Conversations about life & privacy in the digital age

Now Hiring –> Web Developer!

SpiderOak is interested in hiring a San Francisco-based web developer to help the front-facing web presence around SpiderOak. You will be working closely with our on-staff designers and our CEO to craft the perfect web presence for SpiderOak.

You’ll be expected to have mastery of HTML-related presentation technologies, from HTML layouts with CSS to JavaScript-based UI frameworks like jQuery and Bootstrap. We also make heavy use of template systems, and you have to be comfortable making pages that will be ultimately created via template. In addition, we’re looking for someone with a strong web design background and willing to stand their ground and fight for what they believe is best as well. This person will also be expected to work and play well with our existing web designers and engineers- stand your ground and fight for what you believe in but be able to be pleasant while dealing with people.

SpiderOak is a distributed, virtual-office, work-from-home company. Any developer we hire will have to be a top-notch communicator. They will be expected to reliably show their face around our super-duper IRC channel at some point during typical US business hours as well as jump in and communicate across our issue tracker, email, and wiki. Even though we’re looking for you to be in San Francisco, the rest of SpiderOak now spans eighteen timezones and communicating via the written word is essential.

If you want to join in on our merry adventure, you will need a functional grasp of English (don’t worry, we have several staff on-board already for whom it’s a second or third language). You may also be expected to occasionally travel (at company expense). Important cities in the SpiderOakVerse are San Francisco, CA, Kansas City, MO, and Chicago, IL (for reference, these three cities make up about half of SpiderOak). A sense of humor is always appreciated and welcome.

Still interested? Send an email to jobs@spideroak.com including “web dev 2013″ in the subject with a little about yourself and your experience to date (a ‘cover letter’ if you will). English only, please. We also will want to see a portfolio of your work. It’s OK if you’re fresh and it’s thin- we want to see what you’re capable of and how you put pages together.

We know there’s talent in everyone regardless of what little papers might say, so we have no “minimum” requirements for degrees. We’re also super-equal-opportunity: quality design knows no bounds for race, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, species[1], or religion. If you can meet what we need, we’ll do amazing things together, no matter who, what, or where you are.

Footnotes:

1: Giant Pandas will be encouraged because, in the words of our new QA person, “AAAAhhhh-dorable!!!!”

Now Hiring –> Mac Client Engineer

SpiderOak is looking to expand out our development staff for working
on driving client development into the future. We are looking for a
talented, driven, Python and Objective-C slinging engineer excited to help us
push the boundaries of what people think is possible on the Mac.

Our goal is to enable SpiderOak to both better understand OS X, and to
also tie into OS X. In our Blue product for Windows, we have an
elementary Win32 Explorer extension that lets you add things to the
backup set and create single-file share links. On the Mac side, we
have something sitting on the sidelines in our skunkworks and need
someone to take lead on it and to shepherd it to completion and
shipping. Experience in PyObjC and digging through the Objective C runtime is desired. In addition, our engineer will be working on the SpiderOak
client backend, focusing on both general non-OS-specific work as well
as enhancing our product on the OS X platform. Finally, this person
should be an educator, capable of and willing to teach other
SpiderOakers details about the platform.

SpiderOak is a distributed, virtual-office, work-from-home company. Any engineer we hire will have
to be a top-notch communicator. They will be expected to reliably show
their face around our super-duper IRC channel at some point during
typical US business hours as well as jump in and communicate across
our issue tracker, email, and wiki. While you can work out of a
darkened basement at your whim (which some of us do!), you cannot
expect to venture off and not have to communicate with other
humans.

If you want to join in on our merry adventure, you will need a
functional grasp of English (don’t worry, we have several staff
on-board already for whom it’s a second or third language). You will
also be expected to occasionally travel (at company expense) to have
some quality face-to-face time. Important cities in the SpiderOakVerse
are San Francisco, CA, Kansas City, MO, and Chicago, IL (for
reference, these three cities make up about half of SpiderOak). A
sense of humor is always appreciated and welcome.

Still interested? Send an email to jobs@spideroak.com including
“mac client engineer” in the subject with a little about yourself
and your experience to date (a ‘cover letter’ if you will). NOTE:
Resumes are not required as who you are is more important than what
your resume may or may not say. If we enjoy your thoughts and feel
like you will be a good fit, we will send you a small task to
complete. Please do be sure to tell us a bit about yourself, what you
can do, and why you’d like to work for us. English only, please.

We know there’s talent in everyone regardless of what little papers
might say, so we have no “minimum” requirements for degrees. We’re
also super-equal-opportunity: quality hacking knows no bounds for
race, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, species[1], or
religion. If you can meet what we need, we’ll do amazing things
together, no matter who, what, or where you are.

Footnotes:

1: Sheep are especially encouraged to apply if they do not mind being
cloned to produce free copies of themselves to provide additions to
our workforce.

PowerPC Mac Users: ATTENTION!

In the past three months, 0.13% of the SpiderOak clients that have logged in have done so from a PowerPC system. We certainly have every expectation that this percentage will continue its slow decline.

It is rather sad, but unfortunately maintaining SpiderOak’s evolving functionality along with support for the PowerPC version is an increasingly taxing proposition especially given the complete lack of support from Apple.

Given the above, we are officially (albeit sadly) canceling support for the PowerPC with our next release. We do not have plans to completely strip out the specific PowerPC code immediately and we will definitely let you all know when we are making changes that we know explicitly will break PowerPC support.

We do apologize to you 0.13% (you know who you are) and thank you for your understanding. We will be happy to answer any questions or thoughts you may have in the comments.

Git, clients, partners, and woes.

This post comes from the “hindsight is twenty-twenty department.” A
few years ago when we started our
White Label program, we were
wondering how to manage the different client branding, GUI
customization, etc. Our first thought was “I know! We’ll use
git!”

Then we had two problems.

We used to use one branch in git per white label partner. The
intention was that we would then effortlessly merge across updates and
ship updates and have everything happy. Reality, however, quickly set
in. Every partner branch needed to be kept track of and manually
merged with HEAD. Being a distributed company, keeping git branch
discipline is bad enough when there’s one production branch, and much
worse when someone may commit last-minute bug fixes under the gun on a
completely different production branch. Once that happens, you need to
round up the branches and start merging back, up, down, and heaven
help you if you wind up with a mutually exclusive merge
conflict. Things wound up in a state where our white label clients
would lag months and months behind our production SpiderOak client at
best.

Our first attempt consolidated our generic white labels down to two
branches based on core GUI features included. This did a great job of
reducing complexity, but it still left many very interestingly
customized clients still in their own branches, and it left us needing
to make sure every branch was still lovingly merged and that fixes
accidentally committed to the wrong branch got brought everywhere
else. Something else was needed.

Our first step was to overhaul the builder, which we completed
recently. This gives us a flexible resource framework to drop in
everything from images to configuration files. The next step is to
boil down all our custom white label code into client code and builder
configuration files, which will again bring us back to one
production branch for everything we ship.

What does this mean for you, fair customer? The primary win is that
now, especially as we maintain
multiple
brands just under SpiderOak alone
these days, we will be able to work on features much more quickly and
deploy them to everyone. Bugs found by partners don’t get fixed only
for partners that report them, but for everyone. And finally, we get
only one, single place that we have to aim CI and testing tools. This
results in a far better SpiderOak experience.

And it sure results in a huge reduction in the amount of grey hairs
we accumulate with every release cycle. Our takeaway here at SpiderOak
is to really examine every new process we try to introduce for trying
to imagine even just a single year down the road. On the surface,
using git to manage different production releases of SpiderOak seemed
to be a splendid idea. After a couple of years? Worst. Idea. Ever.

Now Hiring –> JavaScript / HTML5 Engineer

We’re looking for an excited JavaScript hacker to join us and help us
advance state-of-the-art technology implementation in
JavaScript. We’re looking to do some Cool New Things on the web that
have been traditionally limited to our desktop client, and need
someone who can help us push that along.

Do you enjoy trying to push the bounds of browser-boxed computing?
Have you experience with cryptography? Enjoy getting that last little
bit of performance out of V8 as Chrome makes your computer levitate
with the cooling fans spinning up? We want you! You’ll be working with
our existing team of web engineers to bring out new technology and
products allowing people to use SpiderOak in a private fashion no
matter where they are or what kind of device they are on. You’ll be
working on HTML5 webapps with more and more JavaScript getting pushed
further and further beyond the competition.

To hop on board and immediately get rolling, we expect that you
have a grasp of or can very rapidly come up to speed on a wide variety
of technologies around HTML5, including but not limited to:

You’ll have to be comfortable dealing with SQL for data, as well as a
Unix platform for deployment (Ubuntu, specifically). We have an
emphasis on test-driven development that you will be jumping in
to. Finally, our backend software is all in Python, and knowing that
is a major plus but not immediately necessary- if you already know
the above, chances are you can learn a new language if it comes to
that.

If you want to join in on our merry adventure, you will need a
functional grasp of English (don’t worry, we have several staff
on-board already for whom it’s a second or third language). You will
also be expected to occasionally travel (at company expense) to have
some quality face-to-face time. Important cities in the SpiderOakVerse
are San Francisco, CA, Kansas City, MO, and Chicago, IL (for
reference, these three cities make up about half of SpiderOak). A
sense of humor is always appreciated and welcome.

Still interested? Send an email to
jobs@spideroak.com including “web engineer” in
the subject with a little about yourself and your experience to date
(a ‘cover letter’ if you will). NOTE: Resumes are not required as who
you are is more important than what your resume may or may not say. If
we enjoy your thoughts and feel like you will be a good fit, we will
send you a small task to complete. Please do be sure to tell us a bit
about yourself, what you can do, and why you’d like to work for
us. English only, please.

We know there’s talent in everyone regardless of what little papers
might say, so we have no “minimum” requirements for degrees. We’re
also super-equal-opportunity: quality hacking knows no bounds for
race, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, species[1], or
religion. If you can meet what we need, we’ll do amazing things
together, no matter who, what, or where you are.

Footnotes:

1: The Management would prefer llamas with experience in piloting
luxury yachts.

Now Hiring –> Sales Engineer!

We are looking for an energetic person-friendly hacker to join the SpiderOak team in the role of Sales Engineer. As SpiderOak Blue gains significant traction in the enterprise market, we are noticing an increasing need to bring these companies online in a faster and more efficient manner. As an example, one day you may be configuring a virtual machine to authenticate 20,000 users against SpiderOak while the next integrating patches by some of our development partners into our directory sync code base.

Our ideal hacker is first and foremost a considerate communicator. This hacker is going to be the primary smiling face to our technical contacts with our Blue customers and partners, and we expect our hacker will represent our tribe well. Our Blue customer base includes Fortune 500 companies, US & foreign government agencies, and large US & foreign educational institutions. Our hacker will be comfortable being the primary point of contact with technical and senior IT staff within these organizations. Unhappy customers should create an appropriately unhappy hacker.

This hacker will be responsible for managing and communicating timelines and problems (and their interrelation) to both internal SpiderOak staff and that of our customers. We should be able to randomly quiz our hacker of the status of ongoing trial and live programs and she should be able to respond usefully (allowing for research). Our hacker will be the nexus hub for the technical on-boarding process of new Blue accounts and should be appropriately self-organized.

This hacker will also be comfortable with a variety of Linux-based server technology. Our software is distributed as code on an Ubuntu virtual appliance, so our hacker will be perfectly happy hacking away on Python code to eventually run on Ubuntu. This hacker will also be comfortable configuring said Ubuntu system. Bonus points for a background involving developing against an alphabet soup involving LDAP, RADIUS, MS AD, or SAML.

SpiderOak’s a distributed company; as such, our ideal hacker is a first-rate communicator. Our hacker will be commonly available during the US working day on our secret awesome undisclosed IRC channel as well as via phone and/or skype. Our hacker will raise a fuss if something beyond their control is blocking their projects; however, our hacker will be a problem solver and be more than up to making the impossible hack come to reality. They will jump at the chance to travel to work with other SpiderOakers, with key cities being Kansas City, MO, Chicago, IL, and San Fransisco, CA. Civility and “work-togetherness”, especially but not limited to strangers, is required. Effectively managing one’s self is also a key requirement; nobody will be looking over our hacker’s shoulder while they work. A sense of humor is appreciated.

Specifically in this case, our hacker will be working most closely with our teams in Chicago and KC such that being close or willingness to travel to these locations is important and especially toward the beginning.

Still interested? Send an email to jobs@spideroak.com including “sales engineer” in the subject with a little about yourself and your experience to date (a ‘cover letter’ if ou will). NOTE: Resumes are not required as who you are is more important that what your resume may or may not say. If we enjoy your thoughts and feel like you will be a good fit, we will send you a small task to complete. Please do be sure to tell us a bit about yourself, what you can do, and why you’d like to work for us. English only, please.

We know there’s talent in everyone regardless of what little papers might say, so we have no “minimum” requirements for degrees. We’re also super-equal-opportunity: quality hacking knows no bounds for race, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, species*, or religion. If you can meet what we need, we’ll do amazing things together, no matter who, what, or where you are.

* We encourage kangaroos that can deliver lattes in their pouches.

SpiderOak: Blue for Enterprise

Imagine yourself the CIO of a major company, walking down the street and thinking (as CIOs tend to), “gosh, I love SpiderOak, but it’s just too awkward to use across my company!”

At this point, I teleport in. “But wait!” I exclaim. “We’re now working on a solution just for you and your business! SpiderOak Blue!”

More seriously, we understand centralized management and provisioning will make or break a product geared for the business market; after all, who has time (or the money to pay for the time) to go and individually administer each unique SpiderOak user account? What if Bob and his laptop both wind up under the bus? How will you get Bob’s work data back?

Here at SpiderOak Business Labs, we’ve looked at the problem from the perspective of data ownership. Our consumer oriented product places ownership in the hands of the end-user. The user is the only one with the keys to unlock and look at plaintext data. And whereas this is the perfect scenario in the consumer world, it breaks down in a business setting where ownership of the data belongs to the company. And even still, perhaps you are a university wanting to purchase accounts for your student body in bulk. Of course you want the ability to maintain the accounts but also have no visibility into the plaintext data itself. We have worked hard and been successful in suitably covering all of the above cases and more.

So how does all this work? How does SpiderOak allow companies to retain ownership of the data while never having plaintext visibility? To answer that question, we turn to our ‘Zero-Knowledge’ privacy policy and encryption methods – all of which make this an interesting system to support. We’ve developed two distinct methods – both of which keep SpiderOak ‘Zero-Knowledge’ while letting the organization retain full-knowledge.

If you then add the complexity and pain around managing both individual user accounts as well as companywide deployments, you add yet another layer. So – we have created a system where administrators gain full control of SpiderOak from one central location.

With no further ado, dear and humble reader, may I introduce to you…

SpiderOak: Blue

What does this get you? Let’s take a look at the feature list.

Base Features:

  • The same capabilities and meaningful privacy guarantees as our consumer product (‘Zero-Knowledge’ privacy standard)
  • Central, easy-to-use web-based management console allowing user provisioning, group permissions, space management, and user reporting
  • Selective enable/disable of web and mobile access to SpiderOak accounts.
  • Bulk creation and management of user accounts (along with editing and downloading via CSV)
  • Detailed reports on user activity and problems across your deployment
  • You only buy space, and divide it among your users as you see fit. No silly per-user or per-device fees, or charging you extra to backup a server. Plain and simple pricing.
  • Ability to follow policy-set permissions in the Windows Registry (on Windows), or as a text file in /etc (Linux) or /Library (Mac)
  • Easy-to-deploy MSI installers for 32-bit and 64-bit Windows

SpiderOak: Blue OpenLicense

This product is based on our current OpenLicense program. In fact, a large part of Blue came from addressing limitations in the current OL program.

  • Data Ownership Model: The end user, not the organization. A user who forgets their password needs a new account.

SpiderOak: Blue

This is our ‘standard’ tier of Blue service.

  • Data Ownership Model: The organization.
  • Password resets possible via browser-driven ‘Zero-Knowledge’ encryption in the management interface.
  • Non-’Zero-Knowledge’ user data auditing interface

SpiderOak: Blue Plus

This is the top-shelf enterprise-grade SpiderOak, for those with ultimate management needs. Everything that follows here is made possible by our Blue Virtual Appliance, which puts all management control into an open-source virtual machine running on your infrastructure. You get full control over the data flowing into and out of SpiderOak from your organization, while we stay completely ‘Zero-Knowledge’.

  • You host your organization’s private keys. Key escrow lets you have full and complete control over the data by enabling you to hold onto the master private keys (which are normally generated via a key derivation scheme based on the user’s password).
  • User account integration with Microsoft Active Directory, OpenLDAP, and RedHat Directory Server. Define LDAP groups, point the appliance at them, and those users automatically show up on SpiderOak.
  • Integrated password management via LDAP or RADIUS. Due to use of key escrow technology, passwords for Blue Plus are only for authenticating users. Via the magic of the virtual appliance we can authenticate against your organization’s existing authentication infrastructure. SecurID? No problem!
  • ‘Zero-Knowledge’ (to us) web and mobile access. This VM can also host a local copy of the web access portal – providing on-the-go access to your users while we remain ‘Zero-Knowledge’.
  • Through the magic of the above web access, the user auditing / administrative data restoration console is also Zero-Knowledge from our perspective.

Interested?

SpiderOak Blue is now available through a limited release. We have been working with several large enterprises through the beta period and will continue towards general release. If you’re curious about the product, please send an email to blueinfo@spideroak.com and we will get back to you soon.

How does SpiderOak use SpiderOak? – Part 2

Matthew Erickson, Director of Programming

My last job involved a lot of sensitive satellite data from various governments around the world. I used SpiderOak to securely backup and sync this data between my laptop and my workstation. I also used the mobile app (after I originally wrote it, heh) to pull up documents for reference while in meetings with my funding agencies.

These days, I don’t use SpiderOak so much anymore for sync (I only have one computer I generally work from), but I use it to backup my photos and work. I also make heavy use of it to send data and software to my co-workers and our business partners.

***

Stay tuned! Tomorrow, you’ll hear from Jovan Washington, Web Communications Coordinator.

Now hiring: white label engineer

EDIT

We’ve found someone, and this position is now closed. Thanks for everyone who applied!

We’re looking for an energetic hacker to join us to support our partnerships / white labeling product engineering. On any given day, you’ll be working with our desktop client (in PyQt), working with our partnership sales team to develop custom clients for partners, and working on streamlining the whole process to start with the stock SpiderOak client and end up with a customized build for the partner.

Our ideal hacker will know their way around PyQt, effective GUI design, and building Python applications (py2app and py2exe, for example). Taking tasks that can be boring, labor-intensive, and repetitive and whipping them into a slick webapp should be on the list of things that make our hacker happy to do. In the course of this hacking, mastery of git will be essential. Lastly, this hacker shouldn’t be made unhappy by sitting in on sales calls; our hacker will eventually wind up as the technical lead for our whitelabel program, and in doing so will have to tend to a little business now and then. Creating a perfect experience for our partners and their end users should be a matter of pride for our hacker; unhappy partners should create an unhappy hacker.

SpiderOak’s a distributed company, and our ideal hacker is also a first-rate communicator. They will be commonly available during the US working day on our secret awesome undisclosed IRC channel as well as via phone and/or skype. Our hacker will raise a fuss if something beyond their control is blocking their projects- however, our hacker will be a problem solver and be more than up to making the impossible hack come to reality. They will jump at the chance to travel to work with other SpiderOakers, with key cities being Kansas City, MO, and San Fransisco, CA. Civility and “work-togetherness”, especially but not limited to strangers, is required. Effectively managing one’s self is also a key requirement; nobody will be looking over our hacker’s shoulder while they work. A sense of humor is appreciated.

Handy and useful direct previous job/life experience includes work in release engineering, GUI development, or QA. It’s also cool if you’ve also done tech support or worked in any business capacity in the tech world.

Still interested? Send an email to wldev2011@spideroak.com with your cover letter and resumé, and if we enjoy your cover letter, we’ll send you a small task to complete to see how you work. In this cover letter, tell us a bit about yourself, what you can do, and why you’d like to work for us. English only, please.

We know there’s talent in everyone regardless of what little papers might say, so we have no “minimum” requirements for degrees or resumés. We’re also super-equal-opportunity: quality hacking knows no bounds for race, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, species*, or religion. If you can meet what we need, we’ll do amazing things together, no matter who, what, or where you are.

Footnotes

* We will probably not hire you if you are a kangaroo. Australian humans still welcomed, however.

Some perspective

Taking full advantage of the ability to work from anywhere with an internet connection, I’ve been living it up in London recently. I’m sharing a space much smaller than I’m used to with my girlfriend while I’m here, so I’ve been leaving to work from cafés much more than normal. Yesterday, I gave the British Library a shot.

For those unfamiliar with it, the middle of the main gallery in the library is the King’s Library Tower (not my photo). The structure is not unlike what other high-profile information stores look like, and the general arrangement of volumes stacked as tight as possible on shelves is unchanged. Beyond that, the thing that strikes me about King George III’s library is that it’s largely a reference collection. It’s not rare and exotic books for collecting the books; it’s an honest attempt to collect a large body of human knowledge (much like some modern institutions). We could certainly store scanned images of all those pages here at SpiderOak, and have space left over for intern storage innovative new things in the rack cabinet.

But it’s not about that, is it? A few 2 TB drives full of TIFFs and the OCR output? The books, and the tower they’re contained in, represent human history and progress in a way that a USB thumbdrive can never present. These books are still in circulation at the British Library. There’s certainly a place for the fully-indexed computerized system, but not here. In this information age, many of us idolize books as containers of knowledge, imperfect as they are. They burn. They get soggy and decay. You can easily break their bindings, scattering the pages to the wind. You can’t back it up to SpiderOak!

On the other side, they force you to consider them. Not just a single book here or there that can be set aside, but a big stack of books that force you to consider them. What are they? They’re fragile containers of what makes us human. They make us consider the very basis of what we think, how we think it, and what we’ve already thought of, and force it into our consciousness through their physicality that nothing else can match. It is humbling and awe-inspiring by turns, and in a way, they mirror us as they imortalize us.