An Apple a Day Keeps the Wlanologist Away….Five Key Tips to Keep Your Wi-Fi Skills Healthy!

apple wifi1I’ve been feeling a little down lately.  Seems like I have not been as sharp on packet sniffing as I once was and a little dull in my spectrum analysis.  So I made an apppointment with my primary care Wlanologist, Dr. RF Aware, to see if he could help.  He gave me five great tips to keep my Wi-Fi skills healthy and vibrant!  I thought I would pass these tips on to my WLAN blog audience and hope they will help you as much as they have helped me!

After a thorough consultation, Dr. Aware explained to me that WLAN professionals have jobs that require different skills.  Some Wi-Fi pros do site surveys all the time, but never sniff packets.   Others might do mesh setup, but rarely have the opportunity to do site surveys.  Some do installations while others, troubleshooting.  Most WLAN pros do not use all their skills all the time.  Because of the varying work performed in many WLAN careers, my doctor said it is a good idea to intentionally do activities that will keep all your basic Wi-Fi skills healthy.

Here are the five tips he offered to me:

1. Sniff fresh packets regularly.  Ah, can you smell that Layer 2 in the air?  However, after my CWAP exam was over, I really did not want to sniff anything for a while.  But, I need regular protocol analysis review –and you do too!  We all need to stay sharp on this as packet analysis is key to understanding 802.11.  If you don’t have your own copy of Omnipeek WildPackets, you can still run (for free!) Kali Linux through VMware Player (also get the Hawking HD45U USB adapter at Amazon for about $42.00 to work with Kali Linux).  Tom Carpenter of CWNP has several great videos on how to set up Kali Linux for packet analysis with Wireshark.

2.  Regular prescription of spectrum analysis.  It’s not just Layer 2, but Layer 1 review is important too!   It is good to keep fresh on spectrum analysis and all the 802.11 PHYs, even if it means just looking at the RF around your home or office.  Who knows, you might find some interesting RF activity you didn’t know was going on!  Do you use Fluke or Chanalyzer?  Even if you do not have the tools installed, Metageek has some great examples of RF signatures on their web site and you can install Chanalyzer and look at these sample RF spectrum signatures in the software tool.

3.  Exercise using site survey tools monthly.  Whether you use Fluke AirMagnet, Ekahau Site Survey, TamoGraph or another survey tool, stay up to speed on using these tools, including software upgrades.  Check out web site training, or look through a few of the sample survey graphs that these tools have.  Or maybe, just for fun, import a floor plan and use the predictive analysis tools (or make your own floor plan and play around with the tool options).  You can always download Ekahau Heatmapper for free and use it for site surveys.

4.  Solid intake of Wi-Fi blogs, Twitter and LinkedIN.  WLAN news is coming out daily.  Social media (Twitter and LinkedIN) can really help WLAN professionals stay connected with the latest Wi-Fi happenings.  Plus, there are just some outstanding WLAN blogs out there — bookmark these blogs and check them out regularly!  Dr Aware even mentioned that gcatewifi has “the best and most comprehensive WLAN blogroll on the web today”.  My doctor is just awesome!

5. Healthy dose of a CWNP study guide.  Oh, how soon we forget what we learn about WLANs and how to keep them healthy.  The CWNP has some great study guides (you all do have a copy of the CWNP study guides, right?  CWNA version 106 was just released, plus CWSP, CWDP, and CWAP).  Reviewing the basics of 802.11 on a regular basis will give  you a better grasp on those difficult topics and may provide that needed edge as you are try to explain a Wi-Fi concept to co-worker.  If you don’t have these study guides, get them, place them prominently in your WLAN library, and take a healthy dose regularly.

Although there are other things you can do,  Dr. Aware said if I would take one to two hours weekly and put into practice just a few of these tips, my WLAN skills would stay healthy!  Regular Wi-Fi exercise then means to repeat these activities week after week.

So, do these tips work?  Well, after working through all these five tips for several weeks, my last checkup reported RSSI levels had lowered to -65 dBm, SNR was over 30 dB, capacity was outstanding and link speeds were well over 600 Mbps.  What a WLAN feeling!

Thanks to Dr. RF Aware for his five amazing tips to keep my WLAN skill set healthy.  If you would like a referral to this outstanding Wlanologist, just let me know!

So what are YOU going to do to keep your WLAN skills healthy?  Don’t put it off–start using one of the above five tips today!

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