Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Imagine Cup 2007 (Seoul Korea) Blog

Welcome to my Imagine Cup 2007 blog! This year's worldwide finals are being held in Seoul Korea! During the period from August 3rd thru August 10th, the Imagine Cup will spin up, challenge, and award recognition to the best of the best in the world in a handful of IT categories. Join me as I blog this event, starting from my departure from San Francisco on August 2nd thru the worldwide finals on August 10th!

And the Winner is...
*** Posted Friday, Aug 10, 2007 11:58pm Seoul, Korea local time ***
Alright, the moment you've all been waiting for, the posting with who the winner is for the Imagine Cup 2007 IT Competition! Well, the politically correct thing to say is that all 6 of the competitors are winners, blah, blah, blah... Okay, so the net of it all is that this was a competition, and someone was going to be crowned "the" best of the best, and that's what you are all expecting to read about.

Here's a video that tee'd up the award recognition for the IT Competition...
video
So, to get on with the answer of the ranking, the top 3 go to the following:


  • First Place: Zhifend Chen, China
  • Second Place: Romain Larmet, France
  • Third Place: Ilie Cosmin Viorel, Romania
During the awards ceremony this afternoon, First Place winner, Zhifend Chen invited ALL of the IT competition competitors up to stage for recognition, a tradition that has been a part of the IT awards (all other awards only have the winners up on stage, but for all 3 years I've been a judge and captain for the IT Competition, the first place winner has invited all competitors to be recognized, which is an amazing recognition that all of the competitors fought it out equally, and they shared a comradery that extended beyond just the winners trophy!

So, a HUGE congratulations to all of the competitors in the IT Competition!

When the awards were all handed out, ALL of the individuals from all 9 categories were invited up to the stage. The individuals on the state were recognized for their accomplishment after 8-9 months of qualifying arounds and extremely challenging head to head competitions!



Lastly, it was formally announced that the Imagine Cup 2008 competition will be held in Paris France! The Deputy Mayor of Paris along with a member of the French Senate joined in accepting the Imagine Cup flag as the next City sponsor of the Imagine Cup competition!!!

So, this entry is now complete! I thank everyone for joining me on this blog, and I look forward to blogging the 2008 Imagine Cup competition from Paris next year!!!

Rand

Judging is DONE!!!
*** Posted Tuesday, Aug 7, 2007 4:14pm Seoul, Korea local time ***
We completed the competition at 2pm and just completed the last of the individual judging. I'm not at liberty right now to comment on the individuals and their success or progress on the components of the competition, however I must say that overall, ALL of the competitors did an INCREDIBLE job given the 24-hour time period, no sleep, and a whole lot of tasks! I truly believe we had the best of the best in the world competing this week, and that this competition will identify the individuals who were able to meet more of goals and requirements of the competition.

The final announcement of the first, second, and third place competitors will be announced at the Awards Ceremony on Friday afternoon, of which I will post the details at that time.

Again, thank you to all of you for joining us remotely for the competition. Check back on this site on Friday morning (Aug 10, 2007) California time, we'll have the results posted then...

And the Winners of the Online Competition are...
*** Posted Tuesday, Aug 7, 2007 1:18pm Seoul, Korea local time ***
So on one of my earlier postings, I setup an online competition that encouraged you folks coming in remotely to participate along with our competitors here in Seoul. I wanted to thank ALL of those who submitted your competition entry, and for those of you who just sent in an email or two of words of encouragement!

The three individuals who the IT Competition Judges felt addressed the requirements of the case study the best are:
* Sharif T from Egypt
* Marco V from Brazil
* Wu C from Taiwan

The 3 of you will receive a gift from me that I have purchased here in Korea as well as a signed copy of one of the latest books I've written.

Congratulations and thank you to all of you for your participation!

59 Minutes to Go!*** Posted Tuesday, Aug 7, 2007 12:50pm Seoul, Korea local time ***
So the final minutes here will be very busy, so I'm going to throw out this posting and maybe there will be one or two more in the next hour, kind of give you the logistics here... As we sit less than an hour away from the completion of a VERY long "day" here in Seoul, I'd have to say I am EXTREMELY proud of each and every one of the competitors. We have asked them to design, build, configure, optimize, and tune a full blown network in a 24-hour period with no sleep and after most of these students have traveled halfway around the world for many of them their first time out of their home country. Not a single one of them have given up, and even the person who had gotten 0 on the three milestones ended up with a perfect 10 on the final two milestone challenges, so preseverence seems to be paying off!

In my final pep talk to the finalists just a couple hours ago, I relayed to the 6 finalists that we started off this IT competition at the end of last year with 10,133 competitors representing over 138 countries. These 6 finalists have worked VERY hard to advance through the qualifying arounds to end up here in Seoul, and at worst, they'll end up #6 in the entire world! There is NOTHING wrong with coming in #6 here today, and quite frankly, just to make it to the finish line with head up high knowing they can overcome a lot of challenges is being a winner as it is! I am very proud of their accomplishments, and like with the previous year's competitors, many of whom I am still in contact with, I look forward to seeing these individuals advance in the world of IT or whatever profession they choose, and to give their 100% as they've done here today!

We will be wrapping up and announcing the winners of the Online Competition in the next few minutes, and then at 2pm local time (about an hour from now) we will conclude the IT competition. Each competitor will draw a number, and that will be the individual judging sequence where the judges will spend 15-minutes each to go through the competitor's network solution. Each of the 3 judges will write down scores (1 thru 10) across 20 different tasks we are looking for that demonstrate the competitor met the requirements of the competition. We will hand in our scorecards to the competition management and the announcement will be made on Friday of this week (August 10th) at the Worldwide Final Ceremonies here in Seoul. I will post the results of the final ceremony on Friday afternoon Seoul Korea time (which will be around 1am on Friday morning California time)

I will have a handful of additional postings this afternoon, so stay tuned... And for all of you following the competition, THANK YOU for being a part of the Imagine Cup 2007 IT Competition!!!

Rand

Last Milestone Done, T-Minus 2-hrs 15-min to go!!!
*** Posted Tuesday, Aug 7, 2007 11:45am Seoul, Korea local time ***
We're down to the final wire, we completed the 5th and final Milestone Challenge and heading to the finish line! There are definitely smiles on the faces of the competitors as they see the light at the end of the tunnel, although when one of the competitors said "I wish I had another 12 hours so I could finish up the scenario", I asked him "do you really want to be here another 12-hours?" He just smiled (I'm not sure to take that he's in for another 12-hours or whether it was a sigh of relief that he'll only be here for another 2...).

Anyway, the 5th milestone challenge was on network and server monitoring. In IT, we don't just build network servers and keep them running, but we want to monitor them to make sure we know they are failing before the systems crash so we can proactively fix and maintain them. So this challenge was to have the competitors install a monitoring tool (in the Microsoft world, that's System Center Operations Manager 2007) to monitor the network. We pulled the plug on their WAN connection, and we wanted to see their systems create alerts that in the real world would page the IT person that there's a problem.

Four of the six competitors successfully completed this challenge, there's a lot of confidence now that things they were struggling on early on, they have control of now and taking care of things!
So, with the 5 milestones done, it's just 2-hours and 7 minutes left before the final bell where the competitors are to demonstrate the network they have built in the previous 24-hours meets the business requirements of the scenario.

Best of luck to the competitors as they head to the finish line!!!

Sunrise, Milestone#4, and T-Minus 6 Hours to Go!!!
*** Posted Tuesday, Aug 7, 2007 8:05am Seoul, Korea local time ***
So it is officially morning here in Korea, the sun is up (I went outside to go see the sun, actually one of the first times I've been outside in the middle of the day to see sunlight since I arrived here in Korea 4-days ago), and with 6-hours to go, we had Milestone #4 (of 5) and nearing the end.

Milestone Challenge #4 was one where the competitors were asked to record a video (similar to a school lecture) and make the video lecture available to students to watch. At the end of Milestone #3, we gave the competitors some hints. There are MANY ways of accomplishing this task, could be as simple as using the Webcam they were provided, capture a short 30-second video, and copy the WMV video file up on their SharePoint or Exchange or Web server then make that content available for a remote browser user to access the file. Pretty crude, but meets the basic requirements of the milestone challenge, and something I told the students they'll get partial credit for probably less than 5-10 minutes of effort.

To get more credit, I told them they would install Windows Media Server, a Windows 2003 free add-in that'll allow them to "publish" the video on a Webpage. This would get them likely 3/4 credit for this solution as it required installing Windows Media Server, but in the real world, WMS provides the ability of throttling streaming content, logs and tracks access, and better manages the flow of high quality video over the Internet. For someone not familiar with Windows Media Server, this might take 1-2 hours to install and get working.

For the maximum amount of credit, the student would demonstrate full stream "live" video where the content would stream live. This also uses Windows Media Server, but requires a streaming session to provide managed, throttled, and logged activity in a highly controllable configuration. This would take someone the full 3-hours from the last milestone to figure this out correctly.

When we shared with the competitors at the close of the last milestone 3-hours ago what this 4th milestone was about and the options, I suggested to them that if they were already finished with most of the other competition requirements, go for the max of doing the live video streaming. But being that many of them appeared to be a little behind, I suggested they take the short cut, get partial credit with 5-10 minutes of effort, and focus their time on tightening up the core infrastructure of their network in the extra time they had since the last milestone.

All but one of the competitors were successful at demonstrating at least partial functionality, a HUGE win for the competitors to get momentum on success toward the end here, and I think the added time gave them the chance to clean up their existing setups in anticipation of the 5th and final challenge milestone, and to be ready to demonstrate full functionality of their setup when the competition ends in under 6-hours...

Zombie International...
*** Posted Tuesday, Aug 7, 2007 6:02am Seoul, Korea local time (7-hrs, 58-mins left to go) ***

So I took a bathroom break (way too many Coca-Cola's for me too) and like about a dozen and a half other students from other competitions, we also wanted to step outside for a breath of fresh air. Now of course, despite a staircase right next to the elevator, we all waited for the elevator to go down 1 level to get outside...

As we were waiting for the elevator, we introduce ourselves to one another. In this small little grouping, there was a student from Sri Lanka, one from Bosnia, another from Ecuador, one from China, a student from Sweden, a couple students from Brazil, along with students from the US, South Africa, Russia, India, Australia, the Czech Republic, and Singapore. While everyone was clearly exhausted and walking international zombies, they all shared the same goal of shaking off the sleepiness, get re-energized, and head to the home stretch of the competition!

What WERE those mysterious green sprinkles in the cookies???
*** Posted Tuesday, Aug 7, 2007 5:26am Seoul, Korea local time (8-hrs, 34-mins left to go) ***
Okay, well we're well past 15-hours into the 24-hour competition period and the competitors are holding up amazingly well! Forunately one of the sponsors of this event is Coca-Cola Korea, and the hotel staff has been kind enough to keep restocking our Coke, Coke Light, and Coke ZERO supply here in the room as more and more cans of soda are consumed, which there have been more and more bathroom breaks for the competitors, that's getting their blood circulating at least and keeping them awake!

The hotel delivered these box lunches a little while ago that had a very interesting pickle sandwich with a slice of roast beef down the middle. There were definitely more pickles than beef in this sandwich, reminds me of an old Wendy's burger commerical, which of course in this idle state of doing nothing, I downloaded off YouTube to bide the time.

Now, the sandwich was only part of the "interesting factor" of the box snack. Now I got to the cookies, and I should have just stopped with eating the chocolate cookie that wasn't chocolate but rather, hmm, actually I don't know what it tasted like. Well have you ever bitten into something thinking you were going to get a specific taste, but it wasn't what you expected? But see, I didn't learn and there was this white cookie with green speckles in it. So I ate this mystery green speckled cookie, and you know what, it too didn't taste like what I expected. I expected a cookie to be, maybe sweet? This cookie was like eating a slice of melba toast with peppermint crystals in it, VERY interesting...

Oh, by the way, have you ever read the ingredients listed on the side of a can of Pringles potato chips???

Can you guess there's a bit of idle time here for the judges while the competitors are sweating it out trying to make their systems work???

Okay, well I did survive eating the pickle sandwich and green speckled cookie enough to help judge the 3rd milestone round at 5am in the morning here. The 5am challenge was for the competitors to demonstrate they could remotely access their network to retrieve data in a secure manner as I noted in the posting below. One competitor was able to get it working perfectly, his first challenge he was successful completing, so a HUGE smile went on his face as he's finally on the board with a score! Three of the competitors didn't quite use SharePoint for the solution as we had expected, instead they re-used their Exchange 2007 Outlook Web Access to demonstrate secured access to data, which that earned them half credit for the challenge, still better than nothing. So at the 15-hour mark (with 9 hours to go), the score is pretty much even.
We gave the competitors the milestone challenge data for the next challenge that'll occur at 8am local time here, and I gave them all a pep talk as they are ALL very much in this competition, to stay focused, and to keep on at it! I actually got a couple smiles out of the competitors, which either they are sleepy/goofy, or there's some sense of accomplishment or satisfaction that in 9 hours, they will have everything all figured out and working!

Milestone 2 Complete!
*** Posted Tuesday, Aug 7, 2007 2:43am Seoul, Korea local time (11-hrs, 17-mins left to go) ***
So we crossed over into Tuesday here, and we also passed the halfway point on the competition and the competitors are quick amazingly still going strong. The second milestone just came and went. The challenge was for the competitors to make sure that in their networking environment that their main school campus location and their remote branch campus location had the ability of sharing information between the two locations, and remain fully operational even in the event that the Internet connection they share to link the schools together went down. This is a common scenario where data is frequently stored only in one location and if the internet connection fails, anyone on the "other side" of the internet connection have no access to information.

However, Windows 2003 has a built-in technology called Distributed File System Replication (DFS-R) that replicates information to secondary, tertiary, and other locations. That way, in the event of an internet failure, the users on both side of the connection still have access to a local replica of the information, thus they can read, write, and store information just as if the network was still operational. The only thing they wouldn't be able to do is share the exact same information simulatenously across the connection until the Internet is back up and running.


So there was a 6-way tie in meeting this milestone challenge, none of the competitors got this right and able to demonstrate the functionality of DFS-R between locations. A couple of the competitors didn't even know this technology existed, and a couple of the competitors tried to set it up, but they only had ONE global catalog server, so without a global catalog server on both sides of the WAN, they could not access the directory to look up information once the Internet connection was down. So a good try, but a failed solution.

The next challenge, due up in 2-hours and 10-minutes is to be able to ensure that when a scenario student is working at an Internet Cafe is accessing school information remotely, that their connection between the Internet kiosk and their school is secure. Normally we give the competitors the summary of the challenge just 1 hour before we expect to see their results. In this 3rd scenario, we provided them the materials 2-1/2 hours before the milestone timing, and we gave them very big hints that they should be storing student information on SharePoint 2007, and to ensure remote access security of the data, that they should have a Certificate Server on their network, issue a Web SSL certificate to their SharePoint server, and require encryption (ie: https) access to the server. By providing them this information, our hope is that at the next milestone, we'll have a 6-way tie again, this time hopefully with all 6 competitors meeting this challenge. By then, it'll be 15-hours into the competition, they could use a bit of a morale boost!

We'll see how they all do in just over 2-hours...

Milestone 1 Complete!
*** Posted Monday, Aug 6, 2007 11pm Seoul, Korea local time (16-hrs, 0-mins left to go) ***
It has been nine hours from the start of the competition, 16-hours left to go and we had our first milestone. The milestones are key tests to determine whether the competitors have successfully completed specific tasks that they should have completed by the milestone timeframe. In this particular case, the competitors were to have the ability to successfully send an email from their network to the central judges messaging system. For those techies out there, basically they had to have Windows Active Directory implemented, extended the schmea and installed Exchange 2007, setup SMTP connectors, and have requested to the ISP (which is the judges system) to have DNS MX and A records added to our master DNS here onsite. For this challenge, only 2 of the 6 competitors successfully completed the challenge earning them 10 points out of 200 for the competition. Although all is not lost for the 4 who didn't complete this milestone as there are a LOT of future milestones (another 19) that can swing the score either way very quickly and easily.

By the way, the right light thing that the cameraman is filming to the left is a buzzer that signifies the start of a milestone check. When the predetermined milestone time is reached, the buzzer and flashing red light go off noting the competitors should step away from their systems and let the judges inspect whether they have successfully completed their milestone task.
The next milestone is in 3-hours, at 2am local time which will be the halfway point for the competition...

We Have Our First Sleeper!!!
*** Posted Monday, Aug 6, 2007 7:45pm Seoul, Korea local time (18-hrs, 15-mins left to go) ***
Okay, just 6 hours into the competition and we had our first sleeper, although it wasn't one of the competitors, it was me. I was outlining a chapter for my upcoming book Windows 2008 Unleashed, and next thing I know, I woke up to a screen full of jjjj jj jjjjj jjjjjjjj jjjjjjjjjjj jjjjjjjj. Either this new book I'm writing is a real sleeper, or maybe I didn't get as much sleep last night as I thought I did. Although only more than an hour from my last posting, I don't think I missed much. The competitors, however, are still zipping through the competition and the scenarios. They're asking all the right questions like getting license keys for SharePoint 2007, license keys for Visio 2007, a 64-bit ISO mounting software to access the application software images on their USB drives, so that leads me to believe they're doing pretty well. Although I think I might peek in on the competitor from Romania at the end of the room, come to think of it, I haven't seem him emerge from his cube in a while (maybe he did, but I was just asleep...)

20-hours, 50-minutes, 45-seconds to go...
*** Posted Monday, Aug 6, 2007 afternoon ***
So we're 3-hours into the competition and all is still quiet (well, other than those server fans creating an intense white noise...). We had one competitor not know how to assign a drive letter to his USB drive that had all of the software images on it, so he formatted the drive (which in the real world he would then have to figure out how to go find replacement discs for all of his software, but we just reimaged his USB drive for him). We had another competitor not set the time on his server before installing Windows, so when he finally got around to updating the time on his systems, ALL of his software immediately expired, so he's sitting on the phone right now trying to activate his software with Microsoft (something that is KEY in IT is to make sure the time and date of the server systems are set properly before installing software on them).

We've had 1 bad network cable and a missing DVD driver, but so far, external infrastructure has been solid, knock on wood...

Okay, so the guy whose software all expired couldn't get an outside line from within the data center here (very typical in the real world that the "phone" is nowhere near where the servers are, and cell phones don't work in the data center because it's deep in a basement or something), so the guy is going to reformat his hard drive and start all over again (this time making sure the time and date are set properly on his system before installing the software, I hope...)

The Competition BEGINS!!!
*** Posted Monday, Aug 6, 2007 2:49pm Seoul, Korea local time (10:49pm Sunday California time) ***
Okay, the moment we've all been waiting for, the Imagine Cup 2007 IT Finals have begun! Just 49 minutes ago, we gave the competitors the booklet that has the final scenario and they have 24-hours to build a network to meet the needs of this scenario. The will have to load up 5 servers with Windows Server 2003 base operating system, and then load on application software like Exchange 2007, SQL 2005, ISA 2006, Virtual Server 2005, SharePoint 2007, and the like to meet the requirements of the scenario.

Pictured here are the judges and competitors (left to right): Valy Greavu, Judge; Chris Amaris, Judge; Ilie Cosmin Viorel, Romania; Andrei Alexandroni, Romania; Jean-Benoit Paux, France; Paul Wojcicki Jarocki, Poland; Zhifend Chen, China; Romain Larmet, France; Rand Morimoto, Judge



Other than the "quiet hum" of 39 server systems (for those of you who know the lovely sound of HP Proliant and IBM Server systems, the room is deafning), the competitors are heads down loading on software, re-reading the instructions, writing down their plan, and busily working away here. The energy and adrenaline is intense. Compare/contrast this posting with one I'll put out in about 16-hours from now, see how much energy the competitors (and I) have at that time...

********************Anyone for a Little ONLINE Competition???
*** Posted Monday, Aug 6, 2007 2:00pm Seoul, Korea local time ***
Okay, I know I have a lot of TechHeads following this blog for the competition, and I was thinking that it might be fun for those of you following the competition from home to actually participate! So, I'm going to run a little online competition here for anyone who wants to participate along with the competitors here in Korea. Top 3 competitors of this online competition will win a momento from Korea (I'll find some authenticate Korean trinket to give away!). I'll arrange to ship the prizes to the 3 winners when I'm back in the States!

So, here's the online competition... Basically the scenario is the EXACT same scenario provided to the 6 finalists. Now, while the finalists have been given 5 pieces of server hardware and a stack of DVDs and CDs, that's not possible for the online competition, so for you folks, looking for just a 1-pager written solution explaining how you'd setup the hardware, what software you would use, etc to meet the requirements of the challenge. ONE MS-Word document page ONLY, single spaced (or less!). I know you won't have enough space to get too detailed, so part of your challenge is to relay to us judges that if you were sitting here in the competition room with 5 server systems and 1 laptop, what you would do to get this going.

Submit your solution by EMAIL to ic2007rand@yahoo.com as a Word attachment by 1pm, Tuesday, August 7, 2007 Seoul Korea time (which is 9pm on Monday evening, August 6, 2007 California time). This is 1-hour before the real competition finishes, and I'll have the judges in our final moments of the competition review the online submissions and score them. No late submissions will be accepted. If you have any questions, POST THEM on Network World blog so we can answer the questions publicly so that everyone has the benefit of reading answers to questions.

This is ONLY for fun, decision of the judges are final, blah, blah, blah. Remember, this is just a 1-page submission, make your response brief, just trying to get the techies of you to semi-experience the challenge that the finalists are going through "live" here in Seoul with real pieces of hardware and discs in their efforts to actually take the theory and BUILD a fully operational network environment to meet the requirements of this challenge...

Post your questions, and let's have some fun with this!

Rand

*** T-Minus 2-1/2 hours before we begin!!!
***Posted Monday, Aug 6, 2007 11:14am Seoul, Korea local time (7:14pm Sunday California time)
Okay, the competitors have been briefed and are to join us back in the competition room in just under 2-1/2 hours to begin their 24-hour head to head competition. Jetlag is already a challenge for many of the competitors as 3 of the 6 were late to the briefing because they overslept, although they know we start in 2-1/2 hours, so, we'll see if they make it there on time...

*** The IT Competition Finalists!
***Posted Monday, Aug 6, 2007 6:05am Seoul, Korea local time
So we have fewer than 8-hours before the head to head competition begins, and I made sure I got a good nights rest because it'll be a good 38-hours before I see the topside of a pillow again as we embark on the morning competition announcements, rules and code of conduct briefing, press and media interviews, and finally the kick-off to the competition at 2pm this afternoon (10pm on Sunday night California time for those of you coming in state side), so it'll be a LONG day ahead of us here!

One thing that I didn't mention in my posting last night was the competitors. I actually now know the names of the competitors (something we've only known them by their Imagine Cup logon "handle" until now as all of the qualifying rounds were online). The six finalists that'll be competing today in the IT competition are:

* Zhifend Chen, China: student at the Hua Zhong University of Science and Technology
* Jean-Benoit Paux, France: student at INSA de Lyon
* Romain Larmet, France: student at INSA de Lyon
* Paul Wojcicki Jarocki, Poland: student at Wyzsza Szkola Zarzadzania i Bankowosci w Krakowie (School of Banking and Management in Krakow)
* Andrei Alexandroni, Romania: student at Politehnica Timisoara
* Ilie Cosmin Viorel, Romania: student at Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Lasi

Off to meetings, I'll post more as the day rolls along!


*** Let the Games Begin!!!
***Posted Sunday, Aug 5, 2007 9:35pm Seoul, Korea local time
So it's Sunday night here and I JUST got back to my room after participating in the Opening Ceremony here for the Imagine Cup. At 7:43pm, Joe Wilson, Microsoft Director of Academic Initiatives declared the Imagine Cup Competition offically started to the roar of cheers from the competitors!

Here's a shotty home video I took of the opening multimedia video...
video

The energy and excitement is more intense than can be described in writing in a blog as the best of the best college students from around the world are about to conclude an 8 month journey over the next couple of days here...

*** Posted Sunday, Aug 5, 2007 1:10pm Seoul, Korea local time (9:10pm Saturday, California time) ***
Okay, been offline for the past dozens hours for a combination of getting some sleep, and being heads down with T-minus 24-hours left to go before the start of the competition (and T-minus 6 hours before the Opening Ceremony!). So we called it a night yesterday at about 8:30pm, was a long day since arriving to Seoul, we were beat. Good night sleep and back at it this morning. So what we've done today is to test out the competitor systems. Each competitor gets 5 servers and a laptop, and we have a combo of LAN and WAN connected hubs, switches, routers, and gateways. We wanted to make sure all of the systems worked, all the cables and connections worked so that way when the competition begins, one competitor wouldn't have a disadvantage against another by having a system with a bad hard drive, or bad cable or something. And we did find a system that just refused to boot up, we found a couple faulty power cables that when wiggled caused the systems to shutdown, and a bad network cable. We also had to move around systems so that each competitor's layout in their competition area was identical to others. So, a picture of what the competition area for each competitor.

Now, as much as we tested everything, stuff will come up in the competition that won't work just like in the real world, and the competitors will have to debug the problem, fix the problem, work around the problem, or ask for a replacement. But at least we want to make sure everyone starts off with an identical slate. So, we're loading up Windows on 39 systems and pinging all systems and testing all subnets. We're about 3/4 of the way done with testing and we're in good shape!

The rest of the afternoon is to continue the testing as well as build up the judges systems, test printers, and sometime in the next couple hours grab lunch. The Opening Ceremony starts in under 6 hours...

*** Posted Saturday, Aug 4, 2007 5:10pm Seoul, Korea local time (1:10am Saturday, California time) ***
Compared to last year, the prep for this year's competition has been a piece of cake (knock on wood!) In the past half-day, we have received all of the CD-R discs we needed to burn boot discs for our competitors, and we received in the 6 240gb USB drives we requested to copy the application images for the competition. The room is now setup (albeit we're having to shift around some hardware in a more logical manner), but definitely very well organized this year! The pictures below are of the 3 IT Competition judges, Valy Gravu of Romania, Chris Amaris of the USA, and me. and the big room is the main convention hall all setup to host the opening ceremony tomorrow!











*** Posted Saturday, Aug 4, 2007 11:35am Seoul, Korea local time (7:35pm Friday California time) ***

Okay, so much for going sightseeing with the families, the morning briefing dictated we needed to jump in and finalize details, so the families are off to visit the sights of Seoul, and Chris and I are heads down working on a few details. So far we have computers (actually really good systems, each competitor has 5 HP DL/360 servers plus a laptop, which those of you in the IT industry know that's pretty darn decent). We have reliable electrical power, and we have Internet connectivity now. Chris and I have spent the past 3 hours burning ISOs and DVDs to create images for the applications (Exchange 2007, SharePoint 2007, ISA 2006, Ops Mgr 2007, etc) and the conference runner is getting us 60 CD-R discs that we'll be burning boot CDs for each of the competitors as well as they are getting us USB drives to copy on the application images. Our expectation is after lunch today, Chris and I will be able to start loading up software on all of the systems to make sure the systems have enough memory, we have all of the basic network and system drivers, and that we can effectively create working environments so that when the students jump in on the competition, that hardware and software won't be a problem for them, that it'll be all up to their knowledge and skill to make good working systems work to meet the needs of the competition...

So, we're moving along really well here, FAR ahead of schedule over last year when this time last time we were sitting in a completely empty room with no computers, no software, AND no electricity. Of course, I'm knocking on wood here, there's easily 50 hours before the competition starts, plenty of time for things to crop up...

More to follow!

*** Posted Saturday, Aug 4, 2007 8:05am Seoul, Korea local time (4:05pm Friday California time) ***
So Chris and I have scoped out the scene here, and good news is we have electrical power (a huge plus over India last year) and the computers are here (a plus over the competition in Japan the year before), but the systems are not connected together nor have Internet connectivity (plus no software CDs), so we have the makings of the "most secure network" competition where the students don't load up software nor connect them together or to the Internet, that'll keep the viruses off of the systems, eh?

Anyway, the conference people expect the connectivity to be addressed today, and all else fails we'll burn soft copies of the CDs and DVDs we need for software onto USB drives (as we have had to do every year (why is it that we thought we'd actually have CDs and DVDs all ready this year when we've never had that in past years...). We're going to go take our families off to a nearby temple and park, run the kids around for a while, explore the Seoul subway system, maybe get a KimChee Mac at McDonalds and then check back in to the conference room later this afternoon. Stay tuned...

*** Posted Friday, Aug 3, 2007 10:00pm Seoul, Korea local time (6am California time) ***
Okay, so I arrived safely to Seoul, got to the hotel/conference center, and about to jump in to scope out the scene here for the competition. While on the flight though, I wrote up the following to give you a background, so here's a post on the competition...

The Imagine Cup is a competition sponsored by Microsoft to bring together the best of the best college students from around the world in a competition of knowledge, teamwork, and skill. This year's competition started in December/2006 with over 42,298 college students representing 173 countries (yeah, go ahead, start naming me 173 countries, of course you'll start off strong with US, Canada, England, France, Japan, Italy, Brazil, Egypt, but I had to do a web search on the name of some of the countries these students were representing as I had never heard of countries like Reunion or St. Pierre and Miquelon, and couldn't point out on a map where Vanuatu or Anguilla are)

Anyway, for this competition there are 9 categories that the competitions can choose to compete in including Embedded Development, Algorithm, Interface Design, Photography, Information Technology, Project Hoshimi Programming Battle, Short Film, Software Design, and Web Development. For the 3rd year in a row, I am the global Head Judge for the Information Technology competition (while this year's competition is in Seoul Korea, last year we had the finals in Agra India at the foot of the Taj Mahal, the year before the finals were in Yokohama, Japan, and the year before that was Rio de Janiero, Brazil.

So for the IT competition, we had 10,133 individual competitions start off the competition and we had to whittle the field down. Round 1 was an online multiple choice quiz of 50 questions spanning the gammut of Microsoft technologies specific to Windows 2003, Exchange 2007, SharePoint 2007, System Center Operations Mgr 2007, SMS 2003, SQL 2005, Virtual Server 2005, ISA 2006, Windows Vista, Office 2007, and the like. The competitors were given 1-hour to complete the online exam, and the scores were tallied up, and effectively 660 students moved on to Round 2. As an example of a couple of the questions on the exam, here's a few:

**********You are the networking administrator for your company. Your servers run Windows 2003. You are tasked with troubleshooting system performance on one of your Domain Controllers. You suspect bad or inadequate memory but, first you want to check that the page file size and location are configured properly.

Where would you look to find the current configuration of page file?
A. The Performance section in the Advanced tab of System Properties
B. Security Center in the Control Panel
C. Task Manager
D. Administrative Tools

*** Correct Answer is A ***


**********Which DNS Zone resolves IP address to a fully qualified host names?
A. Forward Lookup Zone
B. Reverse Lookup Zone
C. Stub Zone
D. DNS Zone

*** Correct Answer is B ***

**********You are the administrator of an Exchange 2003 environment. Your manager has asked you to pick an architecture for Exchange 2007 that will give you automatic redundancy in the case of a server or storage failure. Which option is best:
A. Implement Continuous Local Backup on the Exchange 2007 mailbox server.
B. Implement Exchange 2007 in a virtual server and copy the virtual server to another host each night.
C. Implement Clustered Continuous Replication on the Exchange 2007 mailbox server.
D. Implement a Single Copy Cluster on the Exchange 2007 mailbox server.

*** Correct Answer is C ***

**********
For those who work with this stuff on a regular basis, these types of questions are relatively simple, although to cover over a dozen different disciplines (newtorking, messaging, security, document management, applications, servers, desktop, etc) this competition really does vette out the best of the best in the world...

So, at the end of Rond 1 in March/2007 we had 660 Round 2 competitors. The Round 2 competitors were given a case study that they had to read and then submit a computer networking design and implemention plan on how they would meet the goals of the case study.

The case study was a scenario where a College wanted to setup an online access and communications system for its students and faculty. The system needed to provide the students access to coursework materials and to communicate with their instructors, and for the faculty a system to track grades and communicate with their students, but in a manner where the faculty personal information is secure.

The students had a month to work independently on the case studies, and the submissions we received were VERY impressive, 10-30 page Word doc submissions! The primary language of the competition is English, so for many of the competitors, just submitting a round 2 case study to address the needs of the case study scenrio was very impressive. Thanks to a panel of expert judges (Chris Amaris, Sarah Holden, Tyson Kopczynski, Jeff Guillet, and Alex Lewis), the finalists were selected. Our 6 finalists come from 4 countries: China, France, Romania, and Poland

For the past 45-days we have been working extremely hard to prepare for the finals, and here we are now in Seoul Korea completing the final onsite details.

I'll post more about the competition shortly. Keep visiting this blog page, refresh your browser to see the updates, and I'll provide more as the competition progresses!

In the mean time, for those of you who didn't follow my blog from last year, you can see how the competition last year unfolded... Imagine cup 2006 Blog

*** Posted Thursday, Aug 2, 2007 2:00pm San Francisco, USA local time ***
Welcome to my blog posting for the Imagine Cup 2007 competition! I'm sitting at SFO waiting for the flight to take off and taking this moment to kick off the blog posting for my travels to the Imagine Cup 2007 competition in Seoul Korea.It's a 12-hour flight to Seoul, then an hour from the airport into the City, so I'll be back online in about 15 hours with my next post...

I will be updating this blog page a couple times on Friday (the 3rd) and Saturday (the 4th) California time, and then will be adding content every hour or two between 10pm Sunday the 5th thru 10pm Monday the 6th (California time) during the midst of the head to head competition. Click on "refresh" on your browser to see the changes on your page.

Come back and visit as I add more content as the extended weekend progresses!

Rand

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