Sunday, September 16, 2012

Metageek at Wireless Field Day 3

Metageek was back at Wireless Field Day 3 to tell us about the updates they've made to their product line since the last Wireless Field Day in January 2012.

Ryan Woodings gave us the background on the Metageek story, how they got started as a company. He explained that the company used agile software and they keep track of all of the projects they're working on via their "Wall of Agility". Metageek employees have 20% of their working time allocated to working on pet projects they find personally motivating. Out of this 20% time slice, the Eye P.A. application was born. Metageek is headquartered in Boise, Idaho and they've won many awards for being an innovative company and for encouraging alternative transportation methods to work (biking/carpooling). 

inSSIDer Updates:
At the bottom of main inSSIDer page, they've put links to training and education for the people who have downloaded inSSIDer. The information shown on the main application launch screen is specifically targeted at the end user who is trying to fix their problematic wireless network. inSSIDer is available for Windows, Mac and Android. The Android phone version of inSSIDer can offer recommendations to change the channel of your access point if you use it to optimize your wireless network. inSSIDER on Android handhelds is designed to encourage the end user to use the app on the phone to calibrate/site survey the areas surrounding where the wireless issues are happening.

Metageek uses a unique method for focusing their goal directed application designs. The have created eight Personas. This is their attempt at tailoring their solutions to each customer by creating individual use case Personas. Each fictional character is an end customer of their products, and each Persona has a unique need to use a Metageek tool to solve a wireless problem. This type of focused thinking about what you're trying to accomplish as a company, and putting yourself in the head of your customers is a powerful way of staying connected to the people that want/need the tools Metageek creates.


Chanalyzer updates
You can now name sessions by rooms or floors to help you remember where you were and what you saw when you were testing. You can filter by band to just show the 2.4GHz or 5GHz networks, or you can filter by vendor name/identifier. The vendor OUI lookup table is not editable by end user, but it can be updated by contacting Ryan or Trent and sending them the new vendor OUI information. You can double click at any point in the Chanalyzer Pro stream to zoom into that segment/capture. This is called Amplitude History Navigation. The r
eport creation in Chanalyzer uses the filters you've set on your capture view when you're adding information blocks into the final report. Filters can be ANDed to show multiple SSIDs, but can't be ORed at this time. The Pro features of Chanalyzer Pro are sometimes difficult to find. For example, the save button has arrow to do non-save options to append other blocks. You can add 'devices that interfere' blocks for customer education to show the customer the RF patterns of  typical sources of interference. You can also add images to blocks to add the details about a particular access point model and you can add custom text blocks to include recommendations on how to mitigate the adverse effects of sources of interference. Report blocks also respect the segment of the timespan you have selected. Meaning, you can zoom into the problem  area in the timeline and add a specific point in the capture to the report. Reports can be exported to RTF or HTML. One caveat to Chanalyzer Pro is that concurrent scanning isn't possible just yet. Using two Wi-Spy dBx adapters is the way to gather both spectrums. The cost of purchasing two Wi-Spy dBx adapters is less expensive than a dual band Wi-Spy dBx USB adapter would ultimately cost to design and manufacture.

Eye P. A.
Eye P.A. now has filters to edit out beacons or whatever you don't want to see to tweak the visuals to focus on the data in the packet capture that you want to analyze. Eye P.A. now has a few training slides that are shown when the app is first launched. You can't use Eye P.A. to open wired captures because there aren't any control frames or management information in a wired capture. That wireless specific information in the capture is required to use Eye P.A. as a wireless protocol visualization tool. You can export Eye P.A. information to a CSV to take that data and put it into a report block in Chanalyzer Pro or you can do a screen capture to put it into a final report. Currently it isn't possible to do a remote capture to any vendor's APs, the only direct capture is to AirPcap (2x2 spatial stream card).

What's coming up
Ruthless Rye (Chandroid) 
Metageek is working on a Chanalyzer Pro application to work on Android tablets. They demonstrated the application on a Toshiba Thrive. The Toshiba Thrive has regular USB ports, whereas most lighter tablets have micro USB reports. Many times micro USB ports do not transmit enough power to the connected devices and an inline power source would be required to power the Wi-Spy dBx Pro USB tool.

inSSIDer 3 codename Strongbow
You can now identify your own network in the networks list displayed within inSSIDer. This allows you to get focused recommendations on what you should do to improve your local wireless issues. Room Level Channel Organization - this piece of inSSIDer 3 is attempting to encourage the end user to walk around to check the channels in the vicinity of the main problem area. If there is a Wi-Spy connected, it will be used in the channel quality check measurements that are calculated. Soon, there will be a report tab to receive a written recommendation report on what steps to take next. For example "Your Xbox will not function properly in this room until you move your access point to location X or you configure your access point to operate on channel Y.

It is now possible to use the Tamograph site survey tool with Wi-Spy integration. This new cross-platform interoperability allows you to perform a site survey in much the same way you would with AirMagnet Survey Pro with AirMagnet Spectrum XT integration. You can collect information on RSSI, SNR at the same time as you're collecting RF spectrum data with the Wi-Spy tool. The final survey data points will include pop-up images which display the spectrum data collected at that survey point location.

Metageek was a sponsor of Wireless Field Day 3. As such, they were responsible for covering a portion of my travel and lodging expenses while attending Wireless Field Day 3. In addition, they provided me with a USB tool bag containing copies of Chanalyzer Pro and a WiSpy dBx usb spectrum analyzer and the directional antenna used with the WiSpy dBx tool. They did not ask for, nor where they promised any kind of consideration in the writing of this review/analysis.  The opinions and analysis provided within are my own and any errors or omissions are mine and mine alone.

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