build your own browser maintenance – 14-jan-2011

Build Your Own Browser will undergo maintenance on Saturday, January 14th 2011. We’ll be updating all repacks and performing server maintenance, which will require extended downtime. The service should be available by 09:00 Eastern on Sunday January 15th 2011, but maintenance may run longer. If you have any comments, questions, or concerns regarding this maintenance, please let us know through the “Contact us” link in the Build Your Own Browser application.

exgenia is outta here

I’m in the midst of moving servers, and now realize that not one mailing list hosted on deadsquid.com has been used in over two years. so, with that historical data in hand, I’m killing them off. archives will remain available, and if you were a subscriber you know where they are. as of today, however, listserv has gone the way of most mail services, and won’t be coming back

2010 economics explained

No idea where this comes from, or who the author is, but it’s one of the first forwards from my dad I’ve enjoyed in a very long time… until it depressed me, of course. The core story’s been around for more than a year, but I suspect the last paragraph (and a couple of other places) were modified to reflect what’s going on in Ireland. It’s well done, and it’s too bad Mary didn’t IPO at the height of her sales and cash out, which would have been the finishing move.

Mary is the proprietor of a bar in Dublin. She realises that virtually all of her customers are unemployed alcoholics and, as such, can no longer afford to patronise her bar. To solve this problem, she comes up with a new business model that allows her customers to drink now, but pay later. She keeps track of the drinks consumed on a ledger (thereby granting the customers loans).

A successful marketing plan that pushes Mary’s “drink now, pay later” model hits the tipping point and, as a result, increasing numbers of customers flood into Mary’s bar. Soon she has the largest sales volume for any bar in Dublin.

By providing her customers freedom from immediate payment demands, Mary gets no resistance when, at regular intervals, she substantially increases her prices for wine and beer, the most consumed beverages. Consequently, Mary’s gross sales volume increases massively. A young and dynamic vice-president at the local bank recognises that these customer debts constitute valuable future assets and increases Mary’s borrowing limit. He sees no reason for any undue concern, since he has the debts of the unemployed alcoholics as collateral.

At the bank’s corporate headquarters, expert traders figure a way to make huge commissions, and transform these customer loans into DRINKBONDS, ALKIBONDS and PUKEBONDS. These securities are then bundled and traded on international security markets. Naive investors don’t really understand that the securities being sold to them as AAA secured bonds are really the debts of unemployed alcoholics. Nevertheless, the bond prices continuously climb, and the securities soon become the hottest-selling items for some of the nation’s leading brokerage houses.

One day, even though the bond prices are still climbing, a risk manager at the original local bank decides that the time has come to demand payment on the debts incurred by the drinkers at Mary’s bar. So, he informs Mary. Mary then demands payment from her alcoholic patrons but, being unemployed alcoholics, they cannot pay back their drinking debts. Since Mary cannot fulfill her loan obligations she is forced into bankruptcy. The bar closes and the eleven employees lose their jobs.

Overnight, DRINKBONDS, ALKIBONDS and PUKEBONDS drop in price by 90%. The collapsed bond asset value destroys the banks liquidity and prevents it from issuing new loans, thus freezing credit and economic activity in the community.

The suppliers of Mary’s bar had granted her generous payment extensions and had invested their firms’ pension funds in the various BOND securities. They find they are now faced with having to write off her bad debt and with losing over 90% of the presumed value of the bonds. Her wine supplier also claims bankruptcy, closing the doors on a family business that had endured for three generations, her beer supplier is taken over by a competitor, who immediately closes the local plant and lays off 150 workers.

Fortunately though, the bank, the brokerage houses and their respective executives are saved and bailed out by a multi-billion euro no-strings attached cash infusion from their cronies in Government. The funds required for this bailout are obtained by new taxes levied on employed, middle-class, non-drinkers who have never been in Mary’s bar.

Now, do you understand economics in 2010?

using canadian credit cards at US gas pumps

If you’re a Canadian and have traveled through the US by car, RV, whatever, you’ve probably noticed pretty much all the gas pumps require a ZIP code. You’ve probably also noticed that a postal code ain’t the same thing. Finally, you’ve probably been frustrated with having to deal with the surly station attendant who doesn’t seem to understand why you can’t use your card at the pump.

Entering 99999 or 00000 doesn’t work, depsite what you may have heard in the ways of sekrit c0d3z, and it’s a bit of a pain to have to make the walk, especially if you’re running short on time to make your flight and don’t want to spend $7/gallon for the rental company to fill it for you. There is, however, a way to enter a zip code that will authorize your Canadian card, and I’ma share it with you now.

Take your postal code (e.g. K2L 2K4), and strip away the letters (e.g. 224), then add two zeroes (e.g. 22400). Voila. You have a ZIP that will authorize properly at the pump, saving a little time and attitude from said surly attendant.

This has worked for me at Shell and 76 stations, and since they all use the same auth back-end, should work anywhere else. As always, ymmv, but it’s a little tip to remember next time you’re in the US.

build your own browser – maintenance 5 oct 2010

Build Your Own Browser will undergo scheduled maintenance on Tuesday, October 5th 2010 between 06:00 and 10:00 Pacific time (1300-1700 UTC), and will not be available for use during this time. We’ll be pushing a new version of the application that will add localization support, some l10n-specific settings, and a new queue management system for repacks. If you have any comments, questions, or concerns regarding this maintenance, please let us know through the “Contact us” link in the Build Your Own Browser application.

tacking

I joined Mozilla in early 2007 to work with a number of our partners, assisting them with creation and distribution of customized versions of Firefox. My role also involved outreach with organizations that interact with Firefox, a little liaising between orgs, and a lot of advocacy of the Mozilla Foundation, it’s principles, projects, and its goals. We’ve come a long way since I started and, with the introduction of Build Your Own Browser and the framework behind it, custom distributions will require less care and feeding moving forward.

As a result, I’ll be re-focusing a little bit, and will be working with the Products team under Jay Sullivan. I’ll still be interacting a great deal with our partners, but will be focusing on improving interactions between Mozilla’s and our partner’s products and services end-to-end, with the end goal of improving the user experience. Mozilla Firefox for Android is going to be awesome (heck, it _is_ awesome already), and I’ll be working with Android OEMs to help integrate and distribute Firefox with their products. Finally, I’ll continue with outreach to our various partners to make sure they’re aware of what’s coming with Firefox 4 and beyond, and to make sure they’re aware of (and participate in) initiatives like Content Security Policy (CSP).

Some things won’t change. I’ll continue to work with our distribution partners, customization policy, and on Build Your Own Browser. With a bunch of folks in the community and here at Mozilla, I hope to push on Enterprise uptake, as well as product and service changes that will facilitate adoption behind corporate firewalls. I’ll also continue to act as a liaison where needed, and will help folks at Mozilla track down people in our partner’s organizations.

There’s a tonne to be done, and it’s almost overwhelming, but it’s also exciting as all get out. I’m really happy I have the opportunity to work in the areas I am. I’ll be posting an awful lot more, and might even post useful information finally on Twitter (although I make no promises).

So, those are my changes. I’m chuffed.

on using Firefox at work

We’ve had some good press in the last month or two, notably IBM’s announcement of Firefox as its default browser, and a Forrester Research report stating that Firefox has a 20% share in the companies they surveyed. I think it’s important that we have a good story for getting Firefox into the hands of people in the work environment, but the story needs to be put together. This is where you come in.

At the Mozilla Summit a week and a half ago, I gave a 30-minute talk on some of the challenges the IT groups that support us face with deploying Firefox. It’s not a new discussion by any means, but it’s something I’d like to raise awareness on within the community and actively contribute to addressing. I wanted to get people thinking about all the bits outside the product at a high level, and called out what I think are the important parts along with what we’ll need to do. It’s not exhaustive, but I think it got the point across, and there were some great follow-on conversations that are on-going.

Our mission is to promote openness, innovation, and opportunity on the web. Making it easier for organizations to use our products in their workplace is a great opportunity to take that message to them. There’s a lot of people who use us at home, but who’d also love to use us at work. I want to help make that happen and, thankfully, I’m not alone.

The end game is to improve support for groups that are looking to get Firefox into the hands of their organization’s users, and to get the working group that addresses these problems spun back up to share how they do it with everyone else. There’s interest from organizations that want to use Firefox in their workplace, and a need for information on how to do it repeatably. The latter part is the tricksy bit, and I’m hoping to work on this with some like-minded individuals in the short and long term.

A few people have asked for the slides, so I figured I’d post them here. My presentation slides can be viewed using Google Docs, and if you want them in an editable format all you have to do is ask. I’d love to hear what you think, and would also love for you to get involved. If you’re interested in participating, add your name to the Working Group’s Participants section; I hope to reboot the group at the end of the summer, and will be in touch.

ok, I’ll play too.

I don’t generally participate in memes but, I confess, I did like 3lime’s a waste of time a bit of fun (her blog is worth the read). also, I am procrastinating finishing a presentation I have to give on wednesday for summit.

here goes:

What experience has most shaped you and why?

my mother’s putting everyone else’s needs in front of hers. she was an amazing woman, and did everything for us. in the end, it killed her, and she’s missed so many things we would have liked to have had her around for. it’s taught me that it’s ok to be selfish, and that you have to look out for yourself, but that it doesn’t have to come at the expense of others. there’s a balance there, and you need to figure it out.

If you had a whole day with no commitments what would you do?

I’d make coffee, read the paper, watch or read the news, and then spend the day with that girl (and hopefully some friends) eating, drinking, laughing, and playing. I get to do this every so often, and it’s wonderful. alternatively I’d play with my pinball machines; but only if there was no one around.

What food or drink could you never give up?

I don’t think there’s anything I could never give up. I also think that’s a good thing, because it’s not exactly something I can control in a lot of cases. I’d have a very hard time giving up coffee – in any of its forms – completely, and it’d also be tough to dispense with eggs and bacon. those are my favourite foods; I’m a morning kind of person.

If you could travel anywhere, where would that be and why?

Southeast Asia. There’s something incredibly compelling about Asian culture. I live in a place that has very little history and/or sense of self, and I love visiting places where you can feel the years in the surroundings. I’d love to grab a backpack and go for six months or so, and just travel through the rural/non-touristy areas of Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, and other locales in the area. There’s tremendous upheaval in all of those places as a millennium or two of history and tradition clashes with today, and I’d like to experience it first-hand.

Who do you have a crush on?

I have no crushes, really, these days. I’m honestly quite happy where I am, and I want for nothing. No, really.

Past crushes have included:

– Linda Fiorentino. Her voice kills me, still. It all started with Vision Quest (god, what a horrible movie)
– An HR rep at the company in NY I worked for. That crush was crushed when I realized she was a smoker. Oh well.
– Audrey Hepburn. As in the young Audrey Hepburn. Her eyes were amazing.
– Sharon, one of the receptionists at the office from the early nineties.
– Matt Damon. Yes, I’m kidding.

If you were the leader of your country, what would you do?

Hold the privatized entities that were once public accountable to serving the people that depend on them. The public invested an unbelievable amount into infrastructure that was sold for a song to organizations like Bell, Canadian National, and energy companies. It was incredibly short-sighted, and their privatization should have had some incentives in place to ensure those investments weren’t held against us after the fact.

Focus on program delivery versus program administration. Our government and health care systems are ridiculously large, and continue to grow in size and spending every year. I’m a proponent of small government doing big things, and believe that the amount of administrative overhead in place is unsane, especially considering that most of the shenanigans that occur are at the exec level and higher. Government continues to claw more and more money away from the people it serves, and always threatens those it represents with program – not administration – cuts. Healthcare continues to take away its coverage while continuing to increase the workload of the people delivering through over-administration. Fuck that. I don’t pay taxes just to employ a bunch of people. I pay taxes to employ people who will deliver for me.

Re-focus on self-sufficiency. I like the benefits globalization can bring, but I worry we’ve gone too far to the offshoring side. We have precious little manufacturing capability, and we’re so co-dependant on other states to function we’d be kind of screwed if there was ever any kind of meltdown. I’m not saying go nationalistic and protective, but I do think we should make a concerted effort to re-ignite manufacturing in this country, and to work on ways that are non-exploitative and cost-effective.

What am I reading right now?

The Drunkard’s Walk – Leonard Mlodinow
What the Dog Saw – Malcolm Gladwell
The Passage – Justin Cronin
Why We Run: A Natural History – B. Heinrich

What recent event has made you sad?

Letting that girl down, and realizing how a little thing can have a big impact. I’m still learning. :)

What recent event has made you angry?

Anything Dalton McGuinty. The tax grab in the HST and spin-doctory that it’s not and is good for us; the sekrit legislation to broaden police powers, and subsequent denial of responsibility; the failed promises; the weaseling; the continuation of doing nothing substantive to prevent the province’s continued slide. It’s not just Dalton, but he’s a pretty good representation of what’s wrong with our “leaders” who no longer lead.

Ok, I’m done. Must get back to my preso.

build your own browser maintenance jun 27 and 29, 2010

just a quick note that the build your own browser application will be down for maintenance on Sunday, June 27th between 0700 and 0900 Eastern (1100-1300 UTC), and Tuesday, June 29th between 0700 and 0900 Eastern (1100-1300 UTC). we’ll be increasing storage for customized distributions and pushing code updates (respectively), and the application will be unavailable for the duration of both windows.

if you think there’s any reason why this maintenance shouldn’t proceed, please let me know in the comments, or drop me a line via the BYOB contact form. I don’t foresee the maintenance taking longer than the allotted time, but sometimes stuff happens that can extend the window, and I’ll update this post if any additional time is required.

best quarterly bonus ever

a friend’s company got bought out last week, and he got a new coffee mug from his new overlords. he was quite excited.

it reminded me of the time where, after spending three weeks out of four on the road at a bill-out rate seven times my salary, my company (Silicon Graphics) rewarded me handsomely for my efforts:

<bobo> did I mention that we got bought out last week?
<bobo> we are now owned by <redacted>
<kev> yup, you did
<kev> read abt it yesterday
<bobo> couldn't remember
<bobo> I got a new mug out of the deal. weeeeeee!
<kev> q1 bonus!
<kev> (one quarter at SGI I got a $25 gift certificate for a quarterly bonus. I spent it on a green mug and a purple mug, then it was all gone)
<kev> I still have the mugs, tho

I should mention the gift certificate was for the company store. so it was probably worth something like $10. this was one of the main driving factors of my moving on to Globix in NYC (before the RIFs began in earnest). the final straw was a two-part act: I) I got a new manager, and no one told me for over a month. II) my first meeting with my new manager was for my annual performance review, where he got me confused with another employee. good times, good times… pardon my rambles.

it still saddens me greatly that SGI couldn’t market itself out of a wet paper bag outside its walls. the swag was nice, tho.