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Erez Benari in his workshop. (Photo by Renaud.)

Erez Benari is a geek through and through. He spends his days working on the Microsoft Digital Certificates Infrastructure (public key infrastructure) and his weekends creating pewter sculptures that draw inspiration from Star Wars, Legos, steampunk imagery, and other geeky objects.

Waiting for Han
Waiting for Han

One of Benari’s pieces “Waiting for Han” will be featured in Microsoft’s Sixth Annual Employee Art Exhibition, starting today, March 11. The show is open to the public, in Microsoft’s Commons Sub-Mixer building.

When Benari isn’t sculpting, he produces and performs in .COMedy Live, a local comedy show geared toward the geek community.

“I’ve been told the audience is laughing with me,” he said of his stand-up.

Benari, an information security veteran, was born and raised in Israel, where he lived until receiving a Green Card to move to the U.S.

“I then packed m’wife, m’dog and m’cat and hopped on a plane to Seattle,” he said. “Never looked back!”

Meet our new Geek of the Week. Continue reading for his answers to our questionnaire — and more examples of his work.

What do you do, and why do you do it? I fell in love with computers at age 12, while learning to code on the Apple IIe, and continued to master other languages and programs, including the Atari XL, Commodore 64, Amiga 500 and eventually, PCs and Macs. While I still write software to this day (11 languages and counting), what I really love is Information Security, which drew me to deal with Cryptography, firewalls, remote access and other stuff. The lucky part? people actually want to pay me for this! That’s between us here, ok? Don’t let anyone know I’d do this stuff for free!

What’s the single most important thing people should know about your field? Cryptography sounds really scientific and complicated, but in fact, technology is one of those fields where you can get really far without going to college or even finishing high-school (I did both…but no one ever asked me about it!). It doesn’t mean you can be stupid…on the contrary, you need to know a lot, but if you’ve got the brains, you can be one of us!

DSC02868Where do you find your inspiration? Movies, mostly. Watching Star Trek as I was growing up inspired me both to work in technology and create my unique art. The dream of one day having big chunks of our lives made easier through technology pushed me to delve deeper. From writing my first word-processor at age 13 (to get around my chicken-scratch) to being able to find any photo from my huge collection in seconds…this is what life is all about. Spending the time with my friends and family instead of looking for stuff I’ve lost.

What’s the one piece of technology you couldn’t live without, and why? Outlook. This is one effective way to handle pretty much everything. Contacts, addresses, reminders, shopping list…all in one place, easy to find and easy to use. Oh, and by the way…yeah, it does email too.

What’s your workspace like, and why does it work for you? My office is like my brain — clean, organized and efficient. I can’t share it with the world because it’s classified, but let me put it this way…the only thing there that isn’t in perfect 90 degree angles is the light bulb (and I’m working on fixin’ that too…)

Your best tip or trick for managing everyday work and life. (Help us out, we need it.) Other than having the right software (the one I mentioned earlier), the key is time management, and being able to quickly switch from one thing to the other. Waiting 6 minutes for lunch? Great time to hit eBay or Amazon and clear stuff off my shopping list. Mr. Douch is late for my meeting? Fire up ya’ old browser and pay ya’ bills. Every minute counts!

Mac, Windows or Linux? Mostly Windows, but I can’t keep it together with some Macs humming in the background. I just love Aluminum!

Kirk, Picard, or Janeway? Picard is the man! (so is Janeway, but you know what I mean!)

Transporter, Time Machine or Cloak of Invisibility? Time machine. If I don’t like it, I can always go back to today and get a transporter, right?

If someone gave me $1 million to launch a startup, I would … Start an airline that doesn’t treat humans like dead bodies.

I once waited in line for … Getting sworn-in as a United States Citizen!

Your role models: Jay Leno, because just like me, he grew up without much, and made it to be one of the most successful, best-known talents in the world (and he’s funny too!)

Greatest Game in History The C64 version of Bruce Lee from 1983.

Best Gadget Ever: My first smartphone, the Samsung i600. I wore that thing down to the motherboard!

First Computer: C64.

DSC02882Current Phone: iPhone 5.

Favorite App: PhotoSphere.

Favorite Cause: Diabetes research.

Most important technology of 2015 VR Sets.

Most important technology of 2017: Holographic displays.

Final words of advice for your fellow geeks: Build more apps!


LinkedIn: Erez Benari

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