WLPC – WLAN Professionals Conference was founded by an industry veteran, mentor, trainer Keith Parsons. This conference invites and attracts people from all over the world to connect, collaborate, network and share their stories, experiences, learn, teach, grow. I have been wanting to attend this conference for a while and finally, after getting my CWNE I had an opportunity to attend this conference along with a boot camp.
I was extremely excited when I registered. I kept thinking about finally meeting all the WLAN Professionals from all over the world, gain a plethora of knowledge between the boot camp/conference and make some more friends.
The day finally arrived when I flew into PHX (ATL – DEN – PHX). It was a long 6+ hours flight and mentally and physically I was already exhausted from traveling the whole week already. Yet the excitement to finally be part of the WLPC 2020 was there. The Check-in process was painless, we were all staying at the beautiful Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort. Although I was tired and it was dark I did notice that the place looked beautiful. Walk back to my room took me through two beautiful courtyards. Once I was in my room I was ready to crash, it was a decent and cozy room.
Some of the minor improvements that I can think of would be:
- Not enough electrical outlets near the bed.
- Light buttons were not in optimal spots
- The work desk was nice however the lamp had two outlets that were very difficult to use because of the design as shown below
WLPC 2020 – Boot Camp (Pen Testing)
The next morning Sunday, February, 23rd 2020 was the first day of the boot camp. I did not have my schedule just yet since I came in late and did not have time to register. The next morning, the first order of business was breakfast and coffee. It was arranged on the 3rd floor of the convention center.
I started to make my way towards the breakfast area, as I walked towards it, I did see some people whom I did not recognize. Although I consider myself to be a pretty social person, I was feeling intimidated, I did not know what to expect and how my interaction will be with some of the seasoned wireless engineers from all over. In the breakfast room, I picked a table with two people sitting there. We exchanged names and started chatting about where we are from and where do we work and so on. In a short period, we were exchanging our Twitter handles. I made two new friends @802_11ACarson and @WiFi_Randy on my first day there. I was very excited. Soon Robert and Terri Haviland joined us with few other attendees. The room was filling up and I was starting to recognize more and more attendees which were exciting.
It was almost time for everyone to start heading towards their boot camp room. Suddenly I saw Devin Akin who is a good friend and a teacher walk up towards me. We shook hands and hugged, he gave me a very nice welcome and I have to thank him for that kind gesture. We exchanged a few words, I asked him if he was teaching is Wireless Adjuster class or something else. He told me that he was teaching CWDP instead of WA (Wireless Adjuster).
After the breakfast, I grabbed my backpack and made my way to my boot camp class. There were so many excellent choices and the decision was hard but I ended up choosing, “Pen Testing” which was being taught by Phil Morgan. I have always had an interest in security so I was looking forward to attending and learning more about Wi-Fi Pen Testing. I was the first one in the class.
It was a 3-day boot camp and we learned a great deal about Wi-Fi Security and Pen Testing from the boot camp. Phil started with the ethics and responsibilities related to Pen Testing and security. We utilized Raspberry Pi in the class with a small fold-able keyboard, which was difficult to type on but it worked out (just a thought I wonder if it would make sense to have a license of VMWare that we can utilize on our laptops). I am looking forward to building the same environment in a VM and/or a physical laptop for practice and testing. We set up Kali Linux and provided Wi-Fi adapters for our labs. Our labs included using all the Kali Linux tools via CLI and practicing different scenarios. Later Phil introduced us to some tools that make the whole process easy and are automated. It was a fun class and I learned a great deal about Wi-Fi Security and Pen Testing.
WLPC 2020 – Deep Dive
When you sign up for WLPC you get to choose one deep dive, deep dives are some advanced learning of a topic. Wednesday and Thursday, approximately 2 hours each day are dedicated to the deep dives sessions. I signed up for, “Advanced Packet Analysis” with legendary Rasika Nayanajith. We received a copy of the CWAP Lab WorkBook. Rasika and Chris Avants went over a few labs. WPA3 introduction and labs were really good, however, there is much more to learn about that. All of us received some tokens for Lab access and sample capture files so I am looking forward to digging into that for additional learning.
WLPC 2020 – Conference
Wednesday was the first day of the conference. Which started with the welcome from Keith Parsons (CWNE#3) and the founder of WLPC followed by the first 55 min session. Each day there was a 55 min session and then shorter sessions on different technology-related topics.
- Wes Purvis – 802.11ax Lessons Learned
- Dermot Allen – Multicast on WLAN
- David Colleman – DFS – The Untold Story
- Peter Mackenzie – WLAN Analysis Tricks
All sessions at the WLPC 2020 were great, full of knowledge and insight into existing and upcoming/emerging technologies. It is hard to pick one or a few out of such educational sessions presented by such intelligent people but some of the favorites were DFS – The Untold Story by David Coleman, 10 Epic Fails of Location Tracking by Jussi Kiviniemi, Complexities of Wi-Fi in Higher Ed by Kristin Krakmo, Human Impact of the Wi-Fi Community by Samuel Clements, Analyzing Apple Wireless Direct by Ferney Munoz. All speakers did a great job of delivering their content. I missed out on a couple of others so I am hoping to catch up once the videos are made available.
WLPC 2020 – Vendor Presentations (Mist)
In the evening different vendors set up presentations of their products, the first one was from Mist Wireless. Wes Purvis and Bryan Ward were showcasing the Mist dashboard and features. Initially, I was sitting in back listening as well as talking to a few other peers as well. However, more I heard them showcase the features and talk about Mist more I got interested. I decided to move in the first row so I can better hear and see the presentation on the screen. I must admit every single feature they showed and discussed was incredible and impressive. From access point provisioning to troubleshooting, frame captures and their AI Engine Marvis, simply incredible. Sudheer Matta VP of Products, Mist Systems soon joined alongside Jussi and Wes to answer questions.
I asked a long list of questions and they were all answered by these gentlemen to my satisfaction. In the end, I was lucky enough to win their giveaway access points and I can not wait to receive them so that I can dive into their technology and features, there definitely will be more blog posts about Mist from me. Without a doubt as far as I can tell they have a great team and excellent product and they seem to work for the customers and their turn around time for features is impressively fast. Lastly, Ryan Adzima discussed some API’s and Ekahau integration feature which is currently being worked on. Once available in my opinion it will cut/reduce so much time during the access point provisioning and site-building within their platform.
WLPC 2020 – Social Networking
Samuel Clements discussed some great points in his 30 min “Human Impact of the Wi-Fi Community” session. As Sam mentions, “our community can be daunting to get into”, “we are a clique”. Us as Wireless/IT professionals do we want to be like that ? Change/Evolution has been a very important part of information technology which made it where it is now. He emphasized on welcoming new people into the community, make them feel comfortable as some may feel intimidated or may not be comfortable reaching out first. There are good lessons for all of us from his presentation “Human Impact of Wi-Fi Community”. IT Profession has evolved greatly over the years and social network is an intrinsic part of it. Companies have special budgets to train employees on social interaction, understanding different personalities and how to communicate/collaborate efficiently, etc. I recommend that everyone should watch Sam’s presentation again and pay very close attention, because it focuses on change/evolution/improvement within us in a positive direction.
While at the conference during breakfast, lunch, breaks, dinner, etc you may have overheard, heard and/or used the following terms while interacting with people:
- Hi, I follow you on the Twitter
- Hi, I follow you on LinkedIn
- Hi, we are connected on LinkedIn
I believe each one of these may have a different meaning to people. These can be conversation starters, ice breakers, opening up, giving respect, showing respect, looking up terms as people especially new and/or junior engineers join the conference and try to interact with others. There is nothing negative about it, instead, it is about RESPECT. Since this was my first time I met so many great people for the first time, they had never met me face to face or talked to me on the phone so this was me reaching out to them, starting a conversation. I believe when I say this to someone I am saying the following:
- I am reaching out to you
- I respect you
- I look up to you
- I value your knowledge and opinions
- You are a leader and/or a mentor
- I am honored to know you
- I have learned from you …
Keeping in mind what Sam talked about in his session about “Human Impact of the Wi-Fi Community” this should be considered as something positive and welcoming. I hope someday to be at a level where I get to receive this respect from my peers and other new engineers. While I would have loved to meet every single person and talked at the conference it was not possible due to time and the sheer number of people. However, I would like to thank some of the awesome senior engineers I met during this conference, who took their time interacting with me, shared their knowledge with me and welcomed me, Eddie Forero, Samuel Clements, David Coleman, Heather Williams, Amy Renee, Rasika Nayanajith, Stephen Cooper, Jussi Kiviniemi, Phil Morgan, Bryce Royal, Jennifer Huber, Keith Miller, Zachary Wheat, Ferney Munoz, Manon Lessard, Peter Mackenzie, Lee Badman I am sure I am missing some and my apologies for that but please know that I greatly appreciate your knowledge and time that you have shared with me and other members of the wireless community.
Lastly, I would like to thank Keith Parsons and Manon Lessard and other organizers of the WLPC2020 for such a great conference and being highly engaged. I noticed Keith and Manon constantly engaged in making sure things were going smoothly. Keith checked in with us an everyday couple of times a day during the boot camp if we needed anything. We were short on power strips and he immediately brought them over.
WLPC 2020 – Final Thoughts
I had a great time during this conference, loved all the learning, interacting and meeting other highly skilled engineers and wireless professionals. I loved the hotel and its location. Enjoyed presentations and quiz night. I would love to attend this conference again and hope I can be one of the presenters one day.