Alex Meier

Alex is a server administrator with great Linux skills and complete fluency with the Windows platform, and he's well-versed in enterprise service infrastructure (SAN, Fiber Channel and more). He's employed by the Kantonsschule Zug, but works very hard despite being a government employee. He maintains an air of barely restrained chaos but is in fact very well-organized.

He's well-networked on the human level, too — he knows our schools inside and out, and can always tell you which teacher was seen at which bar, and with whom.

He loves travel, with a blatant bias toward warmer countries. Though his dream job is to be a bartender on a Cuban beach, the sins from some past life have diverted him to government service in our very untropical canton. He's okay with that, because you can play computer games anywhere. He really likes first-person shooters, and is living proof that such games do not lead to real violence. He's relentless in a game, but in real life is laid-back, friendly, and has no interest at all in guns, violence or any of that. Although some of us consider his taste in music an act of aggression. Sometimes we think someone's starting up a jet engine in our offices, but it's just Alex listening to his music.

He's a really happy guy. “I'm a rich man,” he likes to say, though he could be making more money in the private sector.

Which reminds us — if you need a really good server administrator, do not contact this guy. We can't afford to lose him.

Alexander Avanesov

Alexander is our technical guru for web design and web 2.0 applications. Based in Taganrog, Russia, he's a very reliable, hard-working freelancer — we're not sure he ever sleeps — and a wizard at JavaScript programing. He's a genius with HTML5 and CSS3 — even on Internet Explorer — and can do it all. You need a GPS/GLONASS receiver with a web GUI — useful if you're always losing your car keys ... or your entire car? He's done those. He has a firm command of i18n, which means he can easily adapt sites and software to various local and language needs.

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He graduated from Taganrog State University with a degree in radio engineering. Taganrog's a nice place, with a big academic tradition and a major industrial center, but blessed with mild winters and gorgeous summers, right next to the Black Sea. Honestly, we're surprised he doesn't get out and enjoy the sunshine a little more often. But that's our good fortune (and yours! He's available!).

He combines the poetry of the old Russian soul with the energy of the modern age. That means still reading incredibly long, gloomy books by candlelight, but now they're technical manuals instead of War and Peace, and the candle is supplemented by the glow of a giant flat-screen monitor. Ah, the romance ...

One of the hardest things about hiring freelancers at a long distance is developing trust, and we're very glad to have found Alexander. We get terrific work out of him, and excellent communication in English. Or, hey, practice your Яussiаи.

Christian 'wiwi' Wittenhorst

Call me “wiwi.”

A number of years ago — never mind how big a number — I was penniless, destitute, wandering without direction across the face of the Earth, venturing from my native Zug to London, the United States (Sandusky, Ohio and less-known areas like NYC, Boston and Portland), and finally Novosibirsk. It was a very original itinerary. I was determined to discover the mysteries of the universe and the limits of the human body's tolerance for caffeine.

Setting sail in the world of science, I ran aground on the rocks of computer engineering, earning a master of science in it from ETH Zurich, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, while also continuing my investigations into the outer limits of caffeine consumption (and pizza — I was expanding my scientific inquiry). I meant to become a software engineer, but I fell in with a bad crowd and ended up a network engineer. I consider it my mission to save others from this fate. Stay in school, kids, and practice your coding.

All this qualified me to become a shining example of an engineer and technical project lead — a sleepless workaholic with poor social skills who thinks Dilbert represents the epitome of human evolution.

I did a little of this and a little of that. I was at MCI Worldcom, leaving the company only six months before it crashed. Not my fault, by the way! The company was better when it was run by engineers, not shady accountants, and with that in mind, I've been running my own consultancy for ten years, specializing in data networks and server infrastructure. You want buzzwords, I've got 'em: IPv6, BGP, OSPF, IS-IS, MPLS, QoS, SONET/SDH, Carrier- and Metro Ethernet, IOS, JunOS, .... I also keep my hand in the programming side, still occasionally coaching software development teams and doing code reviews. I have a particular affinity to the Agile methodologies. Overall, I try to take bleeding-edge design and make it a rock-solid, future proof business reality. My company works with medium and large corporations, but I've been known to pitch in with pro bono networking projects for a pizza or two.

As the head of IT Services at the Kantonsschule Zug, I'm the main guy behind AS34288 operations, which the Kantonsschule funds. I've got an expert team that is drawn to my subtle motivational management technique (What's a “Roman slave galley,” anyway? I wasn't a history major ...), and the balletic grace of my fine motor skills. I'm told that “Hide the breakables!” is a cheer of celebration and respect in Swiss culture.

Is there anything else you should know about me? I'm a strong supporter of freedom of speech, I own more technical books than many libraries, I don't have an alarm clock and no longer believe there is a time before eight a.m. Early morning meetings are not real, either. I am incredibly resistant to cold weather. My wife is a lovely and exceptionally tolerant daughter of Siberia, so probably I've inherited by marriage that Novosibirskian refusal to freeze in subzero temperatures. This is far from the only thing I'm grateful to her for, and to say she makes all my work possible is no understatement.

Thanks for stopping by. If you'd like to know more about me, or tell me a little about yourself, drop me a line.

Claudius M. Zingerli

Don't call him “wiwi.” He'll think I'm standing right behind him.

I think of him as my right-hand man; he thinks of himself as the brains behind my pretty face. Without question, he's a sharp, enthusiastic idea man, the perfect guy when you need to brainstorm alternatives and find the most creative solution. He's got a master's degree in Electrical Engineering from ETH Zurich (the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), and he's working on his Ph.D., the showoff.

In addition to a strong work ethic, a combination of broad theoretical knowledge and wide-ranging practical expertise, and an enthusiasm for learning anything and everything, he writes clean and easily maintained software code with the grace of a poet. Claudius also builds really solid electronics, and loves to thoroughly test our hardware and software for ergonomy and stability. If something survives his testing, I consider it unbreakable, even in the event of a direct meteor hit. When human civilization crumbles, there will be nothing left but cockroaches and the electronics that survived his merciless “quality assurance process.” Good news if the cockroaches will need reliable magnetic bearings.

Claudius is an indispensable genius, and he even does a lot of work for us pro bono. Or maybe we've just lost his invoices. Never mind. Shh.

On a personal level, he's a pleasure to be around, an engineer with a soul and an appetite for life. He also has an appetite for food, and he's been known to chow down on things that sane humans would find inedible. Balut, Surströmming, Hakarl, Pídàn — all part of his usual diet. Fortunately, he also enjoys a good spare rib, so you can eat real food with him, too.

He has some strange hobbies, though — there's no point in denying that. He likes to make small metal spheres spin at 20 million rpm, and to make seriously big things hover freely in seriously strong magnetic fields. He makes spud guns with intercontinental range, and fancy "things" that require high amperage high power plugs. He's probably one volcanic-island base away from being a James Bond villain.

We highly recommend that you consult with Claudius for all your engineering projects. Need a fast, reliable corporate data network? Call him. Need a software application coded from scratch? No problem. Need your own spaceship? Claudius will figure it out. Just don't be surprised if your company's delivery van suddenly has a working warp drive.