Thursday, September 6, 2012

I am Sidereel (And So Can You!): Come Work With Me!!!

This may seem an unusual entry, in that I have typically avoided talking too directly about where I work and what that all represents, but this serves a different purpose. We are actively recruiting software developers and other roles within Sidereel at this time, and to help with this, our Director of Engineering asked us if we'd be willing to write about Sidereel and what we enjoy, find interesting, or otherwise give a reason why we like working here.

First, it may be helpful to explain what Sidereel is. We are a company that is dedicated to television, movies and WebTV shows. We provide our users with a one stop shop for television shows of various networks, providers and countries. We help you discover, watch and track shows that interest you. We make it possible for you to share that information with others if you so choose, and we make it possible for you to keep track and be alerted when the shows you want to watch are available or will air. We give you tools to do that from your computer, your smart phone, your tablet or your living room Internet television connection. We are a Ruby on Rails development shop and use the variety of tools in the Ruby ecosphere to develop and test our products. Some of our musings on software development and some of what we do can be seen at "behind the reel", our tumblr engineering blog.

For myself, I can say that I am in a different place than many of the people that Sidereel is looking to hire at this time. I'm a Software Tester. Not a Quality Assurance Engineer, or Quality Analyst, Quality Specialist or some other buzzword / title that is often abused and misunderstood. A Software Tester. My official title is "Senior Tester"; Tester" because that's what I actually do, and "Senior" because I've done it a long time.  There's the first clue about what I like about Sidereel. They get and appreciate testing. It's not an afterthought, it's baked into everything they do. As an Agile shop, they believe strongly in the ideals and practices of Test Driven Development, Acceptance Test Driven Development, Behavior Driven Development and emphasize testable design, testable code and making it possible to do my job effectively. 

Another factor I like about Sidereel is its overall lack of bureaucracy. Our structure is pretty flat, due to the fact that we are a small group. The engineering team has a number of developers, a dedicated tester (me), and a director. That's it. We don't need to go through a lot of hoops to implement changes or try out ideas. We use Agile practices to develop stories, estimate the time it takes to do them, pair program to implement them, review our progress regularly, and encourage change from within. Along with this is a strong sense of autonomy. No one is going to tell you exactly how to do your job. Micro managers and those who like to be micromanaged need not apply. People who value freedom to explore, investigate, and learn will likely thrive here. Those who like to coast will likely find it painful to be here. Those who want to keep learning, focus on improving and growing, and getting encouragement to step up, will probably dig being here.

Sidereel is part of a larger corporation now. When I first was hired, it was a standalone start up. Now, we are part of Rovi Corporation, which owns and operates a number of brands associated with digital media. The AllMovie, AllMusic and AllGame guides are part of Rovi, as are Sonic, DivX and numerous other properties. It's a company that has a reach around the globe, yet at the same time has seen to it that Sidereel operates, for the most part, as we did when we were a start up. While there is some interleaving within the company and some "larger company" policies and issues we deal with, we are very much free to work as we do, and enjoy the approach that works for us.

Finally, any company either sinks or swims based on the caliber of its people, and I genuinely like and appreciate the people that work here. We are an eclectic, varied, and sometimes silly lot. A propensity for silliness helps when you watch, track and discuss television programming, and that same propensity for silliness will go a long way towards helping anyone who wants to work here interact well with the various players. Make no mistake, silliness or no, while we don't take ourselves too seriously, we take our work and our efforts very seriously.

Sidereel is fun, it's challenging, it makes you think, it makes you laugh, it can sometimes make you exasperated, but overall it's a charge to work here and to learn from my team mates and help others learn in the process. If a dynamic, not stuffy environment, slightly manic pace, mixed with fun and good people sounds like something you'd like to know more about, please reply and I'll see what I can do to help make that happen.

1 comment:

Chris Kenst said...

It's hard to find a company that recognizes or understands the difference between testing and QA. I'm pushing my company to drop the QA in my title or at least understand it means Quality Assistance.