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.


Telmetrics: Scrum Master

October 26, 2008

Telmetrics is looking for a Scrum Master to provide them with maternity leave coverage:

We are currently seeking a Scrum Master to join our team for a one year contract to cover a maternity leave.

Ideally the incumbent would have a technical background, preferably in software development, with recent experience working as a Scrum Master or project manager in a team following agile methodologies. As a Scrum Master at Telmetrics, you will be responsible for ensuring the development team follows the values and practices of the adopted Scrum processes along with the following:

• Plan, coordinate, and facilitate all agile iteration meetings including daily Scrum meetings and retrospective and planning meetings;
• Track all work within the iteration including task status; providing updates and reporting on the team’s progress to maintain visibility;
• Remove any obstacles brought up by the team and clarify issues to ensure team progress is not hindered;
• Manage iteration scope;
• Plan, coordinate, and facilitate all projects for minor and major product releases;
• Coordinate and manage support with Operations for all development and QA environments.

The Good
If the team is already a Scrum team that’s functional and productive, helping them to keep moving for a year could be relatively painless.  You already have an initial sense of the process, although you’ll probably want to talk to the team and the company, as it’s easy to say you’re an agile team even when you’re doing very non-agile things every day.  That said, the description of the role sounds like they want you to approach it in a classically agile way, so it’s a good start.

The Bad
If the team isn’t already in good shape, a year isn’t a lot of time to turn that around.  You’re basically going in blind, so if you’re interested, you’re going to want to get as good a sense as you can about the current state, and that’ll require more than just asking, you’ll want to talk to the team as well.

What’s Missing
What’s the size and composition of the team?  What are they working on?  What’s the state of the project?  Will you be able to do a good hand-off at both ends with the existing scrum-master?  What’s the compensation?  What happens if the scrum-master decides to stay at home with her child near the end of the term?  Would you have goals that aren’t obvious from this posting?  Who would you be reporting to?

Your mileage may vary when it comes to filling maternity leave coverage.  That’s either a relatively long contract or a very short job, depending on what you’re used to.  Depending on the contract rate, that could be a good thing.

Your mileage may also vary when it comes to the location, at 427/Eglinton, out in the little tech park with Skymark, Explorer, etc.  It’s accessible by transit, but it’s pretty painful if you’re not driving and/or in Mississauga/Brampton to begin with.  It’s also a bit of a dead zone for interesting things around, unless you’re driving — there aren’t many food options in short walking distance.  I worked a contract out there for six months, and didn’t regret its ending very much.

In Summary
It seems like a year-long contract as a straight-up scrum-master.  If that sounds good, and you can tolerate working out on Skymark, this might be your opportunity.

Jobs: OTN, Quest, CBC, Fuel Industries

January 30, 2008

A release engineer for the ontario telemedicine network.  I’m starting to see more of these build/release positions regularly, which is an interesting niche.

It’s too bad that Quest let Sitraka/KL Group’s performance tool suite die such an ugly death, or this Foglight posting, what with the reference to Groovy, might be appealing.

The language of the posting doesn’t really do it for me, but if your French is up to scratch, a Sr. Applications Manager for the CBC doesn’t sound like a bad position.  I worry that like some government-related opportunities you might be hogtied by procedure and underpaid, but you’d have to inquire to find out.

Flash/Flex/Air/Silverlight development with some backend components for Fuel Industries.  Foosball and bubble hockey skills a bonus.

Scrum Master / Agile Lead, .Net/Ruby, travel required.  Despite being posted to Craigslist Toronto, this seems to be based out of Calgary.  ThoughtWorks, maybe?  If so, they’re not posting the same job themselves.