilo) site survey kit into the back of a Volvo 240 wagon once I'd completed the survey. Times have sure changed in what feels like a short eight years!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Meraki's LittleTable Isn't So Little Anymore #MFD3

Way, way back in 2013, I attended Wireless Field Day 4 and I heard a presentation by Sean Rhea of Meraki about their backend database LittleTable, how it was developed, how it worked and how it grew. A few highlights of Sean's presentation covered the server redundancy with data-center redundancy, service provider redundancy and location-redundancy. At that point, the scale per server was a few thousand Meraki devices (switches, wireless Access Points, MXs), hundreds of thousands of clients and hundreds of Gigs of data. The presentation was fascinating to say the least. Recently I had the opportunity to be brought up to date on the status of the Meraki LittleTable database by Jeevan Patil (PM for wireless) and I was a delegate at Mobility Field Day 3 (MFD3).

Meraki has a new (beta) feature in their dashboard called Wireless Health. It is a new feature they enabled in their dashboard that supports all of the Meraki access point models and didn't require their customers to add any additional licensing (or costs) to get this data. Approximately 750,000 networks worldwide now have the ability to see data on poorly performing client devices and access points in a single click. I powered on my older Meraki MR34 access points and added two new MR42 access points to my home (it is a 1928 Florida Faraday cage) and waited for the metrics to trickle into my dashboard.

Now I can see which of my client devices are behaving badly (authentication failures and latency issues). The LittleTable database is so efficient that over 250 billion rows written and one trillion rows queried to the database per day and millions of network devices deployed across 230,000 customers check-in to the dashboard daily. Dashboard.merkaki.com serves 800 million pages to 100 million clients who connect to the dashboard every day. The data in the dashboard is refreshed every second, this makes it extremely useful for troubleshooting. Now I know it is my iOS device is having the worst experience, which makes sense because my apple watch is often left on the charger and not on my wrist. It probably is having a hard time talking to my phone. They're rarely in the same room and my phone rarely has bluetooth enabled.

The Meraki dashboard is amazingly responsive (usually within a second of a click). The responsiveness of the dashboard is pretty amazing considering how many queries are being called every second to the backend database, all across the globe at any given time.

If you want to be brought up to date on what's happening at Meraki, I suggest you check out their video from MFD3 if you haven't already.

Cisco Meraki Mobility Updates from Stephen Foskett on Vimeo.