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ferent mapping programs and, of course, they don™t all speak the same language.
This is where Microsoft MapPoint and StumbVerter make things simple. One program,
StumbVerter, imports the Summary.txt file and plots the APs on a map. See Figure 7-6 for
StumbVerter in action.
If you don™t have the $300 MapPoint program, try searching at for a conver-
sion tool for your mapping program. In the meantime, we™ll do a conversion using one of the
best data manipulation programs available, Microsoft Excel.
The NetStumbler Summary format is a tab-delimited ASCII file. To read this file into
Microsoft Excel, click File ➪ Open. In the the Files of Type drop-down list, select the All
Files option. This will show text files and more in the Open dialog. Select the Summary.txt
file and click Open.
When Excel opens this type of file, it immediately starts the Text Import Wizard, as shown in
Figure 7-7.
Choose the Delimited option and click Next. Make sure that Tab is the delimiter type. Click
Next again, then click Finish. There is no need to specify data formats for each column.
Once your data is in Excel, it™s just a matter of deleting fields that aren™t needed, and formatting
the data to work with your mapping software. See Figure 7-8 for an example of a stripped
down spreadsheet.

FIGURE 7-7: Microsoft Excel and the Text Import Wizard.
154 Part II ” War Driving

NetStumbler export files use the letter format (N S E W) for compass direction. Some mapping
programs do not read letters, instead using positive ( ) and negative ( ) signs. Positive is North
or East, and negative is South or West. Use the “Replace” tool in Excel to replace “N” with “ ,”
“S” with “ ,” and so on. Be sure to replace the trailing space “N space ” with the symbol
“ ” without a space to ensure success.

After deleting columns that aren™t needed, select File ➪ Save As, and save the file with a differ-
ent name in the proper text format. Some programs need comma delimited files, others may
need tab delimited, and so on. The documentation or support site for your mapping program
should have details on the suitable import format.

Step 4: Importing and Displaying in a Mapping Program
Mapping programs, in general, have an import function. This is helpful to add the addresses of
points of interest, and of course, access point locations. A few different programs will be cov-
ered here. Also, the manual import from Microsoft Excel will be performed using Microsoft
MapPoint. (Surprise: They work really well together!)

Microsoft MapPoint Import Procedures
In Microsoft MapPoint, the import comes in the form of a “pushpin.” Extra detail on the loca-
tion is stored in a text “balloon.” Figure 7-9 shows an example of the standard pushpin and a

FIGURE 7-8: Microsoft Excel spreadsheet after cleaning up the data.
Chapter 7 ” Mapping Your War Driving Results

text balloon showing details about a plotted wireless network. This concept of pushpins and
balloons is followed by other applications, too.
MapPoint has some pretty sophisticated data visualization abilities. To get simple pushpins
onto a map requires navigating through the maze of wizards and checkboxes. Other programs
have simple import procedures (see below) but they don™t have the massive ability to show data
in so many ways. See the section “Visualizing Extras” later in this chapter for an example.
Here are the steps to bring in a formatted text or Excel file:

1. Open Microsoft MapPoint and click Data ➪ Import Data Wizard.
2. Change the Files of type field to the file type being imported. Find the file you want to
import, and click Open.
3. The Import Data Wizard opens at this point. If prompted, make sure that the correct
separation character is selected. The data should be separated into columns. If it looks
garbled or hard to read, try a different separation character.

The tab character is the separation character (also known as a delimiter) used in NetStumbler
export files.

FIGURE 7-9: Microsoft MapPoint pushpin and text balloon.
156 Part II ” War Driving

4. The wizard will now ask for column headings and data types. Change the automatic
selections at this point. For example, set the SSID data type to “Name,” and change the
SNR/Sig/Noise column to “ Other Data .”

If you do not want the contents of a column to be displayed in the text balloon, select “Skip
Column.” To have the data show up, assign it the value of Name, Name 2, or Other Data.

5. Click Finish to begin the import process. If there are a lot of APs, a progress bar will
show the number of APs being plotted.
6. Next comes the Data Mapping Wizard. There is so much to this wizard, but we™ll just
cover pushpins at this point. Select “Pushpin” and click Next.
7. Change the Pushpin set name as desired. Select a Symbol that suits your taste. Choose
which fields should be displayed in the text balloons.
8. Click Finish, and you™re done.

The Data Mapping Wizard has many features and accesses some interesting stuff. Later in this
chapter we will use it to plot signal strength using the Shaded Circle feature. It has nine differ-

FIGURE 7-10: Microsoft MapPoint displaying APs after a war drive.
Chapter 7 ” Mapping Your War Driving Results

ent ways to display data: shaded area, shaded circle, multiple symbol, pie chart, sized pie chart,
column chart, series column chart, and everyone™s favorite, the pushpin. Also, with MapPoint™s
built-in demographic data, you can spend hours viewing the strange habits of your neighbors,
such as “Adults who use sore throat products” as viewed by state, Zip code, or census tract.
Sometimes while war driving, the GPS will conk out, get disconnected, and so on. If that hap-
pens, you may record an AP with the latitude and longitude of N 0.0 by E 0.0. MapPoint will
happily plot that and expand the map to show those APs off the coast of Africa at 0 degrees
latitude by 0 degrees longitude. When plotting these sources, you can delete them, or ignore
them. If you war drive the same access point at a later time, the coordinates will be updated.
See Figure 7-10 for a map created by MapPoint using a text file import.

Microsoft MapPoint Using StumbVerter
StumbVerter is a free program that converts files from NetStumbler format into Microsoft
MapPoint format (see Figure 7-11). The unique feature of StumbVerter is that it uses
Microsoft™s common object model (COM) programming interface to work directly with the
MapPoint map data. The practical upshot is that you do not need to import into MapPoint.
StumbVerter does it all automatically.

FIGURE 7-11: The popular StumbVerter program plots in its own window.
158 Part II ” War Driving

Follow these steps to begin working with StumbVerter:
1. Download StumbVerter from and install it onto your sys-
tem. (Note that you need MapPoint installed before you can use StumbVerter.)
2. Run StumbVerter and select the down arrow next to the Map button to choose “Create
New North America.”
3. Now click the down arrow next to the Import button to select NetStumbler Summary.
4. Open the file previously exported from NetStumbler. Progress is shown during loading
and drawing the map. Be patient if there is a lot of data.

That™s it! StumbVerter is practically automatic. There are also a lot of features with filtering,
signal strength, and a sweet antenna comparison tool called ACT. Experiment with
StumbVerter to get the most out of it.
If you feel inclined, send donations to the programmers of StumbVerter. Much effort is expended
putting the program together and making it available for free.

FIGURE 7-12: The WiMap program has several options.
Chapter 7 ” Mapping Your War Driving Results

DeLorme Street Atlas USA Using WiMap
WiMap is another free program that automatically converts NetStumbler export files into a
DeLorme-compatible “Solus Mark File” with the .txt file extension. See Figure 7-12.
WiMap has several options for sorting, selecting, and presenting data in the map program.
You can download WiMap from It™s a free utility created expressly
for wireless mapping.
Support the developer of WiMap by sending an e-mail to the author at
There™s no cost or donation. Just express your gratitude! Programmers love praise almost as
much as they love high-end hardware (money).

Use the following steps to convert a NetStumbler Summary export file into DeLorme Street
1. Downloading WiMap. Then just run the program; there is no installer.
2. From the WiMap screen, click File ➪ Open to open the previously exported
NetStumbler file.
3. Select the items to display and convert over to the DeLorme map. The checkboxes next
to the MAC address entry determine if the AP will be included on the map.

FIGURE 7-13: DeLorme Street Atlas USA preparing to import.
160 Part II ” War Driving

4. Click File ➪ Save and enter a filename, like Summary-delorme.txt.
5. Open Street Atlas USA and click the Draw tab.
6. Click the flag icon under Tools and select the symbol to represent the pushpins.
7. Click the File button (see Figure 7-13).
8. The File button opens the file section of the Draw tab. Click the Import button and
select the file you saved in Step 4 (“Summary-delorme.txt”).
9. Ensure that Files of type: “Solus Mark File (*.txt)” is selected, and click Open.
10. Click the Done button to close the draw file management window.
11. Observe your newly plotted war driving results. (See Figure 7-14.)

Another great way of converting data is to use any one of dozens of Perl scripts that
massage the data for almost every mapping program available. These take more effort to
get working, and require Perl be installed on your computer. It™s worth the effort if the
methods we™ve presented so far don™t suit your needs, though. Search Google, and the forums, for “scripts” to learn more about these efficient and flexible
data manipulation tools.

FIGURE 7-14: DeLorme Street Atlas USA with hundreds of access points.
Chapter 7 ” Mapping Your War Driving Results

Step 5: Viewing the Results
The final step in importing results is showing it off! Each program has a different format for
presenting data, but it™s all easily understood. Sharing your maps with others makes for some
great conversations.
As you can see from the maps we created in this section, much of our war driving took place on
freeways around Los Angeles. In some areas, APs are so dense it™s almost like leaving a trail of
breadcrumbs showing your path of travel.

Visualizing Extras
The beginner war driver will plot data onto a map and call it a day (or night). You can go a few
steps further with these extras and really get noticed. The following sections cover a few inter-
esting visualization techniques that the professionals use.

3-D Rendering
Some mapping applications have 3-D visualization extras. DeLorme TopoUSA and XMap
have this feature built-in. Figure 7-15 shows a 3-D topographic map overlayed with satellite

FIGURE 7-15: 3-D visualization from DeLorme TopoUSA.
162 Part II ” War Driving

FIGURE 7-16: A map with custom symbols representing hotspots.
imagery and war driving access points plotted onto the image. There™s a lot of visual informa-
tion in this type of picture.

Custom Symbols
Most mapping program that import pushpins (whether they are called pushpins, symbols, icons,
or something else) have some method of changing, or creating your own graphic for the pushpin.
You can really spice up a map plot by using, say, a recognized logo for the Wi-Fi hotspot. For
example, the map in Figure 7-16 was created using the SOCAL WUG logo and shows several
real and hypothetical SOCAL WUG hotspots in the Los Angeles area.

Filter your war driving results before importing the NetStumbler summary file into the mapping
program. Microsoft Excel (again) is great for sorting entries to make it easy to delete sites you
don™t want to map.
Your specific software should have information available on creating your own symbols. But in
case it doesn™t, a little digging on Google Groups will find others that have the same question.

Microsoft has made their MapPoint icons available as Windows .BMP (bitmap) files. Search
Microsoft for “mappoint” to find the file in the download center. Use these files as a starting
point to make changes.
Chapter 7 ” Mapping Your War Driving Results

DeLorme provides downloadable .DIM files (DeLorme Image Files) that can be installed in the
Symbols directory to add hundreds of icons.

This list explains how to make a custom logo in Microsoft MapPoint:
1. Open a new MapPoint map without any pushpins.
2. Select View ➪ Toolbars and make sure that the Draw toolbar is active.
3. Click the tiny upside-down triangle next to the pushpin icon on the Draw toolbar.
4. Click the button marked Import Custom Symbol.
5. Select a supported image file to import (currently Icons, BMPs, and Cursor files) and
click Open.

That™s it! Now you have a custom symbol that can be placed manually using the symbol button.
Or you can select the symbol while importing latitude longitude data.
Make sure the file you select is smaller than 128 128 pixels, and note that the color white
will be made transparent. 128 pixels square is pretty big on-screen. You probably want some-
thing in the 40 to 80 pixel range to really stand out.

Satellite and Aerial Imaging
One of the more interesting mapping imagery trends in recent years is the high availability
of satellite and aerial photography. Satellite images cover vast swaths of the globe.
Commercial vendors have satellites in orbit with their only job being to take pictures
and make them available for purchase by the commercial sector. Spy satellites for the
Aerial photography is similar to satellite, but usually at a much higher resolution (you can see
the color of cars in the driveway and find out who has a pool in your neighborhood). A spe-
cially equipped airplane will fly a pattern over an area while taking photographs. These photos
are stitched together to create a highly accurate aerial view.
DeLorme products allow you to purchase and download overlays for your basic data sets. 10-meter-
resolution satellite overlays (SAT-10) are available for every state for a reasonable cost (about a hun-
dred dollars). If you don™t need this type of aerial view, the built-in data works great, too.
There are also vast resources on the Web for creating aerial and satellite image files to play
around with. Much of this data is freely available from sources like the U.S. Geological Survey,
a government operation that makes much of the data free for download in small quantities.
Your tax dollars at work!
Some sites to try out with satellite and aerial images:

Space Imaging”Gallery of IKONOS and other satellite images:
USA PhotoMaps”Free aerial photo viewing software:
U.S. Geological Survey”Downloads and links to images: http//
164 Part II ” War Driving

Microsoft™s original Terraserver”View images online:
GlobeXplorer”Incredibly accurate satellite and color aerial photography online:

Some sites incorporate aerial and satellite images seamlessly. So when you are zoomed out the
view is from a satellite photo. Zoom in and the system automatically switches to aerial photos.

Signal Strength Mapping with MapPoint and Excel
This is the last time the chapter will mention Excel (well, maybe in the Summary). In this sec-
tion, we will use Excel to ferret out all of the signal information from a single access point. By
plotting these signals with the MapPoint “Shaded Circles” feature, the signal area can be easily
plotted. Figure 7-17 shows the final results from tracking a single AP. The dark spots show the
stronger signals, and that™s very likely where the AP is located.

When you are war driving, choose the type of antenna that™s appropriate for the task. To locate
an access point after the fact, as we™re doing here, an omnidirectional antenna works best to
evenly capture the Wi-Fi signal. A directional antenna would be used to see how far a signal
reaches, but it would be harder to locate an AP. This stems from the signal information being

FIGURE 7-17: Plotting relative signal strength. Darker spots are stronger signals.
Chapter 7 ” Mapping Your War Driving Results

recorded along with the latitude and longitude of where the antenna is located, and not where
it is pointing.
These are the steps to build a signal strength plot using NetStumbler, Excel, and MapPoint:

1. In NetStumbler, turn off the automatic save feature under Options.
2. Choose an access point to plot (it works best one at a time) and delete every other AP in
the list. (Again, disable the “Save Automatically” feature before deleting, or you may
erase data permanently.)
3. Export the NetStumbler file in Text format. This format saves every data point for every
AP in the list.
4. Open the exported text file in Microsoft Excel.
5. Follow the prompts on the Import Text Wizard to choose a tab-delimited file.
6. Perform a Data ➪ Sort to remove fields that begin with the “#” symbol. These are com-
ments and can be removed. Keep the one commented row with the field headers.
7. Delete extra columns that you will not be using so you are left with the Latitude,
Longitude, and the “[SNR Sig Noise]” column.
8. Now you get to use the “Text to Columns” feature in Excel to split that [SNR Sig Noise]
column into usable numbers. Select the column with the [SNR Sig Noise] header (prob-
ably column C).
9. From the menu choose Data ➪ Text to Columns. This opens a wizard.
10. In the Convert Text to Columns Wizard, choose “Delimited” in Step 1. Choose “Space”
as the delimiter in step 2. You will see the numbers split up in the data preview window.
Click Next, and then click Finish to close the wizard. The signal data should now be
split into five columns “[“, “SNR,” “Sig,” “Noise,” and “].”
11. Now it™s time to choose which signal data is going to be plotted. SNR (signal-to-noise ratio)
is the most usable, but may not help you locate the AP. Sig (signal strength) does not always
equate to a usable signal, but makes finding an AP easier. Delete the columns that will not
be plotted. (Our example will use the Sig field, so brackets, SNR, and Noise will be deleted.)
12. Convert the Latitude and Longitude data into the / format required by MapPoint
using the Find and Replace feature in Excel.
13. Now select Save As to save the file as an Excel Workbook (.XLS).
14. Open Microsoft MapPoint.
15. Choose Data ➪ Import Data Wizard from the menu and choose the Excel file you just
16. Make sure the “First row contains column headings” check box is selected. Click Finish
if the data matches up (Latitude under Latitude, and so on).
17. Next comes the “Data Mapping Wizard - Map Type” dialog box. Usually you select push-
pin to mark where an AP is located. This time select “Shaded Circle,” and click Next.
166 Part II ” War Driving

FIGURE 7-18: The shaded circle wizard.

18. The data field to map should read “Sig.” Click Next.
19. Now comes the fun part. Adjust the data range numbers (see Figure 7-18) to choose a
range that will give some meaning to the map. Something like 100 at the top and 50 at
the bottom works well for plotting signal strength.
20. Click Finish.

Now you have a great representation of signal strength on an easy-to-use map. Use this for site
surveys, finding how far your hotspot reaches, searching for elusive access points, and impress-
ing your friends!

Data visualization can come in many forms. The great thing about war driving is that you,
yourself, can gather data quite easily. And mapping it is just one way to visualize what™s truly
going on in the ether. Did you ever think so many people had wireless networks? It™s amazing
to see them pop up on your screen when nothing is visible to the naked eye.
Chapter 7 ” Mapping Your War Driving Results

This truly is a way to see the invisible and get a glimpse of the popularity of wireless network-

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