Getting To Know - Rick Pufky

Welcome to the new OmniTI series, Getting To Know....

Here at OmniTI, we are passionate about a lot of things - our work, our culture, and our people are among some of our favorite things to talk about. We’re proud of the team of engineers that we surround ourselves with and we thought you’d like to meet them too. Today, we’re featuring Rick Pufky, DevOps Generalist.

Rick Pufky

Tell us about yourself, Rick:

As long as I can remember, I have always enjoyed technology. When I was about 8, I was often found with a screwdriver and my electronic toys, “fixing” them. In many cases, I made things worse, but in others managed to make them perform tasks they were not originally intended, getting them to make sounds they did not originally make. About the same time we got a home computer, an Atari 800XL, bring interest in gaming. This was followed up by an Atari 130XE, which introduced me to BASIC and writing my own code.

A few years later I was introduced to an IBM PC and the tools that came with it. From there, my adventures took me through more BASIC, followed by Turbo Pascal and Turbo C. I found I could do much more with the more advanced languages and I was hooked. I followed this path through my schooling and into my first job, writing software for radios. Eventually I transitioned into a development position at another company and ended up taking over additional roles: deploying software and systems management. It is this position that I transformed into my current position at OmniTI.

I enjoy tackling difficult problems in various spaces using my experiences in development, database management and systems management.

Outside of work, I love spending time with my family: wife, daughter and two sons. As a family we love playing board games together. Our current favorites are Shadowrun Crossfire, Gloomhaven and Pandemic. I also enjoy reading and have a large library of thousands of books. We have passed on our love of reading to the kids as well.

Rick Pufky

Where did you learn how to do what you do? And/or what jobs led you to OmniTI?

As mentioned in passing above, I started with a position in Software Engineering, designing software for radios, building upon my high school and college careers. I learned many things about designing software for usage in embedded systems.

Eventually however I had to make a choice between work/life balance. This led me to seeking out a telecommuting development position, in a startup environment. In this position, I learned many new technologies. Through restructurings and layoffs, the number of people on the engineering team was reduced. This led me into taking on other responsibilities that were not part of my original position. As the engineering team changed shape, I picked up skills and training in database management, eventually taking over all database system maintenance and management. As additional changes continued to occur to the team, I had to pick up additional skills. I gained training in systems management and took over management of all servers. Prior to my take over, all servers were managed individually, in order to make this easier on myself, I started looking into automation as a mechanism to save time.

Unfortunately, this startup ran into some financial issues around the same time. At that time, I came into contact with OmniTI and joined the team as a Database Administrator. I was able to leverage my systems, development and database knowledge into my current position, using the knowledge to approach difficult problems from various angles to solve them.

What is the most interesting project you have ever worked on? And/or what has been your favorite project you have ever worked on?

Most of the projects I have worked on lately have been interesting in some manner. That is part of the fun of working on difficult problems. My favorite project in recent memory has been reworking the build pipeline at a game company. The pipeline started off taking nearly 24 hours to complete a daily build, with a high failure rate (failed 1 out of 3 times). A failure caused work stoppage for at least some of the developers. Reworking the pipeline resulted in a build time of about 11 hours with a failure rate of 8%. The best part about reworking the pipeline is that the majority of the failures occurred within the first hour of runtime. This was an interesting project because it dealt with a difficult problem and involved touching many different segments of the system in order to make the improvements.

What are some of the things on your bucket list?

Castle tour of Europe, designing a board game, visiting the last two states in the US that I have not already visited (Alaska and Hawaii).

If you could change something in the world, what would it be?

Peace. Imagine what humanity could create -- I may have watched too much Star Trek.

What are your top books of all time?

I have a large number of favorite books, but if I just have to name a few, these ones are great: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Neuromancer, Foundation, Ender’s Game, Snow Crash.

If you had your human body, but the head of an animal, what animal would you pick?

Wolf. A fantastically majestic animal.

What is the single biggest person, place or thing that has been influential in your life?

Mr. Vagliardo, a computer science teacher in high school, was instrumental in converting the skills I had picked up on my own to a fundamental base set of skills.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

I don’t know, I’ve only got experiences with various places in the US and Canada. I need to visit other countries to make that determination.

In closing, give a statement about why people should want to work with OmniTI.

I have never before worked with so many intelligent people gathered in one place. It is amazing to be with people that give talks at the conferences.

If you want to learn more about Rick or are interested in talking with him about a problem you’re facing, get in touch!