Archive for the ‘Stronghold’ Category

Hiring is nearly impossible

August 9th, 2007

On my previous post I touched the subject of hiring, and how it’s being a big stopper for us. This week I interviewed a handful of people, and almost all of them made me cry.

One of the questions I ask on the phone interview is “do you participate in any open source initiative”. An OK reply is “not really, but I have used X and Y, and reported bugs, and asked questions on their forum”. A great one would be “Yes, I’ve been accepted as a committer for project X and started project Y. It does make me a better developer”. One of the answers I got this week was “What is open source?”

I also ask about MVC and Domain-Driven Design. If they have used some or all of them, I ask them to explain what they are and how it was used. Some adventuring in telling me that they know both, but for some reason cannot explain them.

Some emphasize their certifications. I couldn’t care less. The day MS releases a certification about making you a better programmer, I would consider it, but I don’t think that is going to happen on my lifetime.

But all of that prevent companies from growing. You start to reject consultancy and developments because you don’t have the capacity. For the kind of projects that we have here — definitely non-trivial — and for the kind of clients that we have — most of them technical people that reads code and knows how to tell the good from the bad — I just cannot accept an average programmer to join the team. He could kill in no time the reputation that we have built so far.

Now I know there are good people out there. I have worked with a bunch of them. The question is how to attract those people, making them leave their companies and joining yours.

I dont think money is sole answer. It must be something related to challenges, freedom to try new designs and tools, and an ego boost associated with the company’s name. The more freedom they have, as long as their are accountable on estimating and delivering, the better they feel.

That’s my guess, would love to hear more opinions.

Castle Stronghold partners with Mindscape

May 20th, 2007

Castle Stronghold and Mindscape, a New Zealand based company, have signed a very promising partnership. It intends to create business opportunities for both parties. So, all companies from New Zealand that comes to us for software development will be gently redirected to Mindscape. Thus, if you’re in NZ, and want to build something using the Castle Project and want to outsource some of the work or get some professional help, you will be in very good hands with Mindscape.

Hope this is just a small step in a friendly and professional relationship.

Two exciting threads on castle-devel

May 12th, 2007

If you have some minutes, check them:

- CVSI Colorizer
- NVelocity Parser

It’s so exciting to see big brains trying to put their mark on the .net land and through Castle. Not to mention this guy.

Aside from all the bad side effects that kicking off Castle had on my life for the past two years and a half, things like that made all worth. if you’re curious: relationship problems, not spending time with my family, things like that.

Now, if you, like many people, is wondering when the new release will be available, wonder no more. One of Stronghold’s clients got tired of waiting and decided to fund the release. So I have a week to dive into it, review what’s missing, write the documents for the new features and hopefully release Castle next week. Cool or what?

This week I got involved on building a CMS infrastructure for a SaaS application on top of MonoRail. Not trivial, but after a proof-of-concept and some really minor changes to MonoRail, I realized it was doable. Not only doable, but a simple thing to add. Hopefully I’d be able to disclose more details in a near future.

We are hiring!!!!

April 25th, 2007

We have just hired Monoman (aka Rafael Teixeira). He’s a mono evangelist and has contributed to many efforts there. Hopefully he would be able to improve Castle experience on mono-land.

But we need to hire another mighty developer. So if you’re in Brazil, and willing to move to São Paulo (enjoying the thrilling experience of getting mugged every now and then), then why not apply with us? Send your resume to careers at castlestronghold dot com

Off to Panama

April 7th, 2007

For those who are wondering whether I finally gave up and I’m heading to a sunny beach to have a decent vacation, wonder no more. It’s a business trip. No sunny beaches, only lots of drafts and brainstorms. Yeah, I’m off to Panama to meet a client from Canada. That’s what I call globalization!

About the project, obviously I cannot disclose much. I can only say it’s not my first SaaS project, but it’s definitely the most complex one, due to its dynamic nature. Sure it would be fun.

Business and clients

March 15th, 2007

Clients can drive a business bankrupt, or the “lack of”. I realize that having them might also bankrupt you in no time, unless you do some safeguards.

Almost two months ago we have been booked to start a project, that would last for two-three months and involve two to three developers. High complexity, state of art development, anxious stakeholders. Great! The project was postponed, and then finally canceled due to business reasons.

The client has the right to do that if they feel they are not ready, or that this undertake will not produce the most optimized results due to the lack of specifications or improvements on their own business processes. I sympathize completely with that. But when someone book our time we make ourselves unavailable to other prospects, we hang up phones saying “we don’t have time!”. So a cancellation a few days before a project start really put us in a difficult position.

Now let’s invert the situation. The client come a few days before the project was schedule to start and ask “hey, everybody ready to start?”. If I was an unscrupulous, irresponsible business man I’d say “dude, sorry, I forgot about you. Turned out that more clients knocked on our door, we have accepted their projects and completely forgot about yours. Best of luck and sorry.”

It doesn’t sound right, does it?

So I’m considering approaches to handle these situations, advanced payment, retainer model (which I was just introduced to).

Now on the other side of the fence, we have been involved with a cool (in fact awesome) and huge project. Very promising. With this one we had the opportunity to evaluate their competitors and propose different approaches that would make them years ahead of the competition. We have been involved with this one for a few months, and we’re able to implement in this minuscule time what their team implemented in an year.

Turned out that the project was halted. Thankfully nothing held against us or our deliveries, but was frustrating anyway. It was put on staging server for the first time this week, and we were really working hard to push it to production.

The moral of the story: if you’re not fond of big risks, do not start a business. And btw, for all of you that reached us in the last couple of months, we might have some free time now. :-)

OpenLogic is now offering Castle support

March 1st, 2007

OpenLogic has contacted me to join their expert community to offer Castle related support. According to them their customers have asked them to support Castle. This is a good thing. Managers will have another throat to choke if something doesn’t work.

From a business perspective, I think it doesn’t conflict with the kind of support that we, at Stronghold, offer. It has some overlap with the consultancy, but it’s manageable.

First day at new Stronghold’s office

February 7th, 2007

Some pictures:

View from the our window: a chaotic city

My office:

Henry setting up his machine:

I dare you to pinpoint the missing items on Rafael’s workstation.

Cool day, although too much time spent setting up the network. It was also one of the hottest days in Sao Paulo, and we don’t have an air conditioner yet. :-(

Categories: Stronghold | Top Of Page | 1 Comment » |

The Stronghold is getting stronger

January 31st, 2007

Rafael Steil is the newest member on our team. He founded the jforum project, has a strong Java background but in the past year has been involved with .Net projects using Castle. He’s also Mundo .Net magazine’s senior editor. Welcome aboard!

Another talented and high skilled person that is about to join us is Sergey Koshcheyev, yes, you read that right, the brain behind NHibernate.

New Castle Stronghold web site

January 28th, 2007

I hired a damn good designer to work on setting a standard of colors/fonts to be used by all Castle Stronghold media, starting with the web site. I like it. Let me know what you think.

By the way, we are barely three months old, with plenty of great clients, working on awesome projects. I could never imagine something like this would happen in such small time frame.