Monthly Archives: February 2011

MoMo All-Hands: Day 3 (Data-Driven, Don’t Be Creepy, Italian-Chinese Dinner, Hipster-slamming)

At around 7:30AM, I rolled out of bed, cleaned myself up, and headed down to breakfast.

Breakfast that day was similar to the day before:  yogurt and granola.  Coffee and juice.  The cakes, however, had gotten the axe, and had been replaced by scones.

Very tasty.  A bunch of us ate breakfast out on the meeting room patio.  Once again, it was a gorgeous morning.

After breakfast, we all went inside to talk about data. Specifically, that we aim to be data-driven.  This means that if we’re making a big decision about Thunderbird, or any of the other stuff we’re working on, we should probably have some solid data to back up those decisions.  It’s a good idea; the road to bad design is paved with good intentions, and lack of data.

But how exactly are we going to get this data?  Are we simply going to monitor our users without their knowledge, like Big Brother, and study them like lab rats?  Are we going to collect reams of data about them secretly and silently in the background, without telling our users or giving them a choice?

Of course not, because that’d be evil.  And creepy.  Don’t track me, bro.

Instead, we will always ask the user if they’re interested in submitting data for study.  In general, our data collection is opt-in – and instead of tracking individuals, we aggregate the data, so that we never have a single person as a data point.  Nice.

A lot of ideas got tossed around about how we can ask the users for data, and what type of data we were interested in.  Some very interesting discussions took place regarding the Thunderbird “funnel” (the action path from visiting the Mozilla Thunderbird website, to downloading TB, to installing TB, to running TB, to making TB something commonly used).  Our funnel is pretty wide, but some website tweaks might make it even wider.  I’m excited to hear more about it.

After that, lunch.  Roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, veggies…once again, very tasty.  Cake for dessert.  We were getting pretty spoiled.

Following lunch, a bunch of us went outside to hear Andrew Sutherland talk about Wmsy – his constraint-based widgeting framework.  This was one of the talks that took place out on the patio, and the sun was blazing.  Much sunscreen had to go on, and I wish I’d brought sunglasses, because the image of the giant yellow pads of paper-on-easels that Andrew was drawing on was slowly being burnt into my retinas.  And then, sunscreen started getting into my eyes.  And yet, despite the blazing heat, the blinding sun, and the burning chemicals in my eyes, I was able to get a lot out of the talk.  Wmsy is pretty cool, and you should check it out.

After that, we went inside, and there was a bunch of GSoC talk.  Mentors talked about how it was working with GSoC students, and what kind of GSoC students we’d be looking for.  Then, a big brainstorm happened where we came up with potential GSoC projects.

Photo Credit:  Ludovic Hirlimann
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Photo Credit: Ludovic Hirlimann

 

As a former GSoC student, I have to say, it’s a really worthwhile program.  I had an awesome summer doing GSoC.  Highly recommended.  Thumbs up, Google.

After that, the meetings were over.  I headed upstairs to talk to my parents and Emily on Skype for a bit, and then headed down to the lobby for dinner.  A group of us were eating at “Chow Mein”, an Italian-Chinese fusion restaurant.

It was pretty good. Fettuccine on one side of my plate, barbecue pork fried rice on the other, and some salad…a delicious and eclectic meal.  As an added bonus, while refilling our glasses, our waiter told us in excruciating detail about how he got pulled over for DUI on his birthday.  On that note, we had a fantastic dessert, and then left.

The sun was down, and we walked slowly along the beach back towards the hotel.  We stopped off at the beach-side patio to hang out a bit first.

Photo Credit: Blake Winton
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Photo Credit: Blake Winton

 

We raced Mai Tai umbrellas, and trash-talked hipsters.  It was probably the most hipster thing I did in Hawaii.

And speaking of hipsters (mildly NSFW):

Eventually, I made it back to my hotel room, and fell asleep.

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MoMo All-Hands: Day 2 (Sunrise, The Meeting Room, Demos, Dinner at Uncle Bo’s)

Sunrise

I woke up after a night of fitful dreaming about long airplane rides, dip masquerading as hummus and missing socks.

I only had myself to blame for the socks.  Em had awesomely helped me pack two weeks worth of clothes into a carry-on bag, and the socks had been my responsibility.  Sigh.  Oh well.

It was early at this point.  Too early.  I glanced at the bedside clock…6 AM.  It’d been a long time since I’d been up this early.  And yet, strangely, I felt fully rested.

Fully rested, and excitedI was in Hawaii, baby!

I was determined to make the best of the early morning, and watch the sunrise.  So, I scrambled around, getting dressed – during which, I got a few shots of the sun starting to rise through my hotel room window.

Through the window of my room at the Ilikai Hotel
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Through the window of my room at the Ilikai Hotel24-Jan-2011 11:27, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.5 sec, ISO 250

 
Looks like other people are awake, too.
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Looks like other people are awake, too.24-Jan-2011 11:27, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.5 sec, ISO 250

 
It's pretty high up.  I was on the 23rd floor.
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It's pretty high up. I was on the 23rd floor.24-Jan-2011 11:28, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.5 sec, ISO 250

 

It was time to hit the pavement.  I threw on my sandals, and stepped into the elevator.  I tried not to think about my sock problem.  I figured I would spend most of my trip in sandals, so the lack of socks really wouldn’t be an issue until later on in the trip.

The hotel was pretty close to the beach, but the sun was coming up fast, and I didn’t want to miss it.  I started jogging, flew past the Hilton lagoon, and made it to the beach in time to take these shots:

It took me about 5 minutes to jog to the beach, and the sun had already come up quite a bit.
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It took me about 5 minutes to jog to the beach, and the sun had already come up quite a bit.24-Jan-2011 11:38, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.5 sec, ISO 119

 
I'm pretty sure that's an inactive volcano in the distance.
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I'm pretty sure that's an inactive volcano in the distance.24-Jan-2011 11:39, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.417 sec, ISO 100

 
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24-Jan-2011 11:40, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.37 sec, ISO 100

 
There was a rock barrier going out into the water.  I walked down to the end of it for some shots, and took a video.  The rocks were black, volcanic stuff.
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There was a rock barrier going out into the water. I walked down to the end of it for some shots, and took a video. The rocks were black, volcanic stuff.24-Jan-2011 11:41, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.5 sec, ISO 129

 
Taken from the end of the rock barrier.  That's a catamaran boat.  I rode one of those later on in the trip.
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Taken from the end of the rock barrier. That's a catamaran boat. I rode one of those later on in the trip.24-Jan-2011 11:41, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.313 sec, ISO 100

 
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24-Jan-2011 11:44, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.81, 5.8mm, 0.123 sec, ISO 100

 

And this video:

It was very peaceful and serene.

The Ilikai Hotel is in there.  Guess which one?
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The Ilikai Hotel is in there. Guess which one?24-Jan-2011 11:45, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.81, 5.8mm, 0.5 sec, ISO 250

 
Palm trees on the beach at sunrise.
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Palm trees on the beach at sunrise.24-Jan-2011 11:55, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 83

 

Before going back up, I took a few minutes to walk around the hotel.  There was a nice decorative fountain near the entrance, as well as a Kona Coffee shop.

That's the Ilikai Hotel.
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That's the Ilikai Hotel.24-Jan-2011 12:04, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 64

 
A decorative fountain near the hotel.
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A decorative fountain near the hotel.24-Jan-2011 12:03, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.81, 5.8mm, 0.238 sec, ISO 100

 

I’m not a big coffee drinker, but apparently Kona Coffee is a pretty BFD.  Before I left home, my Mom asked me to bring a few bags back.  I didn’t have a chance on this morning though – the Kona Coffee shop was closed:

Precious Kona coffee.  It's closed at this point, so I'd come back a few days later.
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Precious Kona coffee. It's closed at this point, so I'd come back a few days later.24-Jan-2011 12:17, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.85, 6.0mm, 0.172 sec, ISO 100

 

I eventually made it back to my room to grab a quick shower and shave before the 9AM breakfast.

The Meeting Room

The hotel we were staying at was the Ilikai Hotel, which is featured in the opening to Hawaii Five-O.

The hotel didn’t want you to forget that either – they were pumping episodes of Hawaii Five-O through some flat-screens near reception, 24/7.

Along with the hotel rooms, the Ilikai was also providing a meeting room for the team for the week.  The meeting room was also where breakfast and lunch would be served.  It was a pretty awesome arrangement.

Here are some shots of the meeting room.

This was our meeting room for the week.
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This was our meeting room for the week.25-Jan-2011 14:23, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 124

 

We’ve got a patio outside too, in case we decide that we need to have a meeting in the sun:

And the view from the patio!
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And the view from the patio!26-Jan-2011 19:52, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 5.09, 6.9mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 64

 
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26-Jan-2011 19:52, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 5.09, 6.9mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 64

 
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26-Jan-2011 19:53, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 7.91, 17.0mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 64

 

When I got to the meeting room, there were already a bunch of people there, and I went around and said a lot of hello’s.  Once again, a lot of names and faces flew by, and it was hard to keep them all straight in my head.

Breakfast was yogurt with granola, and what appeared to be banana bread.  Delicious.

After breakfast, David Ascher gave a talk about the mission of Mozilla Messaging, and what we’d accomplished in 2010, and what we were aiming to accomplish in 2011.  There was a nice and easy, accessible vibe in the room, and I don’t think it was just because everybody was wearing Hawaiian shirts – the whole crew just seemed to gel that way.

After the talk, we more or less figured out the schedule for the rest of the week.  That day, we’d be doing a bunch of demos.

Demos

The demos were pretty cool.  Blake did one on the account provisioning service that he’s been working on for Thunderbird:

And then showed off some more experimental work that he and a few others been doing on a project called Thunderbird Air.  Think of Thunderbird Air as a jam session for ideas about messaging interfaces.  It’s pretty cool.

Then, we got a demo of F1, MoMo’s shiny new Firefox add-on that makes sharing stuff easy. It’s pretty badass.  Here’s an early video showing off what F1 does:

After that, Andrew Sutherland gave a talk on the new widgeting library he was working on called WMSY.

Afterwards, there was a big talk about mail storage with David Bienvenu – one of the original developers of Thunderbird.

After that, it was lunch break.  Salad and sandwiches.  Very tasty.  There was also some peculiar bread that had a sweet taste and was blue/purple inside.  Very interesting.

After lunch, people just hacked on their laptops for a bit, and chatted.  Smaller discussions about other projects broke out.  People went out onto the patio for sun.  Very relaxed and casual.  Eventually, someone plugged in the XBox and the Kinect, and we watched David Ascher and Dan Mosedale do some extreme white-water rafting.

Dinner at Uncle Bo’s

Eventually, things wound down.  Old habits die hard, and the group started to fold around 5PM.  At that point, I packed up my stuff and headed back to my room.  I talked to Em on Skype.  I got ready for dinner – I’d be meeting the rest of the group downstairs at 6PM.

This is the view from my hotel room.  That's the Hilton lagoon in the middle, and the beach and ocean just beyond.
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This is the view from my hotel room. That's the Hilton lagoon in the middle, and the beach and ocean just beyond.24-Jan-2011 13:02, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 64

 
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24-Jan-2011 13:02, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 64

 

I showed up at the lobby just in time for Sancus to tell me that we were meeting at 6:30PM instead of 6PM.  That gave me just enough time to run around and try to grab a few photos:

There was a nice little garden just outside the back entrance of the hotel.
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There was a nice little garden just outside the back entrance of the hotel.24-Jan-2011 22:56, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.81, 5.8mm, 0.015 sec, ISO 64

 
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24-Jan-2011 22:56, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.81, 5.8mm, 0.015 sec, ISO 64

 
The sun was starting to go down...
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The sun was starting to go down…24-Jan-2011 23:05, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.021 sec, ISO 64

 
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24-Jan-2011 23:06, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 3.17, 7.1mm, 0.034 sec, ISO 100

 
A river runs through it.  "It" being Honolulu, of course.
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A river runs through it. "It" being Honolulu, of course.24-Jan-2011 23:12, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.011 sec, ISO 64

 
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24-Jan-2011 23:13, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.047 sec, ISO 100

 

I got back to the lobby just in time to meet the group as we started to head to a restaurant called “Uncle Bo’s“. Apparently, it’s pretty well known in Hawaii.  The food was eclectic, but tasty.  I spent most of dinner talking with James Burke, John Hopkins, Mark Banner and David Sifry about things like British humour, Top Gear, and trolling Nigerian prince scammers.  Good times.

Watermelon sorbet for dessert.  Delicious.

I didn’t take photos during the dinner (at this point, I still didn’t know everybody, and would have felt weird photographing them), but I know Roland Tanglao did.  Here are a few:

Photo Credit:  Roland Tanglao
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Photo Credit: Roland Tanglao

 
Photo Credit:  Roland Tanglao
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Photo Credit: Roland Tanglao

 
Photo Credit:  Roland Tanglao
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Photo Credit: Roland Tanglao

 
Photo Credit:  Ludovic Hirlimann
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Photo Credit: Ludovic Hirlimann

 

Stuffed, we cabbed back home.  Some of the team was headed to a patio on the beach, and I tagged along.  As some live music played, I talked school and science fiction with Andrew Sutherland and Gozer.  I also found out that Gozer is a pool shark, and we decided to find a time to hit a pool hall sometime over the week.

At some point, a wave of exhaustion hit me, and I decided to head back to the hotel.

I made my way back to my room, jotted down my daily notes, and nodded off.

Click here to go back to Part 1.

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