Optimize Your WiFi Network Using NetSpot

Pulling CAT5 Wire through your home use to be a normal activity for the geeky homeowner. Now everyone uses WiFi. Using WiFI saves a lot time and effort but how do you know where to put your router? Is the signal weak in your family room? Do you have slow Internet speeds in your bedroom? Using a tool like NetSpot you can map your network, visualize the coverage and figure out the perfect configuration.

NetSpot is free and you can get it from the Apple App Store. As of this posting, the current App Store version is 1. 3.344. Version 2 is available directly from NetSpot. I have taken most screen shots below using the older version. I will make note when the screen shot is version 2.

It goes without saying that you must have a portable Mac with working WiFi to map your network. After you download the app start it up and you will be asked to create a new survey and either draw or load a map.

The drawing tools included in NetSpot are great but you can also use use a drawing program like iDraw or Intaglio to create your map. If you are a paper and pencil sort, you can also draw a map by hand, take a photo of it using your iPhone or iPad and import the file using the "Load a Map" function.

After you have the map loaded you will be asked to select two points and give the correct dimension between the two points.

Now you just need to start scanning. Click the "Start Scan" button in the upper left of the map, click your current location on the map and NetSpot will start scanning. 

A list of available networks will appear in the panel on the left and a green circle will show the location you just scanned. Now walk to a new location and click that point on the map. A new scan will start. Continue on until your whole area has been scanned.

Click the "Stop Scan" button in the upper left of the map section to stop active scanning. Now comes the analysis. 

If you are using version 2.0 you can use the Discover mode and just see the network information you have gathered. This is an improvement over version 1 and gives you a quick look at the raw numbers.

To see a graphic representation of the numbers you need to switch back to the Survey mode. Use the"Visualize" drop down menu and choose from various options.  Below is the graph of Signal-to-interference ratio.

The closer to the hot end of the spectrum you are the better your WiFi performance will be. You will also see where NetSpot thinks each of your routers is located. In my case I noticed that they seemed misplaced. Using the "Resume Scan" button I added more points on my map and got a better representation of their actual location. I have 3 routers on 2 floors. I have circled them in red. 

Don't be afraid to add a lot more data points. In this case more is better. By clicking on a WiFi hotspot you can get more information about that router.

If you are using version 2 then you get a pop up explaining what the definition is for each Visualization selection.

"The signal-to-interference ratio is similar to the signal-to-noise ratio, but in this case the interference is specific to co-channel interference from other radio transmitters."  

In plain English that could mean that you have a problem if your network channel is on the same frequency as your neighbor. If so you might want to change it. As you can see, by using the different plots you can easily figure out where dead zones might be, if you need a bridge repeater or if you have too many routers in one area. 

In general NetSpot does a great job of giving you a visual picture of your network. Getting the location of wireless equipment right always means a little trial and error and having a tool like this can really help perfect your configuration.
There is a paid for Pro version available with more features but for home use NetSpot is a great product.


Movie Effects - Quick, Easy & Free way to Rotate Video

With a Mac there are always at least 2 or 3 ways to do something. As time goes by, and new apps are created, there might even be a better way. Such is the case with rotation of video. I wrote a post a while back on how to rotate video using iMovie. Since iMove comes with your Mac when you buy it, using iMovie to rotate your video was an easy way to get the job done. 

Two years has passed since I wrote that blog post and the number of applications in the Apple Mac App store has exploded. I recently discovered a great little video editing application called Movie Effects that has a lot of features. One of which is rotating video.

The developers from Etinysoft list Movie Effect's key features as:
  • Whole window are available for dragging and dropping any video
  • Support almost all popular video formats such as mp4, mov, avi, flv, etc.
  • Freely apply more than one effects to a video.
  • Customize parameters of a part of effects to your desired level.
  • Directly preview video before or after effects being applied.
  • Add image as watermark at any point with effect “Image Watermark.
Go download a copy now and explore this great app. To help you out here's a walk through of how to rotate video. 

Open the application and at the main screen drag a copy of the video you want to rotate. 

In the left hand column click "Add Effects" and select "Rotation"

You will notice that rotation is just one of the options to change your video so feel free to play around. Once you have selected rotation there will now be several choices on how to rotate. Just make sure you preview your video before you process and save it. If you select 90° rotation and vertically flip it you will end up with this:

Opps! Selecting just 90° rotation you will get the correct orientation. 

Now that you have your video rotated you will want to save it. Select the save format at the bottom and you will see that there are a ton of formats available to you. Select the one you want and click save.

Just be careful with the choice you make. Some formats will change the aspect ratio of your video. For instance, selecting "Common Video" and "MPEG4 MP4" created this video

Opps again! For use on a Mac, going back and saving as iPhone, iPad or AppleTV format worked just fine. Again, explore experiment and see what works for you. 

That's it! your video is rotated with only a few clicks.  Movie Effects is a great application that lets you rotate your videos quickly and easily. Best of all it does a lot more then that and it's free!