Garner: Sr. Software Developer

May 9, 2012

Garner (websitelinkedin) is looking for a Sr. Software Developer:

You are proficient in at least Java, JavaScript and SQL. You have several years of experience developing server side business logic and web-based GUI components. You are familiar with Agile planning and XP engineering practices, especially TDD, refactoring, mock objects, pair programming and continuous integration. You have a mastery of design principles and the object-oriented paradigm of software development. You know the basics of shell scripting, jQuery, AJAX, HTML, CSS and HTTP.

You are curious and always striving to get better at your profession. You know that you will work in a totally different way 10 years from now and you are not scared by it. You like to experiment with new languages, tools, and libraries, applying your new knowledge to your everyday work.

Garner makes a platform called exdocs, and they used to direct people to exdocs.com; you’ll still find links pointing there. The new Garner website is still relatively young, I gather, so it’s a little lean on content, but it’s not hard to find out more about their product and company with a web search. You’ll even turn up ancilliary sites like specializedbid.com and their old exdocs.com site (which redirects now to the Garner site).

The Good
First and foremost, this is a posting written by (or at least heavily influenced by) someone who understands technology and what developers care about. It’s written with care, and this makes it stand out over the vast majority of job postings.

As a result of that, you can get a much stronger vibe for their development culture than you can for most postings on areas like software quality and agility. The passion for software comes through. I like that the posting mentions technologies but isn’t pedantic about them.

This posting was given to me directly, rather than something I found on my own, by someone who I’ve known for a while. He’s looking for strong candidates and I hope that my posting this will help him find them. If we’re lucky, he’ll be able to respond to some of my points here to help clarify anything.

Garner’s industry focus on Oil, Gas, Mining and Pipelines mean that their market is an important one in Canada and one that has been doing pretty well over the last few years. Some of their older pages talk more generally about logistics, freight, land management and other sectors, so I suspect these growth sectors are becoming (or have become) their primary focus.

I’ve been curious about Continuous Delivery techniques for a while, but haven’t had much experience with them. I don’t get a strong sense from the posting of what they’re doing with continuous delivery, but the fact that it  gets mentioned at all is appealing to me.

The Location
Their Toronto office is near Queen and Spadina. It’s a nice area, and not terribly difficult to get to by TTC, GO or road vehicles. Lots of tech companies there, so many of their potential candidates will already be working in the area — if that’s you, then getting yourself into their office for an interview should be pretty easy.

Basically, this is one of the more common areas for tech work, and you probably already know the tradeoffs of this area well enough that I needn’t bother speculating on your behalf.

What’s Missing
Garner is privately held, so I don’t know much about how the business is doing, growth, finances.

The redirection of the website and refocusing on growth industries seem like normal business changes, but it’s hard to really assess those kinds of changes from the outside — you’d have to be really immersed in the company to understand the impact. Is this a recent and significant change or just gradual business evolution. Are people inside the company happy with these changes?

What’s the size and composition of the team? What would you be working on? What’s the compensation like?

What are they doing with continuous delivery?

How do they manage the mix of user experience design and agile approaches?

YMMV
Your mileage may vary when it comes to working on a platform for capital projects in the oil, gas, mining and pipelines sectors. It won’t be everyone’s perfect job. If you’re looking for a consumer-focused startup, this isn’t it.

I know people who’d never take another Java job at this point. Even for many dedicated Java developers, the bloom is off the rose. The technologies they talk about sound like solid ones, but you might not be hyper-excited about the technologies themselves.

In Summary
If you’re experienced with Java and the Web and you’re looking for a new position, I’d guess this is likely to be interesting.

UPDATES
I’ve made some minor edits based on minor changes since I started writing, or things that I learned after posting. I don’t think they affect the content in a way that’s worth describing in detail.

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Autodesk: Java Architect – Enterprise Cloud

June 1, 2011

Autodesk is looking for a Java Architect – Enterprise Cloud Software:

We are currently looking to hire software development rock stars to help us move the processes of our design customers to the cloud.

 Will design, architect and implement an enterprise grade cloud application
– Development of multiple web-based applications
– Active member of a highly skilled and motivated agile development team
– Work closely with product design and product management to collaboratively define and build elegant user interfaces
– Collaborate with other developers and colleagues to validate your designs
– Drive adoption of standards and common UI components across multiple teams

If you don’t have enough experience to position yourself as an architect, you could try for their Sr. Java Developer or Java Developer positions, also for their Enterprise Cloud.

The Good
Autodesk is an established player with a big client base. If you build something good for them, it will probably get used by lots of people. It sounds like a reasonably senior position. They’re willing to make lip service to agile at least — although there’s no detail on that point.  Cloud technologies can be interesting, although they don’t talk much about what Cloud means to them.

They certainly believe their compensation package is a good one:

Autodesk provides one of the most exceptional compensation and benefit packages, including stock options and employee stock purchase plan for all regular employees, RRSP matching program, generous vacation policy, ongoing employee training and development, flexible work hours and more!

The Bad
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I find the ‘elite’ metaphors for technology positions to be annoying. They’re not looking for a rock star, they’re looking a Java architect. If you’re looking for a really great one, make that clear, and make it clear that you’re willing to pay accordingly, otherwise you’re just “fluffing.”

What’s Missing
More detail on almost all fronts. Where’s the Autodesk Office? What does Autodesk pay a Java Architect, and what’s the net effect of all their compensation programs? What does cloud mean to them — AWS? Rackspace Cloud? Or just “a client-server system we can sell to our clients as ‘the cloud'”? What’s the software they’re trying to build? What does agile mean to them? Why do they want both GWT and Struts/Tiles?

The Location
Although Autodesk doesn’t mention the location, their primary Toronto office seems to be near King and Sherbourne. It’s not a terrible area, moderately central, walkable (although far) from Union Station, accessible via the King Streetcar and not terrible to get to via the highway. If you’re in the Beach or Leslieville (hi!), it’s probably a pretty great location, but if you’re north or west, it’s probably just ok. There are good shops and restaurants around the St. Lawrence Market, and over to Yonge, although it’s not as close to the shopping core as many central offices.

In Summary
If ‘Java Architect’ sounds like something you’d want to be, then a Java Architect for Autodesk’s Cloud is probably appealing. And if you’re not sure that you can pull off Architect, it sounds like they’re hiring for the rest of the team too.


Canada Protection Plan: Software Developer

February 16, 2011

I wrote up a posting for Canada Protection Plan, a client, who’s looking to start building an in-house software development team.

I won’t give it the full review treatment because I can’t be unbiased about a posting I wrote.  I will comment a little on the pros and cons, but you should read the posting for yourself and form your own opinion.

The Good
CPP’s been a client of mine for more than a year now, and they’re a great client.  I can’t swear that the experience of being an employee will be exactly the same, but I’m inclined to believe it’s close enough that this will be a pretty decent place to work.

They’re building new products and using decent technology to do so.  As the first permanent technical employee, you might have the chance to really shape the technology practice here.

I’m a part of the current team, and I can vouch for the two others you’ll be working with initially.  It’s a good team, and that’s something you won’t find everywhere.

What’s Missing
We’re considering people with a wide range of experiences, so I can’t be too specific about compensation — that’ll probably depend on you. I’ve tried to talk about the company, the projects, the challenge and opportunity involved, and the team, but there’s only so much I can write without making it a massive posting. If you apply to the job, I encourage you to think about the things I might not have already talked about, and ask, and I’ll be as candid as I can.

The Bad
It’s going to be a pretty quiet team at first.  There’s already three of us working on software for CPP, but we’re consultants, we’re not onsite every day, and so you won’t be immediately surrounded by tons of other software developers.  Some people would have trouble with that.  I’m expecting that the team will grow, and that the first employee will be a key member in recruiting the rest of the team, but for the first little while you’ll probably need to be comfortable with having days where you’re the only software developer onsite.

YMMV
The location is pretty good for me, since I live in the east end of Toronto and I can drive there quickly. Another consultant I’m working with lives on the waterfront and can get there in ten minutes by car.  If you’re mid-town near the Yonge line, I imagine the shuttlebus makes the trip palatable, although I haven’t tried that myself.  On the other hand, if you’re coming from the west end, or fighting through a ton of traffic to get to the CPP office, it might not be your cup of tea.

There’s three restaurants in or very near the building, as well as a GoodLife fitness.  There’s free parking.  If you’re willing to walk a little, there’s a grocery store, a few more restaurants and the Science Centre (if you have children and a stay-at-home partner, that might be appealing, as it is for me).  On the other hand, there aren’t a pile of restaurants around or very very close, so you’ll probably end up bringing lunch and eating in the cafe.  Depending on your perspective, that might be a good thing or a bad one.

The goal here is to get someone who can really own these applications and the practice of software development for CPP.  Someone who’s in it for the long haul, at least by comparison to the consultants already building software for CPP.  We don’t expect you to make any guarantees, of course, but if you’re not interested in being that person, then it’s probably not going to work.

In Conclusion
CPP needs to build an in-house software development team.  If you’re interested in being the first member of that team and taking increasing ownership of software at a growing insurance company, this might be a good fit for you.

Disclaimer
I wrote the job posting.  CPP is a client of mine.  If you were to be hired in this position, you’d be working with me.  As a result, assume that I’m somewhat biased about the role, and be sure that you do your due diligence.  Of course, you should do that with every position.


PharmaTrust: Platform Service Developer

September 3, 2010

PharmaTrust (PCA Services Inc) is looking for a Platform Service Developer:

PharmaTrust (PCA Services Inc) is a cutting edge dynamic start-up in the field of telepharmacy, producing the MedCentre remote medication dispensary. The MedCenter provides pharmacists with the ability to remotely counsel and dispense medication using IP based audio/visual conferencing and a remotely controlled dispensary robot system.

Platform Services develops and supports the PharamTrust Platform and provides shared enterprise services to the PCA Services group of companies.

The Platform Service Developer has the responsibility for developing the PharmaTrust Platform Services, integrating other systems applications and databases (both internal and customer), and evolving the Platform Train of the MedCentre application software.

They’re also looking for a Platform Technical Support & Maintenance Specialist.

The Good
These robot dispensaries seem like a good idea to me.  The Albany Medical Clinic had one, and it was interesting.  IP-based audio/video conferencing and e-health all rolled into one project.  There’s definitely some interesting elements to this, and these dispensaries are new enough that PharmaTrust might be on a good trajectory over the long haul.

YMMV
It sounds like they’re in the middle of a technical overhaul from a .NET system to a Java/ESB system (and the support/maintenance specialist would continue to maintain the existing .NET side, looks like).   That means there’s an opportunity to really get in on the ground floor of the new architecture, as long as the architecture sounds like something that would work for you.  Personally by the time you throw ESB and BPEL together, I’m already starting to get nervous, let alone combined with WS-*, a platform shift and technical challenges like SIP.  Your mileage may vary significantly from mine, but I’d want to get a stronger sense for the architectural direction, and whether or not there’s any astronautics involved.

On the other hand, if ESB and WS-* sound like the right way to build a robust, enterprise-class, scalable system with all the -ilities you need, by all means, this might be the perfect fit for you.

What’s Missing?
Why the architectural shift from .NET to Java?  What are the driving factors behind the choices of ESB, BPEL, WS-*?  What’s the current size and composition of the technical team, and how will that change on the new platform?  What’s the compensation like for this position?  What’s the growth and outlook for MedCentre like?  (It seems promising to me, but if this is going to be your company, you might as well have more details than I do.)

I don’t really expect a company to describe the reasons for their technical decisions in a job posting, but it seems like the sort of questions you’re going to want to ask.

The Location
It’s in Hamilton, Mississauga, Oakville or Toronto?  I’m going to assume that’s a result in trying to cast a wide net for candidates in any of those locations.  Their office seems to be in an industrial park in Oakville, which means that if you’re not already in the west end of Toronto or out of town, the location will probably be too far out.  I don’t know much about the area; if that area is somewhere you consider, you probably already know more than I do.

In Summary
Looks like it’s be well-suited for someone with enterprisey leanings, health-care and some exposure to both Java and .NET, in the west end.


Fuel Industries: Server Programmer (Ottawa)

February 21, 2010

Fuel Industries is looking for a Server Programmer in Ottawa:

We are looking for someone who is well versed in both Windows (ASP.NET, C#) and Linux (PHP) development environments. A better than basic understanding of the various OS platforms, web servers and networks is required as well.

You will be involved in all aspects of the business from project briefs, risk assessments, setting milestones, assessing resourcing requirements through to sign-off and delivery. This will involve building trusted and respectful relationships across the company. All this while providing continuous up to date commentary and forecasts to all levels of the business.

It looks to me like Fuel Industries is a cross between an advertising agency and a game company (advergaming? gamevertising?), using games to build branding for companies and/or products.  Scott Hunter from Fuel Industries contacted me directly to say they were having trouble finding good people and suggested I take a look at their posting.  I’d just about finished with the writeup when it finally clicked that this was in Ottawa; for some reason I’d deluded myself into thinkin that Fuel Industries /also/ had a Toronto office.  As a result, most of you have already stopped reading.

The Good
It’s not banking or insurance, so it’s already slightly more interesting than your average tech job in Toronto.  Social/casual games and facebook integration seem to be big for them and it’s definitely a growth segment, so even if you don’t end up feeling like Fuel Industries is your long-term home, this might be a good company at which to hone your social gaming skills that you’ll use to launch the next Zynga.   It also sounds like some of their projects may have significant scale-out, which is a good skillset to pick up if you don’t already have it.  Also, if Fuel Industries is having trouble finding good people, and you’re “Good People (TM)” then presumably you’ve got a good shot.

It sounds like it’s a small enough place that it’s all about getting things done and less about heavy formal processes and “but that’s Steve’s job”.  I count that as good, although some people are more comfortable with the latter.

It looks like Scott’s got a passing interest in JVM languages, and you could learn a little bit about him since I imagine you’d be working with him.  He seems sane.  Fuel Industries also has a helpful list of twitter users that you could use to learn more about your potential co-workers, and it also implies they know a little about social media, which should be in their wheelhouse.  Heck, they even have a Wikipedia entry.

The Bad
It’s basically advertising.  I’ll touch on that again in YMMV, but I know a lot of people who’d be happy for me to place that directly in the ‘bad’ category.  Then again, if you can find a well-paid job in Toronto curing cancer with your favorite programming language, you wouldn’t be reading this, right?

They mention a wide array of languages, some of which you might not have.  It sounds like they do a lot of PHP, which is not surprising for a company with tie-ins to Facebook, although I don’t know that many people that really love working in PHP, despite the fact that a lot of serious internet companies are powered by it.

What’s Missing
How many people are there?  What’s the size and composition of the team you’d be on?  Who would you be working with?  What kinds of projects will you be working on?  What’s the mix of technologies likely to be in practice, and how hung up are they on you having experience with all or most of their stated platforms?  What’s the compensation like?  Would you be doing any mobile work?

The Location
It’s a little farther out than most of the jobs I post.  It’s in Ottawa.  🙂  I won’t claim to know anything about the area.

YMMV
Your mileage will definitely vary if you want to commute to Ottawa.  If you’re willing to consider relocation, you’d need to understand how they’d support that kind of a move.

Not everyone wants to work in what amounts to advertising, even if it’s building games.  Your mileage may vary as to what Fuel Industries does, so if that’s a concern for you, then you might want to look over their portfolio in detail and talk to the company about the sorts of work they do, and where you’d fit into that.  Then again, that’s a good idea for any company at which you’re considering applying for a position.

This sort of work is often a good environment for trying new technology, as the projects you’re working on may be short-lived.  It’s less likely to be the kind of place where you build a massive code-base that you have to support for five years.  This may be good or bad depending on your point of view.

In Summary
If you’ve got the skills you’re looking for, the location isn’t totally out of the question, and you’d like something a little fast paced, and/or to get into gaming and facebook integration, then this might be a good fit.  Submit your resume to fuel industries via their website or get in touch with Scott Hunter.


CPNI: Manager of Software Development

February 10, 2010

CPNI is looking for a Manager of Software Development:

We are seeking top candidates for the position of a hands-on Agile Software Manager to Lead and Mentor a Team of Java Software Developers. The position is of prime importance to the company; the selected candidate will be responsible for development of new products or extensions of existing products. The Manager of Software Development will receive specifications from the Product Management Team and translate them into software fully and thoroughly QA tested and delivered to the Operations Team.

This might be a replacement to this earlier role that CPNI posted.

The Good
A friend interviewed there once, suggested that the people he spoke to seemed intelligent, that the interview process at least was thorough and seemed solid.  They seem to be agile, which I find appealing.  Their technology stack sounds like it has some reasonable points, although there’s not a lot of detail there.  There also seems to be some mobile work, even though it’s J2ME.  Mobile payments is certainly a space that people continue to believe will grow, although it still hasn’t gathered a lot of traction in North America.

Rumors
A source implied that he/she couldn’t come to terms on payment with CPNI, so their pay scale might not be the best in Toronto.  Then again, this is a pretty senior role, so it might be better-compensated.  A recent commenter suggested that he/she would rather have ebola than work for CPNI again.  There’s not a lot of information in that comment and I’m pretty sure it’s hyperbole, so it’s hard to read much into it, but it’s a pretty passionate statement.  In response to that comment, someone I know contacted me directly to suggest that that comment is ‘unfair’.  While he/she didn’t provide much additional detail, “definitely better than ebola” was made clear.

The Bad
As far as mobile work goes, J2ME is increasingly not seen as the area of expansion, with Android and iPhone capturing a lot of attention.   I’m personally not fond of using EJB, although if it’s EJB 3.x, I might consider it tolerable.

What’s Missing
What’s their approach to agile?  What are they using for web services?  What’s the compensation like at CPNI?  What’s the size and composition of the team?  How is CPNI doing in the mobile payment marketplace, and what are the challenges they and their products currently face?  Why are they looking for another dev manager already?

YMMV
Your mileage may vary when it comes to Fitnesse; it was de rigeur in agile shops for a while, but it’s never really excited me.  Then again, a company that takes testing seriously is always a good thing.  And then, your mileage will vary if you need to drive out to …

The Location
CPNI’s out at 427 and Burnhamthorpe, which is not a particularly exciting neighbourhood.  If you’re already in the west end of the subway line, the transit route might not be that much worse than downtown, and if you’re west and used to driving, it might be fine, but for most of the rest of the city, it’s pretty far west.  I commuted from the east end to an office north of there for a few months for a contract, and I can’t say that I’d be anxious to do it again, all other things being equal.

In Summary
This is a fairly senior role for a company that claims to be operating in an agile way.  If you want to be in a management position at an agile shop, and the location doesn’t throw you, then this would probably be worth a look.  Try to coax additional information out of past employees who might give you a better sense for some of the rumors above.


Rypple: Software Engineer / Developer

May 21, 2009

I haven’t talked about Rypple since they were a stealth startup looking for a ‘star software developer‘ and, later, a ‘star developer and front end ninja‘.  They’re no longer stealth, and they’re looking to hire a Software Engineer / Developer:

If you have a proven track record of building successful software (e.g. people love what you create), then we want to talk to you. If you don’t think its crazy to build both scalable, high-quality applications and release early and often – then you’ll like it here.

At Rypple, you’ll:

  • Join our dev team to design and build our online apps and the infrastructure we run our business on.
  • Regularly deal with users, customers, and our industry partners. You’ll be expected to come up with new ideas to create value and then implement and improve on those ideas
  • Be a generalist with technology but a specialist with building world class applications.
  • Be highly adaptable to technical challenges and thrive in an adaptive environment.
  • Be disciplined and get stuff done.

The Good
The founders are entrepreneurs with a good track record at Workbrain, and I found them to be impressive in person.  They believe in agile processes.  Their product is in an interesting space and a space they know well.  Initial feedback on their product seems to be positive.  Because it’s a public application, you can take a look at it and see if it’s something you’re interested in being a part of, which is always a big plus.  The technology stack is a good one — GWT, REST, Hibernate.  They claim to be agile.

The Bad
Workbrain had a bit of a reputation as a sweatshop.  I haven’t heard the same vibe from Rypple, but ultimately that’s something you’d want to assess for yourself.

What’s Missing?
What’s the size and composition of the team, and where would you fit into it?  What’s the compensation like, from ‘generous pay’ to vacation and benefits?

YMMV
When last I spoke to the Rypple founders, they were believers in Peter Thiel’s hypothesis that low pay is a predictor of startup success — that members of a startup need to be hungry and committed to the success of the company, and that high pay prevents that from happening.  It’s an interesting hypothesis, but your mileage may vary when it comes to the specifics of how much Rypple is willing to pay you to join the team.  You won’t know if you don’t talk to them.

Your mileage may also vary when it comes to working for a startup.  It’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

And finally, I’m increasingly irritated by job descriptions that mention things like ‘nunchaku skills.’  I know it’s intended to be humor, but my mileage does vary.

The Location
Yonge and Eglinton.  It’s not great if you’re coming from far out of town, in particular by GO, but it’s pretty accessible by Subway from most parts of the city.  There are lots of restaurants and shopping, particularly if you include Bayview Village and Mount Pleasant.  It’s neither the perfect location nor a bad one, to my eye.

In Summary
A development position for one of Toronto’s more visible startups.  If doing Java development for a startup sounds interesting, then you should probably talk to Rypple.