Centre for Global eHealth Innovation: Hacker, Software Generalist, Researcher

May 27, 2011

The Personal Health and Information Technology department at the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation is looking for a Hacker / Software Generalist / Researcher:

Every member of our tightly knit development team has full input into every stage of project architecture, design and implementation. We own our projects and get shit done that has real, meaningful and measurable impact on sick people’s lives.

  • Have enough experience in Java to be sick of it
  • Have experience with the JBOSS stack
  • Have professional experience with a dynamic language such as Ruby or Python or Javascript
  • Be a UNIX weenie
  • Have open source contributions they can show us
  • Have mobile app development experience, on any combination of the iPhone, Android and Blackberry platforms, or on Titanium, PhoneGap, or other cross platform tools
  • Be comfortable working in a Scrum process
  • Be fanatical about testing

Grant McInnes, who sent in the posting, adds:

we do everything from hardware development, up the stack through software development, to UX evaluation and finally randomized controlled trials on the built products

The Good
It sounds like a great cause:

We have good results. In a randomized controlled trial, our applications have been shown to significantly improve heart failure outcomes, in patients with Congestive Heart Failure. In another we’ve demonstrated a 10 point drop in blood pressure for hypertensive patients

How often do you get to look at a software job where you can contribute to saving lives?

It also sounds like they use a fair number of technologies and have pretty sound processes. There’s not a ton of detail there, but what’s there sounds good.

Who is the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation, to which the Personal Health and Innovation department belongs, anyway?

The Centre for Global eHealth Innovation is “a joint effort of UHN and the University of Toronto and was built with funds from the Canadian government, through the Canada Foundation for Innovation, and the Ontario Innovation Trust”. Phew. And then of course the UHN is itself a bunch of different entities working together. The Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Ontario Innovation Trust are both government organizations created to foster innovation at the Federal and Provincial levels. So, basically, take a university, several hospitals, two branches of government and assorted others and put them together and you have the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation.

It sounds like the possibilities for endless meetings, paperwork and mayhem abound without even talking about how Conway’s Law fits into this. Of course, universities, governments and hospitals can be fulfilling places to work, so maybe your mileage may very a little, and you’ll find the combination appealing. It sounds a little scary to me.  The posting talks about some of the upside of this arrangement:

Being in a research environment, we are able to concentrate on this goal without being distracted by short term profit motives, or keeping investors happy.

The Location
Sounds like they’re in the Toronto General Hospital, over by MaRS, Hospital Row, etc. There are restaurants and shops around, although it’s not overflowing with great eats and hip places from my limited experience in the area. It’s very transit-accessible, but it’s not ideal for go train (you’d want to take the subway, at least in winter) or driving. The location is probably neither off-putting nor exciting for most of you. On the upside, you could take in events at MaRS pretty easily.

What’s Missing
What’s the compensation like for a Researcher at the Centre for eHealth Innovation? What’s the size and composition of the team? How would you fit into it? What’s that crazy organizational structure like in practice — does it get in the way or is it something that you’re barely aware of?

Is there a particular project that you’d be starting on? What are the technologies and platforms you’d likely be working with right away and what is the mix going to be like over the long haul?

What are their development practices like? There’s a mention of Scrum, but in practice companies vary quite a bit. It’s hard to get too deep into specifics without knowing more about the technological mix but: do they do pairing? Do they use digital issue tracking or card boards (kanban, etc)? Is there a build? Continuous integration? How often are deployments/releases made? What’s the workspace like?

Maybe Grant can answer some of these here, but these are the kinds of questions you might consider asking them yourself.

In Summary
If you’re looking for a good cause with decent technology and practices, this sounds like it’s worth further investigation.


Zazengo: Senior Ruby Developer

April 29, 2008

Zazengo is looking for a Senior Ruby Developer

Zazengo is seeking the right person to take our technical team and
platform from pre-beta through launch and scaling to sustainable
profitability. The right candidate will combine the following:

• An excellent working knowledge (and love) of programming in Ruby and
Ruby on Rails. Up-to-date on latest Edge Rails technology and tools

• A strong understanding of emerging web technologies and practices
including widgets, advertising engines, RSS/Atom feeds, CMS tools,
social network connectivity, APIs, and standards including OpenId and
OpenSocial, especially in regards to their implementation using Ruby
and Rails.

The Good
There’s a lot of interesting bits in the posting.  It looks like Zazengo is into empowering not-for-profits, so, again, a good cause.

They’re working with interesting technology: Edge (Ruby on) Rails, Git, OpenSocial, OpenId, RSS.  They’re looking for someone with good writing/speaking skills, so community involvement may be a factor.  They seem to be test-driven, with mentions of Test::Unit and RSpec.

Mostly, it sounds like fun.

The Bad
There’s not much information about compensation.  Since Ruby jobs tend to vary significantly in compensation, I inquired, but received no response.  I’m not sure if you should read into that, so I’ll let you decide.  They’re looking for someone senior, current with edge rails, and up to speed on a lot of technology, so I’d hope they’d compensate accordingly, but not all startups can afford to, particularly those working with not-for-profits.

There’s not a ton of detail about the process or the company, so you may want to probe on those.

They’re a distributed/virtual team, and that might mean working from home.  Some people will love the idea, others will dislike it.

In Summary
If you’re looking for edge rails work and willing to work in a distributed team for a good cause, it’s worth having a deeper conversation with Zazengo about their compensation, process and the company.

World Vision: Director of Support and Infrastructure

April 29, 2008

World Vision is looking for a Director of Support and Infrastructure:

  • Define the enterprise technology architecture and strategies, and set all associated policies, standards, and guidelines.
  • Define technical evaluation criteria and participate in product selection for technology architecture domains.
  • Ensure that proposed architectures are sound and aligned with corporate assets and competencies and provide guidance to ensure proper technical partner / vendor selections.
  • Identify and understand trends in the IT landscape.

The Good
It’s a senior role for an organization focused on the protection of children, which most people would agree is a pretty noble goal.

The Bad
They’re large enough to think that PMP certification and ITIL are useful approaches in the management of IT, which may not be to everyone’s taste.

There’s not a ton of information on the work, process and technology. I’m guessing about the location for the job, and I’ll put in a similar guess for compensation: not exceptionally high. Honestly, if money is a key factor, I’m guessing that World Vision can’t compete, and to a certain extent, may not want to. That said, if this opportunity excites you, I suspect you’re better off talking to them than making assumptions.

The location is out by 410/403 and the 401. That’s probably best for those of you in the West, or possibly the North, and certainly for those of you already highway-commuting.

Some of you are probably thinking that PMP and ITIL are good signs, I’m just not necessarily in agreement.

They’re self-identified as a Christian organization. Not everyone has a Christian background, and/or would be comfortable working for an organization that does. That said, I know someone who’s worked with them directly, and who would be happy to say that they’re a nice bunch of people, as you might expect.

In Summary
Seems tailor-made for a highway commuter (or someone already in the Northwest) looking to improve the world, rather than bring home the bacon, and willing to do so within a Christian organization.

CIHI: Technical Lead

March 23, 2008

Canadian Institutes for Health Information is looking for two technical leads, each of whom:

leads/coordinates all applications development activities. Activities include, but are not limited to, participation in requirements identification and feasibility analysis, generation of technical solutions and design, coding, testing, quality assurance, implementation and all supporting project artefacts and documentation.

CIHI says, about themselves:

The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) is an independent, not-for-profit organization that provides essential data and analysis on Canada’s health system and the health of Canadians.

They seem to be looking for people with both .NET and Java expertise.

The Good
This is mostly interesting because it’s a moderately senior role in a not-for-profit organization dealing with something positive (health), which isn’t always that easy to come by. The role and responsibilities sound reasonable, if you can stomach the kind of working environment that makes reference to PMP documentation.

The Bad
There’s no information about the work, the compensation, and limited information about the company.

Although I understand that CIHI collects health information, and may well use software to do so, the posting says almost nothing about the nature of the work with which the candidate will be involved.

The location is unknown; it may be the Toronto office at 90 Eglinton Avenue East, or could be somewhere else. There’s not much information about the working environment or the compensation. Given that most of their funding comes from the government, I’m not sure if their compensation can afford to be above-average at least in salary, although the inclusion of a pension plan might be interesting for some. Since an application development services manager makes under $80k, my hopes for a good salary are not high.

If you’re not too hung up on salary, and working for a not-for-profit health organization with a good pension plan sounds like your cup of tea, this might be just the place you’re looking for.

On the other hand, if you’ve got fair experience and you’ve gotten used to private sector pay, I have the feeling you’re going to find the salary disappointing, so you’d want to make sure the rest of the benefits and compensation plan make up for it sufficiently.