Category Archives: Networking

Downloading the newest Wi-Fi protocols: 802.11ax and 802.11ay explained

Wi-Fi connects the world together, but it's still quite complicated.

Enlarge / Wi-Fi connects the world together, but it’s still quite complicated. (credit: Aurich Lawson)

Look, Wi-Fi still kind of sucks. And marketing excesses aside, its worst problems all revolve around airtime distribution among multiple devices.

Unlike LTE (the protocol cellular data uses), 802.11 WI-Fi is a protocol with no central management, which leaves all nearby devices duking it out for airtime like angry, unsupervised toddlers. There’s only so much you can do to fix this problem without radically overhauling and replacing 802.11 itself—but as new 802.11 protocols emerge, they do their best.

A brief overview of the alphabet soup

If you don’t deal with this stuff for a living, it’s easy to get lost in all the different Wi-Fi protocols in the ether today. New additions have been released in sort of alphabetical order, but some are backwards-compatible and some aren’t. Some are “mainstream” and have broad consumer device support, and some are offshoot technologies rarely to be seen in anything you can buy at a big box store. It’s kind of a mess.

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The next version of HTTP won’t be using TCP

The next version of HTTP won’t be using TCP

Enlarge (credit: Andy Maguire / Flickr)

The next version of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP)—the network protocol that defines how browsers talk to Web servers—is going to make a major break from the versions in use today.

Today’s HTTP (versions 1.0, 1.1, and 2) are all layered on top of TCP (Transmission Control Protocol). TCP, defined as part of the core set of IP (Internet Protocol) layers, provides reliable, ordered, and error-checked delivery of data over an IP network. “Reliable” means that if some data goes missing during transfer (due to a hardware failure, congestion, or a timeout), the receiving end can detect this and demand that the sending end re-send the missing data; “ordered” means that data is received in the order that it was transmitted in; “error-checked” means that any corruption during transmission can be detected.

These are all desirable properties and necessary for a protocol such as HTTP, but TCP is designed as a kind of one-size-fits-all solution, suitable for any application that needs this kind of reliability. It isn’t particularly tuned for the kinds of scenarios that HTTP is used for. TCP requires a number of round trips between client and server to establish a connection, for example; using SSL over TCP requires subsequent round trips to establish the encrypted connection. A protocol purpose-built for HTTP could combine these negotiations and reduce the number of round trips, thereby improving network latency.

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Wi-Fi branding to get a lot simpler with upcoming “Wi-Fi 6”

Article intro image

Enlarge / The logos that the Wi-Fi Alliance wants software to use to show the connection speed/type. (credit: Wi-Fi Alliance)

The Wi-Fi Alliance, the trade group that develops and promotes wireless networking standards, is attempting to make Wi-Fi naming a bit simpler with the introduction of 802.11ax next year.

The plan is to brand the new specification as “Wi-Fi 6,” rebrand 802.11ac as “Wi-Fi 5,” and 802.11n as “Wi-Fi 4,” making it easy to tell at a glance which standard is newer and, hence, faster.

The current naming uses IEEE’s terminology. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers oversees development of a wide range of electrical and electronic standards. The standards are organized into groups; IEEE 802 covers all local area network standards. 802.11 specifically covers Wireless LAN.

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Hot Chips 2018: Going Deep on NVSwitch Live Blog (8:45am PT, 3:45pm UTC)

The first talk on Day 2 of Hot Chips is from NVIDIA, going into more detail about how the NVSwitch works with a lot more detail than from previous talks. Also its implementation within DGX-2 is explored.

Quantum entanglement on demand could lead to a super-secure internet

If you're going to create virtually unbreakable quantum networks, you need to create quantum entanglement so that particles, and thus pieces of data, are intertwined at long distances. There hasn't been a reliable way to make that happen, however, u…

Data-stealing router malware bypasses web encryption

A recently discovered strain of router malware appears to be much worse than thought. Cisco Talos has learned that VPNFilter can not only render devices unusable, but can bypass the SSL encryption you often see on the web. A module in the malware i…

This mesh WiFi router can track motion to protect your family

Back at CEATEC in October, I came across Origin Wireless and its clever algorithm that can turn any WiFi mesh network into a simple home security plus well-being monitoring system, and that's without using cameras nor wearables — just plug and…

Google WiFi now shows which devices are struggling to connect

Run a large-enough WiFi network and there's bound to be that one device that can't quite hold on to a fast connection, like the tablet in your bedroom or a laptop in the backyard. But how do you quantify that flaky connection? Google can help. It's d…

The People to Connect with At Each Stage in Your Career

Networking is important to finding a job, a mentor, and moving forward in your career, but depending on where you are on the career ladder, some connections are more helpful than others. Here are the people who will help you most at each stage of your career.

These relationships take a lot of energy and time cultivate and maintain, so focus on the right ones for where you’re at, and where you want to go next, in your career. Connecting with only upper management or extremely experienced people won’t always be the most helpful.

  • Just Starting Out: When you’re looking for your first job, or first transition to a new job, reach out to your family and alumni. Both are groups that you already have a connection with, which helps when you haven’t been working long enough to build a strong network.
  • Three to Five Years In: Look to a former manager for a mentor or solid referral as you make the jump up the career ladder to other opportunities. If you’re interested in taking on a junior-management role, a recruiter can help you find the right position.
  • Mid-Career: Former coworkers who are now at other companies are a strong source of referrals when you want to move jobs, or even switch careers.
  • Senior Level: If you want to find open senior level roles, keep in touch with people you’ve managed before and been a great boss to. They’re the ones who can vouch for you and let you know when senior positions open up at their companies.

While the above list focuses on the people who can help you most, remember that professional relationships are a two-way street. None of these people will help you if you only reach out in a time of need, so build these relationships before you need them.

These Are The Most Important People In Your Network At Each Stage Of Your Career | Fast Company

Image from fruitnet.

Think of Networking as Joint Progress, Not Using Someone to Get Ahead

Think of Networking as Joint Progress, Not Using Someone to Get Ahead

The idea of networking sometimes feels sleazy, and in can be if you’re doing it wrong. If you think networking is about using someone to get ahead, you’re thinking about it all wrong. It’s about building a community of like-minded friends, so you can make progress together.

Years ago, I took a writing class and our teacher discussed the importance of building relationships. He explained something he noticed from watching students succeed over the years:

When one of them succeeded, everyone in the group succeeded. So it’s not about using someone; it’s about making progress and moving ahead together.

In other words, it’s about helping each other move forward. When you move forward, so do the people around you, and, ideally, vice versa. As our own Alan Henry put it, “a ‘professional network’ is just code for ‘friends who are willing to help each other professionally.’”

If you have a natural aversion to networking, it may help to reframe the way you think about it in these terms. We’ve also written a guide on how to do this, so check it out here.

Photo by Kai Hendry.