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.


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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

CTVglobemedia / The Globe and Mail: Systems Integrator

July 24, 2009

CTVglobemedia is looking for a Systems Integrator for The Globe and Mail (TGAM):

  • Analyze business and technical requirements with Partners who want to build or enhance web and data integration solutions;
  • Engage Developers, Data Analysts, and QA to build, modify, install, deploy and manage components of data and web solutions using a variety of technologies including HTML, XML, JSP, and possibly Java and Oracle as appropriate;
  • Maintain integrity of interface definitions (API’s) between the Globe and Mail and Partners.
  • Monitor implementations where Partner sites have integrated Globe content for reliability, integrity, and performance;
  • Represent Partners within Globe QA and change control notification processes;
  • Provide first or second level support of Partner solutions in conjunction with Customer Support Representatives.
  • Identify opportunities whereby the Globe and Mail can leverage common development to the benefit of Integrated Solution Partners and Globe public sites such as reportonbusiness.com.

The Good
The Globe and Mail is a well-respected newspaper, and some of their staff (e.g. Mathew Ingram) are clearly in tune with the kinds of technologies cultures they’re going to need to survive the turmoil of the newspaper industry.  Integration is increasingly a part of many enterprise applications, and that’s true in the media world as well, so this could be a good opportunity to make a real impact at The Globe if they’re serious about integration.

The Bad
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve heard the newspaper industry isn’t in great shape, and television looks like it’s going through some challenges as well.  This may not be the best of times at CTVglobemedia.  And, despite some of their more recent digital features, I’m not sure the Globe is well-known for it’s APIs.  The technologies they describe are pretty basic; that could be good or bad depending on your viewpoint.

What’s Missing?
What kinds of integration is The Globe doing right now?  It sounds like at least some of it will be financial/securities, although it’s not clear if that’ll be most or all of it. How does it expect to continue to expand the integrations it offers and consumes?  Does your role offer a chance to have an impact on that?  Would you be the first of your kind, or part of a larger team?  What approaches and technologies are they using for integration right now?  How is this role likely to expand within The Globe?  What does The Globe pay for a Systems Integrator?

Your mileage may certainly vary when it comes to working in media, and particularly the newspaper industry.

The Location
Unclear.  Could be Queen & John, which is a great building, a fun area, and pretty easy to get to; could be front and spadina, not a bad area, easy to reach by vehicle and not totally off-the-grid for transit riders.  Could be something else entirely.

In Summary
If you’ve got a background in integration, this might be an interesting opportunity to focus on it in a challenging industry.

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?

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.

I Love Rewards: Java Ninja

April 20, 2009

I Love Rewards is looking for a “Java Ninja”:

We want great Java Ninja’s [sic] to join our rapidly-expanding development team. You want to work on hard problems and be recognized and rewarded when you go above and beyond (which is often!). You want to work for a small company big on attitude and character, and you’re motivated by making an impact. Most importantly, you want to be in a place that’s full of people like you- A players who are fiercely intelligent, share a passion for their work, and know how to have fun!

  • Write code from scratch that builds major features and squashes convoluted bugs for the _I Love Rewards Express_ web platform
  • Optimize and refactor our services using Amazon’s EC2, S3, and EBS cloud based architectures
  • Work with passionate and talented individuals in a startup atmosphere, producing customer facing functionality in short iterations in an Agile environment

The Good
I Love Rewards is a relatively well-known and fast-growing company in their space, as far as I can tell. They’ve got lots of listed awards for things like ‘top employer’, ‘fastest-growing’, etc. They’re obviously doing something right.

The technology is both decent (Spring, Hibernate) and interesting (Amazon web services). They claim to be agile. The posting seems to be written by someone who understands technology.

Rumor has it that vacation policy may be four weeks.

The Bad
Word on the street is that their pay scale is decent but not spectacular, and most of the team is pretty junior. If you’re interested, you can verify some of those facts for yourself.

What’s Missing?

What are they expecting to pay? What’s their process really like? What’s the size and composition of the team, and how would you fit into the organizational structure? What is the generous vacation policy?

Your mileage may vary when it comes to what you’ll be developing. Having worked on loyalty and incentive systems before, I have to say that it’s a slight detractor for me. That said, if everything else is right, it wouldn’t be decision-dominating.

Your mileage may also vary when it comes to being called a ‘Ninja’. To be honest, I’m happy to be a technologist or software generalist, I don’t need to be a ninja, a rockstar, or any of the other “trying too hard” cool titles that some companies throw around.

I Love Rewards projects the image of ‘having fun’. Sometimes, companies that try hard to project that image give of a faint ‘cult’ vibe, which ILR does for me. That said, it probably is a fun place to work.

Some companies that say things like “Nine to Fivers need not apply” are basically just trying to make it clear that they’re looking for people with passion for the work, who aren’t just there to clock in and out and get paid. Others are trying to make sure you’re up for hard slogs, long hours. Your mileage may vary, although you’ll want to probe to understand what they’re looking for.

The Location
This is one of the bigger stumbling blocks. I love rewards is buried deep in Liberty Village. Basically, if you’re not already in the west, or possibly south-central, or driving in from the west and/or north-west, then this might be a deal-breaker. Getting out to Liberty Village from the east end or after taking a GO train is probably not everyone’s cup of tea — it’s not mine.

In Summary
Interesting technology in the west end, with decent vacation and possibly a fun working environment.