CTS 058: 2016 Year In Review

This is a pre-recorded episode. I’m off for Christmas 🙂 I hope you enjoy the rest of your year. I will see you in 2017!

After this episode was recorded I found out I had become CWNE #210. It was a great gift to receive right before Christmas. I’ll discuss my journey to CWNE in an upcoming episode in 2017.

2016 started off on the wrong foot for me. Personally, I went to the hospital on Jan 1st, 2016 because of my gallbladder. Then continued to have issues with it until March – when I had it finally resolved.

But when it came to Podcasting and Wi-Fi I saw great growth.

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Not just with me but in the community as well.

Marketing has never been short of exciting. We started seeing Wi-Fi being described as switch-like. Come on guys. But the community banded together to shame the group of people spreading misinformation.

Unfortunately, we still continue to see poor installations as noted in popular Wi-Fi forums – I shall not name them here for your own sake. You don’t want to rage quit at the end of the year. If you want to check out the photos just head over to Bad-Fi – At my own workplace I’ve had to facepalm a few times coming across Bad-Fi but those were quickly resolved.

This year was the first time I attended Cisco Live and it was fitting to be in-person in Las Vegas of all places. Being able to put names to Twitter handles was fantastic. Meeting with industry peers is the best part of these conferences and I hope to attend more in the future.

I’ve been fortunate to be part of Mobility Field Day – not just one but two events. Mobility Field Day  was fantastic and it’s mindblowing to be around so many smart people.

2016 was the year of exams for me. At the beginning of the year I had decided to get off my butt and put my head in the books. It began with tackling CWAP as I was knee deep in frame captures and analysis. Easily the hardest one for me of all the exams. In October I set my sights on CWDP and was successful. Came natural for me as I am designing often. CWSP was fresh and with the right amount of reading, studying, and labbing – I overcame that as well. Then before December I submitted my CWNE application and as of this recording I am waiting for the results – crossing fingers.

Speaking of CWNE, CWNP reached 200 CWNE’s worldwide before December 2016. Big achievement! This shows how much Wi-Fi is beginning to be taken seriously. It’s not just putting up more access points! With Wi-Fi being a primary point of access to the network, we should be planning and optimizing regularly.

2016 came with many frustrations but with many achievements as well. I hope you had a successful 2016 – both for your career and personally.

This is the final episode of 2016 so I will see you guys in the new year. Be safe, have fun, and take care.

CTS 055: My Thoughts On The CWDP Exam

Thoughts on CWNP’s Certified Wireless Design Professional (CWDP-302).

CWDP logoThe CWDP validates your knowledge of designing wireless networks where you need a pretty good understanding of spectrum, protocols used, security implementation, site surveys – including predictive, manual, hybrid, and validation.

An important part of CWDP, and also in the real world, is being able to gather requirements from the end user. Knowing what the end users need to do on Wi-Fi will help you build a successful network.

Some of the aspects of gathering requirements are straight forward, such as finding out where coverage is needed, what applications are going to be used, is VoIP going to be used, etc.

Knowing what type of devices are going to be used is also important. This plays a role into capacity planning with the applications that will be used. Other areas to consider are designs around regulatory requirements.

This part of the exam takes up 20% so take a look at the objectives. You’ll need to know how these requirements impact the design of a WLAN.

Design takes up 40% of the exam. In this area, experience really gives you a big advantage. Knowing the different architectures such as distributed forwarding and tunnel-based of client data traffic. How someone should design between single channel architecture and multiple channel architecture is something to consider. Although the most important thing is knowing the difference between the two.

Different PHYs will have different capabilities, such as designing for 20 MHz to 160 MHz channel widths. Know what the gotchas are with client devices when designing for a PHY such as 802.11ac.

When it comes to roaming, know the different kinds of roaming technologies and when they would be used. Do you know the difference between opportunistic key caching and PMK caching? Depending on client requirements, this may be important given that some of these roaming methods play a role with latency. Read More

CTS 053: 3 Simple Tips for Passing the CWAP Exam

These 3 simple tips for passing the CWAP exam may seem easier said than done. Listen to the podcast to hear more details about each tip and how I used them to pass the CWAP exam.

Certified Wireless Analysis Professional In September 2016 I sat and passed CWNP’s CWAP-402 exam. The exam costs about $225 as of this episode. It’s a multiple choice exam consisting of 60 questions which you need to complete in 120 minutes. The CWAP is the analysis portion of CWNP’s set of certifications.

So let’s go into my 3 tips for passing the CWAP exam:

1. Read The Book Twice

I’ve opted to read the Kindle version of this book. For over a year now I’ve gone completely digital with my books. It works well with my workflow and I hate carrying around heavy books.

The content is very technical so it helps to read through it multiple times in order for the topic to sink in.

My schedule consisted of reading one chapter a week. That was my goal. Some chapters can get very long so it helped to break them out over a couple of days. Pace yourself with each chapter and don’t rush it.

Take advantage of the chapter quizzes. If you score 80% or better, move on to the next chapter. Scored less? Then you need to review. Don’t read the answers for the quizzes. Doing so will make you memorize the answer for the chapter quiz.

2. Take Good Notes

I use Evernote to capture all my notes. You can use other similar apps such as OneNote, Google Keep, or even paper and pencil.

Review each of your notes every day. This will keep the content fresh in your mind. Key things you’ll want to note down are various frame exchanges such as associations and security. Knowing what’s inside of these frames is crucial too, such as what’s inside a beacon frame.

Note down the differences between each PHY and you’ll start to see why that is important.

Another topic I highly recommend knowing is QoS parameters and their priorities.

These little details are good to note down and will be beneficial in your passing.

3. Lab Up Scenarios

A big part of my success if being able to see a lot of Wi-Fi in action. Protocol and Spectrum analysis is a big part of the exam.

I started off by installing Wireshark and using Airtool (Mac app) to capture frames. I got familiar with frame exchanges and what was contained in those frames. I looked at various beacons, associations, and security frame exchanges.

For spectrum analysis I used Metageek’s Chanalyzer. The CWAP book uses Air Magnet. The interfaces differ between Chanalyzer and Air Magnet.

It will be important to spot the different characteristics of interference such as microwave, video transmitters, Bluetooth, and other 802.11 traffic.

Aside from those three tips, experience is a big plus. Having come across many of these topics will help you pass the exam. One such example is troubleshooting wired side issues.

The CWAP exam actually puts some emphasis on the wired side of things because they often mask themselves as Wi-Fi issues. So you have to know how to troubleshoot an issue using the CWAP methodology.

Things I did not take in preparation for this exam:

  • Practice exam
  • Bootcamp

I felt I prepared enough that I didn’t have to take either the practice exam or bootcamp. I’m not even a fan of doing either. For my CWNA I did take a bootcamp and found it beneficial. I guess at the point I was studying (for both old and new exam) I just got tired of studying and decided to jump into the exam.

CTS 037: CWNE Journey With Francois Verges

Portrait of Francois VergesI have the pleasure of having Francois Verges co-hosting with me as he discusses his journey to CWNE. It was recently announced on Twitter, Francois became CWNE #180.

Francois first started his journey to becoming CWNE about 3 years ago. He talks about this experience and how he got introduced into the CWNP program.

In this episode, Francois provides his tips and insights into starting out with CWNA and what steps to take in becoming a CWNE.

Links and Resources

CTS 020: 5 New Year’s Resolutions For Wireless Engineers

In This Episode

We’ve made it through the first week of 2016. It’s a good time to look back at our accomplishments of 2015 and to look forward for 2016.

I’ve created a short list of 5 New Year’s resolutions for wireless engineers. It is not in any particular order.

  1. Attend an in-person event
  2. Become a speaker/presenter
  3. Get certified
  4. Start a blog
  5. Be Bold

Bonus: Start your own lab

Links and Resources Mentioned

What are your New Year’s resolutions? Are you going to take up one of the ones listed above? Let me know in the comments below.