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Showing posts from 2015

Leave, Leave, Leave My Rates Alone

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Sometimes you have to return to the classics.  Who better than less-than-memorable pre-gangsta rapper Hi-C to take us there?



Much like the cool kids have embraced the neon colors and late-night TV comedy of the grunge decade, so too has this blog decided to embrace its past, only with a twist.  Five short years ago I  wrote a plea asking that Wi-Fi folks stop disabling high data rates on guest networks.  And they did!  (For the most part.)  Unfortunately, the pendulum has swung too far.  Now it's time to ask Wi-Fi folks to stop disabling low data rates; or, to paraphrase Hi-C: leave my rates alone.

Wi-Fi folks are always looking for ways to make wireless channels more efficient.  That is a good thing.  Wi-Fi's one limited resource is channel time, and so it is great to see more and more Wi-Fi people looking for ways to get the most amount of data across a channel in the least amount of time.

Disabling low data rates is a relatively recent trend that aims to improve Wi-Fi channe…

OnHub: The Killer AP for K-12 Wi-Fi

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Let's start by talking about what OnHub, Google's supercharged 802.11ac wireless router (made by TP-Link, actually) can not do.

OnHub does not allow you to create multiple SSIDs.  Creating multiple SSIDs is nice because it allows a guest network to be created.  That way guests don't have to be given the Wi-Fi passphrase for the internal network.  (On the other hand, multiple SSIDs slow down Wi-Fi performance because each SSID has it's own set of Beacon frames.)

OnHub does not allow you to choose your channel.  APs choosing their own channel often limits performance.  The best channel at a user's desk may be different from the best channel nearby the AP.  Usually selecting the best channel at the users' locations makes Wi-Fi work best.  (On the other hand, when the AP selects its own channel that means that the AP has the ability to change channels if a high-powered interference source is detected.)

OnHub does not allow you to adjust AP transmit power.  Setting …

Webinar: Top 5 Wi-Fi Problems

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I'm giving a Webinar today at 11 am, Pacific Time on five common Wi-Fi problems and how I use AirMagnet to troubleshoot them.  NetScout (formerly Fluke Networks Enterprise), owners of the AirMagnet product line, is putting it on.

You can register here: https://www.brighttalk.com/webcast/5522/177567

Sorry for the late notice.

If you miss the live Webinar, you can always access it later.

*** If you like my blog, you can support it by shopping through my Amazon link.  You can also donate Bitcoin to 1N8m1o9phSkFXpa9VUrMVHx4LJWfratseU or to my QR code:













Twitter: @Ben_SniffWiFi ben at sniffwifi dot com

Not Sniffing, but... LinkSprinter 300

Eleven months ago, I wrote about Fluke Networks' Ethernet testing tool, the LinkSprinter.  Now there's a new model, the LinkSprinter 300, and Fluke was nice enough to send me one to test.  
LinkSprinter 300 is basically the same as the LinkSprinter 200, except it costs an extra $100 and it has two extra features: one cool and one that I haven't tested.
I really, really hate it when people say "read this" in the middle of a discussion.  It is sauce of the weakest variety.  Just frickin' summarize it.  People tend to give me the ol' "read this" either when discussing a topic that they've written about or in an attempt to cite evidence.  In both cases, a summary will do.  If you are discussing Wi-Fi sniffing with me on Twitter and you wrote a white paper saying that Wireshark is the bee's knees, then tell me why on Twitter.  If you believe that it wasn't a fact that the Earth is round until Greek philosophers proved it a few thousand yea…

Using Discovery Software, Illustrated (with iOS Airport Utility)

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I wrote about using Discovery software, and then it dawned on me: many people prefer pictures.

Here, then, is how I use Discovery software when troubleshooting Wi-Fi, illustrated.

First, I figure out which device needs troubleshooting.  In this case, let's pretend it's one or more iPhones.



(That #nofilter picture was taken by me at about 4:50 a.m. on the morning of January 20, 2009.  It was COLD a.f. out there.)

Notice how my iPhone shows RSSI instead of signal bars.  



Your iPhone/iPod/iPad can, too.
Once I know which device needs troubleshooting (and, PLEASE, do not skip that first step.  Troubleshooting without using the actual device that needs to use the Wi-Fi is a big waste of time that annoys users), then I need some Discovery software.
iOS: Airport Utility (Apple)
Mac OS X: Wireless Diagnostics (Apple), WiFi Explorer (Adrian Granados - $15)
Windows: Acrylic WiFi (Tarlogic), inSSIDer (Metageek - $20)
Android: WiFi Analyzer (farproc)
Chrome OS: NONE
I am troubleshooting an iPhone,…

Troubleshooting Using One of the Three Essential WI-Fi Troubleshooting Tools - Discovery Software

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Who wants some free stuffffffff?!?

You're reading a free blog, so I'm guessing the answer is, "all of us".  And that's good.  You've come to the right place.  Because the first part of my three-part series on Essential Wi-Fi Troubleshooting Tools is going to be about the free (or, very inexpensive) one: Discovery Software.

Discovery software, which is also called Scanner software, is software that records and displays information that a Wi-Fi radio gathers during 802.11 Discovery.  There are two ways that 802.11 Discovery can be done: Active Scanning and Passive Scanning.  (Hence, the term "Scanner" software.)  Passive Scanning involves a device listening for Beacon frames that have been sent by APs.  Active Scanning involves a device sending Probe Request messages as a broadcast in the hopes of getting APs to respond with Probe Response messages.  Beacon frames and Probe Response frames carry essentially the same thing: information about the AP.

(Pop …

The Three Essential Wi-Fi Troubleshooting Tools

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Clickbaitttttttttt!

"Three Essential Tools"...  Brilliant!  Years ago, I would've been embarrassed to have such a click-baity headline.  No longer.

Why the change, you ask?  I don't know.  It could be that I'm in the Money stage of my career.  (You see, I relate most things in life to pro wrestling.  A pro wrestler's career has three stages: Titles, Money and Legacy.  When you're young and you don't know any better, you want titles.  Being "Intercontinental Champion" [or, in the case of an IT guy, "Network Administrator"] fulfills you.  Management takes advantage of that by underpaying people who are in the Titles stage.  Once someone reaches the Money stage, they are no longer impressed by titles.  "You want to make me Intercontinental Champion?  Great.  What's my paycheck?"  The final stage is the Legacy stage, which most of us never reach.  The Rock is in the Legacy stage.  He has won titles and he has money.  The Ro…

Testing AP Transmit Power Using AirMagnet

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If there's one recent change in the Wi-Fi world that has brought some heat and light to your humble blogger's cold, dark heart, it's the awareness of device differences.  But there's a difference between understanding that Wi-Fi devices have differences and creating an infrastructure that supports them.  And an important step in setting up a good Wi-Fi infrastructure is finding out whether the APs' transmit power is too high, too low or juuuuuuust right. 

It has long been the recommended to have matching transmit power for devices engaging in two-way wireless communication, but with Wi-Fi that rule is often broken.  Breaking the rule is understandable because Wi-Fi environments are often vendor-neutral.  Most Wi-Fi deployments are not like the beaches of Normandy, where everyone had the same model of radio.

Sometimes we need really, really good Wi-Fi, and matching the transmit power levels of APs and stations can go a long way towards fulfilling that need.  Matchi…