The Great Wifi Mystery of 2019

Philip Morgan

(Sorry about the double-send of the last email. The perils of automation...)

One of my accomplishments in 2019 was solving The Great Wifi Mystery of 2019.

I'll spare you some of the drama: the measuring device was flawed.

In short: In early December, my wife and I moved into a new rental house while we're building ours. I experienced terrible dropouts on the first video call I made at the new house. 1998-era MCSE-certified network "engineer" Philip leapt into action, installing Pingplotter on my laptop. Laptop via Ethernet into the router: clean as a whistle. Laptop via wifi: nasty dropouts every 60 seconds.

I start hypothesizing. "Because of where the fiber drop terminates and my reticence to run Ethernet cable through 2 exterior adobe walls, the Ubiquiti Unifi access point is kind of far away. Maybe that's the problem." I snag a spare AP and configure it as a mesh network. Nasty dropouts every 60 seconds continue.

I retire the Ubiquiti equipment and replace it with a Netgear Orbi mesh system (the RBK50 router & extender gets a still-tentative thumbs up from me; the dedicated backhaul link really does help with performance). Speed is way better. Nasty dropouts every 60 seconds are still present. WTF!

On a lark, I notice there's an iOS version of Pingplotter. I install it on my main workstation, an iPad Pro. Clean as a whistle. No dropouts.

This is the forehead-slapping moment when I realize: the measuring device was flawed. The every-60-second-dropouts were caused by the wifi interface on the laptop I was using as my main measuring device, not the Ubiquiti wifi gear or the Netgear wifi gear.

What caused the terrible dropouts on that first video call? No idea. It could have been a fluke. It could have been related to the Ubiquiti network gear and since I changed that out before I had another video call, I'll never really know.

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I think our clients often operate under conditions similar to The Great Wifi Mystery of 2019.

Two things are sometimes true:

  1. They're the "measuring device", and often, a flawed one. They see things primarily through their own perspective and experience.
  2. Like I was, they're making decisions in a state of mild panic. I was stressed because video calls are a key part of my business. Importance, meet urgency. My flawed measuring device was telling me that an important+urgent component of my business was having problems, and even sensible ways of addressing it (the new wifi system) weren't working.

This creates an opportunity for you to show up with some carefully-collected data and help get clients out of this situation.

This is why the second 3-month challenge of The Expertise Incubator is research. Research is an underutilized opportunity to accelerate expertise and client value creation.

Here's an example, from Expertise Incubator participant Kyle Bowen:

Kyle has also built this calculator:


Both are the kinds of tools that can help his clients make better decisions.

In the context of TEI, that's how we're thinking about research. Specifically: "How can we do some lean, scrappy research in order to build a decision making tool for our clients?"

The answer to that question depends, naturally, on you and your clients.

But TEI gives you support, motivation, and guidance in executing this research.

If you want to join the group starting January 13, 2020, let me now. We'll set up a brief call to check for fit and answer any questions.

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PS: Here's a fun picture made a few hundred feet from the aforementioned rental house a few days ago.