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.


PharmaTrust: Platform Service Developer

September 3, 2010

PharmaTrust (PCA Services Inc) is looking for a Platform Service Developer:

PharmaTrust (PCA Services Inc) is a cutting edge dynamic start-up in the field of telepharmacy, producing the MedCentre remote medication dispensary. The MedCenter provides pharmacists with the ability to remotely counsel and dispense medication using IP based audio/visual conferencing and a remotely controlled dispensary robot system.

Platform Services develops and supports the PharamTrust Platform and provides shared enterprise services to the PCA Services group of companies.

The Platform Service Developer has the responsibility for developing the PharmaTrust Platform Services, integrating other systems applications and databases (both internal and customer), and evolving the Platform Train of the MedCentre application software.

They’re also looking for a Platform Technical Support & Maintenance Specialist.

The Good
These robot dispensaries seem like a good idea to me.  The Albany Medical Clinic had one, and it was interesting.  IP-based audio/video conferencing and e-health all rolled into one project.  There’s definitely some interesting elements to this, and these dispensaries are new enough that PharmaTrust might be on a good trajectory over the long haul.

It sounds like they’re in the middle of a technical overhaul from a .NET system to a Java/ESB system (and the support/maintenance specialist would continue to maintain the existing .NET side, looks like).   That means there’s an opportunity to really get in on the ground floor of the new architecture, as long as the architecture sounds like something that would work for you.  Personally by the time you throw ESB and BPEL together, I’m already starting to get nervous, let alone combined with WS-*, a platform shift and technical challenges like SIP.  Your mileage may vary significantly from mine, but I’d want to get a stronger sense for the architectural direction, and whether or not there’s any astronautics involved.

On the other hand, if ESB and WS-* sound like the right way to build a robust, enterprise-class, scalable system with all the -ilities you need, by all means, this might be the perfect fit for you.

What’s Missing?
Why the architectural shift from .NET to Java?  What are the driving factors behind the choices of ESB, BPEL, WS-*?  What’s the current size and composition of the technical team, and how will that change on the new platform?  What’s the compensation like for this position?  What’s the growth and outlook for MedCentre like?  (It seems promising to me, but if this is going to be your company, you might as well have more details than I do.)

I don’t really expect a company to describe the reasons for their technical decisions in a job posting, but it seems like the sort of questions you’re going to want to ask.

The Location
It’s in Hamilton, Mississauga, Oakville or Toronto?  I’m going to assume that’s a result in trying to cast a wide net for candidates in any of those locations.  Their office seems to be in an industrial park in Oakville, which means that if you’re not already in the west end of Toronto or out of town, the location will probably be too far out.  I don’t know much about the area; if that area is somewhere you consider, you probably already know more than I do.

In Summary
Looks like it’s be well-suited for someone with enterprisey leanings, health-care and some exposure to both Java and .NET, in the west end.

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.

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.

Frameworks: Java Developer

January 28, 2009

Frameworks is looking for a Java Developer, although whether that’s an “intermediate developer” or a “guru” seems to be open to further debate.  Either way:

Frameworks is a leading provider of technology solutions in the retail industry. We have nearly two decades of experience working with some of the world’s leading retailers to optimize their business processes and accelerate learning within their organization. Currently, our core technologies and fail-safe infrastructure deliver online training to over 100,000 users in over 3,500 locations. We’re developing a next generation retail store performance management system leveraging Java, Ajax, web services, and Flash.

Frameworks is looking for a full-time Java Developer to join our growing team [who will be] responsible for developing, unit testing, and deploying a number of J2EE based retail products and sub-systems for a large North American retailer.

As a pivotal member of our development team, the successful applicant will be participating in all areas of software development including technical analysis, architecture, prototyping, development, integration and system documentation. He or she will be working with an application architect, a business analyst and client representatives.

They’re looking for someone with experience in Eclipse, Ant, Spring, Hibernate, Spring WS, Spring MVC, Ajax, Castor, Struts, SQL Server.

The Good
For the most part, it seems like a reasonable technology stack (although your mileage may vary on a few items).  It sounds like the company has a popular product with a significant user-base.   If they’re just starting their next-generation system, then you might have a chance to play a significant role.

The Bad
First and foremost, the fact that there’s a posting (recruiter?) asking for a Guru even though the company in question seems to want to hire an intermediate is either misleading or outright confusing.  Have things changed, and one posting reflects reality while the other’s out of date?  Is the recruiter bumping up expectations even though the company only wants an intermediate developer?  That sounds like a losing strategy.

What’s Missing?
It’d be good to understand a little more about the technology stack, in particular why they’re looking for both Spring MVC and Struts.  Once you understand what they’re trying to hire, perhaps having an understanding of the compensation would be useful, although I’d want to understand the intermediate/guru issue first.  Which retailer would you be focused on, and why does this one retailer need so much attention?

Your mileage may vary when it comes to some of the  listed technologies:

  • Spring-WS is pretty decent, but it’s a SOAP stack.
  • I haven’t heard much about Castor recently; seems like it’s been left behind.

The Location
They’re located at King and Dufferin, which is, frankly, just too far west for many of you.  If you’re commuting by car, and the QEW/427/Gardiner area is plausible, it’s not so bad.  If you’re already in Parkdale, or somewhere in the west end, it’s not totally out of range, but for someone like me coming from near the Beaches, it would be a pretty ugly commute unless I drove.  Go train plus TTC would also be pretty ugly.  There is decent food in Parkdale, although it’s not quite the hotbed that some more central locations are.

In Summary
If you’re willing to take a job at King and Dufferin and you’ve got Java experience, then I suggest you talk to them to get a better sense for what they’re really looking for in terms of experience — and then you can report back.

Unspecified: Director, Software Development

January 13, 2009

The Mergis Group is helping an unspecified company look for a Director, Software Development:

The Director, Software Development leads the design and oversees development of cross-functional, multiplatform application systems across the organization. The Director, Software Development is to ensure and/or maintain alignment with the Lines of Business (LOBs) strategies. The Director, Software Development is also accountable for the on-time, on-budget completion of project deliverables, adhering to standards, such as Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI), International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL).

He/she is recognized as having exceptional leadership skills and competence in software architecture and development disciplines. He/she is committed to, and deeply experienced with structured methodologies (including SDLC, Waterfall, Agile, etc) and excels in instilling effective software development practices in a fast paced, results-oriented environment.

  • Establish and lead a team of application development specialists to provide application support, system development and integration services to meet the needs of the business
  • Promote the use and evolution of a flexible, agile-oriented SDLC which fosters close, transparent communications across and is built upon a close relationship with client business units
  • Organize and manage resource requirements and priorities effectively.  Create efficient resource allocation plans and team schedules, and manage team resources for high performance
  • Ensure on-time delivery of high-quality applications and collaborate effectively with other business members to implement consistent system architecture and development standards

The Good
It’s a senior position, and, if the Mergis Group has the salary range right, a pretty highly-paid technical job for Toronto: $125,000 – $199,000.

The Bad
In that pay range, you’re likely to face off against some pretty serious competition.  That’s not really a bad thing, but it’s certainly a challenge, and might affect your odds of getting the job.

There’s not really enough here to get into much that’s bad.   That said, it always irritates me when software postings put “agile” and “Waterfall” in a comma-separated list.  To be honest, I’ve never yet met a company that really seriously wanted you to understand “waterfall” as opposed to, say, RUP, and I’ve certainly never met a company that thought their candidates should really be experts in Waterfall and agile.  I’m also a little suspicious of companies that look like they might be into heavy process, with ITIL,  CMM/I and ISO mentioned all in one breath, that’s a possibility.  And when you couple that with the desire for agile methods, it’s hard to imagine reconciling all of those conflicting desires into something cohesive and usable.

Then again, it’s a pretty generic recruiter-based posting, so these are simply points to talk to the employer about.

What’s Missing?
What’s the company?  What do they do?  Where are they located, other than Mississauga?  What’s the number, size and composition of the development teams you’d be directing?  What software does this company develop?  What’s the organizational structure like?  What are the challenges facing the development organization?  What technologies do they use?  The missing items are extensive.  Then again, the salary range is enough of a draw to get you to follow up, if you think there’s a chance you’d get this job.

Your mileage may vary when it comes to working in Mississauga, particularly without knowing where yet.

Your mileage may also vary when it comes to a company that can desire to use agile methods, and yet talk about waterfall, ITIL, ISO and CMMI.  If process is important to you, then you’d want to talk to them and see how they reconcile all of those, and where they put the emphasis. 

In Summary
If you’re willing to face a corporate environment with lots of standards and work in Mississauga, then being a well-paid director of development for a consumer packaged goods company doesn’t sound too bad to me.