Local man previews Firefox OS

My friend and occasionally-quadrennial conference co-organizer, Peter Rukavia, is writing about his experience with a developer-preview Firefox OS phone.

His perspective is particularly interesting as it doesn’t come from inside the Firefox/Mozilla world. He’s just your average run-of-the-mill kind of alpha-geek that would pre-order a semi-functional developer preview device from Spain to try out an unproven operating system. Keep us posted, Peter.

If you’re wondering why Mozilla is working on building a mobile operating system, when the market is already maturing to two(ish) leaders, see former Mozillian, Asa Raskin’s article on why Mozilla is at its best when being a “fast second follower”.


Live from Mozilla: A Brief History of Mozilla.com (and .org)

Reporting today on location in sunny Mountain View, California and the lovely Mozilla headquarters.

A Brief History of Mozilla.com (and .org)

I’m doing a talk in the Mozilla lounge about the history of the mozilla websites called A Brief History Mozilla.com (and .org) today (April 12, 2011) at 12:30PM Pacific time (4:30pm Atlantic time for those back home on Prince Edward Island). The talk will be streamed live from the Air Mozilla website. Come watch.

The slides for the presentation are available in a few different formats. The video will also be archived – I’ll update this post with links when the video is available.

A Brief History Mozilla.com (and .org)

Update: Video of the talk is now available download or watch directly (if you have Firefox 4+ or Chrome): A Brief History Mozilla.com (and .org) – 14Mb Ogg Theora file (35 min). The lighting in the video favours the slides, so you can’t really see me. Just picture someone handsome and dynamic in the dark to the left of the slides.

You can also download the slides in OpenOffice.org Impress format, PowerPoint format, or as a PDF.


Firefox at the State Department

In what sounds like the worst meeting ever, the US State Department’s Town Hall Meeting to Announce the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) (that’s really what it’s called), a State Department staff member asked this question:

Can you please let the staff use an alternative web browser called Firefox? I just – (applause) – I just moved to the State Department from the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and was surprised that State doesn’t use this browser. It was approved for the entire intelligence community, so I don’t understand why State can’t use it. It’s a much safer program. Thank you. (Applause.)

Senator Clinton responded “Well, apparently, there’s a lot of support for this suggestion. (Laughter.) I don’t know the answer.” and passed the question on to under secretary Patrick F. Kennedy.

UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: The answer is at the moment, it’s an expense question. We can —

QUESTION: It’s free. (Laughter.)

The discussion went on to cover how it’s not actually free to switch a major application in a large organization, which is fair enough.


Firefox 3.5

Firefox 3.5 icon

As with every major release of Firefox since 1.0, I’ve had the privilege of working with Mozilla on their website updates for the new Firefox 3.5 release.

If you care about web browsers, you already know why it’s awesome, and if you don’t care about web browsers, all you need to know is that it’s better.

Even though there are loads of significant new features (audio/video, downloadable fonts, big performance improvements), my favourite feature so far is stupidly simple. When you View Source on a page, you can now click on the links to CSS and JavaScript files to view them right in the source viewer. This had made my life 0.000.1% better, which isn’t bad for a web browser.


The Long Road to Firefox 3

Mozilla Firefox logo

With the release of Firefox 3 last month, the Mozilla project, corporation, community, and the open-source software world in general have a great achievement on their collective hands.

My involvement with Mozilla began with a weblog post in October of 2003, over a year before the initial release of Firefox. During the year that led up to the release of Firefox 1.0, we assembled a team that created the branding and visual identity for Firefox (and later, Thunderbird).

As the launch of Firefox 1.0 approached, our involvement in the project grew from visual identity to include a redesign of the Mozilla.org in the summer of 2004 by our company, silverorange. This also meant a change in the nature of our involvement to include professional services. We were now making some money!

Though my involvement in Firefox was a only thin layer on top of the years of engineering, design, and development that truly built the product and organization, I’ve occasionally had some unique opportunities. On November 9th, 2004 at 4:51AM Atlantic time, I had the privilege of making the CVS-commit to the mozilla.org website that officially released Firefox 1.0.

With the release of Firefox 1.5 in November of 2005, we launched a the new Mozilla.com website (having separated the Firefox and Thunderbird products out from the larger Mozilla.org website). The release of Firefox 2, brought with it the first redesign of Mozilla.com where the visual style was provided by another design firm (NoBox) and our role was one of implementation.

With the release of Firefox 3, Mozilla.com received a major design, again with the visual style coming from another firm (The Royal Order of Experience Design from Chicago). The style of this new site is unlike anything we could have created ourselves and it made the implementation both challenging and fun.

The involvement that I and my co-workers had with Firefox and Mozilla has paralleled and contributed to the growth and success of our business. Our work with Firefox and Mozilla changed the world in which our company operated and provided a new set of extraordinary opportunities. When a guy named Kevin Rose called and asked us to help with the design of his new site, Digg, the first thing he said was that he had seen our work with Mozilla.

As the organization behind Firefox grew, and the scale and amounts of money floating around grew, I was skeptical of the long-term prospects of the project and of the product. Once Mozilla was big enough, I thought, they’d have the same problems any large software company has.

Firefox 3 has proven me wrong. I really expected Firefox to get bigger, dumber, slower, as the small founding team of developers was eclipsed by a larger team. Instead Mozilla has shown that they are not “any large software company”. Like Linux, Apache, and other great free-software projects before them, they have shown how an open-source project can defy the traditional rules of software project management. The product has gotten smaller, smarter, and faster. The organization continues to look at issues that matter for an open web.

It’s been fun. So, when does Firefox 4 come out?