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A Congress.gov Interview with Barry Priest, Web DevAdmin

This week’s interview is with Barry Priest, Web DevAdmin.  This is the third in the new series of interviews that focus on Library of Congress staff who contributed to Congress.gov.

Describe your background.

My degree is in Theater Design and Technology from Purdue University.

That program allowed me the flexibility to pursue interests in CAD/3D rendering, computer science and electrical engineering technology.  I started working as both a stagehand and system administrator while at Purdue.  From there I went to ABC Television’s National Headquarters in New York City where I wrote custom programs to play the computers that appeared on screen in the soap operas All My Children and One Life To Live (things like EKG machines showing heart attacks, ATMs, people changing hospital test results, that sort of thing) for about 5 years.

My wife and I moved to Texas where I worked for Dell for a short while and did some custom electronics work for the Austin Lyric Opera and Bass Concert Hall.  Next I worked for Texas A&M’s Department of Geography as a Computer Systems Manager for 3 years. After that we moved to Iowa where I worked for University of Iowa’s ITS Department as a system administrator for the Telecommunications and Network Services division.  Then we came out to the DC area and after a brief stint as c# asp.net web developer I finally ended up as a CACI contractor at the Library of Congress in one of the coolest jobs ever, with a great group of co-workers.

How would you describe your job to other people?

I am a DevAdmin. It takes some of the skills of a developer and some of the system administrator.  I am responsible for getting the developer’s code on to the servers, getting it deployed and operational, and maintaining it.

What was your role in the development of Congress.gov?

Hoa Pham and I deployed and made operational the code on the servers that Tom Littlejohn stood up for us.  There is a continual team effort between OSI-Web Services and ITS-Ops/ESE.  One particular area of contribution that I am quite proud of is the customization of the web caching tier.  This is the first time we have done something of this scale with this technology.

What is your favorite feature of Congress.gov?

Stuff that most people can’t see.  For example on the first day of release 97% of the traffic was being handled by the web cache. And of the remaining 3%, 97% of it was being handled by a database cache. So on that first day only 3% of 3% was actually hitting the backend database.  Yes, I am that much of geek.

What is the most interesting fact you’ve learned about the legislative process while working on Congress.gov?

I’m shocked that our electronic records only go back to 1973.

What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you? 

My wife, Rebecca Morrison, and I designed sensors for Texas A&M’s Geography Department to measure sand grains being picked up by the wind and moved across beaches or deserts (known as aeolian transport) and were flown to Australia to help with the equipment setup.

2 Comments

  1. Tony Priest
    October 12, 2012 at 8:18 am

    Hey cousin, Uncle Roger sent us the link, neat job! The aeolian transport gig (and link) was very interesting reading also. Don’t forget us here in flyover country.

  2. Melissa Vail
    June 4, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    Barry,

    I went to Purdue with you and Becky. What a wonderful life you guys have had. I would love to hear from you guys.

    Melissa

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