Using Slack to Engage with the Wi-Fi Community with Manon Lessard

by | Jun 25, 2018 | Blog, Uncategorized

Manon Lessard shares how she is using Slack to engage with the Wi-Fi community.

Listen to the original podcast interview HERE.


Keith Parsons:
Well, welcome and I’m here with Manon Lessard, did I get the last name right?

Manon Lessard:
Yes, you did!

Keith Parsons:
We’re here in Atlanta Georgia, happen to be attending Devin Akin’s class. We are in AP class together and I thought I’d take this chance to interview you and talk a little bit about your involvement and journey in Wi-Fi and about Slack, is that okay?

Manon Lessard:
Sure!

Keith Parsons:
Great! I don’t get an interview with many French Canadian women.

Manon Lessard:
They’re not that many in Wi-Fi aside from me.

Keith Parsons:
You’re like the one. So that’s good! I’m glad I’ve got you here. Tell me how did you get involved in Wi-Fi?

Manon Lessard:
Well, I started getting involved in networking first and then we had this big project of having a Wi-Fi deployment on campus and my architect needed a hand.

I decided to get involved not in the design, but in the maintenance and in the post-implementation side of things and I fell in love with it.

I decided to get involved not in the design, but in the maintenance and in the post-implementation side of things and I fell in love with it.

Keith Parsons:
Well, there’s a lot to love there. We all love Wi-Fi. So, you fell in love with it and how did you get involved in the community?

Manon Lessard:
Well, all that started with a project at work with a great guy named Steve Williams. I think you know Steve, right?

He told me about Andrew, you and Devin and the classes he had taken with you. I started getting involved on Twitter and then started talking with Lee and then got to really see it.

Keith Parsons:
Lee – he’s another edu kind of guy, so I can see how you guys could relate. Yeah, and your size networks the same size as Lee?

Manon Lessard:
Pretty much! He has more ep’s than I do and he has more budget, too.

Keith Parsons:
How many client associations do you have on a normal day?

Manon Lessard:
Well, our peak as of this year is 23,000 users. I’ve never looked at how many people associate daily, honestly. 20,000 concurrent users are lots of people. Six controllers.

Keith Parsons:
How many APs?

Manon Lessard:
Sixteen hundred!

Keith Parsons:
That’s a decent size network. Do you have Lee’s love for bugs?

Manon Lessard:
I usually ping him before I do a code upgrade.

Keith Parsons:
Lee, should we or should we not do this upgrade?

Manon Lessard:
Well, there’s this great email list – the EDUCAUSE Wireless group. So, you hear a lot about it there and then I’m a maniac bug scrubber. I’ve been burned before with this name Lian, on my mother’s birthday that I think it took over 15 hours to complete.

Keith Parsons:
So, that was not a good birthday!

Manon Lessard:
That was not a good birthday. So, anyone who burnt me pretty bad ever since then, I’ve been reading all these release notes, pinging my Slack community, looking at Twitter and googling bugs. My Slack community knows that about me.

…I’ve been reading all these release notes, pinging my Slack community, looking at Twitter and googling bugs. My Slack community knows that about me.

Keith Parsons:
Well, it sounds like it’s kept you safer.

Manon Lessard:
Yeah, that and a lot of legacy devices.

Keith Parsons:
Well, it’s always a good way to keep stuff really old. The reason I wanted to talk to you today was about Slack. A lot of people know about Twitter. Twitter’s a way for us to get involved in the community and then, you said you start a Slack channel. Tell us a little bit about the genesis of how that rolled out?

Manon Lessard:
Well, I got involved on Twitter a lot more after attending the WLPC. Then, you guys had an election in the US and the political chatter started. It was really unfortunate because there’s a lot of people that I would follow, but there was so much noise surrounding the signal to noise ratio that got really bad so to speak.

Keith Parsons:
So, Laurie right?

Manon Lessard:
Yeah! I can read my Twitter feed and hear all that and see people that I know and I appreciate a bash at each other for something that doesn’t have to do with Wi-Fi and so I got involved in the Wireless LAN advisory board.

A Wireless LAN Association which had a Slack channel for their meetings and so that’s how I got involved on Slack. Then, one day Sam Clements was talking about how it’s really too bad that Twitter is getting so political. You get everybody’s views on whatever when all you’re really looking for is that golden nugget of information on Wi-Fi.

So he said, “I wish there was someone that could start a Slack channel”. So, I turned around with this and said, “okay let’s start one!”. That’s how it got started and I sent him an invite for the channel and then the rest is history.

Keith Parsons:
So, how many people are on the Slack Channel now?

Manon Lessard:
We’re around 200.

Keith Parsons:
200? And having been on it, it’s quite active and I see updates on it daily. What are some of the benefits of Slack over Twitter?

Manon Lessard:
Well, you don’t get the character limitation. I find it easier to read and like if you have to DM someone about something he said, you can just comment whatever they said directly underneath.

It’s easier to read and people are sending out information on what they’re working with CISCO, RUCKUS or UBIQUITI. They know their stuff really well and sometimes when you’re in a multi-vendor environment, you’re looking for an information on one thing in particular. So, we have separate channels for every vendor.

Keith Parsons:
So, what are the total channel account you have?

Manon Lessard:
I lost count.

Keith Parsons:
The whole left side of my screen? But I do like when there’s an unread one, you can sort it and see just the unread ones together.

Manon Lessard:
Yes, and they’re in both characters to tell you that there was action there.

Keith Parsons:
And if there’s something for me that shows up with a little red dot? So, Slack is available with iOS Android, Windows, Mac across platforms. What are the downsides of Slack?

Manon Lessard:
Well, a thing that we’re about to push out is an official set of policies that we have because it’s like back in the days on the IRC channels. There’s a lot of people there and you can’t watch and read everything.

That’s the downside of it and some people have expressed concern that we were so stiff on the rules and on the registration to our group. About the rules, we don’t want to get lawsuits. This is all free and I do it with Sam as an administrator.

Keith Parsons:
So, you two are the administrators but that doesn’t mean you curate the account, though people or anyone can post what they want. That doesn’t go through with you along the way?

Manon Lessard:
Exactly! So that’s why we want to craft the ground rules really clearly so that we don’t get sued for trying to do a service to the community.

Keith Parsons:
So, what are the ground rules? What are the things people need to remember when they come on the Slack channel?

Manon Lessard:
Well, basically, this is all for free. People are participating as much or as little as they want. This is a public channel so you can’t really do stuff or speak of stuff that’s NDA. We don’t want you to promote your employer code quote. If you’re working for a vendor we don’t want vendor bashing.

…basically this is all for free. People are participating as much or as little as they want. This is a public channel so you can’t really do stuff or speak of stuff that’s NDA. We don’t want you to promote your employer code quote. If you’re working for a vendor we don’t want vendor bashing.

Keith Parsons:
That would be called a vendor on vendor violence (VVV).

Manon Lessard:
VVV, it’s all right!

Keith Parsons:
Marcus Burton happened to have quoted the term VVV and so we stick with a vendor on vendor violence.

Manon Lessard:
Or love, I don’t know!

Keith Parsons:
Or love. Love is good. Love is better!

Manon Lessard:
So, those are the things that we don’t want to see. There’s also whatever you got from training that you paid for everything that’s bound by.

Keith Parsons:
Like the PowerPoint slides or something, you don’t want people sharing those directly.

Manon Lessard:
Yeah! Your rights to a document, we don’t want you to violate those.

Keith Parsons:
You can’t share someone else’s copyright.

Manon Lessard:
Yeah, that’s the word I was looking for! copyright.

Keith Parsons:
Yes, copyright!

Manon Lessard:
So, anyway. We don’t want to see stuff being given away for free when someone worked really hard to develop or write it.

Keith Parsons:
It does allow without the character limit people can write paragraphs at a time about things.

Manon Lessard:
Yeah and you can also edit whatever you said, so if something is not as accurate or mistyped or if like.

Keith Parsons:
I need that because I mistyped all the time or it’s not me, IOS does when it changes for me automatically. That’s my story!

Manon Lessard:
Okay, have you’re sticking to it?

Keith Parsons:
I’m sticking to that. So, what’s the future hold for the Slack channel?

Manon Lessard:
Well, I hope I get maybe a way of having people because there’s another limitation we didn’t address. I didn’t open the group to everyone and you have to ping either me or Sam to get in with your email address. Because I didn’t want the channel to be so sad.

Keith Parsons:
It flooded with a public that you have to request access.

Manon Lessard:
You have to request access. The info is public domain but you have to request access. There’s a way to automate it and I’ve been looking into but it’s not working well as I wish.

Keith Parsons:
Right now, yes actually going in and like yes okay approve or something?

Manon Lessard:
I have to register everyone that asked for access manually.

Keith Parsons:
So, how would someone if they’re not currently on your Slack channel join?

Manon Lessard:
Well, there’s one thing. If your friend is already subscribed to the channel and your friend would really like to get an invite, he is better off to try to ping me or Sam Clements with their email address. We don’t really like to invite people without them knowing all of a sudden.

Keith Parsons:
Friend of a friend kind of thing?

Manon Lessard:
Yeah, friend of a friend. I got this friend we should get this guy, we should get George or we could get like Eddie on the channel. It’d be really good because he has this opinion on something and we have some people’s permissions.

Keith Parsons:
And if they want to join, they can email you or Sam Clements?

Manon Lessard:
Yeah, well they can DM me or Sam Clements on Twitter. They can email us as well.

 

Keith Parsons:
And on Twitter your name is?

Manon Lessard:
@may149.

Keith Parsons:
To DM you mean you have to follow them and they have to follow you. So, there’s a little step there. Should we put your email address and I can email you directly or should we have a friend of a friend kind of thing started?

Manon Lessard:
Well, yeah we could put the email address in the show notes and they can ping me or I’ll ask Sam if he’s okay to put his email as well.

Keith Parsons:
So, what’s your goal? How many people do you think should be out of the Slack channel for a Wireless LAN?

Manon Lessard:
I don’t know. I mean to quote it, I say “knowledge is like manure as much”.

Keith Parsons:
I love that quote!

Manon Lessard:
So, as many as we want.

Keith Parsons:
The thinner you spread it the less it smells. So, I think we should spread it around a lot. Well, thank you very much for your time. I enjoy our dinner together. What do you want to say to the Wireless LAN community?

Manon Lessard:
I have no words you guys have shared so much.

Keith Parsons:
I’ll make it easier. If there’s one thing you could change in 802 11 works, what would it be?

Manon Lessard:
Honestly, aside from what we saw today and all those fields that are useless in the headers, nothing really.

Keith Parsons:
Well, that’s a good answer! She’s in love with 802 11 just the way it is. Well, thanks for your time ma’am!


Manon Lessard loves wifi. She’s a net admin for a Canadian university, CCNP, CWNA, CWAP, CWDP, CWSP and a Geeky mama. If you have more questions or feedback, connect with Manon via twitter.


Go HERE to listen to the entire interview.