What’s Wireless “mesh”?

Eero, similar devices, how they work, and why I decided to jump into the deep end of this tech. What is a wireless mesh? In simpler terms, it consists of multiple wireless devices working together (instead of a network extender, which connects to another wireless base station, and acts as a “helper” to get packets to a farther away device) to understand where the internet is and how best to get your packets from your device to the internet. Most wireless extenders that I’ve tried, usually halve the internet bandwidth to account for getting packets to/from the base station. Mesh devices, such as eero, connect together in a more intelligent way to understand where the devices are and routes packets from devices in a much faster way. My understanding is that when the mesh is set up, where the mobile device is, it connects to the closest access point and that access point knows how best to route traffic to the internet (either another AP or the base station, whichever is closest). Wireless extenders only know how to route traffic to the base station which sounds like it would be fastest, but not in every situation since half of the bandwidth is still consumed by extender-to-base-station traffic internally. Eeros cut down on that since they remember the fastest route to the internet. In my experience, having a couple of these devices in my condo, I get near gigabit speeds to my ISP from my Macbook Pro over wireless 802.11ac. Before with one access point and an extender, I might get 20-30Mbps. For me at least, mesh creates a more stable and reliable wireless network/internet connection without having the need to “reboot the router” every week or month. Other companies like Google, Luna, and Netgear also make wireless mesh products.

Making the switch from Android to iPhone

Earlier this year I made the switch from an Android based phone (Google Pixel XL) over to an Apple iPhone 7 Plus. Why? Well let me give you a history of some of the devices I’ve had first for a less biased view.

I started with an Ericsson AF738 flip phone back in 1996. Small and compact flip phone that fit in my pocket. Most students had pagers in high school, which required someone to call a number and leave a numerical message which then got sent to the pagers, then those people would call the senders back. My cell phone (which on AT&T had a 20 minute per month voice plan), was more than enough to let my family and friends know that I was running late on my way home, or that I was going somewhere after school. In many senses, it was my digital leash which allowed me more freedom than most.

Once in college, I decided an upgrade was needed and I got a Nokia 5160. I had a few more candybar style and flip phones until I bought my first PalmOS based device which combined my calendar and contacts with notes. Treo 600/650 were devices based on PalmOS, and the 650 was one of the first on Sprint’s network at the time to allow text messaging. After that, a Windows Phone, the Pocket PC PPC6601 slider with a keyboard was now my primary phone. It was useful and fun, but large.

After college, I moved up to Redmond, WA to work at Microsoft. I drank some of the Kool-aid and had some more Windows-based phones (Pocket PC, Windows Mobile, Windows Phone, etc.) until my first iPhone. I then had some reception issues where I lived at the time, and found that switching networks and switching to a new Motorola Droid on Verizon worked better for me at the time. I stuck with mostly Android phones up until this year, when I found that iPhones might be a worthwhile switch again for what I needed.

So… I switched to the iPhone 7 plus, picked up an iPad, Airpods, Apple TV, and some other Apple goodies. I still have Windows workstations and my passion for technology hasn’t changed. Best tool for the job, but why iPhone? It does what I need it to for now, allows me to iMessage with my friends and family, and my data just goes where it needs to when I need it. Will I switch again? Perhaps. Is Android dead? Absolutely not, and it keeps pushing the other player(s) in the mobile space to get better, including Apple. The new Apple Watch Series 3 with LTE is pretty neat, and definitely works well making phone calls and data.

My story so far…

People at a recent summit were asking a bit about my story, what did I do besides helping with the summit, technical background, etc.

Well, short version. College at Oregon Tech, contracted at Microsoft on the Exchange Mailbox team and tested the first versions of the Monad/PowerShell cmdlets for Exchange, then System Center Configuration Manager testing deployments, then a few years in SharePoint/SharePoint Designer for the 2010 release. Hopped over to Expedia, learned Splunk, and now I work at Splunk as a software engineer. I work on deployments, Microsoft related things, Python, Ansible, Cloud (AWS), Apps, Testing methodologies and a ton of other things.

Operational Analytics FTW

With a previous employer, I helped implement “big data” operational analytics. This wasn’t just an effort for our IT team to be cool – we were seriously overworked, and we suspected we had a lot more computing capacity than we needed, and the company was hoping to cut back on some upcoming capital expenses. Implementing operational analytics isn’t easy, but after a few short months it paid off: we were able to pinpoint specific areas where we had excess capacity, massively rearrange workloads, and identify the capacity we needed for new projects. Our net savings in the first two years was around $1.2M, and we’d just gotten started.