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How Hot Am I?

How Hot Am I?
by Gary Woods

If you've got a WiFi network at your home or office and if you're reading this column you probably do then you've tried to figure out how to get the best coverage from that network. With a free little program called NetSpot 1.1.284 that question can be answered pretty darn quickly.

NetSpot lets you use your Mac or PC laptop to survey your network. Then you can import a to-scale map of your location or draw one using the included tools. At that point you can then walk around the area with your laptop. Stop at any position and click that location on the map. The NetSpot will perform a scan of all WiFi signals it can find.

NetSpot then draws a color-spectrum heat map indicating the network's signal-to-noise ratio at every point. Or, you can view a raw signal-level or noise-level heat map or get a visualization of areas in which base stations' signals overlap.

You can also choose to include or exclude specific base stations and WiFi networks and display routers by channel. Then, if you're in a crowded network area NetSpot can identify the rough position of each base station.

Once you've gathered all your data you can think about re-locating an Access Point to get better coverage or adding another unit for really difficult areas. NetSpot is available for both Macs and PCs and at the low, low cost of FREE it's a fun little app which can give you some great results.

If you have any suggestions or questions for me please drop me a note at or see my column on the Internet at or call me at (805) 729-0910

Gary Woods is the Computer Trainer for the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. And he is a Broker/Associate at Home Realty & Investments, Inc