★ THE BLOG ★ Ramblings on WiFi & stuff.

Lists of Lists

I was introduced to this new app called Li.st which also conveniently happens to be their URL. It's for creating and sharing list of things. Anything you want - text, pictures, URLs, etc. I wasn't sure what use I would I would have for it, but it turns out I do have a few and I really like it. 

So, here are a few of the first ones I made, and I'm working on a few others.

Hope you find them interesting!

Add a Custom AP + Antenna Combination in Ekahau

Shout out to @WiFiNigel for helping me figure this one out. I'm sure there are other folks out there that have figured this out, but I never did... until now.

So, I'm in the middle of a design in Ekahau Site Survey (ESS) for a fairly large manufacturing facility (about 1.2 million square feet) and I'm using a specific AP with various antennas types depending on the use-case at the facility.

When you place an AP in ESS the next time you place a new AP on the map it uses the last AP you placed, and it saves you previous configs such as TX power, antenna hight, and angle. However, if you customize an AP - like I did - by selecting an AP from the dropdown and then changing the antennas to a 3rd party antenna -the next time you place an AP it DOES NOT use that - it uses the default from the dropdown.

This is a bummer if you're a.) adding a lot of APs, and/or b.) are switching between antennas types (like say a patch for racks, and dipoles in open areas, etc). Every time you place an AP you have to manually go in and change EVERYTHING - the TX power, the antenna hight, the angles, and of course - the antennas themselves.

I knew you could make changes to the ESS conf files for adding custom antennas and APs, but I had never actually done that - until now. I edited the "accessPointTypes.xml" file and added the AP with the antennas I wanted. The antenna already existed in ESS, it just wasn't paired with the AP I wanted to use. I figured this was all I needed to do to get it to work.

Upon opening my project file in ESS I saw that the new customized version of the AP was there in the list! (Yay!) But, when I placed it I saw only the generic antennas matched with it. (Boo.)

Nigel then made the brilliant observation that I may just need to look at the antenna conf files and add the AP + ANT combination there - and when I looked at the antenna files I noticed that's exactly what Ekahau did. They had AP + the 2.4 and 5 GHz versions of the antennas there:

So, it was quite simple really - I just copied each of the antenna files I wanted (2.4 and 5 GHz) and then pasted them back into the same folder. Now I had version of each (with the "copy" appended at the end) and all I had to do was rename the file by adding the AP name "+" the antenna name and remove the "copy" at the end. I then edited the "accessPointTypes.xml" again, this time I used the name of the antenna file as the name of the AP and saved the file.

Lo, and behold, when I restarted ESS, there it was! When I added the AP it had the correct antennas for 2.4 and 5 GHz, and when I added the next AP it matched the antennas as well as all the setting changes I made for the first one (TX power, ANT height, angle, etc.). I was pretty stoked - so I wrote this blog.

So, if you have a project where you have lots of APs with a 3rd party antennas, and don't want to edit EVERY. SINGLE. ONE - try this:

* NOTE: This is NOT the "Custom AP" that shows up in ESS. You should never use that.

This is for creating your own existing AP and Antenna combinations.

When you add an AP and change the antennas type in Ekahau, the next time you add the AP it will not have the same antennas, or settings. You have to manually edit the AP everytime you add it if it's not a combination that already exists in the dropdown.

You can edit the config files for antennas and APs so that you can create custom AP/ANT combos for use in all of your projects.

* EDIT 05-31-2016  I forgot to mention that you'll need admin rights to edit anything in that folder. Just right-click on the folder and give yourself full-rights.

*IMPORTANT! @WJComms on the Twitters made a good point: BACKUP YOUR CONFIG FILES AFTER YOU EDIT THEM. If you don't they'll be written over when you update ESS and you'll lose your changes. Back them up somewhere else and copy the changes to the updated config files after you update.

♻︎ Today’s Quality Linkage for Monday, May 23, 2016

Go To Sleep, Go To Sleep, Go To Sleep Little iPhone by @Ben_SniffWiFi. Apple's overly-aggressive power saving sometimes affects Wi-Fi.

It’s Not Just a Number, It’s the Journey…. @GCateWiFi shares his journey to CWNE.

[VIDEO] Mobile device roaming behaviors & client troubleshooting by @WirelesssGuru. George Stefanick once again showing why he's the Guru.

All the videos from this years Aruba Atmosphere Conference in Las Vegas

How to access OS X Wi-Fi Monitor via @KeithRParsons

Recommended settings for Wi-Fi routers and access points from Apple

Use Wireless Diagnostics to help you resolve Wi-Fi issues on your Mac One more reason why I love Macs. Great overview of it's built-in Wireless diagnostics tools.

Proving "It's not the Wi-Fi network" by @‪JustDoWiFi‬ Sometime (Most times) it's the CLIENT.

Airport Experiment Shows That People Recklessly Connect to Any Open WiFi Hotspot I always use a VPN on public networks.

pfSense HOWTO on Captive portal + FreeRADIUS + local MySQL user friendly single step

Controlling vehicle features of Nissan LEAFs across the globe via vulnerable APIs When are these people going to start talking to experts?!

Woman enraptured with talking Chewbacca mask If this doesn't make you smile you're dead inside. 😃

♻︎ Today’s Quality Linkage (Tuesday, May 17, 2016)

802.11 Arbitration White Paper Posted this before, but can't over-emphasize the importance of understanding this to understand how Wi-Fi works. 

Compensate not Calibrate Adjusting your WLAN design requirements based on target client devices. Your NICs -65 may not (will not) be you phone's -67.

NetScout AirCheck G2 It’s finally out! Man, I hate keeping secrets. 🤓

Quotes from K-12 Building Architects vs WLAN Vendors @KeithRParsons bringing the point home once again. You hire professionals when designing your building, why not your WLAN? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

Chrome OS Wi-Fi Diagnostics If you deploy Chromebooks in your environment bookmark this post! 👍

Verizon Android Wi-Fi Calling Nice overview of Wi-Fi calling by @NoLANWiFi getting into the nitty-gritty of what's going on.

Where is the world's Wi-Fi? Yay, we have Wi-Fi! USA! USA! USA! 
Boo, it’s slow. ☹️

Perceptual Shift @KeithRParsons used these images to explain the importance of perception when surveying. How does the client see the environment, as opposed to the WLAN? How it it different in THIS spot as opposed to THAT spot? Good to remember when planning and designing a WLAN.

Hub Holster by @Robb_404 If you're looking to do without the velcro on you survey machine for all those dongles you need then here is a custom solution you can buy!

Taking Notes By Hand May Be Better Than Digitally, Researchers Say I don’t know nuthin’ ‘bout no researchers, but I DEFINITELY retain information better while studying when writing notes by hand. Doing that while going for my CWNE was a eye-opener.

The Most Intriguing Spy Stories From 166 Internal NSA Reports Super secret spy stuff. Shhhh.

♻︎ Today’s Quality Linkage

Aruba Clarity. 'Cuz Wi-Fi ain't always the problem.

It’s interesting that Aruba showed off “Clarity”, a new feature in its network management product AirWave, at Atmosphere. It’s interesting because it seems that lately there have been discussions about users blaming Wi-Fi for non-Wi-Fi related issues. I even blogged about it myself a few weeks back. And recently, Lee Badman posted the "soon to be famous cocktail napkin" he drew, to explain how wireless issues are more complicated then they appear. When users are connected to Wi-Fi, and they can't get to a webpage, or get an IP address, or that fancy captive portal you spent so much time customizing, the assumption is, “the Wi-Fi’s broke” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. And the user is right… well, as far as they know, or care. And that’s where Clarity comes in.

What Clarity does is offer a window into what may be affecting the wireless user experiencing a problem. Clarity gives you a "heads up" letting you know there are issues with DHCP, or DNS queries, association, and authentication failures, by showing you an overview in its dashboard. Also, it gives you a "real-time" view of a client experience. Maybe it's taking too long for a client to associate to an AP, or the captive portal is not working, and you see DNS issues on the clarity dashboard - insight into what the REAL issue could be.

The fact is many help desk calls about wireless, are not wireless problems. The problems lay elsewhere in the infrastructure. Knowing where to start your troubleshooting helps you find resolution faster. Clarity is another tool in the help desk arsenal to help you get customer complaint resolution quicker, and more efficiently.

But, that's not all. Clarity also offers "Synthetic testing". Essentially, it allows you to simulate user activity on the WLAN, by using an access point as a client. You can then use that simulated client to run tests on the WLAN. If there are service affecting issues you have an opportunity to find them, and fix them, before you actual users arrive.

In a scenario we were shown you would go to the VisualRF tab and select the location you would like to perform the test. You then click on the AP you would like to act as your client and perform tests that simulate a client connecting to the WLAN. This test should expose issues with DHCP, DNS, captive portals, etc.

In theory, this should help predict, or rather, REVEAL problems that could occur once the real clients arrive onto the WLAN. This is what we as WLAN professionals do when we perform validation surveys after a deployment. You do perform validation surveys after all your deployments, right?  It's a very appealing idea to be able to perform tests, maybe even SCHEDULE tests, on a regular basis, to head off those issues at the pass.

This is what I would love to see - a mobile app that can be installed on a client, that can perform those same tests. This would be an improvement to the already great option of testing with an AP or an AM (Air Monitor), but here's the difference - it's an ACTUAL client. It's not an AP, on a ceiling (where there are no clients), with super RX sensitivity. It could be a single-stream mobile device, or 3-stream MacBook Pro, and you can run test AS THE CLIENTS THEMSELVES WOULD. Run test in multiple clients at the same time - like you would see with REAL clients.

Well, Aruba is already working on that. It will initially be an Android only app, that will allow you to perform Clarity tests from the client itself. There is no word on a release date, but I am hopeful that it will come in a timely manner.

At introduction, Clarity will be available only for Aruba controller-based platforms.

Aruba Clarity with real-time monitoring will be available as part of the Airwave 8.2 release coming out in the next few weeks. Synthetic testing will soon follow.