FreshBooks: Enterprise Developer & Bounty

March 24, 2010

First of all, congratulations to FreshBooks on another successful hire via Toronto Tech Jobs; I’m happy it worked out.

Secondly, I’m also happy that FreshBooks is again offering me the referral fee, and as I’ve said before, my current stance is that it’s ok for me to take them as long as I’m pretty clear on the fact that I’m doing so.  If anyone wants to start a dialogue on the subject, now’s your chance, I’m listening.

And, co-incidentally, I saw another FreshBooks job posting go by today, so I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone and take a quick look at the posting.

FreshBooks is looking for an Enterprise Software Developer:

If building out super-reliable, high-performance applications in a disciplined, agile manner is what you love, drop us a line and let’s see if there’s a fit.

We NEED you to have:

* 5 years’ experience building enterprise-class applications
* 3 years’ experience working with ORMs and DAOs
* A demonstrable passion for unit testing, continuous integration and code coverage
* Communication skills like whoa

The Good
The usual for FreshBooks.  I like the company, they’ve got a good product, a clear profit model, a sizeable customer base who is generally pretty happy, an interesting company culture and some good people, some of whom I’ve been fortunate enough to help find homes there.  They’re a real product company with real customers, not a banking business, marketing company or insurance agency, which already sets them apart from a lot of the jobs in Toronto.  It’s a product that you can run out and try before you even interview, get a sense for what they do — that’s a great way to get a sense for whether or not it’s something you could be interested in building.  Some of the technologies they’re using appeal to me.

The Bad
Some of the technologies they’re using don’t immediately appeal to me.  Their largest codebase, last I heard, was PHP, and while I respect the fact that PHP powers much of the web (anyone heard of LAMP?), it’s not a language that makes me perk my ears up out of excitement.  I’m told that there are some challenges in the codebase, although I also believe that they’re on the path to something that I’d be happier with, and that they seem to know where they’re headed and why.  I don’t want to say too much more on the subject because I don’t know the extent to which the conversations I’ve had were in confidence.  For some of you, the location will be the strongest detractor, but i’ll come back to that.

What’s Missing
What’s the compensation like at FreshBooks for an Enterprise Software Developer?  Why the relatively new ‘enterprise’ tone in the posting?  What technologies will you be working with?  What’s the size and composition of the team, and where would you fit into that?  Do the languages and tools in use at FreshBooks really support refactoring in anything but the most basic of forms?

Your mileage may well vary when it comes to the technologies, but you’d definitely want to get the full story from them on what they’re using before making too many assumptions; it might appeal more than you think.  And my mileage definitely varies when it comes to the location.

The Location
Their location is off the beaten path for transit users up at Dufferin and Glencairn.  It’s about a 15 or 20 minute walk from Glencairn station, or you can take the Dufferin Bus up from Bloor.  If you’re coming in off the 401, it’s probably pretty reasonable, and there’s a fair number of food options in the area if you have a car.  The options are somewhat less exciting on foot, but there’s still food options and shopping around.  For some, this location is normal, possibly even better than some because you don’t have to fight your way to the core.  On the other hand, if you’re out in Pickering and you like to take the Go train, this is probably not something you’d even consider.  For me, the location takes just long enough to get to from my house that it would be a constant, if minor, irritation.  So in this case, your mileage really will vary.

And, in case you missed the first paragraph and any previous posts on the subject, you should know that FreshBooks has twice offered me a bounty for referrals, which I’ve accepted.  I don’t think that unduly biases me towards the company, but it’s important that I be clear about it.

In Summary
If FreshBooks sounds like your kind of company, and you’ve got a background in enterprise software development, there may be a good match here.


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.

Avid Life Media: iPhone, Sr. Web Developer

February 4, 2009

Avid Life Media, whom I’ve mentioned before, is looking for an iPhone Developer and a Senior Web Developer.  Last I heard, they were using agile methods and some fun technology, and paying reasonably well, all of which sounded great.  On the other hand, I know a couple people who’ve talked to them in detail and opted not to continue because they weren’t totally enthused about the big projects that Avid Life media owns; that’s a decision you’d have to make for yourself.  Since Avid Life doesn’t go into detail about what they do, I won’t spoil it for them, athough they do give away the fact that they’re in the dating business, among other things.

In any case, if you’re interested, I suggest you give them a call to get more details; from the limited contact I’ve had, they seem like nice people.

Update: Syncapse

January 29, 2009

It looks from this posting like Syncapse might still be hiring.  They were looking for a Social Network Software Developer before, sounds pretty similar to me, so perhaps previous comments will help you.

Astral Media: Developer, Interactive

January 21, 2009

Astral Media is looking for a Developer, Interactive for an 8-month contract tow ork on their TV-oriented websites: Family, TMN, HBO Canada, MPix, Viewer’s Choice, etc.  There’s some AJAX and PHP in there, but it sounds like there’d be a fair amount of HTML, graphics-cutting, and so forth.  

There’s not really enough there to latch on to, but if this sounds like something you’d be interested in, then it might be worth inquiring further.

They’ve got enough properties that it could be interesting work, but it just doesn’t feel like they put enough effort into their web properties to make it really challenging.  There are interesting avenues to explore like social elements, syndication feeds, and so on.  Then again, if you don’t join, you can’t convince them to fulfill their unrealized potential.

They’re also looking for some roles that are outside of my normal coverage: Bilingual Communications Assistant, Programming Co-ordinator, Supervising Editor.

New Mediatrix: Drupal Developer

January 21, 2009

New Mediatrix is looking for a developer with Drupal experience:

The client, a not-for-profit organization, has an existing website. They would like to have a sub-site that allows them to keep track of their volunteer database. The front-end allows the volunteers to sign up, log in, edit info, apply for training, apply for volunteer positions, and participate in a discussion board. The back end is a CMS system in Drupal which allows the client to update all content on the sub-site, track volunteers, their training, upload files for download, moderate the discussion board, and send out emails to volunteers. The design of the front end has been designed by New Mediatrix and is completely based on the existing so layout and code is available from the client. Photoshop screens are also available. The back end will be designed this month as it si developed. The project is already in production but there is no developer at this time and development begins this week.

The Good
The project’s already lined up. It might be for a good cause. Given that this has already been quoted and budgeted, there’s a possibility that all the ducks are already in a row, and all you have to do is execute. It starts right away. If you’ve got the time and experience, you could get cracking.

The Bad
It’s just a possibility. These aren’t your ducks, your requirements and your budgets and schedules. Historically, it’s the projects that seem to be starting out well-organized that go the farthest off the rails, so this is a good time to make sure you’re not painting yourself into a corner that you’re going to have to walk away from (presumably getting paint all over your feet in the process).

What’s Missing?
They don’t talk about rates, presumably because you’re supposed to do that, although it’d be a shame to put together a quote and discover you’re way off the mark, particularly since they imply there’s already a budget in place. Then again, that’s a pretty common freelance dilemma.

Any serious quote is also going to need to know a lot more about the business requirements they’re referring to, or put up a wall of assumptions strong enough to deter the inevitable change requests. ‘A full schedule is available on acceptance of quote’ has a pretty ominous sound to it, so I might want to probe a little more about what’s likely to be in said schedule.

Your mileage may vary about using the phrase In Production to refer to a project in progress. Depending on the work environments you’re used to, this might be applied to projects that are live, in a production environment rather than a staging or development environment.

Your mileage may also vary on quoting on this level of detail — personally, I’d want to know more.

In Summary
If you’ve got some time on your hands and some experience with Drupal, this could be a good contract to pick up, particularly if you’re willing to ask a few questions to get on the right footing. On the other hand, if you’ve got Pligg experience, I’ve got someone else who wants to talk to you, so drop me a line.

Syncapse: Social Network Software Developer

November 20, 2008

Syncapse is looking for a Social Network Software Developer (a teaser posting which preceded this one):

Syncapse Corp. is seeking software developers capable of developing projects, managing priorities, and interacting with clients in a fun startup environment.

  • This is a full time position at a small, growing company
  • This is a technical position developing software for social networks like Facebook, Open Social, and Google Friend Connect 
  • Preparation of technical specifications and feature outlines
  • Develop modular PHP applications
  • Work with 3rd party web services APIs like Facebook, Open Social, Youtube, etc.
  • Test applications, write bug reports, and fix problems
  • work in a team environment

The Good
It sounds like Syncapse is well-positioned and with good clients in a relatively new market, although I can’t easily verify that.  Although social networks are certainly out of the initial hype, I don’t think the social elements of the web are going anywhere either, so this is an opportunity to focus on the social web, which is probably experience you can leverage in the future.   Getting to interact directly with clients doesn’t always happen at this experience level.

The location seems to be Yonge and Dundas, which is a good place to work — there’s a lot of good food around, and having the Eaton Centre at your feet has its perks.  It’s also relatively central and relatively convenient for anyone who’d consider working in the core to begin with.

The Bad
They’re not looking for a ton of experience, so they may be expecting to pay accordingly.  If you’ve got experience, you’d want to level-set before you get too far into the conversation. 

What’s Missing
What kind of social network work will you be doing, and for whom?  What’s the compensation?  Will you be working on a team?  What kind of process does Syncapse use, and what are some good examples of the kinds of work they’ve done before?  Are you likely to use some of the other mentioned technologies, or are those just mentioned in terms of applicable experience?  

Some of you are probably happy to see a development job with a lot of dynamic languages, some not.  But even those of you who love dynamic languages, your mileage may vary when it comes to PHP, which seems to be the focus. 

Although I’m near-certain that “social” isn’t going anywhere, Facebook feels like it’s waning to me, so your mileage may vary when it comes to a Facebook focus.

In Summary
This is most interesting for someone who’s a fan of dynamic languages and social networks, and not afraid of a little PHP.