Category Archives: Uncategorized

Avast me hearties!

In the spirit of this most special of occasions, I assembled a crew of jolly tars and we’ve made some fancy riggin’ for you to add to yer ships!

If ye be captaining a Firefox vessel with 6 guns, and Windows or Mac at your sails, add this riggin’ to make your voyage on the virtual sees a mite more jaunty.

Step the first: install this fine langpack compiled by Captain Longbeard (aka Unfocused/Blair McBride)

Step the second: change general.useragent.locale to en-AR

Relaunch yer ship, and she’s good to go!

Fer more explanations of our efforts, and fer learnin how to join our crew see this here scrawl or find us on the ocean in port #yarr

Update: Courtesy o’ Capt Nigel, here be an image of the beauty!

You’re not alone

Mike Shaver recently posted about his issues with mental illness. Partly because it’s currently affecting his work, but also “because I think that people don’t talk about mental illness enough.” I think he’s right. I recently helped a friend of mine seek treatment and the factor that actually got him to go to a doctor was talking to mconnor about his own experiences seeking treatment for the same illness. After months of trying to get him to go, he made the appointment the very next day. While I haven’t ever received a diagnosis, or been given treatment specifically for mental illness I have had my own experiences with it. In support of Shaver, my friend and everyone else out there struggling, this is me, talking about it.

In childhood

I was separated from my mother at the age of 2. Her parents raised me, but home was never great. I didn’t actually find out until adulthood that she did raise me for the first 2 years of my life. A lot of my anger and loneliness as a child makes a lot more sense knowing that. I never really fit in anywhere. Not at home, not at school. At around age 9 or 10 it started really catching up with me. I didn’t want to go to school, which didn’t make sense because I’ve always loved school itself. I wasn’t brushing my hair. I used to lock myself in the bathroom so that my grandparents couldn’t make me go to school, but my grandfather would come and drag me out. Looking back I assume they’d been threatened with court by the school board if they didn’t make me go. I’m sure there were other symptoms, but I’m happy not to try too hard to remember those days.

One day while driving me to school my grandmother told me I had an appointment, but wouldn’t tell me what kind. At some point during the day I was called to the office and the principal and my guidance counselor were there to explain that I was being taken to a shrink. I was mad, betrayed, I didn’t want to go. The first few sessions I just sat there, I didn’t want to talk. After a little while though, I slowly started talking and OMG it felt great. See my grandparents are great people, they’ll do anything for a friend, very active in their church, highly regarded in many ways. But they were shit parents. My grandfather had a temper and if you tried to tell my grandmother she was doing something wrong she would just laugh at you. I finally had someone who would listen to me, who would advocate for me. I didn’t have to talk to them, she would bring things up in her sessions with them if I asked her to. She encouraged me to bring things up in a group meeting, but in the mean time, she was my safety. Then we moved. Ironically, I wanted to find a new therapist, but my grandparents, under the weight of all the things she was telling them they did wrong, weren’t so interested.

As a teenager

Oh my teens. My attitude towards relationships was seriously skewed because of my home life. Boyfriends were potential husbands which were escape routes. I always talked about marriage (even at 13), plots were hatched to run away somewhere or marry as soon as possible. Of course this also meant I lost a lot more in a break up and I never handled them well. I didn’t eat, my grades suffered, my friendships suffered because all I could focus on was analyzing what went wrong and hoping somehow I could get him back. I actually failed a math class because of a boy and had to take summer school to graduate the year I’d planned.

Oddly enough, I was an optimist. Looking back I can’t actually make the two selves compute, but while I dwelled so much on how bad things were, I always seemed to have an eye on how good things could be, and tried to make the best of things. I remember one day in high school two classmates commented that I wasn’t smiling that day, and that it was ruining their day because whatever else happened, they’d come to count on my mood in that class cheering them up. I’ve actually noticed the same thing in my sister. Just going off her mood you wouldn’t guess that she’s lonely or frustrated. It only comes out when you get her talking about certain subjects.

I think if you asked me at the time if I was happy I would have said “yes, except for…” this giant thing that took up a lot of my time and had me contemplating suicide. I don’t think I was ever really suicidal, just like I never really harmed myself though I would hurt myself sometimes to distract from the emotional pain. It’s a small distinction, but I’ve known women who have really really cut themselves and can’t wear short sleeves anymore. Nothing I ever did caused any lasting physical effects.

As an adult

I have some of the typical markers you’d expect from someone with my history – teen mother, married and divorced young, varied and exciting sexual history. I don’t want to get too much into my life at this point because it’s not just my story. I definitely had anxiety issues during my marriage. While I never believed aliens would attack earth or actually abducted people, thinking about it happening caused a lot of anxiety and fear. This started in childhood and continued into my 20s.

There was also a period in my 20s where I slept with a nightlight because of anxiety at night – I was fine during the day. I figured out that if I tried to go to bed before I was tired I would lie awake thinking about horrible things happening to my family that I wouldn’t be able to stop, including, but not limited to, alien abduction, kidnapping, homicide, war, it goes on. Laughing helped. I ended up with a nightly regimen of watching 2 hours of sitcoms followed by Conan O’Brien before bed. Then I could sleep. I also learned not to go to bed until I was ready to sleep, which sometimes meant some really late nights early mornings. I’m not actually sure when or why this anxiety went away, but thank god it did.

Every now and then I would feel anxiety for no reason. Nothing crushing, but it wouldn’t go away either. At the grocery store, in the middle of a TV show. It felt like when people talk about knowing something bad has happened to someone they love, right before they get the phone call, but calls never came and my immediate family was always fine. Watching TV I saw a commercial for a new birth control pill – actually it was an FDA required commercial clearing up a previous commercial for said pill. Two things struck me, first it’s a different type of hormone that doesn’t bind to the free testosterone in a women’s system. The second thing that caught my attention was the clarification that Yaz was not approved to treat PMS but rather PMDD.

I’d never heard of PMDD before, so I looked it up. It sounded a lot more like me than any other mental illness profile I’d read (we’ve all been there, almost every profile sounds a little like us). I saw my doctor and got a prescription. What a difference! The random anxiety stopped and many situations that used to make me nervous no longer did. My moods, and my hormones it seems, are on a much more even keel. While there are definitely positive changes in my life I could attribute this to, there has been more than one occasion that I’ve started getting anxious and then realized I’d forgotten my pill that day.

I’m doing much better. Looking back I’m not sure I’d say I had a diagnosable mental illness, maybe PMDD. I think a lot of my problems were situational, and now that I’m in control of my own life I’m so happy I can’t even begin to express it. It’s possible though that I do have something and through trial by fire learned to cope.

That’s what’s so tricky about diagnosing and treating mental illness. Are we depressed because we never learned to cope with certain situations, or are we unable to cope because we’re depressed? The first question many people ask me about my friend that’s getting help is “what is he depressed about?” In my situation, I was certainly depressed about things and learning to make better choices was a big part of my solution. In his case, he was just generally depressed. He has friends, a great job of his choosing. He’s not depressed about anything, he’s depressed. In his case drug treatment has come first and has allowed other positive changes in his life that he wouldn’t believe were possible.

What I hope you get out of this

You don’t have to have a debilitating mental illness to have a condition that would benefit from therapy or treatment.
You can’t tell by looking or casual interaction who’s suffering.
Talking about it helps.
Talking about it helps you.
Talking about it helps others.
Talking about it helps.
You’re not alone.

The Cost of Diversity

The big question I got in response to a recent blog post of mine is “how could diversity possibly have a cost?” here’s my attempt to answer it in clearer terms…

Change always has a price

There’s no getting around this. It’s near impossible to change something solely for the better. In the end the change may be a net positive, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t costs, and that for some people affected the change is a net loss.

Ignorance has a cost

It’s not that I don’t think change isn’t needed, it’s that most people I see talking loudly about women in OS are blindly ignorant or apathetic to the cost of their proposals. Because they are blind, their ideas and solutions have no plan for minimizing the cost while maximizing the benefit. Working simply towards the goal of more women can lead to alienating another group that is dear to my heart.

Many people respond that people engage in sexism even when they think they aren’t, and that this sexism by ignorance is just as damaging. This is basically the flipside of that argument. Enlightenment doesn’t work one way, or it’s not really enlightened.

So what’s the bill?

Like the U.N. club in my high school, the cost of “diversity” without concern for preserving what’s already good about something will no doubt mean that you lose it. There are things about OS that make it better than other projects, and not just in the basic principles of open vs. proprietary.

Some of you probably want a concrete example right now, so here’s one: right now, because of the demands of OS projects, you really have to love it to stick with it. Yes, in some ways that’s bad, and those ways should be changed, but one of the best things about OS is that you get to work with people who love what they’re doing as much as you do. With the wrong tactics and the wrong incentives we might get more diversity, but not because those people love it, too.

Diversity and the need for mentors

This isn’t the follow-up to my last post that I was promising. It’s still coming but needs more time to stew in my brain. Though this does follow-up on some of the ideas and concerns I mentioned.

After my post I decided to start following the WoMoz mailing list. It’s actually been quite interesting and I was grateful to find the women there are tolerant, and even agree with some of my less than “feminist” views on the issue.

The group is actually having a difficult time finding first projects as really the issue of gender is a slippery one. It’s based on a generalization and I know many of you agree that generalization can be the first step to failure. However, I think that if you don’t start somewhere you never get started. Gender (in the traditional binary sense, which doesn’t reflect my views on the subject, btw) is really easy to measure. If there is a very high representation of one gender over the other I agree it’s worth exploring, though I remain skeptical on whether it requires action just for the sake of making the numbers match.

That all said, one of the main goals the group has undertaken has started to resonate with me. It’s the idea that to attract more women you need more women. At first I was skeptical. If we believe that women and men are equal then shouldn’t women be able to use a male role model? Well, personally I believe that men and women are equal, but we’re not the same. If nothing else would have convinced me, the experience of pregnancy and motherhood has certainly shown me that our basic make-up (read: hormones) really does affect our personalities and how we experience life.

One way I prefer to experience life is with a little bit of caution. I’d prefer to do things right, and I’d much rather have someone walk me through something than try and fail several times over on my own. Once I know how to do something, or I at least understand the principles behind it, I’m pretty fearless and will explore, alter and experiment on my own. It’s that first time though. I think the best way to explain it is that I want to make sure my information is correct that first time. I don’t want to start, and go on, doing something the wrong way if better information is out there.

This quirk of mine explains partially why I’ve never been very domestic. My grandmother doesn’t like teaching, she likes showing. Instead of teaching me how to do something hands-on she expected me to pick it up by watching her. That’s just not how I work. And so I was 18 before I did my first load of laundry. I don’t cook, but I do bake – the one thing she did walk me through, as that’s basically what a recipe does. I can read a map like nobody’s business, though. My grandfather taught me how.

The same goes for everything else in my life. I’d much rather learn something with a mentor, who can alert me when I’m starting to go wrong, than to just invest a whole bunch of unknowns to come up with an unknown result. Mozilla is actually quite unfriendly to this learning style, though for good reason. With limited resources, especially in the early years, their best bet was to invest in people who could hit the ground running themselves. It’s much easier to get a response on a specific question about a specific piece of code, it also takes less time away from the already stressed developers working on their own bugs.

How do we solve the problem? Women (and men) need to be more visible with their success stories. Women need to be more visible at all. It’s not just about appearances. It’s about giving potential contributors a face and a story that they can identify with. For better or worse we have our own baggage. Some people who have experienced sexism in their lives will see a male-centric group and assume sexism is at play. They shouldn’t be faulted for this, they’re just going by what they know. Also, the sexism isn’t always travelling from the inside out. Sometimes it travels from the outside inwards. I think a woman interested in computers is a lot more likely to be discouraged by her peers outside of her chosen project. Why should we expect her to take the risk if we don’t show her that it will pay off?

Happy Firefox 3.5!

By now of course you’ve downloaded Firefox 3.5 and enjoyed the best browser update yet! It’s very exciting, and there are so many great improvements to discover. If you can handle any more excitement, we have some bad news. We’ve lost our pandas! We’ve been spending so much time getting our Firefoxes (aka red pandas) ready for their new homes, that they all managed to sneak out when we weren’t looking. We need your help to find them and bring them home.

They can’t have gotten too far, look for them wandering around the Mozilla websphere. Don’t forget to sign up for the hunt so we can get you set up with the tools you’ll need to catch them. You can also follow @mozhunt on twitter for updates on how many pandas we’ve lost, and clues about where they might like to hide.

Oh! I think I just saw one go by now!

Exploration Panda

P.S. If you have a Mozilla related website or blog that you think might be a cozy spot for a panda to hide, please contact me via email/IM/IRC etc!

The thing, you know… that does… the stuff!

There’s currently a debate going on in the Firefox support planning newsgroup about what to call the “Import” article.

The issue is that we’re trying to come up with an explanatory term to describe the profile data. We think “data” is too vague, but are having a heck of a time coming up with something shorter than “bookmarks, settings and add-ons” to describe bookmarks, settings and add-ons. “Personal Information” has been tossed about, but I think too many novice users will think that means things like their credit card numbers and address etc.

So I’m curious about two things:

  1. Do most novice users think we mean all the profile information when we say settings?
  2. What term would you use to describe all that good stuff that someone would want to keep from browser to browser or profile to profile?

FWIW this isn’t a vote for a new term or anything. I’m just curious. If we get something good maybe we’ll use it.

I know I need glasses, but do I lack vision?

Mitchell Baker finally blogged about the Mozilla Foundation and the “Thunderbird situation.” I replied to her blog, but it’s pretty lengthy, figure anyone that cares about my opinion will more likely see it here than there, so here is what I posted there (mostly, I had the full thing in my clipboard, but replaced it without pasting over the copy I’d made in progreess).

I agree that things are going to get really interesting with the web and what it can do. I think we might be missing the boat if we think it’s all going to happen within the browser. All the talk I hear about “the web is the future!” sounds like Firefox as OS, and maybe it’s my lack of vision, but I just can’t see that working out well. If everything is going to be “on the web” then where does a browser separate from the operating system fit in? Will it be like PowerDesktop, an alternative file exlorer?

I think there is a serious underestimation of how much people want their data *off* the web as much as possible, especially in North America. What will happen for those users? I guess Firefox would save their data to the HD and tell the server to delete it, and then the web interface would be able to read the mail again? Or Firefox would display it without sending it back to the server? Isn’t that another suite?

I think my biggest problem with all this is I don’t know how far in the future all this is, maybe it’s next year, and so it’s *Really* happening, but is it really? What’s the timeframe for this? Are we really somewhere with standards that it can happen so soon? 5 years maybe?

So while everyone’s really excited about what’s coming down the tubes, I’m sitting at home wanting to use an email client, and a calendar manager, and I like not having to go online to check stuff (*my* internet is up pretty much 24/7 and I have unlimited bandwidth, but pretty sure that’s still the minority). Especially on my laptop. Yeah there’s mobile phones, too, but seriously what is the security like? Hackers are just beginning to get into the market and will phone providers and manufacturers really have the experience to close the holes quick enough to keep people’s data safe in the near future?

All this R&D is great, but I’m a user and I exist *right now* and my data could use managing *right now* and *right now* I don’t care how many apps I have to use to do that, that’s what my operating system is for. I care that things like Thunderbird, and Sunbird (which is an alpha I might add, it’s amazing) work. really. well.

If the technologies are going to converge, then fine. But why so much bet hedging? Why not let it happen organically? Innovate the current products and UI. I mean web based or standalone the UI that people like is going to be the same. Isn’t that what the foundation is supposed to be doing anway? Nurturing things that are good for people *now* and seeing where they can go?

Unreachable Stars

It’s a dream that takes years of hard work, devotion, rejection and ultimately one that many of the talented will have to walk away from unrealized. One I never really considered a possibility for myself even when it was still “the dream.” One I hesitated to dream for my children, but couldn’t help myself; hoping it was their dream, trying to prepare myself for the day that they, too, might walk away from it. Even after all that hoping, and knowing that they were in a better position than many to catch that dream, I still find myself completely floored that one of them has.

Gryphon will be performing 5 nights with the world renowned National Ballet of Canada in one of the first stagings of Balanchine’s Don Quixote since his death. Balanchine left the rights to the production to his Dulcinea, Suzanne Farrell, who revived the ballet in 2005 for her own company. Ms Farrell is staging this production and so not only does Gryphon have the wonderful opportunity of being in this ballet, he will also be spending some time with a legend.

This is a ballet that I’m not familiar with apart from general knowledge of Don Quixote (tipping at windmills etc.) and so I can’t tell you more than what Gryphon’s roles will be. In a fantasy scene he will be a sword-fighting crusader-rat, and in another scene, which I can only assume happens in a church, he will be an altar boy.

There are 10 performances in total, with two groups of children performing in 5 shows each. Here are the nights Gryphon and his group are performing:

    Friday, June 15th (Opening night)
    Saturday, June 16th (eve)
    Wednesday, June 20th
    Thursday, June 21st
    Saturday, June 23rd (eve)

All performances begin at 7:30, with a special “Ballet Talks” session about the ballet 45 minutes before show time in the theatre’s lobby.

Tickets can be purchased online or by phone. Prices range from $40 to $155 depending on where you want to sit. Additionally, 10 or more tickets qualifies as a group and is eligible for 20% off, reduced service charges, and a complimentary ticket, so if everyone wants to go on the same night, please let us know ASAP and we can try and get a group together. I’d like to go opening night (Friday), and I already have tickets for the 23rd (Saturday) so I’ll propose those dates for the group and see what happens.

Myspace is sinking and I don’t want to swim?

We’ve been getting a fair number of people in #firefox the past two days who are having issues logging in to Myspace. Myspace is sending out broken cookies causing affected users to see the Firefox error:

Firefox has detected that the server is redirecting the request for this address in a way that will never complete.
* This problem can sometimes be caused by disabling or refusing to accept

IE users are just seeing a could not load page error. The problem is NOT with Firefox, nor is it with your computer.

Only some accounts are affected. People who are seeing this error with their own accounts are able to log in to a friend’s account on the same machine. Your account isn’t disabled. It’s still there and other users can view it. You’re simply being sent malformed cookies when you try to log in.

Myspace hasn’t made any sort of bulletin about this issue so we can only guess that they’re having issues with one or more of their servers. Some of the people that were seeing the problem have also said it resolved, so it seems it’s a problem on multiple servers and is being fixed.

If you can’t log in but still wish to browse Myspace:

Delete the Myspace cookies in your browser of choice. You can browse any page as long as you don’t try to log in to your account.

If you need to log in to your account, or don’t want to wait for the problem to resolve:

Users have reported being able to log in to their accounts through Myspace’s IM program.

Install and run

Once you’ve logged in to the service, click on the “MySpace” button at the top and then “Home.”

If you require further assistance:

Please contact Myspace directly. If I come across more information I’ll post it here, but there’s nothing else anyone can do to solve the issue, except have everyone who is experiencing it contact Myspace support, and hopefully that’ll get them on it.

w00t! It’s almost my birthday!

29 days and counting! I always forget to plan early enough since it comes so quickly after the holidays, but this year I’m going to stay in Toronto for a long weekend and if anyone wants to join, they’re welcome to. It’s the weekend of the 17th even though my birthday is the 9th. I’m going to get a room at a nice hotel with room service and probably just go bar hopping/clubbing. If you’re interested in tagging along, get a hold of me.

In light of that, if anyone was wondering what to get me – and this isn’t a solicitation of any kind, just a few people every year always ask me what I want, so if you were already planning on getting me something, here it is – I would love Starpoints to put towards my spree. You don’t have to be a member to buy them as a gift, the person just has to be a member to use them – Starpoint gifts. My points number is 720626286. A free night is 7000 points, but I can get a discount on a night with as little as 1000 points. Oh, and Victoria’s Secret gift certificates are welcome, as always!