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Solid Sit-Downs: Peter Ajtai, Solutions Architect

Peter has always been interested in computers and began to use web technologies when he realized how many people he could reach with a simple website.
Peter Ajtai Interview

I’m Peter, the Solutions Architect at Soliddigital. I’ve been at Solid for about 9 years, and in the industry for over 10. We’re quite versatile at Solid. We’ve worked on mobile apps, TV apps, and of course tons of websites. I’d say our sweet spot is Wordpress for most web sites and Node for a variety of custom integrations. We can work with your hosting or setup infrastructure for you. We rely on AWS for our cloud platform, and we like to leverage automation to give ourselves time to work on fun stuff instead of the same old same old.

Originally my degree is in the biological sciences. I began to use web technologies when I realized how many people I can reach with a simple website.

The first program I remember writing was a rendering of the Mandelbrot set based on instructions from Scientific American. This was probably sometime in junior high. My first website was written in about nudibranchs, aka sea slugs sometime in 2003. From there I switched careers to web technology, did some freelancing, and worked at a few places before ending up at Solid Digital.

Q&A w/ Peter Ajtai

Q: What is your favorite quote?

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity, an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty

because it highlights how much of life depends on how you look at things. The origins of the quote are essentially unknown, but it does a really good job of summing up a certain point of view.

Q: What inspired you to become a Developer and how did that lead to your current role?

I’ve always been captivated by computer games, so I’ve tinkered with computers since I was little. When the web’s popularity began to take off, there were just more and more opportunities to work hands-on with computers and websites, so I took advantage of that.

Q: What do you enjoy most about being the Developer/Solutions Architect at Solid Digital?

I enjoy creating things while collaborating with others.

Q: As the Solutions Architect What expertise do you bring to your clients?

I have a lot of experience automating tasks, setting up the scaffolding and plans for our projects, and possibly most importantly debugging things. I bring some formal experience with various languages and commercial solutions such as AWS, but I think my generic debugging ability is probably the most valuable for clients. Whether you’re working with simply getting a template to show correctly, integrating with an API, or getting just about anything to work, debugging is essential. Most projects will hit a road-block where things stop unless you are able to get past this one point where something just isn’t working. I’m good at fixing things to enable getting past that one point.

Q: What is your approach to providing great customer service?

A lot of programmers like to jump into code as soon as possible. I find that conversations can really guide your solutions both at the outset and as checkpoints along the way. I’d say the ability to listen, interpret, and ask questions is the killer trifecta for Solutions Architects and Developers.

Q: What has been your favorite project you’ve worked on during your time at Solid Digital?

I’ve enjoyed working on the Arnowitz Culture Engine. Creating that platform has been an ongoing partnership for many years, and getting to participate in the building of a product over time is a fun experience. There is more chance for feedback, planning, and adjusting things over time than a one-off or shorter projects.

Q: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Outside of work, I spend most of my time with my family. I still find a way to weave programming into the mix there. For example, for her birthday, I made my daughter a Wordpress plugin that allows you to write your own “choose your own adventure” stories.

Q: What volunteering or passion projects do you do outside of work?

do some side projects using tools I’m interested in at the moment. I’ll take a Coursera course or write a silly game using a game engine I just read about.

Q: What is your favorite museum?

I remember being really impressed by the Exploratorium as a kid.

Q: Your top 3 favorite Podcasts/Books?

  1. The Planet Money
  2. How I Built This
  3. The Last Lion for a book. It’s a fantastically researched biography of Churchill by the great and inimitable William Manchester.

Q: What is one of your favorite things about Solid Digital’s Culture?

It’s great to work with people you would happily interact with outside of work. Our culture attracts people like that.

Q: What is your favorite Solid Tradition?

I most enjoy the Solid BBQs. It’s fun to get together in good weather, and I enjoy going to a different location each year.

Q: What do you like on your pizza?

Pepperoni mostly because you can count on it being good. But I really like big chunks of tomato, mozzarella, and basil drizzled with olive oil and garlic (no sauce).

Q: What’s your most-used mobile application and why?

    1. NPR One – I listen to it whenever I’m cleaning around the house

Q: What are three things still left on your bucket list?

    1. Travel to Europe with the family
    2. Travel to Asia with the family
    3. Own a sailboat

Q: What is the 1 piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to have a career in your field?

Iterate to improve. Getting your foot in the door is relatively easy with programming related jobs at small agencies/companies. Once you do that iterate and build toward what you want to achieve.

Q: What would you like to be known for?

Giving a damn. In the world today, whether it’s in the news or at the grocery store there are so many people that are not willing to look carefully at things. They’ll guess but not verify. They’ll talk but not listen. They’ll do but not pay attention. No one gets everything – or even most things – right, but I want to be known for caring about how I’m doing and caring about whether I’m helping.

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