There are times when I'm looking at wifi problems and I use iwconfig to check out link quality, signal level and noise level information. I did get into the habit of using the following rune:
watch -n 1 iwconfig wlan1
..to check out the status on my wifi interface wlan1.
There's always a tool out there that does the same kind of thing, but in a more presentable form - in this case it's wavemon.
To install use:
sudo apt-get install wavemon
and using it is as simple as:
or one can specify the interface using:
wavemon -i interfacename
It's a minimally interactive screen based curses application, one can switch between display modes using the function keys. Pretty straight forward and easy to use.
One can configure the refresh rate, so one can poll the stats at the frequency you desire. Not bad at all.