Hi, my name is Nick Kusters, I'm 39 years old, husband to Giselle and the proud dad of Marie-Élise and Amèlie :) I live and work in Limburg, the south of The Netherlands as a software developer and consultant.
Ever since the first beta's of Visual Studio 2002 I've been programming in the .NET language, and after more than 10 years of working with the .NET platform, I still love it. I started out on Rent-a-Coder, doing all sorts of cool projects (writing parts of a graphics engine, a subliminal message audio studio, sports analysis and betting bots, and much more. See the full list here).
Back in 2006, while working for an agency that hires out developers to companies who need them, I went ahead and got some of my .NET skills certified. I got my MCAD for both the VB.NET and C# languages. Here are my scores for the required modules:
|070-305||Developing and Implementing Web Applications with Microsoft Visual Basic .NET and Microsoft Visual Studio .NET||968/1000|
|070-306||Developing and Implementing Windows-Based Applications with Microsoft Visual Basic .NET and Microsoft Visual Studio .NET||950/1000|
|070-310||Developing XML Web Services and Server Components with Microsoft Visual Basic .NET and the Microsoft .NET Framework||730/1000|
|070-315||Developing and Implementing Web Applications with Microsoft Visual C# .NET and Microsoft Visual Studio .NET||962/1000|
|070-316||Developing and Implementing Windows-Based Applications with Microsoft Visual C# .NET and Microsoft Visual Studio .NET||920/1000|
|070-320||Developing XML Web Services and Server Components with Microsoft Visual C# .NET and the Microsoft .NET Framework||936/1000|
A few weeks before I was supposed to start at Aviva, they asked me to interview at a company in Amsterdam called It's Us, a company that started as the premier Exact Customization and Implementation company in The Netherlands, since then, they have broadened their services. The interview went great, and I was hired. I was working there for a year before we decided to cut out the middle man and they hired me directly.
I've worked for It's Us for almost 5 years; during that time, I worked on a lot of cool projects for even cooler clients (ABN-Amro Arbo Services, ING, KLM, Dutch Water Dreams, and the list goes on).
For DWD, a company that has an exact copy of the Olympic rafting course in Beijing, I've created a back-end connection between the custom cash registers from de Haan and Exact Globe. To accomplish this, I've written a custom SOAP WebService that the cash registers from de Haan could call into, to process the data in Exact Globe.
Other projects at It's Us involved building Office Interop applications to enhance a hour registration system built in Excel to talk directly to Exact e-Synergy, and something to take supplier pricelists, apply custom profit margins and update the Exact Globe system. I've also built my fare share of data synchronization systems (both one- and two-way) to provide interop between systems and even full system loosely based on the e-Synergy/Globe data structure or even code that is directly loaded into Exact Globe or e-Synergy.
When I started my career in the Netherlands, I had to move to Leiden (222KM from Maastricht where I lived before and where I moved back later) to work for Aviva-IT (now Aviva Solutions). Before, I was living in Maastricht, the south of the Netherlands, but back then, all the programming jobs were in what they call the Randstad, so I had to move to do what I love. When my dad got ill, I moved back to Maastricht to be closer to family and friends.
I started work at Indicium International, which was pretty awesome. The owner of the company (Alain Wille) held offices in Aarle-Rixtel (near Eindhoven). At that time, he received funding from the LIOF. The only catch to get the funding, was that he had to re-locate to Limburg (Aarle-Rixtel was just a few kilometers from the 'border'), so he planned to just move the short distance and be done, but, as I made clear I wasn't interested in spending my days in the car for hours on end due to rush-hour traffic, he decided to move to company to Maastricht in order to get me to work for him, which was pretty cool.
Indicium's main product was called MI7™. I'm still bound by NDA's, so I can't elaborate too much, but as I worked there (I was the only developer) I was able to create some very awesome stuff, including visualizing the 6 degrees of separation in a SilverLight application, visualize global sales on an interactive world map (also SilverLight), process tweets, pdf's and other sources with my own LSA implementation, view events on a timeline and get alerted for major events. While working for Indicium, I had a lot of freedom; being able to work from home when you want to is awesome, but having no other developers around can be tough. I thrive in an environment where I am challenged or are able to help and improve others. While the work was challenging, the fact that there were no other developers to collaborate with was sub-optimal.
The fact that I wanted to have developer colleagues brought me to Bannerconnect. A headhunter contacted me about the position, and while I was not actively looking for a job, its offering did get me interested. It wasn't long before I found out that this would be a nice place to work and have fun with colleagues. I also think it's pretty cool that I'm featured on the Bannerconnect website :) Bannerconnect is a company that helps traffic ads on the AppNexus platform, and we build Bright, a custom portal to help get the maximum out of the platform.
AppNexus is an advertising platform that connects advertisers and publishers, focused on RTB, and it's the largest platform to do so. The cool part here is that they allow you to create applications that load inside their platform, enabling you to create the features you want yourself. Since late 2012, they have been working on creating a 'premium' application marketplace, which allows you to sell your apps to other members; this is why Cree8 was started.
Cree8 is a company that was founded to specialize in AppNexus Apps. I've created several apps for Cree8, but the coolest must be the Reporting App.
Cree8.Reporting is a tool that allows you to do fast reporting on the AppNexus platform. To accomplish this, I've created a custom engine that implements over 100 additional tables to make sure the data you need is at your fingertips when you need it. The software allows you to pick the metrics you want to look at (around 15 of them at the time), and drill-down into the dataset in 10 different ways. There is also an alerting engine which allows you to build your own rules and get notified via e-mail, Android or iOS app.
In order to optimize the profit of ad campaigns for publishers and identify problem areas, I've created a Bid Landscape app. What this does is utilize AppNexus Log Level Data (around 10 billion data points per month) and combine it with actual Bid Landscape data (information about the RTB process, who bid which values, if they were rejected and why), and process it all in an IBM Netezza / Pure Data appliance.
While BannerConnect was an awesome place to work and offered a lot of technically challenging problems, the pay was not great while being at the top of what I could make there, and, while Danny was a great boss to work for, I wanted a more dominant position, which was not possible. Mix in the fact that my wife dreamed of owning a house on the street she grew up in, which happened to be in a rather expencive part of town, and you have incentive to switch jobs.
As always, a recruiter contacted me, I explained the situation: "I'm happy where I work; but I'd be willing to switch for (a lot) more money, provided the daily commute is not longer than it is currently.". To my surprise, they had 3 companies lined up that met those criteria. I went to interview on one, they wanted to hire me, but the fact that they were in a combined office building with sections spread around the building, didn't give me the vibe I was looking for, so I passed. Second was Nigella IT, and it clicked immediately. I never went to interview with the 3rd company.
One of the most visible products Nigella IT makes, is BeverOnline. It's a website that contains information about medical disposables and targets the healthcare professionals.
I've been doing some work for my own clients as well, varying from security and code audits of software packages and websites, to creating websites and applications for companies.
While working for Indicium International, we briefly shared an office with CV'IVE; a startup that wants to revolutionize the job interviewing process. I helped them to review the code that contracters had written for them.
The website of the best sushi restaurant in Maastricht was hacked, so when I went there to eat, I informed the owner and advised him how to procede. Since his IT guy moved, he asked me to assist. I cleaned up the mess and patched the security hole. After this was successfull, he asked me to create a new website, which I did. It's also the first time I implemented PBKDF2, which makes brute-forcing data encrypted with it infeasable; something I've been doing everywhere ever since.
When my wife and I were looking for wedding rings, we visited Jewler van Velthuysen. When we talked about my company, Jos, the owner, asked me to see if I could help him realise a few technical solutions, which I did. A small summary includes WiFi access in the business, remote security camera viewing, a new website and a CRM system, amongst other things.
I've been doing freelance projects via Rent-A-Coder since 2003, and during those years, I've done some pretty cool projects for some pretty cool people. One of them was Karl Moore; a UK Microsoft MVP, who has hired me to do a multitude of projects for his company, WhiteCliff Ltd. He is well-known in the .NET industry and has written books on the subject for Microsoft Press, so I'm very happy to have a nice recommendation letter from him. Another cool experience was working for Gavin, a Professor at the HAAS School of Business, which is a part of the University of Berkeley, California. For the professor, I've written a couple of analysis tools to process NCAA (college basketball) results, to help him teach his classes. Here's the online list of my profile; with a 4.9/5.0 rating over 44 projects. The website has changed a lot, so it's not as convenient as it used to be to read the reviews.
For WCCL, I did a multitude of projects.
The client wanted a piece of .NET code to be able to manipulate the audio levels of a PCM WAVE file. The file format is based on the RIFF format, a format used in a lot of well-known file types (.wav, .avi, .rmi, .cdr, .ani, .dls, .webp and .xma). To work with PCM WAVE files, I've written my own implementation to work with RIFF files without using external libraries.
Great -- EXCELLENT -- A+++++++++++++++ WhiteCliff Computing Limited (WCCL), Durham, County Durham
As part of a subliminal audio factory tool, WCCL asked me to automate Cool Edit Pro to perform a bunch of task which required loading files, changing settings, applying filters, etc. To be able to do this, I wrote a scripting engine that allowed the customer to create his own automations, based on Win32 API calls (sendkeys, clicks, gettext, settext, etc.). I used Visual Basic .NET and the Win32 API to accomplish the task.
Great work, as ever -- A+++++++++++++++++ WhiteCliff Computing Limited (WCCL), Durham, County Durham
I've used the DirectX 9.0c SDK and my own RIFF implementation. My own code was 6x as fast as the DirectX one. I used Visual Basic .NET and DirectX 9.0c to accomplish the task.
Great coder, A+++++ brilliant work, very quick. WhiteCliff Computing Limited (WCCL), Durham, County Durham
I've used my own RIFF implementation, coupled with just binary adjustments to the raw WAVE data. I used Visual Basic .NET to accomplish the task.
Why do you think I keep coming back to Nick? Because I'm addicted? Hell, yes. His work is A+++++++ and he's one of the fastest coders I've worked with. CHOOSE HIM! WhiteCliff Computing Limited (WCCL), Durham, County Durham
For their subliminal messaging toolkit, they wanted to be able to allow customers to specify their own motivational text. Instead of having to record the message manually, they wanted to know if it was possible to use Text2Speech. I went ahead and researched the capabilities of the Microsoft SAPI 5.1 toolkit (text2speech SDK), but after some tests, the available voices just were just too artificial. I went on, and found the AT&T Natural Voices SDK, which, at that time, was unparalleled. After talking to WCCL, we decided to purchase the SDK and create the tool. I used Visual Basic .NET, the Microsoft SAPI 5.1 SDK and the AT&T Natural Voices SDK to accomplish the task.
Excellent work, super fast, amazing coder, GREAT tech skils -- A++++++++++++++++++++++++ -- already working with him again! WhiteCliff Computing Limited (WCCL), Durham, County Durham
I've written my own code that implements the MP3 file format and ID3 RFC to accomplish the task. I also added support for the extended WinAmp Genres (not in the original ID3 RFC). I used Visual Basic .NET to accomplish the task.
What can I say? Nick is pure genius. Don't accept a bid if this guy bids on your project... I want him all to myself!! A++++++++++++++++++++++++ WhiteCliff Computing Limited (WCCL), Durham, County Durham
I've used my own RIFF implementation, coupled with just binary adjustments to the raw WAVE data. I used Visual Basic .NET to accomplish the task.
As ever, Nick is a genius and a WHIZZ. I'm booking him again and again and again. I genuinely can't book him enough and wished I had this same quality from ALL my coders. WhiteCliff Computing Limited (WCCL), Durham, County Durham
They wanted to be able to say: after 10 seconds, fade the audio level from 100% to 70% in 5 seconds. I used Visual Basic .NET and my own RIFF implementation to accomplish the task.
Nick is one of the last few good coders out there. Book him! A++++++++++++++++ WhiteCliff Computing Limited (WCCL), Durham, County Durham
Gavin wanted me to scrape sports.yahoo.com to get the NCAA basketball scores (example page). I used Visual Basic .NET, Regular Expressions, XML to data-mine the data and accomplish the task.
A pleasure to work with. Gave me step-by-step updates along the way, and finished the code (which met all of my requirements) well in advance of the deadline. Highly recommended. Gavin (University of California Berkeley, Haas School of Business), Berkley, California
Gavin wanted me to analyze NCAA basketball data as a teaching aid for his class. I used Visual Basic .NET and Regular Expressions to and accomplish the task.
Another excellent job Gavin (University of California Berkeley, Haas School of Business), Berkley, California
The first job with N. Kusters and we are total happy with the work. Very fast delivery and high quality code. N. Kusters was allways reachable through IM and so a fluid communication was done. Not the last work with him! Ingo Förster (PixByte), Nordrhein-Westfalen
I created the website activefraudshield.net (no longer online) in ASP.NET using AJAX.NET. I created my own WYSIWYG editor and a serial management/digital distribution platform to sell the product via PayPal and automate the contact with the customer and generating their own serial number. The website also had a newsletter system, featured url rewrites and much more, all built from scratch.
Our second project with N. Kusters and again we are very happy with the deliverd work. High professional coder with high skills. Ingo Förster (PixByte), Nordrhein-Westfalen
For John, I had to write a .NET dll to generate 3D textures to use in the 3D chat client Active Worlds. I used Visual Basic .NET and GDI+ to accomplish the task.
Excellent coder! Did exactly what I wanted even through my poor explanation! Extremely happy :-) John C. H. Fricker, St Columb, Cornwall
Stuart owned a company that puts entertainment machines in bars, and asked me to write a happy hour game, where customers can win free shots, get 2 for 1 deals, etc. The cool part of this project, was handling input from a large red emergency button over RS-232. I used Visual Basic .NET and GDI+ to accomplish the task.
rating 5/5 Stuart Landreth, New Hartley, Northumberland
The AIM bot was written in VB6. I've used my debugging skills to find the bugs and patch the code.
One of the best coders I have worked with. If you need help, this is the guy to go to. Mike Dean
I've used virtualdub to edit the videos.
Went above and beyond what was asked. An awesome guy to work with Dataheadz
I've optimized the regex to use 99% less cpu.
Very high integrity, plus nearly an instant response, plus extraordinary expertise! Took care of a 'quick-fix' nagging problem virtually immediately. What he DIDN'T know at the time was that this minor irritant of a problem was NOT the real problem. The REAL problem was that I didn't previously have someone like HIM to work with, and now I DO! Looking forward to doing a LOT of work with him! Terry Hunter, Ladera Ranch, California
I used C#.NET to accomplish the task.
An unpleasant issue did come up, but developer showed great professionalism in resolving it. Actual deliverable worked great. Modulous, Chicago, Illinois
The client wanted to be able to transcribe a video to add comments to a video. Using DirectX 9.0c to get the durection of the video files, I was able to generate the scripts in the format Google Video requires. I used Visual Basic .NET and DirectX 9.0c to accomplish the task.
rating 5/5 Soundpages, Cummings, Georgia
I wrote a few generic handlers to allow the web app to interact with the backend. I used Visual Basic .NET and Microsoft SQL 2000 to accomplish the task.
did an excellent job, would highly recommend him. Bob M., Murrieta, California
The customer wanted to data-mine dogpile.com to get compare search engine results. I used Visual Basic .NET and Regular Expressions to accomplish the task.
Superb job. Very fast. 0v3rd0g, Irvine, California
The customer wanted to create a comparisson for paid ads for given keywords on the yahoo and google search engine. I used Visual Basic .NET and Regular Expressions to accomplish the task.
ULTRAQUICK jumpajoe, Hooksett, New Hampshire
The customer needed help to fix a few Microsoft SQL Queries. I used Microsoft SQL 2005 to accomplish the task.
great job... and FAST response!!! str ventures, Ripon, Wisconsin
Added code to their PHP 4 site to accomplish their request.
Nick was amazing, quick, efficient. And I'm sure take advantage of his services Again and Again Robert Clark, Tottenham, Ontario