Articles Worth Reading: 01/14/2011

Here are a collection of articles from the past week that I have found useful, interesting, or enlightening. As always, for a complete list of articles check out my shared article feed from Google Reader.

This week articles focus on news from the National Retail Federation (NRF) show,  advice for establishing corporate culture and creativity for entrepreneurs, some older Wi-Fi articles I just found, and more news flowing out of CES (particularly around smart meters, sensors, and the connected home).

Because of the diversity of articles (so many are must-reads and can't be left out), I've decided to start splitting this weekly recap into sections for easier digestion. Feel free to skip to the sections that interest you, at your leisure. After all, not everyone has the same interests as I do (whoda thunk)! 

Without delay, here they are...

General Wi-Fi Related Articles

Mathias On Mobility: The Wireless LAN Architecture Question -- InformationWeek
"most WLAN suppliers today offer controllers of one form or another. But there is, in fact, a difference between the controller as box and the controller as function"
A must read for wireless engineers to understand the fundamental design choices they face when evaluating solutions and vendors!

How to approach wireless LAN architectures
"Networking professionals need to understand the two paths in wireless networking: controller-centric approach, and a decentralized -- also known as controller-less or smart AP -- approach."
Aerohive Blog » Airtime Unfairness (aka SLA)

"If you can control the airtime, then you can manipulate it based on policy, and that’s always a good thing."
Step 1 - control airtime. Step 2 - policy-based airtime control is even better. Aerohive is developing quite a suite of advanced wireless controls, while keeping them simple with SLA, Client Health Score, and TeacherView. I'll have more to come on this as I get my hands on some of their equipment!

"Let me rephrase the dilemma. Is using 100 mW power on a radio with 3 dBi antenna the same as using 20 mW power on a radio with 10 dBi antenna? In both cases you have the same EIRP – 200 mW (I have disregarded the loss from the cables and connectors for the sake of better understanding. I am also using arbitrary numbers.)
Short answer? NO!"
Gregor does a great job re-enforcing the fundamentals with this article on the importance of Link Budget Calculations and antenna selection! Great job!

"Here's a quick tour of the evolution of MetaGeek products, showing the progression from Wi-Spy Viewer 1.0 to Chanalyzer Pro, and how they have led the whole industry forward over the past five years."
MetaGeek has innovated with their Wi-Spy product line, and I'll be writing about their product soon.

"Enhanced mobile infrastructure is often a requirement for major events ranging from the Olympics or World Cup to concerts and festivals. The nature of these events presents specific challenges such as massive crowds, the temporary nature of the event, and the short timeframe allowed for deployment."
This article focuses on cellular challenges at large events, but is very applicable to Wi-Fi as well.

"WiFi doesn't 'stand for' wireless fidelity. It's a pun on 'Hi-Fi' and 'wireless fidelity' doesn't mean anything."
An oldie but a goodie! I like to reference this article anytime media reports on "wireless fidelity". It's so annoying!

"A survey of 250 IT managers finds that 9 out of 10 are planning this year to dramatically expand the number of mobile applications deployed at their companies."
Will your Wi-Fi network be ready for the onslaught of mobile devices? Prepare now, or face the consequences!

Retail Industry Specific Wi-Fi Articles

National Retail Federation - National Retail Federation Announces Release of Second Version of Mobile Blueprint
"Mobile adoption in retail is moving rapidly, ABI Research reports that through December 2010 mobile commerce excluding travel will have grown 143 percent from $1.4 billion in 2009 to $3.4 billion in 2010"
This is a *MUST* read if you support Wi-Fi in the retail industry.

“Is Your Brand Ready to Engage Mobile Consumers?” Asks ABI Research | Press Release | ABI Research
"mounting evidence points to a broadening awareness that mobile will soon become a necessary way to engage with customers and prospects."
"Big changes are in store (pun intended). The biggest trends in business today – mobile, social, relevance – are poised to change the in-store shopping experience dramatically."
"Executives from Macy’s, Food Lion and Tesco acknowledged the importance of WiFi availability in brick-and-mortar stores"
Cisco Blog » Blog Archive » Speed
"Wireless enables huge increases in business velocity. When information comes to you versus you going to where it is, you save enormous amounts of time. Saving time is the same as increasing speed."
The retail organization that I work for has a motto: "Speed is Life". Almost always, design trade-offs must be made between an ideal solution and one which simply meets the immediate objectives. As an engineer, understanding this fact is important to achieving success.

"when asked in a recent Cisco-commissioned survey about their sentiments on PCI compliance, organizations were largely positive and on board with PCI."
Do your customers or your organization need guidance on PCI regulations? Look for some advice coming from Revolution Wi-Fi and CWNP soon!

"Bringing e-commerce shopping features inside bricks-and-mortar stores could increase revenues for retailers, suggests a report released this week by Cisco Systems Inc."
"It's understandable that retail companies are excited by interactive displays and other cool new technologies, because they feel that shopping in a store has to be as easy and satisfying as shopping online."
Sensor Networks & Smart-Home Articles
The more I read about sensor networks, I more that I am left with the vision that both Wi-Fi and Zigbee will be used as complementary technologies to achieve the connected home as well as smart buildings. Zigbee for sensor metrics and control throughout the home, and Wi-Fi for the 'central brains' to achieve broader integration with the Internet for information reporting, dissemination, and remote control. Imagine the synergies! » Connected TVs at CES
"Industry watchers and manufacturers estimate that nearly two-thirds of households in the United States now have a flat-screen set. This year manufacturers want to convince people that their new sets are already obsolete"
I'm happy using my Roku player with any old TV. Why would I spend more money on a connected TV when I can get a low-cost Roku for my existing flat-panel?

"Cisco, General Electric, and Xerox shared the stage this morning at CES, to discuss smart metering, green technology and the connected home."
"The details of connectivity and interoperability are scarce but we do know that the appliances support both WiFi and ZigBee connectivity in order to communicate with each other, your in-home smart meter, and with smartphones when outside of the home."
"Other brands may view networked fridges as the key to going green, but it seems Samsung is more interested in letting users access Pandora or tweet while grabbing a snack."
I think some engineers at Samsung got too excited about connected appliances and went haywire. Who wants to tweet or post on Facebook from their refrigerator? Seriously?!

Entrepreneurial Articles

"If you’re serious about creating a great corporate culture, here are the five areas in which you need to assess your company"
6 Tips for Building a More Creative Company | MarketingProfs Daily Fix Blog
"The lack of creativity at your office isn’t due to “not enough creative people,” but a company culture that resists change. This is what stifles remarkable ideas."
The Most Influential Consumers Online are on Twitter « Brian Solis Brian Solis
"Twitter is a human seismograph and it represents a transformative channel where everyday people possess the ability to affect actions."
"As an entrepreneur, your personal integrity is critical for getting and keeping the support of investors and team members, and your company’s integrity is critical for getting and keeping customers and vendors. But in a practical sense, what does that really mean?"

Rachel Botsman: The case for collaborative consumption | Video on
"At TEDxSydney, Rachel Botsman says we're 'wired to share'"
Sheryl Sandberg: Why we have too few women leaders | Video on
"Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg looks at why a smaller percentage of women than men reach the top of their professions -- and offers 3 powerful pieces of advice to women aiming for the C-suite."
Unfortunately, I've tended to notice many of these self-defeating traits among women that I know who are really motivated. Whatever the cause, we need more women in executive and influential positions.

... and 'NO', I'm not going to mention the Verizon iPhone on purpose!

And of course, your comic for the week!

Cheers (and happy reading)!