Monday, 19 November 2012

Wireless Field Day 3 Wrap-Up & Pen-Testing

Update: After today's events, I feel I have to state that Cisco did not promise nor did they provide me with US$1.2B in exchange for positive words about meraki!

Recently (well recent when I started this post 8 weeks back!) I returned from Wireless Field Day (WFD) 3, based out of San Jose, California. Firstly a quick re-cap for those not familiar. Wireless Field Day is an event unlike any other in the wireless community. It brings together wireless vendors, social media-savvy folk (delegates) and the wider wireless community. Wireless Field Day, under the umbrella of Tech Field Day, is organized by Steven Foskett with the wireless spin-off originally conceived by Jennifer Huber.

Of the vendors that presented at WFD3, I have worked with Cisco, Metageek and Omnipeek. From a hands-on perspective, the other vendors were new to me. Consequently blog posts concerning these other vendors will come once I have had a chance to take a deep dive into their doco and play with their hardware, for those vendors that supplied it. If you want to check out the vendor presentation videos and the other delegates’ thoughts on the event take a look at the Wireless Field Day 3 page.

In the meantime, I thought I would throw up a review of some vendor SWAG… Specifically, the pens!


First up we have the Ruckus-provided orange number. This style of pen is fairly standard when it comes to vendor SWAG. Whilst this pen does the job when it comes to putting ink-to-paper, there is nothing particularly special about it. If you look closely you can see inflictions present in the ‘R’, ‘u’, ‘k’ and ‘s’ – these take away from the impact that ‘Ruckus’ may otherwise have on the page. I suspect this comes down to a low grade of ball-bearing used in the pen.

Next up, we have the WildPackets pen. This little number features all of your standard pen features – the ability to be held, the ability to inpart ink onto the page and finally the ability to actually hold a reservoir of ink. Whilst also being made from a semi-opaque plastic, this pen features a rubber ‘comfort grip’.  This feature aids in your ‘comfort’ whilst ‘gripping’ the pen – truly revolutionary stuff and second only to Gillette adding the totally-not-needed fifth blade to oneof their razors! The pen also outputs blue ink. Now I really want to make this clear – I am not penist in any way however I do favour blue ink over black. It just looks nicer on the page. That and the comfort grip put it ahead of the Ruckus number.

Last up we have the meraki pen. This handsome looking pen sports an outer casing made from some sort of metallic material – quite possibly metal. Enough with the pens external aesthetics – how does it look when the pen hits the paper. Pretty damn great! In addition to the fantastic text-formation, it has the smoothest writing motion of all the pens – a clear winner! I have over-looked the ink colour due to the superb performance.

Whilst the meraki pen is undoubtedly the winner of the three it does not trump my existing pen, although comes in a close second.  Whilst meraki did provide the notepad for the pen-test, I have no reason to believe that this improved the pens performance. Many in the pen-testing community have suggested a special coating may exist on the paper to account for the fantastic performance – this is pure speculation with absolutely nothing to back the claim up.

The meraki will work nicely for me, providing pen-redundancy in case of primary-pen failure… unless the WAN link is down ;). Oh yes, I went there! At this stage, I believe this isn’t a hitless fail-over and would involve me tossing my primary pen in the bin and reaching into my bag to grab the meraki. I am considering taping the two pens together to provide true HA!

As for future vendor SWAG, I would like to see a quill and ink provided, just for something a little different – back to the old school!

Some have suggested that declaring meraki the pen performance winner when it was only compared with two other vendors’ pens is unfair… and they’re probably right. But hey, if it works for Juniper ;).

If you’ve made it this far, you probably want the last 5 minutes of your life back! Unfortunately I can’t help you with that; I can however offer up some thoughts on Wildpackets Omnipeek in my next post!