Determining signal strength of wireless networks

Discussion in 'Apple' started by Dave Fritzinger, Mar 19, 2008.

  1. First, sorry about the crosspost, but I couldn't remember in which
    group I had seen this. Someone had asked how to scan wireless networks
    to see signal strength and whether the network was locked or not, and
    no one had a good answer, IIRC. It turns out that Leopard has a way to
    do this, built in, but that Apple, in their wisdom, doesn't make it
    obvious. First, make sure that you have the Airport icon on your
    menubar. Then, while holding down the option key, click on the airport
    icon in the menubar. You will see all kinds of information about the
    network you are connected to, and the names of other networks.
    However, if you mouse over the names of the other networks with the
    option key still held down, you will, after a second or two, see the
    signal strength of the other network, and, if it is protected, what
    kind of protection it has. Signal strength numbers will be negative,
    with larger negative numbers meaning a weaker signal (max strength is
    0).

    This and a whole bunch of other tips can be found in the latest issue
    of MacWorld, which I just got yesterday (In Hawaii, we usually get
    magazines at least a couple of weeks later than on the Mainland).
     
    Dave Fritzinger, Mar 19, 2008
    #1
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  2. Dave Fritzinger

    Jim Guest

    ....but that assumes you only have one access point. In my case, your
    method shows the one connection that I am currently using, but nothing
    about the other airports around the house that are on the same network
    (I have 3). If you really want to see what's out there (at your
    neighbours house too), then you need an application like iStumbler.
     
    Jim, Mar 19, 2008
    #2
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  3. Or you could just use an XP box and click on 'Scan for available
    wireless netwiorks and get all that information with one click. 8)
     
    Mayor of R'lyeh, Mar 19, 2008
    #3
  4. Dave Fritzinger

    Alan Baker Guest

    Please, Clyde: don't point to the absolute mess that is Windows' various
    networking dialogs and windows.

    --
    Alan Baker
    Vancouver, British Columbia
    "If you raise the ceiling four feet, move the fireplace from that wall
    to that wall, you'll still only get the full stereophonic effect if you
    sit in the bottom of that cupboard."
     
    Alan Baker, Mar 19, 2008
    #4
  5. Dave Fritzinger

    Alan Baker Guest

    To find the problems with it: yeah....

    --
    Alan Baker
    Vancouver, British Columbia
    "If you raise the ceiling four feet, move the fireplace from that wall
    to that wall, you'll still only get the full stereophonic effect if you
    sit in the bottom of that cupboard."
     
    Alan Baker, Mar 19, 2008
    #5
  6. Dave Fritzinger

    billy Guest

    MacStumbler is also useful, in that it displays a list of everything
    it has seen and their maximum signal strengths. iStumbler graphs
    signal strength over time. I usually run them both when I'm surveying
    wifi activity.

    Then, there is a utility named WiFind that adds somewhat the same
    things to the menu-bar wifi item as OS 10.5, but it was so buggy
    I gave up on it. It frequently didn't work, and it also really
    slowed down the display appearing after clicking on the menu.

    Billy Y..
     
    billy, Mar 19, 2008
    #6
  7. Dave Fritzinger

    Timberwoof Guest

    Yeah. I was once in charge of IT at a start-up. Twelve different
    executives had twelve different notebooks, and each one had its own set
    of drivers and crap to make WiFi work under whichever version of Windows
    was that exec's favorite. It was a support nightmare. I held an
    afternoon workshop where I invited everyone in the company who needed
    wireless access to sit and step by step set it up. The Mac people were
    in and out in a few minutes; the Windows people took most of the
    afternoon. Even if I could get people to standardize on just one version
    of Windows to run on just one type of notebook, it would still present a
    lot of support problems because all the fiddly bits are so deeply buried
    in windows with obscure paths to get to them.

    And I still prefer OS X's Location Manager over ... what does XP have
    for that?
     
    Timberwoof, Mar 19, 2008
    #7
  8. Dave Fritzinger

    Bob Harris Guest

    <
    I like "Airport Radar" widget, and I like "AP Grapher"

    Bob Harris
     
    Bob Harris, Mar 19, 2008
    #8
  9. Dave Fritzinger

    Alan Baker Guest

    Apple Remote Desktop, or push out a preference to run a script that
    automatically picks it up from a file server the next time they log on
    to the network.
    --
    Alan Baker
    Vancouver, British Columbia
    "If you raise the ceiling four feet, move the fireplace from that wall
    to that wall, you'll still only get the full stereophonic effect if you
    sit in the bottom of that cupboard."
     
    Alan Baker, Mar 20, 2008
    #9
  10. Dave Fritzinger

    Alan Baker Guest

    How about by having a /Network/Installers directory that is actually an
    NFS mount determined by the local directory master?

    --
    Alan Baker
    Vancouver, British Columbia
    "If you raise the ceiling four feet, move the fireplace from that wall
    to that wall, you'll still only get the full stereophonic effect if you
    sit in the bottom of that cupboard."
     
    Alan Baker, Mar 20, 2008
    #10
  11. Dave Fritzinger

    PawStephan Guest

    PawStephan, Mar 20, 2008
    #11
  12. Dave Fritzinger

    Alan Baker Guest

    There's tons of good information on Apple's website, but basically, you
    can use NetInfo (or the system that's replaced it in Leopard) to tell a
    Mac from where it is getting user authentication and that it should
    setup automounts to various resources from servers on the network. The
    Open Directory setup can be used to manage preferences for users...

    ....and you can integrate it all with Active Directory for cross-platform
    compatibility.

    One of my clients has an xServe which is used by the Communications and
    Marketing department to provide file service for their files as well as
    to host the network home folders for all the designers, etc., but the
    authentication and information about whose home folders are found where
    is actually coming from the Active Directory PDC that provides that
    information to the rest of the company's PCs.

    It's been a while since I dl'd the relevant documentation, but if you
    want I can probably dig up the URL.

    --
    Alan Baker
    Vancouver, British Columbia
    "If you raise the ceiling four feet, move the fireplace from that wall
    to that wall, you'll still only get the full stereophonic effect if you
    sit in the bottom of that cupboard."
     
    Alan Baker, Mar 20, 2008
    #12
  13. Dave Fritzinger

    Alan Baker Guest

    There's tons of good information on Apple's website, but basically, you
    can use NetInfo (or the system that's replaced it in Leopard) to tell a
    Mac from where it is getting user authentication and that it should
    setup automounts to various resources from servers on the network. The
    Open Directory setup can be used to manage preferences for users...

    ....and you can integrate it all with Active Directory for cross-platform
    compatibility; with all the authentication kerberized.

    One of my clients has an xServe which is used by the Communications and
    Marketing department to provide file service for their files as well as
    to host the network home folders for all the designers, etc., but the
    authentication and information about whose home folders are found where
    is actually coming from the Active Directory PDC that provides that
    information to the rest of the company's PCs.

    It's been a while since I dl'd the relevant documentation, but if you
    want I can probably dig up the URL.

    [Actually, I just found it or another URL just as useful]

    <http://www.apple.com/server/macosx/resources/>

    Check out the link, "Open Directory Administration" for a start.

    --
    Alan Baker
    Vancouver, British Columbia
    "If you raise the ceiling four feet, move the fireplace from that wall
    to that wall, you'll still only get the full stereophonic effect if you
    sit in the bottom of that cupboard."
     
    Alan Baker, Mar 20, 2008
    #13
  14. Dave Fritzinger

    Alan Baker Guest

    Yup.

    I think you'll find that Macs and Mac OS X are just a bit more capable
    in the enterprise sphere than you've given them credit for.

    --
    Alan Baker
    Vancouver, British Columbia
    "If you raise the ceiling four feet, move the fireplace from that wall
    to that wall, you'll still only get the full stereophonic effect if you
    sit in the bottom of that cupboard."
     
    Alan Baker, Mar 20, 2008
    #14
  15. Dave Fritzinger

    Timberwoof Guest

    OS X Server has tools that let one do that.

    OTOH, I would not insist that everyone use OS X. My style would be to
    insist that the IT department support the systems that users prefer
    using. I'd ask the IT department to support OS X, Linux of two or three
    distros (Red Hat, SuSe, Ubuntu) and one or two versions of Windows (W2k3
    server and WXP).

    Oh, yeah, and IT weenies who only know Windows and can't explain which
    ports need to be opened on a firewall ("A Mac firewall? Is that
    compatible with the Internet?") to enable an IPsec VPN would not get
    promoted very highly.
    Don't you mean "In a Windows corporation"?
    I'd like to point out that when a company can effectively regulate the
    sorts of systems that its employees use, nightmares like the one I
    experienced are reduced. However, reducing the choices to just one OS is
    usually inappropriate, and at a big company, an IT department can be big
    enough to support a variety of OSes. I know; I used to work for a
    company whose IT department did a very good job at that.
     
    Timberwoof, Mar 21, 2008
    #15
  16. Dave Fritzinger

    Timberwoof Guest

    I messed around with Open Directory to try to set up a networked home
    directory, but Apple's documentation is not really good enough to take
    one step-by-step through setting it up. (There are a lot of side trips
    to other documents and procedures, and it rapidly becomes an exercise in
    draining an auglator-infested swamp.) The O'Reilly book "Essential mac
    OS X Panther Server Administration" gives more information. But I think
    that Portable Home Directories do not work the way that NetInfo did.
    There you could log on to a Mac and the Home folder you saw, and the
    folders in it, all lived on a server. That was incredibly useful in a QA
    lab when I moved from machine to machine a lot.
     
    Timberwoof, Mar 21, 2008
    #16
  17. Dave Fritzinger

    Timberwoof Guest

    I would not hesitate to use OS X Server to set up a small business's
    basic needs. A good used Xserve and pare parts, plus OS X Server
    unlimited can be had on eBay for cheaper than a license of a certain
    Linux email server app. (If the idea is not to have to hire a Linux guru
    to show you the path to enlightenment and end up finding out that he set
    up things in an idiosyncratic way that his replacement takes six weeks
    to figure out and ends up replacing anyway.)
     
    Timberwoof, Mar 21, 2008
    #17
  18. Dave Fritzinger

    Alan Baker Guest

    <http://www.apple.com/br/server/macosx/softwareupdateserver.html>

    --
    Alan Baker
    Vancouver, British Columbia
    "If you raise the ceiling four feet, move the fireplace from that wall
    to that wall, you'll still only get the full stereophonic effect if you
    sit in the bottom of that cupboard."
     
    Alan Baker, Mar 21, 2008
    #18
  19. Dave Fritzinger

    Alan Baker Guest

    That's the Windows mentality talking. It's too complicated on Windows to
    handle more than one OS, so just assume that no one can do it.

    --
    Alan Baker
    Vancouver, British Columbia
    "If you raise the ceiling four feet, move the fireplace from that wall
    to that wall, you'll still only get the full stereophonic effect if you
    sit in the bottom of that cupboard."
     
    Alan Baker, Mar 21, 2008
    #19
  20. Dave Fritzinger

    Alan Baker Guest

    Not even knowing what the software can do, you declare it can't do it --
    even after I presented you a perfectly plausible alternate scenario.

    And do you think that Software Update on the Mac doesn't automatically
    check to see if a particular machine can use a particular update?

    --
    Alan Baker
    Vancouver, British Columbia
    "If you raise the ceiling four feet, move the fireplace from that wall
    to that wall, you'll still only get the full stereophonic effect if you
    sit in the bottom of that cupboard."
     
    Alan Baker, Mar 21, 2008
    #20
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