HandyMetrics: Technical Lead

May 20, 2012

HandyMetrics is looking for a Technical Lead:

  • The Technical Lead has primary responsibility for overseeing all development activities related to the products and will provide guidance for members of the development team. In addition, this individual needs to be a talented developer who can take initiative and spearhead challenging projects. Working with the other members on the development team, this individual will help to ensure all software deployed meets a high standard, delivering on business and reliability requirements. Ultimately we are looking for someone who is passionate about making a difference with the skills and experience to contribute to the company’s development, while growing professionally themselves.
  • Our systems are currently implemented using Rails 2.3, with plans to move to Rails 3+. Using Sencha Touch 1 mobile application framework with plans to move to Sencha 2+.

The Good
The technology mix sounds reasonable to me: Ruby on Rails, Sencha Touch, AWS. They claim to use agile methods. Their product seems to be meeting with some acceptance: “Our products are already in over 100 hospital sites and we are expanding internationally.”

They have apparently been nominated as “Startup of the Year” for 2012 by York Technology Alliance. That doesn’t mean a lot to me, but it’s probably better than no-one noticing you.

You can dig into the background of some of the people already involved.

Your mileage may vary when it comes to being part of a startup within the University Health Network (UHN), it might  feel like a startup with a big brother to lean on, or it might feel like a cash-strapped enterprise. It seems like they’re looking for a jack of all trades — unix server administration, development, leadership, information visualization, front-end HTML5/CSS work

It sounds like they’re a very small group — that could either be a great opportunity or be something you’re not into.

The Location
It’s hard to say, but it looks like they’re on hospital row, which means there isn’t a ton of stuff right there at your fingertips, but you’re also not very far from Dundas, where you can go east to lots of restaurants and shopping, or west to Chinatown, Baldwin and Kensington.  There’s lots around if you’re willing to go a little farther afield. They’re easy to reach by TTC, but would be a pain by car and require a subway trip from Union.

What Should You Ask?
What’s it like to be part of a small group within the University Health Network (UHN). Does it feel like a startup, or part of a large organization?

What’s the compensation like — and given that this is a startup, what’s the salary/equity formula?

In Summary
If you’re looking for a lead role on a Rails project, or you’re  looking for an organization where you value the work, this seems like it might be an interesting opportunity for you.


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.

Tucows: Sr. Ruby Engineer

October 23, 2009

Tucows is looking for a Sr. Ruby Engineer:

Work as part of a small Agile team (2-3 developers) to deliver and improve RoR/AJAX/DHTML/Javascript based systems and interfaces that help us meet our business objectives and support an excellent customer experience.

The Good
Tucows is a pretty well-known company, and you can get a glimpse into their finances (they seem to be doing well enough).  They imply they’re small enough that you can make an impact:

We’re a small team with a big mission. Come prepared to hit above your weight.
We believe in taking the time to do it properly while working in a real-time environment. Launch, learn and iterate is favored over taking too long to find the perfect answer.

There are also not a ton of Ruby jobs in this town, so if you’re really into Ruby, there’s no point in leaving stones unturned.

You can also get a little view into Tucows from reading Joey DeVilla’s blog (or go talk to him at one of the many events he attends in town).

What’s Missing?
A fair amount.  What exactly would you be working on?  What are tucows online retail services applications?  What are the other team members like, and what’s their experience with Ruby on Rails?  What’s the compensation like?  Is this at the 96 Mowat location?   What’s the office and work environment like?  What are the challenging problems you’d solve in Tucows retail services applications?  Is it likely that you’ll be proud describing retail services applications, as they suggest?  How do they empower the developers to be creative?

There’s a lot of information in the posting, but most of it just raises more questions for me.

My mileage would definitely vary with this location; that won’t be true for everyone.  It’s not bad if you can get on the gardiner or the lakeshore without too much effort, but there’ll still be days when traffic is evil, and there isn’t really free parking in the area.

The Location
Probably in the King/Dufferin area:

Parkdale has its moments, there’s some good food around, but if you’re not somewhere in the area already, it’s pretty far west for a TTC commute.

In Summary
If you’re interested in doing Ruby on Rails, it’s probably worth talking to Tucows about this position.   Otherwise, I’m not sure there’s enough of the right kind of information to really draw me in.

GigPark: Ruby on Rails Developer

June 18, 2009

GigPark is looking for a Ruby on Rails developer:

  • GigPark is a Toronto-based web startup that’s growing fast
  • Built with Ruby on Rails and hosted on EC2
  • We’re not religious about technology. We believe in using the right tool for the job
  • You believe that database design is part of application development and you know your responsibility doesn’t end when your code is deployed
  • You have opinions on better tools & technologies and love to try new things. You are also pragmatic and choose the best tool for the job
  • You have a solid understanding of software fundamentals including: programming languages, scalability, security and source code management

If you’ve also got some design chops, you might want to check out their Ruby on Rails Designer/Developer position instead.  I haven’t met that many people that do a particularly solid job of both, but if GigPark can find one at a price they can afford, they should certainly hire him or her (you?)

The Good
It’s a live, working application you can use.  If you’re not already familiar with GigPark, register, and see if it’s something you’d be interested in working on.  This is always a really big plus to my eye, because there are lots of jobs where you won’t know what you’ll be really doing until long after it’s too late to decide if it’s interesting.  It’s also using fun technologies, both Ruby on Rails and EC2 are interesting to many of the developers I know, as well as myself.  They also closed a deal with Metro recently which is probably good for business.

The Bad
There’s nothing overtly bad in what’s there.  The posting’s a little low on specifics, but I think it probably gets the general gist across clearly enough that most people can decide whether or not it’s something that’s interesting to them.

What’s Missing?
What exactly does competitive salary really mean in this case?  I’m assuming startup employment without benefits at this stage of GigPark’s growth?  Are they profitable at this stage, and if not, how are they funded, and how long will that last?  It’s somewhat true that most of the Ruby jobs in town don’t pay quite as well as the enterprisey Java and .NET work, in part because they tend to be for startups.  If pay is a big deal for you, this is something you might want to probe in detail.  What’s the size and composition of the team?  How regularly do they release?  What’s their process like, from design through development, testing and operations?  What do they use for testing, and how do they ensure their code is well-tested?  (If, for instance, they’re using code coverage, what kind of coverage do they aim for and achieve?)

Some people like sharply defined roles and responsibilities.  They want to work on the server-side code, not the database or the client code, and certainly not the operational side.  Most startups don’t really work that way, and it sounds like GigPark is definitely hoping to find a generalist or a specializing generalist.   Then again, that’s often part and parcel of working for a startup, so this might not come as a shock.  It looks like a young crowd — most people would be fine with that, but it might be worth knowing.

The Location
Looks like GigPark is located at Lansdowne and Dupont.  That’s a fair way west for most of you, but still central enough that it’s not a brilliant place for highway commuters.  Basically, it’s well-suited to people who are already taking the subway a fair ways, and particularly those in the west end of town.  I don’t know the area especially well; there are certainly some nice things down by High Park, but that’s just far enough to be inconvenient.  You’ve also got the Junction around  you, which might supply some interesting shops and restaurants.  Ultimately, it’s out of the way, but not horrific.

In Summary
There are only so many Ruby on Rails jobs in town, mostly for startups like GigPark.  If that appeals to you, then you’re probably already interested.  If it doesn’t, then you’re probably not the right fit anyway.

Follow-Up: Direct Leap: Developer

March 9, 2009

I mentioned Direct Leap last week when David Crow posted their opening for a couple of developers.  Since then, a few more postings have come through (or I was able to correlate them mentally with this position), and there’s enough detail to do a bit more of a writeup:

The Good
The technology’s interesting.  Ruby on Rails working with VoIP, sounds unusual, but interesting.  It also sounds like they’ve got a good cause in mind.  Finally, there aren’t a ton of Ruby jobs in Toronto, and most of them are not especially well-paid.  I’m not sure if I should trust the DevBistro posting in this regard, but the posted salary range of $90-$120k is a pretty solid salary range.  If, in fact, they’re offering a solid compensation package of above-average pay and vacation, plus interesting technology and a good cause, I would think they’re worth a look.  They’re also claiming to be Agile, although there isn’t a lot of supporting material, and lots of companies claim agility.

The Bad
Well, if you’re not into Ruby, the bad might be that it sounds like an interesting opportunity that you don’t have the skillset for?  Despite the dev-bistro posting, I’m still suspicious that this might not be incredibly well-compensated, simply because both the non-profit angle and the ruby on rails angle would typically imply that to me, not to mention the apparent small size of the company.  That said, you’ll need to inquire to learn more about the compensation, and that might not be a primary factor for you. 

What’s Missing?
Is this really a not-for-profit organization with above-average compensation?  That’s not the usual correlation, so I’m a little suspicious that the dev-bistro posting is not quite right.  When they say “part custom distributed network application”, are they still talking Ruby, or is this implemented in something else, and if so, what?

Your mileage may vary when it comes to the social enterprise angle.  For some, that’d be a huge attractor, while others probably won’t care.  I don’t imagine anyone would be put off by this, but you never know.  You might also find automated telephony to be a bit of a bane on modern life, and here you’ll be contributing to it.  That said, automated telephony for a good cause is certainly better than the same thing for, say, warning people about bogus car warranty expiration.

The Location
They seem to be located southwest of Queen and Spadina.  A fun neighbourhood, but possibly a little far afield if you’re not coming from that neck of the woods.  It’s a bit of a hike from the subway, although it’s not totally out-of-question. 

In Summary
If you’re into Ruby and you’re looking for a job, it’s probably worth giving them a shout.

Direct Leap: Developer

March 6, 2009

Direct Leap is looking for two Developers [DavidCrow.ca]:


We are a small but established company building telephony applications with Ruby and Asterisk. Our products are specifically designed for national, non-profit customers. Our growing, long-term customer base have used the products we develop to achieve startling progressive election victories.

Our key product is a part-Rails, part custom distributed network application with an AJAX+Comet interface. We are an Agile/Scrum shop, and do test driven development.

We’re looking to add two permanent full time developers to our growing team. We work hard, but give everyone a minimum one month per year paid vacation. Our office is in a converted textile factory at Queen and Spadina.


There’s not a ton of information there, so I won’t do a full write-up.  It sounds like an interesting company doing something interesting to improve the world using fun technologies.  That part’s all good.  It’s not clear to me whether or not you’ll be well-compensated financially — for a small company in a “do-good” space, that’s not always true.  Then again, if you can afford to adjust your salary expectations for the right gig, this seems like it might be worth a further look.  The location’s not bad from what they say – a little off the beaten path, but in a fun area with lots of other startups.

Toronto Rehab: SIMS Technical Specialist

March 2, 2009

Toronto Rehab is looking for a Technical Specialist for their Shared Information Management Services (SIMS) , and their requirements have really triggered my curiosity:

  • Extensive database transaction-processing experience.
  • Informix, Ruby on Rails, Oracle, Sybase or MUMPS (?!)
  • Unix, Windows or Novell (?!)
  • Java / .NET
  • Extensive use of computers, software and peripherals, including Microsoft Office and Microsoft Project
  • Experience with computer hardware/software vendor processing? (Soylent green is made of vendors, apparently).

And, from the sounds of things, the goal of this position is to migrate an HP-UX/Informix project to “current technologies”, whatever that means given the above list.

Toronto Rehab sounds like a somewhat interesting organization:

Toronto Rehab is Canada’s largest rehabilitation hospital and the University of Toronto’s fully affiliated and specialized teaching hospital dedicated to adult rehabilitation and complex continuing care. We are at the forefront of one of the most important and emerging frontiers in health care today — rehabilitation science.

But I’m not sure that’s enough to get me through the job posting, which has left me pretty thoroughly baffled as to who and what they’re really looking for.