He Who Dares, Wins!

“He Who Dares, Wins”   I like that…. I find it interesting.  For the last few months I have a support ticket open for what is called a “cosmetic issue” or so I’m told.  And, that issue is, all of my Cisco Meraki MS220-8P switches are showing the  incorrect LED status, for any ports and even the main switch status light.

Here’s a somewhat bad photo that shows what I’m talking about:

img_0320

The main status light on the far left is Amber, that should be Green.  However, if Port One is unplugged, which currently is showing Amber, the switch status light turns off. And, instead of showing Amber on the ports, it should show Green.  Hmm.

Cosmetic Issue …. Yeah … the switch itself appears to function fine, I have not noticed any issues with devices being able to pass traffic or any related performance metrics that are not meeting a goal. So Okay, then what are we winning?  Well, let me explain what I’m thinking….

Could Cisco Meraki be doing a client test or collecting information to see who actually looks at port lights? If we are moving to a complete cloud based system do we really need lights? Sure, I would think, maybe a power light, to say “hey, I have power, or I’m not doing well”.  BUT, how often do you *really* look at your switches or even look at each switch port status? From the (wireless) access point side of things, people want the status LED turned off.  Some people just do not like it.  Maybe that approach is making a road towards switches and other devices, turn all the lights off.

………… or maybe someone messed up and just hasn’t fixed it???

 

The ball and the three cups.

The greatest trick Meraki ever pulled was convincing the world to run Beta code.

Yeah, I changed it .. and that’s what I’m thinking now. Let me explain…

After reading this post on the Meraki blog about the new phone features—which really should have been around from day one.  I was impressed, but then that wore off really quick. I found one of the features was available right now—the easier porting of an existing phone number into the Meraki system. Nice.

But wait … where are the other two?

Well, they’re stuck in “Beta” code. ……. FUCK! Really!?!?

When it comes to things with the word Beta attached, I stay away. But why? Gmail was Beta for years.  Good point. But that’s email, not a phone call.  A phone call could be important and it could be nothing.  The important part being–the need to call emergency services. Do you want your phone to reboot, lockup, or just not work? Nah, I didn’t think so either.

Maybe Meraki could have two thoughts about code, maybe you still have your traditional “beta” code, that only runs with and on devices that you know are going to be watched and reported on for issues. Then you have almost production code, meaning we’re not sure if something exists, but this code train has passed our internal QA process, which Meraki talked about here. So after passing our check box items, we allow outside folks to run it, with them knowing that is *has* passed xyz of checks, but something could be around. Then after that is done, it becomes the “upgrade available” option in your Meraki Dashboard.

With that little warm feeling available, maybe it would be OK to run Beta code in production environments.  Maybe we’ll call this idea… the the condition of being transparent. Or we could just chase the ball under the the three cups. 🙂

 

The new eye in the sky? …. maybe

Of course with all new products there is that nice and new feeling you get, the taking off the wrapper of the goodies under the tree.  Well, keep that in mind, they did get the box right, Cisco Meraki makes this an “Apple” like party.  No need to have lots of paperwork that is tossed away, of course all the little screws and misc parts are in a nice little foam sponge like thing–very handy when doing an install(they do the same with the phone and access points). Here are some box pics. Uhm. Yeah.

So on to the camera,  this thing is huge, not sure I like that, I’m comparing this to an existing Axis P3344 camera.  A little bit about that, I love Axis products, not the cheapest by any means, but damn rock solid for the last 10+ years I’ve been using them. Never had any issues and it always did exactly what I wanted it to do. Of course your mileage may very.  And here are some pics of our Axis camera.

So not too bad, the Axis is much smaller, not as deep as the Meraki camera, can I live with that? Maybe.  On to the installation… Okay .. this part was odd .. We use Belkin CAT 6 molded cables.  It was a little tough getting the cable in.  See the pics…

After cramming the cable in, not the best placement–compared to how the Axis is plugged in(see the pics). But then again, this is not something you constantly plug and unplug.  Moving on …  Now Meraki is good for doing the cloud configuration and latest firmware updates, just plug the stuff in … wait 1o or so minutes for the updates, get some coffee or RedBull, watch the green blinking light(no color rainbow like the APs??) then configure. Simple. However, this is a camera you really need to touch it more after the physical installation is done. I figure that’s expected.

So what’s odd?… the clear dome that covers the camera portion, just turn that a little, like very little and it pops right off and then you can move the camera around.  Hmmm. So it could be pointed up, up and into the sky. Well, okay. This is the Internet, use your imagination on this. 🙂

But wait a minute, how would you secure the dome?  This is what Axis did….yeah see the pics.

They have it screwed down internally and included two dome options, clear and frosted. What is shown is frosted. Which also includes a black plastic part that covers more of the camera parts. Wait, you said it’s screwed down? I have a screw driver! But is it a Torx one? All the screws are Torx heads. Hmm ok. Meraki does that too. Cool.  And, just like the Access Points and now Camera, one security screw is all you need.

Well I finally get it mounted, which that was odd–and I didn’t take any pictures– was how it mounted to the wall plate.  It includes a wall plate that you put wherever and then the camera slides onto that. Actually pretty nice. BUT the placement of the network cable and how it lines up with the part that the security screw goes into made it like I had to twist the camera and push down onto the mount plate in an odd way all at the same time. Maybe this is by design to slow people down–you know from taking the camera–which has the security videos.

The hard stuff is done, now onto the Meraki Magic, you know the part where you Merakify everything.  Yeah, I hear that’s a thing now, Merakify.  Listen, just go with it.

Everything on the dashboard is pretty much just like any other Meraki product, you claim the order/license/whatever number and add it to a Network(you create a new Camera Nework) then combine the Camera Network to an existing Network and you’re done. Simple.

Now, finally to the part that I think could just be a software update. Having finer rotation settings, you either have 180 or 0 degrees. So that’s that mattress man.

0-180

But hey you can move the camera lens around after you just pop the clear dome off, and yes– you –can.  But let me show you the issue I have—-yeah–more pics. 🙂

full-screen

Hmm, that looks like shit, well yeah it does. Our camera is mounted on a concrete column by our front elevator.  You can see people moving around, ok that’s fine, However this is what the other camera could do. ugh more pics… See how rotation comes into play.

othercamera

The other camera you could digitally rotate the picture for a better view. NICE!

And, the full screen option is pretty bad on the Meraki side, here’s why… I had to add a camera to a “video wall” and then that “wall layout” becomes full screen, notice the gray side and black bottom bars on the other picture?  That’s because the Video Wall only allows a camera to take up so much area of the wall, then the entire wall becomes full screen, you get it?!  If I had more cameras I don’t think this would be so bad. Hmm.  I would think I should be able to full screen that camera, from the dashboard list of attached cameras?

Nope… I don’t see the button, do you?

directcameraview

So far in this post  we have lots of “you can do this with something else or this with that blah blah and this sucks”.  I know. I know. Why not just put the other camera back in. etc… etc…

Well, everybody wants to believe in something, right, maybe the next software update will be: “You and me, Max… …we’re gonna give them back their heroes.”

Or maybe not…

I’ll leave you with this, you can Merakify however you like, every product launch has good and bad. Do we know all the details as to why? Nope, Should we?  Ok that’s fine.  BUT you have to have goals and those goals have to be precise.

I kinda like this quote:

You come at me, you better know I move quick...
...and when I do, I slice like a goddamn hammer.
So you're not gonna make Reuben whole?

………

The day with Bernie… or Interface Tour

After just getting back from Cisco Live 2016 in Las Vegas, the Interface Tour was a nice slowed down pace.  This has been my third time and each time is getting better.  After a few emails from Bernie Bokenyi and finally meeting him during an advisory council meeting, having Bernie around makes for a fun time. This guy has always been great to talk to and makes the event a well organized time(thanks to him and all the people involved).

If you have time check for an Interface Tour in your area. It’s a great time.  Being a smaller event makes it easier to talk to the vendors and enjoy the sessions. You don’t have to run around trying to make it to your next session, usually the next one is just a few hundred feet away.  Which makes for less walking–always a good thing!  And, the sessions have “CPE accreditation”.

Also, they have lots of great prizes when the event is over. 🙂

Norman Access Points?

Have our Access Points become ugly?  An upturn of design in our Access Points being used have shown they are becoming and starting to look nice.  Do you remember looking at the Cisco 1250, that thing was heavy and just ugly. However, it was a tank and worked very well.

Has the ugly AP lead to a design issue? Or has the ugly AP realized in order to work well, it must take some lessons in design.  If you can not see it, then it probably does not work well. Wireless is good if you can see the AP–Line of Sight.

At Mobility Field Day 1, Ventev was presenting different types of antenna design to make the hidden Access Point work! During this time I have been reading the book: The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman.  Have you ever heard the phrase Norman Door? I’m sure you have, but just didn’t realize it, the best example is: When you go to a door do I push or pull it?  aka Norman Door.

I remember unboxing the Meraki MR34 and thinking damn this looks nice. Even down to the little foam screw-tray holder.  In our office the access points are out in the open, everything was made to match our office colors–the network plates, RJ45 jacks and cables all match a color design.  Sure, it cost a little more, but it does look good.

I think more and more people are starting to notice the AP, is that becoming a sign of the network performance? I also think people are starting to be “okay” with seeing these parts of the network, that is if performance is great–and by having the AP in sight this helps.

…But only if the design of the Access Point is good, if not, an antenna can help.

Our air has turned mobile?

With Wireless Field Day, err .. Mobility Field Day a few days away. Has our view on wireless changed? Are the players in the wireless space willing and accepting of this change, or has this changed taken place without them?

I have the feeling that the big boys in the space are concerned about this change. They have placed lots of money into the wireless name and people know what it is, maybe not by the word “wireless” but you say “wi-fi” people instantly know what you’re talking about. Do they know how it works, maybe, maybe not, are do they even care?  They just know something on the mobile device changes either while at home or maybe work.

I have great hopes that Mobility Field Day will be the dented armour that we all used and was placed in the closet.  Now it’ll be brought back into the light, shined up and on for another round. I think this will be a catalyst for new things in both the wireless and the new mobility landscape.

The question still is, are people willing to tear down a bridge and start new? People always say: never burn bridges. However, if you can’t burn the bridge down to light your new path, what’s the point?

Or maybe you’re just making a bigger and better bridge…

The non Aruba customer?

Why would a person who does not use Aruba products go to Atmosphere 2016?  I asked myself that many times during my flight to and from Las Vegas. And, all roads led to the Aruba Community.  Why the hell would anyone go just for the community….yeah, good question. Let me explain a little….

Why not—is what you should be thinking. The best part is learning something, do you like wi-fi? I hope you do.  Atmosphere is a smaller group compared to other conferences, attendance was around 1500+, I never heard the exact number. Heck, anything over 1,000 people is still a large group, still lots of fun, and being smaller–easier to find people and doesn’t kill your feet having to walk all over the place.

Community is good.  I think that is what drives people to use a product, well besides it being good.  Multiple times I heard people talking about the community, the Airheads community.  I only attended a few sessions at Atmosphere, I was more interested in being the fly on the wall and finding groups of people talking before or after a session. Or roaming around and hearing people talk during breaks. One thing I thought was really cool—video games(and a great way to get people talking) Yes, a mini arcade was setup, they even had an air hockey table and pinball machines. I thought that was a nice touch, lots of people seemed to love that. Each time I made my rounds, I would see two or three people playing at each game. It was a great way to zone out after a session, yes, the sessions I did attend–mind blown. Lots of great information(I attended the Ten Talks). The Ten Talks are off-topic style “10 minute” talks, typically wireless focused, but could be on other technologies that go along with wireless.

Something I did notice was that people liked the “hot breakfast”.  I have never ate the breakfast food at a conference before, not sure what the normal run of the food is.  But, seeing people post pictures on Twitter about bacon and eggs, and seeing a tray full of bacon almost made me try it, but then again, I never really eat breakfast at breakfast time.

The vendor booth layout is much smaller, you could walk for maybe 60 seconds and cover all the vendors. I thought that was actually odd, but frankly it seemed easier to talk and interact with them(even got into a vendor VIP party). Also, you don’t get slammed with people wanting to scan your badge because you walked too close to a booth! And, the vendor VIP party was great, ran into people that we currently use products from, which made for great talks, over beer and Deep-Fried Oreos(Yes, Deep-Fried Oreos, they are almost the best thing on the planet, well, that and Tacos).

Now, the coolest thing I liked, in fact loved, was the Aruba Meridian location mapping/awareness that was done. It was fun and interesting to find directions to a session and to share your location with other people. It was fun to see random people(I purposely shared my location–via the Atmosphere Conference mobile app–and other people allowed their access to be seen) in sessions and to find friends easier–all indoors. Aruba had setup beacons all over place, looked to be roughly 10-15 feet apart covering the entire conference halls and session rooms. I was super lucky to get a handful of Aruba Beacons and a Sensor to play around with—can’t wait to get that setup.

So of course every conference must have an ending party, and this party was interesting. The typical Las Vegas style of odd things made an appearance–what looked like a ballerina inside a six-foot tall clear ball floating in pool. Hmm ok.  BUT, they did have a flash-mob style group of people jump into the pool, all dancing and singing. Which I thought was pretty funny and great to watch.  Oh and on-site hand rolled cigars–awesome!

I know you are thinking—-all this still does not answer why a non Aruba customer went to Atmosphere.  You are right it really doesn’t, I was curious to see what Aruba was all about.  It looked like people love Aruba almost in the sense that people love Apple.  I don’t see that as being a bad thing, in fact I think you’d have better products because people are loyal and willing to get and make things perfect.  Why wouldn’t you love Aruba, the community is great! Everyone was always friendly to give advice or answer just random questions.

Will I go again, Yes! Should you go if you’re an Aruba Customer—without a doubt yes! the amount of information that you gain from the Community is amazing.