If you know someone who fits the bill, send them this post!

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Title: Senior Developer

Reports to: VP Engineering

About IP Street

Founded in 2009, IP Street develops and markets software to help corporations, law firms, and financial analysts better analyze patent-related information. We make IP data easy to get, use, and understand!

Summary

We’re a start-up that’s developed a new way to visualize and data-mine intellectual property. We’re small and scrappy, have an innovative engineering team, and have built the business on awesome products that companies buy!

Our technology stack is almost all open-source, with some nifty esoteric search technologies. Most of your work will be in Python and Django, in a Mac-based development environment, deploying to Linux. Other technologies include Celery, Postgres, Redis, and Solr. Our client-side code relies on Highcharts and Backbone, and supports desktop and mobile users.

This is “small b” big data, with lots of interesting challenges!

Responsibilities

  • Collaborate with others in product direction, priorities, and features
  • Design, implement, and test new product (primarily but not exclusively server-side) features
  • Some front-end coding and debugging, as needed
  • Make the user experience as powerful, simple, and manifest as possible
  • Be positive, flexible, and do what’s needed to move the company forward

Qualifications

  • 10+ years experience in server-side development. Web development would be ideal, but it can be any kind of server-side code. We’re looking for expertise in processing pipelines or workflows, software farms, scaling, schema migration, etc. Or you’re a really smart person who loves complex software systems running on servers!
  • Significant experience developing in Python or Python-based frameworks, on the order of at least 5 years or so. This must be serious development, not, “I write a 20-line script now and then.”
  • Substantial experience in, and understanding of, a web framework such as Django. We’re looking for at least 3 years’ experience. Or if you don’t know Django, you’re eager to learn!
  • Pluses: Significant coding experience interacting with (or experience in configuring) PostgreSQL, Solr, or another SQL or full-text search engine.
  • Other pluses: Experience in or familiarity with jQuery, Backbone or equivalent technology, or client-side graphing packages. (These won’t be your focus, but the knowledge could come in handy.)
  • Enthusiasm about modern approaches to software development, distributed version control, good coding and documentation practices, etc.
  • You have excellent judgement in attacking complex tasks, and in balancing “good enough, now” vs. “much better, later”
  • You’re self-sufficient when possible, and confident in setting standards
  • You’re eager to build a small company into something insanely great!
  • Excellent team and communication skills
  • Bachelors Degree or equivalent in Computer Science or Software Engineering

Salary is DOE. Please send resume to john @ this-site’s-domain.


Jeff Bezos was in the news this week. Our local tech news site, GeekWire, published five posts about him. What are the most important traits of innovators? Have a willingness to fail. Bezos believes that truth shakes out when ideas and perspectives are banged against each other. Think long-term. Etc.

Some of the commentary was a tad critical of his personality. (Not in GeekWire, but elsewhere.) One observation (I don’t remember where I read it) was that he cared only about the business, to the point where he could make “hyperrational” decisions about what’s best for Amazon. Which makes him a great CEO, but maybe not such a great friend. If it’s true.

It got me thinking, not for the first time, that most entrepreneurial advice about starting a business is useless. Even if it comes from other entrepreneurs.

Read More


An update to an earlier post

I’m replacing pyrax with something else in our system. The authentication errors and oddball failures still occur, and I’ve lost confidence that Rackspace will fix them in any reasonable amount of time. This is extremely frustrating.

Python-cloudfiles was way more stable, even though it wasn’t and still isn’t in active development. Maybe we’ll resume using that.

More later.


Thursday, I was irked by a bug.

I had modified a background task so it could import a range of documents from another subsystem into our datastore, instead of only one. Its parameters had included one “document id”, which identified the patent document to import. Now, it could be given that, or two document ids representing a document range.

In one instance, it reported a successful completion yet the desired patents weren’t loaded. What had gone wrong?

Multiple official and de facto formats exist for US patent application and grant document ids. To keep this simple, let’s consider US Design Patents. Their document id is a “D” followed by a number. This looks like “D4432″, or “D902″.

So if you wanted to import a range of Design Patents, you might say, “Import the patents D900 through D4000, inclusive.” “D900″ is the lower bound and “D4000″ is the upper bound. Right?

Not so fast!

>>> "D900" < "D4000"
False
>>>

Gah!

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tl;dr: Think about exceptions when writing a context manager.

I made a huge unforced error with a context manager at work.

We use Redis distributed locks for system synchronization. I wanted a context manager that acquired n locks, executed protected code, and then released the n locks in reverse order. It would be simple to use:

from common.util import Semaphore, distlock

semaphore1 = Semaphore(OwnerDisambiguationUpdate.UPDATE_LOCK)
semaphore2 = Semaphore(USMaintenanceFeeUpdate.UPDATE_LOCK)

with distlock(semaphore1, semaphore2):
    do_some_work()

(The Semaphore class does other work with aborting Celery tasks, but that’s not germane here. It’s a Redis distributed lock with extra fanciness.)

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We had more fun with a vendor today.

We license a vendor’s services for corporate information, like annual revenue and office locations. Their name shall be kept confidential. I’ve written about them before.

About two weeks ago, we noticed a slowdown in our API calls into their system.

We asked them about it, and they replied that they would take a look. A bit later, they said they had found the problem and were working on a solution.

Today, after working on new code, I ran my unit tests. A few tests make calls to this vendor. (Yeah, I could have mocked out the calls. But there are good reasons to not mock out calls in unit tests.) I was surprised to see those tests now fail.

Curiously, they failed because the API calls returned the response, “Customer Disabled”.

Eh…. Wut?

I immediately switched to a browser window and tried a part of our product that used their API. I found that our product now failed with the same error. Uh oh.

I e-mailed the vendor and asked what’s up. Their answer:

We found that our service was being slowed down by your API calls. So we disabled your API key.

I am not kidding. Continue reading after you’ve caught your breath.
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