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Posts from the ‘Mozilla’ Category

John Lilly, Mozilla Organization Talk at Stanford

John gave a great presentation today at Stanford about Mozilla.  He’s graciously shared it on Slideshare, so I’m sharing it here as well.

A few bullets to think about:

  • How distributed is the decision making in your organization, really?  How much do you empower small, cross-functional teams to execute?
  • How much does your organization really encourage active discussion, debate, and communication?  Does that discussion, debate and communication end within your company walls, or does it extend to your broader community?
  • How dependent is your organization on the “chain of command” vs. recognized experts and groups both within and outside your organization?
  • Does your organization understand the difference between inclusive discussion and democratic decision making?

In the final slides, there are a couple bullets I’m going to have to ask John about tomorrow:

  • Encourage transparency of decision making
  • Avoid democracy/consensus expectation setting
  • Lead, but don’t command

I’m not sure I fully understand the interplay between these in all cases.

The presentation is definitely worth reading if you are interested in Mozilla or distributed organizations.  It’s also worth reading if you want to be able to use the word “chaordic” in a sentence.

Mozilla Firefox 3 Beta 3: First Impressions

Got to be careful what I say here.  Mike Schroepfer might be reading. :)

Actually, I was reading his blog when I found out that Firefox 3 Beta 3 is out.  You can download it here.

I’m playing the naive user for now… just installed it and using it, without reading up on the specifics of the new features.  I’m trying to see what I actually notice without any prep.

First thing… it’s FAST.  Much faster than Firefox 2.  And much much more stable with lots of tabs left open, although I need to give this a bit of a test through the weekend.

One of my biggest problems with Firefox 2 has been based on my particular usage habits.  I tend to open a lot of web pages in tabs, and leave them open for days (or weeks), as reminders to either read the pages or blog about them (or both).  What I’ve noticed is that once I get a large number of open tabs (20+), Firefox starts lagging my entire machine.  I don’t have the fastest machine in the world (PowerMac G5, Dual 2.5Ghz, 2.5GB RAM), but I’m pretty sure it should be able to display 20+ webpages at one time. :)

Anyway, everything is faster with Firefox 3.  My eBay loads faster.  SYI 3 loads faster.  WordPress.com loads faster.  Email links that open URLs in Firefox open faster.  And when I launch with a dozen or more tabs, it feels much more stable, not locking up nearly the way that Firefox 2 did.

I’m noticing on Mac OS X (10.5) that the controls look a little goofy.  The small controls used on eBay now come out as Mac-like round buttons, but the font is off-center.  Also, the drop-down menus actually have their text one pixel below the end of the menu control.

This is stuff I’m sure that’ll get fixed by final release.

We’re obviously going to have get busy updating our LinkedIn toolbar – Firefox 3 informed me the current version isn’t compatible.  I use that toolbar every day, so I’m going to have to make sure that gets fixed.  :)  In fact, none of my toolbars were verified to work with Firefox 3, which is probably a good thing since I don’t use most of them anymore anyway.

I’ve been very happy with Firefox vs. Safari since I switched about two years ago.  I was debating whether Safari 3 and the rise of the iPhone meant I would eventually have to switch back to Safari as my primary browser.

It’s not final, but my first few hours on Firefox 3 has left me fairly confident that Mozilla will continue to be my browser provider of choice for the foreseeable future.

You know, I just realized that Mozilla’s success making a great web browser for the Mac proves the lie in Microsoft’s excuses for abandoning the platform.   Firefox proves:

  1. That a great web browser can be built as a stand-alone application, not as a component of the OS.
  2. That a great web browser can be built on the Mac by a company other than Apple.

These were, of course, the two nominal reasons that Microsoft gave back in 2002 for dropping Internet Explorer on the Mac.

As Apple market share continues to grow, and the concept of an all-Windows workplace fades, I have to wonder – will Microsoft ever reconsider providing IE as a cross-platform browser again?   Even if the Mac has a low (5%) market share, that doesn’t mean only 5% of companies will have Macs deployed.  It could turn out that a vast majority of companies end up with a minority share of Macs in-house.  Does Microsoft really want to cede the cross-platform web application market to Mozilla?

Somehow, I doubt this is being seriously considered in Redmond.  But it’s definitely interesting in the face of a resurgent Mac platform and a cross-platform Firefox & Safari.  Internet Explorer for the iPhone, anyone?

John Lilly: CEO of Mozilla

From John’s blog:

It goes without saying that I’m excited by the challenge of my new job. I’ve thought an awful lot about the role of MoCo (our shorthand for the Corporation) in supporting the Mozilla mission and manifesto, as the coordination point for our work on the platform and on Firefox. We’ve got a lot to do in the coming years, starting with getting Firefox 3 out the door, and then swiftly followed up by our work in mobile and services. Mozilla2 will be a major step forward on the platform after that, not to mention our new experiments in Labs and the work that we’re doing to move the whole Web forward with Javascript 2, HTML 5 and other standards work.

John’s post is here.

Mitchell’s post is here.

StumbleUpon is a Real Traffic Driver

StumbleUpon is more powerful than I first thought.

In case you haven’t tried it, StumbleUpon is a fairly unique new tool to help browse the web. It’s a toolbar that you can easily download and install in your browser (IE or Firefox). With it, you can easily vote “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” on any web page you go to, kind of like Tivo. As you vote for websites, StumbleUpon compares the sites you like to the sites that other people like. Then, when you click “Stumble!”, it automatically takes you to other websites, most likely ones you haven’t heard of, but that StumbleUpon thinks you’ll like.

My first impression of StumbleUpon as a user was positive – it very quickly started taking me to Mac-related sites, many of which I hadn’t heard of. It was neat, but since I rarely have time to just randomly browse the web, I didn’t use it much.

I didn’t give StumbleUpon much more thought, despite all of the eBay/StumbleUpon acquisition rumors, until today.

For the first time, this morning I decided to actually vote for my own blog, Psychohistory, with StumbleUpon. I didn’t think much of it at the time. Why not a little self-promotion?

Tonight, I checked my blog statistics, and the number one referring site to my blog today was… StumbleUpon. 29 hits out of 380 total. That might sound like a small number (it is), but I’m just shocked that a single vote could bring traffic to my blog.

Something real is going on here… reading the WordPress forums I see that a lot of blog authors are getting thousands of hits a day from StumbleUpon. If any of that is hitting my blog, then there must be a fairly significant flow sourcing from StumbleUpon users.

In any case, if you haven’t downloaded StumbleUpon yet, it’s worth checking out. And if you run a website, it’s worth thinking about how to best get people to vote for your site in StumbleUpon. This page on the StumbleUpon site helps you integrate their tags into your pages.

Click this link below to vote for this blog… :)

Stumble it!

What Do You Do When You Catch Mozilla & Microsoft Dancing?

OK, sensationalist title for some trivial pictures, but these were too good to pass up.  Don Dodge posted some images from the recent Mix07 conference.

Source: Don Dodge on The Next Big Thing

Pictured left to right: Sam Ramji – Microsoft, Rob Conery – SubSonic, Andi Gutmans – Zend Technologies, Mike Schroepfer – Mozilla,  Miguel de Icaza – Mono, Novell, (William) whurley – BMC Software.

OK, that’s not that exciting.  But what did crack me up was this picture of Mike Schroepfer and the rest of the panel doing a Rockettes-like dancing line:

Not sure why this cracked me up, but it did.  I’m sure the novelty factor of seeing pictures of friends will wear off… but not yet.

Mike Schroepfer, 40th Most Important Person on the Web

Congratulations to Mike! Here is the glowing snippet from PC World:

40. Mike Schroepfer
Vice president of engineering, MozillaIn the ongoing browser war, Mike Schroepfer is a five-star general who leads a massive but decentralized open-source army of staff and volunteer engineers. Its mission: to improve what is right now the best Web browser on the planet, Firefox. The open-source nature of Firefox permits a faster development cycle for incorporating new features and security fixes. The proof of its success is Internet Explorer 7’s adoption of FireFox features such as tabbed browsing. See our recent comparative review, “Radically New IE 7 or Updated Mozilla Firefox 2–Which Browser Is Better?

When you are friends with someone for a long time, these type of honors put a lot of memories in context. For example, instead of saying “In 1995 I spent spring break in Florida with Mike”, I can now say, “In 1995 I spent spring break in Florida with the 40th most important person on the web.”

Very cool. Congratulations!

Yesterday, The Venice Project. Today, Joost. Tomorrow, Yours.

There is a lot of coverage today about the official unveiling of The Venice Project, now called Joost. You can easily do a search on Google News for Joost – I’m sure it will be in all of the papers tomorrow.

joost.png

Joost is the latest and greatest attempt to bring high definition video to the internet. The reason it is getting so much attention is simple: Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis. They are the founders behind the infamous peer-to-peer music service, Kazaa, and more recently, the voice-over-IP phenomenon Skype.

Om Malik, on NewTeeVee, has the best write up of the new venture:

The Venice Project is not just another online video start-up. The Luxembourg-based company is the latest co-production of the two-person hit factory of Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis. The founders of Kazaa and Skype are hoping that The Venice Project will upend the television experience just as their earlier efforts turned the music and phone businesses on their respective heads.

And while the glam duo might hog the headlines, the task of making the Venice Project a reality falls on the shoulders of Fredrik de Wahl, a lanky Swede with a quiet demeanor who has been a cohort of Messrs. Zennstrom and Friis for more than half a decade.

Before reading his piece, I had no idea how much of the Joost application was built over Mozilla.  Very interesting, and a smart move in the current environment where the market will not reward you for rebuilding UI and application frameworks.  It will reward you for quality of user experience, and of course, our good friend time-to-market.

The Joost website is fun to read – you can sign up for the Beta if you are running Windows.  You can also enjoy the colorful design of the sight, and the flowery Web 2.0 language.

I had the opportunity, briefly, to meet Niklas & Janus in December while attending an eBay leadership conference here in San Jose.  I cannot pretend to know them well, but it is immediately striking when you meet them how passionate they are about user experience and simplicity, and how direct and honest they are with their comments and discussion.

I’m not sure how to resolve the limitations of our current broadband infrastructure in the United States to allow for the peer-to-peer distribution of content like high definition television, which is just incredibly large.  It’s so large that a Tivo Series 3 requires a 250GB drive just to store about 30 hours of it.   Hard drives are big, but the upload support that most people have from their ISPs is quite small.  For example, I get 3Mbps download from Pacific Bell, sorry SBC, sorry AT&T, but only 1/4 that is available as upload capacity at 768Kbps.  That means it’s possible for me to download video, but hard for me to use my upload service to “share” the content with another user.

In any case, I’m glad to see The Venice Project come out from under wraps.  Let’s see if Joost becomes a verb the way that Skype did.

The Starfish and the Spider

I don’t normally do this, but my friend John Lilly featured a book on his blog that sounds extremely interesting. I’m going to pick up a copy myself, but I thought I’d let other people know about it here as well.

John’s post can be found here:
The Starfish and the Spider, by Ori Brafman & Rod Beckstrom

John is a good friend of mine, and also currently happens to be the COO of Mozilla, makers of the ever cool Firefox browser. This is his personal blog, but hopefully he won’t mind a few extra page views today.

John & I pursued similar programs at Stanford, separated by two years. We were both Coordinators for the famous CS 198 program, and we both pursued a Master’s degree in Computer Science, with a focus on Human-Computer Interaction under Terry Winograd.

Like John, I haven’t read a good book on human-computer interaction and/or design in quite some time. But this one sounds extremely interesting and relevant. A quote from John’s summary:

The premise of this book is that there are a couple of very distinct models for organizations: centralized (the spider) and wholly decentralized (the starfish). The authors (Stanford GSBers, but worth reading in spite of that…) use this analogy: cut off the head of a spider and the spider dies. Cut off an arm of a starfish, and you often end up with two starfish. Starts by exploring the Spanish conquests of the Incas & Aztecs (spider organizations) and comparing them to the United States’ mostly ineffectual campaign against the Apaches (a starfish organization). The Apaches were harder to fight against because decisions weren’t made by any one person, but were made on what the US would have perceived as the edges — by medicine men who were empowered by their community. The strange thing (for the US, at any rate) was that whenever they killed any of these important people, more would spring up in their place. I thought it was interesting that the authors point to the US giving the Apaches cattle as something that ultimately led to the disintegration of their coherent society. (The implication here is that the sedentary nature of livestock & farming necessitated the creation of societal structures which were more centralized and less flexible — spider-thinking, where there was only starfish-thinking previously.)

Understanding the right organizational structure to produce truly excellent software is one of the reasons I pursued graduate programs in Human-Computer Interaction and Business.  With the incredible amount of innovation and dynamicism on the web and in e-commerce today, it’s an incredibly relevant subject.

I think I’m going to have to pick up a copy.

Firefox 2 Gets Some Attention

Mozilla Firefox 2 Logo

Nice post from Chad Alderson today about features he likes in Firefox 2.0.

Firefox 2 Owns

I’ve already posted about my favorite unsung feature in Firefox 2 – the ability to automatically recover all of your tabs in the case the computer or Firefox exits unexpectedly. It single-handedly saved me over 45 minutes of work one night as I was blogging.

Chad, however, has picked up on spell-check and better tab navigation as his favorite features.

I’m personally attached to Firefox because I have such close friends on Mozilla team. They have a tough problem – Firefox is clearly the front-runner and thought leader for modern browser design. Others can make significant progress through imitation – the Mozilla community has to really move in new directions to keep ahead of the pack.

Firefox really popularized tab browsing, so it’s not suprising to see that they are able to take the feature set to the next level. Enhanced navigation, session recovery are all insights you develop once you already have familiarity with tabbed browsing.

It’s very interesting to me to see which features people find useful in Firefox 2, and which features they love. I predict they’ll be separate lists. I think spell check is probably the most useful feature to date for me, but thanks to that one crash, the saved session is my favorite feature by far.

Kudos again to the Mozilla team for a great launch. If you haven’t already, go get Firefox 2!

Make Love, Not Warcraft

I found this posting of the South Park episode 1008, Make Love, Not Warcraft today on Tony Chor’s blog.

Make Love, Not Warcraft

If you hate South Park, don’t bother clicking. There is nothing so redeeming about this episode to change your mind. But, if you are a fan of online gaming, you might just find this episode to be hilarious.

The video is hosted at dailymotion.com here.

As a side note, Tony Chor is a friend from college who went into program management at Microsoft around 1990. He currently is the Group Program Manager for Internet Explorer 7, so they are all celebrating their recent release.

In a funny twist of fate, another friend of mine, Michael Schroepfer, is currently the VP of Engineering for Mozilla, responsible for Firefox 2.

Small world, huh?

Tony’s blog is here. Mike’s blog is here, although he hasn’t posted in a few months.

Mozilla Firefox 2.0 Beta 2 is Great!

First of all, let me just say that I’m very biased here.

I’m biased because:

  • I’m a former Apple employee and Mac lover. So it’s not likely that you’d find me posting great things about Internet Explorer.
  • I’m a former developer, and so I’m predisposed to be a fan of open source projects in general, and Mozilla Firefox is a real champion of this movement.
  • Two of my close friends are part of the management team of Mozilla.

But, I just had one of those moments – those rare bad moments that distinguish a great product from the merely good enough.

Here I am, writing a post for my blog that requires dozens of links. I’ve carefully opened them all in tabs, so I can paste them in, one-by-one.

I’m using Mozilla Firefox 2.0 Beta 2. Using Beta software is always risky – things happen. In this case, things did happen.

The browser quit, unexpectedly. Not unlike other browsers, like IE & Safari, which seem to quit randomly on a weekly basis.

I fire Firefox back up, dreading the over 45 minutes of lost work… and then I see a dialog. Do you want to restore your session, or start a new one? Apparently, your last session closed unexpectedly.

AMAZING. All my tabs are there. And, with a nod to WordPress.com, an auto-save of my blog post to boot.

WHAM. No work lost. No time lost. Back in the saddle, without a minute to spare.

So, to Michael Schroepfer, John Lilly, and the rest of the Mozilla team, hats off to you. Mozilla Firefox 2.0 is a great product.

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