One of the great things about desktop software, and mobile apps, is that once you have some software, if you don’t do anything it generally just keeps working. Now there are exceptions to this – if you live in the iOS gilded cage, your cojones and your apps still belong to Apple, and they can yank them any time they like. But they don’t do that all that often. And if your app requires network interactions, perhaps the thing it interacts with will change, requiring an app update. But generally speaking, if I get a text editor app, it’ll still be able to edit text until my phone dies or I delete it. And that gives me a great sense of confidence and stability in my use of my technology.
The same is not true of web pages. They can go away at any time. As can cached copies, archive.org copies, or whatever.
So, as we build Firefox OS, and the line between apps and websites gets blurred, let’s make sure we don’t lose this feature. Once the user’s mental model of what’s going on suggests to them that an app is “theirs” (and that doesn’t just mean “they paid for it”), then we need to make sure that it just keeps working. Even if the original source goes offline.
There are internal discussions going on among Mozilla employees about how best to save money when travelling. Inspired by that, here are my travel tips. Some of them are money savers, some are just, well, good advice. Chris Heilmann has given us his; most are good, although I’m no fan of layovers.
I have a “packing-list.txt” file on my computer, organized by “context” (Clothes, Tech, Abroad, Cold, Hot, etc). Before each trip, I print a copy 2-up on a side of A4, then go through and cross out the things I’m not planning to take. I then go and gather up what’s left. This requires so little “er, do I want to take this?” brainpower that I can normally pack for any trip in about 20 minutes, and it’s extremely rare that I forget anything important. If I notice myself writing the same thing on more than a couple of times, it gets added to the file. If I notice myself crossing something off almost every time, it gets removed.
Although I’ve had one less-than-stellar experience, I’ve also made 2 good friends through Airbnb. There are Airbnbs in walking distance of many of our offices (they are a bit thin on the ground in Mountain View). And you normally get nicer conditions at a cheaper price than a hotel.
- Never leave you passport anywhere except in your bag or, while using it, your pocket. This particularly applies to on tables, in plane seatback pockets, etc.
- Why rush onto the plane? You end up queueing for ages, and the worst that can happen if you’re last on is that there’s no room for your bag and the stewardess has to put it somewhere else and give it back to you when you get off.
- While parked at the gate in your home country, use the Internet on your phone to check out reviews of the available films. Gotta be quick…
- Online checkin and no hold luggage means that you can arrive at the airport as little as 1h 15m in advance and still be very relaxed going to the gate.
- Buy a Thinkpad X-series and an extended battery. The 9-hour battery life is great for Europe-to-West-Coast.
- If travelling for only a few days, don’t attempt to cross all the timezones. Get up early/late and go to bed early/late instead. Just because it’s 3am local time doesn’t mean you can’t be doing useful work, or calling your wife, or preparing a Bible study, or something else productive.
- Arriving at Brussels on Eurostar, your ticket is valid to go to any station in the city. So don’t get a taxi, just go upstairs and head for the Central Station, 7 minutes away.
I’m a little late to the party, but 288 comments over whether to use a semicolon or not must be the most awesome piece of bikeshedding ever.
We’re replacing Firefox Sync with something different… and not only did we publish the technical documentation of how the crypto works, but it contains a careful and clear analysis of the security improvements and weaknesses compared with the old one. We don’t just tell you “Trust us, it’s better, it’s the new shiny.”
The bottom line is in order get easier account recovery and device addition, and to allow the system to work on slower devices, e.g. Firefox OS phones, your security has become dependent on the strength of your chosen Sync password when it was not before. (Before, Sync didn’t even have passwords.) This post is not about whether that’s the right trade-off or not – I just want to say that it’s awesome that we are open and up front about it.
I want programs on my machine to be able to send mail. Surely that’s not too much to ask. If I wanted it to Tweet, I’m sure there are a dozen libraries out there I could use. But sending mail… that requires the horror that is sendmail.rc or trying to configure Postfix or Exim, which is the approximate equivalent of using an ocean-going liner to cross a small creek.
Or does it? I just discovered “ssmtp“, which is supposed to be a program which does the very simple thing of accepting mail and passing it on to a configured mailserver – GMail, your own, or whatever. All you have to do is tell it your server name, username and password. Simple, right?
Turns out, not so simple. I kept getting auth failures, whichever server I tried. ssmtp’s verbose mode seemed to show no password being shown, but that’s because it doesn’t show passwords in logs. Once I finally configured a mailserver on port 25 (so no encryption) and broke out Wireshark, it turned out that ssmtp was sending a blank password. But why?
The config file doesn’t have sample entries for the “username” and “password” parameters, so I typed them in. Turns out, the config key for the password is “AuthPass”, not “AuthPassword”. And ssmtp doesn’t think to even say “Hey, you are trying to log in without a password. No-one does that. Are you sure you’re not on crack?” It happily sends off a blank password, because that’s clearly what you wanted if you left the password out entirely.
<sigh> There’s 45 minutes of my life I won’t get back.
For several years, Mozilla has maintained the Public Suffix List, a “map” of responsibilities within the DNS, as a service to the greater Internet community. We originally created it for browsers, but it has seen wider use in a surprising variety of places. There is now renewed interest in replacing it with something DNS-based and more robust. As a precursor to that work, I’m collecting a list of all the things the PSL is used for.
If you are a Mozilla hacker and know of somewhere we are using the PSL that isn’t listed, or if you know of uses of the PSL outside Mozilla, please add them.
A neat idea from the CPDP Conference 2013: choose your privacy level for photos by wearing one of the supplied four badges:
I chose yellow (“Upload Me”), although these days the difference between that and green (“Tag Me”) is very slight.
Have you written an app or system of some sort which uses the Bugzilla REST API (BzAPI)? If so, please do as the docs have long recommended and make sure you are a member of the mozilla.tools discussion forum. There are several upcoming announcements in the next few weeks and months which you will need to be aware of, and that is where they are going to be posted.
If you live in the UK, and would rather your medical information were not stored in a central database (no, not the Summary Care Record database, yet another central database) and given, in a possibly-anonymized-but-no-guarantees form, to researchers and companies, then you need to actively opt out. Yes, really.
See medconfidential.org for how to do it.
I’m trying to live Flash-free on my desktop. In Part 1, I got YouTube and Vimeo working (although the addon I use to make YouTube work seems to make the player bigger than the video sometimes).
The Flash-based Vidyo doesn’t work, of course. When using Vidyo (which Mozilla uses quite a lot), I need to use the Vidyo client. This is not free software, so I’m trying to avoid installing that on my main machine too. Instead, at home, I have a tablet which I use almost exclusively for Vidyo. That’s fine (and also allows me to see and type on my main machine at the same time), but it doesn’t work when I’m on the road, as I was quite a bit in December. So I had to scramble to find some other machine or room with Vidyo support.
I can’t watch Air Mozilla streams live very easily. There are rumours of changes in the works, but for now AirMo live streaming requires Flash. And Flash seems not to be working in Firefox or the stock browser on my tablet, although it is installed. The only workaround is (ironically) if it’s also connected to a Vidyo room, when I can join that. But because Vidyo have not yet implemented our long-open feature request to allow rooms to have participants muted automatically when joining, doing that leads to everyone hearing a “ping!” and getting a brief flash of my face. Which is not ideal.
Some things, I can watch later – AirMo’s archived streaming uses HTML5. But if I want to interact with the presenter or the audience, that’s not an option.
Video doesn’t work on the BBC either, and I’ve not figured out how to make that work yet. The mobile site does UA sniffing to keep out desktop browsers; if you spoof, you can see it, but video won’t play (perhaps it’s using some mobile-OS-specific mechanism). Any ideas welcome.
The Mozilla project credits those who have “made a significant investment of time, with useful results, into Mozilla project-governed activities”, and who apply for inclusion, in the about:credits list, which appears in every browser product Mozilla has ever made.
Historically, the system of scripts which I used to manage the list were not as internationalized as they could be. In particular, it did not support sorting on a name component other than the last-written one. Also, although I don’t know of technical reasons why this is so, many non-English names are present without the appropriate accents on the letters.
But I’m pleased to say that any issues here are now fixed. So, if your name is not rendered or sorted as you would like on about:credits (either due to name component ordering or lack of accents) please email me and I will correct it for you.
I ran a session at the Mozilla Summit with the (wordy) title of “Building a Framework to Enable Mozilla to Effectively Communicate Across Our Community”.
The outcome of the Brussels session, cleaned up, was this document which explains how to run a useful and productive community consultation and discussion. So if you propose something to a colleague, they say “you should ask the community about that”, and a cold sweat breaks out on your forehead, this is the document for you.
Many thanks for Zach Beauvais for doing the initial wrangling of the session notes. Feedback on the current document is very welcome.
Merry Christmas to everyone :-)
And here, for your delight, is what happens when you let a 2-year-old decorate your Christmas cake. It’s “Attack of the Killer Father Christmas”…
The other way the project can lower tensions around release planning is to make releases fairly often. When there’s a long time between releases, the importance of any individual release is magnified in everyone’s minds; people are that much more crushed when their code doesn’t make it in, because they know how long it might be until the next chance. Depending on the complexity of the release process and the nature of your project, somewhere between every three and six months is usually about the right gap between releases, though maintenance lines may put out micro releases a bit faster, if there is demand for them.
– Karl Fogel, Producing Open Source Software
I’m trying to live Flash-free on my desktop. The first thing that didn’t work was Vimeo. I use Aurora, and so I set media.gstreamer.enabled to true, to turn on the gstreamer backend for the <video> tag. However, this still didn’t work. I tried installing more codec packs, but no luck. It turns out Ubuntu 13.10 comes with both gstreamer-1.0 and gstreamer-0.10, and Firefox only supports gstreamer-0.10. So I had to find the appropriate codec packs for 0.10 and install those also. Then, Vimeo worked (using H.264).
YouTube seems to work fine using WebM. :-) I do have the YouTube Flash to HTML5 addon installed so I don’t need to keep opting back in to the ‘trial’.