BigSkyTechGuy is Ross Brunson, an author, technical guy and SUSE’s Certification Architect.
I started with computers in an apprentice program in Woodland Hills California at a publishing warehouse who owned a Data General 8000 mini-frame. (Is that a word?)
I spent my 1/2 day at the publisher programming in Basic, playing Hunt the Wumpus, Trek and using the wall command to mess with other console users. Oh, and I made popcorn in great batches every afternoon and changed the printer paper when it ran low. Auspicious beginnings, I know.
I really got into computers while in the US Army in Germany in the 80’s, where I got my first CP/M computer and began the process of reading all the manuals. I quickly jumped over to an early Amstrad PC, a 8088-2 with two FD and 640K of RAM and started designing forms and documents for my less computer-illiterate brothers in arms.
From there, I got out of the Army and started working at a Law Firm in Minneapolis as the Help Desk guy, learning about Windows 2.0, 3.0, Windows for Workgroups and networking it all using Banyan Vines. (Yes, Banyan Vines, I know….) I supported 600 desktops of Attorneys, Legal Secretaries and lower life firms like Junior Partners etc.
I began using OS/2 on my own and eventually ran a large 4 line BBS on OS/2 for several years, and was using it in my consulting work for a couple of years at the Cargill Corporation in Wayzata MN.
I became an instructor for Learning Tree around that time frame and began by teaching the Netware/NT Integration Course and very quickly became the lead instructor for that and my favorite course, the UNIX/NT Integration Course, eventually becoming also a lead instructor on the Optimization and Troubleshooting Course.
From a number of very successful years at Learning Tree, eventually even teaching 1 day gigs to 500+ people, I got recruited by Mastering Computers out of Scottsdale and worked there for a VERY interesting year until they got bought by Platinum Technologies, who got bought out by Computer Associates, which is the closest thing to a corporate black hole as you can get.
I went on to teach in the Denver area as a contractor for a while and one fateful day I made a bunch of cold calls to Linux companies, including Red Hat, LPI and SAIR Linux.
I went to work for SAIR Linux as the Instructor Operations Manager and eventually became the Courseware and Exams Manager as well. After several years the company folded because it was bought out by Thomson Learning, an analogue to Computer Associates on the educational side and we all scattered to the four winds, with some of us still keeping contact to this day.
From there I went on to start the first LPI boot camps in the US at a company called “The Training Camp” out of Philadelphia, teaching mostly in the Poconos at it’s facility. I did 3+ years of LPIC Level 1, Solaris 8/9/10 and Cisco CCNA/DA bootcamps there and made some connections that I still keep and cherish to this day.
While teaching for the Training Camp, I began to get a dribble, then a flood and eventually filled classes with Novell support staff, sales engineers and senior technologists. It was clear something was happening with all them learning Linux, so when they bought SUSE Linux, I immediately jumped on board and began what turned out to be a 6 year stint at Novell/SUSE spanning Training Services, Sales Engineer in New York State and finally Sales and Engineering Enablement.
After about 6 years, I got the itch to go do more Social Media-related work and began a couple of gigs as a contractor for Montana State Government and a couple of publishing houses that I enjoyed immensely.
After about 3 years of this, I had a great conversation with the late (and great!) Scott Lamberton of LPI, and made a pitch to Jim (LPI’s then CEO) and the team about redoing LPI’s community and increasing it’s Social Media reach and market share.
I had a great and very fulfilling run at LPI for nearly 6 years, being officially the Member Services Manager but in reality doing a lot more, such as almost 30 week-long Instructor Skills Enablement sessions at Community Colleges, creating and running the LPI Academy Program with almost 10,000 students and 500 schools at one point, and also running almost all the marketing and Social Media for the organization.
Suddenly, out of the blue, I get a call from my old friend Erin at SUSE, which had just emerged out of it’s own version the the Dark Ages being owned by The Attachmate Group and they’re ready to kick up everything into high gear and I joined the Enablement Team again, this time run by a great guy I had never met, but really enjoy working for, named Rich W.
I’m currently the Certification Architect for SUSE Inc, where I manage all the SUSE Certifications, their development, implementation and maintenance.
All opinions (and especially any social or professional awkwardness) is totally mine, no tacit or explicit approval or involvement from or with my employer, SUSE Inc.