How I Won the Scripting Games, a Pass to TechEd, and Became an MVP

How I Won the Scripting Games, a Pass to TechEd, and Became an MVP

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Summary: Windows PowerShell MVP, Bartek Bielawski, describes how he won the 2011 Scripting Games, a free pass to TechEd, and became a MVP.

Microsoft Scripting Guy, Ed Wilson, is here. Today, I am happy to have Bartek Bielawski as the guest blogger with a little something different. Bartek was the winner of the 2011 Scripting Games. In today’s blog, he writes about his experience and about the last year. For those of you who might not know Bartek, here is a little bit about him…

Bartek Bielawski is Windows PowerShell enthusiast, and he is still a fairly new Windows PowerShell MVP. He loves automation and he tries to automate systems whenever he can. Bartek describes his work life as, “Just a regular IT pro with a constant urge to learn more and share what he learned with others.” He uses IRC, his blogs, and forums to give back to community what he got from it—free of charge both ways.

Photo of Bartek Bielawski

Now for Bartek…

This is a true story...

Names have not been changed, because there was no reason to do so.  It’s a story how Scripting Games changed my life.

Flashback: October 1, 2011...

Received e-mail from Microsoft. Had to read it several times before it got to my brain. I’m glad my family was not in the house when I read it. Imagine seeing your father jumping around the house with strange smile on his face…

It was January 2010 when I started digging really deeper into Windows PowerShell. I came late to the game, so I had a lot to pick up. I was reading the Hey, Scripting Guy! Blog a lot, and I spotted information about a PowerScripting Podcast. Back then, I was not listening to any the podcasts, but I decided I would try this one. I got hooked on it pretty quickly, and I moved all the way back to episode 0 to start from very beginning. I knew I would have more than enough time to listen to the podcasts. Time spent on my way to work and on my way back was almost a perfect fit for 1 or 2 episodes, depending on the scale of traffic jams. It was fun to listen to those guys and their guests.

I was getting more and more familiar with Windows PowerShell concepts and with super-stars of the Windows PowerShell world. I heard about Scripting Games for the very first time when I was listening to a podcast. It was about 2009 Summer Scripting Games, and I was listening with amazement: a free contest for scripting enthusiasts? How much cooler can you get? Assuming, of course, that you are a scripting geek like myself. I continued to listen to the podcasts, and I started paying more attention to Hey, Scripting Guy! blog. I knew the Scripting Games were coming…and I was getting ready.

Flashback: May 18, 2011...

I’m in Atlanta. I’m at TechEd. I’m at dinner, and I’m surrounded by Windows PowerShell people who I never dreamed I would meet in person. Can it get any better than that?

But I am ahead of myself…Finally, the 2010 Scripting Games started. At first I was not concerned with my results. But when I noticed that I got pretty good grades, I started to compete in both the Beginner and the Advanced categories. But I didn’t dare to do both in Windows PowerShell. The Beginner category in Windows PowerShell was, in my opinion, too simple to make it elegant. So I entered the Beginner category in VBScript script, and just for fun, in cmd.exe on my blog. I learned a ton, and I finished in third place.

At that point in my life, I was happy that I was not in first or second place for the simple reason that there was no way I could get to TechEd. And the prize I won for third place was mind-blowing. A summary of the 2010 Scripting Games from my perspective: wonderful prizes, a lot of new skills grabbed along the way to the final score, and a lot of fun when I was trying to find solutions. All for free, plus a piece of my spare time. It was totally worth it.

Flashback: May 6, 2011...

I’m on air again. It does not matter that it is 2:30 AM here where I live. My brain does not mind the clock—it’s charged with adrenaline.

Since the 2010 Scripting Games, I haven’t stopped. I started my blog shortly before the Scripting Games took place, and I continue to share what I found out about Windows PowerShell there. I was reading books and chatting on the #PowerShell IRC channel (I attended the chat room during PowerScripting Podcast recordings). And of course, I was reading the Hey, Scripting Guy! Blog, and I attended Scripting Guys Forum! on Microsoft TechNet. All that helped me develop my skills, but I felt the biggest “jump” was already behind me. I needed a challenge…I needed the Scripting Games. And finally year 2011 arrived, and so did the 2011 Scripting Games.

Flashback: June 2, 2010...

This must be a dream. I’m on air. I will have a chance to answer the ultimate questions from Windows PowerShell Community. But wait—there’s more! I will ask questions to people whose names I pronounce with ALL CAPS. And I will speak to two guys that opened a lot of Windows PowerShell doors for me by inviting interesting guests and discussing interesting topics on their podcast. Luckily, my brain handled that well and I haven’t passed out.

The 2011 Scripting Games was really a tough competition. Not only I was struggling with the tasks and other competitors, I was struggling with myself and my ambitious soul that does not handle defeats very well. But eventually I managed to get to the last event—I sent my last script and started to wait. But regardless of the results, I was satisfied. I managed to complete all the tasks in the Advanced category, and I knew that only few contestants did the same. I also tried to share with others what I thought about their scripts. I could not grade them, but I could add some comments. That was great too—maybe even better than writing my scripts?

Eventually, I won. And all the Flashbacks that I mentioned in this blog resulted from me participating in the Scripting Games. My experiences are due to the knowledge I gained when I was participating in the games and my urge to learn more between events to increase my chances to win next time. I was encouraged by the prizes, like the TechEd invitation and an interview on the PowerScripting Podcast with Jeffrey Snover and Ed Wilson. I was grateful for others letting me know what I did wrong, so I went out and did the same for others. I developed a feeling for the strong and friendly community around Windows PowerShell, which I wanted to participate in during my spare time.

Now I’m a Windows PowerShell MVP, I’m a Scripting Games winner, and hopefully, I am a judge in the 2012 Scripting Games. Would you like to follow the same route?

~Bartek

Thank you, Bartek, for a truly inspirational blog post! For those of you who are wondering how to get started…

Maybe next year, you will be telling your story about how you won the 2012 Scripting Games, won a pass to TechEd, and became an MVP. Don’t say it can’t happen—it just did!

I invite you to follow me on Twitter and Facebook. If you have any questions, send email to me at scripter@microsoft.com, or post your questions on the Official Scripting Guys Forum. See you tomorrow. Until then, peace.

Ed Wilson, Microsoft Scripting Guy

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  • Hi Bartek,

    I can really follow you on your trip through the last two years and how you came to Powershell scripting!

    And I just looked up your link to sg 2010 and saw that I've been close behind you ... 6th place and 1.48 points less :-)) It's been great and I had a lot fun (and work) to keep up with the other competitors ... I remember *sss*

    Well last year we had virtually met at the interview ( which was neither my time, nor my day ( or better "my night" :-) And I can really hardly believe that all this happened nearly a year ago!!!

    So I really would like to encourage everybody who wants to have a closer look at powershell to join the 2012 games and start or improve powershell knowledge!

    Even if you are an absolute beginner: If you try to solve each (or even only some) of the events and are engaged in the stuff you can extremly benefit from having a look at the other solutions to each event. It is great to see "how many streets lead to rome" :-)

    Klaus (Schulte)