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.


Talent Xchange using App Engine

March 3, 2009

I was interested to see this job posting this morning on Craigslist that uses an domain as its submission engine.  It’s interesting to see Google AppEngine in the wild, let alone in a recruiting system.  (Or spam email harvesting, as the case may be; it’s not always easy to be sure).

I’d be interested to hear a little more about how this came to be, if anyone knows the inside story and wants to share.

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.

Royal Bank: Sr. Technical Analyst – Enterprise Application & Dependency Mapping

January 29, 2009

RBC is looking for a Sr. Technical Analyst – Enterprise & Dependency Mapping:

This position will be joining the recently created Application & Dependency Mapping team. Application & Dependency Mapping is a leading edge solution that automates the ability to discover and maintain the relationships between complex applications and their supporting infrastructure components, known as application interdependency mapping. This type of technology can be used for numerous things: improving Disaster Recovery Plans, incident management, change management, configuration management and many others.

– 5 yrs previous technical work/industry experience
– Having experience with this type of solution would be a benefit, however not a requirement as this is a leading edge solution.
– Programming and scripting skills are a requirement; the solution uses Java/Jython/Python.
– In depth knowledge of Windows and Unix computing technologies.
– In depth knowledge of networking technologies.
– Understanding of database architecture.
– SQL knowledge and user skills.
– Good understanding of the different layers of the OSI model.
– Working knowledge of middleware technologies
– Beneficial to have working knowledge of host computing technologies.
– Experience working with vendors and vendor support

The Good
This is a pretty novel area to me – definitely the sort of thing that would mostly be applicable to large enterprises, but possibly the sort of thing where developing expertise in this area will help you out by having skills in a relatively rare area that you can parlay into some kind of consulting in the future.  It might also just be interesting.

It’s also for the Royal Bank, which would normally be a good sign from a stability perspective, although lately Banks haven’t seemed like the best place to be.

And, finally, doing Python, even Jython, in the enterprise is rare enough that some of you are likely to be interested for that reason alone.

The Bad
The banks in Toronto typically don’t pay very well.  And with this position looking for five years of experience, I’d guess that they might be offering something like $60k, which is not enough, particularly to work in a banking environment.  That said, if you’re on the hunt and this sounds interesting, there’s no harm in inquiring, other than possibly wasting your time.  This is probably more appealing if you’ve only got the five years experience they’re looking for.

What’s Missing?
What’s the compensation like on this team?  Where will the job be located?  And, since this is likely to be a new area for many of you, knowing more about the job, what you’d be doing, what the team you’d be on is like and so forth could be valuable.

Your mileage may vary when it comes to working for/in a big canadian bank.  On the upside, you might be able to keep banker’s hours.  On the downside, you’re likely to have a lot of process and comparatively low pay.

In Summary
Working on Jython/Python to map enterprise applications and their dependencies for a big canadian bank – interesting technology, but possibly sub-standard pay.  Probably mostly interesting to people with the near-minimum required level of experience.

Scali / Platform Computing: Open Cluster 1st Line Support

December 8, 2008

Scali, or Platform Computing, is looking for someone to fill a role they call Open Cluster Solution, 1st Line Support:

Troubleshooting Linux, and cluster related technologies
Strong technical knowledge of major Linux operating systems, including administration and networking
Experience with Python and Shell programming
Knowledge of HPC cluster benchmarking (Linpack) and network like Infiniband. 
Experience working with parallel programming environments (MPICH, Intel MPI, OpenMPI, LAMMPI)
Ability to setup and administer a High Performance Computing (HPC) cluster
Ability to document in an accurate fashion, including procedures, processes
Establishing, nurturing relationships with end customers
Good communication (written, verbal) and customer management skills

The Good
High-performance cluster computing in Linux is definitely an interesting sector; this kind of system has essentially replaced mainframes, so experience in this area is a valuable skill for jobs that require serious computing power.

Although this is listed as support, it’s important to distinguish that it’s not support in the “Let me check the knowledgebase” sort of way, it’s support that involves actively working through problems, as evidenced by the required skills.  This kind of support has a significant operational role and is probably more appealing.

The Bad
They’re looking for people who already have some experience with high-performance computing and ideally distributed computing already.  I’m thinking that cuts down the applicant pool heavily, so that may be enough to reduce your interest. 

What’s Missing
I’ve worked out the location from the website, but that still leaves quite a bit.  What’s the compensation for this kind of role?  What’s a typical day like in this role — there’s a mix of responsibilities and it would be interesting to understand how they break down.    What’s the process like?  Is there a whole team of support at Scali that you’d be part of, and if so, what’s the size and composition of the team, and where would you fit in relative to the rest of the team?  Are there growth opportunities in this role that you might want to consider?

Your mileage may vary when it comes to a support role, even one with a strong operational side.  

It might also vary when it comes to working in Markham at Warden/407. , which basically means you already live nearby or you’re ok with commuting by car.

In Summary
This is most interesting if:

  • You’ve already got some experience with high-performance computing, and you’re interested to get more.
  • You’re ok with a support role even with a strong operational side.
  • You’re willing to work in Markham.

Givex: Programmer / Senior Application Developer

November 4, 2008

Givex is looking for a Programmer / Senior Application Developer:

You will join a team of competent and experienced Developers; 6-8 individuals. Daily responsibilities include programming, analysis and design. You will work on new development projects and existing systems in a 24/7 transaction-processing environment.


  • Development in UNIX environment on significant projects
  • Strong Database Design Skills; Database applications development and relational database management systems; Fluent in SQL
  • Programming languages: Python, C, C++, Java (some) and additional experience in other programming languages
  • Experience in writing client / server database applications using Object Oriented languages
  • UNIX networking experience with solid understanding of virtual memory, filesystems, job control and Strong knowledge of NetBSD, PostgreSQL and Linux
  • Application development experience in the financial industry, including: POS systems programming, debit and credit card terminals, POS devices, and communication protocols
  • Understanding of Extreme Programming practices and rules


The Good
Most development jobs are narrowly focused on a single platform.  It sounds like Givex development is a little more varied.  Python is also first on their list, although I’m not certain that list is in priority order.  It also sonds like they’re looking for people with a good understanding of Unix development – perhaps not kernel coding, but stil lower-level than your average enterprisey application. 

I believe their location is Adelaide and Charlotte — that’s not a bad area to work, good food and shops around, not too far off the main subway lines.

The Bad
I’m not certain why their application process asks some of the questions that it does, like whether or not you’re a smoker, and the question about filling out quizzes.  I suspect they’re a little security-concerned, but it’s a bit of an irritant.

What’s Missing
It’s not very clear what the team structure and composition is like.  What’s the compensation like?  What would you be working on in particular?  Is the team you’re working on the only software team?  How big is the company?  What’s the culture really like?  How does the mix of technologies actually play out in practice?  Why is the application process so unusual?

Your mileage may vary when it comes to the whole ‘time and commitment’ angle they mention in the application process; it might just be a culture that emphasizes getting the work done, or it might be a culture of overwork; you’d have to try and tease some of that out in the interview process.

In Summary
If you want to do Python, C and C++ in pursuit of transaction-processing and card solutions, you might want to consider Givex.

Unspecified: Python Developer

October 26, 2008

An unspecified company is looking for a Python Developer:

We are currently seeking a Developer with recent Python experience, either in a business or an educational environment. You may be a recent university grad with open source experience you can point to, or a seasoned developer. In addition to Python you will be working with Zope, Twisted, HTTP, Ajax and SQL and any experience in those areas would be helpful.

As part of our team you will have significant opportunities to contribute to our market leading role while working with a variety of technologies in developing new product features. We are a world leader with our applications. 

The Good
The technology stack sounds reasonable if you’re a Pythonista: Zope, Twisted, Ajax.   That’s enough for some who’re looking to work in Python.  If they are indeed ‘a world leader’, then that could be exciting as well.

The location, King and Spadina, is a decent one, although it’d help to know exactly where.  You’re not too far off Chinatown and Queen West, not too far from the subway.  Then again, if it’s halfway to Bathurst, you might find it’s a little too far off the subway for some.

They seem open to a wide range of experience levels, which increases the odds that they might be interested in you.

The Bad
A company doing Python/Twisted that’s “a world leader” in Toronto near King/Spadina?  Either they’re pretty good at flying under the radar, or they might be exaggerating a little.   I don’t know who they might be and Google isn’t helping.

They seem open to a wide range of experience levels, which might mean they don’t have high expectations that you have to meet and might not be expecting to pay a whole lot.  Then again, there’s only one way to know for sure: apply.

What’s Missing?
Who are they?   What would you be working on?  Are you working alone, or as a member of a team?  If the latter, what’s the size and composition of that team, and how would you fit into it?  Where exactly are they located?  What’s the compensation package?  What do they lead the world in?  Who would you be reporting to?  What would your goals be?

There’s really not enough detail for me to know where your mileage is likely to vary, but I guess your mileage might vary about applying to a position based on this thin slice of information. 

In Summary
If you’re working in Python or interested in doing so, then you’d probably want to try and learn a little more so you can decide if this is an interesting position.