Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Did Ancestry.com Replace Me?

It has been a month since I left Ancestry.com and it's been rather fun watching the want ads to see if they replaced me. Some positions I've seen advertised that might have been me:

  • MyFamily.com logo Senior Product Manager for the MyFamily.com product. Did someone leave the company after the missteps of the MyFamily.com 2.0 product strategy? Software ages. I've written about this before. It has a lifetime and eventually has to be thrown out and rewritten. The rewrite of Ancestry.com was done correctly and successfully. No one even knew it occurred. The rewrites for MyFamily.com 2.0 and Family Tree Maker 2008 were not. With products with large installed audiences, it is important that you make user interface improvements gradually and optionally. And almost no amount of additional features will make up for the loss of old ones. Rewrites are best done incrementally, so you don't waste an entire development cycle and end up with no new functionality. If all that isn't enough to conclude this was not the position I vacated, the position is located in Bellevue, Washington.
  • Field Operations Imaging Manager, Washington, D.C. You know, of course, about the Ancestry.com/NARA partnership. This must not be me; this must be a new position. Nice to see things happening in Ancestry.com's efforts to digitize original records onsite at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.
  • Customer Research Director, San Francisco or Salt Lake City. "This position would report to the VP of Marketing in San Francisco." Did you know that the Generations Network's VP of Marketing was in San Francisco? I don't recall if that's public knowledge, so let's look to LinkedIn and Google so I can avoid breaking my non-disclosure agreement with TGN. A Google search discloses several current and former VPs of marketing. If her LinkedIn profile is up to date, Cheyenne Richards is VP of Marketing for the Generations Network in the San Francisco Bay Area. Apparently, the customer research director position can work at either the San Francisco or Salt Lake City offices.
  • RootsWeb logo Software Engineer - RootsWeb.com / Genealogy.com. Is this an expansion or a replacement? As a long-time RootsWebber, I'm always happy to see RootsWeb getting attention. I'll bet Genealogy.com subscribers feel the same way. From this listing we learn, apparently, these websites are written in Perl, C++ and PHP. The operating system is Linux or Solaris. The databases are mySQL or Oracle. The web server is Apache. The team of software developers is small. For those that feel RootsWeb and G.com (as it is affectionately called by team members) is overshadowed by Ancestry.com, the help wanted ad begins with a poke in the eye. "[TGN] properties ... include Ancestry.com, MyFamily.com, Genealogy.com, RootsWeb.com and Family Tree Maker. The flagship brand - Ancestry.com is the undisputed global leader in online family history." But everyone can't work on the undisputed leader. So we'd like you to apply for a position working on the second-best websites.
  • Senior Software Engineer - Sites Team, Provo, UT or Salt Lake City, UT. From this listing we learn that work for the Ancestry.com site is based in Provo. Why then, does the ad list Salt Lake City as a location? Does it mean TGN is planning to move to Salt Lake? The simpler explanation is that TGN wants the ad to show up in job searches for Salt Lake City. This position includes responsibility for the "logged in home page" which apparently is coded in Microsoft's C#. The web server is ASP.NET. Developers use the Agile development process. Ancestry.com apparently uses or plans to use web services and service oriented architecture (SOA), XML and Web 2.0.
  • Search Engine Software Developer. "This position will play a major role in the development and maintenance of the next generation search engine technology." Kendall Hulet has said a future improvement to the search engine would add the ability to reject search results with obvious mismatches to your input. The current search engine ranks results by matches to your input but isn't able to penalize mismatches. Apparently the search engine will use Microsoft Windows Servers, C++. "This position will also help coordinate efforts of indexing and deploying content."
  • Software Engineer - Digital Preservation. "This position will play a major role in the development and maintenance of the next generation content processing pipeline, which includes automated and manual tools for the extraction of text from historical documents (i.e. OCR, keying, auditing). This position will include researching, designing, and implementing features and tools that will enhance productivity and ensure high quality of the extracted data."
  • Ancestry.co.uk Logo Public Relations Manager, UK. United Kingdom? This must not be me. Although I wouldn't mind visiting England often.
  • Web Analytics Implementation Engineer (expired). That's rather harsh, don't you think?

There were several others that I wanted to comment on, but I'm afraid I've waited too long and the job's have been filled. I found a job posting website that was rather... pretty. Video, sound, slide show of scenes inside and out the Provo headquarters. People I know. As you can see, we've got old photographs from our... I mean their... photography collections. The ping pong and other game tables really are in a narrow glass hallway with magnificent Mount Timpanogos towering nearby. TGN was a great place to work. Great environment. Great people. Great mission. Great leadership. Great company.

I am grate-full.

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