I’ve just returned from this year’s Wireless LAN Professionals Conference (WLPC) in Phoenix, AZ, and I want to let others know about my experience. TLDR: it was one of the best conferences I’ve had the pleasure of attending. If you want more details, keep reading.
There are two parts to the conference: the pre-conference boot camp
s, and the main conference. Both are three days long. The boot camps are a full-day deep dive on a single topic. The main conference is then divided into 55, 30, 20, and 10-minute sessions (the 10-minute ones are aptly named TEN Talks). There is also a 6-hour deep dive broken up into two 3-hour sessions. And then there are vendor happy hours in the evenings.
I chose to attend the “Python for Wireless Engineers” boot camp. There were many topics to choose from, but given the projects I’ve been working on and the use of Python for network automation, I thought this one would be a good primer. While I have programming knowledge (a Computer Science degree will do that to a person), I haven’t used Python much.
I came out of the boot camp with a better understanding of how Python operates and many ideas for how I can use it. Presenters Jake Snyder and Ryan Adzima did a fantastic job balancing the different programming knowledge levels in class while pushing us forward. I recommend this class for folks looking to incorporate Python-based automation in their work. This was less about Python style and format and more about hands-on application and utilization. We did some secure shell (SSH) session-based automation of gathering data from switches and interaction with cloud-based application programming interfaces (API). Jake recommends 15 minutes a day minimum to maintain our skills. I have a laundry list of ways I’ll fill those daily blocks.
As we finished our boot camps, other folks arrived for the main conference. This kicked off with the Welcome Happy Hour filled with food trucks, drinks, and chatting with new and old friends. I loved that the conference veterans were focused on including new people (this was prevalent even when I arrived for the boot camps). After three days of Python, standing on the side and watching would have been very easy, but I was invited into table conversations and had a great time.
The conference was filled with fantastic talks on topics from packet analysis to discussions of radio frequency (RF) propagation. WLPC publishes the sessions on its website. All sessions are chosen via a survey from the organizers, so the content is tailored to precisely the people who would attend the conference. Because these sessions are all together, you don’t miss out on specific sessions like you would in a tracked format.
The deep dive you choose to attend goes deeper into a specific topic, product, or technology. I decided to go to the WLANPi deep dive. If you’re unfamiliar with the WLANPi, check out the website. I’ve wanted to get my hands on one of these for a while, and this deep dive took us through the labs and scenarios on how to use it.
Let me wrap up my overall thoughts on the conference. It’s pretty simple: If you work with Wi-Fi, you must attend this conference. As you’ve read, I boldly claimed that this was one of the best conferences I have attended. I’ll go further and say it is possibly the best professional conference I’ve attended. This directly results from the care the organizers take to foster a great environment. Hats off to Keith Parsons, the founder of the WLPC, and the entire team for making this happen!
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