Friday, December 3, 2010

Please use TryChooser

Recently there were some improvements to the trychooser and the landing of those changes led to a couple of bugs[1][2] being discovered and quickly fixed.  It is thanks to those who are regularly using the trychooser that we are able to find bugs quickly and also continue to improve the tryserver.

Right now there are over 350 backed up test/talos requests for the tryserver and when I checked our report for trychooser usage it shows that the average number of users pushing with a try syntax has fallen below 50% where it used to be closer to 60%.

I encourage you to please use the trychooser syntax as much as possible. If you do not need every single try result for your patch, do not just push to try and use up all the resources needlessly. Take a moment to insert some try syntax into your commit message.

See for details and for a simple try syntax builder.

Thanks in advance.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Impending TryChooser change you should know about

On Monday November 29th there will be a bug fix landed on the TryChooser that will change how you use it:

Removed: -m,--mobile argument for requesting mobile platforms.
ALL platform selections will use the -p,--platform argument (as requested by developers)

This change is part of a larger back-end change which will improve try by making new platforms or test/talos suites added to mozilla-central dynamically available to tryserver. This also means the Mozmill test suite will be enabled for try when this patch lands on Monday.

I will update the TryChooser wiki and the trychooser syntax web helper. If anyone is using other tools to help with using trychooser, please update accordingly.

What will be useful once this lands is a way to give a user-friendly, and dynamically-generated, list of what platforms/talos/test options are available to try. Any ideas?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Playing with Audio Visualization

After Dave's blog post put out the call for 50 visualizations using the new Audio API in Firefox 4 I decided it was time to stop thinking about learning processing and its .js version and time to start doing things with it.  So I took a few hours on Saturday to poke at the code that Dave put up and after a lot of shots in the dark I came up with this but I was disappointed in how simple my results seemed after so much time spent.  Today I went back to the book and learned a few more processing tricks which inspired me to hack on the audio visualizations again.

For my second attempt I really tried to understand more what the javascript functions were doing, how the actual audio data was being generated, and in what form it was being passed to the processing draw() function.  I found a couple of pages on the Mozilla Developer Network that helped me understand the API a bit better.  On my second attempt to visualize audio data I could really make it do what I wanted. The next round of learning I would like to do in this area is how to work with user interaction better. To respond with audio and video to user movements and key press events.
Second attempt at audio visualization

I'm really glad Dave put out the challenge, and that I made the time to teach myself something new.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Get more green with TryChooser!

Our fabulous intern Anamaria Stoica has been working hard the past few months helping to pull data from buildbot's scheduler DB that allows us to learn all sorts of new information about how the release infrastructure is being used, and how it could be optimized. Among other things, she's generated an end-to-end report so we can see at a glance how long the complete build cycle for any push to mozilla-central took.  Now, on top of that, she's added a way to see who is using the awesome new TryChooser syntax.

In the coming weeks I'll be emailing folks who are using try but not the TryChooser syntax and encouraging them to give it a shot. In my stock email letter I will say something along the lines of:
When you use the TryChooser syntax to make requests for only what you need, you allow precious CPU cycle time to be used elsewhere by those who need it.

This is helpful for two reasons:

1. Those testing fixes to blockers of the next beta/rc/release can get try results quickly and get their code landed on trunk
2. Overall wait times for try results are reduced
What's interesting in looking at the reports though is that more of the pushes to try that use TryChooser are green. Here's a snapshot of those who are using TryChooser:

The number of build requests is an aggregate of all the builders triggered so all build types, platforms, test and talos builders run on that push.

Now for comparison, here's a snapshot of folks not using the TryChooser:

I have no way of knowing from this snapshot which of those pushes were intentionally not using the TryChooser and perhaps trying to get all 176 possible builds. Some of them may be using custom mozconfigs as a way to kill off unwanted builds (p.s. you get burning with that).

If you haven't tried it yet, please give TryChooser a go and see if getting a smaller set of builds (ie: what you need, not just the default) and perhaps getting more green on you try pushes gives you a boost.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Try What You Want

Last week bug 473184 saw some progress when we landed the try_parser which allows devs to put in their hg commit comments what try builds they would like on a particular push. This is a first step towards a two-part goal: 1) giving devs more self-serve tools for try and 2) lowering try wait-times.

Now you can try what you want instead of just pushing and getting the default set (currently default is all opt & debug builds, all unittests, no talos).  You will get less emails and only the results you're looking for and everyone wins when you only ask for what you need since it will make more machines available for other builds.

To use this fabulous new TryChooser in your commit message (soon to be available in a committed config file as well) you do the following:

  • You've got your patch ready to try
  • Set the commit comment to what you would like to run on try
  • In this case, let's say you want a linux opt build, no mobile, no unittests, and only talos tp4 results
hg commit -m "Patch to fix a pixel placement try: --build o --p linux --m none --u none --t tp4"
  • Push to try
  • What happens? 'Linux tryserver build' builder is created and runs your opt linux build. If the build completes successfully then the talos tests are triggered and once the test-master gets the notice of the change it will read the hg commit comments and only kick off the one builder for tp4 'Rev3 Fedora 12 tryserver talos tp4' 
  • You get a total of 3 emails and have used very little compute time - you rock!

please go to for complete info and options as well as some answers to questions you make have and take the TryChooser out for a spin.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

No really, it *is* easy to test your Python code

This week is all about getting custom selection for tryserver submissions (bug 473184) ready for public consumption. The plan is to have a custom scheduler that calls a function which parses a commit comment (and later, the option of an .info file instead) and then only schedules the builders which have been requested. This will be awesome for our build machine resources since it will mean that if you don't want a particular platform/test/talos suite it will never even get triggered.

In today's work on the parser I wrote python unittests for the first time. I remember doing some unittests in school but that was way back when we used Java. The python unittest module is really awesome and easy to get up and running. Once I had my tests passing I then ran the coverage tool on both the test suite and the parser to see how I did in covering all my bases:

This tool is Frickin' Awesome! I can see at a glance that I need another test to see what happens if someone wants a subset of mobile build platforms.

Tomorrow I'll be getting my coverage even higher and then starting to stage this scheduler and see how it handles our large amount of possible builders to choose from. Keep your ears open - selecting your try build configuration is right around the corner.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Disposable Project Branches - aka Twigs

Hey Firefox Developers - Want a place that's kind of like Tryserver but all yours for a short period of time?  Release Engineering now has 3 'disposable' branches set up in our build automation that you can use for testing a mozilla-central clone or a clone of your own m-c-based repo.  I call them Twigs because they are for temporary, small projects.

The Twigs (maple, cedar, and birch) each have their own tinderbox pages, run the full suite of unittests, and give you talos results by default.  Like Tryserver, they also allow you to override the mozconfig with a custom mozconfig so that you could kill off platforms you are not interested in results for.  Doing so will give you a cleaner tree and will allow our build and test resources to be used where they are most needed.

To use a branch simply grab a twig from the bookings page, file an IT bug to have your repo cloned over to your selected twig repo and then start pushing to the twig's repo to see your builds start.  At the moment one small glitch is that the first push doesn't get you any builds (bug 562026) - so you need to push twice on a fresh repo clone and the second set will get picked up by the hg poller.

I look forward to hearing if this setup helps you out.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tryserver 2.0 - Fine tuning and learning the hard way

I really thought the try server as a branch was ready to roll out when I did it.  Seriously.  It took a couple of months to get it to the point where I felt it was ready for the public.  So I pushed it live last week - detail here.

Immediately a few issues came up that ruined my vision of a smooth transition:

* Emails were going to the changeset author and not the person pushing the change. Turns out I had changed this default behaviour and didn't know that there was a reason why we used to grab the email address from buildbot sendchange info instead of from hg author.

* Packaged unittests were being merged.  This was quite a big deal for the first full day of being live because people were getting all kinds of strange emails about results that weren't theirs.  The reason this wasn't caught in testing was that there is no 1:1 mapping between a build and its packaged unit test results (except when you go look at tbpl). We should get one set up for MozillaTest where our staging results go in order to make sure something like this doesn't happen again.

* The URL included in an email regarding test results didn't contain a changeset - only the build and leak test builders were setting the information needed to grab this for the emails.  Thanks to dbaron for catching that quickly and bringing it to my attention.

* The try-mac slaves got delayed on their way to the new tryserver's slave pool because of some glitches with puppet and so a huge backlog formed for OS X builds and people thought they didn't even exist.  Because the backlog got so large (80+ full-length builds) I opted to restart the master, wiping those out of the queue in order to get the tryserver back to decent turnaround for all platforms.

I'm still ironing out some issues, tweaking the email results, and I've temporarily disabled the web interface as I work on getting it to use hg push so that all the inputs to tryserver arrive in the same way.  I'm also trying to get more slaves to add to the builder pool since the packaged unittest builders are builder hogs. 

Let me know if I've missed anything.  It's my goal this quarter to make tryserver as helpful as possible in keeping mozilla-central green. 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tryserver 2.0 is Live

This morning the quietly running in the background try-as-branch became the new try server and the try you've known for a few years now is about to be turned off.

You will now be getting opt and debug builds, as well as packaged unit tests for all current try platforms (64 bit are on the way). If you would like to read more about how the new try server works you can look to where how to add a custom mozconfig and where to file bugs on tryserver issues is covered, as well as other info.

Now that this new tryserver is up and running, the remaining try slaves from the current tryserver are quickly being moved over and we will be back to full speed on try builds in the next few days.

Upcoming work on try will see 64 bit builds, sending the unit tests over to talos user desktop platforms for testing (just like mozilla-central has now) and also allowing you to select with more granularity which try builds/platforms you would like your patch to be done on. Also there will be a try branch for 1.9.2-based builds coming soon - tracking bug for that is 563822

If you have questions, come find me (lsblakk) in #build or #developers or you can file bugs on tryserver.

Speaking of bugs, this new try-as-branch will allow RelEng to close the following pretty much right away:
I really appreciate everyone's patience during this transition, I hope that the new tryserver gets us better results and helps keep trunk building green.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I'm much less interesting now...thanks to Facebook.

Two days ago, my Facebook page threw me a very large popup explaining that now all my interests (music, books, etc) were to become links to Pages and that I could either accept turning all my interests into links to their respective pages or go and customize. I took a second to customize because I'm not necessarily interested in being attached to the Page for all my favourite things. Once I finished this step my profile's Info section was updated for me and now it looks like I'm only interested in 1 movie, 6 authors, and about 20 bands. This is so far from representing my actual interests. It's also very different than what I had originally taken time to enter into my profile back when I opened my Facebook account.

So here's what I've gathered so far about what Facebook is doing to me:

* My self-described interests were no longer valid and were removed - looks like you can still add things that don't have pages, but they'd better not have the same name as an existing page or you'll link to the wrong thing. I don't like that I have to go and re-enter my interests.
* If there's no existing page for something you list as an item a Community Page is created that states
"Our goal is to make this Community Page the best collection of shared knowledge on this topic. If you have a passion for {interest}, sign up and we'll let you know when we're ready for your help. You can also get us started by suggesting a relevant Wikipedia article or the Official Site."
* This new Community Page automatically aggregates any mention of the item - so a book I mention in my profile is cross-posted to the news feed for that page without my knowledge or consent even if that item is not in my interests!

From cnet:
"This is a really significant step for Facebook. For years we've been saying that FB is an open platform, but now for the first time, the likes and interests of my Facebook profile link to places that are not identity is not just definied by things on Facebook, it's defined by things all over the Web."

I don't think that this is putting your "open platform" where your mouth is. They are doing this with major partners like Amazon. Partners who bought into having "like" buttons on their sites. Facebook is streaming content from user profiles into pages for movies, books, bands, and television shows to promote those items without the user being aware, or interested in doing this kind of free advertising. Until now people signed up to be reviewers on sites like Amazon but now you're going to be one whether you want to be or not. I don't read "open" into this thinking. Open doesn't mean a free-for-all of data being tossed around the web without permission. Open should allow you to customize, and to look behind the curtain to make sure you know where information is going.

Here's my attempt at an analogy:
I buy a t-shirt for a band I like. It's got a nice design and that's why I chose it. I wear this shirt every day. Suddenly one day, I'm talking to a friend and I mention a band I saw the other night and my shirt design changes to that band's logo. I'm not controlling this change, I may not even notice that it changed but from now on I'm a walking billboard for whatever music I talk about. The bands get attention, the record companies get money, what do I gain from having a shirt that changes all the time and no longer just displays the design I selected it for?

Having just read danah boyd's SXSW talk yesterday about privacy and publicity I feel very sensitive to this new collapse of worlds that has been thrust upon me. She summarized the Facebook's news feed update as follows:
Consider the Facebook News Feed fiasco from a few years ago. What Facebook did was aggregate content in ways that made it more visible to users who could already access it. In essence, it made quasi-public data more public. Many users flipped. Why? There's a big difference from knowing that I just entered an "it's complicated" relationship by looking at my profile and getting that information in a stream of updates. In effect, Facebook publicized publicly available content, making it more public. Time and time again, this is what technology companies do. Can users adjust? Yes, and they do. But their behavior changes or they find themselves in a lot of trouble in ways that they weren't expecting.

So it looks like it's time to adjust again. I've certainly learned that changing my relationship status in Facebook gets broadcast to everyone instead of just hanging out in my profile for the curious friends I have to discover. Now I must learn that if I mention a band, book, tv show, or movie I'd better really like it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

My name is Lukas, I live on the Second Floor.

Several times in the past few weeks I've been up on the third floor of our Mozilla office here in Mountain View and folks have asked me questions along the lines of "How long are you in town for?" or "You're moving here soon, right?". Well, here's the thing - I've been living in California since mid-October and working in our Mountain View office on the second floor this whole time.

When I was an intern in the summer of 2008 and we were at our previous offices I hardly saw folks from Building S because I was in Building K. Now I rarely see people from the third floor, and even the folks who sit in the other half of the second floor are strangers to me.

I could blame office layout, but the bricks aren't going to move any time soon. So it's up to me to do something about the lack of social interaction that my desk location provides me with.

This is the first job I've had with this many employees so I'm going to experiment a bit with ways to help me connect with the people I work with every day. Dria suggested going to sit up in Ten Forward (our huge gathering space) once a day. She said it would guarantee that I would run in to everyone eventually. I'll certainly try this, though not every day. Other thoughts I've had for ways to interact more with my co-workers include starting a lunch time Settlers of Catan game, making an effort to go for lunch with people who are not on my team, and doing a lap around the office (both floors) with the dog to give us both a stretch and to chat with whoever isn't too busy.

If you're ever on the second floor, behind the conference room, in the little pocket where Release Engineering and IT are situated - say Hi!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I got tagged - Open Source Contributors blog meme

The rules:
  1. Copy/paste these rules and questions into a blog post, answer the questions, then tag some other people (however many you like) and encourage them to do the same.
  2. Include a link to the original post.
  3. You don’t have to be tagged to take part — if you see this post and want to play, just dive on in. Simple!
The questions (and my answers):
  1. How (and when) did you originally get involved with an open source project? Which projects have you contributed to?
  2. I originally got involved with open source projects as a student in Toronto doing a 4 year bachelor's degree in Software Development.  I was a mature student, looking for a 'career' path, and soaking up everything I could about this world of creating software.  My experience prior to going to school was mostly teaching myself web design and some text games programmed in Basic when I was in high school.  In the first year of the four year degree program I learned about open vs. closed source and was instantly drawn to the politics and principles of FL/OSS.  I had been using Firefox already for a few years (cause IE 5 for Mac sucked), but didn't make the connection with open source until a ton of Mikes (and a Johnath) came to my school to talk to us about Mozilla right before FF 2.0 came out. They were so engaging, humourous, and full of excitement for the potential of this project that thousands of people worked on, and I knew right away that the Mozilla project was the one for me to get involved with.  It combined technical superiority with an incredibly friendly user/contributor community and most importantly it's a product that helps a lot of people be safe on the web. In my third year I took two classes with Dave Humphrey that got me working on actual code for Mozilla. My contributions led to being offered an internship with the Build team in the summer of 2008 which resulted in a part-time contract while I did my last year of school and a job offer to go to full time with Mozilla's Build and Release team in May of 2009 when I graduated. Since getting involved in open source, I have contributed to the Miro and Drupal projects in small ways and I look forward to getting more involved as my experience and abilities improve.
  3. Why did you choose to contribute to an open source project?
  4. I was drawn to contribute because I could - even as a student with relatively little programming experience - I helped with documentation, support, anything I was able to do.  It's great to be able to participate in something while learning at the same time and open source project models are great for this since they are largely volunteer-based.
    What keeps me contributing is knowing that my contributions help people, and  because open source software is something I believe in. My leftist, anti-capitalist, activist sensibilities fit well with a not-for-profit enterprise, a free software project. Oh, and I like sharing.
  5. If you were to pick one or two people who have had a major influence on your involvement with open source, who would those people be? Why?
  6. Dave Humphrey none of this would have happened like it did without Dave. If there is a church of open source, Dave is the preacher. He pushes his students to get involved and to jump in feet first. No coddling, Dave has high expectations and expects you to get really involved with open source, not just do the minimal amount of assigned work.  In fact, his class is structured in such a way that you cannot do a mediocre job. In or out - it's your choice. He's amazing at matching up students with projects, and his enthusiasm for his own learning is contagious.
    Ted Mielczarek is an incredible mentor and worked with me on my Mozilla student project of adding source server support to the Windows symbol server. He is very available in the student IRC channel outside of regular work hours, is willing to answer newbie questions, is a great communicator and patch reviewer who would help test my patches when that was needed, and he made me feel very welcome as a new contributor to Mozilla.
    Angie Byron is a Drupal contributor I heard speak at the first Ontario Linux Conference that I attended. She spoke about being a woman in open source which interests me as a topic but more importantly she did what I hope to do - she got involved with Drupal through the Google Summer of Code program, had a great experience, and now she encourages other new folks to participate. Her testimonials are all over the GSoC wikis, and her positive reinforcement is really needed in an environment that can be intimidating or have barriers to entry for some folks.
  7. How have you personally benefited from being involved with open source projects?
  8. See question #1, I work full time for a project that I love and am excited about. I work with an extremely talented global community of people to make the web the best it can be.  I love the web and I get to work on it every day.  Also, I'm learning a lot about the process of creating and releasing software in the open and because we're open, I can share my learning with everyone. This isn't something I take for granted, from what I hear it's not like that everywhere :).  
  9. What advice and/or encouragement would you give to someone who is considering getting involved with an open source project?
  10. Find a project that excites you because then you will honestly want to work on it, in any capacity.  Don't be afraid to take on something you don't know how to do (yet). Work on whatever it is you have taken on regularly.  I can't stress this enough. Picking up a bug, taking months to write some intensive fix, and then resurfacing looking for feedback will not likely not ingratiate you to the community.  Blog, get on IRC, submit patches of your work in progress, ask questions - be a persistent contributor.  Even if you fail at reaching your desired solution, by failing publicly you will have shown your skills in sticking to the problem, and will have made connections with the community in the process.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Improving 1:1s

Deb Richardson wrote an inspiring post recently about how to get the most out of the weekly 1:1s we have with our managers here at Mozilla. I've been very appreciative of the 1:1 time I get with my manager John O'Duinn because it's often the time when big issues can get some forward momentum.  We always have lots to talk about and it can be hard to stick to the 30 minutes we dedicate to the meeting.  I think Deb's format and structure ideas will really help us keep to the time window.  I've always taken notes at the 1:1s up until now, but the new format made me want a new way to track the results of our weekly chats so I did a simple Google Docs spreadsheet and form to help me prepare and take notes.

I haven't made a form in a while and I was pleased to discover that they now have a theme option, neat.  So with my form and a weekly calendar alert the day before the 1:1 reminding me to take a moment to gather up items for discussion, I feel ready to rock this new format.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Being a decision maker - Part Two

In my last post I was exercising my search engine choice for kicks.  Choosing a search engine is easy,  you type in the URL and get directed to the home page of your favourite search engine's site.  If you prefer one and want it to be your default search engine,  Firefox has a handy pull down menu where you can manage your search engines and set your engine of choice.

This is just one of the many ways that Firefox, and Mozilla, promote choice. Another way we do it is by providing the world's best browser in over 70 languages, and on multiple platforms.  We give users the choice of a browser that is built with them in mind.  For security, accessibility, and extensibility users can count on Mozilla's Firefox to be doing its best to improve the areas that make the open web work.

The Microsoft Browser Ballot screen has started to roll out this week and there are people who are most likely not expecting, nor informed about what it means to make a choice as it relates to the web browser.  It's important that we not forget that many people don't know what a web browser is.

I recently posted about how I suspect the design of the ballot screen will scare away people before they even get a chance to make a choice.  For those that make it to the second screen (where you are presented with the 5 top browsers by market share) there is another obstacle: lack of information.  The screen doesn't tell you why choosing your browser is important.  It doesn't tell you which browsers are more secure, which ones work with screen readers, which ones can be extended to add custom functionality.  These are important factors in making a choice.  Otherwise "choice" is really "pick the pretty logo and see what happens".  Or perhaps "choice" is "stay with what you know, cause change is scary".

Which web browser you use may seem trivial thing at first but when you look under the hood - it matters that your know the browser you choose will work with your assistive technology. It matters that your identity is safe, that a site's legitimacy is explorable before you make an online purchase, and that you can customize your web browser to maximize your efficiency.  I've had several academics tell me they rely on Firefox add-ons to help them cite, bookmark, and make notes in the browser as they prepare class materials.  Your browser can make viewing the web a comfortable, seamless, and efficient experience.  Don't you want to have the information to help you make the choice that's best for you?

I hope that John Lily's letter,  and other blog posts in the coming weeks will reach a wide audience and help supplement the lack of information that the ballot screen contains. Just as it would be odd to let a stranger pick your car out for you - with no information about your driving habits, family size, gas budget, style preferences - you should try as much as possible to make an informed choice about the tools you use on your computer to do your work and live your digital life.

It really does matter. Have fun exploring your options.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Being a decision maker - Part One

While helping a friend with a wordpress site, I googled for image gallery plugins and was met with:

I've never seen this before so of course I started to search for the site in other search engines:

Interesting, kind of suggests that this site also uses Yahoo.  That's impossible. Now how about Alta Vista, Dogpile, Lycos, and

Nope, no special greeting.  I saved the "best" for last, Microsoft's Bing:

Ok, wait a minute.  Decision maker?  Why is everything else just a friendly greeting? Decision maker makes it sound like I've done something radical by using Bing.  I'd love to know if Technically Personal is generating this box or if it's coming from somewhere else.

Browser Choice Screen slight of hand?

Just reading over Microsoft's "What to Expect" post about the upcoming browser choice ballot. I tried to imagine I was a windows user seeing this for the first time.

Two things about this screen bother me right away. One is that the "Ok" is just a link, not the usual, and obvious call-to-action BUTTON. It's also on the left and I usually look to the right (or center) for things like "OK", "Next", "Continue", or "Agree" type action buttons. I notice that on the next screen (the actual choice screen) "Select Later" is also on the left so maybe it's just my own habits and not a mind-game Microsoft is playing with me.

Second, they 'unpin' IE from your task bar and then the last line of screen 1 is "Before proceeding, please confirm that you are connected to the internet." If I didn't know for sure that I was connected to the internet, I'd probably want to open IE to check. I find this user experience confusing and wonder how much work Microsoft's team did in trying to make it intentionally so. The scenario I picture is my friend's mom Janice. Janice still saves web pages to her desktop instead of bookmarking them so I don't think she's the majority use case here, but I thought of her anyway. I think she would fairly represent a certain group of computer users that are competent at doing daily tasks on their machines but are nervous about making changes to their systems.

I imagine that Janice sees this screen and has no idea about the ballot's history so she takes the time to read the first screen. What? Features? What is a feature for a browser? I connect to the internet with IE, what features do I need? You've unpinned my shortcut to IE? Where do I go to open it now? I need to be connected to the internet? How can I check that? How do I open IE now that you've taken away my shortcut? Janice clicks on the "here" link to find out how to re-pin IE to the taskbar and who knows what happens next (Microsoft's post doesn't show this) but I suspect that browser choice is put aside and this screen will not be run again.

What has Janice learned about browsers, choice, security, compliance, open standards? Nothing. She unfortunately is now maybe more afraid of running a Windows update than before, and life goes on.

Anyway, it's just one scenario that came to mind. I know we're going to see some really interesting stories, comments, and choices being made as this ballot reaches more and more people. I'm looking forward to watching this all go down.

Friday, February 12, 2010

FOSDEM 2010 Video - Women in Open Source and Free Software

A quick 'n dirty vlog featuring some of the women attending this year's FOSDEM conference. I was really glad to see so many women attendees, a much higher ratio than any FLOSS events I've been to so far. It was challenging for me to get over my initial shyness about talking with them but I'm glad I did. As my friend Bevin has said "No one ever died of awkward". That in mind, I just put myself out there on the Sunday of FOSDEM and was pleasantly surprised to discover how eager women were to talk about their involvement. I hope to continue to do this kind of documenting at future events. I'd also encourage you, dear reader, to do the same if you can. We can compile a ton of testimonies from women in open source and free software describing what they do and why.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

FOSDEM 2010 Reflections - Part One: Why I went

This was my first time attending FOSDEM and my first time in Europe as an adult. Being able to attend this conference was very exciting because I got a whole new perspective on the Mozilla project's community outside of North America and I met many folks in the l10n community which helps remind me that there are people attached to the RelEng Buildbot columns. In my time at Seneca, my internship, and now as a full time employee of Mozilla I mostly interact with employees and contractors so it's really great to be around folks who aren't paid to do this and yet love it as much as I do.

It wasn't until the second day of the conference that it really started to sink in how the driving forces of community were very different across the ocean. People I met told me how they were involved with open source for political reasons, and one pointed out that he could watch TV or do something that mattered, so for him contributing to Mozilla was a way of doing something important. If more people in America put down the remote (or game controller) and followed suit, imagine how many new contributors we could have! I loved hearing that for some of our European contributors, their time spent on Mozilla projects isn't volunteerism; it is essential to their daily lives.

I suspect that coming from countries that have at some point been governed by autocratic or dictatorial leaders has spurred many free-thinking people to want to personally work on openness and freedom in many areas, but especially in areas relating to technology, where web browsers become an important tool for managing identity and privacy. It's activism, it's political, and it's one of the reasons I'm here too.

My early roots of activism looked a lot more like this:

Invigorating but prone to burnout. Being crushed up against riot shields and poked with billy sticks loses its appeal fast especially when police crowd control tactics get more and more violent with every protest. So now my activism is more about finding positive, measurable, and constructive ways to help people. Hopefully free of riot gear and pepper spray.

Enter WoMoz. For folks who don't know, WoMoz is a new group in Mozilla aimed at increasing the visibility of women at Mozilla as well as increasing the number of women contributors. The main reason I attended FOSDEM was to participate in two days of planning sessions with other WoMoz members in order to lay a road map for the rest of this year. Up until now the WoMoz participants have only interacted through IRC, wiki, and mailing lists. It's nearly impossible to get a decent big picture that way, let alone get to know each other.

In the next couple of blog posts I'm going to write up my thoughts and ideas about directions that WoMoz can take and my goals for this project. I'll also post a quick 'n dirty video I've made featuring some of the women in open source that I met at FOSDEM.