Archive for the ‘ITGP’ Category

IT Grand Prix Day 3 – Houston we have a problem; Please solve it IT Pro’s!

June 6th, 2010

Sometimes… you ride a really long flight… and sometimes it lands you in Houston Texas!  On this leg of the IT Grand Prix, our Journey did indeed bring us to Houston Texas!    We got some rest after getting in very late in the evening (after midnight!) and then our morning started off to a fairly fast start… a start which lead us to…

Houston Audobon Society

Welcome to the Houston Audobon Society!    It took us a bit to find the place as our ‘address’ and ‘map’ as it were, took us a little further away than this place which is located off the beaten path, so to speak.    This location is truly a sanctuary within a sanctuary.

A sanctuary within a sanctuary We... are...the...Champions...

The Houston Audobon Society is a close-knit group which does an amazing job of addressing a lot of the challenges which small businesses typically go through.   They had just gotten through a BPOS migration, moving Email and Sharepoint up in to the cloud; this gave them the opportunity to spread their load around outside of having to host everything internally at the mothership so to speak (which is valuable with Hurricane season starting)

However, the real value of this BPOS migration was even more so important in that the physical server they had been running DIED days prior to us showing up! (Wow, if there was ever a need for a series of IT Pro’s, this was definitely it! :))

What became the ultimate value of the event was the sheer fact that, no matter what kind of challenge or problem as an organization they had (above and beyond our ‘defined challenges’) they had the right audience to pursue and answer any and all questions, and get things rolling to not only get a ‘path’ but also get hard actionable items on board at that moment.  There were problems solved, which every one of us was glad to be a part of, and sincerely glad to be able to help! :)

image image

I’m tired and didn’t get as many photos as I would hope – else I would have contributed some of the other content here :)

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Posted in Charity, Education, Evangelist, ITGP, Microsoft | Comments (0)

IT Grand Prix Day 2 – No Sleep to Brooklyn, NPowering Students through education!

June 4th, 2010

Wow, let me say that again.  Wow! Welcome to Day 2!    It’s hard to say where Day 2 begins or ends so for the benefit of solving that particular quandary… I’ll start from the moment I woke up, and I took these photos out of my hotel room window!   Isn’t it an absolutely beautiful day?!

image image

We all gathered down in the main lobby bright and early at 8:15AM (For someone who historically is on Chicago time.. that’s 7:15, WTF right?! :))

There we stood, on Camera to find out the official results of Day 1’s competitions, the battle so to speak as we competed at KIPP DC as our Red team Vs the Blue Team (redvsblue) and the Gold and Green teams duked it out at a training facility ByteBack teaching the folks as part of “Back on my Feet”.    So David Elfassy, standing before us delivers the final word.. Red Team Wins! Green Team Wins! Wow! We won! (I was a little shocked, because I –loved- the Powerpoint template which the blue team used!)  However, now.. what do we do? We need to have a Tie-Breaker! Oh my!

Tie-Breaker Challenge

“Find someone running Windows 7 and ask them what their favorite feature is.”

So, we began our hunt to find someone who met this criteria!   Thinking on our feet.. we thought “Let’s head to the closest starbucks!”  As there was one in the hotel there, but no one seemed to have a Laptop!  Add to that… we had 36 minutes to complete this challenge – The first one to complete it, get a photo and get it uploaded would become the winner!

We walked a few blocks away (as I pulled my laptop out and started staging a blog post… :)) To the next nearest Starbucks only to be presented with the following challenge.

  • “I’m sorry I’m running Windows XP”
  • “No.  I have a mac.”
    • Daniel: “You know you can run Windows 7 on a mac!”
    • MacUser: *scorn* *disgust* :)
  • “I’m sorry, no” which was more or less the “I don’t know what you’re selling, but I’m not buying!”

So, this was our first set of challenges… at which point… I did a refresh on the IT Grand Prix site only to find that… they had already posted their Photo! – We were done for! (and we headed back)

Focusing on the fact that the post in a ‘technicality’ only had a photo and not any expression of their ‘favorite’ feature, we were still game and looking for that next Windows 7 User – When qualifying this fact, we were happily informed that they not only got that.. They got it on film! (Go Scott the Videographer! :))

So, taking our lumps so to speak, we offered to castrate ourselves at their feet in respect of their utter domination of the circumstances :)

At this point, we began our Challenge for the day, which involved another puzzle to sort out.  We were given a contact we needed to find, and an obscure formulae to figure out, simple enough!   Well, after careful calculation and rigorous battle (and using the power of LinkedIn instead of solving an actual puzzle…) we were able to find our next destination to go to!

NPower New York - Your mission.  Our Technology. 

Welcome to NPower NY! They had this program called TSC or Technology Service Corps!

TSC offers a free, 18-week intensive IT training program to low-income youth and young adults (ages 18-25), and then places graduates in full-time employment throughout New York City’s nonprofit, business and public sectors. Participants practice their new skills and give back to their communities by performing service internships and volunteer work for area nonprofits.

The program has experienced steady growth since it began, and consistent high (80%) graduation and placement rates. Because of its success, TSC has grown to serve as many as 111 students/year, in a dedicated Brooklyn-based training facility. As part of this evolution, TSC introduced a Microsoft professional certification component for each student. Finally, NPower will soon launch a new three-year plan to begin TSC chapters at other NPower affiliates.

We were fortunate to meet 30 individuals who were graduates of this program, who went on to serve in Internships, and careers in technology.    The enthusiasm and passion these folks brought brought a great smile to all of our faces as we’ve been in the seat they’re sitting in, and it’s nice to help share our experiences as to how we got to where we are today!

We started off our time here with introducing ourselves and then lead into an “Ask the Experts” panel so they could ask any questions as well as so we could share our stories and history with everyone.     The range of our technical and business history ranged with a number of us having started back as far as 1992, and even some epic success stories of excelling to stardom in as few as 5 years!   We ended up learning a lot about each other and ourselves in this little time together, which was one of the most honest and infinitely valuable moments on the trip thus far.

(Because frankly, I’m writing this blog… I’ll share one of my stories :)  I didn’t get the chance to share this full story to the group, bits and pieces sure.. and I also shared some one-on-one or in a one-to-many session with the graduates, so here goes! )

<begin story>

Every one of us on this trip are MCT’s, many of which have been MCT’s for years (a lot of them have been an MCT 11+ years) which is similar to my own experience on the matter.    Back in the 90’s Microsoft had this ‘offer’, whereby if you got your MCSE you would receive the benefit of a TechNet subscription and a number of support incidents FREE for one year!   Okay… I was younger back then… but I wasn’t any less geeky.   The prospect of a TechNet subscription to me was HUGE! MASSIVE! OMFG AMAZING!   So I did it.  In 11 days, I passed 7 Exams from Microsoft and earned myself the MCSE NT 4.0.   Sure, I knew it might do something for my career in the long-term, but in the short term.. I’d be getting me some software+support! (Booyah! :))

Certainly… this isn’t the type of story you hear from other MCSE’s, MCT’s and otherwise.   Although like almost everything in my life… my situation is drastically different.   I had been investing in myself and my knowledge of Microsoft Technologies going back 10 years prior to that point.   This was huge to me, and meant a lot to me; did I know that my initiative, drive and passion would turn around quickly into a rocketing career (which is STILL ROCKETING UPWARD) from doing that? No..   It was all about giving me access to more tools to play with. :)

What happened next though, was my pursuit of the MCT! It was 1998, I thought, wow I would –love- to teach, share and endow those I worked with and consulted in order to help train them and bring them forward, and wanted to become an MCT.    However, I am very literal to the point of fault sometimes (and especially then).  The guidelines for the MCT at the time required a Premium Certification (MCSE/etc) which I HAD! But it also required me to work for a Trainer/training company, something I was not exactly in the capacity to take on board at that time; thus my plan to become an MCT was put on hold.    —————–> FAST FORWARD to 2009!   While spending my time on the Get On The Bus Tour – First tour of Americas… I got to know the entire MSLearning team, and when I raised this legacy 10+ year old concern around becoming an MCT (something I wanted so to do) I was informed… “Yea, we got rid of that requirement ‘x’ years ago”.

There it was… Becoming an MCT was in my grasp!  In fact, more than just being in my grasp, I actually reached out and took hold and subsequently I’ve been an MCT Officially since 2009!

Now, for those of you who know me… you know that personally certification doesn’t mean a whole lot to myself, because I collect certifications like some people collect fine art.    And that analogy is king here, as they are indeed fine art in a manner of speaking; So much effort goes into their creation, and once you acquire them and hold them in your repository you have the experience and knowledge and are able to keep them forever!    However, not all certifications are created equal; and this distinction is important because frankly I don’t have room for EVERY one of my certifications on my business card or signature line.     If you do see my signature or business card you will see two certifications standing Prominent.  MCT and CISSP.


Hey, I’m a security guy, I invested a lot of myself in this… both in the test and the years of required experience to sit this exam, so this means a lot to me.

As a caveat to this, 3-6 months after completing my CISSP which I studied for 6-9 months and read 57 books to prepare for, I finally sat my GED getting the 99th percentile and thus successfully having documentation stating ‘I have a equivalent to a high school diploma’   Yea… That’s right, right after I completed something which people dedicate decades to :)


I think I pretty much explained that here.   Holding the MCT means a real lot to me, it means decades of dedication, education and pursuit; and I am proud to hold it today as I will to hold it for years to come.    It may not be for every one, but for me, it means a real lot, and I hope you are able to make a story for yourself like my very own above. :)

</end story>

So, while my story ended there… the stories of these individuals at NPower in the TSC Program is just going to continue going forward.    It was a great honor to have these fine people take time out of their day in order to come talk with us, listen to us speak, but more importantly to engage our minds and theirs in unison discussing things which we have such a passionate discourse for.    If you’re curious to what extent this was so passionately driven? :) The Red Team was assigned “Virtualization” as the topic of discussion to cover with them.   Just think about it.. Daniel Nerenberg, MVP of Application Virtualization, and me… the poster child for Virtualization ;)   Talk about the Perfecta!

While there were four teams that day, Red, Blue, Gold and Green all “competing” to win the challenge, we all ended up winners that day.   The opportunity to share with the students, and their attention and passion to join us and enable us to talk with them; All of these challenges are in their own right challenging because any single one of us would give our time to help these folks in an instant.   So, thank you so much NPower and Graduates of the TSC Program.   You made our time in NYC not only a productive one, but an amazing one we’re so happy to have been able to share with you!

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Posted in Careers, Certification, Charity, Education, Evangelist, ITGP, Microsoft | Comments (2)

IT Grand Prix Day 1 – Application Virtualization taking KIPP DC by storm!

June 2nd, 2010

So here we are kicking off the first official day of the IT Grand Prix in Washington DC!     We were supplied with a USB Key with our puzzle, an Internet connection USB card, and a $500 cash card for our incidentals! Our host David Elfassy gave us a ‘puzzle’ to solve in order to find out which non-profit organization we’re going to be going out to help.    Through deductive reasoning, over-thinking the problem, WAAAY OVER THINKING the problem, and some more deductive reasoning… :) We were able to find the non-profit we would be destined to help!

Our Journey begins... with USB and Credit cards! Hi! Can you see me.. I can see you through the KIPP DC!

Welcome to KIPP DC!

KIPP DC is a network of high-performing, college-preparatory charter schools in Washington D.C., which serve the city’s under-resourced communities. At KIPP DC, there are no shortcuts: outstanding educators, more time in school, a rigorous college-preparatory curriculum, and a strong culture of achievement and support help our students make significant academic gains and continue to excel in high school and college.

But what does that mean to you and me?  They’re a business just like yours and anyone else’s who suffer many of the same challenges we all do.  And one of those challenges is how to manage the demanding needs of students, faculty and staff, while being able to stay strategic, forward thinking and be proactive instead of merely reacting to the future of computing.    The challenge with Daniel Nerenberg and I on the Red Team were helping them work with, was addressing Application Virtualization.  Our esteemed coopetition fellows Gordon Ryan, Andrew Bettany of the Blue Team are helping with a Windows 7 Deployment strategy and plan.

What do you get when you combine IT Pro’s, Non-Profits, Coffee and @cxi?
Application Architecture in a sugar cube! image

Innovative solutions the likes of which can only be explained with stirrer sticks and sugar packets!    If you know anything about me, you know that I love tactile reference of physical infrastructure, solely for the logic that we have the ability to MOVE objects around (unlike a whiteboard where we end up getting messy… and it’s not nearly as cool and impactful)   I felt it might be useful for a layman’s explanation of what I just said, so in simple terms…  I like to play with stuff you can find around you :)

The above picture is an architectural breakdown of application virtualization presented to a user use-case environment.   Basically look at it as the sticks are ‘boundaries’ in the first square picture, that physically shows a single ‘machine’ with applications living inside of it, with all of the constraints and conflicts which also happen to live within that environment.    However, in the second picture, you have a breakdown of applications virtualized into separate packages, yet there’s also a model of shared package layers and abstraction… Lots of abstraction! This video helps explain it a little further!

After our sit down talk and interview with Director of Operations, Edward Han and IT Manager, Adam Roberts we got to work on a plan of how Application Virtualization would help out Kipp DC with their organizational challenges.  

Hard at work, notice Gordo has the SAME expression in both photos?! :) Chuck Norris loves you and wants to bust up your geekness Daniel Nerenberg hard at work!

As you can see here, the Blue Team is hard at work.  I’m not sure if they were working on their slides, or checking out some new Chuck Norris statistic, but nonetheless… We all got down to business creating collateral, producing and providing information which would help out those folks and how it would apply (in our case) to what Application Virtualization with App-V could do for them!

I would be remiss in my duty to not share with you what I shared with them.  Use it in the context of your organization of course (as I will not be sharing the incidentals of their organization here! :))

Microsoft’s Application Virtualization collateral!

And here are a few videos produced by the folks on Sequencing and actually deploying using App-V (or Softgrid for you legacy folks like me :))

Though I’m sure some of you are saying “Hey, what about VMware ThinApp – Why didn’t you talk about that?!”  It’s true.   Our mission was to discuss App-V, fortunately I had Daniel with me who is an MVP in App-V too!  However, so you don’t feel left out, here are a few videos of Deploying VMware ThinApp from start to finish in 20 minutes! – Enjoy! :)

Following this, we wrapped up for the day, grabbed our (heavy) bags, and headed out to where the Bus would take us to our next destination: Marriott Brooklyn Bridge in New York City!

Can we fit more into this outlet? I don't think we should try... I'm sure there's a snake down here somewhere! It's getting hot in here!

However, like the geeks we are… All the way at the back of the bus is… a Power Outlet! … Ooh! Two outlets actually! So the guys had their ‘friendmaker’ power strip multipliers, and we plugged them in, with enough arsenal to run a small business (or even a mid-sized enterprise with the kind of gear we’re sporting! :))   And just so you get a good feel for what we’re looking at here… I’m sitting in the literal hot seat!   See all the cables? Oh wait, what’s that you see? It’s 109.5 DEGREES DOWN THERE?!?!? Yea, it’s pretty hot at my feet :)

Red Team on the Back of the Bus! 

I hope you enjoyed Day 1 – This was only the beginning on this whirlwind adventure tour of madness, insanity, education, and Technology! We’re Technology Focused! :)

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Posted in Charity, Education, Efficiency, Geek, ITGP, Microsoft, Technology, VDI, Virtualization, Windows 7, WTF | Comments (1)

IT Grand Prix Day 0 – Red Team takes the Capitol!

June 1st, 2010

Welcome to Washington DC! Is what we would have heard.. err.. no, but seriously :) Hi! We are here in the Capitol as the starting point in our whirlwind tour for Charity, Non-Profits, Education, Learning, Consulting, Technology and innovation!    Also known as the IT Grand Prix sponsored by Microsoft and NPower working with non-profits and more!   Most of us arrived either last night, or this morning, but nonetheless we are all here!   So, how did we start off the day?!

Unloading at the White House?!Daniel and I on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial Me and Lincoln kicking it old style! The flag of America in such majestic flow in the wind

After eventually getting from the airport to the shuttle to the hotel, I took a walk over to meet my fellow Red Team member Daniel Nerenberg and Gold Team member Susan Ibach who waited for me on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.    On the way to meet them, I did pass by the White House where I took this photo of apparently Biden taking advantage of the fact that Obama was back in my native Chicago and moving some things out! err… I mean something else entirely! Though tweeting my ‘joke’ about that resulted in a rather awkward snafu of ‘auto-correct’ gone wild :)

Get on the Bus - FrontGet on the Backpack Get on the Bus - Back Just outside the realm of the bus! oh my! 

In all, it was a good start off to what is already a fairly confusing (intentionally) adventure of working with non-profits, charities and others as we travel our way over the next several days before finally descending upon New Orleans.      For those who had not seen our ‘agenda’ so to speak, here is the breakdown of where our travels will take us:

  • Tuesday, June 1st – Washington DC
  • Wednesday, June 2nd – New York City, NY
  • Thursday, June 3rd – Houston, TX
  • Friday, June 4th – New Orleans, LA

After which point, we take a brief moment to relax before each of our respective responsibilities take charge at TechEd, whether it is running labs, working a booth, interfacing with customers, or in my case – Covering the event for the Media, Press and general community so you can get a unique perspective on stuffs, so to speak :)

 Look at me on the Front Page of the Chicago Tribune - Middle left

And if that doesn’t wrap up the day.. Enjoy this little story my good friend Jorge sent me… Notice: my little picture/name are there on the left/middle.   I guess that’d translate into.. I made it onto the Front Page of the Chicago Tribune! :)    In the meantime, if you have not already joined the Red Team! Please do so :)  It’s for our charity NetHope that we are trying to win $10,000 for!

Enjoy, and look forward to sharing the festivities and events of Days 1 and beyond for you!   Take care and talk to you soon!   – Christopher :)

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Posted in Certification, Charity, Education, Get On The Bus, ITGP, MCT, Microsoft | Comments (0)

Join our race for Charity and be a Champion for Change in Haiti!

May 22nd, 2010

This is my cross-posted official Red Team Blog post! The original can be found here: Join our race for Charity and be a Champion for Change in Haiti!


Hello! I’m Christopher Kusek! – You may know me in the twitter world as @cxi (Why yes, I do have people come up to me and call me cxi… it’s okay, I don’t find it too weird!)

But there are some lessons to be learned here, both from this blog post, and from the whole of this event.

  1. The first lesson is… Try not to run yourself too thin when you’re at a company conference the week of an event kick off, it will definitely show in your team’s presence :)
  2. The second lesson is, don’t be on an opposing team when you have someone get behind their cause, like ours of NetHope!
  3. And the last lesson is.  Have fun :)

So, what am I saying here? It is definitely time to have a GREAT Time!    For those of you who have first met me through my various blog posts around education, learning, certification, technology centric things… or various Zynga Facebook games – Welcome :)

And for those who do not know me, let me tell you a little about myself :)

I am in few if any ways orthodox, it is not exactly part of my DNA, though it is part of the foundation of my success!    A success I like to transfer and convey on to others.

In my professional life (re: the part that pays the bills so I can enjoy the rest of my life) I’m a Technology Evangelist for the semi-large technology company EMC.     I love my job, and I equally love bringing people over to our company (If you are a rock star, LET ME KNOW and I can get you in front of the right people to bring you on board, I’m ALWAYS looking for professional, passionate, OMG AMAZING people! and frankly, it’s getting hard to find those from within my network (the last few I know just started 2 weeks ago… but we still have thousands of positions open world wide!)… Whoa this is starting to look like a commercial, but in reality… for those of you on the fence, I’d like to help improve and change your life and your future… which brings on to the second point of who I am..

I absolutely LOVE helping people! I dedicate a large portion of my life around that; whether it be directly through career counseling and doing deeply technical and strategic things, or indirectly by contributing to a charity and helping out in my (tech) community.   The end result (I hope) is that these others who have grown as a result will be able to continue to go out and help others, allowing this chain of benefit to continue through and through!   I’m not saying that will always be the case, but I’m fortunate to have thousands of stories of others who have gone on and done just that and I am proud of every one of them!

So, why am I doing this? Why am I participating in this event to raise not only money for charity, but at the same time raise the bar for the community as a whole?  Because I get a 20% cut of everything we raise! err.. wait, no that’s not it! (no, it isn’t :))

It’s because I more than care about doing something to help improve the lives of others.. I am actually DOING something about it! And you can do something about it to!

There has been no better time than the present to join the RED Team! Seriously, think about it, the red team has Chief, and Simmons… sure.. we don’t have Church, but cmon.. he’s an AI… (if this doesn’t make sense, please visit

But seriously.   The time is here, the time is now, and the time to join our team, well, we can very clearly make it worth it to you!

I DO want to hear from you, as a part of this contest, and outside of this contest as well – Please do stay in touch and if you are looking for a job anywhere in industry.. well, I talk to hundreds of recruiters on a regular basis (industry wide) also, if you play Facebook games.. you can join my Mafia of 3000 people! ;)

Here is how to contact me, and please do sign up and be a champion!

Twitter: @cxi

Facebook: Christopher Kusek

LinkedIn: Christopher Kusek

Blog: PKGuild

FriendFeed: CXI

Email Personal:

Email Professional:

Youtube: christopherkusek

And for further social media context (Who doesn’t do this?! ) And so you can follow along the journey..

Foursquare: CXI

GoWalla: CXI

But above all, I implore you to go here to sign up for the red team! Register and join us! – Please comment on this post if you do as well! :)

And if there is something I can do to help you in particular in some various area.. let me know, and be SURE to let me know if you’re (also) attending TechEd!

I hope to hear from and see you all soon!

Christopher Kusek, CISSP, MCT

Technology Evangelist, Ninja [or] Pirate?!

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Posted in Certification, Education, ITGP, Microsoft | Comments (2)

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