Hunting for a tech lead... Job Requirements below

Excuse the plug but the company I'm working with, which is a WPP company, is looking for a technical lead. The job description is below. If this is you please drop a line. THis is a NYC based position

Essential Responsibilities and Duties

  • Oversees the work of consultants and junior developers.
  • Performs system analysis and application development on mission critical systems.
  • Works with development manger to set priorities and timelines and to ensure that systems meet users’ requirements.
  • Provides mentoring to junior developers both formally and informally.
  • Implements general procedures, guidelines and protocols for the development of effective software solutions.
  • Analyze the efficiency of all computer systems and propose enhancements.
  • Track progress and status of all projects and report to the Development Manager.
  • Works with Development Manager to resolve user complaints.
  • Perform related duties and responsibilities as required.

Required Experience

  • At least 7 years of Software Development experience
  • 5+ years of C# development. C# should be solid back end development.
  • At least 3 years experience leading software development teams with 5+ members
  • Good XML experience.
  • Good SQL Server experience including writing stored procedures.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills required
  • Some demonstrated Web Services experience a plus.
  • Experience working in a heterogeneous environment and interfacing with systems on a number of platforms (PostgreSQL, MYSQL, Linux, OSX) a plus.
  • Solid Data and Object modeling experience preferred.

Required Skills

  • C#
  • .NET
  • SQL Server
  • Stored Procedures
  • XML
  • Enterprise Environment
  • Middle Tier
    Posted: May 27, 2008

New Service Needed: A Web 2.0 Directory

I've been sitting here today reading tweets and posts from folks preparing for tomorrow's twit-out as they try to synchronize their twitter and friendfeed / jaiku / pounce / brightkite / other messaging platform lists and it's occurred to me that we've created nightmare when it comes to managing our social graphs, the process of re-adding all your friends / buddies / people you follow / etc is painful at best and impossible at worst. As I join new services I find myself bouncing into my favorite followers websites, friendfeed, etc to see if they have mentioned using whatever the new service is. To be honest a good part of the reason people don't leave twitter is they don't need to recreate their social graph elsewhere.
Some people felt that friendfeed would solve this problem (I know I did). Where friendfeed has helped aggregate the feeds of folks I follow, it hasn't made it any easier to cross pollinate folks. It often irks me that friendfeed doesn't query the APIs of the services I've subscribed to to find my followers and offer to subscribe me.
In many respects, where it's in a service's best interests to help you find your friends on that service, it's not at all in their best interests to help other services help you find your friends which might be part of the reason that this has gone on fixed so far.
Both XFN and FOAF have not lived up to their potential. Both ideas were setup to help document people's relationships and properly implemented they could work. The problem is that very few folks have embraced FOAF and XFN. Also, for the average user implementing either technology isn't as easy as we technologists and early adopters think it is (often a problem with technology).
So, how do we solve this? I think we need a service to serve as a directory (or web 2.0 style phone book) where you could look up folks by service. On the service you build a profile that will export as XFN and FOAF. The service would also help you find people you follow in new services.
A quick list of features as I see it is as follows:

  1. As mentioned above the ability to create a profile win with links to all of your services.
  2. Using the available APIs of the services as well manual data entry create a global friends lists / followers lists.
  3. Embrace both XFN and FOAF and make the data available in those formats.
  4. The ability to find your friends on other services (in other words you'd be able to find my flickr page by searching for my twitter username).
  5. Automagiclly notify you (via email or rss, perhaps) when interweb friends newly join services that you subscribe to.
  6. The ability to add friends it finds using the services' APIs.

Once this is all together I'd like to also see about pushing the web 2.0 services to accept a common XML format to add friends in bulk. I've got more of an application design in my head but don't have much time. I'd love to chat more with folks if someone's interested in working on it. If done right this shouldn't be an intensive application .
So, what do you think?

    Posted: May 21, 2008

Why I use Drupal

Several folks have been asking me as of late why I manage in Drupal and not Wordpress or another blogging platform. And instead of re-answering the same questions I decided it was time for another "inside baseball" post. This is not a feature for feature Drupal vs. Wordpress post. Nor does it consider wordpress 2.5 since I have never really evaluated it.Drupal is not a blogging platform, it is a content management system that has plugins that support blogs but is wide enough to support any other type of content, hence there are modules like activity stream which aren't as easy to code in other platforms. Wordpress is primarily a platform for building blogs, and at least to me, the plugins feel like afterthoughts and not part of the system.Also, as a developer I often use Drupal as the framework for web apps I develop for corporations as it's a rather robust environment to get things done in. Additionally, I rarely am in a position that I can't find a module to do at least a part of what I need to get done, even if I need to hack it a little bit afterwards. As I'm using Drupal often for business I know more of it's guts so I can apply the knowledge when working on hacking away on my site.
All that said... if you're the average person, Wordpress is a wonderful blogging tool used the world over. There's plenty of support out there for it, lots of plugs ins and an active developer community. I don't feel you'll be making a mistake going that way. Enjoy!

    Posted: May 18, 2008


OK, just joined brightkite ( feel free to add me, if you want. After using it in Austin, TX this coming week I'll write up how I feel about it. Although if people could stalk me before, now they can show up where I am at any given moment.
Now, all I need is the API so I can really play.

    Posted: May 18, 2008

Public Replies to the Email I Received About the Twit-Out and Disqus

I received a few emails about my twit-out post and I figured while I don't won't post the address of the posters I would answer them publicly. If you want to comment on my blog, please use comments and not email. Thanks!

Subject: This is why!
Twitter is down right now. This is why we need to have a boycott. Get it now?
<name redacted>
Subject: It's not hard why don't you get it
We're protesting to get twitter fix their *%^!.
<name redacted>

Still, I don't get it, not really. If you think that a day of staying off of twitter is sending a message, go for it, but I think that Biz and Co are already passionate about getting this fixed and all a boycott is going to do is make you feel better. If you're really annoyed about it you should be considering leaving for another service not a one day boycott.

Subject: Comments
I'd leave you a comment about the Twit-out but I have javascript turned off and can't use Disqus. You're an idiot for using Disqus! You;'re missing out on comment because of it! I'll never turn on Javascript because it's a way to infect my machine with viruses!
<name redacted>

OK let's break this down:

  1. I'm sorry you're missing out on web 2.0, javascript is such a big part of most of the sites being developed to day. You should consider using a browser that allows you to selectively enable javascript on trusted sites.
  2. Believe me, for every comment I'm out, I gain 2. If nothing else the fact that folk's comments show up an friendfeed brings me traffic that I wasn't getting before.
  3. The comments that disqus users leave are, on average, of a higher quality then comments in general. I could feel that way because of the lack of spam.
  4. I tend to prefer comments with a lower exclamation point to period ratio.
    Posted: May 16, 2008

The Great Internet Twit-Out. I don't get it.

Some posts this evening about a twitter boycott scheduled for 5/21 to protest the outages at twitter. Where I'm all for protests that have some meaning, I really don't understand this one. As far as I'm concerned a protest makes sense when a company's customers feel that the company is willfully mistreating them. A perfect example of this is the livejournal protest from last month. LJ users felt that adding adverting without notifying them was unfair and protested. Whether the protest was successful or not, is another question, not for this post.
In the case of twitter, there is not willfulness behind their mistreatment, just incompetence. The last thing the folks at twitter want is this negative publicity. If it were in their power, I believe these issues would've been fixed, so once must believe that twitter's issues are not easily fixed. Whether it's Ruby on Rails, the server infrastructure, database scalability or some issue that we haven't discussed these problems are large. I suspect some of the more public staff changes as of late are attempt to get these problems under control.
From this post:

Taking place on Wednesday, May 21st (or a week from today if you’re too tired or too lazy to look that far ahead,) Twit-Out is our chance to show Twitter that WE ARE TWITTER. Without us, there is no community.

I haven't seen any indication that the folks at twitter think otherwise, have you? I believe that they built a platform that grew out of control and have been unsuccessfully playing catchup ever since. Whatever they do to increase capacity, isn't matching the growth in their client base. To quote the great Yogi (Berra) "It's so crowded nobody goes there anymore".

And further more, it provides a chance to show that Twitter is no longer the only way for us to communicate with a similar platform, whether it be via FriendFeed (the preferred method for communicating on Twit-Out) or your microblogging stream of choice.

This brings up the real question. Why give them a chance? Over the past year a number of microblogging platforms have been introduced pounce, and jaiku are some examples. Why do we still come back to twitter like a battered spouse? In a related question .. what will make this protest successful? I refuse to believe that even if no one tweets on 5/21 that on 5/22 twitter will become stable for all time (and if it does it won't be related to the boycott). That's not how software works.
So, if you're boycotting, what do you expect from it?

    Posted: May 15, 2008

.... On the other Hand... Heading back to Disqus

So, I might seem to be the most fickle blogger on the planet but I am turning Disqus back on. There are a few things driving this:

  1. Comment Spam. I'm back to deleting a couple of comments a day because of spam. I assume that Disqus doesn't generate spam for 3 reasons
    1. There's no SEO benefit to spamming a blog with Disqus since the comments aren't indexed (which I believe is a plus)
    2. It's easy for Disqus to ban spammers because it is centralized
    3. Disqus is new and the spammers haven't caught up.
  2. I was receiving considerably more traffic with discqus turned on (I assume because people's comments showed up in friendfeed).
  3. Seesmic integration with video comments is a major enticement.
  4. I know Disqus is working on integrating with friendfeed so comment there will appear in my blog which is part of the grand design of my blog
  5. I really don't have the time I think I have to code the LJ integration today.

So, for today, I am turning on Disqus again. I have a script that will import LJ comments directly into the old comment system which I'll use for now. When I'm happy that it's working I'll publish it.

    Posted: May 14, 2008

There May be More of a Social Networking Echo Chamber Then I Thought

Although this mentions Religion, it is really a Tech / soc networking post.
The other day I had a "conversion class" at Church with a group of people who are looking to either be received into the Church or for Adult Confirmation. As we were leaving I mentioned to a couple of folks that someone reached my blog by goggleing "tom synan conversion" (Tom Synan was the Priest running the class), and I was curious if it was one of them. Their answer baffled me, "I've never really understood, what's a blog"? I resisted the urge to say "google it" and I did my best to explain blogging and the basics of social media.

But this makes me wonder, are we failing in our mission to educate folks in what we're doing? As early adopters we often say we are here to shake out these technologies so when the late adopters come along, the tech is usable for them. Isn't it also our responsibility to shepherd these folks into social media, and are we failing in our task?
There has been talk about the widening gap between early adopters and everyday users as of late. Where there are services that aren't ready for the average user, it surprised me that more mature services such as flickr aren't more universally being used. Up until now I assumed that was people not understanding it. I now believe we're just not doing a good job of selling it. A lot of folks in this community call themselves "social media evangelists" but looking around, most of them are only preaching to the converted. Talking about how great these services are on twitter and friendfeed doesn't help adoption.
I'm curious to hear how folks feel we should go about educating everyday users.

    Posted: May 12, 2008

Moving The Feeds I'm Hosting over to Feed Burner

There are currently 3 feeds that I'm building and hosting here that I'm moving over to feedburner (mostly to preserve bandwidth). I'll be setting up redirects but for now they are just being replicated. The new links are as follows (I've updated the original posts as well):
Church of the Heavenly Rest Unofficial Podcast -
Astronomy Photo of the Day -
Flickr Interestingness Feed -
Feel free to move over manually, I'll set up the redirects in the not to distant future.

    Posted: May 11, 2008

Removing Disqus because sometimes I go backwards to go forwards.

So in the last few weeks I've taken on a few projects involving comments on and it seems that they are conflicting with each other, and I've come to the decision that where I like disqus, I have to go back to the default Drupal comment module.
First off let me say that disqus is great, I'm getting less (as in no) spam since installing it. The social aspects of it has increased traffic to my site. As the person who wrote the howto for Drupal + Disqus I feel it's important for me to say I really have enjoyed using it and suspect I'll be back when the one thing I need from them is resolved.
The project that's a problem is my comment aggregation project. The more I look at this project the more I realize I want to have these comments imported into whatever comment system that's running on my blog (with links back to the original comment) and in it's current form, disqus can't import comments. I have spoken to Daniel Ha on the subject and where they are working on it, there is no time table he can give me for when they will have this in place.
I've spent the last few days playing in a sandbox trying to have both disqus and external comments, but I haven't found a solution that didn't feed forced, so I have decided to stop trying and take the step back in the short term. I will be importing the 30 or so comments into the natve comment system and hacking that system in the next few days (expect some instability). When disqus adds the functionality I'm looking for I'll reevaluate my options.
EDIT: I have reenabled Disqus. See this for more information

    Posted: May 11, 2008