About subnetwork

Jonathan Davis loves network engineering. He's been in IT for over 16 years. In that time, he has worked in almost every aspect of IT. Nothing holds his attention and imagination like building wireless networks for unique environments.

Kilted Monday 2017

Kilted Monday is nearly here!

We have a couple of planned activities, and there are always a few surprises. Here’s what you know to make the day a success.CnIB_vQVMAA3wcO

When you step out of the hotel on Monday, you’re gonna feel strange! I get it. Who wears a kilt to a professional conference, right? You do, that’s who!

Hold that head up high, and go directly to the Social Media Lounge! The kilts normally gather there, and you’ll immediately feel better once you are surrounded by your peers!

Throughout the day, check the #KiltedMonday hash-tag on Twitter. There, you will find where the kilts are gathering during the breaks, funny pictures, special giveaways in the World of Solutions (yes, that does happen), and any additional info needed to make your day a success.

Finally, check back here. I will update as the day progresses if there are any last minute events or things you should know.

There are two events scheduled!

Kilts vs. Kiltless Racing!

WHEN: Gather at 1:00pm, Racing begins at 1:30pm *UPDATED TO NEW TIME*
WHERE: Kinetic Tiles in the World of Solutions Foyer
We know that kilts are cool! But, did you know that they make you run faster? We’re going to prove that to the poor people who forgot to wear their kilts! Even if you don’t feel like running, show up to support the kilts who do race.

Kilted Monday Meetup and Pictures

WHEN: 6:00pm
WHERE: Social Media Lounge (Confirmed)
This is an opportunity to meet everyone who made Kilted Monday the incredible event that it has become. We will take lots of pictures and tell funny stories from the day.

I hope you are ready for an awesome experience! I know that I am.

Cisco Live 2017 – Kilted Monday, Healthy Feet, and LOTS of water!

Cisco Live 2017 is just around the corner, and I am already thinking about my packing list. Here are a few things that you might want to pack as well.

CnIB_vQVMAA3wcO

Picture by @Renegade604

Your Kilt! Yes, you knew it would make the top of the list. #KiltedMonday has grown from three guys making a joke to one of the most awesome events at ANY tech conference. Last year’s #KiltedMonday included a competition for best legs as well as special gifts for participants in the World of Solutions! If you haven’t purchased a kilt yet, there is still time! Get it now so that you can be part of the cool (and breezy) crowd! On Monday, be certain to follow #KiltedMonday on Twitter to keep up with everything that is going on.

A water bottle. Cisco Live does an awesome job of providing water coolers for participants nearly everywhere you will go for the conference. That often ends when you get back to your hotel, and when you add in the extreme heat and dry air of Las Vegas, along with the occasional alcoholic beverage, you will need LOTS of water. Don’t make the mistake I did. Last year, I forgot to fill my water bottle before heading back to my hotel room. The closest bottle of water I could buy was $8! That’s right, $8 for a 32oz bottle of water.

Moleskin. At Cisco Live you will walk a lot! It really doesn’t matter how well your shoes are broken in, your feet will begin to find the rough spots and moleskin will make the difference between a miserable day and comfort. Before you pack the moleskin, go ahead and cut it into squares, and then toss the squares into a tin or ziplock bag. This way, you will ensure that you have it with you when you need it, and take my word on this, moleskin doesn’t tear easily.

A good attitude. Be ready to learn! Not only from the instructors and speakers but from each other. There is an incredible brain trust that attends Cisco Live!

I am certainly looking forward to Cisco Live, and I hope you are too! I will see you in Vegas!

Geek Tools – Installing Spectools on WLPC Odroid

spectoolsscreenOne of the maker sessions from WLPC was setting up an Odroid for use as a network tool. It was a great session and I hope to see more of these at future WLPC’s. Once the videos are posted, you will be able to find the link here.

The first thing I wanted to try was installing Spectools on my Odroid to use with my Metageek Spectrum Analyzers. I have two Metageek Wi-Spy DBx’s and thanks to the 2017 WLPC bag, one Wi-Spy 2.4x.

The Wi-Spy 2.4x analyzer is supported in a much older version of Spectools. If you only own that one analyzer, simply run the following from the CLI:

sudo apt-get install spectools

On the other hand, if you want to use Spectools with a DBx, you must compile from the latest version. This takes a bit more work as it must be compiled from the source code. After fumbling around with it along with Jerry Olla we were both able to get it successfully installed and working.

Here are the directions which worked for both Jerry and I.

  1. Install the required prereqs:
sudo apt-get install libgtk2.0-dev libusb-dev build-essential

2. Clone the Spectools package:

git clone https://www.kismetwireless.net/spectools.git

3. Change to the Spectools directory:

cd spectools

4. Now, the fun part. The included config.guess will not recognize the Odroid. However, the distribution installed on the Odroid includes a MUCH newer version that will, so we need to copy it to the spectools directory:

cp /usr/share/misc/config.guess config.guess

5. Now we can follow the standard process to compile Spectools to operate on the Odroid.

./configure
make
make install

And with that, Spectools should now support the Metageek dbx. Install VNC, and you have an easily deployable sensor.

Up next, installing Websockets for wi-spy

An open letter to Senator Richard Burr

I sent this to Senator Richard Burr through his website. I am also leaving it here, and will update with his response:

Senator Burr,

First, I want to say Thank You for working on the behalf of North Carolina in our nation’s capital. I recognize that there are hundreds, if not thousands of issues that you are asked to consider on a regular basis, which cannot be easy.

I am contacting you regarding the encryption bill that you are working on with Senator Feinstein. North Carolina is a very tech savvy state. We have major technology companies in almost every tech sector, and now are home to some of the largest and most efficient data centers in the US. There is much to be proud of. With that in mind, I am surprised to see you as one of the advocates of the bill.

I recognize that as the Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee you hear from our intelligence services on a regular basis. I am certain the current conversation is heavily geared towards how to deal with the pervasive nature of encryption. Today it is easy for a terrorist organization to have fully encrypted end-to-end communication. I am sure that is incredibly frightening to the intelligence services and their job is a very difficult one. I recognize that every attack on American citizens ultimately creates hundreds of questions like “How did the [insert three letter acronym] not know this was going to happen?” It’s an impossible battle.

I am a network engineer and I have worked in IT for many years. I intimately understand encryption and the basic underpinnings of the internet. I have spent many years protecting my employers networks and systems from outside attack. I understand that ever evolving battle first-hand.

With that said, I am very concerned that you feel that you can force companies to provide backdoor access to devices and communication without affecting every citizen who chooses to use an electronic device. I assume that you have chosen to believe the rhetoric which states that open access can be protected. Otherwise, the only other assumption is that you believe that normal everyday citizens should not have the ability to protect their private, personal information; that corporations should not have the ability to protect their intellectual property.

Assuming that you believe the former; I want you to consider these questions. How long do you expect that backdoor to be kept safe? How long do you think it will take before technical terrorist, both foreign and domestic find and utilize that backdoor?

If the US makes and is granted the demand, what prevents other foreign entities from doing the same? What do you think the economic impact would be for companies when China has a backdoor to every corporate device of every manufacturing company in the US? I have spent eight years of my career working with large international manufacturing companies. I know first hand what the impact of that is. I have watched it with my own eyes. I could argue this particular point, citing experience, but I want to respect your time. If you would like to discuss, I will be happy to do so.

I have one more question I would like to present. How do you expect that forcing backdoor access will actually aid the intelligence services? This is an exercise in futility and escalation. Assume for a moment that the NSA/CIA/FBI has root access to every device. What happens when the user also employs an encrypted communication app which also requires a passcode and does not store data locally? Let’s also suppose that they are always running a VPN or TOR client. Finally, let’s assume that the server the encrypted app on the encrypted phone, communicates to through an encrypted tunnel, lives in a non-friendly foreign state. What good does this legislation then do? The answer is, none. The US cannot compel the foreign server to give it a back door. But, the US, who loves to discuss freedom has created a wide exploit that will then begin to be used for a different type of terrorism and removed every citizens right to privacy with their most personal data.

I am not hurling these questions at a wall to see what sticks. I would like a response. This is a very important discussion to be had without rhetoric and fear-mongering. I can be contacted with the information provided if you would like to further discuss these or other concerns.

With respect,

Jonathan Davis

Cisco Live 2016 is coming and so are the kilts

Forget winter, Cisco Live 2016 is coming, and it is going to be hot! No, I’m not referring to the fact that it is taking place in Las Vegas, NV during July. I am referring to #KiltedMonday.

“What is #KiltedMonday“, you ask? Simple, it’s when people wear kilts to Cisco Live.

“Why would people wear kilts to Cisco Live”, you ask? Because we will be in Las Vegas in July. Kilts are breezy.

kiltedmonday

Yes, people actually wear kilts to Cisco Live.

No really, Kilted Monday started as a joke on Twitter last year between myself@ucgod, and @wifijanitor. That joke blossomed and bloomed until @CiscoLive picked it up and put us on the Photo Scavenger Hunt.

Now, it seems the joke has grown legs. (See what I did there?)

@DeniseFishburn has ordered her kilt, and @amyengineer and @ScottMorrisCCIE are joining us. Let’s face it…if Denise is doing it, you know it will be fun.

This is your official invite to be part of the cool (and breezy) crowd. 

So, you want to join in, but sadly have found yourself kilt-less. No worries, I ordered mine from damnnearkiltem.com. I like my kilt, they are well priced, and have great shipping. Plus, with a name like that, how can you resist? (No, I don’t get a commission)

I will suggest that you must! measure yourself per their directions. I had to exchange the first kilt I ordered. Your pants size is not your kilt size.

Also, if you haven’t  already registered, now is a great time to get registered for Cisco Live US 2016. It’s going to be another great year!

Geek Tools Rant: Fluke Networks – AirMagnet

First, if you missed my public apology to Fluke Networks, you should read it. Besides giving some backstory to this post, it’s not very often you will see me eat my words. Wait, nah, that’s not true, I do it all the time.

A quick synopsis. In an event hosted by Fluke, I asked the question “When are you going to release a Mac client?” The response I received struck a nerve, and while I do not remember exactly what was said, it was something like “Why would we ever do that?”

So, this post will lay out the many problems I have with the current version of Fluke Networks solutions for the wireless industry.

The expense – AirMagnet Survey, Spectrum XT, and WiFi Analyzer are expensive products! I realize that they are complicated to build and maintain, but the cost is exceptionally high.

I have spent plenty of money on professional level tools without complaint, and yet every time I spend money on “Yellow and Blue” I can expect to be yelled at by my finance person and bruised by the purchase process.

This is further exacerbated by the fact that many organizations simply won’t spend the money. I spent four years working for a major global manufacturer with hundreds of sites, and many thousands of AP’s and I could not get them to purchase AirMagnet. In my current role, there is still no budget for the software. That means I end up spending my own money for software. I could get over this, except:

The software is OLD! AirMagnet Survey Pro is especially old code. It is clear in so many ways that the software hasn’t been refactored in many many years. I made a harsh comment at WLPC regarding the “Walking Man” animation when performing  surveys, but the comment stands. The little walking man is wasting CPU cycles on a laptop that is running on battery, and doesn’t even perform it’s primary function. I need a set of crosshairs to indicate where I stop, nothing more.

Spending money on AirMagnet feels like I am spending money on software that will be discontinued momentarily by a company that no longer cares about it.

Most importantly, AirMagnet only supports Microsoft Windows. I won’t rant about how much I despise, abhor, and generally hate Windows, really I won’t. A quick survey of their users would show Fluke that a surprisingly high number of users are Mac’s. We use Mac’s for many reasons and most of us only ever boot Windows to use AirMagnet products. Many have tried to use VM’s, and most have found issues with the USB sharing which makes it difficult to do our jobs. Even if we are able to make a VM work, we are now eating through our batteries much faster than we should be. If we are surveying a large facility, we are wasting our time, and our customers money waiting on devices to charge.

Based on conversations with Fluke during their session and after, I was given the impression (not told, simply given the impression) that Fluke is looking at an OptiView-like device as a future AirMagnet tool. I understand their thoughts. Control both the hardware and software, and you have fine grain control to make the most of the solution. I can only hope that Fluke Networks hears and understood from the feedback they received at WLPC that we want a single device for ALL of our work. We have that device, our laptop. We do not need a uni-tasker to drag through the airports and risk losing, stealing or breakage. The other concern with this solution is the OptiView is INSANELY expensive.

Fluke Networks repeatedly asked “What would you like to see?” to the audience. I’ve also spent some time thinking about that question. Here is what I hope could resolve many of the issues that are occurring on both Windows and potentially Mac and Linux clients.

Build the intelligence into a Docker App. That’s right, I’ll say it again. Build the intelligence to run on Docker. Immediately, you can now move the app to Windows, OS X, and Linux.

The most important code base can now be ran in a custom environment, easily reproduced on any piece of hardware thrown at it. Wait, you might say. Then I would have to install Docker on my laptop. How is that better than a VM?

I’ll answer that question in two ways. First, look at all of the redistributable apps that get installed along with AirMagnet. Imagine all of that going away. Just imagine…

Next, the resource utilization for Docker should be less than 1/4 of the utilization for a VM. Plus, there is no underlying windows OS to babysit. No updates to validate and install. No weird driver issues. No licensing issues do to a minor change in the VM.

Once the important code is running in Docker, build a GUI for each client that includes the hooks for the hardware (Spectrum Analyzers, USB NIC, etc.) and presents them to the Docker app in a standard consistent way. The GUI would include all of the OS customization, visuals, hardware hooks, but none of the intelligence.

I think I am most disappointed that Fluke Networks became comfortable as the market leader and chose not to push forward with new ideas. I have a ton of respect for the company and I own a lot of yellow and blue tools. Now that they have a serious market contender in Ekahau, I hope they take a serious look at their current situation, and choose to focus on the customer, rather than attempt to force the market to their will.

A Public Apology to Fluke Networks

In February I traveled to Phoenix to attend the Wireless LAN Professionals Conference (WLPC). It was an excellent conference with a ton of useful information and resources. One of the remarkable aspects of WLPC is that there are no corporate sponsors. All conference expenses are covered by attendees, and while vendors are encouraged to include items in the conference attendee bag, they are no booths, booth babes or trolls. I am certain some attendees would rather run booth to booth grabbing tchotchkes and attempting to avoid getting their badges scanned. I find the WLPC model refreshing.

At this years conference the organizers tried something new. Once the conference was done for the day, they opened the conference rooms for vendors to host attendees. Dinner or drinks were usually provided.

It was during one of these events that I overstepped an invisible, but clearly present line of professionalism, and I recognize that I owe a public apology to Fluke Networks. During their evening session, when things became slow for a moment, I took the opportunity to ask a question. I don’t remember the conversation verbatim, but my question was something like: “When will the Mac client be released?”

A simple question right? Only, the answer I got somehow exposed some raw emotions, and those emotions fueled my responses. I managed to completely side-track their session by asking for attendee participation in straw poles:
“Raise your hand if you want a Mac version.”

I mocked their walking man pointer used during surveys as a waste of CPU resources, when all I needed was crosshairs, and I continue on ranting and raving for a few more minutes. I acted like a drunk heckler, only I can’t blame alcohol.

As soon as my rant slowed, I realized I had fueled the crowd, and as other people began to chime in, I watched them reinforce my points and I sat there feeling vindicated; feeling great about delivering a bit of honesty and a big dose of reality. Their session never got back on track, but I will say the Fluke Networks team handled it with aplomb.

I now recognize that I needed a big dose of humility in that moment, not vindication. 

I’ve thought about that discussion a lot since it happened, which is what led to this blog post. Ultimately, that was the wrong venue for the conversation that I forced on them. I sat there with a belly full of food that they had graciously provided, and I completely derailed their conversation. My apologies to the Fluke Team in attendance. My apologies to the other attendees who might have been sitting there hoping for the very product walkthrough that Fluke was providing.

My blog IS the correct venue for the discussion. My passion for technology, networking, and specifically wireless fueled the rant and I plan to outline some of my frustrations in an upcoming blog post. The response I received that fueled my rant was one of disconnect. “Why would you want that?” Again, certainly not verbatim, but that was the message. I hope to start a conversation rather than rant into the void. With that in mind, I will lay out the case, and then I will put this to rest.