Friday, April 20, 2007

My Meraki Mesh Node - Update

Meraki is a pretty cool company. I don't say that just because I am some bleeding heart liberal (even though I am) and they have a rather humanistic desire to get inexpensive Internet connectivity out to "the next billion people". Nor do I say it because they like to be polite network citizens and not go for the capitalistic jugular. But also because they have their head in the right spot and treat people decently and still make money doing it. nice. Liberals want to get rich too!

Not long after getting the free (as in "beer") Meraki node set up I purchased two new minis. I purchased these to learn about how they work and for fun and to "hack-on". I mean, heck, they were pretty inexpensive. Soon after I put these nodes up using the same SSID as Meraki's project so they would associate to it and I gave them to my neighbors. At this point Meraki contacted me. I guess they were monitoring the "Free the Net" WLAN and they sent the following note...

Hi Bruce,

We noticed that you ordered a couple of Meraki Minis and have set up your own network with the name "Free the Net". We are very psyched that you're so motivated and excited to help out with the project, and we'd love to help out. :) For starters, you definitely don't need to spend your own money, we'd be delighted to provide Minis for any of your neighbors who you can get involved. We would also really love to have the repeaters in the "Free the Net" project be in our existing network in Dashboard, so that they'll all show up on our one network map and we can see the aggregated usage numbers and all of that in one place. I totally understand that as a WiFi guy you'd probably like to play around with Dashboard some yourself -- could we offer to send you a couple more Minis to play with, and let us add your neighbors' repeaters to our existing network?

Thanks a bunch, and again, we appreciate your help with the project!

What great folks! A few days later 2 more nodes showed up and now I have two to "Play" with and two that will soon be migrated to the "Free The Net" project. I have all four up now on a new SSID and when I attach my laptop to them I get a nifty splash page from Meraki. This is of course because my new mesh of 4 (lets call them "Unchained") automatically saw another Meraki node ("Free The Net") and linked to it. as an aside, I think, if I plug one of my "Unchained" nodes into my Internet connection they will dis-associate from "Free The Net"

Now here is the real surprise, After you click the, "Take me to where I was going" link you get a new bar at the top of your browser window that scrolls advertising for local businesses. Now, I have no idea if these businesses are paying for this. I assume they are, but who knows. But think of the revenue opportunities.

The bar is very discrete. Thin and lean. the rotating text ads are very low key and I didn't even notice it for quite a few days. Also there is a request for input in a box if you click the "?" icon.

Lastly, there is a "search local" box that allows you to search for businesses and other stuff in your local area based on your Latitude and Longitude (actually, the Lat Long of the node you are associated with). Very hip.

The Result then takes you to a Google Local page. Nice.

All in all, when you add this idea and the strategy to get a percentage of money that Meraki makes off of your monetizing you own mesh hotspot, the large orders of nodes going to other cities and countries desiring a quick and easy way to get their citizens connected to the Internet and the fact that Google buys Meraki nodes to extend their mesh into peoples homes and businesses, Meraki is poised to pay off that Sequoia investment in nothing flat.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I have been "Geeked"

I got this last week but was too busy to post it. Dennis Smith of such famous blogs as Jobgeeks and wirelessjobs has "Geeked" me. Thier site has this as it's tagline, "...the Job is what gives a Geek his power. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together." (Original quote from Alec Guinness during casting interview for role as Obi-Wan Kenobi). Or not."

Here is the initial email that made me famous:

Hey Bruce - just wanted you to know that you've been geeked.

Well, sort of.

I author a few blogs - is my main blog, but I also keep up a blog called And I recently started a new weekly posting called, "JobGeek O' the Week."

Unfortunately for you : ), you've been dubbed this week's geek.

Hope the pending fame and fortune doesn't go to your head.

Take care,

Dennis Smith

Personally, I think they are selling themselves short. I fear the outcome of this potential flood of traffic as previous award winner, Jeremy, seems to have had quite the deluge. Here are quotes from their site:
I hope you fair better than last week's Geek.

I hear Jeremy has since had to buy a new server (the crash was pretty severe due to the increased traffic), and, he's had to escape to the underground blogging community (where all A-Listers eventually go so they can blog, shop, and simply walk the streets in peace - far away from the masses vying for their attention link-love).
Well, what can I say. I would like to thank all those that made this possible. My mom, My beautiful wife, Lisa, without whose support this wouldn't have been possible, my kids, my agent, Morty...

WiFi on the highway: Avis to offer 3G-to-802.11 bridge

Start-up Autonet Mobile and car rental giant Avis are partnering to offer renters a device that will provide laptop users with WiFi access on the road. You can take "on the road" literally in this case, as the device is designed to create a WiFi hot spot accessible from within

read more | digg story

So I am driving down the road. I have my Bluetooth headset "un-wired" to my Blackberry (I know, I should've gotten a Pearl but I am waiting on the iPhone). I am receiving email on that same Blackberry and answering it, of course. I have my iPod plugged into cigarette lighter and tape player with an adapter and I am selecting music to accompany my travels and sometimes watching the strange conclusion to Battlestar Galactica season 3.5 (Damn! next episode is in 2008). I have a GPS talking to me and showing me where to go for my next appointment at the latest geek-fest. And now I have a rolling 3G/WiFi hotspot allowing me complete access to the web so I can blog about the experience. Of course my Homies are riding shotgun so we start up a LAN party and start blowing each other away in CounterStrike. Wooooeeee! Maybe we should play Full Auto(tm) 2: Battlelines?

Man, I am in sensory overload and I haven't even looked up to see where I am going yet.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Meraki AirMagnet Stats

Some folks have requested more technical details on the Meraki nodes so I am uploading some AirMagnet Laptop Analyzer images for your perusal. Let me know what you think.

(Click an image to enlarge it)

Here, for example is the AirMagnet Start screen showing the 3 nodes I have up

And here we have the Infrastructure page showing how they are viewed.

But the details that most folks have been asking for is here on the Channel Page (notice the bytes and frames. Very good data speeds for the most part. Since the beacon interval is set to 500ms I have the channel scan time set to 750ms)...

...and here on the main portion of the Infrastructure page. I also had the Spectrum Analyzer integration enabled. For this image I selected the main "root" node to analyze.