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.


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.

socialDeck: Rockstar Engineer

April 20, 2009

socialDeck is looking for a Rockstar Engineer:

We’re building a platform for cross platform gaming — technology that enables games to be played between mobile and the web. Think playing games from your iPhone to Facebook to BlackBerry to MySpace.

We are looking for the brightest and most talented software engineer who will work with the platform team on building out our gaming platform in the cloud.

He/she will design and implement highly-scalable server systems to connect to the world’s most popular networks.

He/she will also be involved in building our client frameworks for iPhone, BlackBerry, Facebook, and Android.

The Good
They’ve got a pleasant web presence and decent press. They’re in an interesting/growing space: mobile / web social gaming. They seem to be taking a bit of a product angle with their talk of ‘a platform’.

Sounds like they’re funded, with nice space. The technology stack sounds reasonable, and the technology would probably be varied and interesting. And, frankly, it’s games. Working on games can be fun.

The Bad
They’re a startup, so odds are good that they’re not paying terribly well, although you’d have to inquire to find out.

Also, someone stop these people before they make another video. Teach them how to use screencasting software instead of a handheld cam pointed at a laptop on an angle.

Heck, I’ll even volunteer to help get ’em kickstarted. A couple hours with Screenflow and their demo would take on new life.

What’s Missing?
Where are they? What’s this position pay? How many other people work there? How long is their funding good for? What’s involved in the platform, and what’s the expected mix of game/platform development?

Your mileage may vary on working for an early-stage startup, especially if the compensation is low.

The Location
Besides ‘King West’, it’s hard to say. Probably a little off the beaten path if you’re not already west of the core, or driving. You’d need to inquire to know more.

In Summary
Game platform and game development on King West for a startup.

Polar Mobile Really Really Wants Software Developers

February 25, 2009

Polar, or someone working on their behalf, is putting out feelers left right and centre. I don’t know how they deal with the volume of leads this would presumably generate:


They are apparently looking to grow significantly during the year, but the sheer volume of posts leading back to the same spot is pretty draining if you’re reading a wide array of feeds.  Historically, I’ve viewed this kind of search behavior as a bad sign.

Unspecified: Contract iPhone Developer

January 28, 2009

Simple and to the point, this post implies that if you’ve got iPhone experience, they’re willing to pay a good contract rate for your skills.  There’s no information to go on, but if you’ve got the skills, then you could follow up.

I’m inclined to believe that less than fifty percent of these brusque posts are actually a real job with no serious flaws, but I guess for a few areas, like iPhone dev, I could imagine that some of you are willing to take a risk now and again and find out who’s on the other end.

Hobby Job: MacWorld iPhone App Reviewer

January 22, 2009

If you’re interested in writing short reviews of iPhone apps for a small fee, macworld would like to hear from you.  Seems like the kind of hobby that someone already doing mobile / iPhone development might enjoy doing for relatively limited compensation.

iPhone Technical Lead

January 12, 2009

Most of the iPhone postings I see in Toronto fall into one of two categories:

  • Sketchy: someone wants to do something on the iPhone and isn’t at all clear if they have a job, a partnership, or if they’re just harvesting emails for spam.  Too short and lacking in any detail that makes it feel real.
  • Partnership:  someone would like you to do all the heavy lifting in return for a percentage of the profit.  Often, it’s not clear what the poster is bringing to the relationship.  Most of the time, I’d say if coding for free in return for some of the profit interests you, you’d be better off setting out on your own, or with people you know and trust, rather than some dude on Craigslist.

This posting, on the other hand, is pretty low on detail, but carries some vague verisimilitude with respect to a job posting.  It’s possible that there’s someone on the other end who actually wants to hire you and pay you a salary.  There’s nowhere near enough detail to be sure, bu t it’s still a step up from most.  There’s still not enough for a full writeup, but if you’ve got iPhone experience and you’d like to move into an iPhone-related employment, this might be worth further investigation.