Needed: Programmer / System Administrator for Bicycle Industry CD-ROM 
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 Needed: Programmer / System Administrator for Bicycle Industry CD-ROM

What's Bike'alog?

Bike'alog produces a database of the bicycle industry.  We have 1,000
member bikeshops and are growing. Our monthly CD-ROM includes 125,000
items, 1,000 wholesalers, 1,500 manufacturers, and 300,000 wholesale
and retail prices - basically everything in the industry. In
cooperation with Bicycling Magazine, we also include complete specs
of all 3,000 current and past-year new bicycles, as well as some
other extras which we plan to add to.
We started with a printed catalog, produced on a Sun Unix machine
running Ingres DBMS. The output from Ingres was formatted into troff
and printed. It was beautiful, but too expensive to produce. When it
reached 2,000 pages (9 point type), I realized we needed to change.
At the time, DOS was the only feasible alternative. Windows was new,
and 95% of the bike shops who had PCs only had DOS.
The problem was that our data took 600 MB in standard database
format, and most PCs came with 50 MB drives in those days. Our
solution was to take the Ingres data and squash it into a
pseudo-database that was optimized for a few kinds of searches. We
did this using PERL and C (later C++). It was not the most flexible
solution, but it was fast and small (30 MB). This is basically the
same "engine" we still use in our monthly DOS distribution.
So here's how a typical month at Bike'alog goes. During the month,
five people enter and analyze data we receive from vendors. At the
end of the month, we fire up an extraction + compression process that
converts our relational database into the DOS pseudo-database. After
our master CD-ROM is duplicated, we send out new monthly Bike'alogs
to our 1,000 member bikeshops.
Give me a call and I'll send you a current-month CD-ROM, so you can
see how it works. If you don't have a CD-ROM drive, I can send you 9
floppies. In fact many of our members still get Bike'alog this way,
although we're strongly encouraging them to switch to CD-ROM.
Incidentally, we have an outdated web site with 1995 bike specs, at  It gives you an idea of what we do, but distorted
and oversimplified. Also, we only infrequently review mail sent

The Job

The job is threefold: maintain our current monthly production cycle,
convert our in-house operations to Windows NT/95, and come out with a
Windows 95 version of Bike'alog. Now that we're on CD-ROM, there's
plenty of room left over for a more spacious database format with
photos, diagrams, and lots of other nifty features such as electronic
We ran a kiosk at the last bike trade show, with a touch screen that
showed booth locations and product photos. It was done in VB and got
me enthusiastic about VB, as long as we can make it fast enough.
The first step is to move our database from Sun/Ingres to NT/SQL
Server. We have an ALR Pentium server with 128 MB RAM and 10 GB disk.
We're doing this now and hope to have the Sun gone by the time you
Next step is to write front-end apps for in-house data entry and
analysis, I assume in Access VBA or VB.
And finally, create a Win95 distribution version of Bike'alog, which
I also assume will use the Jet engine and be coded mainly in VBA or
To do all this, we need a programmer who can do lots of things, since
we're a one or two programmer operation.
I'm looking for someone who is user-interface-oriented and
database-oriented. Liking bikes would be nice.
Most important is to find someone who can work enthusiastically in a
team of non-programmers. Next, you should be able to enjoy pitching
in and handling monthly production deadlines -bikeshops demand their
CD-ROMs on time. Not infrequently, this means long hours on short
The most relevant skills, in descending order, are: relational
database, Access, SQL Server, the SQL language, VB, Windows 95/NT,
C++, PERL.
However, specific skills are not critical if you are enthusiastic and
can pick up any deficits on your own. Most important is to find
someone who can make a long-term commitment to growing with Bike'alog.
Since we're a small growing company the "programmer" winds up being
lots of other things also: system administrator, trouble shooter,
last-resort tech support, etc. You need to be flexible and reasonably
tolerant of interruptions - which I try to shield you from, but often
am the source of.

The Rewards

Well, first you can have a great title. What would you like to be
called? Since you're everything, you can be anything. Name the title
and I'll give it to you. (Looks good on resumes.)
As you can guess from the above, the starting salary isn't great -
probably $25-35K, depending on experience, but I'm negotiable (for
instance if you think you could do the whole thing).
Or, if you think you can help produce a great product that can
increase our sales, how about an additional bonus based on a
percentage of our sales increase each year? In other words, I'm open
to any number of long-term offsets to the modest starting salary.
In addition, you'll be the diametric opposite of a small cog in a
large wheel. Also, you'll be working at a high level, using
high-level tools, serving members who rely on us and love us. And
that's a nice feeling.
Also, the environment is great. Wear anything you want (as long as
you wear something). Flexible hours (but long hours.) We're just
outside Santa Barbara CA, a few blocks from the UCSB campus. Santa
Barbara is a beautiful, coastal/mountain year-round cycling paradise,
bordering the Los Padres National Forest.
Finally, other than me (after all, I'm the boss), the people here are great.

To find out more, phone me, Jeff Palley, at 800-962-1950. Or e-mail

Tue, 06 Oct 1998 03:00:00 GMT  
 [ 1 post ] 

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