We’re hiring, and we quite like .net developers

I normally wouldn’t use my blog for this sort of thing, though we don’t really have an outlet on our corporate site, so this is the easiest place to do it.  I quite like working at my employer, so thought I’d use this as one of the channels to get the job advertised – I’ve tweeted about it too, please RT if you see it!

We’re hiring, and unlike expensify, we do really quite like .net developers.  We do our best to ‘do good things’, and although we don’t pass the joel test, a score of roughly 7ish with an aim to improve upon our build automation/daily builds/continuous deployment means that I personally find it a good place to work and learn a lot.  There is a team here who care about the work they undertake, they try to learn from one another, and they do their best to leave the code base in a better state than when they found it…

We like to attend UK Developer community events (@NEBytes, @DeveloperDay, @scottishdevs, etc.) and try to better ourselves in any way we can find.

Who are we?

We’re an online bingo company based in Sunderland, though I wouldn’t let any of that put you off Winking smile  Bingo isn’t my life, though as with any business, you can love the job without having to love the subject matter…

There’s a decent sized team here – 8 .net devs (2 ‘game’ guys, 6 web app), infrastructure team (5), flash/client team (5), and a creative team (4) all contribute so it’s a pretty good place to bounce ideas.

We’re re-architecting the current site (MVC3 front end, business/data access tier, DI/IoC, Linq, distributed caching) and that will be going live fairly soon. 

We’re moving into Europe with similar technology and this role would focus on the delivery of that.

The job spec – verbatim

Job Summary

In order to support the growing business, new developers will be required to work on projects building all new website applications for the UK and future European businesses.

Job Responsibilities & Tasks:

A technical specialist within the tombola Operations team, focusing on providing:

  • Website application development.
  • Backend application development.
  • SQL development.
  • Problem and Incident management.
  • Support and maintenance of existing software
  • Keep abreast of industry developments in the technical arena and make recommendations to management where appropriate.


  • Website application development.
  • Developing applications for Windows based systems and Web Applications using IIS 7+.
  • Developing applications accessing an SQL Server backend.
  • Object Oriented programming and design.
  • Visual Studio


  • C#
  • TSQL
  • ASP.NET MVC 3 / 2
  • JavaScript / jQuery
  • Ajax
  • LINQ
  • Internationalisation of .net apps
  • Continuous Integration / Build Management
  • Understanding of theory and application of design patterns


  • Must be passionate about their chosen career path, you’ll be working with people that love what they do – you should too.
  • Must have strong team working and communication skills as well as being confident in working alone.
  • Must be able to work well under pressure, and meet deadlines.
  • Must be highly motivated.
  • Must have good time management skills and be able to multi-task.

Details, details?

We’re looking for 2 people, and salary range will very much depend upon skillset but realistically we’re looking at £30-35k.


Please get in touch with me initially on twitter and I’ll give you corporate email addresses to find out more.

IIS, Optimising Performance, 304 status codes, and one stupid browser…

Well, I thought I’d start my play in earnest after last weeks DevWeek, I thought I’d experiment with various performance improvements that came out of Robert Boedigheimer’s (@boedie) talk.

First up, a play with expiry of content.  We host all of our ‘assets’ (images, css, javascript, and flash) from a content delivery network style setup.  We don’t currently use a CDN for anything other than our games, but the concept is the same – so long as the assets are hosted on a separate URL to the content, then the location of those assets isn’t an issue.

Setting Up Expiry for Assets in IIS 7

In IIS manager left click on the website, folder or indeed file that you wish to set expiry on.


From the ‘IIS’ section in the main pane (make sure you’re on features view for this) double click on ‘Http Response Headers’.


You will see in the right hand pane the option to ‘Set Common Headers…’


This gives you the following dialog:



You can see here, I’ve enabled ‘Expire Web content’ and am expiring it after 20 days.  You can set a fixed expiry time too, though I’ve never done this – I can imaging it’s more maintenance overhead to ensure you always keep content ‘cached’ at various points in time, though it’s there if your use case demands it.


Fiddlers 3(04)

Ok, so that’s all yes? Well, yup, that’s it.  Fire up fiddler and load up one of your assets – you should see something like the following:


So, all is well on first load – we get a status code 200 and we can see that caching is enabled and has a max-age of 1728000 (20d * 24h * 60m * 60s), so we know that our next request should be cached and shouldn’t hit the server.

Hit Refresh…


Erm… why are you still hitting my server even if only to be told 304 (not modified), resource hasn’t changed…  So why the round trip?

Turns out hitting refresh on any browser will indeed make that round trip – the refresh button is almost an override for the local browser cache and says ‘go and double check for me’ – I’ve tested in IE8/9, Firefox and Chrome and they all do this.

So how do I avoid the round trip for non modified resources?

Turns out you’re already doing it.  Instead of clicking refresh, click into the address bar and press return.  You will find the resource loads up again no problem, but there is now no round trip to the server and no 304 response.  Well, it loads up no problem in IE or Firefox, but there’s another pesky browser on the block…

Hmmm, Google Chrome? Why won’t you play ball?

Seems that pressing return in Chrome behaves in the same way as if you’d hit the ‘refresh’ button and still issues the request (and naturally gets the 304).

Should I worry?

Well, no – we have only been testing single resources here.  If I navigate to a page by typing in the URL and pressing return (first run) you’ll get the usual 200 status codes, and you’ll get the usual assets caching.  If you press return to ‘reload’ that page in chrome, then you will get all of the round trips back and forth with the corresponding 304s.

But, if you navigate to that page (after you’ve had your code 200’s) via either a bookmark or a google search (essentially, via a hyperlink) then jobs a good un and it doesn’t issue the requests.

I’m not sure why Chrome behaves differently to the other browsers in this regard – I could understand if it didn’t have a ‘refresh’ button, but it has.


I write this up as it caused an hour or so’s pain as I played around with IIS caching, as I’ve recently switched to Chrome as my default browser.  It was only chance that I tried the assets in the other browsers when Chrome wasn’t doing as it claimed it should be that I realised it was just a chrome side effect and really only came into play when I was ‘debugging’.

Hope it’s useful to others.

DevWeek 2011 – A Week of Geek

Another year, another incredibly lucky software developer gets to spend a week at the DevWeek conference.  For regular readers of the blog (hey mum!) you’ll know I attended last year and you can see my write up of it here.

I look at my own career over the past 12 months and realise just how much DevWeek helped hone and solidify a lot of my thinking – I’ve moved on massively since then and have put a great deal of last years learning into practice within products that I’ve worked on, so definitely was a worthwhile spend (thankfully my employer also thinks so!)

I had to choose my sessions far more carefully this year, it was a downside of returning I feel, but there felt like a lot of repetition on sessions – that said, there was still a great deal of new content (and I enjoyed @JeffRichter’s talk on exceptions so much last year I re-attended this year – sad eh!).

Day 1 Highlights

Ajax and ASP.NET MVC

K. Scott Allen – @OdeToCode

The lightbulb went on at the start of this talk and just didn’t switch off – I’ve not done so much on the Ajax side of MVC, though he made it all incredibly easy, and although I’ve watched the videos he delivered via pluralsight, it was far easier to contextualise and sank in better being in the room (and able to ask those stupid questions!).

He covered the client validation updates in MVC3 (the main reason we switched to MVC3 when it first launched), and covered a great deal around the topic as folks asked questions.

Massive tangibles to take directly onto a project I’m working on and I look forward to getting some of this into code asap.

NoSQL, Is it the future?

Gary Short – @GaryShort

Oh how I wish I went to that day on NoSQL last year in Scotland…  Presented brilliantly (as per really, after seeing presentations at DDD this is the usual craic with Gary).  He covered the various products available and the general use cases for them, obviously the history to NoSQL, and covered a lot of use cases.  I could waffle more but I’d only highlight my ignorance – realistically the cleverness in the talk and the outcome for me was that I have to try this – I have to grab a small project at work that I can pickup in my spare time and experiment with it.  I work in an environment where it’s easy to test the limits of our RDBMS solution as we have a massive amount of traffic, especially writes, and I think it’d be worthy of investigation – definitely more on this to follow from me!

Day 2 Highlights

Model Binding in ASP.NET MVC 3

K. Scott Allen – @OdeToCode

I’m going to start to sound like an @OdeToCode fan boy, but his presentation style and knowledge of the topic when asked a question just rocks – one of those people that qualifies in my book as a Dev Rock Star, so him catching up with him at lunch to have a chat through the questions I’d asked during the session was just superb!

There was a great deal of validation (personal, not model) in this session on the ways we’re currently doing model binding, though again, there were significant tangibles around the extensibility in MVC3 that may well make certain aspects of what we do around model binding easier.

Modern Javascript

K. Scott Allen – @OdeToCode

ok, ok, it’s turning into the Scott Allen show… doh!  I can only hope the reticence to ask questions during this question meant that others were similarly thinking ‘Oh Christ, I don’t do any of this!’.

I got that functions are heavily important (I sort of got this from consuming jquery, I’d just not written my own in the same vein).  Closures are an area I really need to read up on, and in general I just need to work at this one.

For any developer who consumed jquery and just ‘gets things done’, but has never written their own class, implemented their own closure, etc. I’d say do as I plan to do and get to learning – there are so many opportunities that I’ve utterly missed.  Exciting times.

Day 3 Highlights

Do’s and Don’ts of ASP.NET MVC

Hadi Hariri – @hhariri

Again, as much a personal validation session, but loads of little tangibles from this one – lots around IDependencyResolver and Nuget that I just need to *do* – we use Unity in ControllerFactory guise currently so I really need to get this sorted.  Nuget I’ve been consistently positively surprised by, There was a lot more in this session and I’ve got a bucket full of notes to work through but a crackign session.

Improving Website Performance and Scaleability While Saving Money

Robert Boedigheimer – @boedie

Possibly the best talk of the week for me – and there wasn’t a design pattern, a mention of SOLID, or indeed a unit test in sight.  Robert presented a lot of absolutely practical steps that can be taken to improve performance on your website, he highlighted some of the tools he used (and how he uses them), and it was just practical advice after practical advice.  There is content from this that absolutely will be going into my every day work from next week onwards, and the team are going to despair as I wave the flag for the tools/concepts I got from this talk.

Closing Thoughts?

Well, the above (as well as just being in a focused environment where I got to talk dev) was superb.  I personally think if I can continue to be funded for it I’d return every 2 years rather than annually to give the talks a full chance to rotate, though that’s not a criticism of the hosts or those people who give talks, I’ve seen it on other speaker circuits too (DeveloperDeveloperDeveloper events for example) and it’s one of those ‘either shut up and do a talk Tez or let them get on with it’ – I really have no desire to do so, so will be happy with what I get!  Thanks to all of the organisers and speakers, it has absolutely rejuvenated my geek batteries

Onwards and upwards now, fired up geek on board!