The trick … is not minding that it hurts

I feel this desire to use my laptop, almost daily. For the past 20+ years, a laptop or desktop computer has been used. Now, the trick has changed. The Apple iPad Pro 10.5 w/ Smart Keyboard is the change. I find that I'm able to focus more directly on what is being done vs. jumping around between apps that I had been doing on the laptop. Maybe this is because of how the "multi-tasking" works on the iPad, not sure, that will change with iOS 11, more apps could be shown on the screen, four apps from what I've seen(people playing around with the beta showing off things). The whole touching the screen thing has become a little odd, I guess it's no different than using the trackpad to move the pointer? When using the laptop, I had eight desktops doing different things(I used a MacBook Pro, I'm all Apple). This feel of wanting of things to be doing stuff has changed a little. I feel it's more a hunt and peck style, vs. a total consumption. I was pretty iPhone app heavy anyways. However, I never thought I would change to a device other than my laptop. When the first iPad came out, I had a little HP NetBook, I spent six months figuring out what I actually did on the NetBook, meaning this. 

I documented the steps I did, i.e. Click here, then click here. Etc… to determine if using an iPad was useable. At that time, the NetBook was just used for email and watching Netflix. So that change was easy. The apps that existed then, well, frankly not many did. No VPN, no banking or communication apps, i.e. FaceTime, Slack, Spark, you name it. And, even back then lots of website still had "mobile browsers" issues. Not all, but the ones I used did. So that made the laptop still a daily thing. Now that most apps are "cloud" connected or cross-platform in some fashion switching around between devices is easy. I still find myself wanting to switch to a laptop/desktop/mouse, well, because that feel, that need to do something that has been done for days and years is changing and that habit is hard to break. When I feel that "want" to use the laptop, I stop, I think out what I would actually do on the laptop, the process, how would I interact with it. And, I stop, I think about it, I find that using the iPad can do the trick. And, if you can get over the hurt of the trick, the breaking down of the process, I think more people would enjoy using an iPad. 

So I'll leave you with this little thought: 

"but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible."

…seven bells and all is well

In the last 90 days, the conference trips have been going. It started off with Interop ITX, Cisco DevNetCreate, Purestorage Pure//Accelerate, Kansas City VMUG Regional Conference, and lastly Cisco Live in Vegas.

Lots of travel and long nights.  I’ll be posting a little more details of each conference in the next few days. Just wanted to drop a little note as to why this blog seems a little lacking the past few weeks. Stay tuned!!!

…of travellers and merchants

Finally, after four years, I used Ekahau Site Survey & Planner. This journey started at the first Wireless LAN Professionals Conference. I first met Jussi Kiviniemi walking out of registration at WLPC, he was in the lobby area. I noticed his badge/name tag had that funny word. At the time I had barely heard of it, nor how to even pronounce it. He mentioned the name, I said “oh yeah, that’s it”, he smiled and I walked away.  The last evening of the conference was a training session for the software, I wasn’t planning on staying for that, had to catch a plane. But I was around long enough to have the phrase “Hello, Mr. Anderson.” forever burned into my mind. During the training session, that phrase was mentioned several times.  Not really sure why that was being said, but that’s what I remember.

Over the past few years, I’ve watched people design with the software. And, what issues they have with it and how responsive support is. Everybody seems to love it. I even hung around longer during other training sessions at WLPC to try and pickup more about it. Just a little bit here and there.

So this brings us to today, right now. Well, I downloaded the trial version.  Hmm. OK, it has some limitations.  But, during that time I just clicked around and figured out what each button does, where to find things and how to “draw” with it.

I have a floor plate of my office, nothing fancy just a PNG image. If you have the CAD file for your floor or building. You can important that, and if the walls are put in and other stuff that goes into a CAD file, the software will know that and design correctly, vs. you having to place walls. So this is what I started with after placing some Access Points.

IMG_3036

Hmm, wow … green is good … coverage is great. HA … well, yeah. But, lets do some more with it.

After adding some attenuation areas, elevator areas, brick walls, drywalls, glass walls. More walls, and lots of walls. I ended up with this…

IMG_3040

Of course this is not even close to being done. I still need to adjust heights of some walls–we have walls that are six and nine feet tall used for dividers. Most of our office is open with 11+ foot ceilings. However, based on what WiFi Explorer shows me. I would say so far this design is pretty accurate—take that with a grain of salt, because much more goes into wireless design than an hour or so of playing around.

Now, there is a reason for Ekahau Certified Survey Engineer (ECSE), this software is pretty intense. Lots of little knobs and things to “tweak”.  To get it right, or close to perfect as possible.

So, yeah, I’m kind of happy about this. I can see why people love this software and why they spend hours with it. Now the only downside is—I should have used this software sooner.

“One App to rule them all, One App to find them…”

So, yeah, that sounds like a good title to this post.  I was thinking, I should reboot the UBNT Security Gateway. I wonder if the iOS app can do that?  And, guess what, yes—it can.  I went to the app, saw my online Cloud Keys…

IMG_3044

I selected the site with the Device I wanted to restart, selected the Device(the screen shot of the devices was taken after I restarted it–that’s why it shows disconnected). You scroll down to the bottom, you’ll see an Actions section and you select “Restart”. Simple.

During the restart time, you’ll see the following:

IMG_3041

The restart didn’t take long and everything showed green in the app within a minute or so. I haven’t played too much with the app, other than just viewing some basic info. I think Scott McDermott did a full install, update and configure using only the App.  And, from what I see and hear regarding the App, it looks to be a really solid way of managing your UBNT devices.

Game over man, game over!

So I’m at work, doing that work stuff and I get a message:

“I haven’t been able to join games…”

That’s the abridged version of what I actually got, basically the Xbox One’s in the office had been showing a Moderate NAT setting.  And, yes, we have a couple of Xbox One’s in our office, so what, don’t you? And this Moderate NAT setting was causing some game party and chat issues. Hmm.

Now, here’s my journey of enabling UPnP support on the UBNT USG-Pro4 and my thoughts behind this. I thought I would need to create the dreaded config.gateway.json file. Not a big fan of this. As the current syntax can cause some issues if you do not get it perfect. Yes, this is a little down part on the UBNT’s side. However, I think they know about this issue and are working hard to make this easier and better for people to configure. So here’s what I had to do and how I did it.

Now I found there is another file, one called config.properties and in this file you have some settings that are set for enabled or disabled. And, this file is much easier to create and modify. Cool.

So I used WinSCP to connect to the Cloud Key, logged in with the username/password you created when you setup the Cloud Key. And then browsed to the location of my “Site“.

Finding the Site consists of two parts, finding the “base” location of where files are stored, this is different depending on what Operating System the Controller is running on. Then finding the site. Once you have the location, just create a text file called: config.properties and add the following line: config.igd.enabled=true

Save and Done.

OK, now you need to Provision the USG. This part was a little confusing as I was looking for a “re-provision” button to click. I didn’t see one. So I created a port forward on the USG, which appeared to provision the USG again, i.e. update with new settings. Hmm. For some reason that appeared to not work? Or I just didn’t wait long enough for settings to be effected. So I just told the USG to reboot.  And, that worked.

So my thoughts on this process are, it was simple–yes. It could be better–very better! Why are these settings not in the Controller GUI? I understand for the settings that have a little more than Enabled or Disabled option to not be shown(for now). But, for settings that are a yes or no, those should all be listed. So this wasn’t a complete game over, but I had to reload my weapon.

You have the Key and the Cloud!

One of things that I was really curious about and really like about UBNT, is the Cloud Key.

So I asked around to a couple of folks that have UBNT, they mostly have Access Points, and asked how they are managed. I got two different responses:

  1. I only have two APs, so I run the “Controller” on my laptop.
  2. I run the “Controller” in Docker on my Synology.

Options. You have options! Now, this is cool. The Controller software is what you’ll need to manage, configure and update the UniFi line of products(and I hear it works for some of their other stuff too). Now this Controller piece can be installed on Mac, Windows and Debian/Ubuntu Linux.  And all of those options can be virtualize with whatever flavor of hypervisor you like. Nice.

BUT, with Cloud Key, you just plug the little PoE unit in, wait a few seconds for it to boot and you’re pretty much done, well maybe not just yet. I’ll explain…

It does have a mini-USB port for external power(for use with non-PoE switches) and has a micro-SD slot. I’m a huge fan of anything PoE, lights, temperature sensors, you name it, so this thing hit the spot!

Setup is pretty quick and easy, here’s what I did, USGPro4 connected to the Switch and the Cloud Key is connected to the Switch. I had powered on the USG and Switch prior to connecting the Cloud Key. I had the USGPro4 powered on for 10+ minutes prior to connecting the WAN link–for some reason, on the WAN side, it didn’t pull DHCP until I rebooted. Odd? There was a firmware update for the USG–maybe that resolve the issue, not sure? I need to check that again.

So on to the setup. I use Chrome and UBNT has a plugin for seeing devices and “Adopting” them. Just visit unifi.ubnt.com create your account and login. You’ll then be prompted to install the Plugin and that part done. Simple. Easy. Refreshing.

IMG_2774

You’ll then see the Cloud Key, select the “Adopt” option. (yes, I know these images are blurry and hard to read–I took pictures of the screen I was using for the setup)

Oh wait, an update is available, yeah do it!

And, it reboots…

IMG_2780

Once this process is done and everything is updated you’ll notice a few changes on the Cloud Key. First, the white light should now be Blue, and that’s what you want, it means Adoption is correctly done and everything is working well.

And, this part is almost done. Login in via unifi.ubnt.com, you’ll see the Cloud Key listed, you’ll click on it and see the following:

IMG_2787

Make sure “Launch using Cloud” is selected, you have two other options and one is using your own domain. That part seems interesting, maybe a “custom branding” option is down the road, you know, for your own color scheme on the interface along with a custom logo??

And, we are done, that was simple, the Controller software is on the Cloud Key. Even though it’s local, on your network, everything can be accessed remotely. Nice.

Now, the only thing I’d like to know is—can multiple Keys be used to form a High Availability setup?

Wait, what if I don’t want to run the Cloud Key or have the Controller running someplace? Then you need Unifi Elite. This is a hosted Controller along with phone support and extended device warranties.

A simple little network. Part 2

Last we left with the Open Mesh equipment it was being shipped to the final destination. The hardware was shipped to my office first so I could check it out. I really wanted to see what the switches looked like. I heard they had a little fan and I wanted to know how loud that was. Really not bad, if your office is pretty quiet you can hear it, nothing too loud or annoying. But, I think if you have it sitting on your desk everyday, you’ll get tired of hearing it .

The S8 is actually 13 physical ports. One is a console port–which I didn’t even bother connecting to or figuring out how to connect to it–this is a cloud managed switch. You have eight switch ports and two “uplink” ports–copper or SFP.  I like having dedicated copper uplinks as I didn’t have to buy SFP’s to link them together. A little money saved on that.

Switch-OpenMesh

The Open Mesh interface is really simple and to the point. Not bad, but I wish you could see the devices on each switch port under the Clients page. Otherwise you have to view the switch, then select the port, which has a drop down, then it brings up a little dialog box showing what’s connected. See the image below…

SwitchPortDevice

And here is the Access Point page, clean and simple. One thing good about the Open Mesh dashboard, it’s clean and minimal, easy to find settings and features/functions.

As for the what is shown on the Clients page, any device that is connected on an Access Point. See the image below…

Clients

Overall I was pretty impressed with how easy it was to setup. I did notice something odd, for a few hours it was showing one switch as not “checked in” and showing offline. Even, though devices were connected to it and functioning fine. I figured it was a delay someplace, never figured out what that was. But did not cause any issues with management of the switch.

One thing we did notice was performance, I had enabled 802.11r, which that feature was shown as being in “beta”. And, with that enabled performance on the wireless was only around 20Mbps. Once we disabled that, Speed Test and Fast.com showed around 100Mbps(about the speed of the WAN link). Keep in mind doing a WAN speed test is highly debatable showing wireless performance. However, for our reasons it was fine.

Another nice feature is how Open Mesh brands the hardware and CloudTrax — this is the actual interface that you use to setup, update and configure the Open Mesh hardware. They have a nice feature that you can use your own branding, i.e. logo on the interface and hardware.

Now, the missing piece is some type of router/gateway/firewall to the Open Mesh gear. Also, if they can keep the interface on CloudTrax nice and minimal, while adding more features. I think they might be on to something here as for being considered a better option for the market. Not sure if they plan on being in the Enterprise space. But, right now they seem to be doing well in the SMB arena.