5 Questions with Lukáš Rypáček (Senior Software Developer)
I don’t know much about Lukas, other than that he is respected and liked by his colleagues (or they wouldn’t have suggested him as a potential interviewee). On facebook, I discovered he has an interest in photography. In communicating with him for this interview, I found him to be unassuming, communicative, and laid-back. Considering I’m no software developer (and only a very amateur kind of geek), I would say that those are qualities that have contributed well toward the avast! software we all use and love. –Jason Mashak
1: You’ve been at AVAST since there were only a few handfuls of employees… what, for you, are some of the more memorable moments in the company’s history since you’ve been here?
I joined AVAST seven years ago  when there were around 20 employees. Some of the core team members of today were still at university, studying along with their work. You would see them in the office only once or twice a week. This was a big difference from the 140-something we have today, when we hardly fit into any room all at once. For example, there used to be a habit to celebrate birthdays together in the offices. But as the number of employees grew, we would have to celebrate almost every other week. And we also started to have problems fitting into any one room, so the tradition was abandoned over time.
Moving into a new building, the one we are now in, was also quite exciting. We watched it being built, visiting it several times before it was finished. One of the last things moved were our company servers – I am not talking about the several hundreds of update servers that host virus updates from datacenters all over the world, but the machines used to keep the company running are enough to fill an entire room. Only after everything was ready for them here in the new place, we gathered in the middle of the night, at 1AM when the traffic is the lowest both on the Internet and in Prague, turned the servers off, and hurried to unplug everything, dismantle the servers, and quickly load them into our cars to plug them in at the new place as quickly as possible. It took several hours and most of us served only as moving men that night. Nevertheless, I found that exciting. It was fun.
2: Which particular avast! features or capabilities are you most proud of and why?
One of the projects I have worked on here was Web Shield – a protection against Web-originating attacks and malware. The scanning part had been adapted from an already existing and verified avast! program for ISA Servers. Other parts were new. It was released in avast! version 4.5. After picking up some initial compatibility problems, I dare to say we’ve managed to create a great tool, very useful and unobtrusive and powerful against threats. It’s been around for several years already and it seems it’s been getting more important lately. The virus lab is constantly improving on what they are able to detect, so we as programmers need to keep up. We already have some improvements ready on paper for the next avast! version, so I believe Web Shield still has a great future. I love that project.
Another project which I think turned out great is the whole avast! version 5. I like the new look, which has carried over into version 6. Many of our users had been asking for a style update for a long time and I like how it turned out. But there was more to version 5 than looks. The internals were completely reorganized; most of the source code was refreshed and updated. Many new programmers joined after avast! 4, so version 5 was new in this respect as well. To sum up, it was a rather big change on the inside and it seems to have turned out well.
3: AVAST seems like the kind of place where people are daily attempting to turn science fiction into history – what would be a couple of your predictions for where IT and security are generally headed during the next 5-10 years?
I wouldn’t dare to predict the future for 5 or even 10 years. That’s way beyond my knowledge and imagination. I do, however, frequently find myself amazed by the things that are already present and how futuristic they are. The constant availability of the Internet almost everywhere is something that amazes me and seems rather futuristic to me. And the importance of good and trustworthy information at hand comes together. So I think somewhere in the future we could see a new era in which most of the reliable information wouldn’t be for free but rather for fee. I wonder how this would change the environment on the Net… Would the pages that would like to stay free be pushed out to some uncontrolled gray zone? Maybe something that wouldn’t be allowed access from all places? These are just my thoughts, but we are already seeing similar things on a smaller scale (closed systems and signed applications only – on iPad/iPhone or large web filters in some countries), so it is not totally impossible that signed/paid content could become the standard on the whole Internet. Maybe.
4: With 3-5 years being the average time spent working at one company (source: America’s Dynamic workforce: 2006; U.S. Department of Labor), why have you stayed as long as you have at AVAST?
There’s certainly more than one reason for this. But if I must pick one, I’d say it’s the amount of change AVAST has gone through in recent years. Here, it’s constantly changing. It’s really an exciting and fresh place to work. We are witnessing, from the inside, a transformation from being a small company into performing global operations. This alone is a great experience. It also brings new ways of work, new interesting projects, and work with larger teams and so on. So I don’t feel any kind of a boredom I would expect someone feels before changing jobs. Let alone, I like the people here who have always been great friends to me.
5: How would you describe your ideal day away from the office?
My ideal day off is with my son Hugo. He is now almost 3 months old and growing up at a tremendous speed. He was just a tiny newborn when I brought him home from the hospital and in the blink of an eye he’s so much bigger and more advanced. He is smiling almost all the time, so what can be better?
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