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Finding Your Wavelength in Wireless: Learning the Ropes

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Last week we touched on some of the key steps to take to get familiar with the WLAN industry. This week is going to be about taking a closer look at the ship and equipment (so to speak). The various pieces of hardware and how it can be used in different scenarios to help the WLAN ship sail. Jamie covers some of the different hardware equipment you will encounter as you engineer a wireless network.

Have you watched the video yet? Good. Here's why…

The blog part is to help you find what you really enjoy and are passionate about in Wireless/WLAN. To ask the questions you need to answer, give you direction, and to also give you a sense of some areas that are going to be harder than others.

To learn the ropes of hardware and its relevant implementation I highly suggest shadowing someone or attending a hands-on experience.  A few reasons for this:

  • Expertise
  • Retention
  • Foundation

I'll start with the last and go up the list.

Foundation

Although the network is based off of RF you still require hardware to broadcast that signal. Having an above average understanding of the hardware, and how it works together, will give you the basis you need to be able to understand all the other concepts within WLAN. For example, understanding Access Points (AP) and their transmitting (TX) capabilities give you the ability to tell that you reaaaally don't need 100 AP's to a single building floor, and in all likelihood they're blocking each other's signals, rather than amplifying them.

Retention

'An ancient Chinese proverb says: "I hear and I forget, I see and remember, I do and I understand", clearlyindicating that the idea of active learning producing understanding is not a new concept. Balleck (2006) reported that "the use of active learning in the form of simulations, student presentations, and problem-solving situationswill better prepare students to understand"'

This fantastic excerpt came from an article written by Carmen Perez Sabater, "Active Learning to improve long-term knowledge retention" (link here) Some people are able to learn and recite information, but they don't retain it and they can't apply it to real world scenarios. Whereas you're going to be asked to not only apply what you've learned, but to do so in way that demonstrates your expertise. Starting off by shadowing someone, or attending a hands-on class, will save you time and money in the long-run because you'll be able to understand and retain the concepts that much quicker.

Expertise

The person that you're shadowing has been doing it longer than you have. Ego might say, "yes, but is he better than I am?" To which I would reply, "Maybe, but he has an edge you don't. Expertise and assessment." The person that you're shadowing, or even have mentoring you, can tell you the most efficient way to deploy a small-business office because they've done it several hundred times over. Or maybe they're a diagnostics expert and can tell you what to look to troubleshoot connectivity problems with an outside antennae. Having that expertise on your side to assess a situation and give you recommendations is a value that can't be measured.

What part of hardware do you find interesting?  Comment below and let's see if we can't connect the dots!