Posts Tagged ‘Mozilla’

From consumption to creation

Via Mozilla Webmaker:

“Mozillians are people who make things. Moving people from consumption to creation is Mozilla’s goal.” –¬†Mitchell Baker, Mozilla Chair and Chief Lizard Wrangler

This is a brilliant goal. To build a generation of webmakers. Getting people to create more than just consume.

It is widely stated that 1% create, 10% curate, the rest consume (quote from Fred Wilson). Imagine if the tables were turned.

Logging in Thunderbird

I’ve had occasional issues with Thunderbird 3, sending out messages via I’m doubting it is my ISP at work, because I’ve been roaming around, and it seems to be the same issue. Long story short, if I click “Send Later” and batch the messages, it seems to be better than just writing a message, and sending it immediately – that seems to just bring up a message saying its connecting, and nothing happens for a long time, before I either cancel it or it times out.

Found some useful Mozilla documentation, on debugging Thunderbird using NSPR logging. Simply, you can do:

export NSPR_LOG_FILE=~/tmp/tbird.log

NSPR_LOG_MODULE also accepts POP3, and IMAP as arguments. The third line obviously only works on Mac OS X – on Linux, just replace with the path to thunderbird-bin.

Gen Kanai from Mozilla speaks about localisation in Firefox and more

At BarCampKL, I conducted a quick interview with Gen Kanai, the Director of Business Development, at Mozilla in Asia. He has vast experience, that ranges from starting the Japan office, to marketing, to helping open the Beijing office, and this year, its all about South East Asia.

Mozilla wants to know if there is a need for Firefox in Bahasa Malaysia? I asked Gen how hard it was to translate Firefox – there are over 60 localisations, and unofficially, there are over 100.

Bahasa Malaysia is about 40% complete, and the website needs localisation as well. While the system itself is not as simple as Ubuntu’s translation system, you don’t need to be a programmer, just know how to use source code management tools. You can use a simple text editor like Notepad, and move all the way to using Pootle.

Do you want Firefox and other Mozilla tools translated into Bahasa Malaysia? How will it help you (or someone else)?

Lessons from Mozilla, that apply to other communities

John Lilly, CEO of Mozilla, shares some insights and thoughts on Mozilla, and its a most interesting presentation to go through. The insights are (drizzled with some of my comments):

  1. Superior Products Matter – Without excellent experience and utility, the rest is meaningless. This is true, even with MySQL – our aims and values have always been performance, reliability and ease of use.
  2. Push (most) decision-making to the edges – I understand that as make sure your community has a significant voice (kind of like Wikipedia’s anyone edits policy, but there’s patrolling). He also suggests that on a regular basis, you need to have surprising innovation – things that blow people’s minds. In Mozilla’s case, there are a set of core values that everyone agrees too; decision making is with the module owners (very much like how the Linux kernel, tends to run), after all, groups have different ways of working. Mozilla has decision makers, that are even outside the “official” organisation – i.e. community has a voice. And communication, is key.
  3. Communication will happen in every possible way (so make sure it’s reusable) – this means via Wikis, blogs, the bug tracker, IRC, forums/newsgroups, mailing lists, audio, video, Skype chat, real-life get-togethers, and probably more. Writing notes, and sharing them, might be useful – I’ve found that the Mozilla Weekly Progress Reports on Planet Mozilla (and especially from Zak Greant) to be really useful. I’m thinking of something similar, in the MySQL (and other Sun open source communities) scope. A lot of decisions tend to be taken up on IRC, and people go on hacking on stuff, without writing documentation (worklogs/blueprints), or consulting with the mailing lists – I guess we all have communication improvements in us.
  4. Make it easy for your community to do the important things – Here the highlights are SpreadFirefox, Mozilla QA, localisation and more. A focus “to help others do more” should be the mantra of every community! I see it as very easy to translate Drizzle now, that its on Launchpad, but its not the same with MySQL. Translation, documentation, non-code related tasks tend to increase community contributions – though, what do you do when you already have an excellent manual?
  5. Surprise is overrated – John suggests that surprise is the opposite of engagement, which is true – no one likes surprises, and everyone wants to feel they’re important and had a role to play when something has happened. The “inner circle” needs more participation. I remember back in the days of Red Hat Linux to Fedora… there was something called the “Fedora Merge” group, and this allowed externals to provide significant decisions towards the direction of the Fedora Project. This was eventually eclipsed by fedora-maintainers, and the various boards like FESCO, and so on. As a participant in the Merge group, I felt like I had a voice, and was part of the “cabal” (there is no cabal), or the inner circle, so to speak – decisions I made, mattered. The inner circle grew, so that everyone (a maintainer, i.e. a person who “deserved” a voice) could feel included. Similar things happened for documentation, marketing, and so on, with various members and boards.
  6. Communities are not markets: members are citizens – John stats that citizens are more than consumers, bystanders and stake-holders – we are all citizens in the community (whether you’re a paid staff member, or an external). The best citizens even challenge the status quo, propose improvements and make the conversation richer – I think we have this, via Planet MySQL. The question though is, are we as Sun, listening to the citizens?
  7. The key is the art of figuring out whether & how to apply each of these ideas – John suggests experimenting, trying new things, and then measuring the reaction.

Of course, back to point #6, engaged citizens are noisy is highly true. But the old adage of people complaining because they care, is probably a good thing to remember. Expect noise, demands, threats, contradictions, and more. You can’t please everyone in a healthy community, but they will help you make decisions.

A most interesting presentation, and there’s a lot to learn from Mozilla, for other communities to apply.

Firefox Download Day

Its the Firefox Download Day. That not only means Firefox 3 is out, it also means that they’re trying to set a world record, by getting the most downloads of a software package in 24-hours. There’s a nice world map, similar to the kind you might have seen in presentations by Jonathan Schwartz (ok, I prefer seeing the dots per region, rather than the Firefox one :P).

The pending general availability of MySQL 5.1 was announced in April at the MySQL Conference. While I’ve seen 1,400+ attendees (a pleasant problem for the event organisers, as they scurried to get people into overflow rooms, and herd the crowd during food times) show up at the Tech Days in the Philippines, I’m wondering if we can achieve 3 million downloads (the current Firefox counter) within 24-hours? Database software just isn’t as sexy as a web browser… Thats not to say we cannot aim high.

How would you celebrate the release of MySQL 5.1 GA? Worldwide release parties (ala Ubuntu)? Set an aim for “n-number of downloads” in 24-hours?

P/S: Like live stats? Look at the Mozilla Download Counter. Its live, and very cool